Everyone is Responsible for His Own Deeds
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on July 31, 1987)
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Isra', (Verse 15), what can be translated as, "Whoever goes right, then he goes right only for the benefit of his ownself. And whoever goes astray, then he goes astray to his own loss. No one laden with burdens can bear another’s burden…" Allah also says in surat Fussilat, (Verse 46), what can be translated as, "Whosoever does righteous good deed it is for (the benefit of) his ownself, and whosoever does evil, it is against his ownself, and your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves." Allah also says in surat Fatir, (Verse 18), what can be translated as, "And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden, and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin…"
The previous verses and many others in the Qur’an emphasize an important principle of the justice of Allah which can be summarized as follows: The responsibility of any person is exclusively his, since he has free will, choice, and sane meaning able to distinguish between good and evil.
This point has a great effect in building the human personality in the level of morality, and in the practical field as well. Since it plants in every person’s mind the feeling that he is rewarded for his own deeds, good or bad. Not any body else’s deeds. The feeling that he can not get rid of some actions or escape from any he has earned.
This kind of feeling is a strong factor to build awareness in every individual. That awareness, in every individual leads him to examine and account himself before Allah (S.W.T.) does so in the day of Judgment. This understanding for individual responsibility leads him to refrain from any false hope of getting any help from other people, as Allah (S.W.T.) will say in the day of Judgment, in surat Saba’, (Verse 42), what can be translated as, "So today none of you can profit or harm one another."
To clear this point better Allah (S.W.T.) has set an example the wife of prophet Noah and the wife of prophet Lot, where they went astray so they were lead to hell fire. Their marriage relation to prophets could not help them before Allah in the day of Judgment. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat At-Tahrim, (Verse 10), what can be translated as, "Allah sets forth an example for those who disbelieve, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of our
Righteous servants, but they both betrayed their (husbands by rejecting their doctrine) so they (Noah and Lot) did not benefited them (their wives), against Allah, and it was said: "Enter the Fire along with those who enter."
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was clear in this point to all people from the first day of open da’wah, when he used to call upon masses and individuals to save themselves from hell fire, as it was reported by Imam Bukhari, Muslim and others that he said, "O children of Ka’b-bin-Luai save yourselves from hellfire, O children Mura-bin-Ka’b save yourselves from hellfire, O children of Hashim save yourselves from hellfire, O children of Abdul-Muttalib save yourselves from hellfire. O Fatima saves yourself from hellfire. I don’t have anything to help you before Allah."
Furthermore, when a person knows that he is only accountable for his own actions before Allah that will make him not fear to carry others sins. Because of that he won’t lose his rewards because of his deeds as long as he does his duty to give advise to the people in enjoying the good and forbidding the evil (Al-amru-bil- Ma’rof-wanahiu-anil-munkar).
Allah (S.W.T.) will account the people one person at a time, everyone for what he has done within the limits of his duty and ability. And also the number of negligent and carefree people will not reduce the burden of his responsibility, so it is not a valid excuse for one to join them in this life. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Mariam, (Verse 95), what can be translated as, "And everyone of them will come to Him alone on the Day of Resurrection (without any helper, or protector or defender)."
Dear Muslims, the fact is that every soul will carry its own burden, and no one will carry somebody else’s burden. There will be a day when a soul which has a heavy load of sins, would look for a close person to help, but it will be turned down. Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-An’am, (Verse 164), what can be translated as, "…No person earns any (sin) except against himself (only), and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another. Then unto your Lord is your return…" Allah (S.W.T.) also says in surat Luqman, (Verse 33), what can be translated as, "O mankind! Be afraid of your Lord (by keeping your duty to Him and avoiding all evil), and fear a Day when no father can avail aught for his son, or a son avail aught for his father. Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, let not then this (worldly) present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver (Satan) deceive you about Allah."
Because of the terrible situation of that day, no relation is honored and every person will stand alone without any company but his own record as it says in surat Al-Mumtahinah, (Verse 3), what can be translated as, "Neither your relatives nor your children will benefit you on the Day of Resurrection (against Allah). He will judge between you. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do."
In that great day everyone is busy to save himself without paying attention to anybody else; as what Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nahl, (Verse 111), what can be translated as, "(Remember) the Day when every person will come up pleading for himself, and ever one will be paid in full for what he did and they will not be dealt with unjustly."
The great horror in that day makes some people think of running way from their responsibility. The Qur’an draws a picture of such incident where a person with a filthy record wants to escape the punishment even if the price is his closest person whom he used to live for. Allah says in surat Al-Ma’arej, (Verses 11-15), what can be translated as, "Though they shall be made to see one another, the Mujrim (Criminal, Sinner) would desire to ransom himself from the punishment of that Day by his children. And his wife and his brother, And his kindred who sheltered him, And all that are in the earth, so that it might save him." The answer comes from Allah (S.W.T), By no means! Verily, it will be the Fire of Hell!…"
In this clarity the Qur’an views and explains the principle of individual responsibility, where everyone is solely responsible for his attributes and liabilities, and after all this, Allah leaves you free to choose the way you want to live but don’t forget the final destination and the result of that particular path you take, as Allah (S.W.T.) swear in the Qur’an in surat Al-Mudathir, (Verses 32-38), what can be translated as, "Nay, and by the moon, And by the night when it withdraws, And by the dawn when it brightens, Verily, it is but one of the greatest calamities. A warning to mankind, To any of you that chooses to go forward (by doing righteous deeds), or to remain behind (by committing sins), Every person is beheld (accountable) on his own deeds."