A great similarity is noticed between physical diseases and sins. This similarity is notably observed in the origination of the two. Most diseases are the result of the violation of the physical constitutions and, in the same manner, sins are the result of the violation of the divine regulations. Each disease has its peculiar effects that reflect on the diseased in forms of mixtures and pathological complications. In the same manner, each sin has its bad result that causes various sorts of tragedies. It is true that diseases and sins participate in the bad results that they cause; however, sins are more harmful, because it is easy to treat the diseased bodies, but it is difficult to treat the ill mentalities.
On that account, sins are fatal poisons and lethal germs that spoil man and expose him to various sorts of dangers and perditions.
The Holy Quran provides horrible pictures concerning the inconveniences and dangers of the commitment of sins:
“When We decide to destroy a town We warn the rich ones therein who commit evil. Thus, it becomes deserving to destruction and We destroy its very foundations. (17:16)”
“Why do they not consider how many generations living before them We have destroyed. We established those nations in the land with abilities far beyond those given to you. We sent down plenty of rain from the sky for them and made streams flow therein, but, then, We destroyed them for their sins and established other nations after them. (6:6)”
“Had the people of the towns believed (in Our revelations) and maintained piety, We would have certainly showered on them Our blessings from the sky and the earth. But they called Our revelations lies, thus Our torment struck them for their evil deeds. (7:96)”
“Allah does not change the favor that He has bestowed on a nation unless that nation changes what is in its soul. Allah is All-hearing and All- knowing. (8:53)”
“Whatever hardship befalls you is the result of your own deeds. Allah pardons many of your sins. (42:30)”
“Evil has spread over the land and the sea because of human deeds and through these Allah will cause some people to suffer so that perhaps they will return to Him. (30:41)”
The Prophet (S) said: “How strange he who diets so as to avoid maladies is! How does he not diet from committing sins so as to avoid Hell1?”
“Allah says: Son of Adam! You can never be just with Me. I endear Myself to you through the favors that I confer upon you, but you make Me hate you through the acts of disobedience to Me that you commit. My goodness is descending to you, while your evil is ascending to Me. Every single day and night, a noble angel carries to Me your evil deeds. Son of Adam! If you hear that somebody else bears these very characteristics, you will surely hate him. (However, I completely know that you bear such characteristics, but I do not hate you.)2”
“If Allah is irate with a nation but they have not received His direct punishment, their prices will be exorbitantly expensive, their ages will be short, their trades will be profitless, their yields will not increase, their rivers will not be profuse, rainfall will not drop on them, and the evilest individuals will prevail on them3.”
Amirul-Mu'minin (a) said: “Be wary of committing sins. The reason of any misfortune, shortage in earnings, or even a scratch, injury or a wound is surely the commitment of a sin. Allah the Majestic says:
“Whatever hardship befalls you is the result of your own deeds. Allah pardons many of your sins. (42:30)4”
Imam al-Baqir (a) said: “Allah decides to settle the need of a servant in a definite time, whether near or remote. But when that servant commits a sin, the Lord orders an angel to cancel the decision of the settlement of that need, and says: ‘Deprive that servant of the settlement of his need, because he exposed himself to My wrath; hence, deprivation has become the punishment5.’”
“In the book of the Messenger of Allah (S), the following is recorded: If fornication spreads publicly after me, sudden death will spread. If deficient and unjust measures are given, Allah will afflict with shortage in food for years. If they refrain from defraying the zakat, they will be deprived of the blessings of the earth, such as yields, fruits, and minerals. If they rule unjustly, they will cooperate in fields of wrong and oppression. If they breach the pledges, Allah will give a free hand to their enemies over them. If they rupture their relations, their treasuries will be in the hands of the evilest people. If they neglect bidding good and forbidding evil and following the pious men of my household, Allah will give authority to their evilest people over them, and when the righteous people among them supplicate to Him, they will not be answered6.”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “My father used to say: Allah decided conclusively that He will not seize the favor that He confers upon a servant unless that servants commits a sin due to which he exposes himself to the punishment of the Lord7.”
Imam ar-Rida (a) said: “Whenever the servants commit unprecedented sins, Allah creates unprecedented sorts of misfortunes for them8.”
The Devil may seduce some people by the false idea that if sins had been fatal and destructive, they would have destroyed those who commit sins incessantly while they are living in full luxury. To answer this false conception, we say that nothing at all can overcome God Who does not anticipate the escape of anyone. He only respites the disobedient and postpones the penalties that are decided for them out of His care for their interests, expecting that they may recover their senses and turn to Him in repentance, or that He gives them respite out of His sympathy with the innocent and weak individuals whom may be injured by such punishments. Finally, God may respite those who commit sins so that they will increase in acting disobediently to Him, and He then inflict them with severe punishment:
“The unbelievers must not think that Our respite is for their good. We only give them time to let them increase their sins. For them there will be a humiliating torment. (3:178)”
“Were Allah to punish people for their deeds immediately, not one creature would have survived on earth. However, He has given them a respite for an appointed time and when their term comes to an end, let it be known that Allah watches over His servants. (35:45)”
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: “If Allah intends goodness to a servant, He inflicts him with a punishment after each sin he commits, and reminds him of seeking forgiveness. If Allah intends evil to a servant, He confers upon him with a grace after each sin he commits, so as to make him forget seeking forgiveness and exceed the limits in committing sins. This is the meaning of His saying:
“I shall lead them step by step to destruction, without their being aware of it. (68:44)9”
Imam al-Kadhim (a) said: “Allah appoints a caller whose mission is to say every day and night: Slow down, servants of Allah, in committing acts of disobedience to Him. Without the existence of grazing animals, suckling babies, and kneeling10 old men, punishment shall be poured upon you so heavily, and it shall bruise you11.”
One may think that as long as the prophets are sinless, why do they suffer various sorts of ordeals and crises? To answer such wonderment, we say that sins are of various sorts. They vary according to the degree of faith, obedience, and worship. It happens that an innocent joy is considered as legal grace by somebody, but considered as sin by somebody else, because he regards it as matter that diverts him from the reference to God. Because the prophets (a) are the highest examples in the fields of believing in God and acts of worship, they consider definite acts, which are legal for ordinary people, as sins and shortcomings.
It is said that good acts of the pious are regarded as sins for the intimate worshipers of God. Furthermore, to suffer ordeals does not necessarily originate from the commitment of sins. In some cases, the suffering of ordeals and misfortunes may be a means to test patience and steadfastness against acts of God. They also may be the means that increase the rewards.
- 1. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 15/3/155 (as quoted from as- Saduq’s al-Amali).
- 2. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; 15/3/156 (as quoted from Uyounu Akhbar ir-Ridha).
- 3. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 173 (as quoted from at- Tahtheeb and al-Faqih).
- 4. Quoted from Bihar ul-Anwar; (as quoted from al-Khissal).
- 5. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 167 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
- 6. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 173 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
- 7. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 167 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
- 8. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 168 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
- 9. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 173 (as quoted from al- Kafi).
- 10. ‘Kneeling’ is an expression of offering prayers, which denotes rites of worship to God.
- 11. Quoted from al-Wafi; part 3 page 168 (as quoted from al- Kafi).