Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch
I converted to Islam when I was 17 but stopped consistently practicing for a few years, roughly 18-21. Alhamdulillah, Allah guided me back onto the straight path.
Though during the time of not practicing, I engaged in all sorts of sins, including living with a man I wasn’t married to.
I have made repentance, but I never feel like it’s enough.
Though my main issue is that I feel like I can never truly move on from what I did and that it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I can’t hide my sexual past from a potential spouse because my non-Muslim family may bring up a partner in casual conversation because they wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong.
I also don’t feel like I could find a spouse as interested in connecting with the deen as I am but also willing to accept my past. If I tried to explain to them my desire to keep it hidden, they would call me regressive and “too religious”. I’m interested in pursuing religious studies, but I always feel that my past means I lack true character and purity. So I shouldn’t bother.
I was hoping for some advice.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
The underlying condition of repentance is remorse, and from what you have described, you seem sincerely remorseful. You should know that once sincere repentance remains, the state of sinfulness is gone.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The one who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin.” [Ibn Majah; Bayhaqi; Tabarani]
This repentance is the first and most crucial step in rectifying one’s relationship with Allah Most High.
Moving On From a Sinful Past
It would be best if you did not doubt whether Allah Most High has forgiven you or not. Although you may feel bad for what you have done, you must put that behind you and have a good opinion of Allah Most High.
Allah Wants to Forgive Us – Having a Good Opinion of Allah
It is essential always to have a good opinion of Allah Most High. Allah Most High says, in a Hadith Qudsi, “I am as My slave thinks of Me.” [Bukhari; Ahmad]
In the narration of Imam al-Darimi is an additional, “so let them think of Me as they wish.” [Darimi]
Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an that He wants to forgive us. He says, “And Allah wants to accept your repentance, and those who follow (their) lusts want you to go far astray.” [Quran, 4:27]
The Good Men for the Good Women
It would help if you strived to embrace total obedience and mindfulness (taqwa) of Allah Most High.
Allah Most High says, “…whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them (from every difficulty).” [Quran, 65:2]
By aiming to lead a life of righteousness and obedience, Allah Most High may provide you with a righteous spouse interested in the Religion and accepting of your past.
Allah Most High says, “Corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men are for corrupt women; good women are for good men, and good men are for good women…” [Quran, 24:26]
The Only Relief is Allah Most High
Whatever difficulty you may find yourself in, you must know that only Allah Most High can help you. And Allah has commanded us to turn to Him in supplication and promised to respond.
Allah Most High says, “And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” [Quran, 40:60]
You should turn to Allah Most High with the prayer on the need that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us.
I pray that Allah Most High blesses you and guides you to the best spouse for you in this life and the next.
Hope this helps
And Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani