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What Islam Teaches About Sin

Being a Muslim we must know good and bad deeds. There is a very thin line to shift from good to bad things so, we should be very careful about our acts. Making mistakes or committing sins is a part of human nature and no one is free from it. All of us commit sins and make mistakes. All of us need to repent from our sins, both for specific sins and in a general sense. But what are the conditions of sound repentance? Is it an action or a feeling, or both? Allah says:

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ إِنَّ الصَّلَاةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ

“And establish the prayer. Verily, As-Salât (the prayer) prevents Al-Fahshâ’ (i.e. every kind of lewdness, obscenities, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed).” (Surah Ankabut:45)

One of the major troublesome areas of human existence is the problem of sin or evil in the world. It is commonly believed that sin started with Adam and Eve during their life in the Garden of Eden. That event led to the ‘Fall’ and has ever since branded the human race with guilt, stigma, and bewilderment. If Allah wanted to create sinless people, He could have done so. Rather, it is His will to resurrect us for judgment in the Hereafter based upon our deeds. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَّصُوحًا

“O you who have faith, repent to Allah with sincere repentance.” (Surat al-Tahrim 66:8)

The door of repentance, which is to say the opportunity to repent, is available to everyone at every time, except when imminent death is certain or the world ends (signified by the rising of the sun from the west). Repentance is to turn back to Allah and get back on the straight path after being sidetracked by sin and misguidance. Allah intends for us to use our free will to choose righteousness, not simply to be forced into it. Allah says:

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

“By the soul and He who proportioned it, and inspired its sense of wickedness and righteousness. He has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instils it with corruption.” (Surat al-Shams 91:7-10)

Allah created us flawed, weak, and sinful as part of our test here on earth. It is part of our nature to sin, just as it is part of our nature to act right. If we were sinless like the angels, Allah would replace us with sinners whom He would forgive. This tradition indicates that the presence of sin, within our souls, and the world, is due to the will of Allah and not any mistake in His creation. Allah says:

وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ حَبَّبَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيَّنَهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ وَكَرَّهَ إِلَيْكُمُ الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الرَّاشِدُونَ

“Rather, Allah has made the faith beloved to you and has made it pleasing in your hearts and He has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance, and disobedience. Those are the rightly guided.” (Surat al-Hujurat 49:7)

The Most Merciful has opened the gate of repentance for us so that we can turn to Him every time we sin. It is also like Allah to forgive and show mercy. We were created so that we might be blessed by His attributes of forgiveness and mercy. When we sin, repent, and achieve forgiveness, we are fulfilling the will of Allah to manifest His attributes. Allah says:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“O ‘Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, verily, Allaah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Zumar:53)

Making mistakes and committing sins is a part of human nature and no one will be free of it. All of us fall short, commit sins, and make mistakes. A daily relationship with Allah is the basic principle to control ourselves from sins. Spend some time reading the Quran and indulging in Zikr. Make it a habit. It will help you to stay focused on Allah in your daily activities. Allah wants to help you and He is always with you. Allah says:

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللّهَ يَجِدِ اللّهَ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

“And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allaah’s forgiveness, he will find Allaah Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Nisa’: 110)

The most important strategy in warfare is to know the enemy. The more you know about your enemy the easier it makes your battle. Likewise, life is a battle against shaytan- The enemy of our souls- We need to study him and the tactics he uses to lead people astray.

As Muslims, we have direct access to Allah. When you wake up in the morning every day ask Allah to protect you from the evil temptations of this world. Make a habit to confess your sins and ask Allah for forgiveness. And surely, man is weak but it is Allaah Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala Who created us and He knows that we are weak. So out of His Mercy,

Here’s what one can do:

1. MAKE SINCERE TAUBAH: It is essential, rather VITAL, that you should turn to Allaah and repent to Him. Make sincere taubah and try your best to stay away from the sin that you are committing.

  • You should give up the sin RIGHT AWAY
  • You should have great REGRET that you did it
  • You should have FIRM resolve NEVER to go back to it

2. MAKE DUA: Make sincere Dua to Allaah and ask Him to keep you away from whatever it is that you’re doing. Cry over your sin, beg Him for His Mercy and ask Him to guide you, to give you the strength to stay away from bad deeds and set your heart right.

3. BE STEADFAST IN YOUR OBLIGATORY DEEDS: Pay special attention to your obligatory deeds, especially praying FIVE times a day. Be very particular about your salah and DO NOT MISS ANY SINGLE ONE.

