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What is the Muslim definition and concept of sin? Is sin a state of being? Is sin an action? Can one sin accidentally? Can one sin by thought or only by deed?

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All these answers are missing something fundamental: In Islam, a sin is any act of disobedience against the commands of Allah, which may entail punishment in the Hereafter.

In contrast, a good deed (if done sincerely and accepted by the Almighty Allah) will entail reward in the Hereafter.

The crucial piece is that sins vs. good deeds are weighed, and the human being is judged on the difference; that determines where you end up.

There's a lot of discussion around major vs. minor sins, unintentional vs. intentional sins, etc. -- for the purposes of this question, I would only add that no person will bear the burden of another's sin, as is mentioned in this ayah of Qur'an:

Say, "Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ." Surah Al-An'aam, verse 164

It shoudl be implicit from my answer, but just to explicitly answer your questions:

  • Sin is not a state of being (no "Original Sin")
  • Sin is an action that you commit
  • Sins can be committed accidentally, although you are not held accountable for them in that case
  • You can think of committing sins, but you are only held accountable for actions, not thoughts.
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    +1. Just to add - It is not purely on the basis of deeds. It is weighing of deeds + Mercy of Allah. He can forgive one if He wills and he is the most just. – Abdullah Jun 21 '12 at 20:48
  • @ashes999 Your answer is great, but i do not think it answers any of Flimzy's questions. – مجاهد Jun 21 '12 at 20:50
  • @AlUmmat maybe you can suggest some changes then? His question starts with "what is the muslim concept of sin" and I wrote "in Islam, a sin is ..." – ashes999 Jun 21 '12 at 22:22
  • @ashes999 I am talking about the last four questions, you are answering his first question, but not the last four. – مجاهد Jun 21 '12 at 22:28
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    @Ahmadi That might be a shia view. Mustahab literally means something which is liked or loved or desirable. In fiqh, it is that action which is rewarded if done but not punishable if left [i.e. According to the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah]. And that is for everybody, I don't get this high level/low level concept. – Abdullah Jun 22 '12 at 12:56
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A sin in Islam is the act of disobeying Allah's commands intentionally. In Islam there are two kinds of sin and they are:

  • minor sin
  • Major sin

Minor sin like, not lowering your gaze, not dressing properly etc.

Major sins like, shirk/associating something with Allah ,this sin is not forgiven by Allah, this the ultimate sin, stealing etc.

No a sin is not a state of being, as Dynamic said it is more of a concept.

Your sin is forgiven as Dynamic mentioned if

  • it is not your intention

  • it was an accident

yes one can sin accidentally, and without even knowing it. Regarding thought, that is one of the important aspect of tolerance and moderation in Islam. What one’s own nafs (self) says has been forgiven by Allaah,

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has forgiven my ummah for thoughts that cross their minds, so long as they do not speak of them or act upon them.” (Narrated by Muslim, 127)

Your sin is also forgiven, whether it was by intention or not, by doing (Tawbah) Repentance, which is seeking forgiveness making a intention not to go back to the sin and moving on, not letting the sin keep you down.

  • Regarding thought, that is one of the important aspect of tolerance and moderation in Islam. What one’s own nafs (self) says has been forgiven by Allaah, The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has forgiven my ummah for thoughts that cross their minds, so long as they do not speak of them or act upon them.” (Narrated by Muslim, 127) – Abdullah Jun 21 '12 at 20:32
  • Thank you, I learned something new. Will embed your comment in my answer. – مجاهد Jun 21 '12 at 20:37
  • And one more thing, Shirk is not forgiven by Allah if a person dies upon it. Shirk is the Ultimate crime. Major sins are all forgiven by Allah if He wills. But, he doesn't forgive Shirk if a person dies upon it. " Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.[Surat An-Nisā' (4:48)]" – Abdullah Jun 21 '12 at 20:39
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Sin (معصية) literally in Arabic means disobeying.

Sin=

Disobeying any command of God

or

Doing any action, think, talk, word,... that God is not satisfied with it.

or

Not living as God wants.

Sin may not entail punishment in the Hereafter. it depends on spiritual level of Muslim. if he has high level leaving recommended actions (Mustahab) is considered sin for him. for example the sin word is used about prophet (واستغفر لذنبک) which not mean the actions having punishment.

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One can sin in mind and in action. Allah forgives you if:

  • Your intentions are pure.
  • It was an accident.

A sin is not a state of being. It is more of a concept.

Note: This is from personal knowledge. If somebody could add sources, that would be greatly appreciated, as I could not find any.

  • "If somebody could add sources" Shouldn't this be Community Wiki, then? :) – Mateen Ulhaq Jun 25 '12 at 2:58

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