Harms of Sins
A person asked Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas Razi Allah Anhu, “Would you like a person more who does not do much prayers [meaning he just restricts himself to Fard (compulsory) and Wajib (necessary) prayers but does not offer much Nafl (voluntary) prayers], but he commits very few sins, or a person who offers a lot of voluntary prayers but also commits a lot of sins?” Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas RAA replied, “I do not consider any act of worship equal to saving oneself from sins.”
The Primary Duty in Deen is to Abstain from Sins
The primary message in this saying by Hazrat Abdullah ibn Abba Razi Allah Anhu is that while Nafl (voluntary) Ibadah (acts of worship) carry great rewards, yet it is a grave error for a person to think that because I do a lot of Nafl Ibadah, it is okay if I commit sins too, and that they would balance each other. The primary duty in Deen is to abstain from sins (and neglecting Fard (compulsory) Ibadah is a sin. If a person keeps abstaining from sins all his life, but didn’t have a chance to perform many Nafl acts of worship, Insha’Allah he will be forgiven on the Day of Qiyamah. On the other hand, if a person keeps performing Nafl Salah, keeping Nafl fasts, performing Nafl Hajj and Umrah, but remains engaged in sins too, for example, obtaining and consuming Haram (unlawful) income, there is no guarantee he will be forgiven by Allah Ta’alah.
Neglect towards Abstaining from Sins
In our society today, we have become very neglectful towards abstaining from sins. Even if a person turns towards Deen, all they want is to be taught some Tasbeehat (reciting Allah’s Zikr) they can recite every day, and to be told to do some Nafl (voluntary) acts of worship. They do not worry about how many things they are doing or saying in a day which go against Allah Ta’alah’s commandments and constitute sins.
There are a number of people these days who are very religious in their appearance, pray Salah in the mosque in the front row, recite their Tasbeehat regularly, are very punctual with not just the Fard (compulsory) but also with Nafl (voluntary) Salah, but it doesn’t even occur to them to worry about identifying and giving up all the sins they are engaged in. When they go to the Bazar they completely forget what sort of transaction is Halal (lawful) and which one is Hara’m (unlawful), when they talk they do not think twice before engaging in Gheebat (backbiting) and telling lies. All they want to know is that please tell me some Tasbeehat to recite.
First Step in Allah’s Way is that of Taubah
It was Hazrat Thanvi’s (RE) practice that whenever a person came to him for his Tazkiah (internal purification), he never told them which Tasbeehat to recite. He always told them that the first step on Allah Ta’alah’s path was to give up sins. The first step for someone who wants to progress in Allah Ta’alah’s way is that of Taubah (repentance). Complete Taubah involves three steps; (1), doing Istighfar (asking for Allah’s forgiveness) for sins committed in the past, (2) giving up all sins that the person can give up in the present, and (3) making a firm resolve to abstain from all sins in the future.
Every Sin is Harmful
Also, when people turn towards Deen, they give up a few well-known sins, like eating pork and drinking alcohol, and start believing that they have become very good Muslims. Every sin is a sin and is as harmful, but in our lives some of the sins have become so deeply embedded, like backbiting, like not differentiating between Halal and Hara’am, that we do not even consider them sins. In the Holy Quran Allah Ta’alah says;
“Leave outward sin and inward sin. Surely, those who commit sin shall be punished for what they used to commit.” (6:120)
Try to Give up All Sins
There is no sin that we can afford to neglect, neither a sin of our thoughts, nor of our actions. If a person abstains from a few socially unacceptable sins like eating pork or drinking alcohol, but continues to engage in all other sins, for example, keeps doing Gheebat (backbiting), keeps hurting other people’s feelings, is jealous of others, is full of arrogance, his heart is full of love for the material world, then this is not truly giving up sins. A Muslim must try to give up every kind of activity that has been declared a sin by Allah Ta’alah and the Holy Prophet ﷺ.
Saving One’s Family from Sins
A further important consideration in this regard is that a person cannot fully abstain from sins until his environment changes. If a person cares about abstaining from sins, but his spouse and children are on the wrong track, and he doesn’t care at all about their Aakhirah, then he wouldn’t really be able to stay away from sins. Sooner or later there will be pressures on him from his family that will lead to him committing one sin or the other. That is why just like it is hugely important for a person to try to avoid committing sins, similarly it is equally important for him to make every effort to keep his spouse and children safe from sins.
Role of Women
A woman is the foundation of a home. If a woman starts being mindful that we have to spend our lives according to the commandments of Allah Ta’alah and the Holy Prophet and have to keep ourselves safe from sins, then the environment inside homes will start coming right by itself.
What is meant by a ‘Sin’?
What is a sin? What are its consequences? The word ‘sin’ in terminology of Shariah means ‘disobedience’. For example, one of our elders tells us to do something and we say we won’t do it, or they tell us not to do something and we insist on doing it. This is disobedience, and if this disobedience is carried out in response to Allah Ta’alah and the Holy Prophet’s (ﷺ) commandments, then this act is called a sin. And the consequences of disobeying Allah Ta’alah are so dire and so farreaching that it is difficult for a human being to truly comprehend them.
The first adverse consequence of committing sins is ungratefulness. Every part of our body is immersed in blessings from Allah Ta’alah. We take these for granted because we have not had to pay anything to get them. However, if we lose the use of one of these organs or faculties through disease or injury, only then we begin to appreciate their true worth to us. For example, we begin to see almost as soon as we are born but ask what a great blessing it is from people who lose their eyesight, or have never been able to see. We learn what a great blessing it is to be able to talk, only when we lose our ability to talk because of some disease. Until then we just keep thinking that it is our birthright. The food that Allah Ta’alah gives us every morning and evening, is a great blessing. Ask people who don’t get it every day. All Allah Ta’alah asks us to do in return for all these blessings is to stay away from some acts, and we cannot even do that. So, the first consequence of committing sins is ungratefulness.
The Second Consequnce of Sins:
The Heart Becomes Rusty
The second adverse consequence of committing sins is that in a Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that when a person commits sin for the first time a dark spot is placed on his heart. What is the reality of that dark spot, only Allah Ta’alah knows best. When he commits a second sin, a second dark spot is placed on his heart, and after a third sin a third spot is placed. If he then commits Taubah (repentance) then all these dark spots are erased. But if he doesn’t perform repentance and keeps committing sins, those dark spots eventually cover his whole heart. Then those dark spots change into rust and his heart becomes rusty. Once his heart becomes rusty, he loses the ability to accept the truth. He then becomes so misguided that he becomes unable to recognize sins as sins and stops seeing the adverse consequences of sins.
The Difference between a Believer and a Repeat Sinner
In a narration Hazrat Abdullah ibn Masud Razi Allah Anhu has said that if a Momin (believer) who is not used to committing sins, commits a sin, he feels as if a mountain is going to drop on his head. But a Fasiq / Fajir (a person boasts about his sins publicly) takes a sin so lightly as if a fly had sat on his nose and he waved it away with a motion of his hand.
Missing an Opportunity to Perform a Good Deed
Let alone commit a sin, it brings great sorrow to a true Momin if he gets a chance to perform a good deed and misses that opportunity. If he feels so sad on missing an opportunity to commit a virtuous deed, imagine how much greater sadness he would experience if he inadvertently committed a sin. That is one of the significant adverse consequences of committing sins repeatedly that a person becomes more and more negligent and stops feeling how sins are affecting his heart.
The Darkness and Ell-Effects of Sin
Because we have become used to this environment of sins, therefore, we have become desensitized to its darkness and its ill-effects. Otherwise, every sin brings so much darkness and harms with it that if Allah Ta’alah grants a person true Iman (faith), then he won’t be able to tolerate it. Hazrat Maulana Yaqoob RE of Nanota said that once he unknowingly went to attend a feast at a person’s home whose income was Hara’am. He said that he swallowed just one bite but he felt the darkness and ill-effects of that one bite for the next two months, in that he repeatedly kept getting impulses of committing sins. This was the ill-effect of eating just one bite of Hara’am food.
