What is the definition of iman? What is the scope of iman? What is the relationship between iman and islam?
A-) Definition of Faith
The term imān lexically means “approving, confirming what a person says, accepting what he says with peace of mind, giving confidence to the other person, believing sincerely and wholeheartedly.” The terms imān and ‘itiqād are synonymous, and they also mean surrender and submission.
As a term, imān refers to approving the religion of Allah by heart, that is, it means believing wholeheartedly that the decrees brought by the Prophet, which are known with certainty, are true and accurate. Accordingly, the truth and the essence of faith is the affirmation of the heart. The affirmation of the heart is the unchanging essential element of faith.
Some of the verses and hadiths showing that faith consists of believing from the heart are as follows: “O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say “We believe” with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews…”, and “Those whom Allah (in His plan) wills to guide, He opens their breast to Islam…”
The Prophet (saw) also said about faith in the heart: “Allah (swt) will admit into Paradise those deserving of Paradise, and He will admit whom He wishes out of His Mercy, and admit those condemned to Hell into the Fire (of Hell). He would then say: See, he whom you find having as much faith in his heart as a grain of mustard, bring him out.”
Accordingly, a person who believes with his heart, but cannot express his faith or who due to various reasons such as being mute or under threat says he has no faith, is considered a believer based on the faith found in his heart. As a matter of fact, ʿAmmār Ibn Yāsir, one of the Companions, during the Meccan period could not stand the torture and the incessant death threats of the Qurayshi polytheists, and although he believed in his heart, he reluctantly had to openly state in public, with his tongue, that he was not a Muslim and that he was leaving the religion of Muhammad. Regarding this incident, in the following Qur’anic verse it is stated that he was still a believer, “Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.”
Māturīdī (d. 333/944) and Imam Ash’arī (d. 324/936), the imams of the two creedal schools of the Ahl al-Sunnah, consider the affirmation of the heart sufficient for faith. However, Imam Māturīdī considers acknowledgment by the tongue necessary only for worldly rulings.
Their proofs are as follows: It is stated in the Holy Qur’an that the words of the hypocrites, who said that they believed with their tongues but did not believe in their hearts, were disregarded. The verses stating that true faith should be rooted in the heart also support this view.
Moreover, in various hadiths, attention is drawn to the significance of the affirmation of the heart in matters of belief. The following incident that happened to Usama Ibn Zayd (d. 54/674) is related to this subject. Usama (r.a) narrates: “The Messenger of Allah sent us in a raiding party. We raided Huraqat of Juhaina in the morning. I caught hold of a man and he said, “There is no god but Allah,” I killed him, thinking that he was lying out of fear. However, this event made me ponder a lot. On my return, I informed the Messenger of Allah (saw) about the incident. The Prophet said to me: “Did you tear his heart in order to find out whether it had professed or not?”
According to Abu Ḥanīfa, his followers, al-Pazdawī (d. 482/1089) and al-Sarakhsī (d. 490/1097), faith is the affirmation of the heart and the acknowledgment of the tongue. This is because when faith is not disclosed by words or behaviors, with the exception of having a valid justification such as being nonverbal or being forced into unbelief, it creates uncertainty about the person. As a matter of fact, Imam Māturīdī also considers acknowledgment with the tongue necessary for the implementation of worldly decrees, since affirmation with the heart is a secret matter that cannot be known.
The following is stated in the Qur’an: “Anyone who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief … on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” In this verse, it is stated that disbelief expressed by the tongue drives a person out of the religion. In comparison, faith should include the acknowledgment of the heart as well as the acknowledgment expressed by the tongue. The Prophet said: “I have been commanded that I should fight against people till they declare that there is no god but Allah, and when they profess it that there is no god but Allah, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.”
Shafiʿi, Malik, Ahmad Ibn Ḥanbal, Ibn Hazm (d. 456/1064), and Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) described faith as follows: “Imān is the affirmation of the heart, the acknowledgment of the tongue, and the fulfillment of the main principles of Islam.” It can be observed in this definition that the scope of faith has been expanded with the addition of fulfilling the “deeds” as well. However, by “deeds”, they meant the perfection of faith and not that anyone who does not act in accordance with the principles laid down will fall into disbelief. According to another view of Imam Ash’arī, besides the confirmation of the heart, imān consists of words and deeds. For this reason, faith increases and decreases.
