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Does One Have To Ask the Forgiveness of People He Has Wronged in the Distant Past?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question:

Does one have to ask the forgiveness of people he has wronged in the distant past?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us.

A Requirement of Repentance

A requirement of true repentance after having wronged another person is to seek that person’s pardon. Accordingly, you would need to seek the pardon of those you may have wronged, even if it was a long time ago. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]

The Sacredness of the Believer

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

“Every Muslim is haram for another Muslim, in terms of his blood, wealth and honour.” [Muslim]

If you insult, inflict harm, or violate anyone’s honour, you must seek their pardon. This is because your sin has been recorded in your book of deeds. This is true even if this took place many years ago. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]

To obtain Allah’s pardon and forgiveness, you must:
(1) seek the pardon of the person you offended, and
(2) turn to Allah seeking His forgiveness. [Nawawi, Riyad al-Salihin]

Advice

Even if the person has forgotten about the incident, thinks you are crazy, or believes that the matter is a trivial one, it is always better for us, as Muslims, to adopt the path of caution in matters regarding our relationship with Allah and the Day of Reckoning.

For a more detailed discussion on the meanings and conditions of repentance, you may read here:

https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/what-is-sincere-repentance/

And Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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