Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In my early days of my Islam as a fresh revert, I had sex out of Halal means (Nikah) even though I knew this was Haram. Alhumdulillah, I have managed to conquer this problem and I now feel extreme guilt for Allah Ta’ala. My current wife knows about this past, but to be Islamically correct what should I do? I know that according to the Shariah, I should face lashings, but in this Western modern society we can’t So what should I do in order to make amends with Allah Ta’ala?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Conceal Your Sin
It is recommended for the one who commits zina to conceal his mistake and not tell anyone about it. Rather, he or she should turn to Allah in sincere repentance. It is not necessary or recommended to confess at an Islamic court and face the hadd punishment, and if someone did confess, it would be recommended for them to withdraw their confession and not be punished (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj + Hashiyat Abd al-Hamid, 9.113).
The Shafiis have many proofs for their position. Among them is that when Maiz came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and asked him to purify him, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to him, “Allah have mercy on you! Go away and ask Allah’s forgiveness!” Maiz then left but soon returned and asked again to be purified, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) repeated what he had said. The same thing then happened a third time, and it was only after the fourth time that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked Maiz some further Questions and ordered him to be punished (related by Muslim + others). When the hadd punishment was enforced on him, Maiz tried to run away but those stoning him chased him down and forcibly enforced the punishment on him. When the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) heard about this, he disapproved and said, “Why didn’t you let him go? Perhaps he would have made repentance and Allah would have accepted his repentance.” (Abu Dawud) Ibn Hajar notes in his Tuhfa that all of the offers made by the Messenger of Allah and his subsequent disapproval of his companions’ actions indicate that it is superior for one not to confess to committing zina, and that even if one did, it is recommended to withdraw one’s confession. Otherwise, the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) offers would be meaningless (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, 9.113).
Another proof is that it is a sign of Allah’s mercy that He has concealed one’s sin from the sight of others, and the Shari ah does not approve that one cast off this concealment despite Allah’s having given it to one.
al-Khatib al-Shirbini explains in his commentary on the Minhaj:
“It is sunna for the one who commits zinaand anyone else who commits any act of disobedienceto conceal his sin from others. This is because of the hadith, “Whoever commits any of these awful sins (qadhurat), let him conceal himself with the concealment of Allah, for verily, whoever exposes his action to us (man abda lana safhatahu), we will impose the hadd punishment upon him” (related by Hakim and Bayhaqi with a strong (qawiyy) chain of transmission). Exposing one’s sin, then, in order to be punished by a hadd punishment or a discretionary punishment (ta’zir) goes against the recommended way. As for talking about it out of enjoyment (tafakkuhan), it is definitely forbidden (haram) because of the rigorously authenticated hadiths that have come about it.” (Mughni’l-Muhtaj, 4.195)
Allah Loves to Forgive
Allah Most High told us in the Qur’an:
“Say, O my servants who have wronged themselves: despair not of Allah’s mercy; surely Allah forgives all sins; surely, He is Most Merciful and Compassionate.'” (39:53)
Commentators tell us that this verse is the most hope-inspiring verse in the Qur’an (arja ayatin fi kitabi’llah). Reading this verse should cause every believer to rejoice.
No matter how great the sin, the door of repentance is always open. Allah loves to forgive. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) told us in a famous hadith that if we did not sin, Allah would create other people who would sin so that He could forgive them. He also told us that the one who repents from a sin is like the one who has no sin.
May Allah envelop us all with His mercy and forgiveness and gather us together in Paradise.
And Allah knows best.