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Takfeer: The Dreadful Doctrine of Terror

عقيدة المروعة من الإرهاب: التكفير

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“If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you:”(Qur’an;5:48). “Let there be no compulsion in religion”(Qur’an;2:256); “Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits the sin of ascribing partners to Him and may forgive anyone else if He so pleases.”(Qur’an;4:116). “God wishes to lighten your burdens because humans have been created weak by nature” (Qur’an;4:28).

It is generally accepted international norm that the peaceful political struggle is the best way to get freedom from oppression and justice. However when peaceful struggle is brutally suppressed, the armed struggle against occupation forces involved in oppression is widely accepted as legitimate methodology. Many countries won their independence from colonial powers and oppressive regimes through armed struggle; it includes the countries like USA, China, Algeria, Vietnam and South Africa among many others. Still there are many people in Palestine, Kashmir,  Afghanistan still struggling to get rid of foreign forces or their local proxies. In Iraq the struggle against foreign  forces was converted to struggle against oppressive puppet Shia regime. The extremist Takfiri Khawarij took advantage to establish their rule under the fake title of ISIS or Daesh (heretic cult, nothing to do with Islam). The revolt of majority Muslims against minority oppressive rule of Asad (Alvi) regime helped Takfiri Khawarij (ISIS/Daesh) to gain foothold, their reign of terror has devastated the region and maligned Islam. In Nigeria Boko Haram (Western education forbidden) has killed hundreds of Muslims and non Muslims. The killing of innocent people or those opposed to the heretical religious doctrines through violence and terror is condemned and rejected world wide, being terrorism. 

It has been experienced that mostly the struggles initiated for legitimate cause with international support ultimately turned in to terror campaign once abandoned by the international community and taken over by semi-literate bigots. Taliban in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan are a case in point [their 1st generation was nourished and trained by USA asMujahideen against former USSR in 80’s]. 
They use religion [Islam in this case] as a cover to recruit and motivate the youngsters to become cannon fodder [suicide bombers & foot soldiers] to kill innocent people. The regional and international powers also get involved to use such terror groups through covert means to achieve their strategic goals. The hostile media is readily available to conveniently put the blame on the religion [Islam]. Hence Islam is maligned by the irrational religious bigots as well as the international powers. When ever the international community did not abandon, the people involved in legitimate struggle, the armed struggles ended upon achieving peaceful resolution of conflict, Kosovo, Bosnia and East Timor are some recent examples. The lopsided policies and mismanagement by corrupt military or civil regimes in 3rd world countries [mostly Muslim dominated] result in economic and social injustice. This ensures availability of large number of disgruntled, illiterate, unemployed youngsters from the under privileged strata of society. The extremists are quick to exploit through religious fervor to obtain required manpower, finances, public support and sympathy.
The political, military, economic strategic and other aspects of this highly bloody oppressive non conventional warfare are deliberated at various forums. However their heretic religious doctrines, the main motivating force of the extremist Taliban is given cursory treatment only. An endeavour is being made here to critically analyze their ideology and see its relevance vis-à-vis established Islamic doctrines and practices.


Chapter-1: Doctrine of Takfir

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The doctrine of Takfir; is being used in the modern era especially by terrorist groups like Daesh/ ISIS, Boko Haram & Talibans, in sanctioning violence against leaders and simple Muslims who are deemed insufficiently religious. Takfir is a pronouncement to declare any (non practicing Muslim), to be an unbeliever (Takfir), apostate, (Murtad) hence liable to be killed. It has become a central ideology of militant groups such as those in Egypt, iraq and across the world including so called ‘Taliban’, now also in Afghanistan and adjoining tribal areas of Pakistan. According to the ‘Oxford Dictionary of Islam’, doctrine of Takfir is claimed to be derived from the ideas of Sayyid Qutab, Maududi, Ibn Tymiyyah and Ibn Kathir. Mainstream Muslims and Islamic groups reject the pseudo concept of ‘Takfir’ as a doctrinal deviation [bid’at], heresy. Leaders such as Hassan al-Hudaybi (died,1977) and Yousf al–Qaradawi reject ‘Takfir’ as un-Islamic and marked by bigotry and zealotry. Such narrow mindedness has exacerbated the evil of sectarianism and the resulting intolerance among the masses has led to a dangerous trend towards sectarian militancy. Recently the Saudi scholars also condemned and strongly rejected the ‘Takfir doctrine.
Design of Creation:
Man as an animal has a humble origin. But he has been given the gift of certain faculties of receiving instruction (typified by Hearing) and of intellectual and spiritual insight (typified by Sight) according to Qur’an; “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts) of Hearing and Sight”(Qura’n;76:2). His life has therefore a meaning: with a certain amount of free-will, he is to be vicegerent on earth (Qur’an;2:30). But he must be trained and tried, and that is the whole problem of human life. “Verily We have created Man into toil and struggle.”(Qura’n;90:4). Allah says: “I have not created jinns [invisible beings] and mankind except to worship (serve) Me. I require no sustenance from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Surely it is Allah Who is the giver of all sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Invincible.” (Qur’an;51:56-58). To understand why human beings need to worship Allah, one must first understand what is meant by  words ‘yabudun’ (worship, service) it is derived from word ‘abud’’ means ‘slave’ who surrenders to the command of his master. The English term ‘worship’ comes from the Old English “weorthscipe” meaning ‘honor.’ Consequently, worship is defined as ‘the performance of devotional acts in honor of a deity: According to this meaning, man is instructed to show gratitude to Allah by glorifying Him, In the Qur’an, Allah says; “Glorify the praises of your Lord”(Qur’an;2:185). Worshipping (serving) Allah does not mean that people spend their entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. The true service (worship) to Allah is to live in this world according to His commands, and not to run away from it. Worship (service) is to obey what He desires and refrain from what He forbids by his free moral will, a test or trial. 
Thus the purpose of creation of humanity is to test the people during limited life span on earth and finally reward in hereafter. “Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35). If He wanted every one would have obeyed Him, like angels: “Have not yet the believers been satisfied that if God wanted, He would have certainly guided the whole of mankind?”(Qur’an;13:31). “if it had been His will He could indeed have guided you all."(Qur’an;6:149).” But God want to test the man, by granting him limited free moral will to choose between right and wrong. Apart from intellect, He also provided guidance thorough prophets and scriptures. Those who obey Him by choice, due to the ‘limited free moral will’ granted by God and live according to His guidance, will be rewarded and those who disobey, will be punished in hereafter: “Say "The Truth is from your Lord": let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it)- for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire..(Qur’an;18:29).“The One Who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;67:2). “Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason?”(Qur’an;10:100). “We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from Allah; and they are the ones that are rightly guided.”(Qur’an;2:155-157). “And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers?”(Qura’n;10:99). “And what is there to keep back men from believing now that Guidance has come to them nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord but that (they ask that) the ways of the ancients be repeated with them or the Wrath be brought to them face to face?”(Qura’n;18:55).

Man Created Weak, Not to be Over Burdened:

It is possible that some believer (Muslim) neglects a duty (prescribe through Qur’an or Sunnah). If we treat this neglect or omission on the same basis as we treat addition, we are demanding that every Muslim should be perfect, a heavy burden. Allah says: “God wishes to lighten your burdens because humans have been created weak by nature” (Qur’an;4:28). “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear”(Qur’an;2:286, 6:152, 7:42 & 23:62). This further explains that God has classified the Muslims in to three broad categories i.e. the sinners, moderates and ideal Muslims: “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen, among them there are some who wrong their own souls, some follow a middle course and some, by Allah's leave, excel in good deeds; which is the supreme virtue.”(Qur’an;35:32). Further elaborated: “who are true to their trust and covenants, and who are diligent about their prayers (Salah). These are the heirs who will inherit paradise; and live therein forever.”(Qur’an;9:11). “We wrote this in The Zaboor (Psalms;37:29) after the reminder (Torah given to Moses): that as for the earth, My righteous servants shall inherit it.”(Qur’an;21:105).“So lose not heart nor fall into despair: for ye must gain mastery if ye are true in faith.”(Qur’an;3:139).
It is observed in a Muslim society that the majority of Muslims fall in to the 1st category, followed by 2nd and few in the last category of ideal pious Muslims. While we should always try to improve ourselves, perfection cannot be expected from anyone. Allah describes the believers with whom He is pleased as those who "avoid the cardinal of sins and gross indecencies, and are guilty of only small offence, surely for them your Lord will have abundant forgiveness…”(Qur’an53:32). In other words, the good believers who earn the pleasure of Allah commit minor sins. Proceeding further it may said that even a person who commits a grave sin may still earn the pleasure of Allah, if he works hard, perform good deeds and seeks  His forgiveness. Allah says: “He has chosen you (Muslims) and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith - the faith of your father Abraham”(Qur’an;22:78). “Thus have We made of you (Muslims) a community justly balanced (middle way)”(Qur’an;2:143)

