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How Does a Muslim Benefit From Sabr While Suffering?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Burhaan Rahman


It is my understanding that Hadiths related to good deeds expiating sins only apply to minor sins and also that this only happens if major sins have been avoided. So, if the person has a major sin (/repeated minor sin which becomes major) their good deeds do not expiate their minor sins. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

Do the hadiths which speak of suffering in this world freeing one from sin also have this rule? I.e. suffering in this world only cleanses you of minor sins, and if you have major sins, then it will not cleanse you of either of them? Or is it more like earning a reward by showing sabr through suffering, in which case you will earn a reward either way?

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


As Muslims, we must believe in the mercy and forgiveness of Allah. Whether it’s the forgiveness of our minor sins or major sins.

Allah SWT says in the Qu’ran:

اِلَّا مَنۡ تَابَ وَاٰمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًاصَالِحًـا فَاُولٰٓـئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللّٰهُ سَيِّاٰتِهِمۡ حَسَنٰتٍ​ ؕ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ غَفُوۡرًا رَّحِيۡمًا‏ وَمَنۡ تَابَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًـا فَاِنَّهٗ يَتُوۡبُ اِلَى اللّٰهِ مَتَابًا

Except for those who repent, believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do good actions; Allah will turn their sins into good deeds for them because Allah is Most Merciful and Forgiving. And whoever repents and does good actions, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance. [Surah Furqaan verse 70-71]

This verse shows that one of the rewards of repentance and sincere good actions is that Allah will replace the bad deeds of the one who repents with good deeds.

The prominent exegesis of the Qur’an Ibn Kathir, mentions the verses above [Surah Furqaan verse 70-71]:

فإن الله يتوب عليه .وفي ذلك دلالة على صحة توبة القاتل ، ولا تعارض بين هذه وبين آية النساء : ( ومن يقتل مؤمنا متعمدا فجزاؤه جهنم خالدا فيها وغضب الله عليه ولعنه وأعد له عذابا عظيما ) [ النساء : 93 ] فإن هذه وإن كانت مدنية إلا أنها مطلقة ، فتحمل على من لم يتب ، لأن هذه مقيدة بالتوبة ، ثم قد قال [ الله ] تعالى : ( إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ) [ النساء : 48 ، 116 ] .وقد ثبتت السنة الصحيحة ، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بصحة توبة القاتل ، كما ذكر مقررا من قصة الذي قتل مائة رجل ثم تاب ، وقبل منه ، وغير ذلك من الأحاديث

That is; those who repent in this world to Allah from all of those deeds, for then Allah will accept their repentance. This is evidence that the repentance of the murderer is acceptable, and there is no contradiction between this and the Ayah in Surat An-Nisa’: (And whoever kills a believer intentionally) (4:93), because even though this was revealed in Madinah, the meaning is general, and it could be interpreted to refer to one who does not repent because this verse states that forgiveness is only for those who repent (Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him, but He forgives except that to whom He wills) (4:48). And in the authentic Sunnah, it is reported from the Messenger of Allah that the repentance of a murderer is acceptable, as was stated in the story of the person who killed one hundred men and then repented, and Allah accepted his repentance, and other Hadiths. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir exegisis of Surah Furqan verse 70-71]

Murder is the worst action you can ever do (major sin), and Allah mentions after sincere repentance and the continuity of righteous deeds (obeying Allah and his messenger), he forgives it. So YES, the combination of sincere repentance and sincere steadiness in good and righteous deeds does wipe away major sin (not just one or the other).

With regards to the second part of the question regarding suffering in this world freeing one from sin, our beloved prophet (SAW) mentions several ahadeeth e.g.:

مَا مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ تُصِيبُ الْمُسْلِمَ إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ اللَّهُ بِهَا عَنْهُ، حَتَّى الشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا

No calamity befalls a Muslim until Allah expiates part of his sins as a result of it, even if it is as minor as a thorn prick. [Bukhari Hadeeth no: 5640]

مَا يُصِيبُ الْمُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ وَلاَ وَصَبٍ وَلاَ هَمٍّ وَلاَ حُزْنٍ وَلاَ أَذًى وَلاَ غَمٍّ حَتَّى الشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا، إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ

“No tiredness, exhaustion, worry, grief, distress or harm befalls a believer in this world, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allaah expiates some of his sins thereby.” [Bukhari Hadeeth no: 5641]

So when it comes to the expiation of sins through suffering etc. the minor sins are forgiven as no repentance/actions are involved with this.

Only Allah knows best.

Written by Maulana Burhaan Rahman

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

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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