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.
Deprived of Divine Rewards (Sawaab)
He who commits a minor sin is deprived of the Sawaab, he would have deserved, had he abstained from it. Also every sinful act has some evil repercussion or the other; so it happens that one who repeatedly commits minor sins slowly becomes susceptible to the Greater ones. On the other hand, he who refrains from such acts becomes the recipient of Allah's blessings. Besides he who avoids Greater Sins has his minor sins spontaneously forgiven. Thus one who persists in minor sins will be doubly unfortunate. He will not derive the Sawaab that is reserved for avoiding these sins -and secondly he will be disqualified from Allah's forgiveness for these sins.
This idea has been presented in the following tradition from the Masoom (a.s.):
"May Allah forgive the sins of the sinners. These people have surely been deprived of the sawab of good deeds."
It is Necessary to Refer to the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)
It may be mentioned here that another subject also dealt with briefly in the Quran but elaborated by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.) concerns the absolute authority of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) as the representatives of Allah upon the Earth, to teach and demonstrate to mankind the laws of Allah about the right and the wrong.
Allah the Almighty Himself says:
"And We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect."
(Surah Nahl 16:44)
Allah makes it obligatory for the people to refer to the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.). He orders in the Holy Quran:
"So ask the followers of the Reminder if you do not know."
(Surah Nahl 16:43)
How the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are the People of Remembrance (Ahle Zikr)
Numerous traditions have reached us which explicitly state that the 'Ahle Zikr' mentioned in the Quran are the Holy Ahle Bayt (a.s.). One such tradition is the statement of Imam Reza (a.s.) in the court of Mamun:
"We are Ahle Zikr."
Sunni scholars present at the meeting objected to this statement and maintained that Ahle Zikr in the Quran means the Christain and the Jews; and Zikr refers to the Injeel (Bible) and Taurat (Torah). Imam Reza (a.s.) replied:
"Glory be to Allah! How is it possible? How could Allah command the Muslims to refer to the Christians and the Jewish Scholars? If we refer to them they will consider their religion to be the true one and better than Islam, and will invite us to their point of view. Will you accept this invitation?"
Mamun interjected, "Can you support your claim with the Quranic proof?" The Imam said,
"Yes, Zikr means the Holy Prophet and we are his people (Ahl). To prove my point I quote the following ayat:
"O (those) who believe! Allah has indeed revealed to you a reminder (zikr), an apostle who recites to you the clear communications of Allah."
(Surah Talaq 65:10-11).
Shahristani a Sunni scholar has reported that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and Hazrat Ali (a.s.) said:
"We are the People of remembrance (Ahle Zikr)".
Another argument is that since Allah has mentioned only in brief many of the important subjects in Quran, He must have appointed a point of reference for the guidance of the people, which would provide a detailed explanation to the subject. And this reference point is undoubtedly the Progeny of Muhammad (Aale Muhammad) in whom Allah has reposed His Knowledge and His secrets, not known to any of His other creatures. Those who desire knowledge and truth will forever be dependent on Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and remain attached to them with love and devotion. And this devotion for the Ahlul Bayt itself is a blessing, which fetches Allah's rewards and Mercy.
Reply to the Second Objection
From the traditions of the Pure Imams (a.s.) it is clear that they are not in favour of mentioning the exact number of Greater Sins, nor do they describe in detail the Greater Sins. Although time and again they do indicate the method of determining whether an act is a Greater Sin or not is exemplified by the already quoted tradition from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.):
"The Greater Sins are those (sins) the doer of (those who commit them) are promised the fire of Hell by Allah."
The reason for the Imam (a.s.) not to be specific is the same as stated above in the reply to the First objection.
Some of the Greater Sins are Included in Others
The Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) did not specify some of the sins because they come under a broad classification of a sin they have stated to be a Greater one. Hence they are not mentioned separately. Abeed bin Zorara relates from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that he said:
"The Greater Sins as mentioned in the book of Ali (a.s.) are seven:
1) To disbelieve in the existence of Allah.
2) To kill a believer wrongfully.
3) To disobey parents
4) Accepting usury when it is clear (obvious).
5) To wrongfully acquire any property belonging to orphans.
6) To flee from the battlefield in Jihad.
7) Reverting to disbelief after accepting Islam.
The narrator asked, "Are all these the Greater types of sins? "Yes", The Imam (a.s.) replied. Then asked the narrator, "Which is the Greater sin, acquiring of a single Dirham (silver coin) from an orphan forcefully or neglecting prayers?" Imam (a.s.) replied,
"Neglecting prayers is comparatively a Greater sin."