No Coercion in Matters of Faith:

Duress in the matter of faith is incompatible with Islam. Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) was clearly told: “If then they (non believers) turn away We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty (O’ messenger of God) is but to convey (the Message).”(Qur’an;42:48, similarly at 22:49, 3:20, 4:80, 7:79, 93, 24:54 and many other places). Qur’an further elaborates: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out Clear from error: Whoever rejects evil and believes In Allah hath grasped the Most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. and Allah hears and knows all things.”(Qur’an;2:256);“to you be your religion, and to me mine”. (Qur’an;109:6). Compulsion is irreconcilable with religion; because, firstly;  religion depends upon faith and will, and these would be meaningless if induced by force. Secondly,  Truth and Error have been so clearly shown up by the mercy of God that there should be no doubt in the minds of persons of goodwill as to the fundamentals of faith;. Thirdly, God's protection is continuous and His Plan is always to lead us from the depths of darkness into the clearest light. An insight to the concept of sin, crime, repentance, mercy and punishment will help to remove some of the misconceptions.

Chapter-2: Sin - Basis of Takfeer

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Takfeer is based upon the sins committed by a Muslim as sufficient to declare him apostate and then kill. 

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The concept of sin has been present in many cultures throughout history, where it was usually equated with an individual's failure to live up to external standards of conduct or with his violation of taboos, laws, or moral codes. In ancient Greek thought, sin was looked upon as, in essence, a failure on the part of a person to achieve his true self-expression and to preserve his due relation to the rest of the universe; it was attributed mainly to ignorance. Some ancient societies also had concepts of corporate, or collective, sin affecting all human beings and dating from a mythical "fall of man" out of a state of primitive and blissful innocence.
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In Christianity, ‘Original sin’; is the belief that the sin committed by Adam & Eve in disobeying the command of Lord is carried by every human, Islam does not agree to it, Adam (peace be upon him) committed the first sin, he repented and was forgiven by God (Qur’an;2:37). Allah say: “Every soul will reap the fruits of its own deeds; no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.” (Qur’an;6:164). Bible also emphasizes the individual responsibility: “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”(Ezekiel;18:20-21).

Types of Sins:

Actual sin is subdivided, on the basis of its gravity, into ‘Mortal’ and ‘Venial’ (pardonable). This distinction is often difficult to apply but can hardly be avoided. A ‘Mortal Sin’ is a deliberate turning away from God; it is a sin in a grave matter that is committed in full knowledge and with the full consent of the sinner's will, and until it is repented it cuts the sinner off from God's sanctifying grace. A ‘Venial Sin’ usually involves a less important matter and is committed with less self-awareness of wrongdoing. While a ‘Venial Sin’ weakens the sinner's closeness to God, it is not a deliberate turning from him and so does not wholly block the inflow of sanctifying grace.
Actual sin is also subdivided into ‘Formal’ and ‘Material’. Formal Sin is both wrong in itself and known by the sinner to be wrong; it therefore involves him in personal guilt. The ‘Material Sin’ consists of an act that is wrong in itself (because contrary to God's law and human moral nature) but which the sinner does not know to be wrong and for which he is therefore not personally culpable.

