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Monday 19 Dhu Al-Qa`dah 1445 H - May 27, 2024 G

The Ways of Salvation from Sins
and the Expiation of Misdeeds


All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

The happiness of the believer in life here below and in Hereafter lies in how he disciplines and purifies his soul from sin. The reason for his soul's purity is the reward of his faith and good deeds, and his unhappiness is dependent on his soul's corruption and wickedness. In addition, the cause of his soul’s mischief and corruption are his disbelief and sins. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا. وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا﴾ [الشمس: 9-10].

The meaning of the verse:

Indeed he succeeds who purifies his ownself (i.e. obeys and performs all that Allah ordered, by following the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism and by doing righteous good deeds) And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself (i.e. disobeys what Allah has ordered by rejecting the true Faith of Islamic Monotheism or by following polytheism, etc. or by doing every kind of evil wicked deeds)﴿ [Ash-Shams (The Sun):9-10].

 For this reason, the believer should induce himself to attach to good morals that purify his soul, that cleanse its impurities and wickedness.

He should also prevent his soul from all that corrupts it as regards sayings and deeds, or bad beliefs that pervert it. These are the sins that no human being can avoid, since the human beings are naturally liable to sins though they strive to shun them. By so doing, they aspire to perfection that cannot be achieved except by those preserved by Allah from sins among those given prophecy among the sons of Adam. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم“By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have forgiven them”(1).

The enlightened Sharia has explained the legal ways to follow in order to get rid of sins and reform the soul, so that it becomes worthy of Allah’s favor and satisfaction. These ways of expiation are four:

1) Repentance: repentance is the beginning of a pious individual and his end; it has to accompany him until his death.

In fact, repentance consists in regretting one’s committed sins and leaving them at once, resolving to not commit them again and to freeing oneself from people’s rights. Repentance is a permanent duty to every Muslim according to his ability. It is required and forbidden to postpone, whether the committed sin is major or minor, because it is the way and means of success.

Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ﴾ [النور: 31].

The meaning of the verse:

And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful﴿ [An-Nûr (The Light): 31].

Allah عزَّ وجلَّ linked [in this verse] success to repentance; a relation of cause and effect; then, He used the particle “La`alla” (may) which indicates in Arabic hope. The meaning of the verse, thus, is that only those who are penitent who expect success.

In fact, sincere repentance ends the sin and erases it. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللهِ تَوْبَةً نَصُوحًا عَسَى رَبُّكُمْ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ﴾ [التحريم: 8].

 The meaning of the verse:

O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)﴿ [At-Tahrîm (The Prohibition) : 8]. That is certainly, the accepted repentance; in which, the person fears the rejection of his deeds and hopes to be accepted, with being diligent in accomplishing good deeds.(2)

2) Asking forgiveness: it is asking forgiveness by the heart, the tongue and the organs. It includes a resolute determination to refrain from what causes the wrath of Allah and to do what He likes.

Forgiveness is also cited as opposite to punishment, because punishment occurs as a result of sins, and the forgiveness of Allah prevents from His punishment. Moreover, forgiveness occurs only when there is a true resolution to repent and avoid sins.

Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الضَّلاَلَةَ بِالْهُدَى وَالْعَذَابَ بِالْمَغْفِرَةِ فَمَا أَصْبَرَهُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ﴾ [البقرة: 175].

The meaning of the verse:

Those are they who have purchased error at the price of Guidance, and torment at the price of Forgiveness. So how bold they are (for evil deeds which will push them) to the Fire.﴿ [Al-Baqara (The Cow): 175].

And if repentance has more significance as regards the individual’s giving up disobeying Allah and endeavoring to obey Him and to answer His orders, the fact of asking forgiveness is more significant as regards admitting one’s sins, the regret of having committed them and the wish to see their effect erased. For this reason, forgiveness and repentance are linked. Allah تعالى said:

﴿أَفَلاَ يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ﴾ [المائدة: 74].

The meaning of the verse:

Will they not repent to Allah and ask His Forgiveness?﴿ [Al-Mâ'ida (The Table Spread With Food): 74]. He تعالى also said:

﴿وَأَنِ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ يُمَتِّعْكُمْ مَتَاعًا حَسَنًا إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى﴾ [هود: 3].

