Will you give information about major and minor sins?

Details of the Question
The definition of major sins, types of major sins and what deeds are regarded as major sins are mentioned in detail in the published books, magazines and articles that we see. However, the definition of minor sins, their types and especially what DEEDS are regarded as minor sins are not mentioned. Will you explain what deeds are regarded as minor sins by giving references?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Islamic scholars express different opinions on whether there is a definite number of major sins. The majority says the numbers mentioned in hadiths do not indicate a limitation. When we look at hadiths, we see that the Messenger of Allah limits major sins as 3, 5, 7 at various times and places.    

The word kabira (plural form is kabair) means major sin. Major sin is a sin that is described as a major sin by Nass (the Quran, the Sunnah or consensus of fiqh scholars) and that is punished with hadd punishment in this world or punished in the hereafter. The sins that are rendered definitely haram in the Quran and Sunnah, about which hadd punishment are determined or the sins that are regarded as reasons for punishment in the hereafter, are major sins; the others are minor sins. "Isyan (rebellion/disobedience)" and "ma'siyah (committing sins)" which are the opposite of ta'ah (obedience) and worshipping and "lamam (small faults)" used in the sense of minor sins are also used in the sense of kabira.

There is no disagreement among fiqh scholars that major sins were rendered haram.

“But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire to abide therein: and they shall have a humiliating punishment.” (an-Nisa, 4/14)

The verse above and the hadith “avoid seven destructing sins” are clear evidence of it. The majority of the scholars divide sins into two as major and minor sins.

“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 honor.” (an-Nisa, 4/31) ,

“Those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds, and, when they are angry even then forgive.”(ash-Shura, 42/37)

“Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, Only (falling into) small faults--verily thy Lord is ample in forgiveness.” (an-Najm, 53/32)

The verses above are verses that show the differentiation between minor-major sins.

“Shall I inform you about the biggest sin?”

The hadith above is evidence of it from the Sunnah. There are also some scholars who say that all sins are sins, that there is no discrimination like minor-major sins and that the bigness or smallness of sins is relative. We should mention here that the sorting of the major sins among themselves are made based on the individual and social harms of the sins acting upon the statements in the Quran and hadiths. 

Islamic scholars express different opinions on whether there is a definite number of major sins. The majority says the numbers mentioned in hadiths do not indicate a limitation. When we look at hadiths, we see that the Prophet (pbuh) limits major sins as 3, 5, 7 at various times and places. Acting upon the definition of major sin at the beginning, Imam Dhahabi determined all of the sins about which punishment is in question and which we are asked to avoid in verses and hadiths and found the number of the major sins as 76.

Some scholars limited major sins by using certain numbers. Acting upon the Quran, Ibn Masud says there are four major sins: Hopelessness, abandoning hope of Allah's mercy, feeling sure of the result of divine test and associating partners with Allah.

The famous major sins mentioned in other hadith books are as follows: disobedience to one's parents (not visiting them), bearing false witness, oppression in the region of Haram.

Ibn Hajar al-Haytami states that there are four major sins that the Quran forbids and that they are: unclean meat, pork, devouring the wealth of orphans and escaping from battle. According to the hadith mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim, the seven major sins are as follows:associating partners with Allah, sorcery, murder, devouring the wealth of orphans, devouring interest, escaping from battle and slandering a chaste woman.

It is understood from verse 48 of the chapter of an-Nisa that associating partners with Allah is the biggest sin: “Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with him; but He forgiveth anything, else to whom He pleaseth.” In the hadith above, the first major sin is mentioned as associating partners with Allah. After that, disobedience to one's parents and bearing false witness are mentioned.

The End of Committing Major Sins

When a believer commits a major sin, he does not exit the circle of belief. If he dies before repenting, his state is up to Allah; if He wishes, He punishes him or forgives him.

The quality of justice/reliability of a person who commits major sins becomes invalid and his witnessing is not accepted.Qasani states the following: “If the sin of a sinner is big, his quality of justice becomes invalid until he repents.” Those who commit major sins are called fasiq since what they do necessitates fisq. Qarafi says those who commit minor sins will not lose their quality of justice unless they insist on committing sins and they cannot be called fasiq. In this context, the following statement of salaf is famous: “When a minor sin is committed insistently, it is not a minor sin; when a person repents from a major sin and asks for forgiveness, it is not a major sin.” Zarkashi lists minor sins that are committed continuously among major sins.