"Why did you not include the neglecting of prayers among the Greater Sins?" In reply Imam (a.s.) asked,
"What was the first Greater sin that I mentioned?" Disbelief in Allah."
"The leaving of the prayers unattended is the same as disbelief."
Hence he had not mentioned the neglecting of prayers as a separate Greater sin.
It is clear from the foregoing discussion that there is no tradition from the Masoomeen (a.s.) which limits the number of Greater Sins. Hence we can say that none of the traditions are fully comprehensive in listing the total number of Greater Sins.
However if we study the Sahifa of Abdul Azeem Hasani carefully we can conclude that in the tradition related by Umroo bin Abeed, Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has told about twenty one Greater Sins from the Holy Qur'an. Umroo ibn Abeed left the Imam's assembly suddenly. Had he listened more patiently the Imam might have proceeded on the subject and enlightened him further.
I would like to inform the readers that I have explained in detail only those sins, which are the confirmed Greater ones. However it does not mean that all those sins which are not mentioned in this book are not Greater. Rather those sins, which are not established as the Greater ones are mentioned briefly. It is not even confirmed that these are among the lesser sins. Hence pious people should exercise precaution and abstain even from these sins. There is always a possibility that the sin which we think to be small maybe a Greater one. We would be deceived only because its seriousness is not proved to us. We will now proceed towards the detailed explanation of the various sins that are confirmed as Greater Sins.
Shirk (Polytheism - To associate anyone or anything with Allah)
The first of the Greater Sins is to associate anyone or anything with Allah. That is to attribute partners to Allah. Regarding Shirk we have received clear traditions from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) as well as Hazrat Ali (a.s.), Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.), Imam al-Kazim (a.s.), Imam Reza (a.s.) and Imam Jawad (a.s.).
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says:
"The greatest of the Greater Sins is to attribute partners to Allah."
The following verse of the Holy Quran asserts:
"Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
It means that whoever dies as a polytheist, there is no chance of his salvation. Although Allah may forgive any of those who have committed any other sin. Allah says:
"Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust."
(Surah Maidah 5:72)
Also the Holy Quran states:
"Do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity."
(Surah Luqman 31:13).
"And whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin."
(Surah Nisa 4:48)
Every Muslim knows fully well that Shirk is a Greater Sin. So it does not seem necessary to quote the Quranic ayats and the traditions of Masoomeen (a.s.) in this regard. However, since it is important to understand the true meaning of Shirk we shall quote the relevant statements in order that people may keep aloof from this infamy. The Holy Quran says,
"And worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him."
(Surah Nisa 4:36)
Mushrik (Polythiest) is the opposite of Muwahhid (Monotheist). Tawheed is the primary pillar of faith. It has various aspects. In the same way Shirk also consists of different types:
1) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Essence of Allah
2) Tawheed and Shirk with regard to the Attributes of Allah
3) Tawheed and Shirk in actions
4) Tawheed and Shirk in Obedience
5) Tawheed and Shirk in worship
May Allah provide us the Tawfeeq to discuss these different aspects in detail.
Tawheed in the Essence of Allah
Tawheed with regard to the Essence of Allah denotes confessing that the Essence of the Lord of the worlds is one, and that He is Eternal. He is the Orignator of every action and phenomenon, whether perceptible through senses or not. There is no other cause except Him. Belief in multiple causes is Shirk. The Zoroastrians believe in the existence of two powerful forces in the Universe, both being equal and eternal. One is good, the other, evil. The god of good is Yazdan and the god of evil is Ahriman. The following ayat of the Holy Quran is a clear refutation of this false hypothesis.
"Say (O Muhammad): All is from Allah."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
The claim of the Dualists can be refuted with a simple statement that there is no one except Allah, who has been in existence since eternity. Whatever was in past, present or future is nothing but good. Or, at least we can say that good exceeds evil and that evil does not hold sway over good.
However if we go on to explain all this in detail it would lead us away from the topic of our discussion.
Christians Are Polytheists Too
The Christians believe in the trinity of the Godhead. The Father (God), The Son (Jesus) and the Holy Ghost (Jibraeel). They believe that each of them have a special quality and that together they constitute the Godhead. The Quran flays their assertion thus:
"Certainly they disbelieve who say, 'Surely Allah is the third (person) of three'; and there is no god but One God."