The meaning of the verse:

And (commanding you): "Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed﴿ [Hûd: 3].

The sins, even though they are subject to forgiveness, polytheism is not the same case, because Allah عزَّ وجلَّ says:

﴿إِنَّ اللهَ لاَ يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ﴾ [النساء: 48].

The meaning of the verse:

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases﴿ [An-Nissâ' (The Women): 48].

For this reason, Tauhîd (monotheism) is the essence of forgiveness and its major cause. Thus, whoever loses Tauhîd will not deserve forgiveness, and whoever comes with sins reaching the size of earth, but with Tauhîd, Allah will give him as the size of earth full of forgiveness. However, the person is set to the will of Allah and His grace, if He wills He will forgive him and if He wills he will punish him because of his sins.

Anas Ibn Mâlik رضي الله عنه said: “I heard the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: Allah تبارك وتعالى said: O son of Adam! I shall go on forgiving you so long as you pray to Me and aspire for My forgiveness whatever may be your sins. O son of Adam! I do not care even if your sins should pile up to the sky and should you beg pardon of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam! If you come to Me with an earthful of sins and meet Me, not associating anything with Me in worship, I will certainly grant you as much pardon as will fill the earth(3).

Thus, sins become belittled by the light of Tauhîd, and the abode of the sinner who does not ascribe any partner to Allah will be Paradise and he will be saved from the eternal Hell. He will not be thrown into Hell like disbelievers and he will not dwell there forever like them. In fact, any person who commits sins but who has a pure Tauhîd, who asks Allah’s forgiveness, repents to Him and has the prerequisites of Tauhîd, will have all his previous sins forgiven and will be saved from Hell. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:

﴿قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ لاَ تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللهِ إِنَّ اللهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ﴾ [الزمر: 53].

The meaning of the verse:

Say: "O 'Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful﴿ [Az-Zumar (The Groups): 53].

Indeed, the absolute forgiveness is from Allah تعالى. It includes the obliteration of the effect of sins and the protection against their evils.

That being said, among the fruits of forgiveness: the quietness of the heart, bliss, the dispelling of sorrow and sadness and the hope of Allah’s blessing and the pleasedness of Allah with him.

Among the consequences of asking forgiveness, the fact of doing it permanently, sowing in one’s soul the values of forgiveness, indulgence and good moralities.

3) Doing much of good deeds: the reason is that misdeeds are expiated by good deeds. In fact, Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said :

﴿وَأَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ذَلِكَ ذِكْرَى لِلذَّاكِرِينَ﴾ [هود: 114].

The meaning of the verse:

And perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât), at the two ends of the day and in some hours of the night [i.e. the five compulsory Salât (prayers)]. Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice)﴿ [Hûd: 114]. And Allah’s عزَّ وجلَّ saying:

﴿وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلاَ يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ وَلاَ يَزْنُونَ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ يَلْقَ أَثَامًا. يُضَاعَفْ لَهُ الْعَذَابُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَيَخْلُدْ فِيهِ مُهَانًا. إِلاَّ مَنْ تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلاً صَالِحًا فَأُولَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا﴾ [الفرقان: 68-70].

The meaning of the verse:

And those who invoke not any other ilâh (god) along with Allah, nor kill such life as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment, except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds, for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful﴿ [Al-Furqân (The Criterion) : 68-70].

So, good deeds expiate many bad deeds, in accordance with Allah’s عزَّ وجلَّ saying:

﴿وَمَنْ يَأْتِهِ مُؤْمِنًا قَدْ عَمِلَ الصَّالِحَاتِ فَأُولَئِكَ لَهُمُ الدَّرَجَاتُ الْعُلَى. جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا وَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ مَنْ تَزَكَّى﴾ [طه: 75-76 ].

The meaning of the verse:

But whoever comes to Him (Allah) as a believer (in the Oneness of Allah, etc.), and has done righteous good deeds, for such are the high ranks (in the Hereafter), 'Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens), under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves [(by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds) which Allah has forbidden and by doing all that which Allah has ordained)].﴿ [Tâ-Hâ: 75-76].

