Community: How Do I Erase My Past?

Assalamualaikum.

I recently decided to cover up properly as a Muslim woman. I repented from my past sin but it is not easy to escape from the past. I made the mistake of posting pictures of myself online where I didn't cover my aurah properly. I feel ashamed thinking of how many eyes are looking at those pictures. 

I deleted all the pictures I have, but if I Google my name, there are still pictures of me out there. There are still pictures of me from a few years back.

On top of that, my friends are not helping me with my change. They ridiculed me and they keep talking about my old pictures. I fear people might think that I am a hypocrite. I fear that people who know me now will think badly of me when they discover my past.

What should I do?

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Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah.

Thank you for your email and thank you for your willingness to share with me your story.

It is good to know that you are on the road to change for the better. That is great news! May Allah keep you steadfast on this journey. Ameen. It will be long and difficult, but not impossible. So always believe in yourself and stay strong.

We all have a dark past (maybe two) that we don't like for people to know. It is painful to think about. It is even more painful when our dark past is available on the internet. It is just the reality that we currently live in today whereby our lives and the internet are so intertwined. That is why it is always crucial for us to think twice before we post anything online.

Having said that, all is not lost. There is still hope. Allah does not hold us into account for something that is beyond our control. Yes, we made a lot of mistakes in the past but that does not mean that we have to live in the past. We can always move on by repenting sincerely to Allah. After that, all we have to do is to amend our ways as much as we can, within our limited capacity. Focus only on what we can control.

If we can delete those old photos, then do so. Delete all of them. If we know of friends who have old photos of us, then kindly ask them to delete those photos too. But for the things that are beyond our control, Allah will not hold us into account for that. It is almost impossible to delete them all. Allah wants ease for us, not difficulty. So focus on what is within your control and do your very best.

As for your friends, I am hesitant to even call them by that title - "friends". Real friends don't do that to you. Real friends will help you when you need them the most. Real friends will support you in good things and will advice you when you are in the wrong. Real friends will help you polish your relationship with God. Those are real friends.

I advice you to find those friends and keep them close, because you will need positive social support in this difficult journey to change. Reduce your relationship with those people who will only bring harm to your cause. Though we don't wish for anything bad to happen to them, we also don't want to torture ourselves by being in their presence.

Advice them if you can. But beyond that, leave them to answer to God. You can't control their tongues, but surely you can control your own. Don't reciprocate harm with harm. At the same time, don't allow yourself to be harmed. Find real friends.

People should not dig into other people's past. People should focus on who the person is now and what the person can be in the future. We are not doomed by our past. Allah gave us a way out and a way to move on; taubah (repentance). If Allah already provided us an open door, then who are we to shut it?

We should be concerned with making people better, not with gossips about their past.

You are on a noble path, my friend. Stay strong and keep on walking. This is a difficult journey so bring along a few friends with you; those who will stick with you in good times and in bad times. Insha Allah, you will be on your way to your destination.

I pray that Allah grant you strength, keep you steadfast, help you to stand back up when you fall down, and surround you with good company. May Allah cover up your past and reveal to the world who you are now, not who you were before. Ameen.

All the best!

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