Allah has set forth some indicators and conditions implying belief. These are what we call the fundamental principles of Islam, which consist of kalimah al-shaḥādah, five daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage, and similar matters. Whoever is seen performing these deeds is judged to be a believer and benefits from worldly provisions such as being allowed to be an imam for the ritual prayers, a man is allowed to marry a Muslim woman, and the funeral prayer is performed over them when they pass on, and they are permitted to be buried in a Muslim cemetery. These deeds give strength to faith, strengthen the light of faith in the heart, save people from torment, and assist them to reach Allah’s grace and help.
B-) The Relationship Between Concepts of Iman And Islam
The term Islam lexically means to obey, to surrender, to be a Muslim, and to enter Islam. As a term, it means submitting to Allah, confirming with the heart what the Prophet declared in the name of religion, expressing it with the tongue, living in accordance with what is believed, and manifesting that all these are accepted and adopted in words and actions. Islam is also used in the sense of “religion”. The religion of Allah is not only called “dīn (religion)”, but also “millah, shari’ah, Islam and the religion of Islam.” On the other hand, the term shari’ah is also used to express the part of religious rulings pertaining to worship and actions.
Imam Māturīdī (d. 333/944) says the following on this subject: “Although imān and Islam are mentioned separately in the Book and the Sunnah, in reality, imān and Islam are used in the same sense. For all creedal sects are in agreement that a person who leaves imān will also leave the boundaries of Islam.” As a matter of fact, imān and Islam are used in the same sense in the following verse, “…You can make none hear the truth except those who believe in Our revelations, fully submitting to Allah.”
However, sometimes imān and Islam are used with different meanings. As a matter of fact, although the hypocrite does not have faith in his heart, he may say that he believes with his tongue, and may even appear to perform some acts of worship for the sake of appearance. The concepts of imān and Islam are used with different meanings in the following Qur’anic verse, “The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “You have no faith; but you (only) say, “We have submitted our wills to Allah,” For not yet has faith entered your hearts…” This verse is referring to hypocrites who with their tongues may say that they believe but, in their hearts, they do not truly believe.
‘Umar (ra) narrates the answers given by the Prophet (saw) to the questions of what imān, Islam and iḥsān mean: “One day we were sitting in the company of Allah’s Apostle (saw) when there appeared before us a man dressed in pure white clothes, his hair extraordinarily black. There were no signs of travel on him. None amongst us recognized him. At last, he sat with the Apostle (saw) He knelt before him placed his palms on his thighs, and said:
“Muhammad, inform me about al-Islām.” The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“Al-Islām implies that you testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and you establish prayer, pay Zakāt, observe the fast of Ramadan, and perform pilgrimage to the (House) if you are solvent enough (to bear the expense of) the journey.” He (the inquirer) said:
“You have told the truth. Inform me about al-imān (faith).” He (the Holy Prophet) replied:
“That you affirm your faith in Allah, in His angels, in His Books, in His Apostles, in the Day of Judgment, and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.” He (the inquirer) said:
“You have told the truth.” He (the inquirer) again said:
“Inform me about al-Iḥsān.” He (the Holy Prophet) said:
“That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for though you don’t see Him, He, verily, sees you.”
After these questions, the man who later asked about the signs of the Dooms Day got up and left. When they looked for him he had disappeared. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to the Companions who were wondering who he was: “He was Gabriel, he came to teach you your religion.”
Al-Zabīdī (d. 1205/1791) states that imān and Islam are sometimes used synonymously and sometimes in a different sense, and clarifies the issue as follows: Islam means surrender. Surrendering happens either by heart or verbally or through the organs and limbs. The “belief” with the heart consists of “acknowledgment” with words, and “worship” with the organs and limbs. The most superior of these three forms is the one with the heart, which is also called “imān (faith)”. The heart’s submission to the principles of belief consists of “Islam”. Words and deeds are the result and fruit of this obedience hidden within the heart. Just as a tree constitutes a whole with its fruit, the term Islam also expresses this as a whole.