The Fourth Adverse Consequence of Sins
The fourth adverse consequence of committing sins is that a person loses their sense of right and wrong. He loses capacity to see the truth.Even if a person explains the true path to him gently, he still can’t see it. This is about which Allah Ta’alah has said that there is no guidance for the person whom Allah Ta’alah misguides. And Allah Ta’alah does not misguide anyone without any reason. Rather, if a person keeps insisting on committing sins and disobeying Allah Ta’alah,then the evil effect of these sins is that he loses the capacity to accept the truth.
Asking Allah Ta’alah Reasons for his Commandments
There are people who are involved in actions that have been clearly declared sins in Quran and Hadith. However, if someone points out to them that these acts are sins and are Hara’am, they start rationalizing those actions and objecting why these acts have been declared Hara’am?It has this benefit and that advantage. It is almost like they are saying that we won’t obey these commandments unless the reasoning behind these commandments makes sense to us.
Now suppose we hire an employee and ask him to buy some specific items from the shops and bring them. If he now starts objecting and questioning, why do you need to buy these objects, why are you telling me to buy these from that particular shop, what is your rationale behind spending so much money on these objects, what would you say? It is not that employee’s place to ask his employer such questions. Similarly, it is not the place of a subject to demand rationale from Allah Ta’alah for all His commandments.
The Divine Light Obtained by Quitting Sins
If a person tries to quit all sins even for a few days only, then he will come to realize what Barakah (diving blessing) and Noor (divine light) Allah Ta’alah showers upon him. He will begin to develop an understanding he never had before. In Quran
Karim Allah Ta’alah says;
“O you who believe, if you fear Allah, He will provide you with a criterion (to distinguish between right and wrong) and will write off your evil deeds and will forgive you…”(8:29)
It is because we have immersed ourselves in sins so deeply that we have lost our sense of right and wrong.
The Fifth Adverse Consequence of Sins: Drought
The real adverse consequences of sins would be seen in Aakhirah (the Hereafter). However, there are some adverse consequences of sins that people have to face in this world too.
In a Hadith the Holy Prophet ﷺ said;
“When people stop paying Zakat Allah Ta’alah stops the rain.”
The Sixth Adverse Consequence of Sins
It has been said that when shamelessness, adultery, and nakedness spread in a society, then Allah Ta’alah spreads such diseases amongst those peoplewhich their ancestors had heard nothing about. The Holy Prophet ﷺ warned us 1400 years ago about such diseases the spread of which we are seeing with our own eyes today. There are some consequences associated with some sins and Allah Ta’alah shows consequences of those sins in this world.
The Seventh Adverse Consequence of Sins
In a Hadith, the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that at the end of days a time will come when killing and destruction will become rampant. A man will be killed but neither he, nor his inheritors, will know why was he killed, or who killed him?
It seems like 1400 years ago the Holy Prophet ﷺ was looking at the situation in our society today. This is all because of excess of our sins.
The Only Solution of Lawlessness
These days we try to find different solutions for this lawlessness and violence. Some people say that we should try to find a political solution. Others say that there should be negotiations with these groups. However, we are neglectful of the fact the true reason behind this lawlessness and violence is that sins have become rampant in our society. Whenever sins spread amongst a people then Allah Ta’alah’s displeasure descends on them in the form of lawlessness. May Allah Ta’alah grant us understanding and make us quit these sins. Ameen. If we truly want our society to become peaceful, the first thing we need to do is to do repentance (Taubah) to Allah Ta’alah and to pray to Him to remove the adverse consequences of our sins from us.
Quitting Sins is More Important than Nafl Prayers
Is it really good and meritorious if a person makes an effort to perform Nafl (non-compulsory) Ibadah (acts of worship). But what is even more important than Nafl prayers is staying away from sins. These prayers and recitations are very important but it is much more important that a person refrains from sins. We should try to protect not just ourselves from sins, but also our family members. These Nafl prayers are truly useful only when a person has motivation to refrain from sins. Then they strengthen a person’s heart and it becomes easier for that person to stay away from sins.
