This is part of an ongoing series of the explanation of the Major Sins in Islam. Read Part 1 here.
The Author starts by saying:
بِحَمْدَكَ يَا رَبَّ البَرِيَّةِ أَبْتَدِي/// لَعَلِّي فِيْمَا رُمْتُهُ أَبْلُغُ مَقْصِدِي
1. With Your praise, (O) Possessor of Honour, I begin what I intend
With abundant praise as You are pleased with without any restriction
كَذَاكَ أُصَلِّي عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَآلِهِ /// وَأَصْحَابِهِ مِنْ كُلِّ هَادٍ وَمُهْتَدِي
2. And send blessings (O Allah) upon the best of mankind and his family
And his Companions from every one who guides others and is guided themselves
وَكُنْ عَالِمًا: أَنَّ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعَهَا/// بِصُغْرَى وَكُبْرَى قُسِّمَتْ فِي المُجَوَّدِ
3. And know that verily all sins
Are categorised into major and minor according the speech of Allah
فَمَا فِيهِ حَدٌّ فِي الدُّنَا أَوْ تَوَعُّدٍ/// بِأُخْرَى، فَسَمِّ كُبْرَى عَلَى نَصِّ أَحْمَدِ
4. So whatever (action/speech) has a legal punishment in the worldly life or a threat
In the hereafter, then it is a sign of a Major sin according to the text of Ahmad
وَزَادَ حَفِيدُ المَجْدِ: أَوْ جَا وَعِيدُهُ /// بِنَفْيٍ لِإِيْمَانٍ وَلَعْنٍ مُبَعِّدِ
5. The grandson of Majd added (to the definition) whatever (action/speech) comes with the threat
Of the denial of Iman or a curse which distances a person (from the mercy of Allah)
كَشِرْكٍ، وَقَتْلِ النَّفْسِ إِلَّا بِحَقِّهَا /// وَأَكْلِ الرِّبَا، وَالسِّحْرِ، مَعْ قَذْفِ نُهَّدِ
6. Like Shirk and killing a soul except with its due right
And consuming usury, magic, along with the false accusation of innocent women
The author mentions 5 sins here of which the first and the highest in degree of severity is Shirk. It is the worst sin that a person can commit.
Sin 1: Shirk
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱفْتَرَىٰٓ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا
Indeed, Allah does not forgive associating others with Him ˹in worship˺, but forgives anything else of whoever He wills. And whoever associates others with Allah has indeed committed a grave sin. [Surah al-Nisa, 48]
وَرَبَّكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَىٰهُ ٱلنَّارُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّـٰلِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍۢ
Whoever associates others with Allah ˹in worship˺ will surely be forbidden Paradise by Allah. Their home will be the Fire. And the wrongdoers will have no helpers. [Surah al-Ma'idah, 72]
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud رضي الله عنه: I asked the Prophet ﷺ, "What is the greatest sin in the Sight of Allah?" He said, "That you set up a rival unto Allah though He Alone created you." I said, "That is indeed a great sin." [Bukhari]
There are many such ayat in the Quran and ahadith from the Sunnah that establishes the fact that a person who commits shirk will not enter Jannah and the severity of this sin. It is this transgression and sin for which all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah were sent. This was the first thing that they focused on in their respective missions.
How did Shirk start? It is known that Prophet Nuh عليه السلام was the first Prophet sent by Allah to teach and warn against Shirk. From the advent of Prophet Adam عليه السلام till the time of Prophet Nuh that was approximately 1000 years, only Allah was worshipped alone.
Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه narrated, 'Between Adam and Nuh, there were ten Quroon (plural of Qarn), during all of which Islam was prevalent.' [Bukhari] The term qarn could refer to a generation or 100 years.
We learn from Abdullah Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه that there were 5 men from the descendants of Prophet Adam عليه السلام who were extremely righteous scholars. They were: Wadd, Suwa, Yaghuth, Ya'uq and Nasr. When these men died, the knowledge of Islam dwindled among the people.
First Phase: Shaitan inspired the people to erect statues in honour of them at their gathering places where they used to come and sit, and to name these statues after these 5 men. This was initially done so that they could be remembered and others would be inspired to do good by looking at their statues. The statues were built, but these statues were not worshipped until after those people (the ones who built them) had died and the knowledge was lost.
Second Phase: Shaitan misled the later generations by placing doubts in their minds as to why did their forefathers come to this exact spot. He told them that their forefathers used to worship these statues at these specific locations as it was a blessed location and these men were from the Awliyah of Allah. This began the worship of those statues as idols that were set up as intermediaries between them and Allah.