(Surah Maidah 5:73)
The Holy Quran clearly states that Allah is not one-third of a god. He is the One and only One God.
The belief in Trinity is not exclusive to the Christians. Hindus and Buddhists also ascribe to it.
Idol Worship is Polytheism
Some people allege that there are separate gods for every phenomenon. That is, god of wind, god of sea, etc. This is another form of Polytheism. These people consider different creations to be the handiwork of different gods. These idolaters and polytheists worship multiple deities. Their polytheistic belief has also been denounced in the Holy Quran:
"Are sundry lords better or Allah, the One, the Supreme?"
(Surah Yusuf 12:39)
Tawheed in the Attributes of Allah
Tawheed with regards to the attributes of Allah means the realisation that the positive attributes of Allah and His Essence have only one and the same sense, and not any multiple and diverse sense. Divine attributes like Divine Eternity, Divine Knowledge and Divine Power, are the same as his Essence without any duality between His Essence and His attributes.
This concept must be clearly distinguished from the fact that Allah, the Almighty and the Exalted has applied some of His names to His creatures, and although the names are common to both the Creator and the created, the connotation is quite different; For example Zaid1 has knowledge, so the name "one who knows" is common to both the creator and the created. But in Zaid's case, it is implicit that this quality in a limited measure was acquired by him (by Allah's Grace) at a certain stage prior to which he did not have it; and it is also possible that he may also lose this quality at a later stage, but for Allah this attribute signifies that He is the knower of all things, past, present and future. He knows what is in the Heavens and the Earth and not an atom weight, or less than that or greater escapes Him. His knowledge is all encompassing. If we consider the Attributes of Allah as being qualities independent of Allah as we know them to be with His creatures, then we have committed Shirk. Accordingly the belief of the Ashairas is absolutely false.
All the good qualities of the creatures are from the Creator (Allah)
To consider all the good qualities of the created to be from Allah, the creator, is true Tawheed. It is our belief that all the qualities possessed by the Prophets and the Imams (a.s.) were given to them by Allah's Grace. They did not come to acquire any of these qualities on their own. Rather Allah bestowed upon them superior knowledge, character, power and perfect morals and exalted their position.
Consequently all that exists has not come into existence on its own. But everything is dependent upon the Creator of the Universe. All the good qualities have also been given to them by Allah. If Allah so desires, He increases their good qualities and gives them sustenance.
Praising Ourselves Unknowingly
A discerning person realises that our qualities are not our own and that we are not capable of acquiring such qualities without Divine assistance. Yet at times we mistakenly introduce our qualifications as, "my knowledge, my strength, my intention, my wealth etc. Rather one should say, my knowledge, which is bestowed upon me by Allah, my strength which is imparted to me by Allah, my intention that is assisted by Allah, my wealth which is from Allah." This constant realisation that all which we have is because of Allah's Grace; is true Tawheed.
One can be a true believer in the Oneness of Allah if his words and actions both are in consonance with each other. Such a person is more humble and lowly when he addresses his Creator and is in constant dread of the sin of thanklessness. Another distinguishing characteristic of such a person is that he is never pleased when others praise him.
The Pious Ones Dread Praise
The Chief of the Believers, Ali (a.s.) while describing the qualities of the pious says, in one of his sermons:
"When any one of them is spoken of highly, he says: 'I know myself better than others, and my Lord knows me better than I know myself. O Allah do not deal with me according to what they say, and make me better than what they think of me and forgive me (those shortcomings) which they do not know.'
(Nahjul Balagha Sermon 192)
There is no Partner in the Divine Attributes
A true believer in tawheed does not attribute any partners to Allah, nor does he commend anyone in the manner that Allah is praised. Everyday he repeats, "SubhanAllah" [Glory be (only) to Allah]. This implies that he does not deem it fit to praise anyone or anything except Allah. When he says "Alhamdo Lillah" (Praise is only for Allah), he implies that all praise is exclusive to Allah only. No one is more deserving of praise and glorification but the one and only Allah.
When a person becomes a true Muwahhid (a believer in the Oneness of Allah) he does not consider anyone the true possessor of perfect qualities. All of these are dependent upon Allah who is only one, absolutely independent. The Holy Quran says:
"O men! you are they who stand in need of Allah. And Allah is He who is self-sufficient, the praised one."
