Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick
Alhamdulilah, I am a college student, and Allah has guided me to become closer to him. However, a sin from my past troubles me and makes me feel constant depression. There was a full-ride scholarship for my current college. It was meant for low-income, high-achieving students, I met both of those requirements; yet, for the essay and questions, I exaggerated and lied about my experiences and story.
I received the scholarship and have been in the university for two years. I have been ignorant for most of my life, but Allah guided me back last year. Yet even after my progress, this sin troubles me. I asked for forgiveness, but I don’t know if that’s enough. Do I have to drop out? Pay the University back their money? Is repentance enough?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to what pleases Him. Amin.
May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.
Alhamdulillah, I commend you for seeking guidance and recognising the importance of repentance in Islam. Clearly, you are sincerely remorseful for your actions, which is a positive sign. In sha Allah, repentance is enough, and I suggest you consistently give charity, as explained below.
Conditions of Repentance
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand the concept of repentance (Tawba) in Islam. Repentance involves several steps:
Sincere Regret: You must genuinely regret the sinful act which you seem to have done.
Ceasing the Sin: You must stop sinning immediately, refraining from further dishonesty or deception.
Seeking Forgiveness: Ask Allah for forgiveness, acknowledging your wrongdoing and seeking His mercy.
Restitution (if possible): If the sin involves the rights of or harming others, one must make amends. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]
How to Make Amends?
This is a critical aspect of repentance when the sin involves harming others. In your case, it may cause further harm if you expose yourself and what you did. Though you met the scholarship criteria, your transgression was, based on your description, an exaggeration of the facts.
In most cases, repentance and seeking Allah’s forgiveness are sufficient to cleanse one’s soul of sins. Dropping out of college is not a required course of action, and it could potentially lead to further difficulties and harm.
I would advise that you make an intention followed by a consistent effort to contribute towards that scholarship or similar as charity. It is reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “ Indeed charity extinguishes the Lord’s anger and it protects against the evil death. [Tirmidhi]
Still, your repentance does not depend upon this, and Allah knows best.
Remember that Allah (Most High) is the Most Merciful and Forgiving. As long as your repentance is sincere and you strive to rectify your past wrongs to the best of your ability, there is hope for His forgiveness. Continue to pray, seek knowledge, and strive to improve. May Allah guide you and grant you His forgiveness and blessings.
I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan.
Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.
He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.
Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.