Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Evil Desires are a Barrier to Devotion

Sometimes the desire of this world and its material comforts can cause the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in ones heart to decrease. An excess of such desires may even make the heart bereft of the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). Such a person when he approaches his last moments will obviously not get any help from the material he had cherished in his life but he will be so unfortunate as to forfeit the intervention of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) to save him from a painful death. Several traditions to this effect are present in the books. It would be too lengthy to relate these here, as also it would be straying from our point. Only a casual mention of some traditions would suffice for our purpose.

A Persian Saying

There is a saying in Persian which means that, "Those who believe should try to develop as much as possible the love for the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) in their hearts." It could be further explained that one should also remove all other objects of desire from the heart and especially refrain from the Greater Sins so that (InshaAllah) they are safe from a dreadful death and the horrors of the Hereafter.

Do Not Use the Bounties for Committing Sins

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) wrote a letter to certain friends of his:
If you wish that your life and the hereafter be accomplished with the best of the deeds and that your soul be captured (death occurs) in this condition, then acknowledge the supremacy of Allah. Do not misuse the bounties and gifts granted to you by Allah in committing acts that are forbidden by Him and become disobedient to Him. Respect all those who remember us, Ahle Bayt (a.s.), and claim to love us. It is immaterial (for you) whether he is truthful or not. For you will be rewarded according to your intention and they (the liars) will be punished for their sins.
(Behaarul Anwaar)

The Gloom of Sins and the Glow of Repentance

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was explaining the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light."
(Surah Baqarah 2:257)

He said,
"It means Allah takes them away from the darkness of the sins to the light of repentance. Because they were having 'Wilayat' of all the just Imams (all twelve of whom are appointed by Allah). The next portion of the same verse is, "and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness."

The Imam further explained,
"It only means those who followed the light of Islam initially but later started following each an every usurper (leader) not authorised by Allah. They left the light of Islam and entered into the darkness of disbelief (Kufr). Thus Allah ordained upon the disbelievers the fire of Hell.

 Greater Sin and Lesser Sin

The foregoing discussion has made it clear that sins are of two types- The Greater and the Lesser. The characteristics of the Greater Sins and their evil effects have also been explained. Now we shall enumerate various Greater Sins. The traditions regarding the number of Greater Sins are sometimes in disagreement with each other. It is not possible to study all such traditions due to their voluminous nature. It is also beyond the scope of the present book. Those who wish a detailed study may refer to the Exegesis of Al-Kafi or 'Arbaeen' of Shaikh Bahai (a.r.).

All the scholars and the jurists agree that the most authentic tradition is the one quoted by the eminent jurist of the school of Ahle Bayt, Sayyid Muhammad al-Kazim Tabatabai Yazdi. He mentions four ways of recognising a Greater sin: -

What is a Greater Sin?

1) All those sins are Greater which have been specifically termed as Greater in the Holy Qur'an and the traditions. The number of such sins exceeds forty and they all have been explained in the traditions of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). The explanation of these traditions will follow later.

2) All those sins are Greater about which the Qur'an and Hadith explicitly state that those who commit these sins will enter Hell. Or if it is not explicit then it should purport to mean the same. For example the tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
"Certainly the Almighty Allah and His messenger disown such a person who willfully neglects prayers."

In this tradition the punishment of Hell is not named specifically but it amounts to the same thing. Another report corroborates this assertion. Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said,
"All those sins are Greater (the doer of which) is promised the fire (Hell)."

There is another tradition from Imam Zadeh Abdul Azeem Hasani, which shall be quoted later. Thus we comprehend that there is no difference whether the promise of the Divine punishment is given in the Qur'an or in a hadith.

3) Any sin, which is clearly Greater than a sin specified as a Greater one in the Qur'an and hadith; is also Greater. For example the killing of a person is a sin and it is clear from the Qur'an and hadith. Thus the tradition from Ibne Mahboob clearly states that the killing of a 'soul' is a Greater sin. The Qur'an has promised Divine punishment for murder. Then if any other sin is proved to be more than the killing of a person, by the verses of Qur'an or authentic reports then this sin will also be considered as a Greater sin. For example the Holy Qur'an says that to spread corruption in the world is worse than murder:
"And the (spreading of) mischief is Greater than murder."

