I have heard that besides Shirk, cold-blooded murder and not dividing inheritance properly are two other sins that can send one to hell forever. Is this true?
There are, indeed, a few other crimes – besides Shirk – mentioned in the Qur’an, as entailing the fearsome potential of subjecting a person to the eternal punishment of Hellfire. Some of these crimes are fornication, murder (Al-Furqaan 25: 68 – 69) and living a life, which is completely drowned in sin (Al-Baqarah 2: 81). As far as hindering the prescribed distribution of the shares of inheritance and of depriving a person from his rightful share in inheritance – whether the share is prescribed by the Shari`ah or through a will of the deceased, the Qur’an has referred to such an action as filling one’s belly with fire (Al-Nisaa 4: 10).
All the referred sins have the potential of subjecting man to extremely severe punishments in the hereafter. The only exception is where a person has truly repented for and, wherever possible, has corrected the effects of his wrongdoing. Furthermore, in all such cases where the sin is committed against another human being – as for instance, in the case of murder or in the case of depriving someone of his rightful wealth etc. – because the real authority for forgiveness rests with the individual, who has been wronged, therefore, forgiveness should be sought from the individual or, in the case of murder, from his immediate relatives. Moreover, in all such cases, where the rights of the wronged individual, can be returned, the sinner, for the purpose of securing his forgiveness, must also completely return the rights, which he had deprived the individual from.
In case of all the referred sins – including Shirk – the sinner shall be completely relieved of the punishment of his sin, if he has truly repented and sought forgiveness for his wrongdoing, during the life of this world.
The particular aspect of difference between Shirk and all other crimes, from the perspective of their punishment in the hereafter, lies in the fact that according to the Qur’an, if anyone dies without repenting for his wrongdoings, then he may – even though he deserves the severe punishment of hellfire – be pardoned by the Merciful and the Just Lord. However, contrary to all other crimes, if someone dies without repenting for ascribing partners to God – i.e. Shirk – then even the Merciful and the Just Lord will never forgive him (Al-Nisaa 4: 48, Al-Nisaa 4: 116).