Paradise Assured for Muslims who Avoid Major Sins

In addition to what's been described in our previous post ― Islamic guidance on 22 different types of extremism ―  we outline some of the major sins derived based on the rulings from The Quran and The Prophet (pbuh). But before we get into this topic, it is important to understand what constitutes major sins.

Those acts which have been forbidden by Allah in the Quran and by His Messenger (pbuh) from his Sunnah, and which have been made clear by the actions of the first righteous generation of Muslims, the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh), can be termed as major sin. Secondly one should remember that continuously indulging in minor sin can lead to major sin. For example if a believer looks at an unlawful woman (non-Mahram) with a desirous intent is a minor sin. But a continuous lustful look, in this case 'Zina (adultery) of Eyes', leads to it becoming a major one.

There are some scholars who believe the major sins are seven. However according to other scholars the number is 70. Abdullah Ibn Abbas (ra), a companion of The Prophet (pbuh) has said: “Any act forbidden by the Shariah is a major sin.”

The seventy are not universally settled upon. Some are derived by correlating the texts - The Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In this post and the one linked above, we cover the major sins considering current trends in our societies. The major sins like painting pictures, practicing magic, running away from the battlefield, and others, where only handful men/women are involved is not covered due to brevity. 

Major Sin #1: Taking anyone as Allah's Partner

Allah has said that He will forgive all kinds of sins, even if they were equal to the foam of the sea, except Shirk and Kufr. Both shirk and kufr means disbelief in Allah. They carry similar meaning however there is a subtle difference. Kufr means not believing in Allah as a creator at all. For example: engaging in idol worship or taking any other objects as God or not acknowledging existence of God. For a Muslim Kufr means denying one or more act of worship, viz. a believer denies 5 mandatory prayer or mandatory charity (zakat) etc. Shirk means believing in Allah but taking others as a partner to Allah, viz. supplicating to saints or noble people and asking them to intervene to solve a particular problem. Every shirk is Kufr. The Prophet (pbuh) categorically said,
If any righteous pious man dies amongst them, they would build a place of worship at his grave and make these pictures in it; they are the worst creatures in the sight of Allah. ~ Bukhari 434 | Muslim 5/21

The parents have a very high status in Islam. A Muslim is strictly advised to respect and obey his parents under all circumstances, except one. Allah has specifically commanded us not to obey them if they ask us to worship any other God. Look at the status of parents in Islam here.

Major Sin #2: Wearing Amulet

Wearing amulet is a form of shirk. See #1 above, Wearing them is not permitted in order to prevent any means that might lead to shirk (associating partners with Allah or polytheism). In one narration The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Whoever wears an amulet has committed shirk." ~ Ahmad 16969. In another narration The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Whoever wears an amulet, may Allah not fulfill his need, and whoever wears a sea-shell, may Allah not give him peace. ~ Ahmad 16951
Whoever ties up his beard, or twists it, or hangs an amulet, or cleans himself (after relieving himself) with animal dung or bones, Muhammad has nothing to do with him. ~ Nasai 48/28

Major Sin #3: Abandoning Prayer (Salah)

Salah is the second pillar of Islam and it is mandatory for a sane adult Muslim to pray five times a day. Be it a man or a woman, rich or poor, old or young (above 10 years of age) it is obligatory for everyone to pray. An adult Muslim man is never exempted from offering prayer even if he is on a battlefield or on his death bed. A woman is exempted from not praying only if she is in her menses or during postpartum bleeding, otherwise she too is not exempted under any circumstance. The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Between a person and Kufr (disbelief) is abandoning the prayer. ~ Ibn Majah 5/1131. 

