Jump to content

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

In Islam can we confess our sins to another person?

In Islam one cannot disclose his sins (small or big) to anyone; he must keep his secrets (regarding his sins) to himself. From Islam's perspective the self-respect a person has for himself is so significant that he can only confess his sins before God in the sense of asking for forgiveness. Not only will he not lose his respect but by confessing before Allah he will gain more. This is something solely restricted to God, for no other person even if he were to be a trustworthy person, is capable of returning one’s respect (that has been lost when he confesses to that person), let alone increasing it. On top of that, based on the tawhidi (monotheistic) viewpoint in Islam the sole cause for everything in this world is God [1] and no one can do anything without his permission especially granting forgiveness and pardon which has not been assigned to any individual or character in Islam other than Allah (swt) himself.

As for what Islam introduces as shafa’ah [2] (intercession) of the Owliya’ullah (friends of God), first of all, it is their mediating for the sinner’s forgiveness, not that they directly grant forgiveness themselves. In his book, Shahid Motahhari says: "Shafa’ah is the same thing as divine forgiveness; when it is attributed to Allah (swt), it is forgiveness, and when attributed to the intercessors and mediators, it takes on the name of shafa’ah." [3]

Second of all: Shafa’ah isn't given to just anyone, it is confined to Allah and is by his will bestowed upon those who by obedience and righteousness have manifested godlike values in their lives such as the Prophets, their successors, the Imams (A.S.), religious scholars, martyrs and true believers.

Third of all: The shufa’aa’ (interceders) can only do shafa’ah for those that are qualified to be granted it; it isn't to be used as a means of reaching material objectives and personal desires.

The shufa’aa’ (interceders) do shafa’ah (intercession) for those whom God has given permission; "They cannot intercede except for those whom He pleases." [4] Thus not everybody is able to be interceded for.

In reality, the concept of shafa’ah revolves around the principle of change, transformation and amendment of the “interceded individual” from his previous state which means that the person who is being interceded sets the groundwork and preparation so that he may prevent an undesirable chastisement. [5]

Therefore in Islam, both the interceder and the interceded must acquire certain qualities and be worthy of their granted positions and shafa’ah is only done by Allah's will and desire and through its specific set of mediators.

However in Catholicism, virtually every one of these conditions is being neglected. Not to mention that the past history of the Catholic Church in the mediaeval ages clearly portrays the extreme deviation that took place after getting hold of such ranks and authorities and misusing them as a means of reaching personal goals and obtaining other material interests.

Historians along with knowledgeable and enlightened Christians have endlessly condemned the behavior that took place at that particular period. The Church and the fathers of the church were particularly misled from their true religious duty, some of which can be unfortunately seen in the present day. A few that can be pointed out are: financial corruption [6] , moral corruption [7] , interrogating people’s beliefs, torturing and punishing the opposition, selling and dealing forgiveness.

Selling forgiveness by the priest first started when the church passed a rule that as atonement of their sins the penitents were to pay a certain amount of money, but along with that the church would also collect funds from the same person which gradually turned into an essential condition for anyone who wanted to confess and be pardoned from sin. This practice continued to the extent where confession became a mere formality and simply a custom lacking any true substance; its main objective being to make money. [8]

From numerous verses of the Holy Quran we can gather that there are various ways of attaining forgiveness and pardon of sin; of which here we will briefly mention some of them:

1. Repentance and rededicating oneself to the way of Allah, with sincere regret from past sins with a conscience decision to refrain from future sin and practical compensation of bad deeds by doing good deeds. [9]

2. Doing extraordinary good deeds which cause forgiveness of bad deeds, just as it states in the Quran: “Indeed good deeds efface misdeeds.” [10]

3. Abstaining from cardinal sins, which in turn cause the lesser sins to be forgiven. “If you avoid the major sins that you are forbidden, We will absolve you of your misdeeds, and admit you to a noble abode.” [11] , [12]

4. Tolerating the tribulations and misfortunes of this world will lighten the burden of sins of the believers; just as the affliction in the inter-world (Barzakh), and the initial trials of the Day of Judgment will help to eradicate his misdeeds. [13]

5. Divine forgiveness [14] is inclusive of worthy individuals; meaning the believers who, in their actions have had some shortcomings or have been contaminated with misdeeds. If these individuals are embraced by divine pardon then they will join those going to heaven, and if not then they will enter into the hellfire; however that will not remain their [permanent] place and station and they shall not be abandoned there forever. [15] , [16] 

Footnotes at the source: 

http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa2426

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I understand the concept that only the God can forgive a wrongdoing rather than a person, I am wondering if by this ruling one cannot turn to a religious leader for counseling/help with habitual sins or what I like to term "sins of omission" (not doing what you know to be correct in a given situation because to do so would inconvenience you)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/5/2017 at 11:39 AM, GD41586 said:

While I understand the concept that only the God can forgive a wrongdoing rather than a person, I am wondering if by this ruling one cannot turn to a religious leader for counseling/help with habitual sins or what I like to term "sins of omission" (not doing what you know to be correct in a given situation because to do so would inconvenience you)?