(Surah Fatir 35:15)
That is the reason why pious people refrain from praising themselves and also fear the praise of others for them. Ali (a.s.) has mentioned this in the sermon quoted above. We must also refrain from words, which imply the independence of man from Allah and instead attribute uniqueness to him. For example one should not say, "I possess such and such quality."
A Saying of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.)
Once a man approached the door of the exalted Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and knocked. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) enquired who he was. The person replied, "I" The Prophet came out and said, "Who was the one to say 'I'? Let it be known that except Allah no one is qualified to use this word. Allah says about Himself, I am the Powerful, I am the Punisher.'
Qaroon Became a Polythiest
Qaroon became a polytheist because he dared to say that all he had come to possess was due to his knowledge of alchemy. Thus, when Qaroon made himself an accomplice of the One and only God in possessing the Divine attributes, Allah replied,
"Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him the generations who were mightier in strength than he, and Greater in assemblage?"
(Surah Qasas 28:78)
Later, we see that Qaroon was not able to save himself from destruction even though he claimed to possess strength andvigor. Thus we must understand that any qualities of the creatures are not of their own but given to them by the Most Powerful Almighty Allah.
Tawheed and Shirk in Acts of Allah
Tawheed in deeds construe that we have conviction that the Lord and Master of every form of life whether material or spiritual is Allah. He alone controls and regulates life. We must also have the conviction that Allah does not have anyone to share in His Lordship and control. His authority extends over the entire earth and the skies. No one is an accomplice of Him in this regard.
As the Quran says:
"Allah is He who created seven Heavens, and of the earth the like of them; the decree continues to descend among them, that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge."
(Surah Talaq 65:12)
We must acknowledge that Allah is the creator of the Heavens. We must have a firm belief that He has created the countless stars. Their number has not been ascertained till today. Modern science has computed that there are approximately ten million stars, each of them capable of having a habitation similar to the earth. Each one of them possess a different light and they revolve in their own orbits without clashing with the other Heavenly bodies.
"And the stars are made subservient by His commands."
(Surah Nahl 16:12)
One of such stars is the Sun, the volume of which is 1.3 million times more than our Earth. It has been bestowed with such a powerful light that within seconds it traverses the distance between the Sun and the Earth. The Earth is illuminated by solar light and the life on Earth is sustained by the nourishment received from this light. "Glory be only to Allah the Mighty Creator."
Myriad Colours From Colourless Water
It is the Unique Allah who has caused the growth of plants and trees from the bosom of the earth. These plants bear flowers with color and fragrance. The green leaves of the trees and the colourful vegetation is but by the uncomparable power of Creator. The Creator has also given to the human beings the ability to see and appreciate the colourful herbage and the floral outgrowths.
Hence man must contemplate upon the Creator who has caused all this to come into existence. He must also acknowledge the One who has created him.
Who Splits the Ovum and the Seed?
The Master of the Universe is one who causes the seed to split. A part of it grows towards the depths of the earth and becomes the root. The root absorbs nourishment from the earth and supplies it to the main body. The plumule develops into stem and bears leaves. These leaves help in processing of the food which is supplied by the roots. Gradually the plant puts forth colourful and fragrant flowers and tasty fruits. All this is made to come in existence by the combination of the earth, air and water, all three of which combine to provide different varieties of tastes, smells and colours. The human beings are made capable of discerning the myriad tastes and colours so that they can appreciate the bounties of Allah and know their Creator.
In Three Darknesses
Allah is that uncomparable Being who has caused the creation of every animal from the unclean sperm. The human being is conceived in the triple covering of the womb. Later, he is bestowed with the discriminating intellect which enables him to ponder upon the qualities and the signs of Allah and also so that he may compare his ownself with other creatures by the help of his inward eye.
Nutritious Milk From Dirty Blood
Allah is the One who created milk from the dirty red blood and caused it to flow from the mammary glands of the animals and humans so that it may reach the gullets of infants.
"And most surely there is a lesson for you in cattle; We give to drink of what is in their bellies from betwixt the faeces and the blood -pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink."
(Surah Nahl 16:66)
When the juvenile ones are not yet capable of digesting solid food it is only milk which nourishes them. And the provider of this milk is Allah. He is the bestower of every benefit.
"Say: All is from Allah.."
(Surah Nisa 4:78)
Bestows Sustenance - Accepts Deeds
Allah is the sustainer of all living creatures. He distributes His bounties freely to one and all. He gives sustenance to whom He chooses without measure. His unlimited Mercy spreads over His entire creation. He accepts the invocation of all those who plead to Him and removes the difficulties of whomsoever He wishes.
