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Not Being Able to Forget My Past Hinders My Life

24 July, 2017
Q Salam Aleikum. I'm 30 years old, and I have a good life, Alhamdulillah; I’m freshly married and very happy. But something causes me a stir. Before I got married, I made several mistakes which I deeply regret. I had repented before I got married, but their memory still hurt. Whenever I remember I say astaghfar Allah (May Allah forgive me), and I cry because I feel ashamed. I want to forget them and move on with my life which I love. Or is it better to not forget and keep always saying astaghfar Allah? I know my question may sound dumb, but it seriously doesn't give me any peace. Is it better to blame myself again and again? I heard once that it's "haram" to keep telling someone who changed that he was a sinner. Does this also include one's self? Is it better to believe that Allah has forgiven me and not remind myself or to keep reminding and ask for forgiveness? Thank you for your answer.


In this counseling answer:

Focus on your marriage and live in this purity you are in now and serve Allah (swt) and your husband. Ask for forgiveness from those you hurt. The act of asking for forgiveness itself is reparative and will help to restore your soul. If they do not forgive you, leave it alone and move on in the confidence that Allah (swt) has forgiven you.

Wa `Alaikum As-Salam dear sister,

Allah says in the Quran:

“And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself, but then seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will find Allah forgiving and merciful.” (4:110)

I am so happy that you wrote in and shared your worries with your brothers and sisters here at aboutislam.net. This worry is very common. There are two possible reasons why you might be struggling with letting go of your past and living in your current and present life with the joy of knowing that you are indeed the pious woman that you want to be – in the here and now, with no more intrusive thoughts about your past.

You are, indeed, forgiven on a spiritual level, in sha’ Allah. If you know sincerely that your heart is with Allah (swt), then on this spiritual level, this is all there is and no other condition should affect you. However, to experience that forgiveness on the psychological, emotional, and physical level, you need to complete your work on these levels of existence, too. Thus, one of the reasons why you may not be experiencing the peace in your heart and soul that comes from Allah’s forgiveness is that you are seeking “permission”; you need to hear from people you trust that you are a good person now and that this is what defines you now.

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This is an emotional and psychological need for what is called “reframing”.You may still perceive yourself as you were when you were engaging in haram behaviors. But you have changed. Your desire is to actually experience yourself as the pious woman that you are now, but you need external validation in order to do that. This is normal and very common among so many human beings who have changed.

I can give you this reassurance that you are no longer the individual who made the mistakes, and that if you have, indeed, purified your heart, cleaned your mind, and changed your behaviors, you are a different person. Because of this repentance and change, and your asking Allah (swt) for forgiveness, you are a forgiven person, and you are a new woman. b8b10c64498c0257afe16e9

It is better for you to focus on your marriage and live in this purity and to serve Allah (swt) and your husband. Be completely present for your loved ones and do not use this energy thinking about the past and worrying about whether you are good enough to be the person you desire to be. You are. Your family will benefit from your shifting.

Focus on being thankful for the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah (swt) and ask Allah (swt) for daily guidance so that you can be a good wife and servant for Him. Thus, your prayer will change in this way – asking Allah (swt) for guidance for each day and thanking Allah (swt) for His forgiveness and that He has changed you as it is only Allah (swt) who can change a person. If you begin to pray this way, after a few weeks, this doubt you have should begin to fade.

If this doubt does not fade, then it is possible that you have not done some specific actions that will help you correct your psychological, emotional, and physical (worldly) conditions. When we intentionally or unintentionally harm another person and make them suffer as a consequence of our behavior, we must make amends. We need to do whatever we can to make up for the wrong we have done. If you are able, take an action that will have some corrective power and restore the balance of harmony between you and any individuals who may have suffered from your past behavior. If this is not possible, know in your heart that you would if you could and ask Allah (swt) to forgive you for your weakness and for what you lack.

Asking those whom you hurt will help you as well as them to heal. If they do not forgive you, this does not mean that Allah (swt) does not forgive you. The act of asking for forgiveness itself is reparative and will help to restore your soul. If they do not forgive you, leave it alone and move on in the confidence that Allah (swt) has forgiven you. Sometimes when people cannot forgive when asked, it is a reflection of the condition of their heart, not yours, so let it be and Allah (swt) will help them, in sha’ Allah.

If your circumstances are such that you cannot ask forgiveness in person because this will cause too many problems, then simply write a letter. This action alone is very healing. Make sure that you are not asking anything of the person. Do not worry that the person from whom you are asking for forgiveness has also hurt you. This action will help you move through this darkness and will likely change you as a person, for the good, even more.

Understand that we serve a good God (swt). Allah (swt) is good and wishes to bestow upon His creation only happiness and goodness. Humanity suffers because of ignorance, but Allah (swt) corrects whom He wills. If you have been corrected and you have changed, as a result, understand how profound that is, and how deep the love that Allah (swt) has for His creation. We do not serve Allah (swt) by suffering. Because of the changes Allah (swt) has made in you, you are able to participate in the goodness of life that Allah (swt) has created and given to you.

Open your heart to receive the gifts of Allah (swt) and thank Him every day for His redeeming grace, love, and mercy. Shift your focus from shame and blame to praise Allah (swt) and receive His guidance. Don’t look back!



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 


About Maryam Bachmeier
Dr. Bachmeier is a clinical psychologist who has been working in the mental health field for over 15 years. She is also a former adjunct professor at Argosy University, writer, and consultant in the areas of mental health, cultural, and relationship issues.