This would fall into psychology/pastoral ''health''care ie getting rid of habit. not the actual sense of forgiving. Unlike in, for example, Catholicism.

I think the former is okay, latter is not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 05/03/2017 at 7:39 PM, GD41586 said:

While I understand the concept that only the God can forgive a wrongdoing rather than a person, I am wondering if by this ruling one cannot turn to a religious leader for counseling/help with habitual sins or what I like to term "sins of omission" (not doing what you know to be correct in a given situation because to do so would inconvenience you)?

Help and forgiveness are two entirely different concepts. 

You can seek help on order to train yourself and be able to curb animalistic desires that often make you sin,  but that is pretty much like rehabilitation whereby you obtain some sort of counselling that makes your willpower stronger and eventually you leave the bad habit at question

On the other hand, forgiveness is whereby the consequences of your sinning is nullified. Who else, apart from God Almighty has the right to nullify or neutralise the effect of your sinning on your soul? 

To begin with, it is His ruling that certain actions are sins, and so, when you sin against your soul, you have gone against Him, so definitely no one else apart from Him and Him alone, has the right and option to forgive or not to forgive. 

For instance, a student who misbehaves in class can only be forgiven by the teacher of that class, and not any other school staff,  so similarly, when we sin against Allah SWTT, only Allah SWTT has the right to forgive, and no one else, regardless of the latter's position or greatness - no one is Greater than Allah SWTT, the Forgiver. 

Secondly, when we talk of Shafa'ah (intercession),  this is in place whereby, due to our sins, we feel we need "help" in getting His Pardon and so according to the Holy Qur'aan, Allah SWTT says in Surah Al Maaedah, 5:35, "786- Taake ayyohal ladheena Aammanuu ttaqullaha wabtaghu ilayhil waseelata wa jaahaduu fee sabeelihi la'allakom tuflehoon - O you who have believed, fear Allah and seek the means [of nearness] to Him and strive in His cause that you may succeed." 

Intercession comes to place when we feel we are extremely sinful and have no means to ask Allah SWTT for forgiveness.. You tend to feel, with what audacity should I face Allah SWTT and Allah therefore has an option for us.. We can approach Him through His Chosen Ones who have always been Obedient to Allah and so Allah SWTT granted them the right of his domain to them, similar to to the case when a teacher grants the class monitor the right to take care of the class (for whatever reason) and so here, despite the teacher being present, the monitor can take any action as he deems suitable, including allowing or disallowing certain things because the law of permisibility is now in his hands... 

Another explanation  for Waseelah / intercession could be similar to the way a person would approach the ministers to get to the king.. In the same way, to reach to Allah SWTT is easy because He a a Kind and Loving Lord, but on account of our sins, for every sin a barrier is created between the sinner and Allah and so we need to get intercession  so as to be granted forgiveness faster and to be able to gain His pleasure faster. 

Wabillahi Tawfeeq. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/5/2017 at 11:39 AM, GD41586 said:

While I understand the concept that only the God can forgive a wrongdoing rather than a person, I am wondering if by this ruling one cannot turn to a religious leader for counseling/help with habitual sins or what I like to term "sins of omission" (not doing what you know to be correct in a given situation because to do so would inconvenience you)?

If it were not for the fact that there are certain evil people in the community, pretending to be muslim/a , who will go about spreading around your 'confession' and thus ruining your reputation, there would be no problem with confessing. But you have to weigh the cathartic effect of 'confessing' against the very real possibility of your reputation being ruined. The more 'public' your confession, there more likely it is to be spread around by certain people. 

If you have absolute trust in a person or small group of people, then it might be o.k. to confess to them in order to seek advice / help and people obviously do this. But here on SC, which is a public forum, it is definitely not o.k.. Although most people don't use their real names, and they are to a certain degree anonymous, the more details you give about you life and situation, there more possibility there is that someone (and possibly one of these evil people) could put 2 and 2 together and figure out who you are in real life. So just to be safe, we say don't do it. The honor and dignity of a believer is sacred. We don't want to put someone in a situation where Allah(s.w.a) might have forgiven their sin(s), but they are still suffering humiliation in the community because of this confession. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2017 at 8:25 AM, Abu Hadi said:

If it were not for the fact that there are certain evil people in the community, pretending to be muslim/a , who will go about spreading around your 'confession' and thus ruining your reputation, there would be no problem with confessing. But you have to weigh the cathartic effect of 'confessing' against the very real possibility of your reputation being ruined. The more 'public' your confession, there more likely it is to be spread around by certain people. 

