Regarding the Expiation of Sins

There are two opinions on this matter: One group of the scholars say that the abandonment of major sins is a condition for the obligatory acts to expiate for the minor sins. So, if any major sins are committed, this automatically prevents the minor sins from being wiped out by these obligatory acts.

The other group says that the obligatory acts wipe out the minor sins, even if major sins are committed (with the condition that one repents and does not consistently commit them), and that these texts show that the major sins are not so easily wiped out by simply performing the obligatory acts.

In his tafsir of the verse {“If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance.”} [an-Nisa’; 31], the great Mufassir Ibn ‘Atiyyah considered the second opinion to be the stronger one.

This was also the opinion of an-Nawawi, who said (‘Sharh Sahih Muslim’; 2/98):

“The meaning is that all sins will be forgiven (by performing these obligatory acts), except the major ones, as they are not forgiven in such a manner. And the meaning here is not that the minor sins are forgiven if there are no major sins committed, otherwise, the minor sins are not forgiven, as this – even if it is a possible conclusion – is contradicted by the other ahadith. al-Qadi ‘Iyad said: “What is mentioned here regarding the ahadith about minor sins being forgiven in the absence of major sins is the madhhab of Ahl as-Sunnah, and that the major sins are expiated either by way of repentance, or Mercy from Allah, the Exalted.””

And Allah Knows best.

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