A sister recently asked about what Islam’s position was on sin.
In Christianity all sin is equal. What are the weights of sin in Islam? I know that shirk stands above everything else…
Could you elaborate?
Not only according to the Qur’an, but also according to the Bible, it is quite obvious that all sins are not of equal weight. Some sins are much more significant than others and therefore should be followed by graver consequences. We have heard of the “seven deadly sins” mentioned in the Bible, while we also know that there are only a few sins for which the Qur’an has warned of everlasting punishment, which obviously implies that these sins are more significant and grave than others.
The following saying ascribed to the Christ according to Matthews also points out the same fact:
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23: 23 – 24)
The words: “the more important matters of the law”, clearly point out that all directives, though need to be followed with the same vigor are not of equal significance. “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” also has the same implication. “Gnat” here implies small sins, while “camel” is used figuratively for big sins.
Jesus (pbuh) is also ascribed to have said:
Truly, I say to you, The sons of men will have forgiveness for all their sins and for all the evil words they say. But whoever says evil things against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but the evil he has done will be with him forever. (Mark 3: 28 – 29)
It is, obvious, that the unforgivable sin mentioned in the referred verses is not equal to the other sins.
The Qur’an has used the word “Kabaa’ir” to imply big sins. According to the Qur’an a person should be very mindful of the “Kabaa’ir“. If a person saves himself from “Kabaa’ir“, God, with His all encompassing mercy shall forgive his smaller sins (see Al-Nisaa 4: 31, Al-Shooraa 42: 37, Al-Najam 53: 32).
11th July 1999