153. Is sin mentioned in the Qur’an?

Muslims view sin (dhanb’, thanb ذنب ) as anything that goes against the commands of Allâh. Islâm teaches that sin is an act and not a state of being. The Qur’an teaches that ‘the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless the Lord does bestow His Mercy’ and that even the prophets do not absolve themselves of the blame. Muhammad advised: ‘Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and rejoice, for no one’s good deeds will put him in Paradise.’ The Companions asked, ‘Not even you O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘Not even me unless Allâh bestows His pardon and mercy on me.’ In Islâm, there are several grades of sin:

• sayyia, khatia: mistakes (Surahs 7:168; 17:31; 40:45; 47:19 48:2)

• itada, junah, dhanb: immorality (Surahs 2:190,229; 17:17 33:55)

• haram: transgressions (Surahs 5:4; 6:146)

• ithm, dhulam, fujur, su, fasad, fisk, kufr: wickedness and depravity (Surahs 2:99, 205; 4:50, 112, 123, 136; 12:79; 38:62; 82:14)

• shirk: ascribing a partner to God (Surah 4:48)

Islâm teaches that Iblis (Satan) has a significant role in tempting humankind towards sin. Thus, Islâmic theology identifies and warns of an external enemy (Shaytan – Iblis) of humankind who gives humans a propensity to sin. The Qur’an in several times states the details of the Iblis’s temptation of Adam and Iblis’s pattern of temptation of man is the same as that of Adam, i.e. Allâh decrees a law for man, but instead man obeys his own base desires and does not guard himself against the temptations of his enemy. Iblis deceives a human being with vain hopes whereby he is led astray, and fate helps him in that respect. Thus he transgresses the boundaries set for him by Allâh and disobeys some of Allâh’s commandments. He therefore becomes liable to Allâh’s judgement. But as proposed in the Qur’anic version of the story of Adam, man can turn towards Allâh by the words inspired by Allâh after failing Allâh’s test, because He is Oft-Returning and Most Merciful.

Muslims believe that Allâh is angered by sin and punishes some sinners with the fires of جهنم jahannam (Hell), but that He is also Ar-Rahman (the Merciful) and Al-Ghaffar (the Oft-Forgiving). It is believed that the jahannam fire purifies and that after purification, an individual who has been condemned to enter jahannam is eligible to go to جنة jannah (the Garden), if he ‘had an atom’s worth of faith.’ Some Qur’anic commentaries such as Allameh Tabatabaei state that the fire is nothing but a transformed form of the human’s sin itself:

Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire!—Qur’an, surah 4 An-Nisa, ayah 10. Those who conceal Allâh’s revelations in the Book, and purchase for them a miserable profit – they swallow into themselves naught but Fire —Qur’an, surah 2 Al-Baqara, ayah 174. Some Islâmic scholars such as Ibn Sina and Eghbal believe that jahannam is not material.