The disease of sin: its effects and cures
By: The Central Mosque
Source: The Central Mosque
“Whoever repents after his transgression and corrects himself, then Allah shall relent towards him. Surely, Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.” [Quran 5:39]
Devastation of sinning:
We (human beings) are spiritual beings in addition to being physical entities. Our Creator (Allah) has placed an innate desire (a homing beacon) within our souls for us to accept goodness and to feel guilty on breaching the commands of our Creator. We have to go against our natural (primordial) nature to become satisfied (or even live) with a state of disobedience. Our natural and upright nature is to accept the commands of our Creator and to be obedient as stated in the Qur’an:
“So, set your face to the Faith uprightly, this (faith) being the nature designed by Allah on which He has created the mankind. There is no change in Allah‘s creation. That is the straight faith, but most of the people do not know.” [30:30]
Whenever a sin is committed (a disobedience of the Creator) those who still have a good (uncorrupted sound) nature will become restless and won’t find peace. This is the reason why you find people repenting, crying, being remorseful and constantly reflecting upon the sin. However, the devastation of sins is not just limited to being restless its effects are multifaceted and affect many aspects of our lives. Shaykh (Imam) Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (RA) has mentioned up to 10 side effects of sin:
Deprivation of Knowledge:
Being deprived of knowledge for knowledge is light that Allah causes to reach the heart, and sin extinguishes that light. When Imam Al-Shafi‘i (RA)Al-Shafi‘i (RA) sat beforeImam Malik ibn Anas (RA)Malik ibn Anas (RA) and read to him, he admired him because of the intelligence, alertness and understanding that he saw in him. He said:
“I think that Allah has caused light to enter your heart, so do not extinguish it with the darkness of sin.”
Deprivation of Provisions:
In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Sayyidina Thawbaan (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “A man is deprived of provision because of the sins that he commits.” [Ibn Majah]
Alienation from Creator
Sense of alienation that comes between a person and his Lord, and between him and other people. One of the salaf (righteous predecessors) said:
“If I disobey Allah, I see that in the attitude of my riding beast and my wife.”
Life becomes difficult:
Things become difficult for him, so that he does not turn his attention towards any matter but he finds the way blocked or he finds it difficult. By the same token, for the one who fears Allah, things are made easy for him as stated in the Qur’an:
“…Whoever fears Allah, He brings forth a way out for him, and provides him (with what he needs) from where he does not even imagine.” [65:2-3]
Heart is darkened:
The sinner will find darkness in his heart, which he will feel just as he feels the darkness of night. So this darkness affects his heart as the physical darkness affects his vision. For obedience is light and disobedience is darkness. The stronger the darkness grows, the greater becomes his confusion, until he falls into innovation, misguidance and other things that lead to doom, without even realizing, like a blind man who goes out in the darkness of the night, walking alone This darkness grows stronger until it covers the eyes, then it grows stronger until it covers the face, which appears dark and is seen by everyone. Sayyidina ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) said:
“Good deeds make the face light, give light to the heart, and bring about ample provision, physical strength and love in people’s hearts. Bad deeds make the face dark, give darkness to the heart, and bring about physical weakness, a lack of provision and hatred in people’s hearts.”
Deprivation of Obedience & Worship
If sin brought no punishment other than that it prevents a person from doing an act of worship which is the opposite of sin, and cuts off access to other acts of worship, that would be bad enough. So the sin cuts off a third way and a fourth way and so on, and because of the sin he is cut off from many acts of worship, each of which would have been better for him than this world and everything in it. So he is like a man who eats food that is bound to cause a lengthy sickness, and thus he is deprived of many other foods that are better than that. And Allah is the One Whose help we seek.
Sin breeds sin:
Sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he cannot escape from it.
It gradually strengthens his will to commit sin and weakens his will to repent until there is no will in his heart to repent at all… so he seeks forgiveness and expresses repentance, but it is merely words on the lips, like the repentance of the liars, whose hearts are still determined to commit sin and persist in it. This is one of the most serious diseases that are most likely to lead to doom.
Desensitization towards sin and evil:
He will become desensitized and will no longer find sin abhorrent, so it will become his habit, and he will not be bothered if people see him committing the sin or talk about him.
For the leaders of immorality, this is the ultimate shamelessness in which they find great pleasure, such that they feel proud of their sin and will speak of it to people who do not know that they have done it, saying, “O so and so, I did such and such.” Such people cannot be helped and the path to repentance is blocked for them in most cases.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “All of my ummah (followers) will be fine except for those who commit sin openly, and that includes cases where Allah conceals a person’s sin, but the following morning he exposes himself and says, ‘O So and so, I did such and such last night, so he shamelessly exposes himself when all night his Lord had concealed his sin.” [Bukhari]
Hearts is stamped/marked:
When there are many sins they leave a mark on the heart of the person who commits them, so he becomes one of the negligent. As one of the salaf said, concerning the aayah (verse):
“No! But that which they used to commit has covered their hearts with rust.” [83:14]
this means sin after sin.
Witnesses of sinning:
There is no such thing as a “private sin” in Islam. There are multiple witnesses to every sin as follows:
Earth witnesses sins and its testimony against you:
“When the earth will be trembled with its quake, and the earth will bring forth its burdens, and man will say, ‘What has happened to it?’ That day it will describe all its happenings…” [99:1-4]
Limbs witness sins and their testimony against you:
“Today We will set a seal on their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness about what they used to do.” [36:65]
Angels witness sins and their testimony against you:
“…while (appointed) over you there are watchers, who are noble, writers (of the deeds), who know whatever you do.” [82:10-12]
Sin is recorded in your book of deeds:
“…and when the scrolls (of deeds) will be unrolled…” [81:10]
I have sinned, what now?
