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the sad clown

An Interesting Difference Of Perspective

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There was a thread elsewhere in which advice was given that we should keep secret the things in our past that we are ashamed of, not just from acquaintances, but even from someone as close as our spouse. I thought this was an interesting divergence of opinion between Islam and what I suppose is a Western mindset of trust through openess. Not that there is no commonality. I think both cultures agree that such a disclosure should not be forced. But there is the idea in the West (and perhaps Wattle can inform me if this isn't just something peculiar to me) of a husband and wife being open with one another, of keeping each others secrets and entrusting them with our secrets. This isn't always the reality of such a relationship, but I would like to think it is the ideal that a marital relationship is striving towards.

 

There is also the idea that if my spouse is to hear bad things about me that I would rather they hear it from me, rather than discovering it through rumors and gossip (which are wrong, I agree, but occur nevertheless). If it is revealed by me, she may not like it, but she knows that I will not hide other things from her as well. But if she learns of it through other channels, there could be doubt sown in the mind, wondering if there are other things that she does not know. By attempting to hide these things, from my perspective, the relationship seems to be based on deception, because the person I am offering to her is not the person I am, but rather a sanitized front.

 

Now, I want to be cautious here, because I do not want to accuse Muslims of doing this. This is only my perspective, and as far as I am aware, would only have legitimacy within the framework of the rest of my beliefs. But I am curious about how Muslims understand the fundamentals of such relationships, within the framework of Islam. What is trust based on if not openness (not a rhetorical question, I fully expect a satisfactory answer)? How do you deal with the concern that the spouse may learn of the incident from sources that could portray it in an even worse light, or cause the person to wonder if there are other secrets being hidden from them that would significantly change their understanding of your person.

 

Thank you in advance for what I anticipate to be a discussion, and not a debate. I want to reiterate that I do not think Islam is wrong, just different in this matter, and I would like to better understand this difference.

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PropellerAds

alsalaam-alaykum brothers and sisters

 

I would like to answer this question be stating that we are taught that lying is not allowed, so if your spouse were to ask you about a past problem either talk about it or not talk about it at all. Going forward, what sort of discoveries were you thinking of, than can clarify the question a little. If you are alluding to discoveries such as criminal records or previous relationships (outside marriage), i would say that it is not allowed to start off from the beginning. But just hypothetically speaking, if that was happening to me, i would tell her everything upfront.

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Personally, I see nothing in Islam which compels me to keep secrets from my wife. What Islam instead requires of me, is that I refrain from disclosing things which I might know about others. Barring certain exceptional circumstances, I must never say something about a person, even if true, if that disclosure would cause the person to feel hurt, should they learn of it. In fact, avoiding hurting people (regardless of their faith) has special importance in Islam.

 

With this in mind, I feel that I should be open with my wife about my past, lest she be hurt at later hearing about my past from someone else. Yet in the same vain, I needn't tell my wife every sordid detail about my past, lest this hurt her worse. It is matter to be decided on a case by case basis.

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alsalaam-alaykum brothers and sisters

 

I would like to answer this question be stating that we are taught that lying is not allowed, so if your spouse were to ask you about a past problem either talk about it or not talk about it at all.

Good. I didn't think that Islam sanctioned outright lying, but it is always good to have this strongly confirmed.

Going forward, what sort of discoveries were you thinking of, than can clarify the question a little. If you are alluding to discoveries such as criminal records or previous relationships (outside marriage), i would say that it is not allowed to start off from the beginning. But just hypothetically speaking, if that was happening to me, i would tell her everything upfront.

Well, the matter is sensitive, since it is a fellow who has come for advice and not to have his past the topic of a debate, but lets just say pre-marital indiscretions (which have been repented of, I should add). I would like to keep it as generic as possible so it can be discussed on a more ideological level, since what I am looking for is the concepts behind the advice, and not the particular advice of that situation.

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Personally, I see nothing in Islam which compels me to keep secrets from my wife. What Islam instead requires of me, is that I refrain from disclosing things which I might know about others. Barring certain exceptional circumstances, I must never say something about a person, even if true, if that disclosure would cause the person to feel hurt, should they learn of it. In fact, avoiding hurting people (regardless of their faith) has special importance in Islam.

Thank you. I completely agree that we should avoid gossip and rumormongering, even if we think it the truth without very important justification (like testimony at a trial).

With this in mind, I feel that I should be open with my wife about my past, lest she be hurt at later hearing about my past from someone else. Yet in the same vain, I needn't tell my wife every sordid detail about my past, lest this hurt her worse. It is matter to be decided on a case by case basis.

I agree with you here as well. Details, especially graphic ones that could only put harmful thoughts in the others mind, should be avoided. I guess I was anticipating a more general honesty, being upfront that there were certain activities, even if the sordid details of them are left out. Thank you for your reply.

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:sl: brothers and sisters

The following two fatwas consists something similar of what being discussed. So I thought it would be beneficial to be included here. Please note, the fatwas for one incident may not apply to all other cases as different people faces different situation. Therefore, one of the best way is to explain your situation to a scholar, to obtain an advice from him

 

Anyways, here are the two. Please read the content as you all may get some good piece of information.

 

Also I would like to mention that one of the most respected scholar here in Maldives affirmed to me that Sheikh Munajjid's fatwas are trustworthy and the sheikh himself adviced his fatwa website to me...

 

So here it goes.

