Published in  
February 26, 2023

7-8 | Imam Musa al-Hajjawi's Explanation of The Major Sins in Islam (Tanwir al-Basa'ir)

Mandhumah fi al-Kabair is a poem with 32 lines that brings together the different major sins (al-kabair). This is Part 3 of the explanation of the poem

This is part of an ongoing series of the explanation of the Major Sins in Islam. Read Part 2 here.

The Author continues by saying:

وَأَكْلِكَ أَمْوَالَ اليَتَامَى بِبَاطِلٍ /// تَوَلِّيكَ يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ فِي حَرْبِ جُحَّدِ

7. And consuming the wealth of the orphan in falsehood
Your fleeing the battlefield in a war against those who are in denial (i.e. the disbeliever)

Sin 6: Usurping the Wealth of Orphans

The orphan is the one whose father has died when he is small and has not yet reached puberty.

Allah across the Quran orders us to safeguard and deliver our rusts when it comes to the property of the orphans. Allah says,

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَٰلَ ٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِى بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًۭا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًۭا

Indeed, those who unjustly consume orphans’ wealth ˹in fact˺ consume nothing but fire into their bellies. And they will be burned in a blazing Hell! [Surah an-Nisa 10]

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ مَالَ ٱلْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُۥ ۚ وَأَوْفُوا۟ بِٱلْعَهْدِ ۖ إِنَّ ٱلْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْـُٔولًۭا

Do not come near the wealth of the orphan—unless intending to enhance it—until they attain maturity. Honour ˹your˺ pledges, for you will surely be accountable for them. [Surah al-Isra, 34]

A person or a caretaker is allowed to take from the property of the orphan for himself that which is enough to continue supporting the orphan. This has to be done with utmost care and honesty.

وَءَاتُوا۟ ٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰٓ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَتَبَدَّلُوا۟ ٱلْخَبِيثَ بِٱلطَّيِّبِ ۖ وَلَا تَأْكُلُوٓا۟ أَمْوَٰلَهُمْ إِلَىٰٓ أَمْوَٰلِكُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حُوبًۭا كَبِيرًۭا

Give orphans their wealth ˹when they reach maturity˺, and do not exchange your worthless possessions for their valuables, nor cheat them by mixing their wealth with your own. For this would indeed be a great sin. [Surah an-Nisa, 2]

فَأَمَّا ٱلْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ

So do not oppress the orphan. [Surah ad-Duha, 9]

Allah even links the limitation of provision to the mistreatment of orphans by saying,

وَأَمَّآ إِذَا مَا ٱبْتَلَىٰهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُۥ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّىٓ أَهَـٰنَنِ - كَلَّا ۖ بَل لَّا تُكْرِمُونَ ٱلْيَتِيمَ

But when He tests them by limiting their provision, they protest, “My Lord has ˹undeservedly˺ humiliated me!” - Absolutely not! In fact, you are not ˹even˺ gracious to the orphan. [Surah al-Fajr. 16-17]

An orphan usually doesn't have the power to take their own right or even stand up for themselves. Today, we see that people rob the wealth of orphans, usurp their properties, and deceive them with regards to their rights. A severe torment awaits such people. Consuming the wealth of an orphan unjustly has been likened to swallowing a burning coal from the Hellfire. From the signs of a wretched person is their mistreatment of the orphans.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "I and the one who looks after an orphan will be like this in Paradise," showing his middle and index fingers and separating them. [Bukhari]

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه‎  reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he complained about the hardness of his heart. The Prophet said, “If you want to soften your heart, feed the poor and pat the head of the orphan.” [Musnad Imam Ahmad]

A person asked, "How can I soften my heart? Imam Ahmad رحمه الله‎‎ replied, "Go to the cemetery and pat the head of an orphan. [Tabaqat al-Hanabilah]

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Beware of the supplication of the oppressed for there is no barrier between him and Allah." [Muslim]

Abu Darda رضي الله عنه‎ said, “Beware of the supplication of the orphan and the oppressed, (because) certainly it circulates at night whilst the people are sleeping.” [Sifat us-Safwa]

One should be honoured that a person is coming to you for help. If they had the means or options, why would they come to you, especially an orphan? If they had parents to look after them, they would never reach out to you. Imagine such that, Allah had taken your life instead, and your own children would now have to reach out to strangers to get help. How would you want your own children to be treated? Understanding and internalising this should wake us up and allow us to strive towards helping and taking care of orphans.

Sin 7: Fleeing the Battlefield

This refers to a person fleeing from the battlefield when the Muslim army is fighting against the disbelievers.

