What should I do to keep my sins hidden?

The Details of the Question

- I repented of my sins and told people some of my sins in my past. I said, “Look! I did this; you don’t do it.” And when some people asked, “Did you do this or that?” I said I did so as not to lie. Thus, a lot of people learned about my sins. It is said that those whose sins are known by others will not be forgiven. What will happen to me? “I want my sins to be hidden in the hereafter. “Since I told many people about my sins, is it possible for my sins to remain hidden?”
- What should I do?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is possible for your sins to remain hidden in the hereafter even if people know about it. It is Allah who will reveal our mistakes or who will hide them and not show to anyone in the Hereafter.

From this point of view,
- If we fulfill the conditions of repentance, if we do not commit those sins again,
- If we ask forgiveness from those whose rights we have violated and if we make up with them,
- If we do not search people’s mistakes and if we do not tell anyone about the mistakes we see,
- If we forgive the wrong deeds done to us, do not tell anyone about them, and keep them hidden,

Allah, who hides every mistake and who is Ghafur (Forgiver) and forgives our mistakes without even blaming us, will never remind them us of our sins that we have told others if He is pleased with us and if He wills. We expect this benevolence, grant and grace from His endless mercy, forgiveness and pardoning.

Man Can Make Mistakes

Our Lord forbids all kinds of secret and open sins. (al-Anam, 6/151) However, he also states that we can sin. (an-Nisa, 4/17)

We are humans; we can make mistakes. However, we should not announce those mistakes and sins. We should not make people witness our sins. Our only witness should be our Lord. We must turn to him. There is nothing that can be hidden from Him. Pain may be reduced by sharing it with others but sins are not forgiven by sharing. Speaking openly about sins breaks the resistance to sin. Therefore, sins should remain hidden. A person should not lift the veil of secrecy unless Allah lifts it. If a person boasts about his sins, the punishment for his sins will be increased many times more.

Regret and Repentance of Sins

It is the most important condition and sufficient for the servant to embrace regret and repentance in the face of his sins in his own conscience, that is, in his inner world to be considered repentant. There is no need to list and confess his sins in front of another person or institution; such a deed is incompatible with the belief of tawhid (oneness) because no one other than Allah has the authority to accept or reject repentance of sins or to impose penalties for sins.

Unless sins involve violation of the rights of others, they are personal and are between a person and his Lord. If it includes the violation of the rights of others, the sin is an issue only between the person whose right has been violated and the person who has violated; it is still regarded as a secret for third parties.

Concealment of Sins for Forgiveness

The principle of “secrecy” is in question for sins and this principle should be preserved. Allah’s name “Sattarul-Uyub (Concealer of Faults)” wants to hide sins. Sins must be kept secret so that the path of forgiveness will remain open.

The Names of Sattar and Ghaffar of God Almighty

Stating that that man has a nature capable of committing faults and sins, Nursi says that the names of Sattar (Concealer) and Ghaffar (Forgiving) of God Almighty function as a bulwark against faults and sins, and that God Almighty covers, hides and forgives sins only when one takes refuge in Him. (see Mesnevi-i Nuriye, p. 113)

The confession of guilt by a criminal in judicial courts is considered repentance. If a sin or crime has been committed in an area related to the rights and laws of one or more people, the courts will definitely take action to judge the criminal and protect the innocent people. It is necessary to ensure justice, and it is a separate issue. In this regard, it is a virtue for a person to confess his guilt at the court, and it is like repentance in a sense.

However, a person should hide his sins that do not concern others, avoid spreading his sins and repent of his sins in his own conscience. It is haram to boast about one’s sins.

We should not tell others about our sins

It is essential not to commit sins; we need to take all kinds of material and spiritual measures to ensure it.

However, when some people commit a sin either due to their souls, the devil or other factors, they cannot help telling others about it. They think that if they do not tell someone about their sins, they will be full of stress and that they will be relieved when they share it with someone. However, they do not take into account what it will cost them to spread their sins.

One should repent instead of telling others about his mistakes

One should not tell anyone about his mistakes so as not to be criticized and mentioned by some people who know nothing but to blame. Instead of telling his mistake to someone, one should open his hands and beg God Almighty, ask for forgiveness, and repent of his sins. He should know that God Almighty will forgive him when he sincerely repents and fulfills his duties of worship.

Exposing one’s sins makes him shameless

It should not be forgotten that exposing one’s sins makes him shameless and gives him the courage to sin again.

Hearing someone’s sins makes some people with weak character view those sins with sympathy and commit them when they have the opportunity.

What is worse, a sin that is exposed has less chance of being forgiven.

We should not forget that Allah Is forgiving

A sinner should not tell anyone about his sin as if he had done a heroic act. Thinking that his Lord knows the sin he committed, he should feel ashamed and should hope that God Almighty will forgive him, as it is indicated in the hadith below:

Once, while the Prophet was sitting in the Masjid an-Nabawi, a man came to him and said:

“O Messenger of Allah! I have committed a sin that must be punished. Punish me!”

The Prophet did not say anything to that man. However, the man repeated his request soon:

“O Messenger of Allah! I have committed a sin that must be punished. Punish me!”

The Messenger of Allah did not answer him again. Then the time for prayer came and the prayer was performed. That Companion, who was overwhelmed by the burden of sin, followed the Messenger of Allah after the prayer and repeated his request:

“O Messenger of Allah! I have committed a sin that must be punished. Punish me!”

The Prophet turned to the man and asked:

“Did you not make wudu properly when you left your house to come to the mosque?”

“Yes, I did, O Messenger of Allah!”

“Did you not come to the mosque and pray with us?”

“Yes, I did, O Messenger of Allah!”

