Hadiths concerning sin in Islam
Dr. Zwemer after examining the appropriate Quranic verses concerning sin defined it as “a wilful violation of known law.” Following Judaism, Islam, shows considerable interest in classifying and cataloguing human acts of sin into greater and smaller categories. The ‘great sins’ (the Kebira) must be avoided while the smaller matters of lying, deception, anger, lust and such like will be forgiven easily.
The great sins to be avoided
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Avoid the seven great destructive sins.” The people enquire, “O Allah’s Apostle! What are they? “He said, “To join others in worship along with Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause, (according to Islamic law), to eat up Riba (usury), to eat up an orphan’s wealth, to give back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting, and to accuse, chaste women, who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers. (Bukhari Volume 4 number 28)
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, “The biggest of Al-Kaba’ir (the great sins) are (1) to join others as partners in worship with Allah, (2) to murder a human being, (3) to be undutiful to one’s parents (4) and to make a false statement,” or said, “to give a false witness.” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 83, Number 10)
Narrated ‘Ubada bin As-Samat: I was among those Naqibs (selected leaders) who gave the Pledge of allegiance to Allah’s Apostle. We gave the oath of allegiance, that we would not join partners in worship besides Allah, would not steal, would not commit illegal sexual intercourse, would not kill a life which Allah has forbidden, would not commit robbery, would not disobey (Allah and His Apostle), and if we fulfilled this pledge we would have Paradise, but if we committed any one of these (sins), then our case will be decided by Allah. (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 83, Number 12)
Expiation of minor sins
‘Amr b Sa’id b al-As reported: I was, with Uthman that he called for ablution water and said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say: When the time for a prescribed prayer comes, if any Muslim perform ablution well and offers his prayer) with humility and bowing, it will be an expiation for his past sins, so long as he has not committed a major sin; and this applies to for all times. (Muslim Book 2, Number 441)
Expiation of the Sin of spitting in the mosque: Shu’ba reported: I asked Qatada about spitting, in the mosque. He said: I heard Anas b. Malik say: I heard the Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) say: Spitting in the mosque is a sin, and its expiation is that it should be buried. (Muslim Book 4, Number 1125)
Allah made mankind weak and therefore susceptible to sin
Allah is ready to forgive those who he created weak: “Allah doth wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created weak (in flesh).” (An-Nisa 4:28)
He will therefore forgive those who consistently sin: Narrated Abu Huraira:I heard the Prophet saying, “If somebody commits a sin and then says, ‘O my Lord! I have sinned, please forgive me!’ and his Lord says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for it, I therefore have forgiven my slave (his sins).’ Then he remains without committing any sin for a while and then again commits another sin and says, ‘O my Lord, I have committed another sin, please forgive me,’ and Allah says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for it, I therefore have forgiven my slave (his sin). Then he remains without committing any another sin for a while and then commits another sin (for the third time) and says, ‘O my Lord, I have committed another sin, please forgive me,’ and Allah says, ‘My slave has known that he has a Lord who forgives sins and punishes for it I therefore have forgiven My slave (his sin), he can do whatever he likes.” (Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 598)
Allah would create a sinful world if Muslims did not sin so that he could forgive them
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. (Muslim Book 37 Number 6622)
The only sin that prevents any going to heaven is ascribing partners to Allah.
Muslims who are disobedient will not be seriously endangered in respect of their eternal salvation for associating other partners with Allah is the only unforgivable sin. Such claims are supported by the following hadith:
Abu Dharr reported: I came to the Apostle (may peace be upon him ) and he was asleep with a white mantle over him. I again came, he was still asleep, I came again and he had awakened. I sat by his side and (the Holy Prophet) observed: There is none among the bondsmen who affirmed his faith in La illaha ill-Allah there is no God but Allah) and died in this state and did not enter Paradise. I (Abu Dharr) said: Even if he committed adultery and theft? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: (Yes) even though he committed adultery and theft. I (again said): Even if he committed adultery and theft? He replied: (Yes) even though he committed adultery and theft. (The Holy Prophet repeated it three times) and said for the fourth time: In defiance of Abu Dharr. Abu Dharr then went out and he repeated (these words): (Muslim Book 1 No 172)
Muhammad had no true idea of the nature of sin and its consequences. There is perfect unity in this respect between the Prophet’s book and his life. The Quran is silent on the nature of sin and tells us next to nothing about its origin, result and remedy.
The words “permitted” and “forbidden” have superseded the use of “guilt” and “transgression;” the reason for this is found in the Quran itself. Nothing is right or wrong by nature, but becomes so by the fiat of the Almighty. What Allah forbids is sin, even should He forbid what seems to the human conscience right and lawful. What Allah allows is not sin and cannot be sin at the time He allows it, though it may have been before or after.
To the common mind there is, no distinction whatever between the ceremonial law and the moral; nor is it easy to find such a distinction even implied in the Quran. It is as great an offence to pray with unwashed hands as to tell a lie; and “pious” Muslims who nightly break the seventh commandment (according to their own lax interpretation of it) will shrink from a tin of English meat for fear they be filled with swine’s flesh. As regards the moral code Islam is Pharisee-ism translated into Arabic.
It is the repetition of the creed that counts, not the reformation of character. Repeating the Kalamah is the door into the religion of Islam (“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s prophet),” all other considerations are of less importance.
Extract includes comments from S.M. Zwemer ‘The Muslim Doctrine of God‘.