Do you hide your sins, or do they hide you?
I agree that we shouldn’t expose our sins. Why expose what Allah’s hidden from the people? Why bring up the sin and allow it to become familiar and normalized in society? I get it.
But in our efforts to hide the sin, cover it up, hold in the secret…there’s a danger to be aware of, and that is the danger of creating a public persona.
When you start to divide your identity between what people publicly know about you, and how you really are, in private, you start to lose your true self.
You become two people: one person on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat…and another person when you’re alone at night in your room. One person holding the microphone, leading the class, standing on the pulpit…and another person when no one’s watching. One person outside, another person inside.
Beware of this. Shaytaan’s whispers are sophisticated. He calls you to do something good (“hide your sins, don’t expose yourself, just repent in private”), in order to lead you down a path that’s much worse than your initial sin. How do you avoid that path?
Firstly, to yourself. Accept that you did something wrong, but also accept that it doesn’t make you evil, as a person. All it means is that you made a mistake and now you have an opportunity to turn back to Allah.
And so, be honest with Allah. Talk to Him and tell Him that you acknowledge your sin, talk through why you sinned, and tell Him what you’ll do to improve for next time (and even if you sin again, you keep putting forth the effort and leave the result with Allah).
Finally, be honest with those around you. No, I’m not saying to expose your sin. I’m saying be honest, which means don’t be dishonest. What do I mean? Don’t compensate for your sin publicly. Don’t try to put on an image of a person who would never commit such a sin. In your fear that people will find out, you try to dissuade any suspicion, and in the process, you end up being dishonest. Just keep it private, and leave it at that.
You know who you are, Allah knows who you are, and the people know what they know (and they don’t need to know anything more).
To complete this thought, I’ll end with a dua that Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with Him) used to make whenever people would talk highly of him:
اَللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْنِي خَيْرًا مِمّا يَظُنُّوْنَ
وَاغْفِرْ لِي مَا لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
وَلَا يُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا يَقُولُونَ
O Allah, make me better than what they think of me,
and forgive me for what they don’t know about me,
and don’t hold me accountable for what they say about me.
*I made this dua into a desktop wallpaper that you can find here.