Actions and Consequences

قال الله عز وجل: { أَفَمَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا كَمَنْ كَانَ فَاسِقًا لَا يَسْتَوُونَ * أَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ الْمَأْوَى نُزُلًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ * وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَنْ يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ النَّارِ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ * وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُمْ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَى دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ  } سورة السجدة 18-21.

Allah the Exalted says: {Then is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal. As for those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them are Gardens of Abode as an accommodation for what they used to do. But as for those who defiantly disobeyed, their abode will be Hell-Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it, and it will be said to them: “Taste the torment of the Fire which you used to deny.” And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verses 18-21).

وعن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه عن النبيِّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « إنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ قَدْ يَئِسَ أَنْ تُعْبَدُ الأَصْنَامُ فِي أَرْضِ العَرَبِ، ولكِنَّهُ سَيَرْضَى مِنْكُمْ بِدُونِ ذلِكَ، بِالمُحَقَّرَاتِ، وهِيَ المُوبِقَاتُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ» الحديث.  رواه أبو يعلى والطبراني والبيهقي.

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Satan despaired of idols being worshipped in the Arabian Peninsula, but he will pleased with less than that from you: with the belittled sins (muhaqirat), and they are the destructive sins (mubiqat) on the Day of Judgment. ”  Related by Al-Tabarani, Abu-Ya’la and Al-Bayhaqi.

When we consider peace and order in worldly communities and societies, we find that order cannot be achieved except through laws and regulations.  Thus, a minor offense is prevented by imposing monetary fines on such a transgression, while more serious offenses receive greater sentences as a preventive measure. Those who commit these crimes are then handed prison sentences as a punishment for the offender and as a deterrent for others. Most often these offenses and transgressions entail harming oneself and/or others. These laws and regulations are implemented to protect the individual and the community as a whole. Those who try to harm themselves or other individuals in the community are punished. Those who disrupt the harmony of the community and try to bring disorder and violence to the community by breaking these rules and regulations are disciplined.  Thus, every member of the community has responsibilities and rights that must be observed, and when any member of the community violates these rights, there are consequences. Those who keep the law and order are lauded as good community members who are eligible to take leading roles, while those who violate these rules are considered disruptive members who must face the consequence of their actions so that they may then reform and act righteously.

The same analogy applies to religion.  Allah (God) in His Most Wise and Divine Knowledge and Authority prescribed certain rules and regulations to be followed. Most of these regulations are in the form of sacred texts revealed to prophets and messengers; many of these center on worshipping Allah alone and obeying His commands. Just like laws and regulations are important to keep the community safe, religious rules and regulations are essential to keep humanity harmonious.

Among the rules that Allah revealed to all prophets are the Ten Commandments.  The Ten Commandments were revealed in the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur’an.

Narrated Ka’b Al-Ahbar: “The first thing that was revealed of the Torah are ten verses, and they are same ten verses mentioned in Surah Al-An’am (Qur’an): {Say (O Muhammad): “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you:

  • Do not join anything in worship with Him;
  • Be good and dutiful to your parents;
  • Do not kill your children out of poverty – We provide sustenance for you and for them;
  • Do not come near to shameful deeds (adultery), whether committed openly or secretly;
  • Do not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden (to be killed), except for a just cause: thus does He command you, that you may use wisdom.
  • And do not come near the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attains the age of full maturity;
  • Give full measure and full weight with justice – We do not burden any person but that which he can bear;
  • Whenever you speak (testify), speak justly even if a near relative is concerned;
  • And fulfill the Covenant of Allah: thus does He command you that you may remember} (Surah 6, verses 151-153).”

The Ten Commandments ensure justice and peace on earth, but when they are violated injustice and mischief spread through the land. And like the violation of worldly laws results in consequences, violation of the rules of Allah also results in consequences. Allah the Exalted says:

{And verily, We will make them taste of the near (worldly) lighter torment prior to the greater torment, in order that they may return} (Surah 32, verse 21).

Ubayy Ibn Ka’b said: “The near worldly torment are problems and troubles in the worldly life.”  Therefore, when the commandments of Allah are violated, and His rules and regulations are broken, torment in this life is sent in the form of troubles and problems that strike the son of Adam and leave him in pain and agony.  And if the son of Adam continues as before and insists on violating the rules of Allah, then there is punishment after death in the grave and in Hell–we seek refuge in Allah from that.

