The Obligation of Repentance and Freeing oneself from Wronging the People
Al-Imaam ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah bin Baaz (may Allaah have mercy upon him)
Translated by Aqeel Walker
Question: I used to be ignorant, and indeed Allaah favored me with Islaam. Before that I had committed some wrongs (against others) and mistakes, and I heard a hadeeth from the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – may prayers of blessing and peace be upon him) which says, “Whoever has some injustice that he has done to his brother, regarding (his) honor or anything, then let him get pardon from him today (i.e. now) before there will not be any deenaar (gold coin) or dirham (silver coin).” To the end of the hadeeth. How do you advise me in this situation?
Answer: Indeed Allaah has legislated for His slaves that they repent from all sins. Allaah, the Most High, said: “And repent to Allaah, all of you, O you believers, so that perhaps you will be successful.” [An-Noor (24):31]
And Allaah, the Most High, said: “O you who believe! Repent to Allaah with sincere repentance.” (At-Tahreem:8)
And He, the Magnificent and Exalted, said: “And verily I am Oft-Forgiving for whoever repents, and believes, and works righteous deeds, and then is rightly guided.” [Taa Haa (20):82]
And the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – may prayers of blessing and peace be upon him) said, “The one who repents from the sin is just like the one who has no sin.”
So whoever commits anything from the acts of disobedience (to Allaah), then he must make haste to repent, and feel regret (for what he did), and leave off the act, and beware (of that sin), and have truthful, firm resolve that he will not return to committing that again. He is to do this out of having utmost reverence for Allaah, Glory be unto Him, and due to being sincere to Him, and being aware of His punishment. And Allaah accepts the repentance of those who repent. Therefore, whoever is truthful in turning to Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, and he feels remorse for what happened in the past, and he has truthful resolve that he will not return to that act, and he stops doing it, all due to reverence for Allaah, and fear of Him, then indeed Allaah will accept his repentance and erase from him whatever happened of sins. Allaah does this as a favor from Himself and as an act of kindness from Him, Glory be unto Him and Exalted is He. However, if the sin was an act of transgression against the slaves of Allaah (i.e. harmful to other people), then this requires the giving of their right. So he must repent from whatever happened by being sorry, stopping whatever he did, having firm resolve not to return to doing it again, and he must also – along with that – give back the right to whoever deserved it, or he must free himself from that. He does this, for example, by him saying to the owner of the right, “O my brother, excuse me,” or, “pardon me”, or he gives him back his right. This is due to the hadeeth that you alluded to, and it is the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam – may prayers of blessing and peace be upon him), “Whoever has some injustice that he has done to his brother, let him get pardon from him today (i.e. now) before there will not be any deenaar (gold coin) or dirham (silver coin). If he has any righteous deed, he (his oppressed brother) will take from his good deeds according to his injustice. So if he does not have any good deeds, then he (the wrong doer) will take from the bad deeds of his companion (the one that he harmed), and he will carry their burden himself.” It was related by Al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh.
Therefore, it is obligatory upon the believer to be zealous about freeing himself, and being safe from (taking) his brother’s right. This is by him returning (the right) to him, or by him seeking pardon from him. If it was his honor, then he must free himself (by seeking his pardon) in that regard as well, if he is able. And if he is not able, or he fears from the outcome of that – for example, that from his informing him (about what he said or did against him) more evil will result – then verily he seeks forgiveness for him, and he supplicates (makes du’aa) for him, and he mentions him with the virtues that he knows about him, in place of what he previously mentioned about him of evil. He is to do this in the gathering places where he backbit him previously, in order to wash away the first evils with these latter good deeds, opposite of the evils that he had spread before. And he seeks Allaah’s forgiveness for him, and he supplicates for him. And Allaah is the Giver of success.
Al-Imaam ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (may Allaah have mercy upon him)
Source: Majmoo’ Fataawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutannawa’ah, 6th Volume.
Translated by Aqeel Walker