"Sin" is a word that is commonly used in many religions. In this article, we will try to analyse the definition of this term in Islam. How does Islam deal with sin and sinners? The concept of sin is completely different in Islam from Christianity. The concept of original sin in Christianity is opposed to the Islamic concept of sin. There is no "original" word for sin in Islam. Man is born pure. Sin is a deviation from the law and commands of Almighty Allah. It is emancipation from the divine law. Although, after sinning, Muslims still live in the circle of Islam and are not announced as non-Muslims, their faith ( Arabic word: Iman) becomes weaker and weaker.
Description as a Muslim
Sinning means that you are not following guiding principles provided to you by the prophet and holy book Quran. For example, Holy Quran teaches us not to commit adultery and if a Muslim is committing it, one is not following the teachings of Islam. In this way, sin is a deviation from those commands or actions expected from Muslims. Why Islam gives the concept of Sin? Prohibition of wrong actions by the individuals of any community ensures peace and order in that society.
There are a few major sins and a few minor sins. They are based on the intensity to which the wrong action can harm other members of society. For example, a few major sins are consuming usury (interest in your dealings), murder, adultery, involving in fortune-telling and black magic, confiscation of property of others, disrespecting your parents, etc.
Minor sins include calling bad names to others, not fulfilling promises, swearing, poking noses into other's business, involving in activities that are not directly connected to himself. Although, there is nothing minor or major based on the punishment this classification is according to the intensity of the harm that action can bring.
Sin is not an action after which you can not be back to the religion of Islam. Allah opened the way of forgiveness for every Muslim at any time. Even if someone committed a shirk, one can re-enter Islam after repentance. Allah opened the way back to the right path through forgiveness. He says in Quran :
“(O Messenger!) Tell people: 'If you indeed love Allah, follow me, and Allah will love you and will forgive you your sins. Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate”
Humans are not sinless
At various places in Quran, Allah mentions his quality of being forgiving. A Muslim should avoid sin and repent. Islam considers the inadequacies of human beings. No human being is perfect and sinless. Therefore, it provided a way back to Islam. When one repents and comes back to the original practices of religion is better than a person who does not repent and keeps doing wrong actions.
Sin Rusted Heart
Continuous sinning is discouraged in Islam because it makes the way back to repentance difficult for that person. Allah says in Quran about the hearts of the continuous sinners:
“No indeed! The truth is that their hearts have become rusted on account of their evil deeds”.
Due to this reason, Allah opened the way of repentance for Muslims. It prevents them to involve in further sinful actions. Islam keeps two aspects in the foundational basis of what is sin and what is not. One aspect is the shortcomings of human beings and the other is his way back to the right path. Muslim is not sinful if he was ignorant of the teachings of Islam about the prohibition of any action. Therefore, he is not answerable for the action about which he was unaware. After awareness, he is answerable for all his doings in front of Allah Almighty.
Repentance is not the only way through which Islam guides us. The second solution Islam provides is training. All the Islamic actions e.g. Salah, Wudu, Ghusl, fasting, Zakat, etc. keep you away from sins or help you to return towards the right path.