“Then, Allah has forgiven your sin.” (Bukhari, Hudud 27; Muslim, Tawba 44)

With this good news, the Prophet informed us that worship would not only bring thawabs to people but they would also atone for sins.

Let’s cover and conceal the faults of others

“If a person hides the mistakes and faults of his Muslim brother, what others have not seen and what that person does not want anyone else to see, Allah will cover his faults on the Day of Judgment. If a person reveals something that his Muslim brother does not want to be heard, Allah will reveal his faults and what he does not want to be known. Thus, He will disgrace him even if he is in his own house. He who covers the faults of his Muslim brother is as if he has revived a dead person.” (Bukhari, Mazalim, 3; Muslim, Birr, 58; Tirmidhi, Birr, wa Sila, 85)

“If a person covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his fault on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 39)

“If a person sees a fault and covers it, it is as if he has given life to a baby buried alive in the grave.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 38)

“Allah Almighty states the following in a sacred hadith:
I am so generous and forgiving that I will not expose in the Hereafter a Muslim servant’s fault that I covered in this world and will not disgrace him.’“ (Jamius-Saghir, 2893)

We should not investigate others’ faults and mistakes

And spy not on each other behind their backs...” (al-Hujurat, 49/12)

“Do not investigate one another’s private live.” (Muslim, Birr wa Sila, 30)

We should pray

“Ask Allah to cover your faults and make you safe from what you fear.” (Jamius-Saghir, 638)

We should try to be treated by Allah’s name Ghafur

Al-Ghafur: It means the one who forgives a lot, covers sins a lot and forgives faults a lot. God Almighty is Ghafur. He forgives sins, covers faults and forgives His servant. The difference in meaning that distinguishes this name from the name “al-Afuww”, which means the one who forgives, is as follows:

The name al-Afuww includes forgiving sins but the faults and sins are exposed and the servant feels embarrassed.

The name al-Ghafur includes forgiving sins and the sins are not exposed; thus, the servant is not disgraced by being reminded of his sins; and the sin is completely abandoned. We can better understand this difference in meaning with the following example:

Suppose that a shopkeeper entrusted the cash register to an employee. The employee stole money from the safe that was entrusted to him due to the devil. The shopkeeper caught his employee red-handed. Now the shopkeeper can do three different things to his employee.

The first one: He can grab him, scold him, and hand him over to the police, making him go to jail. It is punishment. The shopkeeper can prefer punishment.

The second one: The shopkeeper can call the employee to his room and start scolding him:

“Did I not do you favors? Did I not protect you? Did I not pay you more than you deserved? Did I not take care of you when you had nothing? How did you wrong me in return for all this? Do you have no mercy! Are you not ashamed at all?”

He can utter similar sentences, disgracing and embarrassing his employee. He can scold his employee and remind him of his favors. However, then, he can say to him,

“I will not hand you over to the police. I will not punish you for this crime. This disgrace is enough for you. I forgive you.”

This is the deed of forgiveness. The shopkeeper does not punish him and does not hand him over to the police. However, he disgraces him and scolds him. Thus, the shopkeeper acts in accordance with Allah’s name al-Afuww.

The third one: the shopkeeper sees and knows the theft of his employee, but does not scold or disgrace him. He does not call him to account for this crime; he acts as if he does not know it. He does not disgrace him. Thus, the shopkeeper acts in accordance with Allah’s name of al-Ghafur.

Just like in the example above, God Almighty can treat His servants in three different ways. He sometimes punishes His servants due to their sins and disobedience. It is Allah’s punishment and His treatment with penalty. Sometimes, He does not punish His servants in this world and in the hereafter due to their sins and disobedience. However, He reminds his servant of those sins the Day of Reckoning. He disgraces His servant by making his hands, eyes, ears and other organs talk. In fact, this disgrace and shame will reach such a level that the servant will want to go to Hell as it is indicated by the following hadith:

It was reported from Jabir Ibn Abdullah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“On the Day of Judgment, the shame and disgrace of the son of Adam in the presence of Allah will reach such a level that he will want to be ordered to go to Hell so that he can be saved from disgrace.” (Suyuti, Durrul Mansur: 2/411)

Yes, God Almighty will disgrace some of His servants so much; then, He will punish some of those servants by throwing them into Hell; and He will forgive some of them and put them to Paradise. It is forgiveness. In other words, He does not punish them by putting them in Hell, but He disgraces them by scolding them due to their faults. The third treatment of God Almighty is this: He never reminds His servant of his sins and does not scold him due to his mistakes. He even makes His servant forget that he has committed those sins so that he will not be embarrassed and ashamed in His presence and his joy will not turn into sadness. It is the manifestation of the name Ghafur. He makes the servant forget his sins and forgives him completely.

Therefore, we pray to Allah, with the expressions وَاعْفُ عَنَا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا saying, “Our Lord, blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness” in the last verse of the chapter of al-Baqara, which we read after the night prayer, and we ask Allah for pardoning and forgiveness. Only pardoning is not enough. We also ask for forgiveness so that our sins will not be revealed and we will not be disgraced. This forgiveness we want is the manifestation of the name al-Ghafur and it has a meaning beyond pardoning.

We should learn the following from the hadith above:  

We should act as if we are blind in the face of people’s faults and never see them. We should not blame anyone. Let us pity them and try to correct him with grace. He who can do it will be a mirror to Allah’s name al-Ghafur, which is a great blessing.

Hz. Isa (Jesus) states the following regarding the issue: “Do not look at people’s faults of as if you are the Lord. You are a servant; deal with your own faults.”

May God Almighty show us the manifestation of the name al-Ghafur! May He cover our faults and not scold us due to them! May He treat us with His name al-Ghafur! Amin!

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