If you have absolute trust in a person or small group of people, then it might be o.k. to confess to them in order to seek advice / help and people obviously do this. But here on SC, which is a public forum, it is definitely not o.k.. Although most people don't use their real names, and they are to a certain degree anonymous, the more details you give about you life and situation, there more possibility there is that someone (and possibly one of these evil people) could put 2 and 2 together and figure out who you are in real life. So just to be safe, we say don't do it. The honor and dignity of a believer is sacred. We don't want to put someone in a situation where Allah(s.w.a) might have forgiven their sin(s), but they are still suffering humiliation in the community because of this confession. 

Hmm.... BUT confessing to fellow men does not  grant you forgiveness... They themselves are sinful as well... Unless you are immaculate, which no one is except Allah SWTT and Ahlolbayt ASWS 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Abu Hadi said:

But you have to weigh the cathartic effect of 'confessing' against the very real possibility of your reputation being ruined.

The problem with 'confessing' sins in public is that it risks normalising the behaviour.

Anyone else who is in a similar situation thinks, 'ah, I have a kindred spirit' and you then risk a group identity becoming established, with their own sub-cultural leadership etc.

We could the link this with the notion of 'subjective norms', which are measured as follows and considered to have an impact on personal behaviour:

"Most persons who are important to me think I should/should not 

Should

[description of behavior.]"

https://chirr.nlm.nih.gov/subjective-norm.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2017 at 9:45 AM, Fatimiyyeh said:

Hmm.... BUT confessing to fellow men does not  grant you forgiveness... They themselves are sinful as well... Unless you are immaculate, which no one is except Allah SWTT and Ahlolbayt ASWS 

Muslims, at least, don't confess sins to a person to be 'forgiven' by them. That is not something that is part of the religion as it is in other religions. But they confess, mostly, because they think if they tell someone they can 'get it off their chest' and they will feel better, psychologically. Not everyone thinks that way but alot of people do. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Abu Hadi said:

Muslims, at least, don't confess sins to a person to be 'forgiven' by them. That is not something that is part of the religion as it is in other religions. But they confess, mostly, because they think if they tell someone they can 'get it off their chest' and they will feel better, psychologically. Not everyone thinks that way but alot of people do. 

@Abu Hadi

As Muslims, we must realise that we should totally submit to Allah (SWTT) and Allah (SWTT) is our Kind and Loving Lord and so, we must also take Him as our best friend and it would be much better to confess to Him in Sajdah :)

Wabillahi Tawfeeq

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just thinking about this the last few days. I'm very grateful to your post.

I wonder if we as human beings have just become cluttered. We talk far too much. We wade in our own emotions too much. Focus on the ninsensicals that isn't good for us. 

I agree the best time for professing sins is in sujood. Or right after you feel like you've done something wrong. Those are only in private moments between Allah swt and me. That's all that really matters. He is all that matters. 

For anything else you can journal. Talk to yourself in the car to let things out or find clarity. Sitting in nature. 

It's sad to say human beings are human beings. More often than not they'll gossip and slander. Integrity, a moral code, ethics, all seem to have gone down the toilet. Maybe it's always been this way. Hence the need for guidance! 

My favorite quotes from the Prophet saws and Ali as are about silence, patience and how to be a person of integrity. 

So just stay connected to Allah swt 

get a journal 

purge negativity quickly and alone 

I got a cat, so I'm happy as pie! 

Really, thanks again for positing this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recent Posts on ShiaChat!

    • @E.L King gave great advice. Also make sure that even if she doesn't listen, you don't let her think that you're fine with her not wearing hijab (Sayed Sistani). But you have to remember to give her the message in a way that resonates with her and is most likely to produce a response. It also doesn't mean you should stop treating her with kindness - on the condition that such treatment doesn't encourage her in her ways, in which case even breaking ties with family is wajib if it's the only way to stop them from committing sins (see Sayed Khamenei's Q and A on this topic). So pray for her and find the best way to guide her to fulfilling this important obligation.
    • As l posted during Europe's refugee "crisis". one country built something like 75-100km of border 'wall' (chain link, razor wire, and all) in a weekend following a week or more on another section of their southern border.
    • A new anti-Trump book has been released. Collusion by Luke Harding(2017). These two book reviews express skepticism over the inherent validity of any innuendo or "relationships" between Russia and Trump. ln a BBC interview, 23Nov17, Harding said this putting-Trump-in-the-Soviet/Russian-camp has been a Moscow objective since the 1980s. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/luke-harding/collusion-harding/  https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/promotionalss/article/75310-vintage-to-release-collusion-a-new-book-on-trump-russia-controversy.html
    • Whoever is telling you "that's between her and Allah it does not concern you" is ignoring the commandment of Allah to enjoin good and forbid evil. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is even more important when it comes to your own family members. If she has her mind made up and you cannot stop her, then it is not wajib on you anymore, only then can you let it go. But if you can stop her by convincing her through dialogue and preaching, then it is wajib on you to to try. But you should never show pleasure in these actions of hers. May Allah bless you.
    • Yeah I think she's exactly the same.
×