A married man committed adultery with a married woman in a country that does not implement the [Islamically] prescribed legal punishment for this crime. How should the man repent? To do so, must the prescribed punishment be inflicted upon him?
Abu Hurairah (may God be pleased with him) said: "I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, "All members of my community are pardoned except for those who announce their sins. Among those who announce their sins is someone who commits a crime by night; God has concealed it, yet when morning comes he says: "O, so-and-so! Yesterday I did such-and-such." He spent the night with his sins covered by his Lord, and when he wakes up he exposes what God has concealed" (Bukhari and Muslim).
A person who commits a sin must refrain from divulging it when God has concealed it from others; one of the attributes of God Almighty is concealing human faults and failings. A person who announces his sins when God has concealed them attaches little importance to His protection and is ungrateful to His grace and mercy. Repentance is by doing the following:
- Desisting from one's sin;
- regretting having done it;
- resolving never to commit it again;
- asking for God’s forgiveness in abundance.
God Almighty does not require that a person who has committed a sin for which there is a prescribed legal punishment to strive to have the punishment inflicted upon him. Rather, such a person is commanded to conceal his mistake; the ruler is the one to exact punishments as it is one of his duties.
It has been reported that a man, Ma'iz ibn Malik, fornicated with a woman. Huzal ordered him to go to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) before whom Ma'iz testified against himself four times. After ordering that he be stoned to death, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) turned to Huzal and said: "It would have been better if you had covered him with your cloak" (Abu Dawud and al-Nisa`i).
God the Almighty knows best.