Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
I have read some Q&A on this topic, however I wanted to ask specifically about discussing sins with a prospective spouse, as I feel this might be different as they need to know about you. 1) Does one need to reveal their sins to a prospective spouse? What if these sins are in the past, and one has moved forward? 2) What if the sins are in the present, but one has a sincere intention to stop and become a better person? 3) What if they are related to not being married, for example masturbation or not lowering the gaze or pornography, etc. This could be a reason to get married, but does the other person need to know? 4) What if they are not related to getting married, e.g. having difficulty praying Fajr on time or something similar? Would a prospective spouse need to know about this?
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
I pray this message reaches you in firm iman, good health, and joyful spirits.
The general principle is that we don’t discuss our sinful actions with others, even prospective spouses.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “All my Community are well, except the revealers.” When asked who the ‘revealers’ were, he replied, “Those who sinned and slept in the covering of Allah, but then tore it off and revealed their sins.”
When Allah conceals a sin, it is a mercy for us. The wisdom of not discussing sins is profound. When we talk freely and openly about our past sins, it normalizes them, which is something that we definitely want to avoid.
Now in some situations, particularly when we’re trying to convey a lesson to those who could benefit from our experience, then it’s permissible to refer to the past in a general way. However, you have to assess the mindset of your audience and the potential benefit or harm of sharing this type of information.
When you’re talking to a prospective spouse, obviously a lot of sensitivity is required. Once again, the general principle is that you don’t reveal the details of past sins. However, I would add a consideration here, and that is…if you believe that your behavior may have exposed you to any infectious diseases, then you owe it to yourself and your prospective spouse to get tested and to be honest about the results of those tests.
Other than health considerations, however, it is best to not dwell on the past and to, instead, focus on a brighter future, insha’Allah.
Now if the sins are ongoing, such as masturbation and looking at pornography, then it is up to you to put a stop to these behaviors. This is not something you need to discuss with a prospective spouse. However, if you feel that these issues might carry on into the marriage, then I do suggest you seek counseling to deal with these problems and learn ways of changing these habits. You have to put yourself in the mindset that your eyes and limbs have rights. Their primary right is to not be utilized for anything unlawful. You also want to consider the harmful effects of pornography on yourself and your view of women. One of the best preparations for marriage is to lower your gaze from nudity and indecency and look forward to the pleasure of being with a righteous woman. Likewise with the masturbation issue, it’s important to understand this is a harmful, unlawful practice. Sexual desire is meant to be experienced and shared with one’s spouse. So try to curb these behaviors by fasting, lowering your gaze, and looking forward to a healthy and loving marriage.
Finally, the issue of waking up for fajr is certainly important. And it is not necessarily unrelated to marriage. I think it would be fine to mention to the sister that you would like her assistance in being punctual for prayers. Being married is all about helping your spouse to be a better Muslim. Allah Ta’ala says, “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.” (Al-Tahrim, 6)
I pray this has been helpful.
And Allah knows best.