Third Phase: After this generation also passed away, ignorance further prevailed. Shaitan came again and now mentioned that if their forefathers were worshipping Allah, they could have done that from anywhere, why did they come to these specific locations. This spread doubts in the minds of the people. Shaitan told them that they came to this spot only because their forefathers used to worship and call upon these statues. It was because of these statues tat Allah blessed them. This was also the origin of tombs, shrines and grave worship. Eventually more idols started to be worshipped.
How did idolatry enter into Arabia? From the tribe of Khuza’ah emerged a man named Amr Ibn Luhayy about whom it is said was the Custodian of the Kabah of his time. He travelled to Shaam and saw the grandeur that surrounded this idol called Hubal. The people worshiping it were powerful figures of authority, really successful in terms of both their economic and military might in the region. These were the Amaliqah people, who were the children of Amlaq (or Amleeq) bin Lawidh bin Saam bin Nuh. They told Amr that these idols are those from which they request rain from at times of drought, and they send them rain and whenever they need help they come to their help! Amr ibn Luhyy fell for this and requested to take an idol homw with him. The Amaliqah gave him the idol Hubal. In a case of inferiority complex and wanting to bring this 'glory and advancement' to his tribe he assumed that they must be correct since they are so powerful, so he pays a heavy sum for the idol and brings it back and places it in the courtyard of the Haram in Makkah.
We have another related explanation, that mentions that the idols of the people of Nuh were lost in the flood. Their names, though, were preserved in the memory of those who were saved along with the Prophet Nuh. They used to teach their young generations what happened to their ancestors for worshipping those idols. The names remained in circulation among ancient Arabs as reported in their traditions. Amr ibn Luhayy Al-Khuza‘i was the one to revive idolatry, introducing idol-worshipping into Arabia; he erected statues for worship and gave them the names of the idols of Nuh's people in addition to other names.
The idols that were among the people of Prophet Nuh wound up among the Arabs afterwards. In reference to Wadd, it became the idol of the people of Kalb in the area of Dawmat Al-Jandal. Suwa' became the idol of the people of Hudhayl. Yaghuth became the idol of the people of Murad, then the people of Bani Ghutayf at Al-Juruf in the area of Saba' worshipped it after them. Ya'uq became the idol of the people of Hamdan. Nasr became the idol of the people of Himyar for the family of Dhu Kala'.
Eventually, when people from across Arabia came for Hajj, they were introduced to idol worship and replicas of these idols were taken back to be worshipped. From Arabia, idol worship crept to all other parts of the world as well. We see from the tactics of Shaitan that he didn’t come directly to the people after the righteous died instigate them to worship them. Rather, he sowed seeds and watered them by taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of the people.
When Shirk became common, Allah sent Prophet Nuh عليه السلام to rectify this sin. He remained among his people for 950 years calling people to worship Allah alone. After this, any Prophet or Messenger of Allah was primarily tasked to correct the people and guide them to worship Allah alone. It was also in this vein that Allah's Messenger ﷺ said, "May Allah's Curse be on the Jews and the Christians for they build places of worship at the graves of their prophets." [Bukhari]
Sin 2: Killing an Innocent Soul
This is the second greatest sin that is committed after the sin of shirk. Today, murder and killing has become so normal. Qatl is linguistically defined as death and ending of life. Qatl or Killing is divided into 3 types:
1. Qatl 'Amd: This is intentional homicide where a person intends to harm another person with a weapon or similar such that it will kill him. Ex: Shooting a person. Qisas will occur here, where blood money has to be paid and the murderer will be executed by the authorities.
وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًۭا مُّتَعَمِّدًۭا فَجَزَآؤُهُۥ جَهَنَّمُ خَـٰلِدًۭا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُۥ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُۥ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًۭا
And whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell—where they will stay indefinitely. Allah will be displeased with them, condemn them, and will prepare for them a tremendous punishment. [Surah an-Nisa, 93]
2. Qatl Khata': This is accidental homicide where a person intends to harm a person but not kill him, but his actions leads to the murder of the person by mistake or similar. Ex: Accidentally running over a pedestrian. This does not fall under the umbrella of major sins but a person will have to pay the legal penalties for his mistake.
