Major Sins in Islam
Islam has major and minor sins. Major sins are those which lead one to direct damnation. In this lesson, we look at four major sins, shirk, despair, disobedience to parents and murder.
Bismillāhir Rahmānir Rahīm, As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh. Peace be upon you brothers and sisters.
Welcome back to the Muslim Converts Channel! In this lesson, we will outline some of the major sins in Islam. A major sin in Islam is the kind of sin that not only ruins the spiritual heart, but it also ruins the Muslim community and one’s salvation in the Hereafter by bringing about direct damnation.
In other words, major sins (or kabā’ir) are the kind of sins that will directly lead one to the hell fire unless one repents from them. In this lesson, we will outline 4 major sins in Islam. Obviously they don’t exhaust them all, but see this as a starting point so as to start thinking about the most dangerous acts of disobedience towards God.
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Allah says the following in the Qur’an:
Verily, Allah forgives not that partners be set up with Him (in worship) but He forgives other than that to whom He pleases; and whoever sets up partners with Allah (in worship), he has indeed invented an enormous wrong." (Chapter 4, verse 48 of the Holy Qur’an)
Shirk is the greatest sin in Islam. Shirk is often translated as polytheism in Islam. However, according to the Qur’anic narrative, it is having objects of worship other than, or in addition to, Allah. The word for worship in Islam is ʿibādah, which means to enslave oneself. In the context of shirk, it is to take something as one's greatest point of devotion and love.
The goal of our lives is to take Allah as our sole point of worship. By synchronizing our hearts with God, our hearts become purified and get spiritually elevated. With this we become true human beings.
The following things are objects that we often take for worship: imaginary deities, money, status or people. To open our hearts to them is to choose illusion instead of truth. It is to direct the heart away from that which purifies our hearts (God) to that which darkens it (worshiping other than Him).
“...and despair not of Allah’s Mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s Mercy except the unbelieving people.” (Chapter 12, verse 87 of the Holy Qur’an)
Despair or yās is another major sin in Islam. It is a major sin for despair is to have a bad opinion of Allah. Despair is of two types:
- To despair of Allah’s mercy. It is to believe that we are in such a bad state that Allah will never forgive us. One of Allah’s greatest names is al-Rahmān, which means the All-Merciful. To think that He will not forgive us is to think badly of Him, that is, to believe that there is some lack of kindness and mercy in Him.
- To despair in this world. Our life in this world is temporary, however, Allah helps us and provides for us. He (metaphorically speaking) extends His hand to us to help, but it is also our duty to extend our hand to Him by relying on Him so that the help may be given. To not extend one’s hand to Him is to reject Him, to believe that He is unwilling to help us is a sin. A point here is important to take into consideration.
When we say Allah will help us, it is to the extent that He will help us with what is beneficial to us and not necessarily what we want. Sometimes having too much of a comfortable life in this world makes us heedless. Out of His love for us, Allah will provide for us but will also make us go through difficulties so that we remember Him and worship Him.
Every human life is sacred. It is a life that Allah has breathed into it from His own self. We do not have the permission to arbitrarily take the life of another without proper right.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“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.” (Chapter 4, verse 93 of the Holy Qur’an)
Murder is one of the worst evils one can commit. It is evil as it is not simply an isolated harm that one does to another. Most people have loved ones, family and people who depend on them. When one murders a person, one murders a son, daughter, husband, wife, mother or father. One destroys a family and a social order in which that person was an integral part of. For this reason, the Qur’an says:
“Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men.” (Chapter 5, verse 32 of the Holy Qur’an)
Like shirk, murder leaves a big dark hole in one’s heart. Notice people who have killed a lot in their life time, they are usually people who have utter lack of compassion and love in their lives, items which are at the essence of our true humanity. They are also they basis of our imān and relationship with Allah.
According to the Prophet (s), a heart that is devoid of mercy and compassion cannot contain Allah.
Disobedience to Parents (Āq al-Walidayn)
“And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed.” (Chapter 19, verse 32 of the Holy Qur’an)
Disobedience to parents is a major sin for many reasons. Here we will outline one:
Our parents are those who gave us life. They are the ones who fed us and clothed us when we were incapable of doing anything by ourselves. In short, we owe our lives to them. Being disobedient to them is a form of ungratefulness for all of the good they have done for us.
If one is ungrateful to one’s parents, how will one be grateful to Allah?
Our parents are a testing ground for us on how we will act with Allah. Now remember that the only time we don’t need to obey our parents is when they ask us to disobey Allah. That is the time when disobedience to them is not a form of ungratefulness.
Until Next Time, Thank you for watching. As-salāmu ʿAlaykum wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh
Disobedience to Parents
Is shirk believing in more than one god?
Not necessarily, it is to take something or someone as an object of worship, to the exclusion of, or in addition to God Himself.
What is a major sin?
A sin that leads to direct damnation in the Hereafter
Why is disobeying parents so bad?
It is a sign of ungratefulness to those who gave life and nurtured us. Our relationship with our parents is a testing grounds for our obedience and gratefulness to Allah.
Why does the Qur’an mean when it says murdering one person is like murdering all of humanity?
Human beings are all interconnected, we live in societies and in families, murdering one person affects all those around him or her.
What is worship in Islam?
To take something as the greatest point of devotion and love
Greater Sins by Dastghaib Shirazi