Bible on Sin: 

In the Old Testament, sin is directly linked to the monotheistic beliefs of the Hebrews. Sinful acts are viewed as a defiance of God's commandments, and sin itself is regarded as an attitude of defiance or hatred of God. The New Testament accepts the Judaic concept of sin but regards humanity's state of collective and individual sinfulness as a condition that Jesus came into the world to heal. There is emphasis on repentance (Luke;15:7,10,21-24, 11:4, Mathew:6:12). Jesus Christ preached observance of Law of Moses, he said: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew;5:17-20). Much later, Paul in his letter to the Romans, said: “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” (Romans;7:6). Paul nailed the Law and the Commandments to the cross: “having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”(Colossians;2:14). 
Paul contrasts ‘justification by faith’ to ‘justification by works’, the position of Jews. The point in question was on which basis man should establish himself in the just relationship to God in order to achieve salvation. In Paul’s mind the position of the Jews was this: fulfillment of the works prescribed the law, and its observance, made a man just, and thus did justified man present himself to God. The connection between justice and salvation is one of merit. Paul holds that this tenet is in conflict, the man is possessed by sins (Romans7:7-25).  Paul claimed that salvation can only be obtained through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”(Roman;10:9-10), “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.”(1Corinthians;15:14). The Christians have no religious law (Shari’a) they follow the Roman Law to run the affairs of state and society. According to the doctrine of Redemption,    Christ's blood or life, which he is believed to have surrendered for them, is the "ransom" by which the deliverance of his people from the servitude of sin and from its penal consequences is believed to be secured.
The Christian doctrine of ‘Justification by Faith’, is believed to be the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law (Romans;5:1-10). The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith [believe in Jesus Christ as Lord].
The Christians believe to be judged by the law of liberty (James;2:12) that is, the Gospel law of love, which is not a law of external constraint, but of internal, free, instinctive inclination. The law of liberty, through God's mercy, is believed to free Christians from the curse of the law. The Christians who do not in turn practice the law of love to their neighbor, that law of grace condemns them still more heavily than the old law.

The doctrine of salvation by grace is criticized; that it does away with the necessity of good works, and lowers the sense of their importance (Romans;6:1-23). If men are not saved by works, then works are not necessary. If the most pious man is saved in the same way as the very chief of sinners, then good works are of no use. And more than this, if the grace of God is most clearly displayed in the salvation of the vilest of men, then the worse men are the better. The gospel of salvation by grace shows that good works are necessary. It is true, unchangeably true, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. " Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (homosexual, gay, lesbian), nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards" shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1Corinthians;6:9-10). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:” (1Thessalonians;4:3).The Good works of the most sincere believers are all imperfect, yet like their persons they are accepted through Jesus Christ (Colossians;3:17), and so are rewarded; they have no merit intrinsically, but are rewarded wholly of grace. However in an other epistle Paul contradicts:
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”.(Romans;11:6). 

This saying demolishes the doctrine of all kinds and manner of works, by which the justifiers of themselves teach that works are either wholly or partly the cause of our justification.

There is something so absolutely inconsistent between the being justified by grace, and the being justified by works, that, if you suppose either, you of necessity exclude the other. For what is  given  to works  is the  payment of  a debt; whereas grace implies an unmerited favour. So that the same benefit cannot, in the very nature of things, be derived from both.
The Gentiles (people without any law), will be judged by the law of conscience: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;(Romans;2:14-15 also Luke;12:47-48). The Jews and Muslims adhere to the Law of Moses and Qur’an respectively having many commonalties.
The three Abrahamic faiths see sin as a deliberate violation of the will of God and as being attributable to human pride, self-centeredness, and disobedience. While insisting more strongly than most religions upon the gravity of sin, both in its essence and in its consequences, they emphatically rejected the Manichaean doctrine that either the created world as a whole or the material part of it is inherently evil. It is held that evil acts are the result of the misuse of their free will by created beings and tendency of their nature to get seduced by evil impulses (Satan) to turn the soul in rebellion against God. On the Day of Judgment, the sinners will be punished for evil deeds, hell will be their abode. The sinner believers (of God, His messengers and scriptures) will ultimately be taken out and rehabilitated in paradise, the non believers will however suffer in hell.

Deadly Sins:

In Christianity, the ‘Deadly sin’ (cardinal sin) is any of the sins, usually numbering seven, dating back to the early history of Christian monasticism. A sin was classified as deadly not merely because it was a serious offense morally but because "it gives rise to others, especially in the manner of a final cause" or motivation (St. Thomas Aquinas). The traditional catalog of the seven deadly sins is: (1) Vainglory, or pride; (2) Covetousness (excessively and culpably desirous of the possessions of another); (3) Lust, understood as inordinate or illicit sexual desire; (4) Envy; (5) Gluttony, which usually included drunkenness; (6) Anger; and (7) Sloth (Aversion to work or exertion; laziness; indolence). The deadly sins were a popular theme in the morality plays and art of the European Middle Ages.