Nowadays, there is a general trend of dissociating the consequences from their actions. Some Muslims may violate more than one rule of Allah, and may be given a reprieve and a chance to repent at first. But when they insist on committing the sin, they may be punished for it and afflicted with a calamity. Instead of reflecting on their previous actions, they wonder why they were affected in particular and why that problem afflicted them. But the true believer understands that problems and troubles are a test and an expiation. Problems remind the Muslim of the need to return to Allah and to repent of all sins. Troubles urge the Muslim to seek the help of Allah and get closer to Him, and they remind the Muslim of the life to come and the need to prepare for that eternal life.

Thus, Allah is the Most Merciful and Most Kind and always gives His slaves a chance after chance before punishment.  Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, screens the sinning slave at first and gives him a chance to repent and return to religion. Allah the Exalted with his vast mercy forgives and continues to forgive, but when the son of Adam insists on turning away and committing sins then the slave is punished. And even then, Allah’s mercy surrounds the slave and He in His Most Glory awaits the slave’s repentance patiently and expectantly.  Allah the Exalted says:

{And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30).

The scholar Ibn Kathir said: “The verse means: ‘Whatever disasters happen to you, O mankind, are because of sins that you have committed in the past.’ (And He pardons much) means: ‘He does not punish you for all of your sins, rather He forgives much.’

Narrated Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘If a person commits many sins and has nothing that will expiate for them, Allah will test him with some grief that will expiate for them.’ Related by Imam Ahmad.”

As the first verse states, the obedient believer and the sinful are never equal, just like the law abiding person is not equal to the criminal. The Mu’min is characterized by having fear of Allah that makes him loathe sins and stay away from them. And in case he slips, he soon repents.  Allah the Exalted says:

 {And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins. And none can forgive sins but Allah, and they do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know}

(Surah 3, verse 135).

Al-Baghawi said: ‘They remember the punishment of Allah and that He will ask them about their actions (so they stop themselves).”  Thus, the Mu’min is the person who doesn’t insist on a sin. It is true that humans are weak and prone to slips and falls, but the Muslim remembers the consequences of disobeying Allah both in this life and the Hereafter, and thus repents of the sin as soon as possible. The Muslim shows regret and remorse and promises Allah never to commit that sin again. And in case he commits another sin (whether the same or different), then he repents a second time, and a third time, until he repents of all sins. When the Muslim reaches this state, then Allah with His Great Mercy and Infinite Forgiveness will erase the sin from his record and grants him purity and sweetness of faith.

The Prophet ﷺ instructs us in the hadith above never to belittle sins, no matter how minor they are. SubhanaAllah, in our age some have started to belittle even the major sins! Some started considering major sins as minor sins and do not think much of committing them. We need to consider the severe consequences that may follow such behavior.

Narrated Ubada Ibn As-Samit, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, a group of my nation will spend the night in merriment, wantonness, play, and forbidden entertainment, and so they will get up in the morning transformed into monkeys and pigs for considering lawful (and violating) the things Allah has forbidden, for taking on female singers, for drinking wine, eating usury, and wearing silk (for men).” Related by Ahmad and Al-Tabarani.

We see the direct cause-effect relationship between actions and their consequences in this hadith. The righteous people among the first Muslim generation (Sahaba) showed great concern over even minor sins and took great pains to avoid them. But now we show even less concern for major sins, and do not consider the enormity of disobeying the Mighty One.  The remedy of this affliction lies in frequent pondering and reflection.  Every day the Muslim should think of the sins he committed during the day and night, and should then make istighfar (ask Allah’s forgiveness) for them.  Only then will the Muslim realize his negligence and shortcomings.  Once he realizes that, then the Muslim should strive to please Allah by obeying His commands and staying away from things He has forbidden.  The Muslim should always keep in mind the good consequences of following Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter), and the dire consequences of disobeying Allah’s commands (both in this life and the Hereafter).  We pray Allah to guide us to the Right Path and grant us Paradise, and Allah knows best.

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