Friday, September 16, 2011

The Foul Effects of Sins

An excerpt from Al-Daa` wa Al-Dawaa` of Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim

Sins have such foul harmful effects on both the heart and the body in this life and in the hereafter the extent of which only Allah knows.

[1] Amongst the foul effects of sins is being prevented from knowledge; for knowledge is a light that Allah casts into the heart, and sins extinguish that light.

When Al-Shafi'i sat with Malik and read to him he was impressed by his high level of astuteness and full understanding; he said to him, "I see that Allah has cast light upon your heart, so do not extinguish it with the darkness of sin."

Al-Shafi'i - Allah have mercy on him - also said:

I complained to Wakee' about my poor memory
So he instructed me to leave all sins
And said, "Know that knowledge is a grace
And the grace of Allah is not bestowed on a sinner."

[2] One of the effects of sins is prevention from sustenance. A hadith in Al-Musnad states, "Verily the servant is denied sustenance because of a sin he commits." Just as fearing Allah and obeying Him draws sustenance, not fearing and obeying Him brings about poverty. Sustenance from Allah has never been sought with anything like the rejection of sin.

[3] Another effect is a type of gloom, estrangement and loneliness the sinner feels between himself and Allah that cannot be matched by any type of pleasure. If all the pleasures of this world were gathered together for him they would not match this gloom. This is something that cannot be felt except by a person who has some life in his heart.

And wounds cause the dead no pain

If sins were not abandoned except out of fear of the danger of this gloom the sharp-minded would do well to avoid them.

A man once complained to a knowledgeable man about the gloom and estrangement he felt in himself, so the latter said:

If you have become gloomy and alienated because of sins
Then leave them if you wish and feel comfort and familiarity

There is nothing more bitter to the heart than the gloom of sin upon sin, and Allah is the One whose aid is sought.

[4] Another effect is the estrangement and alienation that arises between the sinner and other people, especially the righteous amongst them. Every time this alienation gets stronger the sinner goes further away from them and from gathering with them and is prevented from the blessing of benefiting from them. He gets closer to the party of Shaytan commensurate with his distance from the party of Al-Rahman. The estrangement gets so strong that it takes over until it comes between him and his wife, children and relatives, and between him and his own soul such that you can see him alienated from himself.

Some of the Salaf said, "I might disobey Allah and I see [the effects of] this in the behaviour of my riding beast and wife [towards me]."

[5] One of the foul effects of sins is that the sinner's affairs are made hard for him such that he does not pursue any matter except that he finds it closed off to him or finds it difficult to achieve. This is because just as Allah makes matters easy for whoever fears and obeys Him, He makes matters difficult for whoever abandons fearing and obeying Him.

How amazing it is that a servant of Allah can find the doors to good and all that is beneficial closed to him and the path to them difficult and yet not know how it came to be?

[6] One of these effects is the real darkness a sinner finds in his heart; he senses it like he senses the darkest night, such that the darkness of sin becomes to his heart like the physical darkness to his eyes. For indeed, obedience is light and disobedience is darkness. The more this darkness intensifies the more he becomes confused, until he falls into all kinds of innovations (bida') and misguidance and destructive matters without realising, like a blind man who goes out alone in the darkness of night. This darkness can intensify until it appears in his very eyes, then intensifies even more until it covers his face and becomes a blackness which everyone can see on him.

Abdullah b. Abbas said, "A good deed brings illumination on the face, light in the heart, increase in sustenance, strength in the body, and love in people's hearts. A bad deed brings blackness on the face, darkness in the heart, weakness in the body, decrease in sustenance and hatred in people's hearts."

[7] Sins weaken the heart and body. As for weakening the heart, then this is clear; in fact sins continue to weaken the heart until they do away with its life-force completely.

As for weakening the body, then the believer's strength is from his heart, the stronger his heart is, the stronger his body is. As for the sinner – although he might have a strong body – he is in fact the weakest thing at times of need such that his strength betrays him when he needs it most. Consider the physical strength of the Persians and Romans, how it betrayed them when they needed it most; when they were defeated by the Believers through the strength of their bodies and hearts.

[8] Sins cause a person to be prevented from obedience to Allah. If there was no other consequence for sin except that it prevents one from doing obedience in its place, and blocks the way to other acts of obedience, such that a third path to obedience is cut off from the sinner, then a fourth, and so on until many paths to obedience are cut off from him – each one being better for him than the whole world and everything in it. This is like a person who eats something that causes him a chronic illness which prevents him from eating numerous things which are much better than what he originally ate – and Allah in the One whose aid is sought.

[9] Sins reduce the sinner's lifespan and wipe out its blessings without fail. Just as righteousness increases one's lifespan, sinfulness reduces it.

People have differed on this topic:

A group said that reduction in lifespan means the loss of its blessings. This is true, but it is only part of the effect that sins have.

Another group said that the lifespan itself is actually reduced just as sustenance is, since Allah subhanahu has created many means and processes that increase a person's sustenance as well as means and processes that increase a person's lifespan. This group says that it is not impossible that the lifespan can increase due to causes and means just as it can be reduced due to causes and means. Sustenance and lifespan, happiness and misery, good health and illness and wealth and poverty, although preordained by the Lord's decree, are decreed by Him as He wishes by way of causes, means and processes that He has made to bring about their effects.

Yet another group said that the effect of sin on wiping out a lifetime is in the sense of reduction of true life, which is the life of the heart. For this reason Allah branded the Kafir as being dead not alive, where He said about the unbelievers (Al-Nahl: 12), "Dead and not alive." So life in reality is the life of the heart, and a person's lifespan is the period he spends alive, so his lifespan is only the time he spends alive with Allah; these are the hours of his life. Thus, righteousness, piety and obedience increase these times which are the reality of a person's lifespan and apart from which he has none.

In conclusion, if a person turns away from Allah and occupies himself with sin he loses time from his real lifetime, the consequences of which he will find on the Day when he will say (Al-Fajr: 24), "If only I had put forward (good deeds) for my life." Furthermore, a person either has some idea about the things that will benefit him in this life and the hereafter or he doesn't. If he has no idea about these things he has wasted his whole life and it has all gone in vain. If he does have some idea about these matters the sinner will find that the path to achievement is long due to obstructions and the means to all that is good will be difficult for him the more he is occupied with the opposite ( i.e. sins), and this constitutes a real reduction in his lifespan.

The crux of the matter is that a person's lifespan is the time period of his life and he has no real life except by turning to his Lord and delighting in His love and remembrance, and preferring to please Him above all else.

[10] Sin sows its own likes, and gives birth to more sin until it becomes very difficult for a person to part from it and come out of sinning. As some of the Salaf said, "One of the consequences of a bad deed is another bad deed after it, and one of the rewards for a good deed is another good deed after it." So when a person does a good deed another one besides it calls, 'come, and do me as well.' If he does it a third calls out the same, and so on such that the profit is multiplied and the good deeds increase. The same is true of bad deeds, until obedience or sin become fixed qualities and strong talents within a person. If a righteous person were to give up deeds of obedience he would find himself constrained and the world constricted around him, and would feel like a fish out of water until he returns to those deeds; then he would find relief and pleasure. Likewise if the criminal, the sinner, gave up sin and turned to obedience he would feel constrained and disturbed until he returns to sin, so much so that many fasiq people commit sins without actually deriving pleasure from them and without any cause save the pain they feel when they part from the sin. It is as their Shaykh Al-Hasan b. Hani` explicitly said:

A cup (of wine) I drank in pleasure
And another as treatment for the first

Another said:

And it was my medicine and yet itself my illness
Just as the alcoholic treats himself with wine

A person continues to encounter obedience and get used to it and love it and prefer it until Allah sends to him by His mercy angels that encourage him and push him to it and prod him from his bed and his seat to go and do more. Similarly a person continues to get used to sin and love it and prefer it until Allah sends the devils to him, who push him and prod him to do more. The former strengthens the army of obedience so they become his biggest supporters and the latter strengthens the army of sin so they support him in sin.

[11] One of the effects of sin, and it is one of the scariest for a person, is that it weakens the heart's intentions, such that the intention to sin intensifies and the intention to repent weakens gradually until it is totally removed from his heart, so much so that if half of him were to die he would not repent to Allah. He makes much istighfar and false tawbah in words while his heart is firmly bound to the sin, persisting upon it, firmly resolving to do it again whenever he can.

This is one of the most serious illnesses and one of the closest to doom.

[12] One of its effects is that the repulsiveness and disapproval of sin is taken away from the sinner's heart until sin becomes a habit for him after which he does not even mind anyone seeing him doing the sin, and neither them talking about him.

To the worst sinners this is the ultimate impudence and greatest enjoyment, to the extent that they will boast about their sin and tell those who didn't know about it saying, "O so-and-so! I did this and that!" These type of people are not pardoned and the path to repentance is blocked to them and its doors are, in most cases, shut to them, the Prophet – sallallahu alayhi wa sallam – said, "All of my Ummah may be pardoned except those who publicise (sin), and it is from publicising sin that Allah covers the sin of a person and then he exposes himself saying, 'O so-and-so! Today I did such-and-such.' So he exposes himself although he spent the night covered up by His Lord." Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

[13] Every sin is an inheritance from one of the nations that Allah 'azza wa jall destroyed.

Homosexuality is the inheritance of Lut's people.

Taking one's portion and adding to it whilst rendering other's rights insufficiently is the inheritance of Shuaib's people.

Seeking loftiness and corruption in the land is the inheritance of Fir`auns people.

Haughtiness and pride is the inheritance of the people of Hud.

So the sinner dons the garments of some of these nations, and they were the enemies of Allah. Abdullah b. Ahmad reports in Kitab Al-Zuhd of his father (Imam Ahmad) from Malik b. Dinar that he said, "Allah revealed to one of the Prophets of Bani Israel to say to his people, 'Do not go where my enemies went, and do not wear my enemies' clothes, and do no ride what my enemies rode and do not eat what my enemies ate such that you become my enemies just like they are my enemies.'"

A hadith in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad from Abdullah b. Umar states that the Prophet – sallallahu alayhi wa sallam – said, "I have been sent with the sword just before the Hour so that Allah alone should be worshipped without partner; my sustenance was put beneath the shadow of my spear, and belittlement has been put on those who contradict my command, and whoever copies a people is one of them."

[14] Sin is a cause of a person becoming debased in front of his Lord and fallen in His sight. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Belittled were [the sinners] to Allah so they disobeyed Him, for if they were valued by Him He would have protected them [from sin]." And if a person becomes debased in front of Allah there is no one to honour him, as Allah ta'ala said (24: 18), "And whoever Allah belittles there is none to honour," even if people exalt the sinners outwardly out of some need they have for them or out of fear of their evil, the sinners are in fact the most debased creatures in people's hearts.

[15] A person can continue to commit a sin until it becomes disregardful and small in his heart; and this is the sign of his destruction, for the more a sin is reduced in the sight of a person the more grave it becomes in the sight of Allah. Al-Bukhari mentions in his Sahih from Ibn Mas'ud that he said, "The believer sees his sins as though he were standing at the foot of a mountain fearing that it would fall upon him whereas the sinner sees his sins as a fly that lands on his nose and which he merely waves away."

[16] Other people and animals are afflicted by the misfortune of the sinner's sins, so that he and others are all scorched by the evils of sin and injustice. Abu Hurayrah said, "Verily the bustard can die in its nest due to the amorality of a wrongdoer." Mujahid said, "The beasts curse the sinners amongst the humans after a harsh year when the rains are withheld and say, "This is because of the evils of the sins of the children of Adam." Ikrimah said, "The beasts of the earth and its creeping animals, even the scarabs and the scorpions, say, 'We have been denied the rains because of the sins of the children of Adam.'"

So it is not enough for the sinner to receive the punishment of his sin until he sustains on top of that the curses of those who have no sin.

[17] Sin causes belittlement without fail, for all glory is in obedience to Allah. Allah ta'ala said (Al-Fatir: 10), "Whoever wants glory then all glory belongs to Allah," i.e. one should seek it by obeying Allah, for he will not find it save through obedience to Him. Some of the Salaf used to supplicate, "O Allah honour me through obedience to You and do not belittle me by making me disobey You." Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, "Even if the mules clatter for them and the steeds amble with them the lowliness of sin does not part from their hearts; Allah refuses save to belittle those who disobey Him." Abdullah b. Al-Mubarak said:

I saw sins killing the hearts
And their addiction causes belittlement
Leaving sins is life for the hearts
And it is better for your soul to disobey it
And who spoilt the religion but the [evil] kings
And the corrupt monks and scholars?

[18] Sins spoil the intellect (al-aql), for the intellect illuminates the way but sin extinguishes its light without fail; and when its light is extinguished it weakens and corrodes. Some of the Salaf said, "No one disobeys Allah except that his aql disappears." This is clear, since if the sinner's intellect was with him it would have prevented him from sinning whilst he is under the hold of Allah ta'ala and His dominance, whilst Allah sees him, and whilst he is in Allah's property, and the angels are looking on at him, and exhortation from the Quran forbids him, and the exhortation of Iman forbids him, and the exhortation of death forbids him, and the exhortation of the Fire forbids him; and what he loses through sin from the good of this life and the Hereafter is many times more than any delight and pleasure he gets from the sin. Is it possible that anyone who has a sound intellect can begin to take all this lightly and discredit it?

[19] If sins build up the sinner's heart becomes sealed up and thus he becomes one of the heedless, as some of the Salaf said about the statement of Allah ta'ala (Al-Mutaffifin: 14), "Nay, but it is the rust upon their hearts because of what they used to earn [of sin]." [They] said, "It is the committing of one sin after another." Al-Hasan said, "It is one sin after another, until the heart becomes blind." Others said, "When their sins built up they surrounded the sinner's heart." The cause of this is that the heart corrodes because of sin; if this builds up it overcomes the whole heart until it becomes rust, and then becomes even more confounded until it becomes a lock and a seal. The heart thus becomes totally covered up. If this happens after a person's heart has been guided it turns around and becomes overturned and when this happens its enemy (Shaytan) takes over and leads it wherever he wishes.

Translated by Abu Abdillah Owais Al-Hashimi
via West London Dawah archive