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How long or how many times should I try looking for the person wronged by me in order to ask for their forgiveness?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

So far I can’t find them online to say sorry and ask for forgiveness. I was speaking to them online and told them I was committing something haraam. It was a joke but they probabaly don’t know that. I fear they won’t forgive me or they might do wrong becaause of me or get a bad impression of Islam. I think it is one thing asking forgiveness from Allah but what about the person I have wronged. What can I do?

Answer

Continue to search for those whom you have wronged for that period of time
in which you are certain that now you definitely won’t be able to find them.
If you do find them ask for their forgiveness. However, if on the contrary
you don’t, then you should constantly ask for Allah Ta’ala begging him to
forgive you and them as well.

We understand this from a Hadith of Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam)
wherein he is mentioned to have said regarding those who have made Gheebat
and wish to repent but they can’t find those whom they have made Gheebat of
or thy may have died, ‘Verily the recompense of Gheebat is to supplicate
thus, ‘O Allah, forgive us as well as him (the one whose Geebat was made).’
(Ma’ariful Qur’aan vol.8 pg.123)

Although this Hadith infers specifically to Gheebat, we understand that on a
broader spectrum, it could encompass all such situations wherein one has
wronged his fellow and cannot locate him. You may also take out some money
as Sadaqah and make the intention that you are giving it on their behalf. In
the instance where you feel you may have created a bad impression of Islam,
then we advise you to make Tawbah (repentance) for this and in future
continue to promote and propagate Islam in whatever way possible.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
FATWA DEPT.

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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