Could you give information about people who do not fulfill the requirements of religion although they say they believe and they are Muslims?

Details of the Question
Could you give information about people who do not fulfill the requirements of religion although they say they believe and they are Muslims?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A person who believes in Islam must fulfill the requirements of the religion and apply his/her belief into daily life. However, a Muslim who does not perform the requirements is not rejected by Islam but they become sinful. A sinner is not rejected by Islam.

In a Quranic verse, Allah states the following: “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.”1. This statement points out that a Muslim has to avoid great sins and he must perform fards (obligatory acts) in order to gain eternal bliss.

The great sins that Allah wants us to avoid are clearly indicated both in the Quran and in hadiths. For instance, regarding great sins, the following is stated in a verse:

Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god nor slay such life as God has made sacred except for just cause, not commit fornication; - and any that does this meets punishment.”2.

Our Prophet (pbuh), in a hadith narrated by Hazrat Anas, indicated the great sins as follows:

Attributing partners to Allah, being cruel to parents, killing a human and telling lies”3.

In another hadith, telling lies and bearing false witness are also included in great sins. 4.

There are also sins which our Prophet (pbuh) attaches importance to and which have an important place amongst great sins. Those sins are characterized as “seven sins leading one to the deterioration of soul. Once our Prophet said “avoid seven things that deteriorates” and listed them as follows:

Attributing partners to Allah, putting spells, murdering a person for an unfair reason, depriving orphans of their rights, charging or getting interest, running away from battle during enemy attack, slandering an innocent and modest woman by accusing her of fornication”.5

In addition, drinking alcoholic beverages, gambling and supporting innovations which can damage the religion are also included in great sins. 6

Sin means disobedience to Allah. Especially, someone who commits great sins without any hesitation, plunging into them willingly, opposes Allah’s rules openly and forgets about His omnipotence. For this reason, every Muslim must avoid great sins in order to escape from this danger. And it is only possible with having taqwa which means to refrain from things forbidden by Allah and from sins, and doing good deeds and to gain thawabs (reward for good deeds). The safest fortress to take refuge in order to be protected from sins is taqwa. Whoever takes refuge in this fortress can gain lots of thawabs with few good deeds. In fact, it is wajib (obligatory) to avoid a haram (forbidden act). And thawabs gained through a wajib is many times more than thawabs gained through many sunnahs. Consequently, the most important duty of a Muslim is protecting his/her taqwa against the flood of sins attacking him.7

As for the relation between committing sins and belief, as it is known, belief consists of accepting the essentials that must be believed in by heart and professing them orally. One who accepts the essentials of Islam by heart and professes them orally is a Muslim both in the eyes of Allah and of people. That person is considered neither to be rejected by the religion nor to be an infidel, even if he/she commits great sins. In fact, according to sunnah-follower scholars, acts are not a part of belief. A Muslim who commits one of the great sins does it not because of the deficiency of his/her belief but because he/she obeys the voice of his/her emotions.

That is to say, people are not fully rewarded with thawabs of obeying Allah’s orders, i.e. performing prayers and refraining from forbidden acts in this world, because this world is not a place of reward or prize, but a place of service and worshipping. In this sense, Allah delays the reward of worship and thankfulness in order to give it infinitely in the Hereafter. Just like the rewards are delayed, so too are punishments of sins which cannot be erased with repentance delayed until Hereafter. For this reason, punishment is not given as soon as a sin is committed and consequently it leads people to absentmindedness and causes them to continue to be defeated by their excessive desires, as they think future is so far away. Badiuzzaman explains this state as follows:

The human soul prefers a small amount of instant delight given right away to a big amount of delight postponed to the future. Similarly, it is more afraid of an instant slap than a punishment which will last for one year in the future. If emotions rules over a person, he/she does not listen to the judgment of his/her mind. Judging with temporary desires and groundless thoughts, he/she prefers an insignificant yet instant delight to a relatively great delight which will be given later. And he/she refrains from an instant yet little pain more than a great punishment which will be given in the future. This is because one cannot see the future with groundless thoughts, temporary desires and emotions. Indeed, they deny it. If excessive desires of the soul are involved, the heart and mind, which are the locus of belief, are silenced and defeated. Consequently, committing great sins does not result from infidelity but. from the predomination of emotions, temporary desires and groundless thoughts over the mind and heart. 8

Therefore, it is impossible to say that a Muslim will be excluded from the religion when he/she commits one of the great sins.

In fact, it is clearly deduced from the following hadith that a Muslim who commits one of the great sins will not be infidel, but he/she will go into Heaven after going through his/her punishment. Our Prophet (pbuh) states:

“Gabriel came to me and gave the good news of that “Whoever from your followers dies without having attributed partners to Allah will go to Heaven”. I asked “even if he/she fornicates or steals?”. “Yes, even if he/she fornicates or steals.” replied Gabriel.” 9.

As already known, infidels cannot go into Heaven and stay in Hell eternally, because Allah forbid the boons of Heaven for infidels. It is indicated that fornicators and stealers are not considered infidels, through stating in the hadith that fornicators and stealers can go to Heaven. So, a person who commits one of the great sins except attributing partners to Allah is a Muslim. He/she will go to Heaven after going through punishment of his/her sins. However, a person should not believe the sin he/she committed is permissible (halal). It is already certain that a person who believes a sin, which is surely proved to be forbidden by certain evidences, is permissible will be excluded from the religion. Such as claiming that charging/paying interest is not forbidden or it will not be forbidden today.

However, it is necessary to bear in mind that “in every sin there is a way leading to infidelity” 10. Badiuzzaman, who states that when a sin is committed consistently, it is a seed of infidelity, explains it as follows:

There is seed of infidelity in the essence of the sin especially if it is committed consistently. This is because, whoever commits that sin consistently gains familiarity with it, falls in love with it and becomes addicted to it. He/she comes to such a stage that he/she cannot find an opportunity to quit it. Then, he/she starts to hope that this sin does not require punishment. As long as this state continues like that, the seed of  fidelity starts to sprout. Eventually, it causes to deny both punishment and the place of punishment (hell). ”11

As it is impossible for us to avoid sins completely because we are human beings, this danger threats us all. When we are exposed to this danger, we must regret for what we have done in front of Allah right after a sin, whether it is great or small. We must turn to Allah with repentance and ask Him to forgive us.

Footnotes:

1. Chapter an-Nisa, 31.
2. Chapter al-Furqan, 68.
3. Muslim, Faith: 144.
4. ibid. Faith: 143.
5. ibid. Faith: 145.
6. Appendix of Barla, p.179.
7. Appendix of Kastamonu, p.106.
8. The Flashes, p.70
9. Muslim, Faith: 153.
10. The Flashes, p.7
11. Mesnevi-i Nuriye, p.115

Mehmed Paksu

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