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Assalamualaikum SS Dato’ Seri Mufti. What is the status of sins between creations when a person embraces Islam? For example, the sins of stealing, slander and others?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

قُل لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِن يَنتَهُوا يُغْفَرْ لَهُم مَّا قَدْ سَلَفَ وَإِن يَعُودُوا فَقَدْ مَضَتْ سُنَّتُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] - then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place.

Surah al-Anfal (38)

Imam Ibn Kathir in Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azhim (4/40) explains: The meaning of (if they cease) is from what they commit in the form of disbelief and opposition. They should embrace Islam, obey and return to Allah. If so, surely Allah will forgive them for what has passed. It means from his disbelief, sins and wrongdoings as stated in a sahih hadith from Ibn Mas’ud RA where the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ أَحْسَنَ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ لَمْ يُؤَاخَذْ بِمَا عَمِلَ فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ، وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ أُخِذَ بِالأَوَّلِ وَالآخِرِ

"Whoever does good in Islam will not be punished for what he did in the Pre-lslamic Period of ignorance and whoever does evil in Islam will be punished for his former and later (bad deeds).

Sahih al-Bukhari (6921) and Sahih Muslim (334)

Imam al-Nawawi when explaining on this hadith states: the meaning of phrase “مَنْ أَحْسَنَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” is one embraces Islam wholeheartedly, from what is apparent and in his heart. While the meaning of “وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” is one who embraces Islam but without the belief in his heart. He manifests his syahadah, but deep down in his heart, he does not believe in Islam. (See al-Minhaj fi Syarh Sahih Muslim Ibn al-Hajjaj, 9/345)

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali states: The meaning of “مَنْ أَحْسَنَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” is practicing all His commandments and leaving all His prohibitions. While “وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” means (still) committing some of the prohibitions which he committed during his Jahil (ignorant) period (before embracing Islam). (See Faidh al-Qadir, 6/37)

Imam al-Munawi explained: The meaning “وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ” is insincerity or leaving tawhid and he dies in that state. (See Faidh al-Qadir, 6/37)

In a hadith narrated by Abu Said al-Khudri RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

إِذَا أَسْلَمَ الْعَبْدُ فَحَسُنَ إِسْلاَمُهُ يُكَفِّرُ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ كُلَّ سَيِّئَةٍ كَانَ زَلَفَهَا، وَكَانَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ الْقِصَاصُ، الْحَسَنَةُ بِعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا إِلَى سَبْعِمِائَةِ ضِعْفٍ، وَالسَّيِّئَةُ بِمِثْلِهَا إِلاَّ أَنْ يَتَجَاوَزَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا

"If a person embraces Islam sincerely, then Allah shall forgive all his past sins, and after that starts the settlement of accounts, the reward of his good deeds will be ten times to seven hundred times for each good deed and one evil deed will be recorded as it is unless Allah forgives it."

Sahih al-Bukhari (41)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar in explaining the above hadith said: It means he improves his Islam through his i’tiqad and sincerity and he embraces Islam wholeheartedly. (See Fath al-Bari, 1/99)

In another hadith, the Prophet PBUH also once said to Amru bin al-‘As RA:

أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّ الإِسْلاَمَ يَهْدِمُ مَا كَانَ قَبْلَهُ؟ وَأَنَّ الْهِجْرَةَ تَهْدِمُ مَا كَانَ قَبْلَهَا؟ وَأَنَّ الْحَجَّ يَهْدِمُ مَا كَانَ قَبْلَهُ؟

Are you not aware of the fact that Islam wipes out all the previous (misdeeds)? Verily migration wipes out all the previous (misdeeds), and verily the pilgrimage wipes out all the (previous) misdeeds.

Sahih Muslim (121)

Imam Nawawi said: “This shows the immensity of Islam, hijrah and hajj. Each one of them may wipe out any sin committed before.” (See al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim, 2/138).

Syeikh Muhammad Amin said: Indeed, Islam and iman will wipe away sins committed before one embraces Islam whether they are great sins or the minor ones. (See al-Kaukab al-Wahhaj fi Syarh Sahih Muslim, 3/221)

In a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, he said:

أَنَّ نَاسًا، مِنْ أَهْلِ الشِّرْكِ قَتَلُوا فَأَكْثَرُوا وَزَنَوْا فَأَكْثَرُوا ثُمَّ أَتَوْا مُحَمَّدًا صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالُوا إِنَّ الَّذِي تَقُولُ وَتَدْعُو لَحَسَنٌ وَلَوْ تُخْبِرُنَا أَنَّ لِمَا عَمِلْنَا كَفَّارَةً فَنَزَلَ ‏﴿وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلاَ يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ وَلاَ يَزْنُونَ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا‏﴾‏ وَنَزَلَ ‏﴿يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ لاَ تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ﴾

And those who call not unto another god along with Allah and slay not any soul which Allah has forbidden except in the cause of justice, nor commit fornication; and he who does this shall meet the requital of sin. Multiplied for him shall be the torment on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall therein abide disgraced, except him who repents a believes and does good deeds. Then these! for the Allah shall change their vices into virtues. Verily Allah is Ever Forgiving, Merciful (al-Furqan: 68-70). Say thou: O my bondsmen woo have committed extravagance against themselves despair not of the Mercy of Allah I Verily Allah will forgive the sins altogether. He is indeed the Forgiving, the Merciful (al-Zumar: 53).

Sahih al-Bukhari (4810) and Sahih Muslim (237)

Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar said: The scholars istidlal (use this verse as evidence) in stating that the forgiveness of all sins either big or small, regardless whether it is related to the right’s between people or otherwise. And the popular opinion among the Ahl Sunnah is all sins will be forgiven through tawbah (repentance) and it is forgiven from those chosen by Allah. (See Fath al-Bari, 8/550)


Based on the above statement, it is clear that forgiveness includes all sins either big or small, whether they are related to the rights of the children of Adam or not.

Still, it is best for those who are able to give back and compensate to what he took unlawfully from others’ rights to return them back in order to portray that Islam is a religion which upholds tasamuh islami (Islamic tolerance) as well as the best of conduct.

We close this with a du’a to Allah:

رَبَّنَا ظَلَمْنَا أَنفُسَنَا وَإِن لَّمْ تَغْفِرْ لَنَا وَتَرْحَمْنَا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

"Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers."

Surah al-‘Araf (23)

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