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Breaking Off an Engagement Due to Revealing Sins

Answered by Dr. Bano Murtuja

Question: I disclosed some of my past including sexual abuse from family when I was very young and sins I’ve done in the past.  Later after researching the issue I learned that it is sinful to reveal your sins.  My fiance doesn’t mind and she respects my honestly, but I’m uncomfortable now with this sin I’ve committed and I feel humiliated in front of my fiance.  Allah hid my mistakes and I revealed them.  Now I feel the relationship is based on something haram and I’m thinking of breaking it off.  What should I do?

Answer: Walaikum Salam Brother

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

Please forgive me for the delay in responding to your mail.

The veils placed over our sins by Allah are indeed a blessing, and as such should not be lifted. However, in your case, you spoke to your fiancé in ignorance of this, and as such there is no blame.

One should remember that what you are experiencing is waswasa (baseless misgivings). These can create doubt and feelings of discontent where there are none.

It is important that one does not act on such misgivings, as doing so simply makes it easier for one to be attacked by them.

[1] One should make sincere dua to Allah, and ask for protection from these misgivings. Allah alone grants success.

[2] One should make constant remembrance of Allah (Exalted be He), as this acts as a protection against such whisperings.

[3] One should seek sacred knowledge, as this will provide a better understanding of ones faith and its prescripts.

Please see the following answers for more advice on waswasa: A Reader on Waswasa (Baseless Misgivings)

I pray your marriage is one of ease and facilitation.

Ma’salam

Bano

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

Should I Tell My Spouse About My Relationships Before I Got Married?

Answered by Ustadha Sulma Badrudduja

Question: Assalaamu alaikum, My doubts are as follows:
1) Before marriage, I had a relationship with a Christian boy. Finding it, my parents forced me to marry a Muslim which I did. Later I repented for having a relationship with the
Christian boy. Although before marriage itself, I told my husband that I love a Christian, I didn’t give all the details. Should i reveal all my past to my husband? Kindly note that I have only been with my husband. But, details like love letters & he touching my hand,face etc., I am hiding. Will Allah punish me? After marraige, I have never allowed any other man in my life other than my husband.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I hope you are doing well inshaAllah. The Messenger (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, “The one who [sincerely] repents from sin is like the one who has no sin.”  Since you have repented from your sin and stopped all contact with the person, you do not need to worry about being punished inshaAllah. Please look at these answers on repentance and sin:

Regarding disclosure of this previous relationship to your husband, it is not necessary — it is actually prohibited. It is sinful to speak about sins, including one’s own, unless there is a shari`a countenanced reason.

Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said, ” All my community will be excused except those who are blatant. And it is from blatancy for one to perform an act at night while his Lord covered it, and then to wake up and tell someone that they did such-and-such yesterday, while Allah had concealed it for him. He slept under the cover of Allah, and he rended Allah’s covering from himself in the morning.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Please see this detailed answer about speaking about past sins:
Can We Deny Having Committed Sins After We’ve Repented From Them?

Wassalam,
Sulma

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Can We Deny Having Committed Sins After We’ve Repented From Them?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: If one commits some sin, lets say he/she killed someone or committed zina.  The person is truly sorry and makes sincere istighfaar and never does this again.  Is it true that if asked sometime in the future if has ever previously committed murder/zina he can say NO? So in other words, does making sincere istighfaar wipe your slate clean so that if asked about it one can answer as if he/she has never done the sin in question?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

Sins are wiped out by sincere repentance. However, if they relate to the rights of another, this right has to be returned. Killing is especially dangerous because taking the life of another is a wrong which cannot be returned in this life. As such, one’s repentance should be coupled with a true turning to Allah, lest the one killed demand requital on the Day of Judgment.

Talking About Sins

It is prohibited (haram) and sinful to talk about sins, whether current or past, except when there is a Shariah-countenanced reason. Even when such a reason exists, if it is possible to mention something general (such as not mentioning oneself or any particular type of sins) then mentioning specific sins would remain sinful. This is because it is:

(1) obligatory to avoid vain talk [defined below] and

(2) obligatory to conceal one’s sins.

