Question: A disbeliever embraced Al-Islam, and when he did he was informed of the legislations of the religion, he had an addiction to drinking alcohol. He said: I embrace Al-Islam in totality, however, as it relates to drinking alcohol I believe that it is prohibited by the legislation of Al-Islam but I will continue to drink it. Will his sin—i.e., drinking—from before Al-Islam be counted along with his drinking alcohol after Al-Islam?
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah): Will what be counted?
Questioner: His sin and disobedience from before Al-Islam; along with his sin after Al-Islam.
Answer: Yes. If the disbeliever embraces Al-Islam and does well in his Islam then he will be pardoned for all of that which has preceded. If he embraces Islam and does poorly then he will be taken to account for that which has preceded and that which he has done. So when he embraces Al-Islam Allah erases from him the sins of Shirk and disbelief. And if he remains upon that which he was upon from disobedience when he was in disbelief then he will not be pardoned for that which has preceded (from this disobedience) in the state of disbelief, because he has not repented from it.
Questioner: (As for the fact that) Islam wipes away that which…
Shaykh completes the statement: It wipes away that which came before it, as long as he does not persist upon disobedience. This is affirmed within Saheeh Al-Bukhari; that he who does evilly within Al-Islam he will be taken to account for the evil he has done and that which he did previously. This is because he has not repented from it, in reality. He has repented from disbelief so his disbelief is pardoned. But he has remained upon the disobedience of (drinking) alcohol and hence he sins by way of it. Due to this, if the Muslim commits a number of sins, and he repents from nine out of them, the tenth one still remains.
Source: Liqaa’aat Al-Baab Al-Maftooh
Summary Translation by Raha ibn Donald Batts