You need to understand that Allah (SWT) has created human weak and perfection is not an attribute of our creation. Our Creator knows that we are weak and He (SWT) intends to then make things easy for us when we make mistakes, Allah (SWT) declares in the Qur’an:
“Allah intends to make things easy on you. And man has been created weak.” [4:28]
It is understood as part of our (weak) nature that we will commit sins from time to time. It is expected from him to occasionally slip up but then we are advised to acknowledge our weakness, acknowledge our error, repent and turn to Allah (SWT). Those of us who acknowledge our weakness and errors with humility and then turn to our Creator seeking forgiveness are considered the best. Seeking forgivnes is what sets apart the humble and the haughty, the submissive from the arrogant and the modest from the proud.
Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, “Every son of Adam sins, and the best of those who sin are those who repent.” [Tirmidhi]
Allah (SWT) is the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy and every ready to shower and immerse us in Mercy. He (SWT) looks for opportunities to shower his Mercy upon those who have turn to him in sincerity seeking forgiveness.
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves of the Day of Resurrection.” [Muslim]
In fact, Allah (SWT) is so eager to forgive that he (SWT) has declared that if we didn’t commit sins (thus for Allah (SWT) to forgive) then he would replace us by those who sin so Mercy can be showered upon them!
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “By Him in whose hand is my soul, if you did not sin Allah would replace you with people who would sin and they would seek the forgiveness of Allah and He would forgive them.” [Muslim]
So what do I have to do to seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT)?
In Islam, repentance has to fulfil 3 conditions and a 4th additional condition if the sin was committed towards another human, Imam Nawawi (RA) enumerates them are as follows:
- Disconnect and detach yourself from the sin
- Feel remorseful over the sin
- Commit to not repeating the sin, permanently
- Absolve yourself from the rights of another human
But if the sin involves a human’s right, it requires a fourth condition, i.e., to absolve onself from such right. If it is a property, he should return it to its rightful owner. If it is slandering or backbiting, one should ask the pardon of the offended.
What should I do after I have repented? And what happens when I commit the sin, again?
The conditions of repentance (above) have to be valid at the time of seeking forgiveness. A sound (firm) intention is needed. Once you have turned to Allah (SWT) with sincerity and repented then don’t dwell on the matter! It is part of human nature to slip up then you need to seek forgiveness again. Don’t be despondent of the Mercy of Allah (SWT) and don’t be tricked by the Shaytaan into thinking that your repentance is futile! We must try our human best to resist and leave the sin and this doesn’t mean that the person should continue to sin (willing and voluntarily) and also keep seeking repentance. There has to be a genuine effort to break the cycle of sin.
‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez (RA) said: O people, whoever commits a sin, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he repeats it, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, and if he repeats it, let him seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent, for it is like chains around the neck of man, and doom lies in persisting in it.
It was said to al-Hasan al-Basri (RA): Would not any one of us feel ashamed before his Lord to seek forgiveness from his sin then go back to it, then seek forgiveness then go back to it? He said: The shaytan would like you to feel that way; never give up seeking forgiveness.
What do you mean by perpetual repentance?
A sincere believer is someone who is full of servitude and humility. He accepts that despite his best efforts he can never fulfil the rights of Allah (SWT) as they ought to be fulfilled, his best in devotion and exertion in performing acts of worship will fall short of when compared to the grandeur and rights of Allah (SWT). Importantly, he never regards his efforts to be exemplary, rather relies solely on the Mercy of Allah (SWT). Our Nabi (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) despite being (the highest) of the Prophets still turned to Allah (SWT) hundred times a day so where are we?
Sayyidina Al-Agharr bin Yasar Al-Muzani (RA) narrated that: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “Turn you people in repentance to Allah and beg pardon of Him. I turn to Him in repentance a hundred times a day”. [Muslim]
Allah, Blessed and Exalted, says: O son of Adam, however much you call upon Me and place your hopes in Me, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you have sins piling up to the clouds and then ask My forgiveness, I will forgive you without any reservation. O son of Adam, if you come to me with enough sins to fill the earth, and meet Me without associating anything as a partner with Me, I will come to you with enough forgiveness to fill the earth. [Tirmidhi]
Therefore a daily schedule should be organised and sometime set aside for Astaghfaar (daily recitation of (أستغفر الله) astaġfiru l-lāh i.e. “I seek forgiveness from Allah”. This can be recited any number of time but for the sake of consistency and developing a perpetual habit a count of 100 should be set and this should be recited 100 times daily.
We have recorded some daily recitations in this article for anyone to benefit and formulate their own schedule and routine.
Should I tell others about my sin?
If Allah (SWT) has been Merciful to you and your wrongdoing has been hidden from people then you should not disclose and publicise your sin. If you wish to ask people to make dua for you to remain steadfast then you can say in general terms that I made a mistake and I request that you make dua for Allah (SWT) to prevent me from making the same (or similar) mistake again.
The disclosure of sins is strictly forbidden under normal circumstances.
Sayyidina Abu Hurayra (RA) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said, “All my Community will be excused except those who are blatant. And it is from blatancy for one to perform an act at night and to wake up and tell something that they did such-and-such, while Allah had concealed it for them. They slept under the cover of Allah, and they rended Allah’s covering from themselves in the morning.” [Bukhari]
We conclude this brief treatise with the dua for Allah (SWT) to give us and all Muslims the ability to repent (sincerely), routinely and perpetually (Ameen) and end this piece with this beautiful narration about the Mercy of Allah (SWT):
“When a servant repents then Allah (SWT) makes the Angels (Kiraman Katibeen) forget his sin and makes the limbs (which committed the sin) forget them and the Earth (where the sin was committed) forget them until he will meet Allah (SWT) on the day of judgement in a state that there will be no witness upon his sin.” [Jam’e As-Sagheer]