Imam Barkawi said in his al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya,

“Talking about the vain is to talk about sins [K: one’s own or others’], such as talking about gatherings of drinking, or the fornicators, without there being a valid reasons. This is because it is revealing sin, whether one’s own or another’s, without a [K: religiously valid] reason.” [al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya, 3: 224-225]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “All my Community will be excused except those who are blatant. And it is from blatancy for one to perform an act at night and to wake up and tell something that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they rended Allah’s covering from themselves in the morning.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

What if I am asked whether I did such and such?

Given this, if someone asks one whether one used to do drink, for example, in the bad old days, one cannot answer in the affirmative. Rather, one should answer by an indirect answer, like, “Why would any Muslim drink?” Or, “Alhamdulillah, Allah protected me from that,” intending that Allah protected one after one stopped. If such an indirect answer does not come to one’s mind, it would be permitted (or, rather, necessary) to lie and deny this.

Why?

The reason why it is so important not to talk about sin is because of what sin is: it is that which Allah hates, and may punish its doer for in the Hereafter. Sins go against the very purpose of the creation of humanity, which is to know and worship Allah. If you examine sins, all of them either entail or lead to social harms.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Believers see their sins as if they were sitting at the foot of a mountain and feared that it may fall on them, while the corrupt see their sins as if they were a mere fly that flew by their nose.” [Bukhari and Muslim] Sins are something extremely grave. The believer fears even getting close to sinning, because of their firm belief, sincere devotion, and true love.

When people start talking about sins, they lose their gravity and people start thinking (even if only subconsciously) that it is not all that bad to sin. For example, if one missed praying Fajr, one must feel remorseful. This remorse would lead to repentance and a determination not to make the same mistakes again. However, if one went to the breakfast table, and everyone was talking normally about how they didn’t get up for Fajr, this sin would feel less grave. Eventually, it would just be the way things are.

Taking Care of One’s Eyes and Ears

This is also why it is important to avoid seeing and hearing that which is not permitted. This is not only the obvious sins, but also reading and seeing things that may affect one’s beliefs or understanding of Islam.

We have been instructed by the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) that, “From the excellence of a man’s Islam is to leave that which does not concern him.” [A sound (hasan) hadith, transmitted by Tirmidhi and others]

The great Hanafi hadith expert, jurist, sufi, and expert in Qur’anic recitations, Mulla Ali al-Qari (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned in his expansive commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih:

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.”

That is, to leave that which is not important or befitting of him, whether in speech, actions, or thought. Thus, the excellence of a man’s Islam is its perfection, such that one remains steadfast in the submission to the commands and prohibitions of Allah, and surrenders to His rulings in accordance to His destiny and decree (qada wa qadr). This is the sign of the heart having been expanded by the light of its Lord, and the descent of quietude (sakina) into the heart.

The reality of that which does not concern him is that which is not needed for a worldly or next-worldly necessity, and dos not aide in attaining his Lord’s good pleasure, such that it is possible to life without it.

This includes excess acts and unnecessary speech. This hadith may well be taken from Allah Most High’s saying, “And who shun all vain things.” [Qur’an, 23: 3;  f:  Imam Baydawi explains vain things in his Tafsir as being: “that which does not concern them of speech and actions”]

And it has been related in a Prophetic hadith that, “The people of the Garden will not remorse except for moments that passed them by without remembering Allah.” [Tabarani from our master Mu`adh (may Allah be pleased with him)].

So glad tidings to one who takes himself to account before he is taken to account!

Allah Most High has said, “O you who believe! Observe your duty to Allah. And let every soul look to that which it sends on before for the morrow. And observe your duty to Allah! Lo! Allah is Informed of what you do. And be not you as those who forgot Allah, therefore He caused them to forget their souls. Such are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an, 59: 18)

Awza`i said, “`Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz wrote to us, ‘Whoever is frequent in remembering death is content with but a little of this world. And whoever counts his speech from his actions speaks little except in that which benefits him.'” [Mulla Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih, 8: 585 #4840]

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,
Faraz Rabbani