In conclusion, since acknowledgment by the tongue is not a main pillar, it ceases to be a requirement in case of an exemption such as being non-verbal or being under duress. If a person who is forced does not deny his faith with his heart, but only with his tongue, he will not be considered to have left his faith. As stated earlier, when the Meccan polytheists tortured ‘Ammār Ibn Yāsir (d. 34/657), he could not stand it and denied Islam with his tongue. Yet, when his situation was conveyed to the Messenger of Allah (saw), he said about ‘Ammār: “Faith has settled in all the particles of ‘Ammār”, then turning to ‘Ammār, he said, “If they force you again, you can deny faith with your tongue.” Such a concession was given by Allah Almighty in the face of compulsion for those whose hearts are full of faith, and the Prophet (saw) demonstrated its application. It is also important to note that one of the two persons who were threatened with death by the polytheists was killed because he did not openly apostatize, and the other was saved by publicly accepting unbelief. The Messenger of Allah said about the one who was killed because he preferred aẓīmah: “He is the best of the martyrs and my friend in Paradise.”
C-) The Relationship Between Faith And Deed:
Deed means work, behavior, worship, good deed, and action based on the human being’s will. All conduct, actions, and good deeds that are in accordance with the consent of Allah and His Messenger be they religious, individual, moral duties, or acts of worship, are called “good deeds (‘amal al-ṣāliḥ)”. Actions that do not comply with Allah’s consent are called “unrighteous deeds (‘amal ghayr al-ṣāliḥ)”. As a matter of fact, in Noah’s flood, when Noah prayed for his son, who was a person of disbelief, to be saved from drowning, Almighty Allah said: “O Noah! He is not of your family: For his conduct is unrighteous.”
According to the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah, deeds are not an integral part of faith. That is, as long as a person does not consider his sin to be ḥalāl, he is considered a believer and is not deemed to have left his religion due to lack of action. He will be accepted as a rebellious and sinful servant. If Allah wills, He will forgive that servant, if He wills, He will punish him. The evidence on which this view is based is as follows:
1) There are many verses in the Qur’an that begin with “Those who believe and do righteous deeds…” In those verses, faith and action are mentioned separately. If deeds were a part of belief, it would not be necessary to say “those who believe”, and also “those who do good deeds”.
2) In some verses, it is stated that major sin can be found together with faith. “If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah…” In this verse, the two groups of believers who attack each other and commit the act of killing, which is considered a major sin, are called “believers”. This shows that committing a ḥarām unless it is believed to be ḥalāl will not lead a person out of religion.
3) In some Qur’anic verses, belief is mentioned as a prerequisite for an action to be valid, for example, “ But whoever does good and is a believer will have no fear of being wronged or denied [their reward].” A valid faith should include believing in Allah, angels, books, prophets, the Last Day, destiny, and that good and evil come from Allah.
It is stated in the Qur’an: “By (the token of) Time (through the ages), verily man is in loss, except such as have faith and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.”, and “As to those who reject Faith, and die rejecting, never would be accepted from any such as much gold as the earth contains, though they should offer it for ransom. For such is (in store) a penalty grievous, and they will find no helpers.”
On the other hand, there is a close relationship between deeds and faith. Faith without action is not enough to attain salvation and happiness in the Hereafter. The light of faith that settles in the heart must be protected, nourished, and strengthened against external influences. This is achieved through acts of worship and other good deeds.
Human beings were sent to earth not only so that they could be held responsible for faith but also to serve Allah by doing righteous deeds. The following is stated in the Qur’an: “I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.”, and “He Who created death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed…”
Good deeds are divided into two kinds. The first type, such as bodily acts of worship, are deeds that benefit the person who performs the act himself and helps him to grow and develop. Actions such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, participation in the holy war, and fighting against unbelief are of this nature. The second type includes the deeds that benefit others, such as zakāt and charity.
D-) Increase And Decrease of Faith:
Faith does not increase or decrease in terms of what is to be believed, namely the articles of faith. A person is not considered a believer unless he believes and approves of all of the articles that are required to be believed. In this regard, there is no difference between a knowledgeable and ignorant person, be they male or female.
Yet, faith can differ in its strength and weakness, for some people’s faith may be strong, while others may be weak. It can be a belief based only on hearing or seeing, or it can be believed by wholeheartedly living it. As a matter of fact, Prophet Ibrahim, in order to strengthen his belief, wanted to understand how Allah would resurrect the dead. When Allah asked him “Have you no faith?”, Ibrahim (as) replied, “Yes I do, but just to reassure my heart (by seeing it with my own eyes).” Here, it is clear that his faith will grow stronger when he sees the resurrection.
