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Deserting Sins: Obstacles and Opportunities

Deserting Sins: Obstacles and Opportunities

Before we can speak of deserting sins, we need to have a good idea of what we mean by “sins.”

From the Islamic point of view, a sin is a conscious and willful act that violates Allah’s rights (i.e. His commandments) or the rights of a fellow being.

On the other hand, we cannot consider a person to be a sinner if he or she is forced to do something prohibited against his or her own will. Likewise, acts done because of some illnesses, such as insanity or obsessive-compulsive disorder, are not sins.

This is because human accountability is an important aspect of justice as envisaged in Islam. And no one can be truly held accountable for an action he or she has no power to resist or avoid, because Allah does not lay more burden on a human than he or she can bear.

The original sin

Islam teaches that sin is an avoidable act that harms the perpetrator’s own soul, so there is no “original sin.” This means that there is no innate or inherited nature that prompts a person to disobey Allah; that is to say, it is a person’s choice whether to sin or not.

Indeed, Islam has a unique view on the subject of sin, one not shared by other religions. According to the Qur’an, Adam and Eve, the first pair of humans, were allowed to live in the heavenly Paradise to enjoy a happy life, but they had been warned not to approach a particular tree so that their happy life would not be disrupted.

But Iblis (Arabic for: Satan) led them into temptation and made them slip into sin. Consequently, they were expelled from Paradise, and thereafter, their destiny was to live on earth until the Day of Judgment.

Both Adam and Eve knew of the seriousness of the sin they committed, and so they repented, and Almighty Allah accepted their repentance and forgave them.

This story given in the Qur’an tells us how imperfect we, the children of Adam, are. And at the same time, it is made clear that the humans are created with a capacity for realizing their lapses and amending themselves.

Almighty Allah, by narrating this story in the Qur’an, makes us aware of the fact that He is Compassionate and Merciful to His creatures, particularly to those who repent and return to Him.

This story also brings to light the idea that humans are susceptible to being influenced by external circumstances. But this does not mean that they are without freedom of choice.

Indeed, they are endowed with free will and intellectual faculties. This makes them responsible for their choices and actions, while freeing them from the burden of hereditary or instinctual sinfulness.

Islam teaches that Almighty Allah does not leave humans helpless in the constant struggle between the forces of good and those of evil; rather, He guides them through His books and Prophets.

Watch out!

It is evident that all kinds of traps and pitfalls surround us in every walk of life. Unless we are careful, the chances are that we may fall into them. So, we need to take great care.

In other words, the obstacles to leading a life of virtue are numerous. There is no wonder that many people continue to lead a life of sin in spite of all the admonitions given in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Today, as ordinary humans, we find ourselves in the midst of a non-Islamic or even anti-Islamic culture that is deliberately hyped up and flashed about even in the Muslim countries.

Even the educational systems, which are expected to train and groom the future generation into good Muslims, do not serve the purpose, particularly because their objectives are spelled out by “experts” from outside who do not share our commitment to our distinctive culture and worldview.

The net result is that any Islamic schooling the children might have received in their early life is subverted.

Apart from the adverse social situation, there are also certain inner psychological conditions that serve as stumbling blocks to most people who want to eschew sins and lead a life of virtue.

For instance, consider the people’s inclination to gratify their prurient impulses by any expedient means available. This, in fact, may encourage them to deviate into the unsavory by-lanes of life. In such a case, it is only religion that can keep them safe.

A Muslim should steer clear of all sins, major and minor ones. The major sins are those acts that have been clearly forbidden by Almighty Allah in His Qur’an and by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in his Sunnah.

Allah, the All-Merciful, says,

{If you eschew the most heinous of the things that you are forbidden to do, We will cancel out for you your (other) evil deeds and will admit you (to Paradise) with a noble entry.) (An-Nisaa’ 4:31)

{Those who avoid the greatest sins and indecencies save the oversights (will find that) surely your Lord is ample in forgiveness.} (An-Najm 53:32)

Steps to Avoid Sins

First, we need to have a sincere desire to desert sins altogether and to start leading a life of virtue.

Second, we should realize our own weaknesses, particularly in the matter of avoiding the pitfalls of life, and so we should earnestly seek the help and blessing of Almighty Allah in our efforts.

Third, we should, as far as possible, keep away from all the circumstances that can tempt us toward sinful actions.

Fourth, we should strive to concentrate on virtuous thoughts and actions and to turn our minds away from the temptations that pull us toward sin.

Fifth, we should seek the company of Allah-fearing people and regularly attend sessions and lectures that instill taqwa (Arabic for: piety and fear of Allah) into our hearts.

Such efforts on our part will, hopefully, help us leave off the lapses in our life and attain a level of virtue that pleases Almighty Allah, insha Allah.


About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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