an-Nisa' 4:111

Usually seen between Halal and Haram. Sin is seen as disobedience to an established law (shari'a).

Like Catholics, there are Greater Sins and Lesser Sins. Greater Sins: a tradition says seven in number: polytheism, witchcraft, unlawful murder, spending the money of orphans, usury, running away from battle, and abusing helpless, faithful women. Some say as many as 700. Lesser Sins: the rest, including giving bribes, stealing, eating pork, deliberately omitting parts of salat, etc.

Some traditions say that sin is forgiven automatically because of good works, while greater sins require begging for forgiveness (istighfar) and sin of polytheism requires repentance (tawba). The conditions for forgiveness of sins are not very clearly stated. Sometimes they are automatically forgiven, while others seem to require more effort. In any case, a Muslim does not know if his/her sins are forgiven, but has to wait till Judgment Day. This constrasts sharply with the Bible:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:8-10).

Comparison with Christianity

Christian Muslim
1. Everyone is born in sin, which explains a person's sinful nature and his tendency to sin (Romans 5:12,19) 1. Everyone is born sinless and without a natural, sinful nature.
2. Sin in human nature causes a man to do evil (James 1:14,15, Genesis 8:21, Romans 6:12-14). It is rebellion against God (Psalm 51:4). It is more than simply breaking God's law (1 John 3:4). 2. Sin is breaking Allah's law (al-A`raf 7:33). The harm is only against oneself (al-A`raf 7:22), for Allah is too majestic to be affected.
3. All (except Jesus) have sinned and thus become guilty before God (Romans 3:23). 3. If Allah had wanted, he could have kept man from sinning (al-A`raf 32:13, ar-Ra`d 13:31, al-An`am 6:39).
4. Sin grieves God (Genesis 6:5,6; Psalms 78:40). 4. Sin does not grieve Allah, who is too great to be affected. Allah created man's evil deeds, and man must do them (as-Saffat 37:96, al-Qamar 54:49, at-Taubah 9:51, al-Hadid 57:22)
5. Sin breaks fellowship between man and God, and between fellow men (1 John 1:3,6,7; Isaiah 59:2,3). 5. Sin only breaks a law, not a fellowship such as between a son and his father.
6. God hates sin, but loves sinners and wants them to repent (Romans 5:6-8) 6. Allah does not love evildoers (al-A`raf 7:55, ash-Shura 42:40, al-Baqarah 2:276)
7. Good deeds do not earn forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is a free gift from God, and good deeds should be done in gratitude (Ephesians 2:8,9, Galatians 2:16) 7. Good deeds are put in a balance against evil deeds on Judgement Day and may help to obtain forgiveness (al-Anbiya' 21:47, al-Furqan 25:70)
8. God forgives the sin of all who trust in Christ (2 Cor 5:19-21) Christians can know this now (1 John 1:9, 2:12) 8. Allah forgives whom he wills and punishes whom he wills (Âl 'Imran 3:124, al-Ma'idah 5:118)

(Taken from Emory VanGerpen, Notes on Islam, 1979, p. 45-46)

Go Back to Main Index