Muslim Teen Chat!

Lesson 7: Big and Small Acts of Disobedience

The Lessons
Questions & Answers (FAQ)
Reader Contributuions
Message Board

Lesson 7


II) Big or Small Acts of Obedience


Although there are books classifying undesirable actions as big or small sins, I advise that we ignore the size of disobedience and we simply stay away from it. We should avoid any inappropriate actions even if they are labeled small sins. Likewise we should do as much as is possible of a good thing even if it is considered small. This was an advice from our Prophet, Muhammad (S.A.W). What we might think to be a small act of obedience may fetch us a big reward from Allah (S.W.A). What could be considered a small act of disobedience may result into a big punishment. For example, one may think that calling someone ugly or fat or dumb are small sins, after all many times people just shrug these remarks off and don’t take them seriously. However, these remarks could count for a big transgression if considered in a broader perspective. Let us look closely at calling someone ugly.


Consider this: an artist produces a less than favorable picture. We come along trying to appreciate art only to be disappointed by the ugly picture. Right there in front of the picture we declare “It’s ugly!”. Directly we are referring to the picture, but indirectly and more importantly we are criticizing the artist. Certainly the picture will not mind our comment, but the artist will. He/she may react angrily or may improve on his style or he may ignore us completely or may even never know about it. Unfortunately, if the artist is Allah (S.W.A), it is bad news. First, there is no chance for him to miss our comment – he knows the innermost secrets of our hearts (87:7). Second, he doesn’t want to be corrected – he knows it all and it is us who know not (15:87). Though we can get away with it sometimes, as in the case of the artist and his picture, it is not so with Allah (S.W.A) – no chance. When we refer unfavorably to natural things as ugly, stupid, too short, too tall, fat, etc. we are criticizing Allah (S.W.A). Here is the evidence,


“Our Lord is he who gave to each (created thing) its form and nature and further gave it guidance (20:50)”


Hence, an act seemingly small may have broad consequences we may not want to face if negative. So avoid any disobedience dubbed small or big. We may not  know the full magnitude of their impact. It is better to be safe than sorry. If we condition ourselves to look for the good in nature, we will steer away from the language of criticism. Criticism diverts our much-needed attention from us to others. Criticism robs us of time and a chance to learn and improve ourselves. Criticism blinds us to the good in others that can help improve us. Let us learn to ignore other people’s idiosyncrasies and devote the time to our personal growth and development. Wrapping up this section, Allah (S.W.A) sheds more light on the matter,


Behold, you received it on your tongues. And said out of your mouths things of which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the site of Allah  (24:15)”


This verse refers to a particular incident in Medina at the time of the prophet, but the lesson is perfectly general.