When to Conceal the Faults of Others
Fatwa No: 370801

  • Fatwa Date:18-2-2018 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 3, 1439
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Question

I was listening to some Islamic lectures about concealing faults of others so these questions came to my mindWhat to do if we are witness of someone's sin who tried to do it privately but somehow got exposed and was seen by people. For example drinking wine or zina in secluded space like his car. Noting that the sinner does not hold a bad reputation in society and did not had the intention of doing it publicly but still some people saw it because it is easy to catch someone doing something sinful. Can we advise that person to repent sincerely and hide his/her sins from other people who don't know about or should we punish that kind of person by reporting it. And if that person is ready to give up his sins and turn Allah for forgiveness. Will Allah forgive him? And secondly if someone is very notorious in character and has no shame in committing sin publicly but is then guided by Allah and he wants to repent. For example a high way robber, having illicit relationship with girls, heavy drinker etc. Will ALLAH accept his repentance without application of any Islamic punishment on him obviously before bringing him to court of because if that kind of person repents he/she could be role model for giving up sins for many people. What about great scholars of Islam who were once alcoholics robbers etc but then guided by Allah. Or is it compulsory for that kind of person to be punished because once he was spreading corruption and evil in society.Please do not refer me to any fatwa unless it answers my question. Please write separately if possible even shortly

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

It is neither permissible to spy on the Muslims nor to reveal their faults because Allah says (what means): {And do not spy.} [Quran 49:12]

If a person commits a sin in secret, it is not permissible to reveal his secret, or to spy on him. In case his sin is known, and he is not a person who is known to commit sins, then it is more appropriate to conceal his sin and advise him to sincerely repent to Allah.

However, if the person commits sins openly and he does not care about that, then it is more appropriate to take his matter to the ruler so that the Hadd (the corporal punishment determined by Islamic Law) will be implemented on him in order to deter him and frighten others from doing such a sin.

The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads:

It is Islamically determined: that it is obligatory to conceal the sins of a Muslim if he is not known to harm the people, or do corruption. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: 'Whoever conceals the sins of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his sins on the Day of Judgment.' Sharh Muslim reads: 'This concealing is in regard to those who are not known to commit sins. Ibn al-Arabi said: If you see a person committing a sin, then advise him secretly and do not expose him.'" [End of quote]

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

"Concealing the sin of a person may be an ordainment and praiseworthy, and it may be forbidden. If we see a person committing a sin, and he is a wicked man who is indulging in sin, and concealing his sin will only increase his evil and wrongdoing, then we do not conceal him; rather, we report him so that he will be deterred; a deterrence that will achieve the objective." [End of quote]

As regards the person who commits a sin and his matter is not disclosed, then it is better for him to conceal himself, and his repentance will be accepted between himself and his Lord if he fulfills its conditions, no matter how great his sin is, provided that he returns the rights to their owners if he has transgressed the right of anyone.

Allah knows best.

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