Is a person who commits a major sin forgiven if he repents?

The Details of the Question

- If a person commits a major sin, for example, fornication, and then repents and asks for forgiveness, is he forgiven if he finds the true path?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The decree on fornication is clear in Islam. If a person confesses four times in front of the judge and asks for the punishment or there are four witnesses, he will be punished. If he is married, he will be sentenced to stoning; if he is unmarried, the punishment is not stoning, but a hundred flogs.

However, if he does not confess or if no one has seen what he has done and reported him, the only thing he can do is to regret for his sin and repent and never do it again.

Besides, even if he confesses to such a crime, there is currently no authority to punish him today. Two things remain. One is the violation of the rights of a person; if there is such a thing, he has to ask her to be forgiven. The other is repentance and forgiveness for the right of Allah and not to commit that sin again.

 Human beings are created in a way to do both good and evil. Therefore, from time to time, they may commit sins willingly or unwillingly. The following is stated in the Quran regarding the issue:

“Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth.” (an-Nisa, 4/48, 116)

Thus, Allah states that He can forgive any sin.

It is stated in our books that sincere repentance through the heart will be accepted by Allah.

As a matter of fact, Allah states the following in the Quran:

“O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow.” (at-Tahrim, 66/8)

Sincere repentance (tawba nasuha) mentioned in the verse is as follows:

1. To know that one has committed a sin against Allah, to take refuge in Allah because of that sin and to regret.

2. To feel sorry because of committing that sin, to have a guilty conscience because of committing such a sin against the Creator.

3. To feel determined that he will not commit such a sin again.

4. If it is related to the violation of a person’s right, to ask forgiveness from that person.

“Tawba Nasuha” is described as follows in a narration:

“- To regret sins.

- To perform fard deeds.

- Not to oppress and be hostile to others.

- Make peace with the people one is cross with.

- To decide not to commit that sin again.” (see Kanzul-Ummal, II/3808)

If we act in accordance with those conditions, we hope that Allah will accept our repentance.

However, man needs to be between fear and hope all the time. We can neither rely our worshipping nor can we lose hope due to our sins. It is wrong to say, “I am very good, I am a person of Paradise,”; it is likewise wrong to say “I am finished; Allah will not accept me.” Besides, it is regarded as worshipping to repent by realizing one’s sin and to take refuge in Allah.

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