The absolute belief in Tawheed implies that one should understand fully, the meaning of the phrase, "There is no Power or Might except By Allah." In other words it is the essence of the Kalima "La ilahaa illallah." (There is no god except Allah).
Allah is the Cause of Every Phenomenon
Allah is the origin of every life. He is the origin of the characteristics of life imparted to each and every creature. The characteristics of all creation are manifested by the Will of Allah. Therefore it is no wonder if the established quality of a particular thing may undergo a sudden change if Allah so wishes; as it happened in the case of fire lighted by Namrood, which became cool by the Will of Allah. The details of such phenomena shall be explained in the following pages.
No Limit to the Splendour of Allah's Might
Allah, the Almighty is the One who brings assistance to the needy beseechers, provides relief to the afflicted who cry out for help and in His hands is all the good. "He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Sustainer, the Giver of life and death the Bestower of benefits, the Punisher, the Acceptor of prayers, the Obeyed One and the Praised." The names and attributes of Allah manifest His greatness. The phrase 'Rabbul Aalameen' (Lord of the worlds) is central to the Divine names. But intellect and reason is bewildered in understanding His attributes, and speech and expression is dumbfounded by His greatness.
(Almanac page 149)
The Holy Quran says:
"Say, if the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely be consumed before the words of my Lord are exhausted, though we were to bring the like of that (sea) to add thereto."
(Surah Kahf 18:109)
Whatever a human being is able to achieve, is by the strength, the capacity, intellect and will power bestowed on him by Allah. By thought and perseverance, he can make use of these favours to distinguish between good and evil and perform his deeds. Anyone who does not ponder upon the designs which embellish the doors and walls of this world is himself lifeless like the walls. The observation of the creations around him offer enlightenment to the intelligent mind. But one who does not deliberate (ponder), cannot know Allah through His creations and thus he rejects the existence of Allah.
Is there anyone who could produce sweet fruits from woods (of trees)? Does anyone possess the miraculous capability of growing colourful flowers from (among) the thorns? He is that Pure and Flawless God who by His Divine plan and order created the day and the night and gave the light to the sun and the moon.
He is an incomparable king who neither requires a constitution nor a treasure. He is that designer who does not need paints or the tools of designing.
He causes the water springs to erupt from the stones and makes the rain to descend from the clouds. He creates honey from the bee and silk from the silkworm.
If all the creatures come together to discuss the bounties of Allah and continue upto the Day of Qiyamat, they will not have accomplished even a thousandth fraction of their task.
"And if you count Allah's favours, you will not be able to number them; most surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
(Surah Nahl 16:18)
Human Strength is Limited by Divine Will
The strength and the capacity of all the human beings is surrounded by the Divine decree and Allah's will. As we see that a person makes an intention to do something but at the last moment his plans are foiled.
He is unable to complete the task that he had initiated due to the loss of capacity. Actually, what he intended to do was against the Divine will and thus he is hindered from the task. A person inquired from Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.), "My Master! How did you recognise (realise) Allah?" He replied, "I recognised Him by witnessing the abrogation of intention and the failures of strengths." Allah, undoubtedly is the initiator of all that moves in the Universe and He is the original cause of the various effects in the created world. To acknowledge Allah as the base of everything and to have a firm belief in this is the pinnacle of Tawheed (Belief in the Oneness of Allah).
However very few people are able to achieve this stage of Tawheed. But if one develops a firm conviction that the cause of every effect, whether material or spiritual is Allah, alone, he develops some peculiar characteristics. One of such characteristics is the Fear of Allah.
Fear of Allah
A believer who has reached the highest stage of belief fears nothing but the Might of Allah and his own sins. It is because he has realised that all the creatures from Adam (a.s.) to the angels and all the animals, birds and insects are the obedient soldiers of Allah. None of them move a step without His command. Hence they could not cause any harm or benefit without Allah's permission. When a person develops this belief he is not fearful of anything. Even if all the swords of the world come to attack. If Allah wills, not a single nerve could be cut by them.
The opposition of both the friend and the foe is from Allah. Because the hearts of both are in the control of Allah. However evil the claimant may intend, only that which Allah permits comes to pass. There is a tradition that,
"The excessive kind of belief consists of not fearing anything except Allah."
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to recite this in prostration.
"O Allah if Your anger is not upon me then there is nothing I care for."
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)