Can one person bear another's burden and be punished for him
or her in the Hereafter?
The Qur'an states that such a situation is not possible, for every person
is responsible for his or her actions and will be judged in Allah's presence.
This is so because Allah has given each person a conscience that distinguishes
between right and wrong and always calls him or her to seek Allah's good
pleasure. Furthermore, by sending a book to teach them what is right and
wrong, and communicating His religion through His Messengers, He has warned
all people against the punishment of Hell. Those who turn away from the
truth after all of these warnings make their individual choices by their
free will, reasoning, and desires. Each one of them will be held accountable
for their ultimate decision. The Qur'an proclaims this, as follows:
No one can bear another's burden. If someone weighed down calls for help
to bear his load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be
his close relative. You can only warn those who fear their Lord in the
Unseen and establish prayer. Whoever is purified, is purified for himself
alone. Allah is your final destination. (Surah Fatir, 18)
In another verse, Allah informs humanity that those who drive people
to wrongdoing by promising what they cannot deliver are liars, and warns
humanity about them, as follows:
Those who do not believe say to those who believe: "Follow our way, and
we will bear the weight of your mistakes." They will not bear the weight
of a single one of their mistakes. Truly they are liars. (Surat al-`Ankabut,
How can Islam and the Qur'an be conveyed to others?
Religion is best conveyed to a person by communicating it both verbally
and physically. By explaining the religion's commands and the Qur'an's
morals, and then living according to them, those who are not yet believers
can grasp the truth's meaning far more accurately. Since sincerity is
measured by the consistency of a person's words with his or her actual
actions, the sincerity of the conveyor significantly helps the person
to perceive the beauty of religion.
For example, if the person explains why self-sacrifice is a virtuous
action and, on the other hand, exhibits selfishness, this will diminish
the effect of his or her words and raise serious doubts about that person's
sincerity. However, if a person displays good morals and invites other
people to do the same, they will form a strong opinion about that person's
sincerity and observe how the good morals that he or she mentions can
be practiced in daily life. Likewise, if the person explaining modesty
displays it in his or her actions, it becomes the best way to spread the
religion. Allah reminds believers to do what they tell other people to
O You who believe. Why do you say what you do not do? It is deeply abhorrent
to Allah that you should say what you do not do. (Surat as-Saff, 2-3)
Is there any limit to good morals? Can one say "that's enough" after
attaining a certain level of good morals?
There are no limits to good morals. For every action and word, there
is certainly a better one. One can never say "this is enough" or "this
is the best." Furthermore, whenever people deem themselves to have reached
a satisfactory level, moral and behavioral corruption sets in. Since they
believe that they have no further need to renew themselves, they cannot
benefit from any beauty or show any improvement in their characters. Allah
points out that those who see themselves as sufficient are arrogant:
No indeed! Truly man is unbridled, seeing himself as self-sufficient.
(Surat al-`Alaq, 6-7)
Thus people should always seek to improve themselves, because nobody
can be sure of earning Paradise and Allah's good pleasure before Allah's
decision about him or her is known.
How should Muslims spend their time?
In the Qur'an, the concept of "spare time" does not apply to the believers,
for every instant of their lives is occupied. Those who are in awe of
Allah and scrupulously abide by His commands strive to perform good deeds
continuously in order to be among those closest to Allah. They spend their
time worshipping Him according to the guidelines that He has laid out
in the Qur'an. Finishing one thing, they embark upon another one in their
eternal quest for goodness and beauty. There are no interruptions, pauses,
or limits during these efforts, because the believers understand that
they should spend every moment working to earn Allah's good pleasure and
that they will have to account for every instant of their lives.
