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Question: I converted to Islam from orthodox Christianity. I would like to know what act(s) besides hajj can completely remove my past sins? I am praying everyday and Islam is the love of my life but I still feel a lot of guilt.

If you have converted to Islam earnestly and sincerely then you can rest assured that you are included in the good news given by the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he said, “When a person converts to Islam all of his/her past sins are completely wiped out.” Once a man appeared before the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said, “I have been guilty of many vicious sins, and before I convert I want to place a condition that Allah forgives all my past sins, the Prophet, peace be upon him, replied, “didn’t you know that Islam wipes out all previous sins?” On another occasion, another person asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, whether he would be rewarded for all of the good deeds he had done prior to his conversion to Islam, whence he replied, “You will carry with you to Islam all of your previous good deeds.”

So you need not feel guilty. Allah introduces Himself in the Qur’an as the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful. Console yourself with the following verses: “Say, O My Servants who have wronged against their souls: Do not despair of God’s mercy. God forgives all sins: He is truly Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Qur’an: 39: 53-54). In surat al-buruj (i.e. Chapter 85), Allah narrates the story of those (who in the distant past) had subjected the faithful to some of the worst form of persecutions, killing them one by one by throwing them to the fire-pit, it is immediately followed up with the statement, “For those who persecute believing men and women and do not repent afterwards, there will be the torment of Hell and burning. But for those who believe and do good deeds there will be Gardens graced with flowing streams; that is the great triumph.” (Qur’an: 85: 10-11).

So be glad with the good news from Allah and His Messenger. You have nothing to fear or grieve if you are not slack in performing your religious duties, asking forgiveness, and doing such good works as you are capable of. Allah says, “Verily the mercy of Allah is ever close to those who excel in good works.” (Qur’an: 7: 56).

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