Increase and Decrease of Eeman] Major Sins badly affects the testimony of Tawhid and makes his Iman weak, but does not render one a Kafir

Q: Does committing some sins, particularly major sins, affect one’s belief in the first pillar of the pillars of Islam?

A: Yes, committing major sins, such as Zina (illegal sexual intercourse outside marriage), drinking alcohol, unduly killing a human being, consuming Riba (usury/interest), backbiting and gossip and other similar major sins, affects the state of one’s belief in Tawhid (Oneness of Allah/ monotheism) and effects one’s Iman (faith) by decreasing it.

And though one’s Iman then weakens, this does not cause one to be a Kafir (disbeliever), as the Khawarij (separatist group that believes committing a major sin amounts to disbelief) allege.

Khawarij declare such a person disbeliever if they commit Zina or steal or are undutiful to their parents, or consume Riba, even if the sinner does not claim it to be Halal (lawful).

This is a mistake on the part of the Khawarij. As for Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream), they say: Such a person is a sinner, having weak and incomplete Iman, and incomplete belief in Tawhid, yet they have not committed major Kufr (disbelief that takes the Muslim out of Islam), and that Allah has prescribed for those who commit Zina a certain retribution; if the one committing Zina is a virgin, they should be lashed one hundred times, and should be exiled for a year, but if one is not a virgin, they should be killed. This is a proof that such sins do not render a person apostate.

A thief should not be killed, their hand should be cut off, and this proves that this crime is a sin and not an act of apostasy, though it weakens one’s Iman. That is why Allah has prescribed inflicting retribution and discipline on them through punishments, in order for them to repent to Allah, and to deter them from what Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) has forbidden.

The Mu‘tazilah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that those who commit major sins are in a state between belief and disbelief) said: Such a person is in a middle position between two states, however they will dwell in Hellfire forever if they die committing the sin. Here, they oppose Ahl-ul-Sunnah in claiming that one who commits sins will dwell in Hellfire, and agree with the Khawarij in it.

The Khawarij said: all of them become Kafirs and are doomed to dwell in Hellfire for ever. Again the sect referred to as Mu‘tazilah said: That sinner will dwell in Hellfire for ever, though they are not to be declared as Kafir, meaning that major Kufr is not attributed to them. Here, both sects have gone astray from the right path, as the correct view is that of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah, who say that such a sinner is not Kafir, meaning major Kufr, though they are disobedient, being afflicted with weak and incomplete Iman, and are liable to the great danger of lapsing into Kufr.

 Surely, they are not Kafir if they do not deem lawful what Allah has forbidden, if they do not say that these sins are lawful, and they do it knowing that it is a sin, being tempted to commit it by Shaytan (Satan) and their own vain desires. This is indeed the right opinion in this regard.Thus, committing sins does not incur apostasy upon the sinner – we seek refuge with Allah from that -, and so they are not doomed to dwell in Hellfire forever, even if they die while committing it.

Hence, if one dies while committing Zina or theft or Riya’ (showing-off) without repenting of it and is aware that it is prohibited, then they are under Allah’s Will.

If He Wills, He will forgive them and if He Wills, He (Exalted be He) will punish them for it, a punishment which He – the All-Wise – decides.

Then, after one is punished in the way Allah ordains, Allah will take them out of Hellfire and enter them into Jannah (Paradise). This is the view of the people following the truth, being narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is contrary to the claim of the Khawarij and the Mu`tazilah.

Allah (Glorified be He) says: Verily, Allâh forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills Hence, anything other than Shirk is pendent on the Will of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).

As for one who dies while committing Shirk, they will never be forgiven, and Jannah is forbidden for them – we seek refuge with Allah from such destiny. They will dwell in Hellfire forever and ever. As for the disobedient who enters Hellfire, they will not dwell in it forever. Rather, they will remain in it until Allah Wills, knowing this duration may be long and it feels like permanent dwelling.

However his dwelling is only temporary, it is not the same as the disbelievers’ dwelling, as Allah (Exalted be He) says in the Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) of Surah (Qur’anic chapter) Al-Furqan, when mentioning the Mushrik (one who associates others with Allah in His Divinity or worship), the killer and the one who commits Zina. Allah (Exalted be He) says: and he will abide therein in disgrace

It is only temporary dwelling that may be long, we ask Allah to grant us wellbeing. As for the Mushriks, their dwelling will be permanent, we seek refuge with Allah, forever and ever.

Therefore, Allah (Glorified be He) says about them: Thus Allâh will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire. This in Surah Al-Baqarah. He also says in Surah Al-Ma’ida with reference to the Kafirs: They will long to get out of the Fire, but never will they get out therefrom; and theirs will be a lasting torment.

We ask Allah to grant us wellbeing.

Fatwas of Nur `Ala Al-Darb

Browse by Volume Number > Volume 4 > Chapter: Reports on the essence of Iman > Sins affect the state of one’s Iman


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