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Confessing Porn Addiction to Family

Ustadh Salman Younas is asked about the permissibility of sharing a history of porn consumption with family members and whether it is advisable.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am asking if it is permissible to share with my family that I have had a eleven year struggle with pornography? After I finish or see my results from neurofeedback I plan to share my problem with my family. I feel that I have done the best I can do from my knowledge to abstain from the haram. What was missing was that I told no one what was going on with me. There was one hadith that says to hide your sins but I find no explicit or implicit support for this from the Qur’an. I began reading Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din and am slowly trying to perfect my conduct. What steps should I take to share this problem or break this mental plateau I have spiritually?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

The basis is that one does not reveal one’s sins to others.

This is based on clear prophetic traditions, such as “All my community will be excused except those who commit sins openly. Committing them openly includes a man who does something shameful at night and when morning comes tells someone that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they removed Allah’s covering from themselves in the morning.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

However, this rule has exceptions. Imam Nawawi said, “There is no harm in telling about a sin to one’s shaykh or another person who may be expected to teach one how to desist from the act or refrain from similar acts, or apprise one of the causes that led to it, or pray for one.” (Adhkar)

Given this, it would be permitted for you to tell your family members if they are people who you expect advice from, who may assist you in fighting your addiction to pornography and keep an eye out for you.

You should not, however, publicize your sins merely for the sake of telling people. Rather, you should identify those who may help you in your struggle and then inform them of your problems to the extent that is required for them to address your problem effectively.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Are There Valid Reasons to Reveal Sins?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I have a question relating to marriage and disclosing ones previous sins. If while considering a prospective spouse you feel sins you committed in the past may come to light later,  is it permissable to reveal this in general terms i.e “I committed a mistake and have sincerely repented” before the marriage /agreement? Or should we keep our sins quiet regardless of how likely we think they are to surface in the future.

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

The basis is that one does not reveal their sins, whether current or past, unless there is a shari`ah-countenanced interest in doing so.

As such, you should avoid revealing such sins to your spouse not only because of the clear prohibition mentioned in our primary source texts but also because of the potential harm it could cause your marriage. You can, however, mention how grateful you are for Allah’s guidance and your hope that He forgive you for any wrongs you committed without mentioning specifics.

Prophetic Statement on Revealing Sins

The prohibition of revealing one’s sins is demonstrated by the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), “All my community will be excused except those who commit sins openly. Commiting them openly includes a man who does something shameful at night and when morning comes tells someone that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they removed Allah s covering from themselves in the morning.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

One of the reasons behind this is the fact that a sin is not something that the believer takes lightly. Rather, a sin is an action that Allah abhors and one that entitles its perpetuator to potential punishment. As such, the attitude of the believers towards the committal of a sin is to be remorseful, repent, and maintain the covering Allah has bestowed upon them.

Further, Imam Munawi said, “This is because from the attributes and favors of Allah is the manifestation of the good and beautiful and the concealment of the vile. Revealing sins is showing immense ingratitude towards such a blessing.” [Khadimi, Sharh Bariqa al-Muhammadiyya]

Revealing Sins Due to a Reason

Though the basis is prohibition of revealing one’s sins, exceptions do exist when there is a shari`ah countenaced reason.

Imam Nawawi said, “There is no harm in telling about a sin to one’s shsykh or other person who may be expected to teach one how to desist from the act or refrain from similar acts, or apprise one of the causes that led to it, or pray for one.” [Nawawi, Adhkar]

Even here, if it is possible to mention a thing in general without mentioning the actual sin or oneself then mentioning specifics would not be permitted.

And Allah knows best
Wassalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Younger Sister Woes: Dealing With Wisdom & Leading By Example

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: My younger sister has been seeing a boy, who is related to the family, behind our backs. She also has many male-friends and communicates with them on a flirtatious manner. She has been caught red-handed several times. My entire family have denounced this completely telling her such practices are impermissible and that she should wait until it is time for her to get married. My elderly father is completely distraught; everything she says is a complete lie.  She feels the need to latch onto boys because of the problems at home. I’m incredibly stressed out and no one else in my family steps up.  I truly feel I’m losing hope, I’m praying constantly to Allah to help but it just keeps getting worse. Please advise.

Answer: Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray all is well.  Shaykh Faraz has asked me to answer this as he is currently travelling and unable to respond.

Firstly, I commend you for your concern. However, you should not get depressed or burdened due to the choices and actions of another, independent adult. You can advise, but whether a person follows or not is out of your hands, and up to Allah Most High.

Secondly, you have to understand your sister, not cynically, but empathetically. As a teenager with emotions and needs, she knows what’s wrong from right, so pushing her won’t help- she has to be inspired to change.   I’ll give a list of quick advices insha Allah:

1. Don’t let your father take this burden on. If he can’t do anything, there’s no sense worrying him. Don’t mention it to him; cover your sister’s faults from him. Comfort him in other ways.
2. Your sister is leaning on others for self-validation and support; let her lean on you instead. Take her out, buy her gifts, write her notes, confide in her, ask her advice, and spend time with her without lecturing her or mentioning this; when trust builds, she may confide in you for advice.
3. If your sister has fallen into a relationship and is in the world of work, it’s a sign that its time to get married. Don’t belittle her feelings. Suggest marriage tactfully when the mood is good. If the guy is good – HELP her make it happen. Sisters since time immemorial have bonded over discussing their marriage ideals – by filling her heart with dreams of marital bliss, she is one step further from sin.
4. If she is hiding her sins, don’t spy on her or try to “catch her”. Doing so is unlawful and sinful. Don’t expose her sins without need to your family. Don’t suspect her unnecessarily. Let her go about life normally- you are not a guardian to her. Give her space to go through this phase and return for herself . Warnings have proven ineffective, so simply pray for her and emphasize the good she does.
5. Beautify your inner-self and increase your love for Allah Most High through Islamic spirituality. The most effective message is a beautiful example.  When people notice how fulfilling a relationship with Allah actually is, they willingly break their negative relationships to attain this ultimate fulfillment.

May Allah Most High bring all of us back to Him in this life, before He brings us all back to Him for the eternal life that follows.

Wasalam,
Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Sidi Abdullah Misra was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. He converted to Islam in 2001 and completed a degree in Business Administration. In 2005, he left Canada to pursue Islamic studies. He now lives in Amman, Jordan with his wife and two daughters, where he studies various Islamic sciences and concurrently serves as the Study Abroad Director at the Qasid Institute.