‘Sin’ is an offense against religious or moral law, while according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary; ‘Crime’ is an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the ‘crime’ is the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under criminal law. Crimes in the common-law tradition were originally defined primarily by judicial decision. Most common-law crimes are now codified. According to a generally accepted principle, nullum crimen sine lege, there can be no crime without a law. A crime generally consists of both conduct (the actus reus) and a concurrent state of mind (the mens rea). Criminal acts include arson, assault and battery (beating or pounding), burglary, bribery, child abuse, extortion, counterfeiting, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, hijacking, homicide, kidnapping, perjury, piracy, rape, sedition, smuggling, treason, theft, and usury (excessive interest) etc. To commencement of crime has to be established through fair judicial process and evidence to punish the accused. The accused is let off if the crime is not proved.

Islam on Sin:

The breach of laws and norms laid down by Din Al-Islam, is considered as sin. The sin may be of omission or commission; though any violation of religious law or ethical norm is a sin, but one is held accountable only for those committed intentionally. “If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul and then seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful. Whoever commits a sin, he commits it against his own soul. Allah is knowledgeable, Wise.”(Qur’an;4:110-111);“Surely he who will come to his Lord as a sinner shall be consigned to Hell - wherein he shall neither die nor live. While he who will come to Him as a believer and has done good deeds shall have the highest ranks”(Qur’an;20:74-75). Most of the crimes are also sin because they have adverse affects on morality and spirituality, but not all sins constitute crime. The biggest sin is to associate partners with Allah, but there is no prescribe punishment for this most heinous sin to make it crime, though such a person will suffer for ever in hell fire in hereafter. The Jews of Arabia considered Ezra to be son of God, while Christians consider Jesus Christ to be son of God, but they continued to live as subjects of Islamic State established under Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as long as they abide by the agreements. The Jews and Christians enjoy a special status as ‘People of the Book’ in Islamic states despite their transgression.  Muslims are allowed to marry Jewish or Christians women, eat their permissible food, establish normal relations with the non believers who do not fight the Muslims due to their faith (Qur’an;60:7-9). Hence during last fourteen centuries, non Muslims had been living in Islamic states as peaceful citizens. If Islam is so considerate and tolerant about the non believers, then what about the believers who happen to be sinners?
The authorities punish the criminals after trial, but the sinners may get away unpunished: “They might be able to hide their crimes from people, but they cannot hide from Allah. He is with them even when they plot by night in words that He cannot approve. Allah encompasses all their actions.”(Qur’an;4:108). Islam accords very high priority in strictly meeting the requirement of clear evidence for execution of the fair justice, even at the cost of crime remaining unpunished: “And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own,- their solitary evidence (can be received) if They bear witness four times (with an oath) by Allah that They are solemnly telling the truth;. And the fifth (oath) (Should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie. But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie; and the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the Truth.”(Qur’an;24:6-9). Thus, the husband's accusation is to be regarded as disproved if the wife solemnly sets her word against his, Inasmuch as this procedure, which is called li'an ("oath of condemnation"), leaves the question of guilt legally undecided, both parties are absolved of all the legal consequences otherwise attending upon adultery , an unproven accusation of adultery - the only consequence being a mandatory divorce. However the liar has to bear consequences of the sin. Such people will be punished by God in hereafter if do not rescind through sincere repentance here. Similarly for example, murder of an innocent human is a crime as well as sin. The murdered may getaway form punishment in the court of law due to lack of evidence, but he can not escape the divine justice in hereafter. In an other case: “But if anyone commits a crime and charges an innocent person with it, he indeed shall bear the guilt of slander and a flagrant sin.”(Qur’an;4:112)
Punishment and forgiveness of sins, is the sole prerogative of All Mighty Allah, any human trying to indulge in such activity is guilty of grave transgression, highly detested by Allah: “Do they not know that it is God alone who can accept the repentance of His servants and is the [true] recipient of whatever is offered for His sake - and that God alone is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace? (Qur’an;9:104). At times He partially reduces the punishment of a crime upon repentance: “Those who accuse a chaste woman of fornication and do not produce four witnesses to support their allegation, shall be flogged with eighty lashes and their testimony shall not be accepted ever after, for they are the ones who are wicked transgressors - except those who repent thereafter and mend their conduct; for Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful”(Qur’an;24:4-5).
Islam recognizes major and minor sins. Holding some one equal to God, or to share in His divinity is considered as the most serious unpardonable sin. Strict monotheism is the cardinal point of Islam. Islam views the whole issue of disobedience and sin in a different way. Its approach is to hold the prospect of forgiveness and reward: “Yea, to Allah belongs all that is In the heavens and on earth: so that He rewards those who do evil, according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good, with what is best. Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) small faults,- Verily Thy Lord is ample In Forgiveness. He knows you well when He brings you out of the earth, and when ye are hidden In your mothers' wombs. Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil.”(Qur’an;53:31-32). A good work is rewarded ten times as against a sin (Qur’an;6:160). According to Islam, a sin is an action which constitute the violation of Islamic teachings. The action may not be more than the utterance of certain words, as in the case of backbiting or perjury. Therefore, any action or word, which involves disobedience to Allah and His messenger (peace be upon him), is a sin. The Islamic law (Shari’a) deals with the sins and crimes, some punishable here and some in hereafter if not sincerely repented upon.