It is stated in various verses of the Qur’an that faith can increase: “…As for those who believe, (each descended chapter) has increased their faith.”, “It is He who brings peace to the hearts of the believers so that they may increase their faith even more…”, and “For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened…” These Qur’anic verses and the hadith of the Prophet about the faith of ‘Ammār Ibn Yāsir, which we have mentioned above, and similar ones, demonstrate that there are different ways that the power of faith can settle within the heart of a person.
E-) Ijmali and Tafsili Belief
The collective belief in all of the things that the Prophet brought and informed us about from Almighty Allah is called “ijmālī belief.” What is meant by “ijmālī belief” is a concise and complete belief in all that should be believed in without going into details. This concise and complete belief is found summarized in the declarations of tawḥīd and shahādah.
The declaration of tawḥīd is the statement of: “Lā ilaha illallah Muhammadun Rasulullah (There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is His messenger)”. The declaration of shahādah is the statement of “Ashhadu an lā ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasūluh (I believe and testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger).” A person who utters the declaration of the shahādah, knowing its meaning and affirming it with his heart, changes his status regardless of his previous religion or belief system and joins the ranks of the believers.
A person who recognizes Allah as the One and Unique God and accepts Muhammad as His messenger is deemed to have accepted all the other principles of faith and the religion brought by the Prophet altogether. Accordingly, affirming Muhammad means affirming all the decrees he brought collectively. Although the collective (ijmālī) belief in this way is sufficient, it is still necessary to learn the principles of faith and all the other necessary provisions of Islam.
Tafṣīlī belief, on the other hand, is to consciously affirm the things conveyed by the Prophet (saw) separately. Although the collective (ijmālī) belief is sufficient to be saved from unbelief, one’s learning and approving of the fundamentals of belief and acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and zakāt, all the issues that are established by clear (muḥkam) verses and mutawātir hadiths, and the provisions of command, prohibition, and ḥalāl-ḥarām issues, are the most important aspects of tafṣīlī (detailed) belief. As a result, tafṣīlī (detailed) belief consists of obligatory having faith in all the rulings related to creed, acts of worship, practice, and morality.
F-) Conditions For The Validity of Faith:
The following three conditions are necessary for the belief to be valid and for it to lead to salvation in the hereafter.
1) Belief should not take place at the time of despair (ya’s) in one’s worldly life. For instance, it is not considered valid for a person who was not a believer before, to realize at his deathbed and at his last breath the torment he will suffer, and therefore say “I believe” when he has lost all his hope of life. For in such a case, the person cannot be deemed to have made a decision with his mind and free will. The following is stated in the Qur’an, “But when they saw Our Punishment, they said: “We believe in Allah, the one Allah and we reject the partners we used to join with Him.” But their professing the faith when they (actually) saw Our Punishment was not going to profit them. (Such has been) Allah’s way of dealing with His servants (from the most ancient times). And even thus did the Rejecters of Allah perish (utterly)!”
2) A believer should not behave in a way that denies one of the principles of faith. Accordingly, one cannot be considered a believer if he denies the prophethood of Muhammad (saw) even though he has confirmed all the other prophets. Moreover, just like if a person denies a certain farḍ (obligatory act) or worships idols voluntarily, one who denies the oneness of Allah also leaves the religion. In Islam, belief is considered as one whole aspect, and denying a principle that is a required belief means to deny the whole of the religion.
Allah Almighty says about those who believe in a part of the religion and reject another part of it, “Those who deny Allah and His messengers, and (those who) wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying: “We believe in some but reject others”: And (those who) wish to take a course midway, They are in truth (equally) unbelievers; and we have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment.”
3) A believer should neither despair nor be overconfident of Allah’s mercy. He should always be in a state between apprehension and hope. Just as it is not permissible for a believer to fall into the conviction that “I am going to Hell” by giving up hope in Allah due to the multitude of sins he has committed, or the fact that his deeds have gone terribly wrong, it is also not appropriate to feel excessive confidence by saying “I am going to Paradise” due to the good deeds he has done. Because, as long as a person lives, he has the power and ability to direct his will, to turn to good deeds, and to turn them to his favor, even if he in the past carried out many bad deeds. This is also true the other way around.
The following is stated in the Qur’an: “…truly no one despairs of Allah’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.”, and “…but no one can feel secure from the plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin!”