Seeing a person turn back and flee will affect the morale and confidence of the fighters. Seeing the person flee, the disbelieving army gets a boost of confidence and intensifies their attack on the Muslim army.

Allah says,

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِذَا لَقِيتُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ زَحْفًۭا فَلَا تُوَلُّوهُمُ ٱلْأَدْبَارَ - وَمَن يُوَلِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍۢ دُبُرَهُۥٓ إِلَّا مُتَحَرِّفًۭا لِّقِتَالٍ أَوْ مُتَحَيِّزًا إِلَىٰ فِئَةٍۢ فَقَدْ بَآءَ بِغَضَبٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَأْوَىٰهُ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ ٱلْمَصِيرُ

O believers! When you face the disbelievers in battle, never turn your backs to them. And whoever does so on such an occasion—unless it is a manoeuvre or to join their own troops—will earn the displeasure of Allah, and their home will be Hell. What an evil destination! [Surah al-Anfal, 15-16]

We have another narration where all the 7 major sins listed till now are highlighted. Memorizing this hadith helps one easily remember all the 7 major sins and we see that scholars refer to this hadith always when talking about the major sins.

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, "Avoid the seven great destructive sins." The people enquire, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! 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..” [Agreed Upon]

كَذَاكَ الزِّنَا، ثُمَّ اللِّوَاطُ، وَشُرْبُهُمْ /// خُمُورًا، وَقَطْعًا لِلطَّرِيقِ المُمَهَّدِ

8. Likewise adultery/fornication, then sodomy and their drinking
Intoxicants and banditry which frightens (those who travel a path)

The hadith above talks about falsely accusing chaste women. A person who accuses people, especially women of being immoral is treated quite severely in the Shariah.

Such a person gets:

1. 80 lashes - publicly
2. All testimonies are rejected are made void
3. Counted amongst the evildoers (fussaq)
4. Held on the Day of Judgement to prove their accusation

Why is this treated so severely? This is to show:

1. The important station of women in society
2. To completely deter anyone from opening their mouth and speaking about such important matters without proper investigation
3. Closing doors to backbiting and harming their honour

As for those that are well known to indulge in it or even proclaim it themselves, or it shows in their actions, then the punishment is not applied to a person who calls them a fornicator etc.

Sin 8: Zina

According to the majority of scholars, in its legal meaning zina is the voluntary sexual intercourse outside of marriage when the male sexual organ is inserted inside the female one, regardless of the number of times. The act of zina is committed voluntarily, thus rape is not zina and any sexual act under constraint is not zina as well.

This is a sin that is impermissible by the consensus of all scholars. This is a sin that has been found across generations across time. All religions and their books call it a major sin that is impermissible and prescribe punishments for it. We see a weird trend today that states that if two people consent to intercourse, then there's no issues at all irrespective of who they are and what their relationship is with each other. It is said that an issue arises only when there is no consent. These are laws or mere ideologies that has no basis in any religion or divine book. It is completely against the basic tenets of Islam.

Zina is the action of animals. Even in animals they mate with selected partners. Humans have intercourse only under the umbrella of marriage.

It is so much hated in Islam, that anything that can even lead towards it is deemed impermissible. Allah says,

وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا۟ ٱلزِّنَىٰٓ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ فَـٰحِشَةًۭ وَسَآءَ سَبِيلًۭا

Do not go near adultery. It is truly a shameful deed and an evil way. [Surah al-Isra, 32]

It is so disliked that zina is linked to the loss of Iman. The Prophet ﷺ said: “No adulterer is a believer at the time when he is committing adultery” [Bukhari and Muslim]. He ﷺ further said, “If a man commits zina, faith comes out of him and hovers over him like a cloud, then when he stops, faith returns to him.” [Abu Dawud] Imam Ahmad رحمه الله‎‎ said, "I do not know of any sin after murder that is worse than zina."

Imam Ahmad رحمه الله‎‎ recorded Abu Umamah saying that a young man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Give me permission to commit Zina (unlawful sex).” The people surrounded him and rebuked him, saying, “Stop! Stop!” But the Prophet ﷺ said, (Come close) The young man came to him, and he ﷺ said, (Sit down) so he sat down.

The Prophet ﷺ said, "Would you like it (unlawful sex) for your mother?" He said, “No, by Allah, may I be ransomed for you.” The Prophet ﷺ said, "Neither do the people like it for their mothers."

The Prophet ﷺ said, Would you like it for your daughter?" He said, “No, by Allah, may I be ransomed for you.” The Prophet ﷺ said, "Neither do the people like it for their daughters."

The Prophet ﷺ said, "Would you like it for your sister?" He said, “No, by Allah, may I be ransomed for you.” The Prophet ﷺ said, "Neither do the people like it for their sisters."

