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The Bitter Consequences of Sin

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim

An explanation of the poisonous effects that sins and acts of disobedience have upon the heart.

Al-Imām Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله mentioned:1 It is essential to know that sins and acts of disobedience are, necessarily, very harmful. Their harm effects upon the heart are akin to the harmful effects of poison upon the body, though the effects vary in their levels and intensities. So is there any evil or harm in this world, or in the Hereafter, except that it is due to sins and disobedience? So what was it that expelled the two parents (i.e. Ādam and Eve) from Paradise; the home of delight, bliss, splendor and joy; to the home of pain, sorrow and misfortune?

What was it that expelled Iblīs from the heavenly realms, causing him to be rejected and cursed; transforming him both inwardly and outwardly, so that his form became ugly and hideous – his inner form more hideous than his outer – replacing his nearness with remoteness, mercy with curse, his beauty with ugliness, from being in Paradise to being in the blazing Fire, from having faith to being an unbeliever, from having the patronage and friendship of Allāh, the Praiseworthy Guardian, to being the greatest enemy and opponent, from glorifying and praising Him to committing acts of unbelief, shirk, lies, deception and shamelessness, from being adorned with faith to being clothed in the garment of unbelief, sinfulness and disobedience, causing him to reach the deepest depths of despicability, plunging down in the sight of Allāh as far as it is possible to plunge; causing the anger of Allāh the Exalted to be upon him, making him an outcast – despised and humiliated – so that he became a leader for every sinner and criminal, becoming pleased with leadership for himself, after having reached the station of worship and nobility? O Allāh, we seek refuge in You from opposing Your command and falling into what You have forbidden. What was it that caused the people of the earth to drown, to the extent that the water rose above even the mountaintops?

What was it that caused the violent winds to overcome the people of ‘Aad, such that it flung them down dead upon the face of the earth – as if they were lopped-off palm trunks – and it destroyed whatever dwellings and crops it came across, thus making them an example for nations until the Day of Resurrection? What was it that caused the piercing shrieks to be set loose upon the Thamūd people, such that their hearts were severed within their very bodies, by which they all perished? What was it that caused the town of the homosexuals to be raised up and turned upside down, such that they were all destroyed? Then stones from the sky pelted down upon them so that they suffered a comibned punishment, the like of which was not given to any other nation! And for their brothers will be its like, and it is not far off from the transgressors! What was it that caused the clouds of punishment to overcome the people of Shuʿayb, such that when these clouds were above their heads it rained scorching fire upon them?

What was it that caused the Pharaoh and his people to be drowned in the ocean, and caused their souls to be transported to the Hellfire, so their bodies drowned and their souls burned?

What was it that caused Qārūn, his dwelling, wealth and family to sink down into the earth? What was it that caused the destruction of those generations after Noah, and how they were afflicted with various punishments that caused their annihilation? What was it that caused the destruction of the companions of Yā Sīn, with the clamorous shout, which destroyed them? What caused there to be sent against the Children of Isrāʿīl enemies of great strength and might, plundering their homes, killing their men, enslaving their women and children, burning their dwellings, seizing their wealth, and then returning again a second time, destroying what was rebuilt after the first onslaught? What was it that caused the various types of punishments to be set loose upon the Children of Isrāʿīl? Killing them, enslaving them, destroying their land and at times causing them to be oppressed by kings, whilst at another time causing them to be transformed into apes and swine – and finally the Lord took an oath that:

لَيَبْعَثَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ مَن يَسُومُهُمْ سُوءَ الْعَذَابِ ۗ ﴿١٦٧﴾

“He would certainly keep on sending against them, until the Day of Resurrection, those who will inflict them with a humiliating torment.”
[al-Aʿrāf, 7:167]

Imam Aḥmad said: al-Walīd Ibn Muslim related to us; that Ṣafwān Ibn ʿAmr related to us; that ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Ibn Jubayr Ibn Nufayr related; from his father, who said: “When Cyprus was conquered and its people were dispersed and they started weeping to each other, I saw Abū Dardāʾ sitting alone and weeping. So I said to him: O Abū Dardāʾ! What makes you weep on this day that Allāh has granted strength and honor to Islām and its people? So he said: Woe be to you O Jubayr! How insignificant the creation becomes to Allāh when they turn away from His command.

In front of us is a nation who were evidently powerful and who had dominion, yet they abandoned Allāh’s Command, so look what has become of them.2

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim


ʿAlī Ibn al-Ja’d said: Shu’bah Ibn ’Amr Ibn Murrah informed us; I heard Abū al-Bukhtarī say: I was informed by someone, who heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying: “The people will not perish until they have no excuse left for themselves.”3 Imām Aḥmad (d.241H) reports in his Musnad, from the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah, who said: I heard Allāh’s Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) saying: “When acts of disobedience become widespread in my Ummah, then Allāh may send punishment upon them all from Himself.” So I said: O Allāh’s Messenger! Even if there are righteous people amongst them that day? So he replied: “Indeed!” So I said: How will that be? He replied: “They will be afflicted with what afflicts the people, then they will move on to the forgiveness of Allāh and His good pleasure.”4


  1. Al-Dāʾ wa-al-Dawāʾ (pp. 65-67)
  2. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Imām Aḥmad in al-Zuhd(1/86) with an authentic chain of narration.
  3. Ṣaḥīḥ:Reported by Aḥmad (4/260) and Abū Dāwūd (no.4347) with an authentic chain of narration.
  4. Reported by Aḥmad (6/304) and one of its narrators is Layth Ibn Abī Sulaym, who is weak. However, the ḥadīth is established due to further supporting narrations. Consult Silsilah al-Aḥādīth al-Ṣaḥīḥah (no. 1372) of Shaykh al-Albānī.

Published: June 21, 2007
Edited: February 19, 2022


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Omar Abdelkader

Regarding sins, Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله also mentioned:

“Sins to the heart are in the status/rank of poison [to the body], if they do not destroy it (i.e the heart) they weaken it, and they must, and if it becomes weak, it shall not be able to overcome the diseases. The doctor of the heart ʿAbdullāh ibn al-Mubārak said:

‘I have seen sins destroying the hearts

And they could cause humiliation if insisted upon

And in leaving off sins lies the life of the hearts

And it is better for your soul if you disobey it’”

📚 [«Zād al-Maʿād fī Hadī Khayr al-ʿIbād» (4/186)]

Last edited 2 years ago by Omar Abdelkader

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