It is not a question of whether we err or not, for to “Err is human”, but rather the question is what do we do after we err? In this case, after we displease Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) or commit a sin. There is no doubt that sins come between us and Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). They build a barrier, a wall, a wedge between us and Him (Subhanahu Wa Ta’la). We want to avoid the disconnect. We want to avoid being discouraged from progressing towards our purpose and goal of drawing closer to Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). So, what is the Islamic etiquette after committing a sin? Let’s look at the Qur’an and derive some post-sin etiquettes. We want to be among those whom Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says of them:
Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur’an 25:70)
What a reward ! No better reward ever received will be appreciated in the Hereafter more than seeing our sins being exchanged for good deeds.
So, there are 3 post-sin etiquettes. We’ll talk about one today.
Owning up to our sins. ‘Ulema of Tafseer says that the word “believe” in the 70th ayah of Surat Al Furqaan:”Except those who repent and believe, and do righteous deeds…” means to believe that one has committed a sin. You have to believe in a “sinning” first, and what are sins–the major and minor. How many people live their lives committing sin after sin and not believing that they have committed a sin in the first place. They do believe in misdemeanors, felony charges etc. against society, that are forms of sins, but not sins against Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). We are more comprehensive in the way we view sins. In Sha’ Allah.
But to continue our point of believing that one has committed, this includes: being aware that a sin has been committed; owning up to it; not denying it; providing excuses for it; justifying it; or trivializing it.
Let me explain a little further how trivializing a sin works. Like for instance one steals $5 and says: “What’s the big deal? I just stole $5. Others steal millions.” Stealing is stealing, whether it is a penny or a million . It’s the violation of other people’s property that counts, not how much of that property has been violated. You know what’s really scary about these kind of sins that we consider to be minor, is that they will be the ones that will come back and haunt us in the Hereafter. Yikes! The Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) warns us of this in his Farewell Sermon,
” O people, indeed Satan despairs of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. He will be pleased, however, if he is obeyed in a thing other than that, in matters you minimize. So beware of him in your religion.”
So, let’s today sit with ourselves and own up to our sins, the minor and the major the known and the unknown, and meet tomorrow so we can take on step two of the post-sin etiquettes.