The Prophet ﷺ said, "Would you like it for your paternal aunt?" He said, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger! may I be ransomed for you.” The Prophet ﷺ said, "Neither do the people like it for their paternal aunts."

The Prophet ﷺ said, "Would you like it for your maternal aunt?" He said, “No, by Allah, O Allah’s Messenger! may I be ransomed for you.” The Prophet ﷺ said, "Neither do the people like it for their maternal aunts."

Then the Prophet ﷺ put his hand on him and said, "O Allah, forgive his sin, purify his heart and guard his chastity.) After that the young man never paid attention to anything of that nature." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]]

When zina becomes prevalent in a land, corruption and evil spreads as well. It does not only bring down Allah's wrath, but also causes crimes, generates hatred among people, spoils the chastity of the person and his/her lineage and so forth. We have reports from the salaf that states, "When adultery becomes rampant, murders and plagues will become widespread."

As part of a larger hadith, it was narrated that Abdullah ibn Umar رضي الله عنه said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ turned to us and said, “O Muhajireen, there are five things with which you will be tested, and I seek refuge with Allah lest you live to see them: Immorality never appears among a people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among the predecessors will spread among them. [Ibn Majah]

Punishment of Zina

The punishment for unmarried individuals is to be flogged 100 lashes. Allah says,

ٱلزَّانِيَةُ وَٱلزَّانِى فَٱجْلِدُوا۟ كُلَّ وَٰحِدٍۢ مِّنْهُمَا مِا۟ئَةَ جَلْدَةٍۢ ۖ وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌۭ فِى دِينِ ٱللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ ۖ وَلْيَشْهَدْ عَذَابَهُمَا طَآئِفَةٌۭ مِّنَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

As for female and male fornicators, give each of them one hundred lashes, and do not let pity for them make you lenient in ˹enforcing˺ the law of Allah, if you ˹truly˺ believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a number of believers witness their punishment [Surah an-Nur, 2]

The punishment for individuals whom are married and commit zina is stoning until death. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The blood of a Muslim who testifies that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Messenger, cannot be shed lawfully, except in three cases: a married person who committed adultery, in Qisas (retaliation) for murder (life for life) and the apostate from Islam who abandons the Muslim Jama’ah (community).” [Agreed Upon]

'Ubadah bin as-Samit رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "Receive from me (this revelation), receive from me (this revelation). Allah has ordained a way for those women (unmarried females who committed adultery). When an unmarried man, commits adultery with an unmarried woman, they should receive one hundred lashes and be exiled for a year. If they (fornicate while they) were married, they shall receive hundred lashes and be stoned to death [Muslim]

Sin 9: Homosexuality

Homosexuality means having intercourse with males in the back passage. In the Shariah, it refers to inserting the tip of the penis into the anus of a male.

This is also a form of Zina. It is known as the practice of the People of Prophet Lut as it became a prevalent action from their time. Allah sent Prophet Lut to the people of Sadum (Sodom) and the surrounding villages, to call them to Allah, enjoin righteousness and forbid them from their evil practices, their sin, and wickedness. It this area, they did things that none of the children of Adam or any other creatures ever did before them. They used to have sexual intercourse with males instead of females. This evil practice was not known among the Children of Adam before, nor did it even cross their minds, so they were unfamiliar with it before the people of Sodom invented it.

Homosexuality goes against the natural disposition (fitrah) which Allah has created in mankind. Allah says,

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِۦٓ أَتَأْتُونَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ - إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةًۭ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ مُّسْرِفُونَ

And ˹remember˺ when Lut scolded ˹the men of˺ his people, ˹saying,˺ “Do you commit a shameful deed that no man has ever done before? You lust after men instead of women! You are certainly transgressors.” [Surah al-A'raf, 80-81]

When referring to Zina (adultery), the Qur'an has said: إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً - Here, the word: فَاحِشَةً (fahishah: shameful act) has been mentioned without 'Alif Lam while in the present verse, by saying: اَلفَاحِشَةً (al-fahishah: the shameful act), it has been made definite by the addition of 'Alif Lam. Thus, the hint given is that this unnatural evil act is, as if, the combination of all indecencies, and far grave a crime as compared to Zina.

