Question # 484: Assalamu Alaykum. If someone commit Zina and try to repent, should he or she must tell about that to their spouse to fulfil the repentance? I have looked most of the articles and Hadith about this topic. Lots of articles mentioned that one should conceal his/her sin between them and Allah. In that sense one should not require to tell their spouse about the betrayal to complete the repentance. But then based on other Hadiths, one must right doing to the people they wronged. Like if someone steal something they should give it back. In that sense disclosing to spouse and ask for forgiveness should be must. Cause committing major sin like Zina destroys spouses right. So they deserve to know and decide. So which one should be done? Concealed it or asking spouse’s forgiveness as well? Also want to mention, what if the spouse completely dependent (emotionally) on the person made sin, knowing this will destroy him/her, risk of being miserable rest of his/her lives or even try to finish the life. And the sinner also value his/her so much want to spend the rest of lives with him/her. But at a same time don’t feel good about keeping him/her in the dark for whole life. Thank you.

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: First of all, the one who has committed zina should repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness. The issue of concealing the act of zina after repentance has been discussed at length in Question # 104. To further clarify your doubts – so long as a person has repented, his sins are wiped out as Islam deletes whatever came before and as the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin at all.” Allah accepts people’s repentance without their having to confess or expose their sins to any other person as the matter is between Him and His slave. In fact, uncovering one’s sin is not a condition in the validity of repentance. One of the Names of Allah is “al-Sitteer”, meaning the One Who covers or conceals (the faults of His slaves), and He likes His slaves to conceal their sins too.

Further, if Allah has concealed the matter for his slave, then telling the truth to one’s spouse will only make things worse and open doors to more doubt and suspicion. Remember, literal truth can cause pain and harm and may even damage the couple’s relationship; hence, sometimes, it is wiser to conceal than to reveal. People who call for being frank with one’s spouse in such matters that Allah has concealed are wrong and ignorant. Rather one should be pleased with Allah and praise Him. One will not be considered a liar if he/she conceals his/her past mistakes. No doubt, lying is forbidden, but if it is an obligatory means to achieve a valid benefit, then the scholars have permitted it.

The questioner’s love for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and his/her spouse is evident, but one has to remember that they both are not the same and should never be equated. The goal of one’s life should not be to make one’s spouse happy under all circumstances but to uphold the supreme relationship with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), which is way above the relationship with one’s spouse. So, one should not disobey Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in the obedience of one’s spouse. One should remember the Day of Judgment, when everyone will be busy in their own affairs without caring about anyone else and each one of us, in the ultimate presence of Allah, will have one’s own secrets revealed, and accountable for our own deeds.

Long Answer: With reference to various ahadith, we have discussed at length the issue of concealing the act of zina after repentance in Question # 104. [To further clarify your doubts that] so long as a person has repented, his sins have been wiped out. Islam deletes whatever came before… [as the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The one who repents from sin is like one who did not sin at all.” (Narrated by Ibn Majah; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.] Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) accepts people’s repentance without their having to confess or expose their sins to any other person. A number of the Sahabah had committed adultery and murder repeatedly or had buried infant girls alive, or stolen things, but when they entered Islam they were the best of people. No one needs to be reminded of a shameful past; it is over and done with, and Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. What matters… is how that person is now: is he[/she] righteous or not? Has he[/she] cut all ties with his[/her] past and wrong deeds, or not? If he[/she] is clearly living a good and righteous life now, then it is wrong to dig up the past.

One of the Names of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is “al-Sitteer”, meaning the One Who covers or conceals (the faults of His slaves), and He likes His slaves to conceal sins too. As far as the Sahabah such as Maa’iz, the Ghaamidi woman who committed zina, and the man who kissed the woman in the garden are concerned, all of them did something which they were not obliged to do, may Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) be pleased with them, because they were so keen to purify themselves. The evidence for this is the fact that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) turned away from Maa’iz and from the Ghaamidi woman at first. When ‘Umar said to the man who had kissed the woman in the garden, “Allah covered his sin. He should have covered it himself?” the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) remained silent, indicating that he concurred with these words… [Therefore,] it is sufficient for [the person] to repent to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and the matter is between him[/her] and his Lord.

[Further, if Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has] concealed for her, then if he[/she] tells …the truth [to the spouse], that [will only make things worse and] open doors to more doubt and suspicion. What some people call for, of each spouse being frank with the other and telling them of things in the past that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has concealed, are wrong and ignorant. Rather they should be pleased that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has concealed it and they should praise Him for it. Malik reported in his Book of Hadith that a man offered to marry the sister of another. The latter told the former that his sister committed Zina before. When Caliph Umar Ibn Al Khattab (رضي الله عنه) heard the news, he called the brother of the girl and said to him angrily: “Who told you to disclose this information?”

If [one does] not tell [his/her life-partner] about the mistakes …committed in the past, then [there is nothing wrong and he/she will not be] considered a liar, as [one did so] what [was] required [in the given situation i.e.,] concealing [the] sins. It is true that lying is forbidden, but if it is an obligatory means to achieve a valid benefit, then the scholars [have] permitted it… One of the means by which one achieves the objective is by using connotations or equivocations, tawriyah i.e., to say a word or phrase or sentence by which one means something but the listener understands something else. But when using such a means, one should not cause the loss of the right of others, or cause harm to them.

[Furthermore,] informing of [one’s] sin is a sin in itself.  Al Hakim and Al Bayhaqi reported from Zayd Ibn Aslam that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “…Whoever amongst you happens to commit any of these dirty sins, he/she should conceal himself/herself with the cover of Allah, (know that) whoever amongst you reveals his/her sin to us, we will apply the Hadd (retributive punishment) on him/her.” [Lastly,] uncovering one’s sin is not a condition in the validity of the repentance.

(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:

  • Islamqa.info; and
  • Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)

The questioner’s love for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and his/her spouse is evident, but one has to remember that they both are not the same nor should they be equated. The goal of one’s life should not be to make one’s spouse happy in all cases and under all circumstances. The relationship with Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) is supreme and way above the relationship with one’s spouse. So, one should not disobey Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) in obedience to one’s spouse. When Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has favored us with covering our sins, we should never reveal them. Moreover, sometimes, it is much wiser to hold back information for the betterment of the situation. Hence under the given circumstances of the questioner, it is better not to tell than to think you have to because you are being dishonest. Remember, literal truth can cause pain and harm and may even potentially damage the couple’s relationship; hence, sometimes, it is more truthful to conceal than to reveal. The Day of Judgment is going to be extremely heavy and momentous on every single soul that everyone will be busy in their own affairs without caring about anyone else, be it be spouse, parents, friends, or children. Each of us, in the ultimate presence of Almighty, will have our own secrets revealed, and drowning in our own accountability alone. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “The Day when a person will flee from his brother. And his mother and his father. And his consort and his children. Every one of them, on that Day, will have enough to preoccupy him.” (Soorah Abasa, 80:34-37)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam