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I Have Hurt People before and after Puberty

Shaykh Farid Dingle gives advice on how to deal with having hurt people in one’s past and rectifying this in the present.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I can recall times when I was younger when I have hurt individuals through my words or actions. For many of them however, I cannot recall particularly if the incidents took place before or after I reached the age of puberty. Additionally, some of them were against members of the opposite gender.

I am now older and married. Reaching out to those individuals who are adult members of the opposite gender feels like a challenging and potentially touchy thing to do with respect to me, with respect to my spouse, and with respect to that individual. I fear however that these individuals may have not forgiven me and that I will thus be accountable for having hurt them on the day of judgement.

As far as I can remember, nothing grave was done to their rights and there is nothing that I can do to return matters to an original state (i.e. no money was taken and no property was damaged, but I surely hurt those individuals). Since then, I have seen some of these individuals and though they have not expressed anger towards me, I always fear that they are holding on to negative emotions towards me in their hearts.

Please advise me on how I should go about dealing with this. How can I fix these mistakes? What do I have to do to rectify these situations (both for before and after puberty, and in cases where I am not sure when it occurred)? Am I accountable for having hurt someone else before I reached puberty?

Jazak Allah khayr.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Dear questioner, your concern is valid, and it is true that we are responsible for every word and deed we do after we reach puberty.

The question is how we can make this genuine concern actionable. As you mentioned, many of these wrongs are neither financial, such that they could be returned, nor are they of a nature that would allow you to formally seek forgiveness without that causing bigger problems.

The answer is to try your best to give extra charity, extra prayers, recite extra Qur’an, without that violating your current obligations to your family.

You should bring to mind these sins now and then, and seek genuine forgiveness, but it should not reach a level of depression or obsession.

At the end of the day, Allah is greater than us and our sins, and He can find a way for the sins to be forgiven. This could be by inspiring those that we have wronged to forgive us now or on Judgment Day, or by giving us extra deeds that will be rendered over to them as recompense.

As for you current interactions with such people, we were all young and foolish at some time in our lives, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I doubt each and everyone of the people we have hurt or insulted or teased is still holding on to each and every offense we did them. People do grow up and move on, usually. For this reason, I don’t think you should give too much consideration to what offenses they are still holding on to. I would imagine that they have forgotten or now ignore such historic events.

Holding on obsessively to one’s past crimes is to doubt in Allah’s omnipotence and complete control of the whole universe. And to forget one’s sins is to deem light that which is terrible in His eyes. We have to tread a healthy middle way that moves us to action and new resolve, as opposed to depression. As one scholar put it, “Don’t be sad, and don’t be depressed, and don’t be comatose. Just get going!”

Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’ (Sura al-Zumar 39:53)

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Asking Forgiveness for Childhood Wrongs

Ustadh Tabraze Azam advice on how to redress and seek forgiveness past wrongs committed against others and whether repentance alone suffices.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

When I was a child and perhaps also after maturity, I would climb into gardens of others such as my neighbors when, let’s say, a football fell into their garden. Should I know seek their forgiveness? Did I go against a right of a creation?

There is also one thing that I did when I was a child. This was very immature of me. I threw eggs sometimes at a persons house. I am not sure if they live in the same house. I also know where the house is.

In regards to this what should I do? Is there a way for me to approach them without making myself known to them?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It would be a good idea to make a general repentance from all sin and transgressions in life. Allah Most High says:

Say, O Prophet, that Allah says, ‘O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’ (Sura al Zamr 39:53)

Thereafter, some righteous scholars have suggested giving something in charity or the like with the intention of making things up to people you may have wronged unknowingly.

Muslim recorded a lengthy tradition (hadith) in which the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: The bankrupt [person] from my Community is the one who comes on the Last Day with his prayer, fasting and zakat, yet he swore at so and so, accused so and so of fornication, wrongfully consumed the wealth of so and so,” and other wrongs which lead to his good deeds being taken away from him, thus amounting to nothing.

In this case, specifically, you can consider leaving an anonymous note at the home in question, explaining your regret at being involved in such behavior, perhaps even with a gift. As for merely taking your ball from a garden, this was not the ideal thing to do as it entails entry without permission, but as long as you didn’t damage any property, repenting alone would suffice.

Please also see A Reader on Tawba (Repentance) and How Can I Redress a Wrong I Committed Against Someone? (Video).

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Amending Past Mistakes

Ustadh Salman Younas advises on how best to make amends for one’s past mistakes and turning to Allah for forgiveness and in repentance.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

In the past I have unfortunately made a mistake with regards to using the tram. One time I used the tram without a ticket and I got caught. However when I came to appealing the ticket unfortunately I lied about it. I really should have been fined.

A second time I had the wrong ticket but that was a genuine mistake. When it came to appealing someone wrote a letter for me and they may have lied regarding certain things. However I’m not quite sure if I amended the letter to ensure no lies were in it. I think I did look over the letter and I may have changed some of the wording to ensure there was no lies.

My questions are 1) Should I contact the tram services and tell them of my past mistakes and whether I should pay the fine to them? 2) If so should I tell them about both incidents or just the first one in case I rechecked the appeal letter for any lies in there to remove them?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

From the two scenarios you describe, you would need to make amends for the first of them wherein you traveled without purchasing a ticket and then lied in your appeal. You should pay back the amount that you would have otherwise owed the company if you had not lied. This may be done anonymously, such as sending the fine department a letter with the amount you owe.

Lying is an action that is unbefitting of a believer. In a tradition narrated by Safwan ibn Sulaym, the Prophet (blessings upon him) replied in the negative when asked whether a believer could be a liar. (Muwatta) In another report, the Prophet (blessings upon him) said, “Lying leads to wickedness and wickedness leads to the Fire.” (Bukhari, Muslim) The act of lying becomes even worse when it entails depriving others of their rights.

You should, therefore, sincerely repent for your actions. The scholars mention that sincere repentance involves

    1. (a) leaving the sin,

 

    1. (b) resolving never to return to it,

 

    1. (c) feeling remorse for having committed it, and
    1. (d) returning any rights owed to people if the sin relates to such rights.

(Al-Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin)

With this, you should not despair of Allah’s mercy. As humans, we slip. Our responsibility is to recognize when we make mistakes, rectify our actions, and turn to Allah for assistance and forgiveness.

Wassalam,

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.