The above hadith is quite clear and it means the person who has abandoned prayer is as good as a Non-Muslim. Quran has also explicitly mentioned that those who don't pray five times a day will find a place in Hell. 
(And they will say to them) "What led you to Hell Fire?" They will say, "We were not of those who prayed." ~ Quran 74:42-43

Read our exclusive post on:

Major Sin #4: To Accuse a Chaste Woman

There are seven great destructive sins that The Prophet (pbuh) has warned us about. Slander is one of them. See #13 below. With regards to this section on accusing a chaste woman, The Quran says:
Verily, those who accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching their chastity and are good believers, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter, and for them will be a great torment. ~ Quran 24:23

The Prophet (pbuh) said one of the 7 destructive sins is to accuse a chaste woman.
To join others in worship along with Allah. To practice sorcery. To kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law). To eat up riba (usury or interest). To eat up an orphan's wealth. To give back to the enemy and fleeing from the battlefield at the time of fighting. To accuse chaste women, who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers. ~ Bukhari 55/29

The punishment for accusing a chaste woman is severe. The one who accuses, be it a man or a woman, should be flogged 80 times. In addition their future witnesses should be rejected by the community forever. This comes from the following verse of The Quran:
And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes, and reject their testimony forever. They indeed are the Fasiqun (liars, rebellious, disobedient to Allah). ~ Quran 24:4

Women have a very high status in Islam and the Sharia commands men, who are their caretaker, to deal with them justly.

Major Sin #5: Disrespecting Parents

Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it fully no matter how much we take care of them during their old age. Thus it is obligatory for believing men and women to show the utmost kindness, respect, and obedience to our parents. If not then the injunction of the Sharia is clear. Disrespect your parents - one or both - and be sure to face the wrath of Allah on the day of resurrection. 

Look for our exclusive post on The Status of Parents where we have elaborated this in greater detail. Heaven is forbidden for those who do not respect their parents. The Prophet (pbuh) will not intercede on your behalf (on the day of resurrection) in you are not kind to your parents in this world. Quran says:
... and be dutiful to your parents. If one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. ~ Quran 17:23

Major Sin #6: To Commit Suicide

Suicide is forbidden in Islam. That's because as Allah has created you, it is He who has the right to your life. More so if one is undergoing any trial or suffering currently that's because Allah has ordained it for you - either to cleanse your sins, or raise your rank high in the eyes of Allah. Also the Quran says,
Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear. ~ Quran 2:286

Thus it is clear that while you are being tried and tested, Allah knows that you have the capacity to bear the test. However if one decides to go against it, then Allah forbids paradise to his slave who hastens to bring about his demise (Bukhari 3276 | Muslim 113). In another narration The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Whoever throws himself down from a mountain and kills himself will be throwing himself down in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. Whoever drinks poison and kills himself will be sipping it in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. Whoever kills himself with a piece of iron will have that iron in his hand, thrusting it into his belly in the Fire of Hell for ever and ever. ~ Bukhari 5442 | Muslim 109

Major Sin #7: Adultery. Music. Wearing Silk & Gold (by men)

Many are aware that adultery, fornication and drinking of alcohol is forbidden in Islam. Little do people know that wearing of silk by men is forbidden. As far as use of musical instruments are considered going by the hadith below all musical instruments (stringed, drum, flutes et al) are forbidden. However in another hadith it is found that The Prophet (pbuh) did not prohibit the use of daff by women. Thus daf was the only musical instrument that was allowed to be played on three occasions: Eid, weddings and when one returns from a journey.

The Prophet (pbuh) also granted a concession to women allowing them to beat the daff at weddings and on other joyous occasions. But with regard to the men of his time, none of them used to beat the daff or clap his hands or used to sing. Therefore if a man beats the daff that would mean he is imitating women, which is a major sin.  See #12 below.

The Prophet (pbuh) said:
From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful ... Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection. ~ Bukhari 74/16

In another narration The Prophet (pbuh) said,
People among my nation will drink wine, calling it by another name, and musical instruments will be played for them and singing girls (will sing for them). Allah will cause the earth to swallow them up, and will turn them into monkeys and pigs. ~ Ibn Majah 36/95

As mentioned above daf was allowed only on three occassions. One of them was Eid. Aisha (ra), the wife of Prophet (pbuh) narrated:
Abu Bakr came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, "Musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah's Messenger (pbuh) !" It happened on the Eid day and Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an Eid for every nation and this is our Eid." ~ Bukhari 13/4