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ أَن يَقْتُلَ مُؤْمِنًا إِلَّا خَطَـًۭٔا ۚ وَمَن قَتَلَ مُؤْمِنًا خَطَـًۭٔا فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍۢ مُّؤْمِنَةٍۢ وَدِيَةٌۭ مُّسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَىٰٓ أَهْلِهِۦٓ إِلَّآ أَن يَصَّدَّقُوا۟ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ مِن قَوْمٍ عَدُوٍّۢ لَّكُمْ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌۭ فَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍۢ مُّؤْمِنَةٍۢ ۖ وَإِن كَانَ مِن قَوْمٍۭ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُم مِّيثَـٰقٌۭ فَدِيَةٌۭ مُّسَلَّمَةٌ إِلَىٰٓ أَهْلِهِۦ وَتَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍۢ مُّؤْمِنَةٍۢ ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ شَهْرَيْنِ مُتَتَابِعَيْنِ تَوْبَةًۭ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًۭا
It is not lawful for a believer to kill another except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer unintentionally must free a believing slave and pay blood-money to the victim’s family—unless they waive it charitably. But if the victim is a believer from a hostile people, then a believing slave must be freed. And if the victim is from a people bound with you in a treaty, then blood-money must be paid to the family along with freeing a believing slave. Those who are unable, let them fast two consecutive months—as a means of repentance to Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. [Surah an-Nisa, 93]
3. Qatl Shib e 'Amd: This is when a person intends to harm a person, and ends up killing him, even though the course of harm usually doesn't lead to death. Ex: Beating a person with a stick that led to his death. Such a person has to pay the legal penalties and whatever the judge iposes upon him from ta'zeer.
Sin 3: Riba
Linguistically, it means to increase. If we take this definition for a ruling, then all profits would not be valid. Hence, the easiest way to define riba is - a specific type of increase or delay in specific items which the Shariah deems to be invalid. It was prohibited for the nations before us as was for the Jews and Christians.
Jabir رضي الله عنه said that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) cursed the accepter of interest and its payer, and one who records it, and the two witnesses, and he said: They are all equal. [Muslim]
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَذَرُوا۟ مَا بَقِىَ مِنَ ٱلرِّبَوٰٓا۟ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ - فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا۟ فَأْذَنُوا۟ بِحَرْبٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ۖ
O believers! Fear Allah, and give up outstanding interest if you are ˹true˺ believers. If you do not, then beware of a war with Allah and His Messenger! [Surah al-Baqarah, 278-279]
Imam of Dar al-Hijrah, Imam Malik said, “Certainly, I have looked in to and read the Book of Allāh and the traditions and practices of the Messenger of Allah and I did not see anything more evil than usury, this is because Allāh has declared war on those who consume it!” [Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 4/405]
How can one even imagine safety when Allah Himself declares war against them. This is the ultimate surety of loss and destruction.
What is Riba al-Quran or Riba al-Nasiah or Riba al-Jahiliyyah? It is an increase that is taken above that of the principal of a loan and an increase taken to extend the period of the loan. The creditor used to charge a monthly return from the debtor till the date of the loan while the principal amount to be returned remained intact. A person used to buy an item on a deferred payment basis at an agreed-upon date. When he didn’t pay on the agreed date, the price kept increasing in proportion to the extra time being taken by the buyer to settle his debt. This is why scholars of the Quran highlight that riba that was practiced was not merely on the basis of qardh (loan) but also born out of a transaction and aka a dain (debt).
What is Riba al-Hadith or Riba al-Sunnah or Raba al-Fadl? This is an Increase or demand for more in the ribawi items. Imams Qatadah and Tawus restricted riba to just the 6 ribawi items. Imams Abu Hanifah and Ahmad opined that these items are all those that can be measured or weighed and hence this restriction applies to anything that can be measured as such. Imam al-Shafi’i opined that these items are all eatable or legal tender and hence this restriction applies to anything eaten or used as legal tender.Imam Malik opined that these items are all food items or could be stored and hence this restriction applies to anything that is considered a food item or that which can be stored.
In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad we find a chilling narration - The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), said, “A time will come upon people when they will consume riba.” They said to him, “Is that all of the people?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever does not take from it will be afflicted by its dust.” The ramifications of this hadith is what should jolt us awake. In the Sahih of Imam Muslim, we have a narration where the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) mentioned (the case) of a man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty, and who spreads out his hands to the sky saying “O Lord! O Lord!,” while his food is haram (unlawful), his drink is haram, his clothing is haram, and he has been nourished with haram, so how can [his supplication] be answered? [Muslim]
Riba should not be treated as a trivial matter. There is zero tolerance for Riba in the Shariah. It is one of the strictest matters addressed in the Shariah.
Sin 4: Magic (Sihr)
Indulging in magic by oneself and to get someone to do magic on behalf of oneself, bot are deemed haram and counted among the major sins.
