How Sins cause Affliction in Islam

We seldom think about how our actions can affect our surrounding environment, but Allah tells us that our deeds can be the cause of corruption on the earth in the following verse

“Corruption has spread on land and sea as a result of what people’s hands have done, so that Allah may cause them to taste [the consequences of some of their deeds and perhaps they might return [to the Right Path].” (al-Rum, 30:41)

If we backbite about someone or say something negative about someone or something (especially without knowing the full truth), and then we witness a natural disaster a few days after, we don’t associate it with what we have done. But disobeying Allah can lead to calamities that affect everyone and the environment.

There are several factors that can count as corruption, and these are:

–Shirk - people disobey Allah, associate things with Allah and even leave the din completely. We and our children are exposed to this corruption in our surroundings on a regular basis.

– Killing people unjustly - there has been an increase in shootings, stabbings and other forms of killing in recent times to the extent that it happens almost daily.

– Hunger and famine - people do not distribute wealth and food fairly, causing many people to suffer.

– Lack of barakah - we see this in our time, our actions and even in the way we feel. For example, we may go to the supermarket today to do our full grocery shop, but the things we buy do not last long or they become spoiled quickly.

– An increase in the cost of living and a lack of resources - we see this in current times through things such as grocery prices, fuel prices, etc.

– Injustice - this isn’t limited to injustice caused by the leadership of the countries that we live in, but it is also applicable to our homes. The way that we treat our children, and our spouses can also be susceptible to injustice. For example, we may want our spouse to do everything our way and be unwilling to compromise, not fulfilling their fair requests.

– Lack of rain (due to environmental disasters).

– Corruption in the sea can be found in the form of pollution an increase of drowning or other accidents/disasters. Commenting on this verse, Imam Ibn ‘Ashur described corruption in the land as:

– Loss of what is beneficial and an abundance of harm. For example, we may struggle with unhappiness and we read or come across bad news daily.

– Loss of crops, vegetation, and fruits.

– Death of animals.

– Increase in pandemics or diseases.

– Appearance of strange insects.


And regarding corruption in the sea, he defined it as:

– Lack of sea resources.

– Decrease in sea food, fishes, pearls and coral.

– Increase in hurricanes.

– Drying up of the seas and rivers.


Imam Ahmad reported in his Musnad: “There was found in the treasure house of Banu Umayyah a grain of wheat the size of a date-stone in a container, on which was written, ‘This will grow in times of injustice.’”

The meaning of this is that provision will become smaller, more expensive and have less barakah. What is the reason behind all of this? Allah tells us in the Qur’an

Whatever affliction befalls you is because of what your own hands have committed – and He pardons much.” (al-Shura, 42: 30)

If Allah was not Merciful and He did not forgive us as much as He does, the afflictions we experience would have been a lot more frequent and a lot worse in severity. Despite this, we shouldn’t say to anyone that they are experiencing a difficulty because of what they have done as we have no way of knowing if what they are going through is a form of punishment or a test from Allah (as Allah also tests those whom He loves).

Instead, we should focus on ourselves and reflect upon our own actions, discerning if we have been doing anything that could cause an affliction to befall us and those around us.

“And Allah sets forth the example of a society which was safe and at ease, receiving its provision in abundance from all directions. But its people met Allah’s favours with ingratitude, so Allah made them taste the clutches of hunger and fear for their misdeeds.” (al-Nahl, 16: 112)

Allah gives this parable as a lesson for all of us until the end of time; any city or any country anywhere in the world could become this example. A place may have peace and plenty of provision, but the people may become ungrateful for the blessings that Allah has bestowed on them. This ungratefulness then leads people to experience lack of peace, and increase of fear and hunger.

The cost of living has increased in current times, with staple household or food items becoming more and more expensive. Allah is the One who provides, and He is the One who allows things to become expensive. It is important for us to look at our actions and understand that it may be due to them that we are experiencing such difficulties.

I would like to mention here another eye-opening quote from Mujahid, who said: “When rain will be held and droughts appear, the animals will curse the son of Adam and will say, ‘This is a result of the sins of the son of Adam!’”

This is extremely profound, and we must look at ourselves and our actions. Do we want to be cursed by the animals? When we experience heatwaves and the animals begin to suffer too, we will be cursed by them because they know that we have sinned and brought this hardship upon everyone. However, we should also remember that Allah sometimes tests us through hardships and natural disasters or difficulties. Therefore, we should not consider all disasters as punishments.

A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, also narrated: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘At the end of this ummah, there will be collapse, transformation and qadhf.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Will they be destroyed while there are also righteous among them?’ He said: ‘Yes when evil is dominant.’” (Tirmidhi, 2185)

If we look around our surroundings now, we will be able to see that evil is very often dominant within our societies. Schools, work and public places are all affected by evil, and these actions have become the norm. If we know that evil is being committed, but do not do anything to prevent it, everyone will suffer from the punishments sent by Allah. We must stand up strong, even if we are the only ones that are taking a stance against wrong in our local communities.


Excerpt is from Sins The Poison of the Heart by Dr Haifaa Younis 

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Learning about sins is an eye-opening, transforming experience that changes your heart and mind. Furthermore, it makes you look at the world from a new perspective which can change your life forever.

Discover, dissect and digest how to prevent and even overcome that which poisons the heart of the believer!