The Qur'anic Doctrine of Sin


IN our consideration of the Qur'anic doctrine of sin, we shall make no attempt to trace any development of the doctrine through the various periods into which it is common to divide the promulgation of the book. Such a study of the development of the doctrine may, perhaps, be possible; and, were it possible, it would be found most interesting from an historical point of view, especially as it might throw light on the phases through which Muhammad's ideas concerning sin passed in their relation to the history of his own life, and to his dealings with those who opposed him. But from the point of view from which we desire to consider the question, such a study would be of but minor interest.

We desire to see the final result, not the process through which that result was reached. We propose to take the various teachings of the Qur'an regarding sin, without I regard to their historical settings, and see whether we can form from their study, as a whole, any general conception of what Muhammad had in mind when he spoke of sin.

Having thus defined the object of our present study, we shall first consider some of the terms whereby Muhammad describes wrong-doing.

A word commonly used in the Qur'an to express sin, wickedness, or evil, is sayyiat (plural sayyiatun). The word does not necessarily mean moral evil or