Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “Islam teaches us that Allah is All-Compassionate and All-Merciful. He has assured us in the Qur’an that His mercy encompasses all things and that He is ever ready to accept the repentance of His servants who turn to Him sincerely in repentance. Almighty Allah says: “O My Servants who have wronged against their own souls! Do not despair of Allah’s mercy! For Allah forgives all sins; for He is indeed Forgiving, Compassionate. Turn to your Lord repentant, and submit to Him, before the torment overtakes you when you shall not be helped. And follow the best of what is sent down to you from your Lord, before the torment comes on you suddenly while you are unaware. Lest any soul should say: How remorseful I am that neglected the duty to Allah, and I was among the mockers.” (Az-Zumar: 53-56)
If you are a non-Muslim and wish to become a Muslim, then I should assure you of the promise of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) who said, “Islam wipes out all of one’s past sins.” In other words, on becoming a Muslim every single sin you had committed in the past, no matter how enormous and ugly they were, will be blotted out, and thus once again you will become like a new born, and hence free of all sins. Furthermore, Allah’s infinite compassion is such that while, upon embracing Islam, you are absolved of all of your past sins, you carry over to Islam all of the good deeds you ever did in the past; it is indeed a double mercy.
Fornication and producing a child out of wedlock is indeed a most enormous sin, but the past is past, and once you come clean of your past, you should never look back to your sinful past. Allah is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful. He forgives all sinners once they have repented of their sins. But we must know that sincere repentance involves much more than mere wishes to change, for it takes real determination as well as action accordingly. One must feel deep remorse for one’s sinful past, immediately refrain from everything associated with that sin as well as the circumstances leading to it, resolve to never do the same, and finally occupy oneself with good works that he or she can afford to do.
As for the child born out of wedlock, like every other child, he or she is born sinless. It does not carry the stigma of the sin of the father or mother.
Finally, we must know that once a person has repented sincerely and has come clean of the past, there is nothing wrong in marrying him or her. The Prophet said, “One who has repented of a sin is like one who has never sinned.” We are also repeatedly told that if we want Allah to forgive us, we can only expect forgiveness from Him if we forgive others. Since Allah has forgiven the person who has been guilty of such sins, it would be highly arrogant and presumptuous on our part to discriminate against such sinners.
Lastly, I must stress the fact that one should embrace Islam only if one is convinced of its truth. Islam for the sake of marriage is not acceptable. No one should be marrying a person who embraces Islam for the sake of marriage. If anyone does so, he/she may fly out of it as soon as he/she has achieved his/her purpose. Let us therefore not make a mockery of religion and matters of faith. May Allah save us all against the evil tendencies inherent in our souls, and may He forgive us and accept us all in His Infinite Mercy. Ameen.”