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According to Islamqa, if a Muslim transgresses against the rights of others, then it is essential for him to ask the wronged person for forgiveness:

It says in al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah: Repentance in the sense of regretting what one has done and resolving not to do it again is not sufficient to waive the rights that are owed to other people. Whoever has stolen another person’s wealth, or seized it by force, or has wronged him in any other way, will not have finished with the matter by simply regretting it, giving up the sin and resolving not to do it again. Rather he has to restore those rights. This is a principle on which the fuqaha (jurists) are unanimously agreed. End quote.

This has to do with material possessions, such as wealth that has been taken by force or by deceit. With regard to intangible rights such as in cases of slander and backbiting, if the person who has been wronged knows about it, then it is essential to apologize to him and ask for his forgiveness. If he does not know, then he should not be told; rather the one who wronged him should pray for him and pray for forgiveness for him, because telling him may upset him and create enmity and hatred between the two.

However, if the wronged person doesn't forgive the transgressor after the latter asks the former for forgiveness, what can the latter do for the expiation of that sin?

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  • This seems too vague and subjective to be answerable. Maybe pay them off and buy their forgiveness, or let them take revenge.
    – UmH
    Aug 22 '21 at 16:04
  • @UmH What if they want to do neither? Will the transgressor be held accountable in the hereafter? Aug 22 '21 at 16:40
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Here is a general Du‘a you can say:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "O Allah! If I should ever abuse a believer, please let that be a means of bringing him near to You on the Day of Resurrection. (اللَّهُمَّ فَأَيُّمَا مُؤْمِنٍ سَبَبْتُهُ فَاجْعَلْ ذَلِكَ لَهُ قُرْبَةً إِلَيْكَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ)" Al-Bukhari (6361)

If you wronged somebody and the one person does not accept your apology, then what you can do first of all is to make Du‘a for him to Allah that he should be forgiven, receive the best rewards and be admitted to Jannatul Firdaus; then I would encourage you, after he refused, to again look for him in the not so distant future and remind him of Allah, for example with this:

Allah says: "[…] and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [Surah Nur Verse 22]

Ahmad (6255) narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas from the Prophet (ﷺ) that he said, when he was on the minbar: "Show mercy, and you will be shown mercy; forgive, and Allah will forgive you." Classed as Sahih by Sheikh Albani in Sahih at-Targhib (2465)

Ahmad (1584) narrated that ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "There are three things concerning which, by the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, I would certainly swear an oath: […] no man pardons another for some mistreatment, seeking thereby the pleasure of Allah, but Allah will raise him in status thereby […]" Classed as Sahih by Sheikh Albani in Sahih at-Targhib (2426)

Do not force an apology, but go to the person with a sincere heart and inform him about the Verses of the Qur’an or of the Ahadith to make his heart more inviting for an acceptance. And do not think that it is over because Allah says:

"And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out (of every difficulty)" [Surah Talaq Verse 2]

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