The Qur'an refers to these efforts, as follows:
So when you have finished, work on, and make your Lord your goal! (Surat
Can any reward be expected from people in return for conveying the religion's
The believers convey this message in order to earn Allah's good pleasure
and to fulfill the related Qur'anic command. In return, they expect no
worldly wage, but only Allah's good pleasure and Paradise. All Prophets
strove with this purpose in mind until the end of their lives; however,
they never asked for any worldly recompense from the people and made it
clear that they expected none. This greatness of spirit is exemplified
in the Qur'an, as follows:
So heed Allah and obey me. I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage
is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds. (Surat
What does the Qur'an say about orphans?
It is commanded in the Qur'an to be good and compassionate towards orphans,
for they have no parents to look after them or to ensure their education:
So as for orphans, do not oppress them. (Surat ad-Duha: 9)
In other verses, Allah commands people to respect their rights, set aside
part of their goods and income for them, and to treat them well. Furthermore,
He recommends that an orphan's assets be used justly, and that these should
be returned when he or she reaches mental maturity.
Allah advises people to be careful and meticulous about an orphan's education
so that he or she can be brought up as a good person and have the good
morals of the Qur'an. He encourages the believers to provide orphans with
protection and material assurance:
… They will ask you about the orphans. Say: "Improvement for them is
best." If you mix your affairs with theirs, they are your brothers… (Surat
The believers always avoid being unjust with an orphan's property, because
Allah defines the pitiless behavior of those who covet such property and
benefit from it as a serious crime:
Give the orphans their property, and do not substitute bad things for
good. Do not assimilate their property into your own, [for] doing that
is a serious crime. (Surat an-Nisa', 2)
As a result of these verses, the believers protect the orphans' property
carefully until they grow up and can take care of themselves, and then
hand over all of their rights to them.
Is it proper to argue when one's knowledge of an issue is incomplete?
Allah advises people not to argue about issues of which they have no
knowledge, because over everyone with knowledge is someone who knows better.
People do not derive any benefit from arguing over things about which
they are not knowledgeable. The best behavior in such a case is to consult
those who are more knowledgeable in order to learn the correct information.
The Qur'an reminds people not to pursue things of which they have no knowledge,
Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of. Hearing, sight and hearts
will all be questioned. (Surat al-Isra':36)
What about people who warn others, yet do not personally practice what
The Qur'an advises the believers to enjoin one another to do right and
to forbid wrong. This surely pleases Allah. However, the really important
thing is to do what they ask others to do, thereby setting an example
in their own behavior and good morals. If somebody knows that a particular
action is wrong and is disturbed to see someone else doing it, then he
or she is equally responsible for abandoning this act and performing the
right action. Allah reminds the believers of this, as follows:
Do you order people to devoutness and forget yourselves, when you recite
the Book? Will you not use your intellect? (Surat al-Baqara, 44)
People, in general, pray only during times of hardship. What does the
Qur'an say about this?
People who are far from the Qur'an's morals pray to Allah only when they
become sick, or face hardship or some other "disaster." At these times,
they understand how helpless they are. However, those who seek refuge
in Allah at such times and pray to Him continuously to free them from
their troubles and grant them blessings change the minute the situation
They forget to pray to Allah and thank Him for His blessings. As soon
as they are freed from their difficulties, they immediately reveal their
insincerity toward Allah.
Their hypocritical and insincere manner is described in the following
When the waves hang over them like canopies, they
call upon Allah, making their religion sincerely His. But then when He
delivers them safely to the land, some of them are ambivalent. None but
a treacherous, thankless man denies Our Signs. (Surah Luqman, 32)
Has Allah sent a warner / Messenger to all nations?
The verse "There is no community to which a warner has not come" (Surah
Fatir, 24), clearly states that Allah has done so. These Messengers explained
Allah's religion to their people, as well as the rituals of worship that
they should perform, gave them the glad tidings of Paradise, and warned
them about the punishment of Hell. In addition, the Messengers have always
been role models for their people, due to their meticulous fulfillment
of Allah's religion, their good morals, and the intense awe of Allah that
they feel. Another reason why Allah warns humanity through His Messengers
is as follows:
Messengers bringing good news and giving warning, so that people will
have no argument against Allah after the coming of the Messengers. Allah
is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat an-Nisa', 165)
This is a manifestation of Allah's superior justice. On the Day of Judgment,
no one will be able to say that he or she was not warned of Allah's punishment
or had not been told of his or her responsibilities to Allah. In other
words, everybody will be justly paid in full.
