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Are We Accountable for the Sins of Others if We Had an Indirect Role Therein?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org
Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question 

Are we accountable for the sins of others if we had some role therein but without our permission or knowledge? Someone finds a smoker’s cigarettes and smokes them, but without the smoker’s knowledge, whether he is dead or alive.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate. 

We pray that Allah guides us to lives of peace and contentment in this life and the next.

We are not accountable for the sins of others except to the extent of our facilitation or involvement therein, and Allah knows best.

General Accountability of Sin

In general, one has no control over the actions of others and will not be held accountable by Allah for their deeds. Allah says: “And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” [Qur’an 6:164]

Accountability for Enabling Sin

If our actions enable or facilitate sinning for others, we incur a share of the blame. Allah says: “Whoever intercedes for a good cause will have a share in the reward, and whoever intercedes for an evil cause will have a share in the burden. And Allah is Watchful over all things.” [Qur’an 4:85] 

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever starts a good thing and is followed by others, will have his reward and a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their reward in any way. Whoever starts a bad thing and is followed therein will bear his and the follower’s burden (of sin) without detracting from their burden. [Tirmidhi]  – This applies whether the initiator is alive or not, and Allah knows best.

[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. He served as the resident Imam of Masjid al-Munowar in Retreat, Cape Town, for several years.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.

 

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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