Categories of Sins:

Sinful actions are of two types: the first carry mandatory punishment, which is specified either in the Qur’an, or in the Sunnah; while for others punishment, (in this world) is not specified, for example if some who can afford financially and physically but does not perform Hajj (one of five pillars of Islam), or avoids Saoum (fasting) without prescribed reasons, he is committing a cardinal sin for which is entitled for divine punishment. However such person is not charged legally as long as he believe in them and does not renounce them publicly. The first type, the cardinal sins, include four certain offences, but many scholars include two or three more, so as to make the total seven. The four are homicide, adultery, accusing chaste women of adultery and highway robbery / theft. The other three are, waging war against the Muslim states, apostasy and use of intoxicants. No other offence carries a specified punishment (hadd), except for murder which carries the capital punishment, but the immediate relatives of the victim may, if they choose, pardon the offender. According to some scholars, the cardinal sins include murder, adultery, theft, using intoxicants, gambling, perjury, slandering, withholding Zakah, neglecting prayers, etc. Some modern scholars consider the major sins being the one for which strict exemplary punishments (Hadd) have been specified in Qur’an and Sunnah. It will not be overstatement that, the universally agreed bad, evil acts, crimes also fall in to the category of sin, like, cheating, killing, adultery, backbiting etc. 
The minor sins are readily forgiven when we pray Allah for forgiveness. Cardinal sins (kaba’ir) are also forgivable with the exception of the most serious of them, namely, associating partners with Allah (Qur’an;4:116). The repentance has to be sincere, so as not to repeat them again, followed by charity and performance of virtuous acts. The scholars agree that when a non believer renounce his previous faith, repents and accepts Islam, his previous sins are forgiven and he/she makes a new start: “O Prophet, tell the unbelievers that if they desist from unbelief their past shall be forgiven; but if they persist in sin, let them reflect upon the fate of their forefathers.”(Qur’an;8:30); “Those who accept the true faith and do good deeds shall be forgiven and provided honorable sustenance; but those who strive against Our revelations shall be the inmates of flaming fire.”(Qur’an;22:50). The people of book [Jews and Christians] get double reward on acceptance of Islam [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith;1:97A, 4:255]. 

