Blind Following: Individual Accountability
Many adherents of religion, follow or inherent the doctrines, practices and rituals of their forefathers without critical examination. They consider their religious sources, doctrines and practices as ultimate truth - as taught by their religious leaders and preachers. At the end of the day they adopt the religion/concepts/ doctrines of their household that they are born into or sometimes of their social circle without exerting their own intellect. However, each individual is ultimately responsible for one self.
When it is said to them, ‘Come to what God has sent down, and to the Messenger,’ they say, ‘What we inherited from our forefathers is good enough for us,’ even though their forefathers knew nothing and were not guided. You who believe, you are responsible for your own souls; if anyone else goes astray it will not harm you so long as you follow the guidance; you will all return to God, and He will make you realize what you have done.[5:104-5]
God says in the Quran, Whoever accepts guidance does so for his own good; whoever strays does so at his own peril. No soul will bear another’s burden, nor do We punish until We have sent a messenger. [17:15]
God says: Whoever does good does it for his own soul and whoever does evil does it against his own soul: your Lord is never unjust to His creatures. [41:46].
God also says: No burdened soul will bear the burden of another: even if a heavily laden soul should cry for help, none of its load will be carried, not even by a close relative. But you [Prophet] can only warn those who fear their Lord, though they cannot see Him, and keep up the prayer- whoever purifies himself does so for his own benefit–– everything returns to God. [35:18]
Furthermore God will say on the day of Judgment, ‘So today neither of you has any power to benefit or harm the other,’ We shall tell the evildoers, ‘Taste the torment of the fire which you called a lie.’ [34:42]
Additionally, having close proximity with the righteous people is not enough to attain salvation. One is accountable for one self. God has set an example the wife of Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) and the wife of Prophet Lot (peace be upon him), where they went astray so they were lead to hell fire. Their marriage relation to Prophets could not help them before God on the Day of Judgment. God says in the Quran, God has given examples of disbelievers: the wives of Noah and Lot who married two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them. Their husbands could not help them against God: it was said, ‘Both of you enter the Fire with the others.’ [66:10]
God will account each and everyone for what one has done within the limits of his faculty of understanding and ability. Nor will the religious ministers, preachers or social peer reduce the burden of one’s responsibility and accountability. God says in the Quran, And they will each return to Him on the Day of Resurrection all alone. [19:95]
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. The Quran states: Say, ‘Should I seek a Lord other than God, when He is the Lord of all things?’ Each soul is responsible for its own actions; no soul will bear the burden of another. You will all return to your Lord in the end, and He will tell you the truth about your differences. [6:164]
God says: People, be mindful of your Lord and fear a day when no parent will take the place of their child, nor a child take the place of their parent, in any way. God’s promise is true, so do not let the present life delude you, nor let the Deceiver delude you about God. [31:33]
God says: Neither your kinsfolk nor your children will be any use to you on the Day of Resurrection: He will separate you out. God sees everything you do. [60:3] God further says in the Quran, On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, every soul will be paid in full for all its actions- they will not be wronged. [16:111]
Moreover, God swears in Surah Mudathir that, Every/each self with what (it) earned/gained/acquired (is) accountable. [Quran 74:38]
Knowing that the accountability is so individualistic and personal – so should not the striving, the quest for truth and relationship with God be equally so?
And Allah knows best.
For Younger Readers
God teaches in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims that:
Following others blindly without double checking with God’s guidance or Message is wrong and irresponsible
Each person is accountable before God for his/her own actions, attitude and behaviour