How to Expiate for My Past Sins?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad


I am 20 years old, but before puberty, I didn’t pray properly, and 1) I would sit during prayers when I had no valid reason to and speed through them. 2) Sometimes, I prayed after doing the act of masturbating without performing a ghusl. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe I knew then that doing so would invalidate my prayer.

After puberty, at times, I performed prayers sitting down while on planes, and I’m not sure if I made all of them up, and another time, after puberty, I traveled to another country. I shortened my prayers for the first 3-4 weeks.

If I can pray in the congregation but choose to pray alone, does that invalidate the prayer? Do I need to repeat any of these prayers above?

I masturbated while I was fasting during the month of Ramadan; I don’t believe at the time that I knew that it broke the fast. I think the last time I did this was when I was 13 or 14. What do I do?

I’ve often downloaded books online for free (digital copies easily found), torrented courses, and watched stuff online via YouTube (uploaded wrongfully by others) or other copyrighted platforms. Do I have to put every dollar I make into paying back for everything I can remember – as long as it’s permissible?

Can I do it gradually when I have a stable income? I don’t even remember everything that I’ve accessed over the years. Do I have to obsess about finding everything I’ve used for free over the years that was copyrighted? There were also times when I got a refund for something and didn’t give a valid reason so that I could get the money back and use it for other things. I stopped doing this, but I’m unsure how to resolve the past.

Does having doubts about religion take me out of the fold of Islam if I’m sincerely looking for the truth? Islam is what makes the most sense to me. However, I’ve doubted whether it’s the absolute and only truth.


1) and 2) occurred before puberty, so you don’t need to make up those prayers. 3) Please see this answer about praying on a plane. If you need to make them up, estimate how many you have left and make them up gradually.

Can I Pray on a Plane

When you traveled to another country for several weeks, you were a resident and not a traveler. Please see this answer and calculate how many prayers you should make up.

What are the Basic Rulings of Prayer During Travel?

If you choose to pray alone when you can pray with a group, it is disliked, but the prayers are still valid. See this answer:

Praying Alone in the Mosque and Joining a Person Who Intended Praying Alone

Please discern how many times you masturbated while fasting after you reached puberty and see this article about making them up.

Is Expiation Required for Masturbating While Fasting

Please see all the links for copyright and intellectual property rights:

The Question of Illegal Downloading
What is the Ruling on Intellectual Property Rights
Does Copyright Law Violate Islamic Ownership Rights by Denying the Right to Pass on or Sell Your Property Freely

No, having doubts about Islam does not take you out of Islam, and you should learn more to eliminate your doubts. Consider taking a course at Seeker on belief, and see these answers:

Truth, Other Religions, and Mysticism
Why Islam is True: God and Science
Can Truth by Found in Every Religion

May Allah give you tawfiq for striving toward Him.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.