Published in  
June 21, 2023

13 | 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 7 of the explanation of the poem

This is part of an ongoing series of the explanation of the Major Sins in Islam. Read Part 6 here.

قُنُوطُ الفَتَى مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ، ثُمَّ قُلْ /// إِسَاءَةُ الظَّنِّ بِالِإلَهِ المُوَحَّدِ

13. A young man despairing of the mercy of Allah and then say
From the Major sins is thinking bad of the Deity, the One

Sin 22: Despairing of the Mercy of Allah  

The word "قُنُوطُ" refers to despairing of the Mercy of Allah. A lot of the times people don't understand the concept of Qadr and start despairing the moment they are faced with a test in life.

Allah tells us,

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌۭ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ
أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَٰتٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌۭ ۖ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُهْتَدُونَ

We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure - who, when faced with a disaster, say, “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ˹all˺ return.” They are the ones who will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy. And it is they who are ˹rightly˺ guided.. [Surah al-Baqarah, 155-157]

We need to take lessons from how the Prophets of Allah were tested and how they responded. Look at Prophet Nuh عليه السلام. He preached and called his people to the Message of Islam for 950 years and just a handful of people responded to him. Despite this, he did not despair of the Mercy of Allah and continued with his work. The ones who are closest to Allah are tested the most and it is their response to this test that gives them an elevated status with Allah.

Look at the story of Prophet Ayyub عليه السلام. He was tested by a severe skin disease such that parts of body were covered sores and ulcers on his face and hands. He was a person who always praised Allah no matter what the condition. On one day, certain friends spoke ill about him and attributed his calamities to his sins and mentioned how Allah had abandoned him whereas He cured other people in the world. They ridiculed and looked down upon him. Prophet Ayyub lost all his wealth and was deserted by everyone with the exception of his faithful wife. These words and actions of those around him really affected him and he prayed as Allah records in the Quran,

۞ وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَبَّهُۥٓ أَنِّى مَسَّنِىَ ٱلضُّرُّ وَأَنتَ أَرْحَمُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

And ˹remember˺ when Ayyub cried out to his Lord, “I have been touched with adversity,1 and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” [Surah al-Anbiya, 83]

Allah Accepted his prayer and we read,

فَٱسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُۥ فَكَشَفْنَا مَا بِهِۦ مِن ضُرٍّۢ ۖ وَءَاتَيْنَـٰهُ أَهْلَهُۥ وَمِثْلَهُم مَّعَهُمْ رَحْمَةًۭ مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَـٰبِدِينَ

So We answered his prayer and removed his adversity, and gave him back his family, twice as many, as a mercy from Us and a lesson for the ˹devoted˺ worshippers. [Surah al-Anbiya, 84]

The Prophet of Allah suffered for 18-19 years, yet not once did he despair of the Mercy of Allah. We see how Allah turned things around for him and eventually blessed him with good health, many offspring, and an abundance of wealth.

Look at the advice that was given by Prophet Yaqub عليه السلام. He said, as Allah recorded in the Quran,

يَـٰبَنِىَّ ٱذْهَبُوا۟ فَتَحَسَّسُوا۟ مِن يُوسُفَ وَأَخِيهِ وَلَا تَا۟يْـَٔسُوا۟ مِن رَّوْحِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يَا۟يْـَٔسُ مِن رَّوْحِ ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْقَوْمُ ٱلْكَـٰفِرُونَ

O  my sons! Go and search ˹diligently˺ for Joseph and his brother. And do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah, for no one loses hope in Allah’s mercy except those with no faith.” [Surah Yusuf, 87]

Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه reported: A man came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and he said, “What are the major sins?” The Prophet said, “To associate partners with Allah, to despair of relief/mercy from Allah, and to feel safe from the plan of Allah. These are the worst of enormities.” [Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim] This narration encompasses both the current and the next major sin.

Allah says,

وَأَخِيهِ وَلَا تَا۟يْـَٔسُوا۟ مِن رَّوْحِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يَا۟يْـَٔسُ مِن رَّوْحِ ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْقَوْمُ ٱلْكَـٰفِرُونَ

"Do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah, for no one loses hope in Allah’s mercy except those with no faith.” [Surah Yusuf, 87]

قَالَ وَمَن يَقْنَطُ مِن رَّحْمَةِ رَبِّهِۦٓ إِلَّا ٱلضَّآلُّونَ

He exclaimed, “Who would despair of the mercy of their Lord except the misguided?” [Surah al-Hijr, 56]

وَٱلَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا۟ فَـٰحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ فَٱسْتَغْفَرُوا۟ لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا۟ عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا۟ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ جَزَآؤُهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌۭ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَجَنَّـٰتٌۭ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَنِعْمَ أَجْرُ ٱلْعَـٰمِلِينَ

