Is the forgiveness of a person who tells others about the sins he commits difficult?

The Details of the Question

- If a person commits a sin and tells this sin to one or two of his friends, will the repentance of this sin be accepted?
- It is stated in some hadiths that it is not accepted or it becomes difficult to be accepted.
- Are those hadiths not contrary to the verses of Allah and His names Ghaffar (Forgiving), Ghafur (Forgiver), Sattar (Veiler), etc.?
- If a person tells his friends about a sin, will that sin lose the property of forgivability?
- Since Allah’s forgiveness, mercy, etc. are mentioned so much in the Quran, should there not be a warning verse like “Do not tell your sins to others otherwise your repentance will not be accepted or it will be difficult to be forgiven"? Would Allah not mention such an important detail in verses?
- By the way, I gave the example of the verse I mentioned above only to clarify the issue. Allah is my witness

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith in question is as follows:

"All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those of the Mujahirin (those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people). An example of such disclosure is that a person commits a sin at night and though Allah screens it from the public; then, he comes in the morning, and says, ‘O so-and-so, I did such-and-such (evil) deed yesterday.’ Though he spent his night screened by his Lord (none knowing about his sin) and in the morning he removes Allah’s screen from himself." (Bukhari, Adab 60; Muslim, Zuhd 52-2990)

The openness (disclosure) of the crime” is emphasized in the hadith above. It is stated that it takes place in two ways:

The first one: A person commits sins openly and recklessly.  

The second one: He commits a sin secretly but tells someone else about it afterwards.

Since the deeds that are done secretly take place generally at night, the word “night…” is emphasized in the hadith. Otherwise, there is no difference between revealing a sin committed during the day and committed at night.

Thus, committing a sin openly or sharing it with other people by disclosing it is considered as a great impudence and darkness over darkness in the eye of Allah. Therefore, along with committing a sin, the phenomenon of “publicity” is described as a second sin and a greater sin.

We can explain whether it will be forgiven or not as follows:

a) First of all, we should state that it is not possible to say “it will definitely be forgiven” for any sin.

“Allah forgives all sins.” (az-Zumar, 39/53)

“Forgiveness” mentioned in the verse above and similar ones indicates that forgiving is possible not definite.

Guidance and warning are at the forefront in the style of verses and hadiths. The purpose of the expressions including both encouragement and warning is to give hope to those who fall into despair and to warn and intimidate those who act in a spoilt way.

It is necessary to understand this from the statement in the hadith because all the sins of those who enter the grave with belief, except shirk – unbelief - are within the scope of forgiveness. Doubtlessly, those who commit sins openly are not excluded.

b) The sins originating from the desire and wish of the soul are not the same as the sins originating from the pride and conceit of the soul.

Sins that are committed only in compliance with the desires of the soul are the result of ignorance and heedlessness.

A sin committed with pride and conceit is a deliberate revolt against Allah directly.

The sin committed in the first way shows the impatience, low resistance, helplessness and ignorance of the soul as a human being.

The sin committed in the second way means the person’s conceit, cockiness, impertinence and a kind of implicit challenge against Allah.

Therefore, the forgiveness of the sin committed in the first way is in question but the sin committed in the second way is excluded from the scope of forgiveness. That is one of the reasons for the forgiveness of Hz. Adam but the unforgiveness of Satan in the famous incident of sin.

c) If a person whose sin Allah screened tells his friend about it, it means to disregard His grace of screening his sin and to declare that he is not afraid and ashamed of people and Allah, and that he can do whatever he wishes openly or secretly.  

It is certain that this impertinent challenging will be punished in the world or the hereafter - unless he repents or does good deeds to compensate for it.

This is a general principle in terms of “crime-punishment” relationship. Allah’s forgiveness is an exception as "divine grace".

d) A sin is considered an ugly deed in society. Revealing one’s sins means encouraging someone else implicitly to commit sins.

From this viewpoint, the same sins of the person who committed that sin are recorded in the book of deeds of that person since he caused others to commit the same sin. This increases the sins of that person so much that, it virtually he pushes him out of the scope of forgiveness.

e) The following is expressed in a hadith in summary:

On the Day of Judgment, when Allah calls His slaves to account, He tells some of his slaves about their secret crimes and they accept them. However, Allah says, ‘I screened these sins in the world; I will screen them now too.’

It attracts Allah’s wrath to ignore this great grace of Allah related to screening sins, to disclose one’s crime and hence to prevent these sins from being screened and forgiven on the Day of Judgment. This danger may also have been pointed out in the hadith. (cf. Ibn Battal, 9/263-64; Ibn Hajar, 10/486-488, al-Ayni, 22/138-139)

- As Munawi puts it, when a person discloses his secret sin,

1. He betrays the grace of Allah related to screening his sins,
2. He commits a sin by arousing others’ inclination to commit sins,
3. If he really has the intention of encouraging someone else to sin, it is regarded as a separate sin.

So, with the original sin, the number of these sins increases to four. (Faydul-Qadir, 5/a11)

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