Shaykh Al Uthaymeen said explaining the following narration:
Anas said “You people do (bad) deeds (commit sins) which seem in your eyes as tiny (minute) as a hair while we used to consider those (very deeds) during the life-time of the Prophet (ﷺ) as destructive sins.”
Reported by al Bukhari
He, shaykh al Uthaymeen, said:
Anas Ibn Maalik رضي الله عنه was from those who lived a long life; he remained close to ninety years after the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
The affairs changed during his time رضي الله عنه in regards to some of the serious affairs in the time of the companions رضي الله عنهم.
Such as (i.e. for example) praying in congregation, for indeed the companions رضي الله عنهم, none would remain behind (from attending it) except that he was (known to be) a hypocrite or one who was ill and excused. However, the people became negligent in regards to it and they weren’t upon that which the companions رضي الله عنهم were upon in the time of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
Rather, the people in our time have become negligent regarding the prayer itself and not only the prayer in congregation! Thus they don’t pray, or they pray (sometimes) and leave it off (sometimes), or they delay the prayer from its prescribed time.
All of these are (deemed as) as light actions with some of the people whilst in the time of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and the companions رضي الله عنهم it was considered from the destructive matters!
Similarly cheating in the time of the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم he said (regarding it):
“He who cheats us is not from us”
But look at the people today: you will find that cheating with them is lesser (in evil) than many of the things. Rather, some of them, and refuge is seeked with Allah, they consider cheating from intelligence in buying, selling and contracts!
And he sees that this is by way of expertise, intelligence, and cleverness, and we ask Allah for safety! And the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم freed himself from the one who cheats the people!
From that is also lying, and lying is from the serious affairs in the time of the companions رضي الله عنه. They used to see it to be from the destructive matters.
But many of the people consider it to be a light matter. Thus you will find him lying while he isn’t concerned with the lie, and the prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم (said):
“the person who keeps telling lies and endeavours to tell a lie is recorded as a liar with Allah.”
Perhaps he may even lie in more dangerous affairs. Thus, he denies that which is obligatory upon him for the people, or he may claim that which is not his. Thus they are taken to the judge to rule between them and he takes an oath upon that, and thus he becomes from those – and refuge is seeked with Allah – who meet Allah while he is angry with them!
(And) other than that from the serious matters which the companions considered from the destructive matters but the people differed (from them) and thus it became in their eyes thinner than a hair.
That is because every time the Eeman increases, the sins are seen as greater and more serious with the individual, and every time the Eeman decreases, the sins are lightened in the heart of the individual and he sees it to be from the light matters. (As such), he becomes negligent and lazy from the obligatory matters and he doesn’t care because he is weak in Eeman!
[Sharh Riyadus Saliheen 1/494-496]
Majid Jawed Al-Afghanee