It appears from these Qur'anic verses that good deeds annihilate ill deeds whether minor or major. However, a major misdeed needs a similar good deed in order to expiate and erase it, like Shirk (polytheism) which can be expiated only by converting to Islam, as Islam annihilates the precedent committed sins. Hereupon, performing good deeds is a very recommendable thing, as it allows to erase misdeeds, but on the condition that the person should not count on it, and this, in order to avoid sins and committing injustices, since the bad deed annihilates the good deed or reduces its reward; therefore, the person will not benefit from it and he will not be raised to high levels. It is reported in “Sahîh Muslim” on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Do you know who is bankrupt?” They (the Companions) said: “A bankrupt from amongst us is one who has neither Dirham nor Dinar” He صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “The bankrupt of my (Muslim) nation would be the one, who would come on the Day of Judgment with (the good deeds of his) prayers, fasts and obligatory charity, but (he would be used up his funds) of good deeds) since he abused others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, shed the blood of others unlawfully and beat others. In this way, his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (whom he hurt). If his good deeds run short to clear the account, then their sins would be added to his (account) and he would be thrown in the Hell-Fire.”(4)

This hadith indicates clearly that good deeds remove the evil deeds and obliterate them, whether they are minor or major. On the other hand, the evil deeds reduce the good deeds and annihilate them until they are used up, then the person will be punished for his evil deeds and will be thrown into Hell-Fire.

That being said, there is no contradiction between this and the saying of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “The five (daily obligatory) prayers, and the (prayer of) Friday to the next Friday are expiations for whatever (sins committed in the intervals) between them, so long as the major sins are not committed.”(5)

This hadith is restricted to what the five daily prayers, the Friday prayer and Ramadan expiate of minor sins, as for the precedent texts, they are more general than this hadith; they include also the major sins, and there is no contradiction in acting according to “General texts” or “Restricted texts” as it is established in the Fundamentals of Jurisprudence.

Among the expiatory deeds: jihad in the cause of Allah, giving sound good advice, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is bad, be patient and accept the ordainment of Allah, love and hate for Allah’s sake, supererogatory prayers, charity, fasting and other righteous deeds.

Moreover, doing much good deeds is a sign of repentance and asking Allah’s forgiveness. That is why; good deeds are linked to repentance in many Qur'anic verses. Consequently, there is no contradiction between the obligation of repenting and asking forgiveness and the fact that good deeds expiate the evil deeds, since repentance and asking forgiveness lie in the heart, tongue and organs, and the good deeds are a part of them. For this reason, whoever neglects the essence of repentance and asking forgiveness, and limits himself to good deeds, fails, certainly, in his duty which consists of repenting and asking forgiveness; and his heart accepts abandoning this and believes in it. This is certainly vain, whether as regards creed or practice, and is considered among the major sins and a way to disbelief, because it includes believing in a part of the Sharia and neglecting other parts. Yet it is mentioned in the hadith that “Whoever does an action that is not in accordance with our tradition will have it rejected.”(6)

The penitent should coordinate between the good deeds and the bad deeds, so he should not neglect the obligations under the pretext of performing expiatory good deeds, because expiating the misdeeds depends on accomplishing one’s obligations, only in case they are not maintained or it is impossible to settle them. However, persisting in neglecting one’s obligations and being sure that one’s misdeed will be expiated by performing good deeds which are not among the religious obligations, is certainly, the attribute of deceived people, who are deceived by Satan by his deceit and divert them from the way of the pious.

4) The affliction that befalls the believer: the afflictions that the believer undergoes whether in his self, his money or his relatives are among expiatory acts, as established in the two “Sahîhs” [Al-Bukhâri and Muslim] that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Never a believer is stricken with discomfort, hardship, illness, grief or even mental worry but that his sins would be expiated for him.”(7) and in the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه who said: “When this verse was revealed:

﴿مَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا يُجْزَ بِهِ﴾ [النساء: 123].

The meaning of the verse:

Whoever does evil will be requited for it﴿ [An-Nissâ': (123)], and when this reached the Muslims, they became greatly anxious. Thereupon, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said : “Be moderate and stand firm, for in every trouble that befalls a Muslim, there would be an expiation for him, even if it is the stumbling on the path or the pricking of a thorn”(8). It is also established that from the hadith of Ibn Mass`ûd that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Indeed, no Muslim is afflicted with any such harm as ailment or so, but that Allah will remove his sins as the leaves of a tree fall down”(9).

