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.
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.
source : GREATER SINS by Ayatullah-ul-Uzma Sayed Abdul Husain Dastghaib Shirazi (r.a.)