Umar bin Abdul-'Aziz wrote a letter to 'Umar bin Al-Walid in which he said:
And your openly allowing musical instruments and wind instruments is an innovation in Islam. ~ Nasai 38/3 

On silk, The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Whoever wears silk in this world shall not wear it in the Hereafter. ~ Bukhari 77/49 

Just like wearing silk, gold is also haram or forbidden for men. The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Gold and silk have been permitted for the females of my Ummah, and forbidden to the males. ~ Nasai 48/109

Major Sin #8: Drinking Alcohol and Gambling

These too are universally accepted as a major sin and practically everyone knows that Islam forbids alcohol and gambling. So does not require much explanation here. We would leave this with the following where the Quran clearly says,
They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcohol and gambling. Say, "In them is a great sin and (some) benefit for men, but the sin is greater than their benefit. ~ Quran 2:219

Major Sin #9: Consuming Intoxicants

Any intoxicant slowly destroys the human body in mid to long term. Cigarettes, cigar, hookah and use of other drugs like cocaine, heroin and others fall under the same category. Consuming them is nothing less than suicide, as one knows the after-effects of using such drugs. It not only destroys the person consuming it but it also has ill-effects on the family. The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Every intoxicant is forbidden ~ Muslim 36/93 | Nasai 5599

Major Sin #10: Taking or Giving Usury (Interest)

This one too is quite clear and there are several warnings in the Sharia related to usury. Giving or taking interest both are forbidden in Islam. It makes the rich richer, and makes the poor poorer. Islam wishes to establish an economic system where all forms of exploitation are eliminated, and particularly the injustice perpetuated in the form of the financier being assured of a positive return without doing any work or sharing in the risk, while the entrepreneur, in spite of his management and hard work, is not assured of such a positive return. Islam wishes to establish justice between the financier and the entrepreneur.

Thus The Prophet (pbuh) cursed the one who takes interest, its payer, its scribe and its two witnesses. In another narration he said the practice of ursury is worse than having illegal sex. Quran (2:279) severely censures those who takes riba (interest), and declared them to be at war with Allah and His Prophet (pbuh).

The Quran says:
O you who believe! Eat not usury doubled and multiplied, but fear Allah that you may be successful. ~ Quran 3:130

Major Sin #11: Shaving Beard and Not Lowering Gaze by Men

Few reasons why shaving beard gets into the category of major sin.
  1. The Prophet (pbuh) commanded that Muslim men grow beard and clip moustaches. A commandment from The Prophet (pbuh) becomes Fardh on a Muslim. 
  2. An overarching rule is that a Muslim must not resemble non-Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) said "He who imitates kuffars and dies in that state, he will be raised up with them on the Day of Qiyamah."
  3. Man must not resemble woman, in appearance and in attire. See #12 below. Don't we realize that everyday Allah lets the beard grow, but every morning we discard what Allah provides into the sewage?
If someone assumes ignoring Prophet's order does not lead to major sin then consider a similar one where The Prophet (pbuh) explicitly stated using Miswak (a twig) is not Fardh (mandatory)."Were it not that it would be too difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the Siwak at (the time of) every Salah." ~ Nasai 1/1/7.  So if the use of twig were made mandatory, then not using it as instructed would constitute major sin.

So according to you keeping beard is not Fardh but Sunnah? 
Check this article that warns those who ignore Sunnah? The underlying question is, if you claim to love The Prophet (pbuh) then shouldn't you follow his footsteps? Did you miss the following statement from The Quran?
Obey Allah and obey His Messenger... ~ Quran 4:59

And remember what The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me. ~ Nasai 26/22

Also the explicit mention of keeping a beard is available in every Sahih Hadith:
The Prophet (pbuh) commanded Muslims to clip moustaches and grow the beard long. ~ Bukhari 5893 | Muslim 2/67 | Tirmidhi 43/2991 | Dawud 4199 | Nasai 5046

Just like hijab relates to a woman's modesty, sporting a beard makes a man look modest. It inherently makes him God fearing and God conscious in his conduct, being an ambassador of Islam. Also the beard (with clipped moustaches) differentiates a believer with a non-believer. So the beard will make the sincere believer think twice before going to a place which are disallowed.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
May Allah have mercy upon those who shaved and those who shortened (their beard)  ~ Tirmidhi 9/106 ... And in another narration he (pbuh) said, "Anyone who shaves has no claim to the mercy of Allah." ~ Tabarani

>> Researchers today have outlined many benefits of keeping beard. See here (BBC) | here (Huff Post) | here (Mirror) and here (MensXP).