How does the Qur'an define "suspicion"?
Allah does not approve of people acting on suspicion and conjecture.
In fact, He indicates in many verses that this is a characteristic of
the societies of ignorance and that it benefits no one. Following His
command to avoid suspicion, the believers do not base any of their ideas
on unfounded information. All of their words and ideas always comply with
the Qur'an's morals, are based on absolute evidence, and are just. They
do not arrive at suspicion-based decisions about a person; rather, they
ask his or her opinion or gather valid evidence.
The believers' awe of Allah causes them to pay serious attention to this
issue. Knowing that they will be judged for each action in the Hereafter
and doing their best to earn His Paradise, they are very careful and just
in this respect. Allah defines suspicion in these words:
O You who believe. Avoid most suspicion. Indeed, some suspicion is a
crime... (Surat al-Hujurat, 12)
Is it acceptable to defer one's acts of worship until old age?
Allah holds everybody who has a sound mind and consciousness responsible
for living by the Qur'an's morals and for fulfilling the religion's commands.
Those who perform acts of worship live a good life in this world and earn
eternal life in Paradise. Intentionally deferring these prayers with such
thoughts as "I'd better enjoy my youthful years, I can worship when I
get older and thus earn the life in the Hereafter" may cause people to
lose their lives in the Hereafter, for "There is no repentance for people
who persist in doing evil until death comes to them and who then say:
"Now I repent," nor for people who die as unbelievers. We have prepared
for them a painful punishment." (Surat an-Nisa', 18) Also remember that
no one knows when he or she will die. Thus, it is a great mistake to defer
one's worship, for after death there are no more chances, regardless of
the level of regret or of the desire to be sent back.
Is it acceptable to defer acts of worship, saying: "I have a pure heart"?
The world is a place of testing for everyone. Allah informs humanity
of this fact in "He Who created death and life to test which of you is
best in action..." (Surat al-Mulk, 2). As a requirement of this test,
people are accountable for every action and every act of worship that
they actually perform or defer. In such a case, the chastity of one's
heart alone cannot be a measure. No doubt this chastity, goodwill, and
honest personality are valuable in Allah's sight, but the most significant
sign of chastity and sincerity is the meticulous fulfillment of His commands.
Therefore, no matter how benevolent they claim to be, people who do not
perform the prescribed acts of worship, stand in awe of Allah, and do
not take the Qur'an and His good pleasure as their measure will not meet
with what they expect in the Hereafter.
Besides these, only the Qur'an can measure the "chastity of heart." In
other words, people can say that they are chaste only if they are sincere
according to the Qur'anic meaning of the term. Thus, it is senseless for
them to claim to have a chaste heart based upon their own code of values
or that of the societies of ignorance.
How does the Qur'an view the holy books that were revealed before it?
Allah revealed the Torah to Prophet Musa (as), the Psalms to Prophet
Dawud (as), and the Gospel to Prophet `Isa (as) before He sent down the
Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (saas). Each of these books were books of truth
that conveyed the message of Allah's religion at a particular point in
time. However, over time they were distorted by people who held mistaken
and false beliefs and became mixed up with false information. Due to this
development, humanity had no book of truth that conveyed the true religion,
and so Allah sent the Qur'an to inform humanity of His religion once again.
The Qur'an is protected until the Day of Resurrection by Allah, for "It
is We Who have sent down the Reminder and We Who will preserve it." (Surat
Who are the "People of the Book"?