Sihr is so called because its means are hidden or secret, and because the practitioners of sihr deal with things in secret which enable them to perform illusions to confuse the people and deceive their eyes, and to cause them harm or steal their money, etc., in a secretive manner so that in most cases nobody realizes what is happening. Hence the last part of the night is called sahar, because at the end of the night people are unaware and they do not move about much. And the lungs are also called sahr, because they are hidden inside the body.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, spells, amulets, and charms are acts of idolatry.” [Abu Dawud]
The practitioner of magic is the person who uses the shayatin (devils) and gets close to the jinn by doing the things they like, most of which, if not all, lead to apostasy and disbelief. Such a person is a mushrik and a kafir. It is also commanded that the practitioner of magic should be executed by the authorities. According to Imam Ibn Qudamah, the punishment for practicing Sihr was also the death sentence and this is the opinion reported by the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, among others, of Umar, Uthman Ibn Affan, Ibn Umar, Hafsa, Jundub Ibn Abdullah, Jundub Ibn Ka’b, Qays Ibn Sa’d and Umar Ibn Abdu’l-Aziz رضی اللہ عنھم.
Jundub رضي الله عنه narrated what is ascribed to the Messenger of Allah: “The punishment of the magician is that (the judge rules) he struck with the sword.” Imam Tirmidhi reported this and said: “What is correct is that it is the saying of the Companion.” [Tirmidhi]
Bajalah Ibn ‘Abdah said: “(The Caliph) Umar Ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) wrote: “Execute every male and female magician.” So we executed (upon his command) three magicians.” [Bukhari]
It is reported authentically from the wife of the Prophet, Hafsah رضی اللہ عنھا that she commanded that a female servant of her’s should be executed because she performed magic on Hafsah, so she was executed. [Muwatta]
Imam Ahmad رحمه الله stated: “This is reported from three Companions of the Prophet ﷺ.” This statement was confirming that the punishment for a saahir is the death penalty.
This evil practice of magic has become prevalent in our societies and it has taken many forms and shapes. A person indulging in magic has lost both his dunya as well as the hereafter. We need to take the adequate steps to educate ourselves about protecting ourselves from magic.
Sin 5: False Accusation of Zina
This entails accusing a person, especially a chaste woman, of committing zina.
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ ٱلْمُحْصَنَـٰتِ ٱلْغَـٰفِلَـٰتِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ لُعِنُوا۟ فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌۭ
Surely those who accuse chaste, unsuspecting, believing women are cursed in this life and the Hereafter. And they will suffer a tremendous punishment [Surah an-Nur, 23]
Zina can only be proven by the testimony of four men who see the act take place with their own eyes, and see the penis enter the vagina, or by the unforced confession of the man or woman who committed zina. Anything other than that is accusing a Muslim woman of zina.
The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is obligatory to carry out the hadd punishment on one who slanders a chaste person, and the punishment is eighty lashes, because Allah says,
وَٱلَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ ٱلْمُحْصَنَـٰتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا۟ بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَآءَ فَٱجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَـٰنِينَ جَلْدَةًۭ وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا۟ لَهُمْ شَهَـٰدَةً أَبَدًۭا ۚ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ
Those who accuse chaste women ˹of adultery˺ and fail to produce four witnesses, give them eighty lashes ˹each˺. And do not ever accept any testimony from them—for they are indeed the rebellious. [Surah an-Nur, 4]
The hadd punishment is stoning if the people committing zina are married and one hundred lashes for one who has not been previously married. The wisdom behind the hadd punishment for slander is that:
1. It prevents accusations of immorality.
2. It protects people’s honour from being transgressed and protects their reputations from being tarnished.
3. It prevents enmity and grudges; wars may break out because of slurs against people’s honour.
4. It prevents such things becoming part of public opinion and protects people from having to hear them
5. It prevents the spread of rumours among the believers, because when there are a lot of accusations and such talk becomes common and is easily spoken of, the foolish become bold enough to commit such actions.
Imam al-Qurtubi رحمه الله said, "There is no dispute among the scholars that qisaas (retaliatory punishments) such as execution cannot be carried out except by those in authority who are obliged to carry out the qisaas and carry out hadd punishments etc, because Allaah has addressed the command regarding qisaas to all the Muslims, and it is not possible for all the Muslims to get together to carry out the qisaas, which is why they appointed a leader who may represent them in carrying out the qisaas and hadd punishments. [Tafseer al-Qurtubi]
Based on explanation by Sheikh Zafarul Hasan Madani حفظه الله and other scholars.
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