Zina (adultery) of eyes: Before Allah commands a woman to wear the hijab, the Quran states that believing men should lower their gaze when their thoughts start getting wild. That's because the root cause of molestation and rape starts with a man taking a stare at a woman. Staring (which is forbidden) translates to desire. Thus Sharia blocks everything for a believer who could possibly get trapped in committing a major sin. Read the story of Barsisa here.

While looking at an unlawful woman (non-Mahram) is treated as a minor sin; however taking a stare with lustful desire becomes a major sin. Hence to maintain the dignity of women in the society, Allah commands men to lower their gaze to preserve their chastity.
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and preserve their chastity ... ~ Quran 24:30 

Major Sin #12: Discarding Hijab by Women

Just like beard makes a man look modest, the modesty of a woman is her hijab. Essentially her awrah, as defined by the sharia, is her covering from head to toe. For those who consider it's ok to blend with the modern world (like some men, as highlighted above), here are few reasons why hijab is crucial for a believing woman:
  1. Allah has explicitly mentioned in The Quran. See the two verses below. Those of you who still doubt that covering of head does not exist in the Quran then look for the root meaning here
  2. The Prophet (pbuh) said that Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a hijab. If the prayers aren't accepted why make an effort even to pray? 
  3. A Muslimah must not resemble non-Muslim women. The Prophet (pbuh) said "Those who imitates kuffars and dies in that state, they will be raised up with them on the Day of Qiyamah."

Just like Allah commands men to lower their gaze and preserve their chastity, immediately in the next verse women are instructed to protect their chasisty. The Quran says, 
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze ... not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent and draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (their bodies, necks and bosoms) ~ Quran 24:31

O Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That is more suitable, that they will be known and not be abused. ~ Quran 33:59 

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a hijab. ~ Abu Dawud 2/641

Major Sin #13: Men imitating women and vice-a-versa

Islam forbids men to imitate women and women to imitate men, and in fact it emphatically forbids that, to such an extent that The Prophet (pbuh) cursed those who go against the human nature with which Allah created them. Men should preserve their masculinity which Allah has created in them and women should preserve the femininity likewise. Thus it is haraam to imitate clothing, or imitate one’s movements or imitate tone of voice which is even more abhorrent. The Prophet (pbuh) cursed masculinized women too ~ Abu Dawud 4099
The Prophet (pbuh) cursed men who imitate women and women who imitate men, and he said: “Throw them out of your houses.” ~ Bukhari 5885. 

If a Muslimah wears jeans or shirt or even cuts her hair short then this is a kind of imitation of men, as these are distinctive to men. But if a garment that is worn by both men and women, like sleepwear, there is nothing wrong with that at all. A thumb rule is everything that is only for men is not permissible for women to wear, and everything that is only for women is not permissible for men to wear. For example men are not permitted to wear necklaces, bracelets, anklets or earrings or anything that it is natural for women to wear.

If a woman is forced by necessity – due to extreme poverty – to wear a garment that is not see-through and does not show the shape of her body, and covers her properly, and it is regarded as a man's garment, then there's nothing wrong with her wearing it because of necessity and the need to cover the Awrah, because this is a case of necessity, not ordinary circumstances.