Chapter-3: Repentance and Mercy

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Anyone who, at the end of any particular day in his life, examines what he/she may have said or done is bound to come to the conclusion that he has committed several sins. If the feeling of guilt lingers with us for a long while, and increases day after day, then life will acquire a very gloomy aspect. We will feel that we have no hope of salvation. Our sins can only increase and they will inevitably do away with our good deeds. But this is not how Islam views the whole issue of disobedience and sin
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Its outlook constantly embrace the prospect of forgiveness and reward due to His Mercy, Allah says:
“Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:54). “Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits the sin of ascribing partners to Him and may forgive anyone else if He so pleases. Who so ascribes partners unto Allah has wandered far astray.”(Qur’an;4:116). “Say: "O my Servants (believers) who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will) before the Penalty comes on you:” (Qur’an;39:53-54); “If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul and then seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;4:110). “However, the one who has repented in this life, and believed, and done good deeds may hope to be among those who will achieve salvation.”(Qur’an;28:67).
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Even in the case of offences that carry mandatory punishment, Islam prefers that the offender follows the alternative course, which is to repent and make amends. The Prophet [peace be upon him] says: “If you do any of these offences and are duly punished for it in this life, the punishment atones for it. If you keep it between you and God, then it is up to God to either forgive or punish you on the Day of Resurrection.” This means that repentance is the key to what one should do after committing any sin. Repentance means acknowledgement of one’s error, genuine regret for having committed it and a firm resolve not to do it again. If one truly repents of one’s sins and prays to God for forgiveness, then God accepts one’s repentance He has promised that and God’s promises always come true.
It may be added here that if the sinful actions involves something due to other people, he should restore to them what is rightfully theirs. Thus a person who commits theft should combine his repentance with returning what he has stolen. A person who slanders another in front of a group of people should contact those people and put the record straight to them, speaking well of the person whom he had slandered.
Intercession of Prophet (pbuh) for Believers:
There is also a hadith related by Abu Hurairah and recorded by Ahmad and Muslim in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; "Every prophet has a special supplication that is answered. Every prophet hastened to make his supplication, but I concealed mine and will use it for my nation on the Day of Resurrection. It will be granted--Allah willing--to whoever dies without associating any partners with Allah." Al-Bukhari also recorded that Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The person who will be the happiest due to my intercession is the one who says, 'There is no god but Allah' sincerely from his heart." [Extracted from Fiqah-us-Sunnah, volume.1, Number.77b].

Virtues Remove Evils:

Any good action or kind word, which we may do or say, will be credited to us. It will earn us a reward and the cumulative effect of our reward will erase at least a commensurate number of our sins. Moreover, a good is given a reward, which is equivalent to at least ten times its value. A sin or an act of disobedience is recorded at its simple value. Therefore, a small act of kindness erases a sin, which is ten times more serious. Allah says: “Indeed virtues remove evils..”(Qur’an;11:114 ); “Repel evil with good” (Qur’an;23:96, 13:22, 41:34).
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Sincere Repentance:

It is again re-emphasized that Allah has left the door always open for repentance of one's sins. For a cardinal sin to be forgiven, a resolve is needed not to indulge in it again. He has also committed Himself to turn with forgiveness to anyone who genuinely turns to Him in repentance. Therefore, when we wrong ourselves by committing a sin, we should turn to Allah and declare our repentance and pray for forgiveness. If we are sincere and genuine, then Allah will undoubtedly forgive us. The mark of genuine repentance is the resolve not to repeat the offense. Even if one yields to temptation again and does the same offense another time, his first repentance is accepted as well as his second, if on both occasions he is honest and sincere and has really regretted committing the offense: “He knows what is in the heavens and on earth: and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal: yes Allah knows well the (secrets) of (all) hearts.”(Qur’an;64:4).
Islam recognizes that human beings, being as they are, may yield to temptation and commit sins. As long as they are not so hardened in sin that they do not bother about the offense at all, forgiveness is possible. Indeed, it is likely, provided that the offense is followed by genuine regret and a clear intention to refrain from doing it again. That concept allows Muslims to have the reassurance that forgiveness is always possible. Islam does not like its followers to go about with the specter of Divine punishment always hanging over their heads. Indeed, it prefers that they always have the prospect of being forgiven. There is another element, which ensures forgiveness. Allah describes His servants with certain qualities including refraining from cardinal sins. He threatens those who indulge in them with punishment, except one who turns to Allah in repentance, believes and does something good. Allah will change the evil deeds of such people into good ones. Allah is indeed much forgiving, merciful. Allah says: "avoid the cardinal of sins and gross indecencies, and are guilty of only small offence, surely for them your Lord will have abundant forgiveness…”(Qur’an;53:32). That Qur’anic verse shows us the way to forgiveness. It is easily achieved if we follow our bad deeds with good ones. The doors of repentance remain open until a person is in the final throes of death. Pharaoh just before drowning, cried out: "I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe” but it was not accepted and his body made as a sign for the successive generations (Qur’an;10:90-92).