˹They are˺ those who, upon committing an evil deed or wronging themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness and do not knowingly persist in sin—and who forgives sins except Allah? Their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and Gardens under which rivers flow, staying there forever. How excellent is the reward for those who work ˹righteousness˺! [Surah Aal Imran, 135-136]

In a Hadith Qudsi, the Prophet ﷺ narrated that Allah the Almighty said, “A slave committed a sin and he said, ‘O Allah, Forgive me my sin.’ Allah The Almighty Said, ‘My slave committed a sin and came to realize that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account (the sinner) for the sin.’ He then again committed a sin and said, ‘My Lord, Forgive me my sin.’ Allah, The Exalted, Said, ‘My slave committed a sin and came to realize that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account for the sin.’ He again committed a sin and said, ‘My Lord, Forgive me for my sin.’ Allah, The Exalted, Said, ‘My slave committed a sin and came to realize that he has a Lord Who Forgives sins and Calls to account for the sin. O slave, do what you like. I Have Granted you forgiveness.’” [Muslim]

Imam Ahmad رحمه الله recorded that Anas bin Malik رضي الله عنه said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, "By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you were to commit sin until your sins filled the space between heaven and earth, then you were to ask Allah for forgiveness, He would forgive you. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, if you did not commit sin, Allah would bring other people who would commit sins and then ask Allah for forgiveness so that He could forgive them."

For one to not despair of the Mercy of Allah, it s very important for the slave to firstly recognise who his Lord is. He needs to learn about the Names and Attributes of Allah and how he can relate to them. If a person doesn't have this knowledge, then his creed and belief will always be deficient and tainted to a degree that can even lead one to lose his faith.

Another important narration that teaches us about the immense Mercy of Allah as well as the action needed by the repentant slave is - Narrated Abu Sa`eed Al-Khudri رضي الله عنه: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Amongst the men of Bani Israel there was a man who had murdered ninety-nine persons. Then he set out asking (whether his repentance could be accepted or not). He came upon a monk and asked him if his repentance could be accepted. The monk replied in the negative and so the man killed him. He kept on asking till a man advised to go to such and such village. (So he left for it) but death overtook him on the way. While dying, he turned his chest towards that village (where he had hoped his repentance would be accepted), and so the angels of mercy and the angels of punishment quarrelled amongst themselves regarding him. Allah ordered the village (towards which he was going) to come closer to him, and ordered the village (whence he had come), to go far away, and then He ordered the angels to measure the distances between his body and the two villages. So he was found to be one span closer to the village (he was going to). So he was forgiven." [Bukhari]

Imam al-Tabarani رحمه الله records that Abdullah ibn Mas'ud رضي الله عنه reported the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "There are four great ayat of the Quran, they are:

1. The verse of the Throne (Ayat ul Kursi): “Allah, there is no god but Him! He is the Living, the Everlasting. Neither tiredness nor sleep overwhelms Him. All that is in the Heavens and on Earth belongs to Him. Who dares intercede without His permission? He knows what they’ve achieved and what they haven’t. They can only grasp what He wills of His knowledge. His Majestic Throne extends over the Heavens and the Earth, and He never tires of protecting them both. He is the Exalted, the Majestic” (Surah al-Baqarah, 255).

2, The verse about good and evil: “Allah commands justice, generosity and being charitable to the relatives. He forbids indecency, all evil and cruelty. He teaches you so that you may accept advice” [Surah an-Nahl, 90]

3. The verse that cheers up the believers: “Say my servants who have wronged themselves do not despair of Allah’s kindness, indeed Allah forgives all the sins. He is the forgiving the most kind” [Surah az-Zumar, 53]

4. A solemn verse about entrusting our affairs and concerns to Allah: “Whoever is mindful of Allah, He shall make a way out for them and provide them sustenance from where they could not imagine. Those who put trust in Allah should know He is enough for them. Allah will complete their task. Allah has prepared a precise measure for all things” [Surah at-Talaq, 2-3].

Imam al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه‎ said that some of the people of Shirk killed many people and committed Zina (illegal sexual acts) to a great extent; they came to Muhammad and said, "What you are saying and calling us to is good; if only you could tell us that there is an expiation for what we have done." Then the following Ayat were revealed:

وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَـهَا ءَاخَرَ وَلاَ يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِى حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ وَلاَ يَزْنُونَ

And those who invoke not any other god along with Allah, nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse) [Surah al-Furqan, 68].

قُلْ يعِبَادِىَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُواْ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لاَ تَقْنَطُواْ مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ

Say: "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the mercy of Allah. [Surah az-Zumar, 53]

This incident was also recorded by Imams Muslim, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i. Look at the immense Mercy of Allah here. Allah is calling these people who committed all these sins as "My servants". Understanding the expanse of the Mercy of Allah soothes the heart of a slave that is turning back in repentance after realising his error and also protects one from the whisperings of Shaitan where he pushes one to despair of the Mercy of Allah.