Moreover, the reward and merit are according to the affliction and hardship, as it is established from the hadith of `Âisha رضي الله عنها who said: “The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “You will have a reward commensurate with your hardship and spending.”(10).

 Therefore, there is in the ways of expiating sins a great hope in Allah’s plentiful grace. Moreover, expiating the misdeeds gives hope to the soul of the Muslim, incites him to perform good deeds and abandon evil deeds, drives him to perform acts of worship without negligence and to inure oneself to perform acts (of piety), knowing that Allah عزَّ وجلَّ sees him and knows what he does, and to judge oneself ; since these two last attributes are among the means that reform the soul and purify it. Therefore, the fact that a Muslim judges himself in order to have a firm conviction that Allah عزَّ وجلَّ sees him, constitutes certainly, the expression of submitting oneself to Allah as it is cited in the following verse:

The meaning of the verse:

﴿وَمَنْ يُسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى﴾ [لقمان: 22].

And whosoever submits his face (himself) to Allah [i.e.(follows Allah’s Religion of Islamic Monotheism), worships Allâh (Alone) with sincere Faith in the Oneness of His Lordship, Oneness of His worship, and Oneness of His Names and Qualities], while he is a Muhsin (good­doer i.e. performs good deeds totally for Allâh's sake without any show-off or to gain praise or fame etc, and does them in accordance with the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم), then he has grasped the most trustworthy hand­hold [Lâ ilâha ill-Allâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah)].﴿ [Luqmân: 22].

 Allah تعالى ordered to judge oneself as regards what it has offered for the future (the Day of Resurrection) by saying :

﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللهَ وَلْتَنْظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ إِنَّ اللهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ﴾ [الحشر: 18].

The meaning of the verse:

O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do﴿ [Al-Hashr (The Gathering): 18].

That being said, the Muslim should strive and discipline himself continuously in order to get peace of mind and in order to be worthy of Allah’s عزَّ وجلَّ love and satisfaction. Allah تعالى said:

﴿وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ﴾ [العنكبوت: 69].

The meaning of the verse:

As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion - Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinûn (good doers).﴿ [Al-`Ankabût (The Spider): 69].

This is in fact the way of the pious people of this nation, who strive in order to save themselves from sins and misdeeds by repenting, asking Allah’s forgiveness, doing abundantly righteous deeds and racing for the good deeds. They are also those who judge themselves for their negligence and endeavor to be righteous and abstain from evil and passion, in accordance with Allah’s عزَّ وجلَّ saying:

﴿وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَى. فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى﴾ [النازعات: 40-41].

The meaning of the verse:

But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts, verily, Paradise will be his abode.﴿ [An-Nâzi`ât (Those Who Pull Out): 40-41].

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.


Algiers, Rajab 20th, 1426H.

Corresponding to: August 25th, 2005.

(1) Reported by Muslim (8/94), Ahmad (2/308) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.

(2) See the divergence among scholars concerning the definitions of sincere repentance which are twenty three in “Tafsîr Al-Qurtubi” (19/197).

(3) Reported by At-Tirmidhi (5/548) on the authority of Anas Ibn Mâlik رضي الله عنه. This hadith has been judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha (hadith 127) and (128) and in “Sahîh At-Tirmidhi” (3/455) (hadith 3540).”

(4) Reported by Muslim (8/18), At-Tirmidhi (4/613) and Ahmad (2/303-372) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.

(5) Reported by Muslim (1/144), Ahmad (2/400-414-484) and At-Tirmidhi (1/418) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.

(6) Reported by Muslim (12/16) on the authority of `Âisha رضي الله عنها.

(7) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, (10/103) and Muslim (hadith 2573) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.

(8) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Virtue, keeping good relations with one’s kith and kin and good manners” (hadith 6734), At-Tirmidhi (5/247). This hadith has been judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Sahîh At-Tirmidhi” (3/266) and in “Takhrîj At-Tahhâwiyya” (90).

(9) Reported by Al-Bukhâri (10/111) and Muslim (hadith 2571) on the authority of `Abd Allah Ibn Mass`ûd رضي الله عنه.

(10) Reported by Ad-Dâraqutni (1762). This hadith has been judged authentic by Al-Albâni in “Sahîh At-Targhîb” (2/1116).