4. READ QURAN WITH MEANING: The problem that most of us have is that we don’t understand the Quran. So our Imaan falls low, we are an easy target for the Shaytaan and we continue to sin.

5. DO A LOT OF GOOD DEEDS: If you’ll be busy doing good deeds, you won’t find time to do bad deeds.

6. STAY AWAY FROM BAD COMPANY: You should stay away from people who do bad things and don’t fear Allah. Stay away from those who helped you to commit this sin.

7. KEEP AWAY FROM PLACES OF SIN: That’s because going to such places may remind you of your bad habits and your being there may make you fall into sin again.

8. DESTROY THE HARAAM: You should also destroy any haraam things that you may have in your possession, whatever it may be that is causing you to sin.

9. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP: if you can, for whatever it is that you may be addicted to.

10. SOME DUAS TO RECITE: Open your heart to Him and beg. He will answer you and help you.

Consider these ways to control your sinful nature:

  1. Islam expects Muslims to realize their mistakes
  2. Allah is Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful
  3. Allah’s Forgiveness by doing repentance
  4. The Qur’an teaches that God is a Judge
  5. Do not ever hesitate to return to Allah
  6. Do not ever hesitate in repentance
  7. Always look to Allah for help
  8. Have faith in Allah Almighty
  9. Allah promises to forgive
  10. Know your enemy
  11. Spend time with Allah
  12. Avoid sinful situations
  13. Fill your mind with Allah
  14. Know the consequences
  15. Repentance is a dual approach 
  16. Repent immediately when you fail
  17. Stop the sin or mistake immediately
  18. Return to Allah (SWT) for forgiveness
  19. Regretting deeply or truly for the sins
  20. Make a strong intention not to go back to sin

On the other hand, those who stare at others or let others stare at them do not gain anything thereby except danger. Hospitals, courts, prisons and the reports in the dailies are a clear testimony of what such persons themselves, who court danger, and their partners, families, societies, and countries, have lost by doing so. You cannot expect much from those who paralyzed their hearts and wills by wandering glances.

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ لَمْ تُذْنِبُوا لَذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ وَلَجَاءَ بِقَوْمٍ يُذْنِبُونَ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ فَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ

“By Him 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.” (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim 2749)

Despite some slips, mistakes, and sins, there are such Muslims who serve in the way of God so sincerely and faithfully that God, the Most Merciful, will not drive them from the gates of His Mercy. We accept and admit our faults. If you fail and fall into sin, repent immediately. You should regret it and be determined never to indulge in any sinful behaviour in the future.

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

  • “Make ye no excuses: ye have rejected Faith after ye had accepted it. If We pardon some of you, We will punish others amongst you, for that they are in sin.” (Surah At-Tawba, 66)
  • “Those who avoid the greatest sins and indecencies, except for oversights, (will find that) surely your Lord is ample in forgiveness.”(Al-Najm 53:32)
  • “Allah does not forgive associating anything with Him, and He forgives whatever is other than that to whomever He wills.” (al-Nisa 4:48 and 116)
  • “And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!” (Surah Al-Araf, 84)
  • “Who doth more wrong than such as forge a lie against Allah, or deny His Signs? But never will prosper those who sin.” (Surah Yunus, 17)
  • “Do ye see,- if His punishment should come to you by night or by day,- what portion of it would the sinners wish to hasten?” (Surah Yunus, 50)
  • “And he who does an atom’s weight of good will see it. And he who does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Holy Qur’an, 99:7-8)
  • “And Allah by His words doth prove and establish His truth, however much the sinners may hate it!” (Surah Yunus, 82)
  • “And if any one earns sin. he earns it against His soul: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (Surah An-Nisa, 111)
  • “Thus do We explain the signs in detail: that the way of the sinners may be shown up.” (Surah Al-Anam, 55)
  • That He might justify Truth and prove Falsehood false, distasteful though it is to those in guilt. (Surah Al-Anfal, 8)

Reasons to Avoid Sins

We should keep away from committing sins and making mistakes no matter the sin is major or minor. One should be aware of its consequences and avoid them. Sin is bad news for the one who does it. Below are some reasons why we should avoid sins:

  • The one who will commit sins will be deprived of provision. The Messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “A person is deprived of provision because of the sins that he or she commits.” (Ibn Majah)
  • Things will become difficult for the one who commits sins in a way that a person cannot draw his attention towards any matter of his life. The person who is involved in committing sins finds the way blocked or difficult. On the other hand for the one who fears Allah, things are made easy for him.
  • The one who sins will be deprived of knowledge because knowledge is light that Allah Almighty causes to reach the heart, and sin extinguishes that light.
  • Sin weakens the person’s willpower. Sins gradually strengthen the person’s will to commit sin and weaken their will to repent until there is no will in their heart to repent at all.
  • Sin is the reason for the deprivation of worship and obedience to Allah Almighty. Sins prevent a person from doing an act of worship which is the opposite of sin and cuts off access to other acts of worship, that would be bad enough.
  • When someone sins, a sense of alienation comes between a person and Allah Almighty, and also between them and other people.
  • The worst of all is when sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he/she cannot escape from it.
  • The sinners will find darkness in their hearts. This darkness is like a blind man who goes out in the darkness of the night, walking alone.
  • A sinner becomes numb or deaden and will no longer find sin repulsive, so it will become his habit, and he will not be bothered if people see him sinning or talk about him.
  • The person’s heart who commit sins gets stained by sin, and if the sin increases then the stain grows bigger until it becomes the Raan (covering of sin and evil deeds), then it increases more until it becomes a seal, and the heart becomes covered and sealed due to sins.

It is like not allowing a box of matches into the forest to protect it from being burnt down; or, even when there is no threat of war, to maintain the practice of guarding the frontiers and headquarters with many sentries; or to stuff all the holes and crevices so that snakes and scorpions have no dwelling-places in which to breed.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِاللَّيْلِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ النَّهَارِ وَيَبْسُطُ يَدَهُ بِالنَّهَارِ لِيَتُوبَ مُسِيءُ اللَّيْلِ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا

Verily, Allah Almighty stretches out his hand by night to accept the repentance of those who sin by day, and he stretches out his hand by day to accept the repentance of those who sin by night until the sun rises from the west. (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim 2759)

That is, to set barriers before vice and evil to prevent many individuals from being led astray and families are broken; to eliminate all the ways and means leading to rape, adultery, murder, all sorts of immorality, perversions, and corruptions; and to deter all sins by prevention. That is the way defined by God.

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَوْ لَمْ تُذْنِبُوا لَذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِكُمْ وَلَجَاءَ بِقَوْمٍ يُذْنِبُونَ فَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَ اللَّهَ فَيَغْفِرُ لَهُمْ

“By Him 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.” (Ṣaḥiḥ Muslim 2749)

A comparable caution and alertness are necessary while one goes out in the streets and market-places because it is always possible that the forbidden things will present themselves to our eyes. One should avoid looking at and seeing the forbidden by casting down the eyes or turning the face away. Allah says:

الْأَخِلَّاء يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ

“Friends on that Day will be enemies to one another except Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” (Zukhruf:67)

One who shuts his eyes to the forbidden does not lose anything materially and spiritually, and he does not give any harm to anybody. One who works efficiently, honestly and sincerely and serves in the way of God, can never be a passive victim of evil and vice. The meaning of this event is to cut off evil at its root.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَقْبَلُ تَوْبَةَ الْعَبْدِ مَا لَمْ يُغَرْغِرْ

“Verily, Allah accepts the repentance of his servants so long as they are not on their death bed.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3537)

Such admissions, confessions, are a part of journeying through regrets, remorse, and repentance. We ask Him, again and again, to forgive our wrong-doings out of His Mercy, by His Grace. Allah says:

إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّـيِّئَاتِ

“Verily, the good deeds cancel out the evil deeds” (Surah Hud:114)

And God accepts and answers such prayers done wholeheartedly, with faith and sincerity. Thinking about something often can bring it to life; therefore avoid thinking about things that would arise evil temptations in your mind. Try to fill your mind with the remembrance of Allah.

كُلُّ ابْنِ آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ وَخَيْرُ الْخَطَّائِينَ التَّوَّابُونَ

“All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best sinners are those who repent.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2499)

Repentance, then, is not simply a single act we do from time to time, but rather it is an entire way of life. We ask Allah to make us among the merciful, the compassionate, and the patient, and to purify us and protect us from the disease of malicious hatred. Allah says:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Say, “If you love Allah, then follow Allah will love you and He will forgive you your sins. And Allah (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-Imran 3:31)

May Allah makes us among those who frequently repent to Him and seek His forgiveness. one should not go out unnecessarily and, when he does so, he should try to accomplish not a single but a couple of tasks on one occasion. He should keep away from the places and districts where sins are committed and where there is no service in the way of God.