The danger of taking sin lightly
You should know, may Allaah have mercy on me and on you, that Allaah has commanded His slaves to repent sincerely and has made doing so obligatory. He says (interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! Turn to Allaah with sincere repentance…”
Allaah has given us time to repent before the honourable scribes (kiraaman kaatibeen – recording angels) record our deeds. The Prophet said: “The (scribe) on the left hand raises his pen (i.e., delays writing) for six hours [this may refer to six hours of 60 minutes as measured by astronomers, or it may refer to short periods of time during the day or night – Lisaan al-‘Arab] before he records the sinful deed of a Muslim. If he regrets it and seeks Allaah’s forgiveness, the deed is not recorded, otherwise it is recorded as one deed.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan (The Branches of Faith); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Silsilat al-Ahaadeeth al-Saheehah, 1209). A further respite is granted after the deed has been recorded, up until the moment before death approaches.
The problem is that many people nowadays do not place their hope and fear in Allaah. They disobey Him by committing all manner of sins, day and night. There are those who are being tested by the idea of regarding sins as insignificant, so you may see one of them regarding certain “minor sins” (saghaa’ir) as inconsequential, so he might say, “What harm can it possibly do if I look at or shake hands with a (non-mahram) woman?” They think nothing of looking at women in magazines and on TV shows. Some of them, when they are told that this is haraam, may even facetiously ask, “So how bad can it be? Is it a major sin (kabeerah) or a minor sin (sagheerah)?” Compare this attitude with that reflected in the following reports narrated by Imaam al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him):
Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “You do things which in your eyes are less significant than a hair, but at the time of the Messenger of Allaah , we used to count them as things that could destroy a man.”
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The believer regards his sin as if he were sitting beneath a mountain which he fears may fall on him, whereas the sinner regards his sin as if a fly lands on his nose and he swipes it away.”
Will these people then understand the seriousness of the matter when they read the following hadeeth of the Prophet ? “Beware of the minor sins which are often thought of as insignificant, for they are like a group of people who stopped in the bottom of a valley. One of them brought a stick, and another brought a stick, until they had gathered enough to cook their food. These minor sins, if a person is called to account for them, will destroy him.” According to another report, he said: “Beware of minor sins, for they will pile up until they destroy a person.” (Reported by Ahmad; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2686-2687).
The scholars said that when minor sins are accompanied by a lack of shame or remorse, and with no fear of Allaah, and are taken lightly, then there is the risk that they will be counted as major sins. Hence it is said that no minor sin is minor if you persist, and no major sin is major if you keep on seeking forgiveness.
So we say to the one who is in this situation: Do not think about whether the sin is major or minor; think about the One Whom you are disobeying.
In sha Allah, these words will benefit those who are sincere, and who are aware of their sins and shortcomings, and do not insist upon doing wrong and adhering to their faults.
These words are for those who believe in the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): “Declare (O Muhammad) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful.” [al-Hijr 15:49] and in His words “And that My Torment is indeed the most painful torment.” [al-Hijr 15:50]. It is essential to keep this balanced view in mind.
– Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid