Treating Sins Lightly
(by Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi Rahmatullahi Alaih)
“When you were broadcasting it and uttering such a thing for which you had not a vestige of proof, and you took it to be something light, whereas it is grave in the Sight of Allah.”
(Surah Noor, 15)
This is an Aayat of Surah Noor. In it, taking a specific sin to be insignificant is decried.
“…and you took it to be something light, whereas it is grave in the Sight of Allah.”
The Aayat refers to the Episode of Ifk [in which the munaafiqeen slandered Hazrat Aishah Siddeeqah (Radhiyallahu anha), and some Muslims also fell prey to the falsehood.]
Allah Ta’ala is speaking here of slander and calumny. He decries taking it to be a small matter.
Now we should consider whether treating this particular sin lightly is bad and loathed, as the reason for the Revelation suggests, or trivializing just any sin when it is a major one?
Reflection reveals that it [the repugnance of treating sin lightly] is not confined to any particular sin.
Insofar as the sin [in the Aayat] being qualified with “grave” is concerned, every sin, be it a minor sin, is in actual fact grave because the nature of sin is disobedience to Allah Jalla Jalaaluhu. It is an obvious fact that disobedience, regardless of its kind, is very bad.
The Classification of Major and Minor Sins
Regarding the classification of sins into major and minor, this is a relative issue. In comparison to one type of sin another may be ‘small’. Otherwise, in actual fact all sins are major. None should be taken to be insignificant.
Consider this example of big and small. The sky is smaller than the Arsh [the Divine Throne]. But in reality, the sky is not small.
Another example: Napaaki – dirt and filth. Whether the napaaki is a little or a lot, it remains filth.
The mystery here [in all sins being grave per se] is that the greater the degree of honour and benevolence a person commands, the graver and worse will be disobedience to him. It is an obvious fact that no one’s honour and no one’s benevolence come remotely close to Allah Ta’ala’s honour and benevolence. Thus, disobedience to Him is the worst.
Considering this reality and the demand of it, sin will obviously be grave.
The demand of this is that we should never ever sin. However, there are several reasons people sin. Some sins are taken to be small and thus committed, whereas in view of the mystery outlined just now, the Fuqaha have written that it is kufr to trivialize a sin, even a ‘minor’ sin.
In short, every act of disobedience to Allah Ta’ala is grave. Considering this, it is clearly understood that the Divine Stricture [in the Aayat mentioned at the beginning] covers all types of sin.
Sin is Like Fire
The similitude of sin is that of fire. Just like a blaze, a small flame is also sufficient to burn down a house.
Thus, to enquire whether a sin is minor or major leaves the impression that if it is minor then one will abstain, and if it is minor then one will see. We seek permission from such a person to light a small flame to his curtain. If this is intolerable to him then how can he tolerate disobedience to Allah Ta’ala!? Although the flame is small, but it will spread and become a blazing fire.
How ‘Small’ Sins Lead to ‘Big’ Sins and Habitual Sinning
Similarly, a person commits a minor sin. He continues with it. This minor sin now becomes a major crime. After some time committing the sin, he starts to think nothing of it.
Some people sin trusting that they will make taubah. This is a grievous error because once a sin becomes a habit then seldom is taubah made. It is easy to make taubah over a new sin as the ‘pleasure’ of it is not yet engrained. But to make taubah from a habitual sin is difficult.
Furthermore, when there is no abstention from small sins then a person becomes reckless and more brazen. Then he starts perpetrating major sins.
This is like clean clothes are safeguarded from dirt and grime. But once it becomes dirty then a person cares not when more dirt accumulates on it and the clothes become completely soiled.
Similar is the case with sinning. A sin which becomes a habit becomes old and it does not leave.
For example, these sins have become the norm among landlords and farmers: usurping land, oppressing, baatil transactions like the customary sale of mangoes and jujubes [which are sold before the fruit are even borne on the trees], and misappropriation of the wealth of orphans.
All these sins are flagrantly, without compunction committed.
Yes, they won’t drink liquor.
The difference is that the former has become the norm, not the latter.
Obstacles in the Path of Taubah
Thus, it is proven that by a sin become a habit, there is persistence, treating lightly, and it even leads to considering the sin to be good. Therefore, it is difficult to make taubah.
Even if taubah is made, it is a mere verbal formality.
Tasbeeh in the hand,
taubah on the tongue,
whilst the heart is filled with relish over sins.
Even our sins laugh at such a repentance.
Hence, how then will a person make Taubah!? In fact, they take it to be contrary to their status and a disgrace to leave the things mentioned [usurping, oppressing, etc.].
Whereas the Sign of Imaan is:
“When your good deed makes you feel good and your bad deed makes you feel bad.”
In short, these things are obstacles in the path of Taubah.
(To be continued Insha Allah)