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Persisting on Minor Sins

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Alimah Safiyya-Maryam Ahmed


I have become very confused and anxious recently so I would deeply appreciate a quick reply if possible.

I previously thought that any minor sin which a person continuously repeated become a major sin due to their persisting in it, however, I heard that even if a person returns to the same sin 70 times in a day, so long as they repent sincerely each time, they will not be one of those who persist in sin. Is this true?

Basically what I want to know is, what is the definition of ‘persistence’ (ISRAR) which turns a minor sin into a major sin?

If someone keeps committing a minor sin, but there are periods where they make repentance and firmly intend to never go back to it, but then they still end up going back to it, and the cycle repeats – are they someone who persists in sin because they still haven’t been able to permanently leave the sin? Do they thus become someone who is repeatedly committing a major sin because of that (because persisting in a minor sin makes it major)?

Or is it that it is only when a person never leaves the minor sin and keeps repeating it without repenting even once that they are a person who persists in sin and thus their minor sin turns into a major sin?

(Forgive me if I have sent a similar question previously, I feel like I have but don’t quite remember if I did or exactly how I phrased it, I’m just desperate to know.)

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


The Hadith you have mentioned, “The one who seeks forgiveness has not persisted in sin even if he returns to it seventy times a day” is found in the Sunans of Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi. Imam Tirmidhi [rahimahullah] mentions after it that it does not have a strong chain. However, the meaning is consistent with our understanding of repentance and sin: it refers to a person who sincerely repents after committing a sin but then his nafs overpowers him and he returns to that sin in a moment of weakness, then sincerely repents, etc. The Hadith encourages us to keep seeking repentance and not despair from the mercy and forgiveness of Allah Azzawajjal.

Allah Azzawajjal differentiates between those who persist in sin and those who seek forgiveness in Surah Ale Imran, Verse 135: “They are those who, upon committing an evil deed or wronging themselves, remember Allah and seek forgiveness and do not knowingly persist in sin—and who forgives sins except Allah?” Imam Ibn Kathir [rahimahullah] mentions under this verse that it is those who repent to Allah Azzawajjal soon after committing a sin and don’t persist in it, but if they do fall into the sin again they repent from it.

Therefore, persistence refers to continuing in sin without regretting and repenting.

Only Allah knows best

Written by Alimah Safiyya-Maryam Ahmed

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

حدثنا حسين بن يزيد الكوفي حدثنا أبو يحيى الحماني حدثنا عثمان بن واقد عن أبي نصيرة عن مولى لأبي بكر عن أبي بكر قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما أصر من استغفر ولو فعله في اليوم سبعين مرة قال أبو عيسى هذا حديث غريب إنما نعرفه من حديث أبي نصيرة وليس إسناده بالقوي (سنن الترمذي, حديث ٣٥٥٩)

وَقَوْلُهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلى مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ أَيْ تَابُوا مِنْ ذُنُوبِهِمْ وَرَجَعُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ عَنْ قَرِيبٍ، وَلَمْ يَسْتَمِرُّوا عَلَى الْمَعْصِيَةِ وَيُصِرُّوا عَلَيْهَا غَيْرَ مُقْلِعِينَ عَنْهَا، وَلَوْ تَكَرَّرَ مِنْهُمُ الذَّنْبُ تَابُوا عَنْهُ، كَمَا قَالَ الْحَافِظُ أَبُو يُعْلَى الْمَوْصِلِيُّ فِي مُسْنَدِهِ: حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ أَبِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَغَيْرُهُ، قَالُوا: حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو يَحْيَى عَبْدُ الْحَمِيدِ الْحِمَّانِيُّ عَنْ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ وَاقِدٍ، عَنْ أَبِي نُصَيْرَةَ، عَنْ مَوْلًى لِأَبِي بَكْرٍ، عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ «مَا أَصَرَّ مَنِ اسْتَغْفَرَ وَإِنْ عَادَ فِي الْيَوْمِ سَبْعِينَ مَرَّةً» وَرَوَاهُ أَبُو دَاوُدَ وَالتِّرْمِذِيُّ وَالْبَزَّارُ فِي مُسْنَدِهِ مِنْ حَدِيثِ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ وَاقِدٍ- وَقَدْ وَثَّقَهُ يَحْيَى بْنُ مَعِينٍ بِهِ- وَشَيْخُهُ أَبُو نُصَيْرَةَ الْوَاسِطِيُّ وَاسْمُهُ مُسْلِمُ بْنُ عُبَيْدٍ، وَثَّقَهُ الْإِمَامُ أَحْمَدُ وَابْنُ حِبَّانَ، وَقَوْلُ عَلِيِّ بْنِ الْمَدِينِيِّ وَالتِّرْمِذِيِّ: لَيْسَ إِسْنَادُ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ بِذَاكَ، فالظاهر أنه لِأَجْلِ جَهَالَةِ مَوْلَى أَبِي بَكْرٍ، وَلَكِنَّ جَهَالَةَ مَثَلِهِ لَا تَضُرُّ لِأَنَّهُ تَابِعِيٌّ كَبِيرٌ، وَيَكْفِيهِ نسبته إلى أبي بكر، فَهُوَ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ (تفسير ابن كثير, سورة ال عمران: ١٣٥)

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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