Sins, Crimes and Shari’a:

Most of the sins, especially related with the dealings with other human beings fall in to the category of crimes punishable though courts established under Shari’a (Islamic law), those which remain undiscovered will be punished hereafter. In Islamic society, the term law has a wider significance than it does in the modern secular West, because Islamic law includes both legal and moral imperatives. For the same reason, not all-Islamic laws can be stated as formal legal rules or enforced by the courts. Much of it like sin of  backbiting (Qur’an;49:12) not  greeting (Qur’an;24:27) etc depends on conscience alone.
Qur’an in verses 24:30-31, while explaining the required behavior of Muslims in mixed traffic and gatherings of males and females, ordains the believing men and women to lower their gaze, guard their modesty, and to (alway) turn to God in repentance for bliss. Violation of any one of the commandments mentioned these verses constitute a sin (punishable in hereafter), however since punishment has not been prescribed here so in legal terms; a Muslim man staring at women can not be punished in the court of law, though he is committing a sin. Since such violations are possible due to  "man has been created weak" (Qur’an;4:28), the implication of the general call at the end of verse 24:31, to repentance is because no one is ever free of faults and temptations so much so that even the Prophet (pbuh) used to say, "Verily, I turn unto Him in repentance a hundred times every day" (Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari and Bayhaqi, all of them on the authority of 'Abd Allah ibn 'Umar).
While the state can not implement every aspect of Islam through force of law, in the religious matters, the scholars think that state has the responsibility of making arrangements to: 1) establish Salah (regular prayers) and 2) system of Zakah (obligatory charity), 3) enjoining right and forbidding evil, taking inference form Qur’an: “These are the people who, if We establish them (in power, authority) in the land, will establish Salah and pay Zakah, enjoin right and forbid evil; the final decision of all affairs is in the hands of Allah.”(Qur’an;22:41), “…but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5). Some scholars think that implementation in all other matters, should be left to the individuals through persuasion to enjoining good and forbidding evil.
The implementation methodology of injunctions could be deduced from guidance provided by Allah: “Make due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right (amr bil a’rif); and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.”(Qur’an;7:199). While explaining this verse Muhammad Asad writes: “According to Zamakhshari, khudh-al-‘awf means: ‘Accept what comes easily to thee (or ‘what is willingly accorded to thee’) of doings and the nature of men, and make things easy (for them), without causing them undue hardship (khulf); and do not demand of them efforts that may be too difficult for them.’ This interpretation – which has been adopted many other classical commentators as well–is based on the identical explanation of the phrase khudh al ‘awf  by ‘Abd Allah ibn az- Zubayr and his brother ‘Urwah (Bukhari), as well as by A’ishah and, in the next generation, by Hihsam ibn ‘Urwah and Mujahid (Reference; Tibri, Baghawai and Ibn Kathir). Thus, in accordance with the Qur’anic statements that “man has been created weak”(Qur’an;4:28) and that “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear”(Qur’an;2:286, 6:152, 7:42 & 23:62), the believer is admonished to make due allowance for human nature and not to be too harsh with those who err. [May be due to this aspect forgiveness from sin and exemption from Hadd was granted by Allah according to a Hadith: Narrated by AbuUmamah (Sahih Muslim Hadith, 1292)]. This admonition is the more remarkable as it follows immediately upon a discourse on the most unforgivable of all sins- the ascribing of divine powers or qualities to any one or anything but God.” It may also be kept in view that the man is also under trial :“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35).

Use of force as being done by non state groups (Taliban), forcing the men to keep beard, women to cover face, not to attend schools and colleges etc is considered as deviation. It is the responsibility of the well established government in a Muslim society which is competent to execute punishments after fair trial according to Shari’a while taking care of all the requirements of justice. Similarly to the performing Hajj and many other rituals and religious obligations are left to the individual Muslims for which they is answerable to Allah. The Bible also emphasizes similar aspects: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter; 3:10-13)