I come from a very traditional Muslim family. Talking to guys on the internet was the only way to have some freedom. I was shy, desperate for love and felt lonely. Online chatting became my addiction.
I realized how naïve I was. I let myself and my parents down. I repented but the guilt and shame is consuming me. I wish I could turn back time, and erase what I’ve done.
Do I need to tell my parents? Will I find a husband, and do I need to tell him? Will Allah forgive me for the sins I have committed?
In this counseling answer:
• Pray and seek forgiveness.
• Trust and have faith in that mercy.
• Volunteer your time and effort.
• Examine family relationships and social life to determine what needs improvement.
• Speak with family about marriage if you feel ready.
• Identify 3 positive coping skills.
• Avoid temptations as much as able.
Assalamu alaikum wa ra hmatuulahi wa barakatu.
Thank you for taking the time to write in and express your concerns to us. It is my understanding that you have repented and feel shame about past events involving men.
My dear Sister, please know that you are not alone, not even close. I will share a study I read years ago with you. This might surprise you but it is the harsh truth. My intention is to bring you comfort in knowing that many struggle with relationship concerns.
According to a study from 2012, Muslims were the least likely to engage in premarital sex alhamdulillah. However, around 60% of Muslims do engage in premarital sex.
We can deduce that an even higher percentage engages in sexting, sending illicit pictures and physical affection that does not result in sex. I want you to understand that this struggle is a common one but alhamdulillah you are fighting it.
Alhamdulillah you have gained insight and see that these situations often end in the woman being used and hurt.
Doors of Forgiveness
My dear Sister, the doors of forgiveness and healing are always open to us. You are punishing yourself emotionally, as if it were some form of repentance. Sister, let it out and talk to Al-Ghaffar, The All-Forgiving, The Absolver, The Veiler of Sins and Faults, The Most Protecting One.
Seek comfort and healing in your Lord, cry for forgiveness. Then, stand up, and have trust and faith that the mercy of Allah (most honored, most revered) has absolved you.
“Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Quran 39:53]
Following this, you can take up a voluntary act such as helping clean a local mosque after Friday prayers. It is not obligatory in Islam to do physical acts to earn forgiveness; however, it does add to your good deeds and will help you let go of the guilt.
I specifically mentioned cleaning a local mosque as I personally find this to be symbolic and therapeutic. You might respond stronger to donating food or feeding the homeless.
Don’t limit yourself! Doing physical acts of charity on a consistent basis does not only helps others, pleases Allah (swt) and benefits your scroll of deeds. It often serves to cleanse our own conscience and can be very therapeutic. There is mercy and growth in serving others.
You mentioned being lonely which is partially why you sought online companionship. I encourage you to examine your family relationships and friendships, look for where you are unsatisfied. For example, do you have a healthy relationship with your parents or siblings?
If any of those relationships are strained, try to devote more time to being with them.
Look at your friendships and social life, determine if they are healthy and if you need more social interactions. Consider joining a local organization such as a sports club to help you make more friends.
Sister, it is very normal to crave affection and love as part of that loneliness. If you feel ready to seek out marriage, consider speaking with your parents about this and your next steps forward in this process. You are not under any obligation to tell them or your future husband about your past. It is your past.
“…Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves” [Quran 2:222]
As Muslims, it is beneficial to conceal the sins of others, and we are not supposed to reveal them unless necessary. My Sister, is there any necessity in revealing your past? You state you left this behind and have sought forgiveness, it is your choice if you want to reveal this or not.
During those moments when your emotions seem more negative, I suggest identifying 3 positive coping skills you can employ. At least one of these should be easy and practicable in public. Such as, deep breathing or saying dhikr are two examples of easy coping skills you can use anywhere.
Check out this video:
Other coping skills may require tools or more involvement. Here is a list of coping skills to give you an idea of what could help.
- Reciting Quran/Dhikr
- Reading a book
- Nature walks
- Talking with friends
- Listening to music/dancing
- Enjoying favorite tea or coffee
- Home repairs/building a small project
- Playing with a pet
- Smelling flowers and other calming scents
Coping skills are best when individualized. Find what works best for you during difficult moments. This helps you develop better control of your emotions inshallah.
Sister, I must urge you to be cautious with websites or locations that increase your temptation. For example, if you used one specific website to trade images then it is best to avoid that website. If you used a specific social media profile to do this, consider deleting that profile or avoiding that form of social media.
The idea is to make this as easy as possible on you. Avoid situations that will trigger those urges as best you can. If you are meeting with a man to discuss something for work or school, ensure you are not alone so the temptation won’t be a possibility.
During moments where you do feel tempted, it is time to use the coping skills. Those skills are not just about handling sadness or anxiety, they can also help you better control urges and temptations.
If you imagine a train track, coping skills can be like intersections to change the course of that train. Instead of feeling lonely and wanting to talk with a stranger, someone might use art, and vent those emotions and urges into a beautiful painting. Afterwards, this will increase your confidence as it proves to yourself that you can handle it.
Here is a summary of your next steps moving forward.
- Pray and seek forgiveness
- Trust and have faith in that mercy
- Volunteer your time and effort
- Examine family relationships and social life to determine what needs improvement
- Speak with family about marriage if you feel ready
- Identify 3 positive coping skills
- Avoid temptations as much as able
May Allah (swt) forgive all of your sins and grant you blessings,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.