All of these ahadith indicate that what is meant is that Allah forgives all sins provided that a person repents. Additionally, one must not despair of the mercy of Allah even if his sins are many and great, for the door of repentance and mercy is expansive. Allah says:

أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ يَقْبَلُ التَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ

Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants) [Surah at-Tawbah, 104].

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءاً أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً

And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surah an-Nisa, 110]

Sin 23: Thinking Bad About Allah  

This refers to thinking bad about Allah. Allah is the Most Wise and the Most Merciful who is always ready to Forgive and have Mercy upon his slaves. Thinking bad about Allah, the one who created us is of the greatest sins and the lowest that a slave can fall down.

Allah says,

وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنِ نَزْغٌۭ فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ

And if you are tempted by Shaitan, then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed, He ˹alone˺ is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [Surah Fussilat, 36]

It is narrated in a very powerful Hadith Qudsi, that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Allah says: 'I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.'" [Bukhari]

This refers to a person being aware of Allah in his heart when he is in a state of good or bad. It further entails the public remembrance of Allah where a person enjoins the good or stays away from evil because he is aware that Allah is Watching him. The major lesson derived from this hadith is that Allah's actions with regards to the slave are similar to how the slave thinks and perceives Allah. When a slave raises his hands and with full certainty and faith calls upon Allah, then Allah will also turn to him with His Mercy and Bless him from His Bounty.

This is why the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Call upon Allah with certainty that He will answer you. Know that Allah will not answer the supplication of a heart that is unmindful and distracted.” [Tirmidhi]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ further said, “(The Dua) of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not hasty in seeking a response and does not say, ‘I prayed but I have not had a response.’” [Bukhari] It is with regards to such people that Allah says that their duas will not be accepted and they are lost.

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه that some people from amongst the Companions of the Apostle (ﷺ) came to him and said, "Verily we perceive in our minds that which every one of us considers it too grave to express." He (the Prophet) said, "Do you really perceive it?" They said, "Yes". Upon this he remarked, "That is a clear manifestation of faith." [Muslim]

Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله said in his commentary on this hadith, “The Prophet’s words, ‘That is a clear manifestation of faith’ mean, the fact that you think of this waswas as something terrible is a clear sign of faith, for if you dare not utter it and you are so afraid of it and of speaking of it, let alone believing it, this is the sign of one who has achieved perfect faith and who is free of doubt.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

We make dua to Allah for all our needs, wants and desires. Sometimes we see that we are granted with what we asked for and sometimes not. This is a point where many of us fail to understand just how merciful Allah is and become dejected and depressed that Allah is not answering our call. Rather, we see that Allah out of his immense mercy and love for his believing slave:

1. Allah Accepts and Answers the dua of his slave.
2. Allah Accepts the dua and postpones the answer or replaces it with something better at another time.
3. Allah Accepts the dua and saves the person from an impeding calamity instead.
4. Allah Saves the dua of His slave instead of answering it immediately and instead alleviates His slaves status on the Day of Judgement when he needs it the most.

Abu Saeed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no Muslim who does not offer any dua in which there is no sin or severing of family ties but Allah will give him one of three things in return: either He will answer his dua sooner, or he will store it up for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an equivalent evil away from him because of it.” They said: “We will say a lot of dua.” He said: “Allah is more generous.” [Ahmad]

Allah Loves to Forgive His slaves. What more can we ask for. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “By the One in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin, Allah would replace you with people who would sin, and they would seek forgiveness from Allah and He would forgive them.” [Muslim]

Narrated Abu Hurairah: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) 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]

It is reported that Imam Sufyan ibn Uyaynah رحمه الله said, “Let none of you think that his dua will not be answered because of (the sins) that he knows of himself. Indeed, Allah responded to the dua of the worst of the creation, Iblis, may Allah Curse him, when he said: “He said, ‘My Lord, then reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.’ [Allah] said, ‘So indeed, you are of those reprieved.’” [Qur’an, 15:36-37] If the dua of Iblis’ can be answered, surely the dua of a sinner has more precedence than his!" How can we think bad and despair of the Mercy of a Lord, our Rabb.

BUT. This does not mean that a person indulges in sins continuously and then claims that Allah will Forgive him. This in reality is oppressing oneself and a deception of the Shaitan. Allah Accepts the repentance of a slave who is truly repentant and leaves of the sin that they committed. If they fall into it again, then there is scope of forgiveness. But if a person just keeps committing sins, shows no sign of repentance, has no shame and remorse, and merely does lip-service of the Mercy of Allah, then such a person is living in a mirage and they are walking on the path of destruction as there is no Mercy or Forgiveness from Allah at the end of this road.

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

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