What is the meaning of 'Ihbat' ('nullification of action') and 'takfir' ('covering over one's sins') in Islamic terminology?

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What is the meaning of 'Ihbat' ('nullification of action') and 'takfir' ('covering over one's sins') in Islamic terminology?
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Both intellectual evidence and traditional authority alike attest to the fact that on the Day of Resurrection, each person will behold the reward for his good actions. The Qur'an says:

So whoever does an atom's weight of good will see it, ( Sura al-Zilzal, 99:7)

And also:

... and that his effort will be seen. And afterward he will be repaid for it with fullest payment. (Sura al-Najm, 53:40-41)

From these verses it is clear that the wicked deeds of man do not obliterate his good deeds. Nevertheless, it must be understood that those who indulge in certain sins (such as disbelief or polytheism), or become apostates, will experience the 'nullification of action', and consequently will find their good deeds wiped out; they are then subject to perpetual punishment:

And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally. (Sura al-Baqara, 2:217)

Taking all of the above into consideration, it is clear that each person of faith will behold the consequences of his good and bad acts in the next world, unless those bad acts take the form of apostasy and the like, in which case, according to the Qur'an and Hadith, all good deeds are negated and lost.

Each person of faith will behold the consequences of his good and bad acts in the next world, unless those bad acts take the form of apostasy and the like, in which case, according to the Qur'an and Hadith, all good deeds are negated and lost. So, those who indulge in certain sins (such as disbelief or polytheism), or become apostates, will experience the 'nullification of action', and consequently will find their good deeds wiped out.

In conclusion, it is necessary to insist on the following point:
Although God has 'promised' to reward the good deeds of the believers and, conversely, has 'threatened' to punish bad acts, there is a significant difference between the two principles-promise and threat ( wa'd and wa'id). For the necessity of keeping a promise is a self-evident intellectual principle, and the breaking of a promise is also, self-evidently, a sin. But as regards a 'threat', the meting out of the punishment threatened is a right possessed by the punisher, but he can also refrain from exercising this right. Thus, there is nothing preventing certain good actions from, as it were, covering over the ugliness and consequences of bad deeds, this being called takfir. [1]

There is nothing preventing certain good actions from, as it were, covering over the ugliness and consequences of bad deeds, this being called takfir.Certain acts such as making repentance, giving charity in secret, speaking truthfully, and the like, also have this effect; that is, they too attract God's 'covering over' of man's sins.

In the Qur'an, certain good acts are deemed means whereby this 'covering over [2] by God of bad action is effected, one of these means being the avoidance of major sins:

If you avoid the major sins which you are forbidden, We will remove from you your lesser sins and admit you to a noble entrance [into Paradise]. (Sura al-Nisa', 4:31)

Certain acts such as making repentance, giving charity in secret, speaking truthfully, and the like, also have this effect; that is, they too attract God's 'covering over' of man's sins.

1. 'Allama al-Hilli, Kashf al-murad, maqsad 6, mas'ala 7.
2. This is the literal meaning of takfir, the verbal noun of the second form of the triliteral root k-f-r, kaffara, to 'cover over', in this context, the 'covering over' of sin, thus, expiation of sin by God; it is not to be confused with the other main meaning of the word- takfir, which is 'to judge someone a kafir'. The Qur'anic use of kaffara is clear from the verse cited above from Sura al-Nisa', 4:31.

 

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Daily Hadith
الإخْوانُ في اللّهِ تعالى تَدُومُ مَودّتُهُم، لِدَوامِ سَبَبِها.
Brothers [whose brotherhood is] for the sake of Allah, enjoy an enduring Amity, due to the firmness of its foundation