A List of One’s Sins
In summary, we should critically evaluate all the actions we perform and things we say from morning till evening, and then draw up a list of how many acts we are performing that are against the wishes of Allah Ta’alah. Then we should look at which of these sins we can give up immediately, and do so. About the other sins, we should consider what strategies would help us give up those sins, and then adopt those strategies. We should do Istighfar (asking for forgiveness) and repentance (Taubah) to Allah Ta’alah, and pray to Allah Ta’alah to help us give up the remaining sins. May Allah Ta’alah give us the motivation and the strength to refrain from all sins. Ameen
Progressing Beyond a Person Who Prays Tahajjud
In a Hadith, the mother of Muslims Hazrat Aisha Razi Allah Anha narrates that if a person wants to progress beyond a person who prays Tahajjud, then the way to do it is that he keeps himself safe from sins.
Iman (Faith) is Like a Peg for a Momin (Believer)
In a Hadith, Hazrat Abu Saeed Khudri Razi Allah Anhu narrates that the Holy Prophet said,
“The example of a Momin and his Iman is like a horse tied to a peg with a long rope. As a result he can walk up to a certain distance but he cannot go beyond that limit. He will then come back and sit beside the peg. In that way the peg performs two functions; the first is that it stops the horse from going beyond a certain limit, the second is that it provides an anchor for the horse.”
After giving this example the Holy Prophet ﷺ said,
“A Momin’s Iman is his peg. It is a consequence of his Iman that a Momin can go to a certain limit, but if he tries to go beyond the limit, his Iman will pull him back, and after roaming here and there the Momin will come back to the peg of his Iman.”
It means that Momin’s Iman is so strong that it does not let him commit sins. And by mistake if a Momin ever commits a sin, then soon he returns to the peg of his Iman. May Allah Ta’alah strengthen our Iman. Ameen
Delay in Writing of Sins
It is narrated in a Hadith that there are two angels that accompany each person. One records good deeds, and the other one records sins. I (Mufti Taqi Usmani DB) heard from my Sheikh Hazrat Maulana Maseehullah Khan sahib that the angel who writes good deeds has been commanded to write the good deed down as soon as a person commits it. But the angel who records sins has been ordered to ask the angel recording the good deeds, whether to record the sin or not, as if the other angel is its boss. When a person commits a sin, the angel who records sins asks the other angel whether it should record it or not. The angel of good deeds says, “no, do not write it now. May be he will do repentance and Istighfar (asking Allah Ta’alah for forgiveness) and then you won’t need to record it at all.” If the person then commits the sin again the angel recording sins asks again, “should I record it now?” The angel of good deeds again tells it to wait. If the person commits the sin a third time then it says, write it down now. Allah Ta’alah showers such blessings upon His subjects that good deeds are recorded immediately but the writing of sins is delayed in the hope that the person may repent.
Do Repentance Immediately
That is why wise elders have said that if you commit a sin, do repentance (Taubah) immediately afterwards so that that sin is not recorded in your balance sheet. Similarly, wise elders have also said that do repentance on the same piece of land on which you had committed the sin, so that on the Day of Qiyamah (Day of Judgment) when that land gives witness about your sin, it also gives witness that while this person had committed sin on me, he had also performed repentance on me.
Make an Effort to Refrain from Sins
The first thing we need to do is to start being mindful of avoiding sins in everything we do. It is not possible to avoid sins unless one is being mindful about it all the time. If you commit a sin by mistake or neglect, then immediately perform Taubah (repentance) and Istighfar (asking Allah Ta’alah for forgiveness), and turn towards Allah. If a person keeps doing this then one can be hopeful of Allah’s mercy that Allah Ta’alah will forgive him. The greatest curse is neglect and carelessness, that one doesn’t even care about committing sins, and tries to prove himself right rather than accept his mistakes. May Allah Ta’alah save us all from the adverse consequences of sins. Ameen
وآخر دعوا ان الحمد ﷲ رب العالمين