"Allah forgives my ummah for what they think unless they utter it or do it." Will you explain the statement above in detail?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“Allah forgives my ummah for the evil deeds their souls may whisper or suggest to them as long as they do not act on it or speak." (Bukhari, VII/59)

It is stated in the hadith above that people will not be punished for the illegitimate desires that come to their minds unless they commit them.

“Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it, Allah calleth you to account for it.”(al-Baqara, 2/284)

It is understood from the verse above that we will be called to account for the thoughts in our minds. Accordingly, a munafiq (hypocrite) who hides his unbelief will be called to account like unbelievers who do not hide their unbelief. The existence of the hadiths and verses that can have different meanings have caused scholars to have different views about them:

As it is understood from the verse above, nothing will be kept hidden from Allah. Therefore, it does not matter whether people express what they have in their minds or keep it a secret; the preferences they make based on their free will and the deeds they do are included in the reckoning and Allah will call them to account for all of them; He will keep them responsible for them. However, after responsibility becomes certain, He forgives whomever He wishes and punishes whomever He wishes. Therefore, even His penalty is pure justice and His forgiveness is pure grant and help. In fact, forgiveness is mentioned before penalty here. However, they are things and decrees that are related to His wish; therefore, only Allah knows who will be forgiven and who will be treated based on justice.  

In the face of this fact, people who are to be treated based on justice should avoid all kinds of bad deeds when they are alone and when they are among people, do charitable deeds with perfect belief, make good deeds and virtues their habits so as not to be punished by Allah; bad deeds should not exist in them in the form of characteristics, traits, ethics and even state; they should try to eliminate all kinds of evil from their inner world. 

Do not say how they can be possible. Allah has power over everything. Allah, who created human beings, the skies and the earth deliberately can kill all of them at once and revive the dead, call them to account for their open and secret deeds, reward the good ones and punish the bad ones and forgive those who deserve punishment. (see Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, the interpretation of the verse in question)

To sum up;

Man will not be called to account for the delusions, suggestions, images and imaginations that come to his heart unwillingly. For, the following is stated in the verse that comes after it, “On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear.” Therefore, there is no responsibility for the sins that come to a person’s heart involuntarily, without any purpose and determination.  (see Nasafi, the interpretation of the verse in question)

According to what scholars state, when a person decides to commit a sin but changes his mind, regrets and repents, he will not be held responsible. Similarly, if he tries to commit a sin and cannot do it due to some obstacle outside his will, he will not be held responsible for that deed but he will be held responsible for his intention. For instance, if a person intends to commit fornication but cannot commit it due to any reason, he will not be held responsible for the sin of fornication but he will be punished for his intention – if Allah does not forgive him.  The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in the hadith that is mentioned in the question and that is included in all Kutub as-Sitta books:

“Allah forgives my ummah for the sins that they think about as long as they do not commit it or speak them.” (see Nasafi, the interpretation of the verse in question).

However, according to the majority of the scholars, the decree of the hadith is related to the things that are not intended. If a person decides and intends to commit a sin, he will be questioned for it even if he does not commit it. (see ibid)

If those thoughts are in the form of delusions, he will not be held responsible unless he does them.

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