How do you make Tawbah if you have gone against the rights of others?



Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

If you have violated the rights of others, then you must rectify that as part of your Tawbah. So if you have taken someone’s  wealth unlawfully, you must return it. If you have insulted or slandered someone then you must seek forgiveness from the victim of your sin.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: مَنْ كَانَتْ لَهُ مَظْلَمَةٌ لِأَخِيهِ مِنْ عِرْضِهِ أَوْ شَيْءٍ، فَلْيَتَحَلَّلْهُ مِنْهُ اليَوْمَ، قَبْلَ أَنْ لاَ يَكُونَ دِينَارٌ وَلاَ دِرْهَمٌ، إِنْ كَانَ لَهُ عَمَلٌ صَالِحٌ أُخِذَ مِنْهُ بِقَدْرِ مَظْلَمَتِهِ، وَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ لَهُ حَسَنَاتٌ أُخِذَ مِنْ سَيِّئَاتِ صَاحِبِهِ فَحُمِلَ عَلَيْهِ

(Sayidina) Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: Whoever has wronged his brother regarding his honour or something else, should ask for his forgiveness today. Before (the day when) there will be neither Dinar (gold coin) nor Dirham (silver coin). If he has good deeds, they will be taken in accordance with the oppression. But if he has no good deeds, then some of the sins of his companion are taken, and he is burdened with them. (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2449).

If a person has committed a sin that involves a violation of the  rights of others, then he must rectify that. So, if he stole from someone or defrauded him, then he must return the stolen wealth to the victim. But if the sin did not involve property, rather he had attacked his reputation or honour, then he must seek forgiveness from his victim.

Judgement day

The Mubarak Hadith above makes it clear that one will have to pay with his or her good deeds on the day of Judgement if forgiveness from the oppressed is not attained. Therefore, if you have been involved in backbiting, mocking or insulting a person, you must seek forgiveness from the victim of your vile actions immediately. If this is not done, then the oppressed will take your deeds on Judgment Day.

The Hadith further clarifies that if the oppressor runs out of good deeds then his victims will place their evil deeds upon him. Meaning, one way or another justice will be established. A Muslim must refrain from all sins, but in particular those sins that involve others must be avoided. It is more difficult to attain forgiveness for such sins and the jeopardy on the Day of Judgement is greater.

Sadaqah instead of forgiveness
الندم على ما مضى من الذنب والإقلاع عنه في الحال والعزم على ترك العود في المستقبل تعظيما لأمر الله تعالى فإن تعلق به حق لآدمي فلا بد من مسامحته وإرضائه. (مراقي الفلاح شرح متن نور الإيضاح)

Remorse for the past sin, abandoning it immediately, and resolving to refrain from returning to it in the future (are conditions of Tawbah). This is done in veneration for the command of Allah (Most High). If the right of a person is linked to it, then his forgiveness and acceptance are required too. (Imam al-Shurunbulali 1069H, Maraaqi al-Falah).


فلا بد من مسامحته وإرضائه. أي برد الظلامة إليه إن أمكنه وإن لم يمكنه تصدق بقدرها إن كانت من الأموال. (حاشية الطحطاوي على مراقي الفلاح)

‘Then his forgiveness and acceptance are required.’  Meaning, rectify the wrongdoing if he is able. If he is not able to do so, then he should give the amount to charity if it was financial. (Imam Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Tahtawi 1231H, Haashiyah ala Maraaqi).

In the Nusoos above, the Hanafi Imams remind us of the standard conditions of Tawbah. They also explain the additional condition when the sin involves the right of another person. Namely, one must seek forgiveness from such a person. However, if that is not possible, then he is to give money to charity instead.

Sometimes a person has no means of contacting the one he has oppressed. In such cases, his giving to charity may assist him. This is because it will increase his good deeds, so if the victim takes his deeds on Judgement Day then he will have a replacement for that. However, this is far from sufficient. Oppressing people is a grave crime and there is no guarantee that paying something to charity will mitigate it sufficiently.

As well as the seeking of forgiveness from the oppressed, one must seek forgiveness from Allah (Most High) abundantly. This is because he or she has violated the law of Allah (Most High) too. Sins that involve others are truly disastrous. And forgiveness from them is more difficult.

Transparency in seeking forgiveness
قال المهلب: إن بين فهو أطيب وأصح فى التحلل؛ لأنه يعرف مقدار ما يحلله منه معرفة صحيحة. (شرح صحيح البخارى لابن بطال)

Al-Muhallab said: If he clarifies then it is better and more correct when seeking pardon. Since he knows and understands what he is pardoning. (Imam Ibn Battal 449H, Sharh Sahih Al-Bukhari).

Scholars differed over the necessity of clarifying the specific violation when seeking forgiveness from someone. Some consider it to be an obligation and others felt seeking forgiveness without specification suffices. In the Nass above we see that the Imam has mentioned that it is preferred to clarify, but not necessarily a condition.

Often clarifying can lead to more problems and it may be best to avoid it. For example, if you inform someone that you want forgiveness for backbiting or slander then this could cause distress and become a means of distance. This really is a difficult situation. Thus, a Muslim must work hard to avoid such sins.


If a person wrongs or oppresses another person then he must seek forgiveness from Allah (Most High) and from the oppressed. Since, this sin contains a violation against the law of Allah (Most High) and the right of the person.

Amongst the worst of sins are those that violate the rights of others. And seeking forgiveness for them is more arduous and burdensome. Yet it is important to do so. Otherwise, the victim will take one’s deeds on Judgement Day. Which may lead to the ultimate catastrophe.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (10.07.24)