I have a close friend who committed the sin of fornication when he was younger (probably 16-17). And he has never done it again, continues to pray and fast and do good deeds, and has made it known that he is extremely repentant. He met a Muslim female who is chaste and would marry him but he feels that he would be disobeying the Quran if he married her and would then shame her because he has done this terrible deed. I tell him God forgives again and again and showed him your response. He has been so downtrodden and suffered so much yearning for God’s forgiveness. The main thing is though, is what you say below in your response true? Since he is repentant and never committed the sin again after the first time can he marry a chaste believer or must he marry a girl who has fornicated also? If so, where can I cite in the Islamic literature that this is the case.
One can always find solace in God’s Mercy. There is no reason the young man should share his sin with anyone and should believe every bit in his heart that God has forgiven him if he is truly repentant. As such, there is no reason why he should not marry the young lady. The point that needs to be understood is that the punishment of prohibition of marriage with a chaste man/woman is an ordainment for the state. It is not to be implemented by the repentant individual. If the person was not apprehended or was living in a state where fornication was not a punishable crime, then he would only repent and correct his actions and thank God for not disgracing him in the world. He would not go about implementing punishments on himself.
God is forgiving and the Qur’an directly speaks to the issue you have mentioned:
Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; – and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy,- Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful, And whoever repents and does good has truly turned to Allah with an (acceptable) conversion – Al Furqan 25:68-71
What can be more merciful than turning the very evils that one has repented for into good deeds? The love of God is far beyond what we could possibly imagine. Our job is to follow the path of His guidance and trust in Him; His Love and Mercy. Not only will we be successful, but we will feel that success within us moving throughout our souls.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.