Monday, January 4, 2010

The Major Sins in Islam

A Muslim should steer clear of all sins, major and minor ones. A faithful Muslim takes care of every utterance or deed, avoiding anything that makes him subject to the punishment of Allah and His Wrath.

The major sins are those acts which have been forbidden by Allah in the Qur'an and by His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in the Sunnah, and which have been made clear as forbidden by the actions of the first righteous generation of Muslims, the Companions of the Prophet. Allah Almighty says,

(If you avoid the major (part) of what you have been forbidden (to do), We will cancel out for you your (other) evil deeds and will admit you (to Paradise) with a noble entry) (An-Nisaa' 4:31)

In this verse, Allah Almighty has guaranteed the Garden of Paradise to those who avoid the major sins. And Allah Almighty also says,

(Those who avoid the greatest of sins and indecencies, and forgive when they are angry) (Ash-Shura 42: 37)

and (Those who avoid the greatest sins and indecencies, except for oversights, (will find that) surely your Lord is ample in forgiveness) (An-Najm 53: 32)

Allah's Messenger was also reported to have said,

"The five (daily) Prayers, Friday to Friday and Ramadan to Ramadan, make atonement for what has happened since the previous one, as long as major sins have been avoided." (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

It is therefore very important to determine exactly what the greatest vices, technically called "the major sins" (kaba'ir), are in order that Muslims should avoid them.

There is some difference of opinion among scholars in this regard. Some say these major sins are seven, and in support of their position they quote the hadith:

"Avoid the seven noxious things: associating anything with Allah, magic, killing one whom Allah has declared inviolate without a just cause, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring riba (interest), turning back when the army advances, and slandering chaste women who are believers but indiscreet." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

`Abdullah ibn `Abbas said: "Seventy is closer to their number than seven," and indeed that is correct. The above hadith does not limit the major sins to those mentioned in it. Rather, it points to the type of sins which fall into the category of major. These include those crimes which call for a prescribed punishment (hadd), such as theft, fornication or adultery, and murder; those prohibited acts for which a warning of a severe punishment in the Hereafter is given in the Qur'an or the Sunnah; and also those deeds which are cursed by our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). These are all major sins.

Of course, there is a gradation among them, since some are more serious than others. We see that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has included shirk (associating someone or something with Allah) among them, and from the text of the Qur'an we know that a person who commits shirk will not be forgiven and will remain in Hell forever. Allah Most High says:

(Surely, Allah does not forgive associating anything with Him, and He forgives whatever is other than that to whomever He wills) (An-Nisaa' 4: 48)

Hence, the major sins are:

1. Associating anything with Allah

2. Murder

3. Practicing magic

4. Abandoning salah (ritual Prayer)

5. Not paying zakah

6. Not fasting during the month of Ramadan without excuse

7. Not performing Hajj, while being able to do so

8. Showing disrespect to parents

9. Severing relations with relatives

10. Committing adultery

11. Committing sodomy

12. Dealing in riba (interest)

13. Wrongfully consuming the property of an orphan

14. Lying about Allah or His Messenger

15. Running away from the battlefield

16. Deceiving the people that one rules and being unjust to them

17. Being proud and arrogant

18. Bearing false witness

19. Drinking alcohol

20. Gambling

21. Falsely accusing chaste women (i.e. of committing fornication or adultery)

22. Stealing from the spoils of war

23. Stealing

24. Committing highway robbery

25. Making false oath

26. Committing oppression

27. Earning ill-gotten gain.

28. Consuming what is unlawful.

29. Committing suicide

30. Lying frequently

31. Judging unjustly

32. Giving and accepting a bribe

33. Imitating the opposite sex (in dress, behavior, and the like)

34. Allowing one’s wife, daughters, etc. to display their beauty to men or conduct illicit sexual relations

35. Marrying a divorced woman in order to make her lawful for her ex-husband to remarry her after he irrevocably divorced her

36. Not protecting oneself or one's clothes from being contaminated with urine or excrement.

37. Showing off

38. Learning knowledge of the religion for the sake of this world and withholding that knowledge (i.e., not teaching people)

39. Betraying a trust

40. Recounting favors

41. Denying Allah's Decree

42. Listening to people's private conversations

43. Carrying gossip

44. Swearing

45. Breaking contracts

46. Believing in fortune-tellers

47. Behaving badly toward ones husband

48. Making statues

49. Lamenting, wailing, tearing the clothing, and doing other things of this sort when an affliction falls

50. Treating others wrongfully

51. Treating one's wife, servant, the weak, and animals badly

52. Offending one's neighbor

53. Offending and abusing Muslims

54. Offending people and having an arrogant attitude toward them

55. Trailing one's garment in pride

56. Wearing silk and gold (for men only)

57. Slaughtering an animal that has been dedicated to anyone other than Allah

58. To knowingly ascribe one's paternity to a man other than one's biological father

59. Arguing and disputing violently

60. Withholding excess water

61. Giving short weight or measure

62. Feeling secure from Allah's Plan

63. Offending pious people

64. Not praying in congregation but praying alone without an excuse

65. Persistently missing Friday Prayer without any excuse

66. Usurping the rights of the heir through bequests (to others)

67. Deceiving and plotting evil

68. Spying for the enemy of the Muslims against Muslim's interest

69. Cursing or insulting any of the Companions of the Prophet

Source: The Major Sins (Al-Kab’ir) by Muhammad ibn `Uthman Adh-Dhahabi, rendered into English by Mohammad Moinuddin Siddiqui.

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