Risks involved in treating sins too lightly
You should know, may Allah (Azzawajal) have mercy upon you and me, that Allah (Azzawajal), glorified be He, has made repentance obligatory saying: “O you that have believed, turn to your Lord in a goodly way.” (Al-Tahrim:8), and has granted us time to repent until the Scribes (kiraaman kaatibeen – recording angels) register the sin in our names.
The prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has said: “The Scribe on the left hand delays registering the sin of a Muslim for six hours[this may refer to six hours of 60 minutes as measured by astronomers, or it may refer to short periods of time during the day or night – Lisaan al-‘Arab]. If he repents (within these six hours), and seeks Allah’s forgiveness, they drop if off. If he doesn’t, they write is down as a single sin.“(Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan (The Branches of Faith); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth al-Saheehah, 1209). That is the first respite.
The second respite, even if it is registered, is until the appearance of death before our eyes. (If a man repents sincerely before that hour, it is taken off the records then).
But the problem with most people, is that they estimate not the Majesty of the Lord as they should. They disobey Him in multiple ways – day and night. To make things worse, there are some that are misled by the notion of what they call “minor sins” (saghaa’ir), so that you will see them treating certain sins as inconsequential saying, for instance: “Of what harm will be a look (at that woman), or of what consequence a hand-shake with her?” In consequence, they stare freely at pictures of women in the magazines, or those appearing in the television. Some of them, when told about the sin in it, go a step further and inquire amusingly: “O.K. What’s the magnitude of the sin involved? Is it a major one (kabeerah) or minor (sagheerah) ?”
Compare this attitude with that of the Companions of the Prophet , on whom be peace, as recorded by Bukhari in his Sahih:
1. Said Anas, may Allah be pleased with him (to one of the followers): “You imagine certain sins to be more insignificant than a straw. But, at the time of the Prophet we used to count them among those that can destroy a man.” [Bukhari Volume 8 : Book 76 : Hadith 499]
2. Ibn Mas’ud says: “A believer treats a sin as if it is a mountain over his head that may fall on him any moment. Whereas a regular violator looks at them as a fly that perked on his nose and he waived it away with his hand.” [Bukhari Volume 8 : Book 75 : Hadith 320]
Will these people then learn something from the above, and from the hadith of the Prophet who said: “Beware of the minor sins. For the example of the minor sins is like that of a group of travelers who broke their journey in a valley. Then one of them brought in a straw. Another came up with another (and a third with one more) until with their collection they were able to gather enough t o cook their food. Remember! If a man is held for questioning (on the day of Judgment)for his minor sins, surely they will destroy him.” In another version he is reported to have said: “Beware of minor sins. For they add on until they destroy the man.” (Reported by Ahmad; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2686-2687).
The scholars say therefore that when minor sins are committed without any remorse, without the fear of Allah, and accompanied by contempt then they there is all the fear they will be counted as major sins. Hence the saying: “There isn’t a minor with persistence, and there isn’t a major with repentance.”
Hence we say to him who commits minor sins: ‘Do not look at the sins if they are small or big. Look at Him in whose defiance you are committing them.’
It is hoped that these words about taking sins lightly will benefit those who are true in their faith, are not seduced by their delinquencies, nor are of those that insist upon their wrongs. These words will in fact benefit those who believe in the following words of Allah: “Tell My slaves (O Muhammad) : that I am very Forgiving, very Kind,” (Al-Hijr: 15:49), and those who believe in: “But My chastisement is a severe chastisement indeed.” (Al-Hijr: 15:50)