“Repentance from Allah is for those who commit evil in ignorance then repent from it shortly; those are have (true) repentance; as Allah is all knowing and all wise.”
A doctor once told me how a non Muslim died. Just before he died he saw the angel of death, sat up in his bed and said what the hell! He was so heavily sedated that this was not medically possible!
Two people, my age, have had heart attacks, one has died. Were they waiting until they were old until they repented? What was the point in that then? Did he die without repentance? How many other people will die because of car accidents and so on? The reality of our situation is that we do not know when we are going to die. So why are we delaying something that would benefit us immensely? Even if you repent a million times a day you’ll find Allah (the Exalted) ready to accept it. Just view the first Quranic verse and it’s as plain as day.
If a person dies without repentance then the matter is up to Allah (the Exalted) whether they are forgiven or not.
Imam Al-Ghazali (may Allah show him mercy) fourth section of his magnum opus Ihya Al-Ulum Al-deen/Revival of the Religious sciences with the chapter of repentance. The second passage the Imam put this so beautifully, “Repentance from sins is returning to the veiler of shortcomings and knower of the unseen.” (Ihya p.3 Vol4).
"Repentance is regret.”
(Imam Ahmed and Ibn Majah).
If you think that you are better than them you lose what this religion is based upon, mercy. You need the mercy of Allah as much as they do and you cannot guarantee that you’ll stay religious or even die Muslim. No one has a guarantee of this because you could slip up and be that alcoholic or drug addict lying in the gutter. If you come across a person in a dire situation then try to help them give them a chance to repent.
Maybe none of this could have happened if we had not helped them. And I could not have helped him if I thought that I was better than him. I looked at him as if I was the drunken man and he was sober. Then I asked myself the question, how would I like to be treated? He still suffers from the drink problem but now he is better than he was. This is a blessing of Allah (the Exalted) and nothing to do with me.
The acceptance of repentance is down to the unbound mercy of Allah (the Exalted) and not up to the things that we think we know about someone. We are not sinless and only the Prophets are perfect and we 'normal' people are prone to trip up sooner or later but when we do, we repent and return. We do not become despondent or hopeless, we move on and continue.
It does not matter how great your sin, the forgiveness of Allah (the Exalted) is greater. Don't ever forget that, ever.
“Follow wrong actions with good actions, erases them.” (At-Tirmidhi).
This is also another way out for those in situations where they need to do something to relieve their guilt. Do something good!
Consider these Quranic passages:
“He (Allah) who accepts the repentance of his slave and pardons wrong actions.” (Ashura 42:25)
“Do you not know that Allah accepts the repentance of his servants?” (Repentance 9:104)
As for the repentance of the elite, Dhu Noon Al-Misri (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
And if you have time then make a supplication for the author who needs to repent more than you do. Be hopeful of forgiveness and never be hopeless. There is always recourse to every problem. Seek repentance from the sins you know, the sins you do not, the open and the secret sins.