Seeking Sacred Knowledge

Are Sins Committed In Ignorance Excused?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle 


When are we excused for sins we commit out of ignorance?


Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Allah does not ask us to do things that we cannot do. Therefore, Allah has not taken us to task for things we do out of pure ignorance. [Subki, Jam‘ al-Jawami‘]

That said, taking other people’s rights out of ignorance or pure ignorance that leads to the damage of other people’s property is not overlooked. One is not sinful for causing the damage or depriving the right, but the financial or material repercussions still apply [Suyuti, Al-Ashbah wa al-Nadha’ir]

Furthermore, the scholars of fiqh differentiate between genuine and innocent ignorance and ignorance that could have reasonably been avoided. When one commits a sin that one could have easily known about if one had the least concern about one’s religion, then one is considered sinful.

For example, if a new Muslim drinks water in Ramadan and he genuinely did not know that drinking breaks the fast, it would be overlooked and the fast would be valid. [Nawawi, Minhaj al Talibin]

However, a Muslim who grew up around Muslims would know that, and so wouldn’t be given that dispensation.

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language