What To Do With a Secret?

Bismillaahi walhamdulillaahi wassalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi

Assalaamu ‘alaykum

Although the subject matter of this correspondence is not good, but it pertains to problems we Muslims are facing in this society. This should serve as reminder for the parents for their responsibilities to educate their children properly, to marry them at early age and not to send them off to live in dangerous environments. This should also be a reminder for the young boys and girls on this list about how they should be behaving if they see a sinful activity taking place among the people they know.

QA distressed person wrote:

I'm really sorry to be of burden to you but I have a problem I need help with. I come to you because this has to be annonomous and I cant very well ask people I know for answers because it will hurt my family. And judging from the emails I recieve from you, it seems as though you know a lot about the dean.

I am a moslem who was born here. I was taught a lot about my religion but not nearly enough as I should. This problem is actually about my sister. She goes to college and she lives on campus. recently she told me a secret about her that I swore i wouldnt tell. She told me she was having a relationship with a girl. I tried to tell her that this was a very big sin in our religion and that she has to stop but she didnt listen to me. My mother was talking to me today about how she feels that something is going on with my sister and she asked me if I knew anything about it. I did not tell her but she knows that I know something. My mother then tells me that it is a sin to cover up for someone who is doing wrong and that I have to tell her.

I dont know what to do. The only people my sister told were me and my brother and if i tell my mother she will know it was me and she will never ever forgive me. I'm sure of it. But at the same time I dont want to do anything haram.

I dont know who else to turn to. I'm very upset and sad.

Please help.

ADear “I need help”

I can understand your dilemma and the difficulty you are in, but I am sure that Allaah will guide you to resolve the issue properly because of your sincere intention to do the right thing.

Before we talk about what should be done now, let us first learn some lessons from this experience:

The first and most important point you should learn is that if you come to know of a sinful activity, you cannot just ignore it. You have responsibility to do something about helping the person stop the sinful activity. You owe it that person to save the person from the punishment of Allaah. And you owe it to Allaah to ensure that His laws are respected. From both perspectives, you have to fulfill your responsibility with a motive of well-wishing and kindness for the sinner in the best manner as much as it is in your power. But you cannot just keep quiet about it.

The second lesson you should learn from this is: In future if anyone asks you to promise that you will not tell anyone. Make it clear to the person that you will not keep a secret if keeping the secret interferes with your Islamic responsibilities. And let the person decide if they want to divulge their secret to you or not. Do not promise, without knowing what you are getting into. As you can see, you have put yourself in a very difficult situation. Just consider your situation from the following perspectives:
  • You cannot lie; hence, if your mom asks, you cannot say that you do not know, because it will be a lie.
  • You cannot betray a trust; if someone tells you something in confidence, it is a trust that must not be betrayed; you cannot tell her secret because you have promised her that you will not tell.
  • Your first and foremost responsibility is to Allaah. You must do only what pleases Him and avoid what will be disapproved by Him. This means you must handle the matter in such a manner that He is pleased, not displeased.
  • After Allaah, your next responsibility is to your parents, they must be obeyed in everything that does not violate the Islamic principles. In other words, if what they say is Islamically correct, you must obey them. A part of the parents’ right is that you cannot keep secrets from your parents about your own or your siblings’ affairs. They must be kept informed on a timely basis.
  • Your next responsibility is to your sister to save her from the painful punishment of the hellfire. Do not let people fool you that it is natural disposition and genetic, etc. The fact is that it is from shaytaan. Under the pressure of hormones when young people cannot fulfill their desires in a proper manner, shaytaan incites them to find any outlet they can. Once they start fulfilling their desire in some improper manner, they start enjoying it in that manner and that becomes their orientation or habit or preference.

So how are you going to fulfill your above-mentioned responsibilities?

First of all, you should immediately phone your sister and tell her that your mom has some inkling or suspicion and she is pressing you but you have not told her anything yet. She better phone mom and herself tell it to her. Tell her how much you love her and that it is better for her well being to tell mom everything. Keep up communication with her and keep discussing with her off and on until she agrees to talk to mom and tell the truth.

If your mom asks again suggest her to phone your sister and ask directly from her. Also tell her that calling her is the best way to find out what the matter is. Keep encouraging her until she calls. Seek your brother’s help in convincing both to talk. Ensure that your mom remains cool and calm. Anger is not going to do any good at this time.

Your mom should bring your sister back to home from college immediately. You and your mom should work with her at home in a nice loving manner until she is reformed, imbued with faith and properly educated in Islam. Once reformed, the first priority should be to get her married. She can continue the education after the marriage. Then, she should be put in a local college that she can attend while staying at home.

I hope it helps. Please feel free to write to me as often as you need.

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