In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Many people question the situation of a believer who commits many sins during his life? Will Allah forgive him or will he be punished? What is the extent of his punishment?Grapes

If believers die believing in Allah but having committed sins less than major shirk that puts a person beyond the pale of Islam, one of two scenarios may apply: 

1 – They repented from those sins during their lives. If they repented sincerely, Allah will accept that from them, and they will once again become like those who did not commit any sin, and they will not be punished for their sins in the Hereafter. Indeed, their Lord may honour them and turn their bad deeds (sayi’aat) into good deeds (hasanaat). 

2 – Those who die without having repented from their sins, or whose repentance was imperfect and did not meet the required conditions, or their repentance was not accepted. What is proven in the verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet – the sinners among those who believe in Tawheed (the oneness of Allah) – fall into three categories: 

The first category: People who have many hasanaat (good deeds) to their credit, which outweigh their sayi’aat (bad deeds). Allah will forgive them for their bad deeds and admit them to Paradise. The Fire will never touch them, as a kindness and blessing from Allah. According to a hadith

narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:  “Allah will bring the believer close and will shelter him with His screen, then He will say, ‘Do you remember such and such a sin? Do you remember such and such a sin?’ and he will say, ‘Yes, O Lord,’ until He makes him confess his sins and he thinks that he is doomed. Then [Allah] will say, ‘I concealed it for you in the world and I forgive you for it today.’

[Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Hadith no. 207, Translated by M.Muhsin Khan]

Then he will be given the book of his good deeds (hasanaat). But as for the kaafir and the hypocrite, the witnesses will say, “…These are the ones who lied against their Lord!’ Behold! the Curse of Allah is on those who do wrong!” [Hud 11:18]

Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“The balance that day will be true (nicety): Those whose whose scale (of good deeds) will be heavy, will prosper:” [al-A’raf 7:8]

“Then, he whose Balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy,
Will be in a live of good pleasure and Satisfaction.” [al-Qari’ah 101:6-7]

The second category: People whose hasanaat and sayi’aat are equal, so their sayi’aat are enough to keep them away from Paradise, but their hasanaat are enough to save them from Hell. These are the people of al-A’raf (a wall with elevated places) whom Allah says will stand between Paradise and Hell as long as Allah wills, then they will be granted permission to enter Paradise, as Allah says after telling us of the entrance of the people of Paradise to Paradise and the people of Hell to Hell. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“Between them shall be a veil (barrier), and on the Heights (Al-A‘raf, a wall with elevated places) will be men (whose good and evil deeds would be equal in Scale), who would know everyone (of the Paradise and Hell people), by his marks (the dwellers of Paradise by their white faces and the dwellers of Hell by their black faces): They will call out to the Companions (dwellers) of the Paradise, ‘Salaamun ‘Alaikum’ (peace be on you): They (men on Al-A‘raf) will not have entered (Paradise), but they will have an assurance (thereof).

When their eyes shall be turned towards the Companions (dwellers) of the Fire, they will say: ‘Our Lord! send us not to the company (people) of the wrongdoers.’

The men on the Al-A‘raf (the wall) will call to certain men whom they will know from their marks, saying: ‘Of what profit to you were your hoards and your arrogant ways?’

Behold! Are these not the men whom you swore that Allah with His Mercy would never bless? ‘Enter ye the Paradise: No fear shall be on you, nor shall ye grieve.” [al-A’raf 7:46-49]

The third category:  People who will meet Allah persisting in committing major sins and acts of immorality, so their sayi’aat will outweigh their hasanaat. These are the ones who will deserve to enter Hell in a manner commensurate with their sins. Some of them will be seized by the Fire as far as their ankles, some up to mid-calf, some up to their knees, and for some only the mark of sujood will be spared. These are the ones whom Allah will permit to be brought forth from the Fire because of the intercession of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He, all the Prophets, the Angels, the believers and whoever else Allah wishes to honour will intercede for them. Whoever among these sinners has more faith and committed fewer sins will have a lighter punishment and remain in Hell for a shorter period and will be brought forth sooner. Those whose sins were greater and whose faith was weaker, will have a greater punishment and will remain for longer.  

This is the situation of the sinful believers in the Hereafter. 

With regard to this world, so long as they do not do anything that would put them beyond the pale of Islam, then they are believers whose faith is lacking. These ayahs include: 

“Oh ye who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: The free for free, the slave for the slave, the women for the women. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand (blood money), and compensate him with handsome gratitude. This is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this, whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.” [al-Baqarah 2:178] 

This brotherhood is the brotherhood of faith, which indicates that the killer is not regarded as a kaafir, even though killing a believer is one of the most serious of major sins. 

Allah says: 
“If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the Command of Allah; But if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: For Allah loves those who are fair (and just).
The believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy.” [al-Hujurat 49:9-10] 

So Allah described each of the fighting parties as believers, even though fighting is a major sin. Indeed, He described the ones who reconcile between them as being their brothers, which indicates that the one who commits a major sin which does not reach the degree of shirk and kufr is still regarded as a believer and comes under the rulings on believers, but he is lacking in faith.  Allah subhan wata'ala knows best. 


Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah's Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me alone. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

  • The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, 11th edition 1429 AH / 2008 C.E with Revised English Translation, Commentary and Index by ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali.


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