Pardoning of Major Sins

Pardoning of major sins varies depending on involving violation of individual rights and Allah's rights. For instance, the situation varies when drinking alcohol, which involves violation of Allah's rights, and slandering and theft, which involve both violation of Allah's rights and individual rights, are committed. Regarding major sins that involve violation of Allah's rights, it is up to Allah if the person does not repent. However, if both Allah's rights and individual rights are violated, the person needs to repent and the guard of the murdered person is given the choice of retaliation, receiving blood money or pardoning. Regarding crimes like theft, waylaying, etc, the general decrees about them are applied.

According to the majority of scholars, hadd punishment applied on a person who commits a major sin is not regarded as atonement; he definitely has to repent, too.

“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 honor.” (an-Nisa, 4/31)

Acting upon the verse above, the majority of scholars says when major sins are avoided, minor sins will be forgiven. The following is stated in a hadith: 

“Five prayers and from one Friday prayer to the next Friday prayer is an expiation of the sins committed in between their intervals if major sins are not committed.” (Muslim, Taharah 16)

Ash'ari says Muslims agree unanimously that the Prophet (pbuh) will intercede for the committers of major sins in the hereafter. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following in a hadith reported by Anas included in Tirmidhi: “My intercession (shafa'ah) is for the committers of major sins of my ummah.”

We will end this writing by listing the major sins compiled from Dhahabi's book called al-Kabair, which includes the neatest information about major sins and which is accepted by the ummah. These major sins, determined by Dhahabi, are deeds that are prohibited by verses and hadiths. They include violation of rights; violation of either individual rights or Allah's rights. The forms of these violations change based on time and place. Therefore, we want to remind you that it is a grave major sin to siphon the public wealth, to violate the rights of people, to backbite, to slander, etc through mass communication media like televisions, newspapers, etc that address hundreds of thousands of people today.

Certain Major Sins:

To associate partners with Allah, to kill  a person, to commit sorcery, to abandon performing prayers, not to pay zakah, to revolt against one's parents, To receive and give interest, to devour the wealth of orphans, to attribute lies to the Prophet (pbuh) (to fabricate hadiths), to break fasting in Ramadan without an excuse, to escape from battle, to commit fornication, to oppress and bully people (for administrators), to drink alcohol, tobe conceited (to regard oneself very important), to get above oneself, to boast, to bear false witness, to commit homosexuality, to slander chaste women, to steal from zakah money and public wealth, to grab people's money through illegitimate means, to steal, to waylay, to commit perjury, to tell lies, to commit suicide, to deliver an unjust judgment (for a judge), to resemble men (for women), to resemble women (for men), to commit hulla marriage (false, temporary marriage) and to get somebody else to commit it, to eat carrion, blood and pork, to racketeer, to act hypocritically, to betray Allah and His Messenger, to hide one's knowledge and to learn knowledge only for the world, to keep reminding others of one’s favors for them, to deny qadar (destiny), to eavesdrop on others, to curse, to oppose the state, to approve soothsayers, sorcerers and fortunetellers, to disobey one's husband and to act moodily toward him (for a woman),to break off relationship with relatives, to commit talebearing, to cry and beat oneself after a dead person, to swear at people, to go beyond the limits, to violate others' rights, to rebel using arms, not to accept major sins, to tyrannize and swear at Muslims, to tyrannize saints of Allah and to treat them as enemy, to show off with one's clothes due to his conceitedness, to wear gold and silk clothes (for men), to sacrifice an animal for anyone accept Allah, to change and remove the waymarks showing people the way, to swear at the notable Companions, to swear at anybody from Ansar, to call people to heresy or to start a bad custom, to frighten one's brother by pointing a knife etc at him, to call somebody else father deliberately, to believe in inauspiciousness, to drink from a silver or golden cup, to quarrel by deviating from the truth, to dispute, to wrong one's servants and to oppress them, to wrong people while weighing and measuring things, to feel secure from Allah’s punishment, togive up the hope of Allah’s mercy, to show ingratitude to someone who has done him a favor, to store extra water and not to give water to anybody, to cauterize the face of an animal, to gamble, to oppress people in the region of Haram (Makkah), to abandon Friday prayer and to pray alone, to peep Muslims secretly and to reveal their private issues.   

Minor Sins

Committing a major sin can sometimes be less evil than underestimating minor sins. For instance, committing adultery is an expression of being crushed by one's soul. On the other hand, looking at haram things all the time can be equal to fornication if it is underestimated. Similarly, a person can be as sinful as a man who wears women's dresses and dances in front of the people when he backbites others. A real human being needs to feel sorry for the sin of both looking at haram and backbiting throughout his life.

There is a sin bigger than all major sins: Not to be aware of what one loses. There are so many people who cannot improve spiritually probably because of underestimating minor sins.

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