Sin: causes and remedies in Islam
Man was made chaste by Allah, yet, he is weak and will sin. Allah knew this all along and envisaged a way out. Sins can be pardoned. The Holy Quran makes it quite clear.
“Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (39:53). “Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (3:31)
But pardon must be deserved, by way of fighting sins and repenting for them.
To combat sins, it is important to ‘know your enemy’. All sins are broken down into Major Sins and Minor Sins. Their inventory is huge, yet the really bad ones are the Major Sins, for Allah in his boundless charity is prepared to make concessions and forgive us the minor sins. “If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance into Paradise.” (4:31) This way the Major Sins are the ones we must stand up against first and foremost.
While reference to them is dispersed throughout the pages of the Holy Quran, their ultimate list in the Hadith may vary. Sahih al-Bukhari lists 7 Major Sins: “idolatry with Allah, occult magic, killing a soul that Allah has sanctified except for a just cause, consuming usury, usurping the property of an orphan, fleeing the battlefield, and accusing chaste but unwary believing women.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2766).
The Prophet’s cousin Ibn Abbas extends the list to 70, augmenting it with failure to observe daily prayer, evasion of zakat, not fasting on the days of Ramadan, not performing Hajj, eating non-Halal food, stealing, bearing false witness, drinking alcohol, disrespecting one’s parents. Now which one of us can say that he breaks none of these commandments in his daily life?
Major Sins result in eternal damnation. He who commits them and then turns to prayer, repentance and dua has the only hope of Allah showing mercy where technically speaking doom is pre-ordained. This hope is not vain. Repentance and prayer are a great tool in front of Allah for God’s love has no limits. But more important is learning not to commit Major Sins rather than learning to repent for them.
Let us recall the surah An-Nisa which we quoted above. “If you avoid the major sins…” Avoid them, says God. Here repentance for sins is not the issue. Avoidance of sins most certainly is.
It is a much greater challenge and requires resolve and strength. Ones not easy to summon unless you have a Helping Hand. The Holy Quran makes it clear how this Help is to be sought. “If you are tempted by Satan, then seek refuge with Allah. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing” (41:36). “Indeed, when Satan whispers to those mindful of Allah, they remember their Lord then they start
to see things clearly” (7:201). This ‘starting to see things clearly’ is the actual strength and resolve that will support you in your avoidance of sins. This is where Allah’s power will come in, provided you seek it with due diligence. Through namaz and dua. Through untiring supplication straight from the heart. Through total submission to God’s will.
This spiritual quest may be augmented with a practical method which is offered by a special kind of namaz called Tahajjudd. It’s the early morning prayer done before Fajr. Say it twice before pleading with Allah to keep you away from sins. Tahajjudd’s effectiveness was borne out by The Prophet who said, ‘Verily, Allah the Exalted stretches out his hand by night for those who repent until the coming of the day.’ (Sahih Muslim, 2759). And may God’s boundless mercy be your stronghold against sins.