They are the Jews and the Christians, to whom the Torah and the Gospel
were sent. But since these books have been distorted over time, Allah
sent Prophet Muhammad (saas) to warn them, and the Qur'an as their holy
book. Some of the verses related to them are as follows:
They are not all the same. There is a community among the People of the
Book who are upright. They recite Allah's Signs throughout the night,
and they prostrate. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, enjoin the
right and forbid the wrong, and compete in doing good. They are among
the righteous. (Surah Al `Imran, 113-114)
Among the People of the Book are some who believe in Allah, in what has
been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble
before Allah. They do not sell Allah's Signs for a paltry price. Such
people will have their reward with their Lord. Allah is swift at reckoning.
(Surah Al `Imran, 199)
What is the point of not being punished immediately for one's mistakes?
The fact that their punishment is not immediate should not encourage
people to be slack, for Allah gives people a specified time and thus tests
them. He promises the life of Paradise to those who do good, and the life
of Hell to those who do evil. This being the case, those who are not punished
immediately should realize that Allah, out of His love and compassion,
has given them time to repent. The Qur'an states:
If Allah were to take mankind to task for what they have earned, He would
not leave a single creature crawling on it, but He is deferring them until
a specified time. Then, when their time comes, Allah sees His servants!
(Surah Fatir, 45)
Are people accountable for what crosses their minds?
Satan may fill people with all sorts of false hopes, whisper to them,
or sow suspicious thoughts in their minds. If they are deluded by these
whispers, believe in Satan, and comply with his whisperings, they may
be responsible for their thoughts.
But if they realize that these whispers come from Satan and so seek refuge
with Allah and exhibit good behavior, they immediately abandon such evil
thoughts and replace them with good thoughts. As a result, the evil thoughts
vanish. How the believers behave when Satan whispers to them is related
in the Qur'an, as follows:
As for those who guard against evil, when they are bothered by visitors
from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly. (Surat al-A`raf,
But it should also be noted that if people, despite being aware of the
above, allow provoking whispers, doubts, and negative thoughts to cross
their minds, they may be held responsible for these. Those who always
think evil against the believers and seek to cause dissention among them
also may be held responsible for their intentions, for "Say:'Whether you
conceal what is in your breasts or make it known, Allah knows it. He knows
what is in the heavens and what is on Earth. Allah has power over all
things.' " (Surah Al `Imran, 29)
Is it acceptable to grieve when someone dies?
Allah has predetermined a certain lifetime for each person, and nobody
can alter it. Thus, the believers should be pleased with the destiny that
Allah has created, submit to this event, and trust Allah. Not doing so
implies rebelling against the destiny that Allah has created, something
that sincere believers would never do. Furthermore, deceased believers
will meet with Allah's good pleasure and Paradise, and so will live a
good life in great blessings that cannot possibly be compared with their
lives in this world. Thus, there is no need to be sorry for the deceased
believers; rather, we should be happy that they met such an honorable
outcome. If the deceased did not use their lives to seek Allah's good
pleasure, they will meet Hell in the Hereafter. Yet since this is also
due to His will and justice, there is again nothing to be sorry about,
for the deceased had knowingly chosen the path of unbelief despite being
warned of the consequences of doing so.
In addition, it makes no sense to feel sorrow at one's separation from
a loved one, for those who are still alive can strive sincerely for Allah's
good pleasure and, as a result, can attain the eternal companionship of
their loved ones in the eternal life of Paradise.
Therefore, since the believers hope that their deceased fellow believers
will enter Paradise, they are not sorry when their companions die. In
fact, the Qur'an advises the believers to be happy and to give one another
the glad tidings of entering Paradise after death:
Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in
return for the Garden. They fight in the Way of Allah, and they kill and
are killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, the Gospel, and
the Qur'an. And who is truer to his contract than Allah? Rejoice then
in the bargain you have made. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba,
Is it proper to feel sorry for those who do not believe in Allah?
