There are different levels of sinfulness associated with different acts; there are minor sins (sagha'ir), major sins (kaba'ir), and destructive sins. I'm wondering whether there is some comparison to be made between them with regards to which is more sinful. Clearly, a minor sin is less than a major sin, and the major sins that aren't also destructive sins are probably less than destructive sins.
Then some sins are described as carrying the curse of Allah (e.g. producing/handling/ordering/serving/drinking alcohol or being involved in any of that as a messenger or carrier) or the angels (e.g. a wife not making herself sexually available to her husband when he wants it or someone selling defective goods without making the buyer aware), or that Allah declares war on the one who commits it (e.g. riba, see 2:278-2:279).
However, there may be situations in which it is relevant to know which of two minor sins is worse, or which of two major sins is worse, for example: if someone is stranded on a barren island with a box of food, and the only things the box contains that can be eaten are pork, lamb meat labeled as having been slaughtered according to Hindu ritual slaughter practice, and canned vegetables that were mixed with wine. Clearly the Muslim is allowed to eat enough to ensure he survives, but he would be expected to do the least evil in order to do so, so he would have to know which is worse: eating pork, eating that over which a name other than Allah's has been uttered, or consuming alcohol.
Thus the following questions:
- is there a method to determine which of two sins is worse than another?
- what does it mean for a sin to be worse than another? In particular: is it possible that the punishment (akhira or dunya) for the lesser of two sins is heavier than that for the worse sin?
Note: I'm looking for a way to compare sins as categories, i.e. what is generally worse, for example gambling or zina, as opposed to which of two sinful acts is worse, for example Ahmad having drunk wine or Abdullah having defrauded someone.
I'm looking for scholarly references to explicit scholarly opinions on these; recommendations of specialized treatises on these issues are also welcome.