Major Sin #14: Backbiting and Slander

Islam is a religion of peace, love and compassion. Thus lies, suspicion, backbiting, slander and gossip are totally alien to Islam. In fact they are considered amongst the most destructive of major sins. This is so because these sins sow enmity and discord between humans and within the society leading to its destruction. They cause hostilities between people of the same household, and between neighbors, friends and relatives.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Backbiting is to say something about a person that he'll dislike." Someone asked, "But what if what I say is true?" Then the Messenger of God (pbuh) said, "If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then it’s a slander." ~ Muslim
Do not backbite one another ~ Quran 49:12

The Quran further states:
"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is The One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful" ~ Quran 49:12

Major Sin #15: Tattoo 

Tattoo involves changing the creation of Allah, and because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos and the one for whom that is done. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
May Allah curse the women who do tattoos and those for whom tattoos are done, those who pluck their eyebrows and those who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification and alter the creation of Allah. ~ Bukhari 5587 | Muslim 5538

Major Sin #16: Stealing or Acquiring Property Illegally 

Stealing is forbidden in Islam. To seize something wrongfully, be it a movable or immovable property, is one of the worst kinds of sin. The Sharia forbids a Muslim to take someone's property unjustly. The Quran says:
Do not each each other's wealth (or property) unjustly (in any illegal way, e.g. stealing, robbing, deceiving) .... ~ Quran 2:188

The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Any person who takes even a span of land unjustly, his neck shall be encircled with it down seven earths on the day of resurrection. ~ Bukhari 59/6

Eating orphan's wealth is also forbidden in Islam. The Quran says:
Those who unjustly eat orphan's property ... they will be burnt in the blazing fire! ~ Quran 4:10

The one who has seized anything unlawfully must repent to Allah and return the seized property to its owner and ask him for forgiveness. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Whoever has wronged his brother, should ask for his pardon (before his death), as (in the Hereafter) there will be neither a Dinar nor a Dirham. (He should secure pardon in this life) before some of his good deeds are taken and paid to his brother, or, if he has done no good deeds, some of the bad deeds of his brother are taken to be loaded on him (in the Hereafter). ~ Bukhari 81/23
If the seized property is still there, it should be returned as it is, and if it is not there, then the person who has taken the property illegally must replace it.

Don't forget to read our exclusive post on The Don'ts of Doing Business in Islam.

Major Sin #17: Cutting off Relations with Relatives 

This is one of the major sins which is spread widely among Muslims today. These days it is common among this Ummah to break ties with their relatives for even insignificant reasons. This is a major sin because its prohibition and its warning are crystal clear. We have explained this topic in a greater detail here.

Who are the relatives with whom it is not allowed to cut off relations? They are the relatives whom you have the kith and kin relations with, whether they are the immediate relatives like the parents, brothers, sisters, uncles from the mother and the father sides, in-laws or the non-immediate relatives like cousins. This applies to both a Muslim or non-Muslim relative.

Major Sin #18: Delaying Hajj, if one has the means

Whoever is able to do Hajj (has the money) and does not perform the obligatory Hajj has committed a great evil and a major sin. Quran says that Hajj is the duty that we owe to Allah.
And Hajj to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses. And whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj, then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the 'Alamin (mankind and jinns). ~ Quran 3:97
Many people delay the performance of hajj due to misconceptions which become lame excuses for not performing hajj. Read our detailed post on this topic here.

Wish to erase your major sins? Here's the solution...

If you have considered Islam as your religion, then it become imperative for a Muslim to obey Allah and His Messenger (pbuh). One cannot be selective in what he picks based on his desires. The real test for a practicing Muslim is to submit his will to Allah and seek His pleasure only; in order to be successful in this world and in the Hereafter. However if one did not follow the commandments in his past life, it does not mean there is no way forward. No matter how old the person is, if he sincerely repents to our Creator, then Allah says He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Quran states:
And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful. ~ Quran 4:110

In addition The Prophet (pbuh) said,  
  • Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than anyone of you is pleased with finding his camel which he had lost in the desert. ~ Bukhari 80/6
  • If you were to commit sin until your sins reach the heaven, then you were to repent, your repentance would be accepted. ~ Ibn Majah 37/4389
  • Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent. ~ Ibn Majah 37/4392

Thus the only way a Muslim can wash their major sins away is by sincerely repenting to Allah (while he is still alive). Without sincere repentance a major sin is not forgiven and has consequences. The Quran says:
If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your minor sins and admit you to a noble entrance (Paradise). ~ Quran 4:31

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