Those who are sure of Allah's existence and the Hereafter desire that
other people grasp the truth and live by the Qur'an's morals, which is
the most suitable way of living for human beings. Knowing that each unbeliever
will meet with Hell's infinite punishment, the believers put forth their
best efforts to lead the unbelievers to belief. But while each believer
is responsible for conveying the message and for calling people to the
truth, only Allah can guide people to the truth. Even if the believers
convey the message all day and night, express themselves in the most impressive
ways and give the most convincing examples, all of these efforts will
come to naught if Allah does not guide the people being addressed. If
Allah wills, He guides anyone He selects at any time. This is only by
His will, and Allah is the best of judges because whatever He determines
and decides is the best for humanity. For that reason, those people who
refuse to believe despite the best efforts of the believers should not
be a cause of sorrow. Knowing that submitting to His will is the right
conduct, believers place their trust in Allah.
Who will bear witness to humanity in the Hereafter?
On the Day of Judgment, each person will meet every action that they
performed and every thought that crossed their minds when they were in
the world. As "... Allah is witness of all things" (Surat al-Hajj, 17)
informs us, Allah witnesses everything that each person does in the world.
The Qur'an mentions those who will serve as witnesses on that Day and
provides some details about them, as follows:
When they reach it, their hearing, sight, and skin
will testify against them concerning what they did. (Surat Fussilat, 20)
When all the Messengers are called together at
a time appointed [to bear witness for or against those to whom they conveyed
Allah's message.] (Surat al-Mursalat, 11)
How will it be when We bring a witness from every
nation and bring you as a witness against them? (Surat an-Nisa', 41)
Today We seal up their mouths and their hands speak
to us, and their feet bear witness to what they have earned. (Surah Ya
Earth will shine with the Pure Light of its Lord,
the Book will be put in place, and the Prophets and witnesses will be
brought. It will be decided between them with the truth, and they will
not be wronged. (Surat az-Zumar, 69)
On the Day We raise up a witness from every nation,
those who did not believe will not be excused, nor will they be able to
appease Allah. (Surat an-Nahl, 84)
On that Day We will raise up among every community
a witness against them from among themselves, and bring you as a witness
against them... (Surat an-Nahl, 89)
We will certainly help Our Messengers and those
who believe both in the life of this world and on the Day the witnesses
appear. (Surah Ghafir, 51)
Every self will come together with a driver and a witness. (Surah Qaf,
How should one behave toward arrogant people?
One of the believers' most important characteristics is their resolute
compliance with good morals and their beliefs, regardless of conditions,
people, or environment. For that reason, when they encounter any arrogance
in people, they do not fall into the same error as the person committing
it; rather, they behave modestly and humbly and try to set an example
for that person. Allah states that such behavior pleases Him, and that
responding to bad behavior with good will influence that person:
A good action and a bad action are not the same. Repel the bad with something
better and, if there is enmity between you and someone else, he will be
like a bosom friend. (Surah Fussilat, 34)
Do such concepts as impatience and despair have a place in a believer's
Allah advises the faithful to be patient in times of difficulty, as follows:
O You who believe. Be steadfast, be supreme in steadfastness, be firm
on the battlefield, and heed Allah so that hopefully you will be successful.
(Surah Al `Imran, 200)
Allah advises believers to be steadfast when they face hardship. The
believers use their intellect, as well as all material and spiritual means,
and do their utmost to overcome difficulties. In addition, knowing that
hardships are special conditions that Allah creates to test them and that
there is an absolute good hidden behind these events, they trust Allah,
for this is essential to their continued steadfastness. The believers'
explicit trust that Allah creates every event with absolute wisdom, and
that He will remove these difficulties by answering their prayers, prevents
them from experiencing despair, hopelessness, and similar negative feelings.
In "Say: 'My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves,
do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions.
He is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful,'" (Surat az-Zumar, 53) Allah
commands the believers not to despair of His mercy, no matter what happens.