G-) Kinds of People According To Their Beliefs:
People are divided into the following groups in terms of their affirmation of faith, denial, and deeds:
1) Mu’min (Believer): A mu’min or believer is a person who believes in Allah, the Prophet, and the things that the Prophet informs us about and the things that reach us with definitive proofs. Believers will enter Paradise in the Hereafter and will receive many blessings there. Sinful believers, on the other hand, will enter Paradise after they undergo the punishment they merit in Hell. There are many verses in the Qur’an stating that the believers will ultimately stay in Paradise forever.
2) Kāfir (Unbeliever): Kāfir is a person who does not believe in Allah and His Prophet and denies a decree that is certain to be part of the religion. The word “munkir (one who denies)” is also used in the same sense. A person who does not deny Allah, but associates any being or a force of nature as a partner (shirk) to Him is called mushrik (polytheist or one who associates partners to Allah). Shirk and kufr are two closely related concepts. However, kufr has a more general meaning and shirk has a more specific meaning. Such a person is also considered a kāfir. The Christians who accept Jesus as God, the son of God or one of the three deities (trinity), and any of the Jews who say that Uzair is the son of God are described as both polytheists (mushrik) and deniers (kāfir) in the Qur’an.
Associating partners with Allah is one of the major sins. In the verse below, Allah reveals that He can forgive all kinds of sins except shirk. “Allah forgives not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgives whom He pleases other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, has strayed far, far away (from the right).”
3) Munāfiq (Hypocrite): Those who do not believe or approve of the principles of Islam that should be believed with the heart, but who say verbally that they believe just to deceive believers are called “munāfiq (hypocrite).” In short, hypocrites are people whose internal views and external appearance are different, their words are not in line with what is in their hearts. Since they define themselves as Muslims in society, it is not possible to recognize them. For that reason, they are able to harm the Muslim community more than the people of disbelief.
A hypocrite is treated as a Muslim in terms of worldly matters. The animals that they slaughter can be eaten, they inherit, they may marry Muslims, and their funeral prayer is performed over them. But they will be treated like disbelievers in the hereafter. For in the various verses of the Qur’an, it is stated that hypocrites are disbelievers, and it is even stated that they will be found in the lowest level of Hell. The following is stated in the Qur’anic verses: “Of the people, there are some who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day’; but they do not (really) believe.”, “The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire: no helper wilt thou find for them.”, and “That is because they believed, then they rejected Faith: So a seal was set on their hearts: therefore they understand not.”
4) Murtad (Apostate): A murtad is a person who once was a Muslim and later left the religion. Such an apostasy can sometimes arise by denying one or some of the definitive rulings of Islam. There are many verses in the Qur’an about those who apostatize. The following is stated in a Qur’anic verse: “And they will not stop fighting you until they turn you away from your faith—if they can. And whoever among you renounces their own faith and dies a disbeliever, their deeds will become void in this life and in the Hereafter. It is they who will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever.”
5) Fāsiq: A fāsiq is a person who acts against Allah’s orders, is sinful, has a bad temper, and has a habit of doing evil deeds. As a term of Islamic law, fāsiq is defined as follows: A person who abandons the obedience to Allah and rebels against Him, in other words, commits a major sin or persists in carrying out minor sins, and leaves the right path.
Fisq (sinning) can be divided into three groups in general:
- Sinning sometimes, while considering it as bad.
- Committing a sin persistently.
- To commit a sin by denying that it is ḥarām and bad. This last type of sin entails disbelief and such a person has therefore left the faith. For example; Drinking alcohol by denying that it is ḥarām, in other words considering it ḥalāl, is of this nature.
In some verses of the Qur’an, fisq is used in an absolute sense. Examples of this are the fisq in pilgrimage, eating the meat of an animal slaughtered without mentioning the name of Allah, or the state of fisq into which a person slandering a Muslim falls. In some other verses, fisq and unbelief are used synonymously. “We have certainly sent down clear verses to you. No one denies these except sinners.”
6) ‘Āṣī (Rebellious): It means a sinful person who does not fulfill Allah’s orders, and rebels against Him. This word is used in the Qur’an in the sense of a disobedient and rebellious people who go against the orders of Allah and His Messenger. Allah Almighty says in one verse: “But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire, to abide therein: And they shall have a humiliating punishment.” The sin committed by a rebellious one may be in the nature of a minor or major sin (kabira).
