Keeping Sins a Secret Matter
The Messenger of Allah said: “My entire nation is safe, except Al-Mujahirin (those who boast of their sins). Among the Mujaharah is that, a man commits an evil act, and wakes up in the morning while Allah has kept his sin a secret, he says: “ Last night I did this and that.”
From among the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is to keep sins a secret matter. If someone commits a sinful act, which is against the Commandments of Allah, or is against the moral character, or is such an act that may cause harm to one’s honor, then he should keep it a secret and seek forgiveness from Allah in the darkness of night.
The Messenger of Allah said: “My entire nation is safe, except Al-Mujahirin (those who boast of their sins). Among the Mujaharah is that, a man commits an evil act, and wakes up in the morning while Allah has kept his sin a secret, he says: “O Fulan! Last night I did this and that.” He goes to sleep while Allah has kept his sin a secret, but he wakes up in the morning and uncovers what Allah has kept a secret!” [Sahih Al-Bukhari].
Zayd ibn Aslam narrated, ‘At the time of the Messenger of Allah, a man admitted that he had committed fornication, so the Messenger of Allah asked for a whip. He was brought a broken whip, so he said: “Better than this.” Then he was brought a new whip, he then said: “Lesser than this.’ So, he was brought a whip that was used and had thus become soft, and the Messenger ordered that he be whipped with it (a hundred times). He then said: “O People! It is time for you to refrain from transgressing Allah’s limits. He who commits some of these filthy acts (such as fornication), let him hide under Allah’s cover, for whoever admits what he has committed, we will establish Allah’s Book as regards him (by applying the warranted punishment for this sin).” [Musnad Ahmad]
Abdullah Ibn Masoud related, “A man came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman in the far side of Al-Madinah, and I fulfilled my desire, short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here am I, judge me according to what you decide.’ Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) then said: ‘Allah had kept your secret, why did not you keep your secret’?” [Muslim].
Similarly, if one becomes aware of somebody else’s sin, he should keep it a secret. Allah’s Messenger said: “He, who relieves a hardship of this world for a believer, Allah will relieve (from him) a hardship of the Day of Resurrection; he who makes easy an indebted person, Allah will make it easy for him in the world and the Hereafter; he who covers a Muslim (meaning his mistakes and shortcomings), Allah will cover him in the world and the Hereafter.” [Muslim]
Abdullah Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) related, “The Messenger of Allah once rose above the podium and then said with a loud voice, “O those who have embraced Islam only with their tongue, while Iman has not yet entered their hears, neither harm Muslims, nor mock them, nor try to expose their mistakes, for he who follows (searches for) the errors of his brother, Allah will follow his errors, and he whom Allah follows his errors, He will expose him even if he was in the middle of his home.”[Saheeh Al-Jamee]
Imam An-Nawawi writes, “This Hadith indicates that, following and then exposing people’s mistakes only occurs by the hypocrites and those whose Iman is so weak, that it did not yet fill their hearts.”
Exposing sins lead to humiliation and embarrassment, which ceases the possibility that the sinner might someday regret his mistake, seek forgiveness from Allah and purify his soul from sins because one of the things that prevent one from committing sins is the fear of humiliation. However, if the sinner knows that the people are already aware of his sins, then he does not experience the shame and distraction which he used to feel before, and this might encourage him to commit sins openly!
Secondly, when sins are repeatedly mentioned in gatherings, etc,. the fear of committing sins vanishes from the people’s hearts. First the sin will become easy on people’s tongue and gradually he, who does not feel any shame in mentioning the sin, will not find it difficult to even commit the sin. This is how, sins spread in the society!
So, if someone becomes aware of his brother’s sins and realizes that nobody except him has seen him committing the sin, then he should keep the sin a secret. He should not encourage people towards sins by exposing his faults.
Allah, the Exalted, has not only condemned committing sins, in the Qur’an, but He has also condemned those people who mention sins in public. Allah says in Surah An-Nisa (4): 148, “Allah does not like that evil should be uttered in public except by him who has been wronged.”
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) commented on this verse, “Allah does not like that anyone should invoke Him against anyone else, unless one was wronged. In this case, Allah allows one to invoke Him against whoever wronged him…Yet, it is better for one if he observes patience.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
Today, sins have become widespread in the society because we have forgotten the teachings of Allah’s Messenger, who discouraged people from revealing one’s mistakes and sins as well as others. As a result, people have lost the fear of committing not only minor sins, but even major sins. Moreover, we find people proudly attributing sins to themselves!!