Logic For Islamic Rules

What Are Light and Grave Sins?

Question: How can we differentiate between light and grave sins?

Answer: Actually the source of judging the light and grave sins are the verses of the Holy Quran from whom is the following:

If you shun the grave sins which you are forbidden, We will do away with you light sins [Surah Nisa 4:31]

Now let us see what the scale of determining whether a sin is light or grave is.

Our scholars say that every sin, be it light or grave is a grave sin in itself.

But the scale of finding whether a sin is light or grave is not that it should be inspected with relation to the Divine realm. Because from the aspect of such investigation it is all grave even though this division of sins is done to compare between themselves. According to which there are two kinds of sins, graver and lighter.

Now we should see what is the scale of differentiating the two? There are many techniques to discriminate the two of them and the most famous of them according to scholars is that every sin regarding which the Holy Quran has promised punishment is graver sin. For example, murder. regarding which the Holy Quran says:

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it [Surah Nisa 4:93]

Some scholars have added another condition also that graver sin is that for which punishment is promised or it is emphatically prohibited. Because there are many sins which are not promised punishment but they are emphatically and repeatedly prohibited.

For example if we consider that only the following sentence has arrived for usury that those who take usury have made a declaration of war against Allah. Then this alone is a sign that usury is a graver sin. And if in other verses and traditions the usurers had not been promised hell, even its emphatic and repeated prohibition shows that it is a graver sin. From this aspect the magnitude of sins is not relative. Their limits are different. It can never be that a sin is lighter as well as graver. Because if it is promised punishment or if its performance is emphatically prohibited, it would be a greater sin, otherwise it is smaller.