Home Quranet Chapter 7 Should we judge an individual according to his own conduct or by his family’s conduct?
Should we judge an individual according to his own conduct or by his family’s conduct?
Chapter 7

قُلْ أَتُحَآجُّونَنَا فِي اللّهِ وَهُوَ رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكُمْ وَلَنَا أَعْمَالُنَا وَلَكُمْ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُخْلِصُونَ (سورۃ البقرة, آيۃ 139)

Say: Will ye dispute with us about Allah, seeing that He is our Lord and your Lord; that we are responsible for our doings and ye for yours; and that We are sincere (in our faith) in Him? (Surah 2, Verse 139)

Amina is in the sixth grade. She is gifted and well-mannered, is generally liked and likes everyone. Recently her uncle was sentenced to a long prison term for drug trading. Since then the entire village has turned its back on the family and nobody wants contact with them. The children have begun snubbing Amina. They jeer at her and refuse to invite her to their homes. In her distress, Amina appealed to the school counselor and described the situation. "I didn't choose him as my uncle", she said to the counselor. "It's God's choice and I accept His will. But let them at least treat me like a human being because I have feelings as well". At the next education hour, the counselor came into the class and talked about accepting that which is different in all kinds of areas - religious, social, cultural etc. She also emphasized how important it is to judge individuals only on the basis of their own actions and not those of their relatives, because each of us is responsible for his actions and not those of others. She asked the pupils how they would feel if someone in their family had committed a crime and they were being judged because of it. One of the pupils said that he knew why the counselor had chosen this subject for discussion - it was because of Amina. She confirmed it, took out the Quran and asked the pupil to read out Verse 139 of Surah 2: "that we are responsible for our doings and ye for yours".

After the lesson many of the pupils went over to Amina and asked her pardon. Several of them invited her to their homes.

Explanation: we often tend to judge an individual according to his or her family. For example, when parents seek to arrange a marriage for a son or daughter, they sometimes make great effort to uncover details about the family of the future bride or groom. It is customary to think that if someone is from a good family, there is a greater chance that he will be a good person than if he comes from a dubious family. But both the Quran and plain logic caution us against generalization which may be doing an injustice. One should try to judge an individual on the basis of his own actions and not those of his relatives. Thus, we may gain the impression that someone is a positive human being although several of his relatives are known for wrongdoing. This is the case with Amina and children like her who suffer because someone in their family has committed a crime. If we judge the individual on the basis of his own actions, we will be encouraging him to feel that he is responsible for his fate. If my good name depends on my family why should I make an effort? I have already been labeled as bad, been told that I resembled my relatives and I will have no alternative but to be like them. But if I alone am responsible for my reputation and my fate, it is worth my while to behave well. In this way the Quran encourages the individual to take responsibility for his actions, and to judge others solely according to their actions.