H-) Major Sins
Major sins, which are expressed with the word kabīra (plural kabāir) in Arabic, are sins that are related to a threatening Qur’anic verse or a sound hadith, which can cause the perpetrator to be punished in this world or in the hereafter.
According to the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah, a person who commits a major sin is considered a sinful believer as long as he does not deny that the sin in question is ḥarām. In brief, a great sin does lead to a person leaving his or her religion. If he or she turns to the appropriate way of repentance according to the situation and type of sin, Almighty Allah may forgive him or her.
In a hadith, major sins are mentioned as three. “Shall I tell you about the greatest of the major sins? They are; to associate partners with Allah, to disobey parents, and to bear false witness.” In another hadith, this number rises to seven: “Avoid seven destructive sins. They are associating partners with Allah, performing magic, killing people unjustly, eating the property of orphans, eating riba (interest), fleeing from war, and slandering a chaste and believing woman for adultery.” It is observed in other hadiths that the following are added to these seven sins: adultery, perjury, sinning in the Masjid al-Ḥarām, and taking a false oath.
A person who commits a major sin, other than disbelief and polytheism, does not become an unbeliever due to this sin unless he considers it ḥalāl. He is simply considered a sinful and rebellious believer. The door of repentance is open for this person until he dies. If Allah wills, He will forgive him in the hereafter and allow him intercession. The following is stated in the Qur’an: “Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases…”, and “If you avoid the great sins, which you have been enjoined to shun, We shall efface your [minor] bad deeds, and shall cause you to enter an abode of glory.”
It has been reported that the Qur’anic verse that gives the most hope to the human being regarding Allah’s forgiveness is the following one: “Say: ‘O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of Allah’s mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!’” According to what is reported from Ibn Abbas, the Qur’anic verses stating that murder and adultery can be forgiven for those who repent and do righteous deeds was a response to a group of polytheists who came to prophet Muhammad (saw) in Medina informing him that they had committed many murders and perpetrated adultery. So, they asked if there was a way for them to reach salvation. It was at this point that the above verse was revealed.
This Qur’anic verse states that major sins other than polytheism also fall within the scope of repentance. However, this cannot be construed as a temptation or persistence to carry out sinful deeds. Finally, Allah’s mercy is wide, no matter what the person’s sin is, one should never lose hope in Him.
According to the narration from Abu Dharr al-Ghifari (r.a), the following conversation took place between him and the Messenger of Allah (saw). The Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever says that there is no god but Allah and dies on this belief will enter Paradise.” Abu Dharr said, “Even if that person commits adultery or steals?” The Prophet (saw) replied, “Yes, even if he commits adultery or stealing, he will enter Paradise.” When Abu Dharr repeated the question three times and got the same answer, in his fourth question, the Messenger of Allah said, “Even if Abu Dharr does not like this situation, that person will enter Paradise.”
Regarding the sins, other than the major sins that have been explained above, various hadiths have been narrated about the fact that one prayer is an atonement for the minor sins until the time of the next prayer, and this is also the case for the Friday prayer, which is an atonement for minor sins, until the next Friday prayer. Similarly, there are numerous narrations in hadiths that point out that diseases, the deed of charity, and other similar good deeds can bring about forgiveness for sins.
 Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-‘Arab, XIII, 21. Al-Mā’ida, 5: 41. Al-Anʿām, 6: 125. Al-Bukhari, Imān, 15; Muslim, Imān, 82. Al-Naḥl, 16: 106. Al-Mā’ida, 5: 41; For other verses see Yusuf, 12: 7; al-Anʿām, 6: 125; al-Naḥl, 16: 106; Al-Hujurāt, 49: 14. See al-Naḥl, 16: 106; Al-Mujadala, 58: 22. Muslim, Imān, 41; Abu Dawud, Jihād, 95; Ibn Maja, Fitan, 1. Ali Qāri, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, Egypt, 1323 H. p. 10, 76 ff.; al-Zabidī, Sharh al-Ihyā, Egypt, n.d., II, 241; Māturīdī, Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, ed. Fathullah Ḥulayf, Beirut 1970. p. 380 ff., Ibn Abidīn, Radd al-Mukhtar, Beirut, n.d., III, 283. Al-Naḥl, 16: 106. Al-Bukhari, Jihād, 102; Muslim, Imān, 8; Abu Dawud, Jihād, 104. Al-Ash’arī, Maqalāt, I, 293 ff.; al-Jurjānī, Sharḥ al-Mawāqif, Istanbul, 1311 H. III, 247; al-Zabidī, ibid, II, 243; Ibn Taymiyya, Majmū al-Fatawā, Riyad, 1381-1386. H., III, 151, VII, 644; A. Saim Kılavuz, İman Küfür Sınırı, Istanbul 1982, p. 23. Al-Jurjānī, ibid, III, 246 ff. Māturīdī, ibid, p. 398. Al-Naml, 27: 81. Al-Hujurāt, 49: 14. Al-Bukhari, Imān, 37; Muslim, Imān, 1. Al-Zabidī, ibid, II, 235, 239; A. Saim Kılavuz, ibid, p. 43. Al-Sarakhsī, Mabsūt, Cairo 1324-1331, XXIV, 43. al-Naḥl, 16: 106. Abdulazīz al-Bukharī, Kashf al-Aṣrār, Istanbul 1308, II, 636, 637; al-Sarakhsī, ibid, XXIV, 144. Hūd, 11: 46. See al-Baqara, 2: 277; Yunus, 10: 9; Hūd, 11: 23; al-Ankabūt, 29: 7, 9, 58; Luqmān, 31: 8; al-ʿAṣr, 103: 3. Al-Hujurāt, 49: 9; See also al-Baqara, 2: 178; al-Taḥrīm, 66: 8. Ṭa Ha, 20: 112. Al-ʿAṣr, 103: 1-3. Āl ʿImrān, 3: 91. Al-Dhariyat, 51: 56. Al-Mulk, 67: 2. Elmalılı, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, VIII, 6079, 6080. Al-Baqara, 2: 260. Al-Tawba, 9: 124. Al-Fatḥ, 48: 4. Al-Anfāl, 8: 2. Al-Mu’min, 40: 84-85. Al-Nisā, 4: 150-151. Yusuf, 12: 87. Al-Aʿraf, 7: 99. See al-Mā’ida, 5: 5, 72; al-Tawba, 9: 30; al-Baqara, 2: 21. Al-Nisā, 4: 116. Al-Māturīdī, Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, Beirut 1970, p. 374, 375. Al-Baqara, 2: 8; For more information see al-Naḥl, 16: 106; Al-Hujurāt, 49: 14; al-Munāfiqūn, 63: 22; al-Tirmidhī, Qadar, 6; Ibn Maja, Muqaddimah, 13. Al-Nisā, 4: 145. Al-Munāfiqūn, 63: 3. Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-‘Arab, III, 173 ff.; Alamgiriyya, al-Fatawā al-Hindiyya, Bulaq 1310. H., II, 253; Ibn Abidīn, Radd al-Mukhtar, Beirut, n.d., III, 283 Al-Baqara, 2: 217; See 3: 86-91, 106; 4: 89, 115; 5: 52-54; 16: 106-107; 47: 25-28, 32; 60: 11. al-Isfahanī, Mufradāt, p. 572; al-Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr, II, 91; Elmalılı, Hak Dini Kur’an Dili, I, 282. Al-Baqara, 2: 197. Al-Anʿām, 6: 121. Al-Nūr, 24: 4. Al-Baqara, 2: 99; Yunus, 10: 33; Al-Mā’ida, 5: 81. Al-Nisā, 4: 14; See al-Aḥzāb, 33: 36; Maryam, 19: 44; al-Jinn, 72: 23; Al-Hujurāt, 49: 7. Al-Bukhari, Adab, 6; Muslim, Imān, 38Al-Tirmidhī, Tafsir, 5. Al-Bukhari, Waṣāya, 23; Muslim, Imān, 38; Abu Dawud, Waṣāya, 10. See al-Bukhari, Adab, 6, Ayman, 16; Muslim, Imān, 38; Abu Dawud, Waṣāya, 10; al-Tirmidhī, Tafsir, 5. Al-Nisā, 4: 48, 116. Al-Nisā, 4: 31; See al-Najm, 53: 32. Al-Zumar, 39: 52. Al-Furqān, 25: 68-70. Al-Bukhari, Tafsir, 39/ 1. Al-Bukhari, Tawḥīd, 33; Riqāq, 16; Muslim, Imān, 40; al-Tirmidhī, Imān, 18.