Could you explain the verse “If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a Gate of great honour.” (an-Nisa, 4/31) ?

Details of the Question
Could you explain the verse “If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a Gate of great honour.” (an-Nisa, 4/31) ?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

a) This verse can be interpreted both by taking into considerations the cardinal sins mentioned until the 30th verse and by taking into considerations the all major sins mentioned in Quran. With this view, let’s have a look at the forbidden acts mentioned until the 30th verse of chapter an-Nisa:
Extorting orphans’ rights and properties, rebelling against Allah and His Prophet, fornication, slandering innocent women, marrying women who are not permissible to marry, extorting/devouring others’ properties for an unfair purpose and murder.
These acts are characterized as major sins in the content in which the 31st verse of chapter an-Nisa takes place. However, we must analyze the concept of “major sin” taking into consideration the whole Quran; because, it is necessary to include attributing partners to Allah, rebelling against parents, denying the truth, perjury, breaking one’s oath/promise, not using one’s mind/logic, drinking alcoholic beverages, suicide, charging or paying interest and escaping from battle field. We can add these to the major sins mentioned until the 30th verse of chapter an-Nisa.
The prophet (pbuh) clarified what the major sins are in different situations: He indicated that attributing partners to Allah, rebelling against parents and lying are amongst major sins. In another hadith, he pointed out to that attributing partners to Allah, performing sorcery, killing someone for an unfair purpose, charging or paying interest, extorting orphans’ property, escaping from battle field and slandering innocent women with fornication are acts that destroy whoever does them.
As indicated above, major sins do not consist of these only. The Prophet (pbuh) considered acts, which happen in the community and destroy the community, amongst major sins under different circumstances. What is important is not the number of major sins but how much is the community affected and injured by which act, and how much an act decreases one’s dearness in front of Allah. In our point of view, major sins are those which are crime against both earthly laws and belief, and results of which are postponed to the Hereafter. That’s to say; major sins destroys one’s both earthly life and Hereafter and turns them into hell.
b) The concept of major sin brings out the concept of minor sin. Allah states in the 32nd verse of chapter an-Najm:
Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) small faults, - verily thy Lord is ample in forgiveness.
The word “lemem” in this verse means “minor sin, fault”. There are also ones who interpret it as an evil act that one was inclined to do but did not and as a bad behavior with an insignificant effect, which a believer committed and right after committing it, he/she regretted.
c) It is promised in the 31st verse of chapter Nisa that minor sins of those who avoid major sins will be hidden. For this reason the word “seyyiat” in the verse means minor verse. The meaning of this is as follows: The reward of avoiding major sins is given right away in the earthly life in the form of hiding minor sins. Avoiding major sins is a kind of prayer because it means to do something which Allah orders us to do. As prayers hide faults, i.e. minor sins (Hud, 11/114), Allah tells He will hide minor sins here.
The word “nukeffir” in the 31st verse of chapter Nisa, means “hiding, covering up”. Hiding does not mean that the punishment of minor sins is totally erased. The crime is covered up in a sense, but the punishment still exists. As long as one keeps away from major sins, the punishment of the minor sins will not be revealed, yet it will be revealed when one commits a major sin. In the modern law of our day, punishment is postponed if the criminal committed that minor crime for the first time. If he/she commits the same crime again, the postponed punishment is added to the new punishment. Quran proposed the postponement of punishment centuries ago for the agenda and earned an important principle for law.
Another issue must be added to the avoidance of major sins. It is fulfilling the fards. Muslim narrated from Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah stated that:
Performing daily prayers, Friday prayers and fasting Ramadan causes to redeem one’s minor sins on condition that he/she avoids major sins” (Muslim, Tahara, 16)
Scholars of Practices of Religion, Belief of Allah’s Oneness, Main Rules of Religion and Islamic theology said: the forgiveness of minor sins because of avoidance of major sins is not always necessarily so. It is strongly hoped to be so. It is certain that Divine Will as He wishes. The evidence of this is as follows:
If we say someone, who avoids major sins and performs fards, that his/her minor sins will be redeemed, will be forgiven; this will mean for sure that the person will not be responsible at all. However, this means to destroy the main issues of Islamic law. According to this, there is nothing called minor sin. Al Kushairi Abdarrahim says: The reality is that major sins are major. However, some of them are greater than the others. The aim for distinguishing between this is to enable one to avoid all kinds of sins.
The reason for calling some sins minor sins is that their relation to the greater sins. For instance, calling fornication a minor sin compared to infidelity and calling kissing a person who is forbidden to kiss a minor sin compared to fornication. In our point of view, there is not sin which can be forgiven because of avoiding another sin. Contrarily, all of these are major sins and forgiveness of whoever commits these major sins-except for infidelity- is up to Allah’s will. This is because Allah the Glorious says:
God forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases” (Nisa, 4/48).

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