Hence we can conclude that the spreading of disturbance must also be counted among the Greater Sins.

4) Any sin which has all along been regarded as a Greater one by the scholars and the jurists should also be considered as 'Greater'. But it should be ascertained that such a sin has been regarded as Greater from the present time right upto the time of the Masoomeen (a.s.). Examples of these types of sins are to descerate the Holy Ka'ba, or a mosque or to throw away a copy of the Qur'an. All such acts have been regarded as the Greater Sins. Now we shall mention the traditions that explain the Greater Sins.

First Tradition

1) Sadooq (a.r.) has recorded in Oyoone Akhbaar that Imam Zadeh Hazrat Abdul Azeem the son of Abdullah Hasani said, "I heard from Abu Ja'far the second, Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.) who heard from his respected father Imam Reza (a.s.) who quotes Imam Musa al-Kazim (a.s.) that he said,
"A person by the name of Umroo bin Abeed entered into the presence of Abu Abdillah Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.). After taking his seat he recited the following verse of the Qur'an:
"And those who shun the great sins and indecencies..."
(Surah Shuara 42:37)

Then he (Umroo bin Abeed) paused.
"Why have you become silent?" asked the Imam (a.s.),
"I would like to derive the Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an." he replied.

The Imam said,
"O Umroo, the Greatest of the Greater Sins is Shirk (to attribute partners) with Allah. The Almighty Allah says,
"Certainly whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the Garden (Paradise)..."
(Surah Maaidah 5:72)

2) After this, is "to despair from the Mercy of Allah." As the Almighty Allah says,
"Surely none despairs of Allah's mercy except the unbelieving people..."
(Surah Yusuf 12:87)

3) Then, "not fearing the retribution of Allah." The High and the Mighty Allah remarks,
"But none feels secure from Allah's plan except the people who shall perish."
(Surah Araaf 7:99)

4) One of the Greater Sins is to disobey ones parents because the Glorified Allah has said,
"And dutiful to his parents, and he was not defiant, disobedient."
(Surah Maryam 19:14).

Here the disobedience of the parents is considered a form of insolence or transgression.

5) To kill a believer is prohibited by Allah. Because Allah (A.J.) has informed,
"And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His Wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement."
(Surah Nisa 4:93)

6) To slander a believing man or a woman of adultery (or sodomy) is a Greater sin as is proved by the statement of Allah.

"Surely those who accuse chaste believing woman, unaware (of the evil), are cursed in this world and the hereafter, and they shall have a grievous chastisement."
(Surah Nur 24:23)

7) The usurpation of an orphan's property is a Greater sin, as is clear from the following verse:
"(As for) those who swallow the property of the orphans unjustly, surely they only swallow fire into their bellies and they shall enter burning fire."
(Surah Nisa 4:10)

8) It is a Greater sin to retreat from Jihad (Holy war) as the Divine verse says:
"And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day- unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company- then he, indeed becomes deserving of Allah's wrath, and his abode is Hell; and an evil destination shall it be."
(Surah Anfal 8:16)

9) One of the Greater Sins is to take "interest." Allah, the Almighty informs:
"One who swallows down usury cannot arise except as one whom Shaitan has prostrated by (his) touch does rise. This is because they say, trading is only like usury; and Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury."
(Surah Baqarah 2:275).

[Explanation: Some people say that taking interest is same as any other business. But this verse clearly says that usury is different from trade. Secondly, usury is forbidden whereas trading is permitted.]

10) And magic is a Greater sin. Thus Allah (A.J.) says,
"and certainly they know that he who bought it (the magic) should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls; had they but known this."
(Surah Baqarah 2:102)

11) Among the Greater Sins is Adultery (fornication). Allah says in the Holy Qur'an,
"And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay a soul which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication. And he who does this shall find a requital of sin. The punishment shall be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement.
(Surah Furqan 25:68-69)

12) One of the Greater Sins is taking a false oath. Allah says about it.
"(As for) those who take a small price for the covenant of Allah and their own oaths-Surely they shall have no portion in the hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them, nor will He look upon them on the day of resurrection nor will He purify them, and they shall have a painful chastisement."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:76)

13) Among the sins which are specifically graded as Greater is a sin of "betrayal of trust, or to act unfaithfully. Allah the Greatest has informed thus:
"And it is not attributable that he should act unfaithfully; and he who acts unfaithfully shall bring that in respect of which he has acted unfaithfully on the day of resurrection; then shall every soul be paid back fully what it has earned, and they shall not be dealt unjustly. Is then he who follows the pleasure of Allah like him who has made himself deserving of displeasure from Allah, and his abode is Hell; and it is an evil destination."
(Surah Aale Imran 3:161-162)

14) Failure to pay the Zakat is a Greater sin. Allah says regarding it:
"and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah's ways, announce to them a painful chastisement.
(Surah Tauba 9:34)

15) To bear a false witness is also a Greater sin. Allah says
"...and avoid false words."
(Surah Hajj 22:30)

16) Do not conceal evidence as it is a Greater sin. Allah says:
"...and do not conceal testimony and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do."
(Surah Baqarah 2:283)

17) Drinking of wine is a Greater sin. As it is prohibited by Allah in the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
"They ask you about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: In both of them there is great sin and means of profit for men, and their sin is greater than their profit."
(Surah Baqarah 2:219)

18) To wilfully avoid the prayers is a Greater sin.

19) The failure to perform any obligatory religious act is a Greater sin. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says:
"One who wilfully avoids the prayers is away from the protection of Allah and His Messenger."

20) Breaking an oath is also a Greater sin. Allah has stated:
"Who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut as under what Allah has ordered to be joined, (that is mutual relationships) and make mischief in the land; these it is that are the losers."
(Surah Baqarah 2:27)

21) To break ties with the relatives is one of the Greater Sins. In the Qur'anic verse quoted below, Allah says,
"and cut asunder what Allah has ordained......"
(Surah Raad 13:25)

When Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) concluded his hadith the narrator, Umroo bin Abeed rose up and while going out stopped and said: "Certainly, one who does not follow the guidance of the Imams (a.s.) and gives his own opinion is doomed." It means that those who refuse to follow the Imams (a.s.) are on the wrong path.

Second Tradition

Ibne Mehboob has mentioned in his 'Sahih' that he and his companions had written a letter to Imam Reza (a.s.) enquiring about the number of the Greater Sins. Also the method of determining their "greatness". The respected Imam (a.s.) replied thus:
"The Greater Sins are those, the performers of which have been promised (Hell) fire. If any believer abstains from these or repents for the same Allah will forgive these sins. There are seven such sins, which have been promised (Divine) punishment.

1. To kill one whose murder is prohibited.
2. To disobey parents.
3. To accept usury.
4. To return to ignorance after migration (Hijrat).
5. To accuse a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To consume wrongfully the property of orphans.
7. To flee from the battlefield.
(Wasaaelush Shia).

Third Tradition

Abu Samit has narrated from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
The Greater Sins are;
1. To associate others (attribute partners) to Allah.
2. Killing anyone whose killing is prohibited by Shariat.
3. Wrongfully acquiring the property of orphans.
4. To disobey parents.
5. To accuse falsely a chaste woman of adultery.
6. To flee (cowardly) from the battlefield.
7. To deny any of the obligations of religion promulgated by Allah.

Abdur Rehman Ibne Katheer has narrated from the same Masoom (a.s.) that he said:
"Not acknowledging the rights of us (Ahle Bayt) is a Greater sin."

Abi Khadija has quoted a tradition that:
"To attribute falsehood to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Holy Imams (a.s.) is counted among the Greater Sins."

Sadooq (r.a.) has quoted that: "To deprive anyone of his rights (What he rightfully deserves) by not mentioning him in one's will is a Greater sin."

The book Kanzul Ummal has mentioned in a tradition:
"Shedding blood in the precincts of the Holy Ka'ba is a Greater sin."

This is because Allah has ordained it to be a protected sanctuary.

Fourth Tradition

In the Oyoon-e-Akhbaare Reza (a.s.) there is a tradition quoted by Fazl ibne Shazaan. He quotes from reliable authorities that Imam Reza (a.s.) wrote to Mamun a letter prohibiting the following sinful acts, as they were Greater Sins:

1) To kill those whose murder is prohibited by Allah.
2) Adultery.
3) Stealing.
4) Drinking of Wine.
5) To disobey the parents.
6) Fleeing from the battlefield (in Jihad).
7) Usurping property of the orphans.
8) Eating dead animals (animals not slaughtered in the Islamic way) blood and pigs without any compulsion.
9) Accepting usury when it is obvious.
10) Consuming prohibited (Haraam) wealth.
11) Gambling.
12) Cheating in business by under-weighing.
13) To accuse chaste women of adultery.
14) Homosexuality.
15) To despair of the Mercy of Allah.
16) Not fearing the Divine retribution.
17) Not acknowledging the bounties of Allah.
18) Cooperating with oppressors.
19) To associate with the oppressors.
20) Taking a false oath.
21) To obstruct the rights (of someone) without (any valid reason or compulsion).
22) Lying.
23) Pride (arrogance).
24) Squandering wealth.
25) Expenditure in ways not permitted by Allah.
26) To betray trust.
27) To consider Hajj of the Holy Kabaa unimportant.
28) To fight the friends (devotees) of Allah.
29) To enjoy vain preoccupations (like music).
30) To persist in sins.

Insha-Allah these traditions shall be explained at the appropriate places.

A Difficult Problem and its Solution
Some people raise the following objections regarding the subject of Greater Sins: -
1. Why does the Quran not explain in detail such an important subject as the Greater Sins?

2. Why are there conflicting reports from Masomeen (a.s.) with regard to the Greater Sins? Some traditions mention that the Greater Sins are five, some give the figure as seven, nine, twenty one and thirty one. One of the traditions reported from Ibne Abbas says that the total number of Greater Sins are seven hundred and seven. Let us now consider these objections so that appropriate replies can be provided.

Reply to the First Objection

It is Allah's grace that He has not mentioned the total number of Greater Sins in the Holy Quran. There is hidden wisdom in this. Let us suppose that the fixed number of Greater Sins had been given in the Quran. Then the people would have abstained only from these sins. They would have freely committed other sins thinking that they are not doing anything against the Holy Book. In this way they would, be emboldened to perform all other types of misdeeds. Thus Allah has prohibited his creatures to avoid even the lesser sins. This is because if one becomes unmindful of the lesser sins, he will slowly be baited to the Greater Sins too.

To Persist in Lesser Sins is Equivalent to Committing a Greater Sin

It is an established fact that if one repeatedly commits a lesser sin he eventually becomes liable for a Greater punishment. Insha-Allah we shall explain in detail the lesser sins in the chapter of "Persistence in Lesser Sins."

By not specifying the number of Greater Sins the Almighty Allah has bestowed a favour upon the people. Had such a number been fixed, the people would have the tendency to abstain mainly from these sins. They would be inclined to regard other sins lightly and indulge in them, underestimating their seriousness. Such indulgence over a period of time makes an individual bold enough to perform other types of misdeeds. It is for this reason that Allah has commanded His creatures to avoid all types of sins, because, being unmindful of minor sins will gradually bait them towards Greater ones. It is indeed Allah's Grace that by encouraging us to abstain from all types of sins, He keeps us safe from the most dreadful ones.

Another important and subtle point that should be stressed is the fact that considering a minor sin to be minor is itself a Greater sin. No sin is to be considered insignificant and trivial. This point shall also be explained in the future. 

source : GREATER SINS\Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)
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