Definition of evildoing and sinning openly
Fatwa No: 363439

  • Fatwa Date:3-1-2018 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 16, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu. Can you explain what evildoing is and when a believer becomes an evildoer? As for the hadith which says that Allah will not forgove a person who sins openly; does this mean that he will surely be thrown into the Fire, or may Allah forgive him if He wills and is that just a warning from the Prophet, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, due to the severity of this action? So if a muslim looks at a woman and she knows that he is looking at him, is this included in sinning openly? Similarly, if a husband watches tv and his wife knows it, is he sinning openly? What if some Muslims know that someone is committing such-and-such sin and they disclose it but the person keeps on doing it, is this included in the meaning of sinning openly and will he not get Allah's forgiveness? May Allah reward you with good and with Paradise.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

Linguistically speaking, evildoing is the opposite of good-doing. A Muslim is an evildoer/sinner if he deliberately violates the commands of Allah or commits what Allah has prohibited. Whoever deliberately neglects a religious obligation or commits a prohibited act is considered an evildoer/a sinner. Note that sins are not the same; there are major sins, and there are minor ones.

The one who sins openly is an evildoer, and his sin is graver than the one who sins in secret, and he is thus subject to the severe warning mentioned in the texts. However, he is not accused of disbelief because of sinning openly. Such a sinner's good and bad deeds will be weighed on the Day of Judgment; if his good deeds outweigh his bad deeds, he will be saved. If his bad deeds outweigh his good deeds, he will be tormented in proportion to the excess. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {And whoever comes with an evil deed - their faces will be overturned into the Fire...} [Quran 27:90] This refers to whoever comes to Allah with bad deeds and no good deeds to his credit, or whose bad deeds outweigh his good deeds. This is why Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {“Are you recompensed except for what you used to do?”} [Quran 27:90]

The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, explained the meaning of sinning openly with no need for any further explanation. He said that it means that a sinner disobeys his Lord in secret (during the night) and then in the morning says, “Last night, I did such and such.” Although his Lord screened his sin from the people, he removes the screen and exposes his sin. Apparently, the situations mentioned in the question are not examples of sinning openly as defined in the hadith.

Allah knows best.

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