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 understand 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.
According to tradition (Hadith)
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.
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.
12) Cheating in business by under-weighing.
13) To accuse chaste women of adultery.
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).
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. 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,
According to another Tradition
“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,
1)“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 insolent, 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 Excessive Sins Destroy the Faith (Belief)
Whatever has been mentioned in the discussion of intercession states that intercession comes to the rescue when the person concerned has died with correct belief. It happens, sometimes that, due to excessive involvement in sins and delay in repentance, faith in religion is erased from the heart. Subsequently he enters the limit of doubt and reaches the point of denial (Kufr). At this time if he is taken away by death, such a person is similar to the one who had consumed poison in the false hope that the doctor would save his life. But when the doctor arrives, death had already preceded him. What can the doctor do to cure him. In the same way the request of the intercessors is ineffective for the one who has died as an unbeliever.
“So the intercession of intercessors shall not avail them.”
(Surah Muddassir 74:48) In order to prove my statement I propose to quote one verse from the Holy Qur’an and two traditions:
“Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they rejected the communications of Allah and used to mock them.”
(Surah Rome 30:10)
Sins Blacken the Heart
The first tradition is reported from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.): He said,
“There is no man who does not have a white spot in his heart. When he commits a sin a black spot emerges from this spot. If he repents, the blackness goes away but if he sinks in sin and continues to sin the blackness keeps on increasing till it surrounds the whiteness of the heart completely. When the white spot is totally covered by the blackness, the owner of this heart will never revert towards goodness. This tradition is in consonance with the utterance of Allah:
“By no means! But on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do.”
(Surah Mutaffefeen 83:14)
The Blackened Heart is Immune to Advice and Counsel
The people with the ‘blackened heart’ are totally unaffected by any counsel because their sins have caused the darkness to spread all over their heart. The loss of the inner eye prevents them from perceiving truths nor can they recognise the truth when they see it. They cannot accept any exhortation and revert to the path of virtue. It is in this connection that Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) explains:
“A man resolves to perform a sinful action but does not act upon it, but sometimes does commit it; Allah sees him and says: “By My Glory, after this I shall never forgive you.” According to another report, the person (sinner) is kept away from the Mercy of Allah due to his sin. He also does not get the impetus to seek repentance, hence his sin is never forgiven. Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in the explanatory note of the above tradition: “The purport of this tradition of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is that, the Imam has commanded us to fear all types of sins because every sin seems to be such that it may not qualify being overlooked.
To Be Fearful of the Past Sins
The believing people should always be fearful of the sins committed in the past and should weep for them since we do not know which of our sins can bring about out destruction. The Imam (a.s.) has not informed us of any sin that we can ignore and remain bereft of the Mercy of Allah. However, it is certain that the sin for which we have not repented would be sure to prevent our salvation. So we must enter the domain of Allah’s grace through the door of repentance. We should sincerely repent for those sins, which are forgotten by us and especially seek forgiveness of those sins that we remember. The method of repenting shall be explained later Inshallah.
REF: GREATER SINS – VOL- 1 By Shaheede Mehraab Ayatullah-ul-Uzma
Al-Haaj Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)