Secrets from the past and revealing them

Q590 :I am happily married and my husband showers on me his love and kindness. I consider my marriage to him an answer to all my past prayers. Still I am burdened with a secret from my past when I had a relationship with my cousin which was intended to end up with marriage. I often feel that I should tell my husband about this past relationship, particularly because I cannot avoid meeting my cousin. I will be grateful for your advice.

A590 : Your present attitude is certainly commendable. You recognize that Allah has given you a great deal. It is true with all of us that Allah gives us much more than we deserve. Some of us, however, may not realize that. Some of those who go through periods of suffering may feel that the hardship they have to endure is undeserved. Even they will inevitably acknowledge Allah's grace if they were only to reflect on what they have been given and what could be their lot if Allah were to deprive them of His mercy. Hence, it behooves everyone of us to remember that he can earn nothing of Allah's grace by his actions, no matter how dedicated to Allah's service he is. Yet Allah does not require anything from us other than to show our gratitude to Him by discharging the duties He has imposed on us and by praising Him for what He has given us. It is needless to say that those duties are meant for our own benefit. Allah does not gain anything by our worship. It is we who get the better for the fulfillment of our duties. You, madam, seem to be a good believer. You recognize the grace Allah has given you in letting you marry a kindly, loving husband. One of the famous scholars of early periods of Islam suggests that one of the most important aspects of grace Allah may bestow on anyone of us is to give him a goodly spouse. Saeed ibn Al-Moussayyib, a renowned scholar of the generations which succeeded the companions of the Prophet, was asked by his daughter, herself a scholar, about the supplication included in a Qur'anic verse which we often repeat: "Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come, and keep us safe from suffering through the fire." (2;201). She particularly asked what is meant by good in this world. He answered: it is something which is fit to be compared with the goodness of the hereafter. To my mind, this can only be a good and kindly spouse. The Prophet says: "The best comfort in this world is a good wife." It goes without saying, that the Prophet's definition is also meant for women, whose best comfort is a good husband. It is in recognition of your husband's worth that you are contemplating making a full confession of your past to him. Your feeling and your attitude are both good, because you want your relationship with your husband to have no blemish whatsoever. But you have to reflect whether it is wise or necessary. Have you thought what the effect of such a confession will have on your husband? Will your confession change his view of you? Will it create in his mind a suspicion that he should reduce his trust in you? Will he begin to think that since you have had such an affair in your youth, you may have something similar in future, should the chance present itself? Or will he appreciate that your move is only to have your relationship with him entirely without blemish? Kindly as your husband may be, his reaction to your confession cannot be measured by his kindness. Your confession may touch other strings of his character. However, if there are some tangible gains to be made by your confession, you may go ahead with it. But are there? What you are after is to have a pure relationship with your husband. But your relationship with him is pure, if you have truly repented of your past, prayed for Allah's forgiveness and dedicated your love and your thoughts to your husband and your family. Your relationship with your husband is established at the time when he proposes to you and you accept his proposal. Everyone of us may have done something wrong in the past. By so doing, we injure ourselves first and foremost, since we expose ourselves to Allah's punishment. If we repent and refrain from repeating such a wrong, then we stand to earn Allah's forgiveness and we are born anew. Remember what the Prophet says: "He who repents of a sin is like one who has not sinned." Why then, let sins of the past overburden our present and our future? What I would like to tell you is that there is no obligation, religious or social, on you to confess to your husband about errors and mistakes you have done before you were married to him, since there was no element of deception in your marriage. What is far more important is to steer away from sin and error now that you are married to him. Therefore, you should repent your past, resolve not to allow yourself to make the same mistake again and maintain a faithful relationship with your husband. If you add to that a determined effort to do what Allah requires Muslims to do; and attend regularly to your religious duties, you will, Allah willing, earn Allah's pleasure and have your past sins forgiven. One important thing in all that is to avoid contact as far as possible with your cousin. That may be difficult at times, but if you expect to meet him, then you should try to make that meeting in the presence of your husband or at least some other relatives. This is to ensure that your cousin does not try to make any reference, implicit or otherwise, to your past relationship. May Allah keep you happy and make your happiness everlasting.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )