15 Nov The Ethics of Decent Behavior in Islam (Adab al-Muasharat).Part3
Raghib al-Isfahani says,
“Taqwa is to keep one’s soul from sin; this is begun by avoiding that which is forbidden, and completed by avoiding that which is questionable. According to the hadith, ‘The permissible is clear, and the forbidden is clear, but there are questionable things in between.’”
Here we must briefly touch upon the subject of “small sins.” The aforementioned verse of Sura Najm does not mean that believers can be lax about “small sins.” Said ibn Jubayr reportedly said,
“When the following Qur’anic verse was revealed:
‘They give to the poor, orphans and slaves solely for God’s pleasure, even when they themselves are in need’ (Insan 76:8),
some Muslims thought that because they had given only a little they would not be rewarded; others thought, ‘God will reserve Hellfire for great sins,’ and they did not think that they would be punished for smaller sins, like lying, looking at forbidden things, or gossiping. For this reason, God sent down another verse,
‘And so, he who shall have done an atom’s weight of good, shall behold it; and he who shall have done an atom’s weight of evil, shall behold it’ (Zilzal 99:7–8).
Through these verses God taught Muslims that ‘A little will soon bring more,’ thus encouraging them to give without thinking that small offerings do not count; on the other hand, they were given the idea that ‘small sins soon increase and lead to greater sins,’ thus helping them to avoid all sins.”
According to Islamic teachings, a small sin can be as serious as a large one if the following errors occur:
- Persistence in small sins.
- Considering small sins lightly, attaching no importance to them.
- Making oneself feel better about small sins by comparing them to bigger ones.
- Boasting of one’s past sins in front of other people.
- The commitment of small sins by a knowledgeable person who is acting as a guide for others; these must be counted as serious sins.
What should be kept in mind is that whatever God has forbidden should not be approached, refuge from both small and great sins should be sought in God, whatever is given as a sin in the Qur’an should be accepted as a sin, and if one commits a sin, it should not be persisted in. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“When we repent and regret a ‘great sin,’ it is no longer ‘great,’ but when we persist in a ‘small sin’ it does not remain ‘small.’”
To return to our main topic, let us examine the following hadith of the Prophet:
“A believer who has good morals may surpass one who spends nights in prayer and days in fasting.”
He also informed Abu Hurayra, in response to a question, that one may enter Heaven with fear of God and the possession of good morals.
More than once the Prophet said that a person of good morals will be rewarded with a home in the upper levels of Heaven; such a person will be the closest to the Prophets on the Day of Resurrection and he will be the most loved by them.
The sayings and personal actions of the Prophet regarding his guidelines for good adab and morals have been classified and collected into books like The Book of Adab and Bab al-Adab. In addition, Imam al-Bukhari compiled some deeds and sayings of the Prophet in his book Al-Adab al-Mufrad.