Ibn Taymiyyah on Repentance from a Criminal Offense

Majmu' Al-Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, was asked:

If a man commits a sin requiring a legal punishment, such as flogging, then he repents from that sin, abandons it, seeks forgiveness, and intends never to return to it, will this action be sufficient? Or does he need to go to the authorities and make his sin known so that he receives legal punishment? Is it better to cover his sin and repent, or not?

Ibn Taymiyyah answered:

If he has truly repented, then Allah will accept his repentance without needing to establish the legal punishment upon him, as mentioned in the prophetic tradition:

مَنْ اُبْتُلِيَ بِشَيْءِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْقَاذُورَاتِ فَلْيَسْتَتِرْ بِسِتْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يُبْدِ لَنَا صَفْحَتَهُ نُقِمْ عَلَيْهِ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ

Whoever has had any of these ugly matters befall him should cover them up with the veil of Allah. Whoever reveals to us his sins, then we will act against him according to the Book of Allah.

Source: Muwatta 1562, Grade: Hasan li ghayri

Likewise, there is the narration:

مَنْ أَذْنَبَ سِرًّا فَلْيَتُبْ سِرًّا وَمَنْ أَذْنَبَ عَلَانِيَةً فَلْيَتُبْ عَلَانِيَةً

Whoever commits evil in secret, then let him repent in secret. Whoever commits evil in public, then let him repent in public.

Source: Hilyat Al-Awliya 4988

Indeed, Allah the Exalted said:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ

They are those who, when they commit obscenity or wrong themselves, they remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins.

Surah Ali Imran 3:135

And Allah knows best.

Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 34/1

وَسُئِلَ رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ عَنْ رَجُلٍ أَذْنَبَ ذَنْبًا يَجِبُ عَلَيْهِ حَدٌّ مِنْ الْحُدُودِ مِثْلَ جَلْدٍ أَوْ حَصْبٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِنْ ذَلِكَ الذَّنْبِ وَأَقْلَعَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ وَنَوَى أَنْ لَا يَعُودَ فَهَلْ يُجْزِئُهُ ذَلِكَ أَوْ يَحْتَاجُ ذَلِكَ إلَى أَنْ يَأْتِيَ إلَى وَلِيِّ الْأَمْرِ وَيُعَرِّفَهُ بِذَنْبِهِ لِيُقِيمَ عَلَيْهِ الْحَدَّ أَمْ لَا وَهَلْ سَتْرُهُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ وَتَوْبَتُهُ أَفْضَلُ أَمْ لَا

فَأَجَابَ إذَا تَابَ تَوْبَةً صَحِيحَةً تَابَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ حَاجَةٍ إلَى أَنْ يُقِرَّ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُقَامَ عَلَيْهِ الْحَدُّ وَفِي الْحَدِيثِ مَنْ اُبْتُلِيَ بِشَيْءِ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْقَاذُورَاتِ فَلْيَسْتَتِرْ بِسِتْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ يُبْدِ لَنَا صَفْحَتَهُ نُقِمْ عَلَيْهِ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَفِي الْأَثَرِ أَيْضًا مَنْ أَذْنَبَ سِرًّا فَلْيَتُبْ سِرًّا وَمَنْ أَذْنَبَ عَلَانِيَةً فَلْيَتُبْ عَلَانِيَةً َقَدْ قَالَ تَعَالَى وَالَّذِينَ إذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ

والله أعلم

 34/1 مجموع فتاوى ابن تيمية الفقه كتاب الحدود

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.