 

:sl: brothers and sisters

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[iframe]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_islamqa(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/en/ref/91961[i'm not allowed to use this tag yet]

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[iframe]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_islamqa(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/en/ref/21841[i'm not allowed to use this tag yet]

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Salaams,

 

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, All my Community will be excused except those who are blatant. And it is from blatancy for one to perform an act at night and to wake up and tell something that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they rended Allah's covering from themselves in the morning. [bukhari and Muslim]

 

A sin is to wrong yourself, more than anything else. If Allah has hidden this sin from the world you should not go out of your way to then reveal it. The fact it was kept hidden from others is a mercy from your Lord.

 

For a Muslim, this works both ways. Just as you shouldn't reveal your past sins to anyone, neither should you ask others to reveal theirs. So a common one in the Muslim community is to ask your prospective spouse whther they've had any relations before. This is wrong and should not be asked. You should decide on whether you should marry someone on their current manners and attitudes, not what they may or may not have done in the past.

 

There is also the idea that if my spouse is to hear bad things about me that I would rather they hear it from me, rather than discovering it through rumors and gossip (which are wrong, I agree, but occur nevertheless). If it is revealed by me, she may not like it, but she knows that I will not hide other things from her as well. But if she learns of it through other channels, there could be doubt sown in the mind, wondering if there are other things that she does not know. By attempting to hide these things, from my perspective, the relationship seems to be based on deception, because the person I am offering to her is not the person I am, but rather a sanitized front.

 

This is a valid point. But in Islam, hearing about past sins of others should be ignored. Easier said than done, but that's the correct attitude. If you care about past sins of others than you will naturally be upset if you hear rumours. If you don't concern yourself with the past, you can ignore such rumours and get on with your life.

 

There is another point to all this though. When you speak freely about sins, you normalize them, and even make entertainment out of it. We all know people who have done shameful things but have then turned their lives around. The thing is, these people get a lot of respect and attention. It's a feel-good story, when we hear about people who have overcome their troubled pasts to become successful, righteous people. This is true of the Muslim community as well. I know brothers who talk about their past sins and how they've now become dedicated Muslims to teach others to be grateful for the guidance they have. But these guys get a lot more attention than those brothers who have been dedicated from childhood. It's great entertainment.

 

Peace

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This is a valid point. But in Islam, hearing about past sins of others should be ignored. Easier said than done, but that's the correct attitude. If you care about past sins of others than you will naturally be upset if you hear rumours. If you don't concern yourself with the past, you can ignore such rumours and get on with your life.

 

There is another point to all this though. When you speak freely about sins, you normalize them, and even make entertainment out of it. We all know people who have done shameful things but have then turned their lives around. The thing is, these people get a lot of respect and attention. It's a feel-good story, when we hear about people who have overcome their troubled pasts to become successful, righteous people. This is true of the Muslim community as well. I know brothers who talk about their past sins and how they've now become dedicated Muslims to teach others to be grateful for the guidance they have. But these guys get a lot more attention than those brothers who have been dedicated from childhood. It's great entertainment.

 

Peace

 

Yes, this is a good point. I can see how the 'normalisation' of sins would be a likely by-product of freely speaking about past transgressions. In the husband-wife context, I guess it would be important to consider firstly, why the sin needs to be revealed, and then, how. In some cases, it may be that revealing a past sin to your partner would be the lesser of two evils. If I felt that I had to reveal a sin in these circumstances, I would try to do so in a way that highlighted my embarrassment and shame at having committed the sin.

 

Thanks for the relevant hadith, I'll discuss it with my wife post haste!

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There is another point to all this though. When you speak freely about sins, you normalize them, and even make entertainment out of it. We all know people who have done shameful things but have then turned their lives around. The thing is, these people get a lot of respect and attention. It's a feel-good story, when we hear about people who have overcome their troubled pasts to become successful, righteous people. This is true of the Muslim community as well. I know brothers who talk about their past sins and how they've now become dedicated Muslims to teach others to be grateful for the guidance they have. But these guys get a lot more attention than those brothers who have been dedicated from childhood. It's great entertainment.

I would not suggest one talk about one's sins in a normal manner. Obviously one is ashamed of these things and condemns them. Disclosing them, or at least their general nature, is not the same as condoning. I think it is possible, and even probable if one really does disapprove, to talk about them and simultaneously communicate their unacceptability. But I also see your point. Thanks.

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I am very scared of this woman who is neighbour to my family.

It was this very story that prompted at least part of my question. Thank you for posting them. I think I am starting to get a better understanding on the Islamic perspective on this matter. Is it fair to say that trust is assumed based in part on religious affiliation? Obviously there are all sorts of actions that can undermine that or even destroy it altogether, but it seems that the baseline of the relationship is to trust your fellow Muslim, whereas the Western model is one where trust is less assumed and more earned. Not that these two are exclusive to each other or to their respective perspectives. Obviously some trust must exist for a relationship to begin, even in a Western perspective, and clearly it is acceptable, even prudent, to have demonstrations of fidelity to validate one's trust, even in a Muslim context.

 

I also appreciated the insight into forgiveness and forgetfulness. Thank you.

Edited by the sad clown

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there is a very interesting thing about Islam, it has some parts of the doctrine which suit very better with some of the aspects of the faith from my country, or at least that is what some Muslims told me on the Internet.On the other hand, the entire doctrine of the predominant faith from where i am is said to rely on the following: the Holy Trinity, and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, made man, which are the main contradictions with Islam.

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there is a very interesting thing about Islam, it has some parts of the doctrine which suit very better with some of the aspects of the faith from my country, or at least that is what some Muslims told me on the Internet.

I agree, Muslims and Christians have a great deal which they share in common, especially on moral and ethical issues.

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