Jabir رضي الله عنه said, “The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘There is nothing I fear for my ummah more than the deed of the people of Lut.’” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi,

Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه said, “The Prophet ﷺ said: “… cursed is the one who has intercourse with an animal, cursed is the one who does the action of the people of Lut.” (Narrated by Ahmad,

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله‎‎ said, “Both of them – fornication and homosexuality – involve immorality that goes against the wisdom of Allah’s creation and commandment. For homosexuality involves innumerable evil and harms, and the one to whom it is done would be better off being killed than having this done to him, because after that he will become so evil and so corrupt that there can be no hope of his being reformed, and all good is lost for him, and he will no longer feel any shame before Allah or before His creation. The semen of the one who did that to him will act as a poison on his body and soul. The scholars differed as to whether the one to whom it is done will ever enter Paradise. There are two opinions which I heard Shaykh al-Islam (may Allah have mercy on him) narrate.” [al-Jawab al-Kafi]

Punishment of Homosexuality

The sahabah were unanimously agreed on the execution of homosexuals, but they differed as to how they were to be executed. Some of them were of the view that they should be burned with fire, while some of them thought that they should be thrown down from a high place then have stones thrown at them.

It is narrated from Khalid ibn al-Waleed رضي الله عنه that he found a man among one of the Arab tribes with whom men would have intercourse as with a woman. He wrote to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq رضي الله عنه and Abu Bakr consulted the sahabah رضي الله عنهم. Ali ibn Abi Talib رضي الله عنه had the strongest opinion of all of them, and he said: “No one did that but one of the nations, and you know what Allah did to them. I think that he should be burned with fire.” So Abu Bakr wrote to Khalid and he had him burned.

Imams Malik, al-Shafi'i, Ahmad and Ishaq all said that the person guilty of this crime should be stoned irrespective whether he is married or unmarried.

Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله‎‎ has said, "The punishment given to the person who commits this act should match the punishment which came upon the people of Prophet Lut by the command of Allah - that rocks rained from the skies and the floor of the earth flipped upside down. Therefore, this person should be pushed down from a high mountain and rocks should be thrown from above on top of him. This has been reported to be the opinion of Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه.

Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه said: “The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Whoever you find doing the deed of the people of Lut, kill the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” [Tirmidhi]

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim discussed this issue at length, and he mentioned the evidence and arguments of the fuqaha’, but he supported the first view. This is explained in his book al-Jawaab al-Kaafi’ li man sa’ala ‘an al-Dawa’ al-Shaafi, which he wrote to deal with this immoral action.

He wrote, "Because the evil consequences of homosexuality are among the worst of evil consequences, so its punishment is one of the most severe of punishments in this world and in the Hereafter. The scholars differed as to whether it is to be punished more severely than zina, or whether the punishment for zina should be more severe, or whether the punishments should be the same. There are three points of view:

1. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Khalid ibn al-Waleed, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr, ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas, Malik, Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, Imam Ahmad رضي الله عنهم according to the more sound of the two reports from him and al-Shafi’i according to one of his opinions, were of the view that the punishment for homosexuality should be more severe than the punishment for zina, and the punishment is execution in all cases, whether the person is married or not.

2. Imam al-Shafi’i رحمه الله‎‎, according to the well-known view of his madhhab, and Imam Ahmad رحمه الله‎‎ according to the other report narrated from him, were of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be the same as the punishment for the adulterer.  

3. Imam Abu Hanifah رحمه الله‎‎ was of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be less severe than the punishment for the adulterer, and it is a punishment to be determined by the judge (ta’zeer).

Those who favoured the first view, who are the majority of the ummah – and more than one scholar narrated that there was consensus among the Sahabah on this point – said that there is no sin that brings worse consequences than homosexuality, and they are second only to the evil consequences of kufr, and they may be worse than the consequences of murder."

The exceptions to the ruling of the execution are:

1. One who is forced into sodomy by means of beating, death threats and the like. He is not subject to any hadd punishment. Imam al-Buhuti رحمه الله‎‎ in Sharh Muntaha al-Iradat said, "There is no hadd punishment if the one who has been sodomized is forced into it, such as if the one who did it overpowered him or threatened him with death or beating and the like."

2. If the one to whom it was done is a minor and has not reached the age of puberty. There is no hadd punishment in this case, but he should be disciplined and punished in a way that will deter him from committing this crime. Imam Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله‎‎ narrated in al-Mughni that there is no difference of opinion among the scholars concerning the fact that the hadd punishment should not be carried out on one who is insane or a boy who has not yet reached the age of puberty.

It needs to be understood that anal intercourse is not allowed at all. This applies even to a married couple where a man approaches his wife in the anus. This is also a major sin.

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The one who has intercourse with his wife in her back passage has disavowed himself of that which was revealed to Muhammad (ﷺ).” [Abu Dawud]

Ibn 'Abbas رضي الله عنه said. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah will not look at a man who has intercourse with a woman in her back passage.” [Tirmidhi]

Based on explanation by Sheikh Zafarul Hasan Madani حفظه الله and other scholars.

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