Assalamu Alaikum. I would like to ask you something that has been striking my curiosity lately. I’m intrigued on whether individuals who are born Christians are accountable for being Christians when in fact, it is the reality they are born to. Like, if they do actions that are prohibited in Islam but not so in Christianity, will it be weighed among their bad deeds on the Day of Judgement? Because, again, it is the faith that they were born into and I know plenty of Christians who are themselves religious and they pursue these things that, while prohibited in Islam, are not necessarily prohibited in Christianity.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Mercy-Giving.
All praise is due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon his Prophet Muhammad.
A Muslim has to cherish an unshakable belief that, “Indeed, Allah does not wrong people in anything. But rather, [it is] people [who] wrong themselves.” (Yunus 10:44)
Allah has created humankind for a purpose explicitly stated in a Quranic verse that reads, “And I have not created [either] jinn or human beings [for any other end] but to worship Me [alone].” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)
The Quran in many verses asserts that this worldly life is but a test to distinguish those who follow the divine guidance from those who choose other paths. Allah has given man reason as well as other necessary faculties that enable him to look for the truth and follow the right path.
We read in the Quran what means, “Indeed, it is We [alone] who have created man from a sperm-drop of mingled fluid to try him [in life]. Thus did We make him [a being endowed with] hearing and seeing. Indeed, it is We [alone] who have shown him the way to be either thankful or ungrateful.” (Al-Insan 76:2-3)
Prophets and messengers were sent to guide people and to leave no excuse for anyone to go astray. Allah says what means, “They were messengers- bearers of glad tidings and forewarners- so that after [the coming of] the messengers people would have no argument before Allah [to justify their misdeeds]. Indeed, ever is Allah overpowering, all-wise.” (An-Nisaa 4:165)
Therefore, Allah will rebuke and scold those who have turned deaf ear to Allah’s messengers and the sings of truth, “O fellowship of jinn and humans! Did there not come to you messengers from among yourselves relating to you My [revealed] signs and forewarning you of the [inevitable] Meeting of this Day of yours? They will say: We do so bear witness against ourselves! For the life of the world [utterly] deluded [the disbelievers among] them. Thus they [who denied the messengers] shall bear witness against themselves that they were, indeed, disbelievers.” [6:130]
Islam is the true religion of Allah with the essence of which He sent all prophets and messengers. To disbelieve in the true religion of Islam is enough for a non-Muslim to enter the Hellfire as long as he/she has come to know about it, no matter how much good deeds he/she might have done in this world. The Quran declares “And so, anyone [after this] who seeks [submission to Allah through] a religion other than Islam [as revealed to all the prophets]- never shall it be accepted from him! Moreover, in the Hereafter, he shall be among the losers” (Aal Imran 3:85) and says, “And We shall turn to the deeds they have done and turn them into scattered dust.” (Al-Furqan 25:23)
Non-Muslims receive the reward of their good deeds in this world, for Allah never wrongs anyone in the least. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The unbeliever will be rewarded for his good deeds in this world insomuch that when he comes in the Hereafter he will have no good deed to be rewarded for.” (Muslim) The unbeliever’s evil deeds are additional reasons for more torment in the Hellfire.
Non-Muslims will not be held accountable for being born as non-Muslims, but for their refusal or indifference to follow the true religion of Islam after having come to know about it. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By Him in whose Hand Muhammad’s soul is, anyone of these people, a Jew or a Christian, who hears of me and then dies without believing in my message, will be among those who will go to the Hellfire.” (Muslim)
Following the footsteps of the forefathers and adhering to their religions and traditions have always been the excuse of the unbelievers. The Quran says what means, “And so it is that We have never sent before you a forewarner to any community, without its affluent saying: Indeed, we found our forefathers adhering to a certain religion. And upon their traces, we shall follow. [Thus each messenger] said: [Will you continue thereupon] even if I bring you [to] a more guided way than the [path] to which you have found your forefathers [adhering? Always], they said: Indeed, we are disbelievers in all that you [claim to] have been sent with [from Allah].” (Az-Zukhruf 43-23-24)
Only if a non-Muslim has never heard about the true religion (because he lived in an isolated island, for example,) or has happened to have a mental or physical defect (such as insanity or being deaf and blind) that has disallowed him/her from knowing the truth, this will be an excuse; since this person had no chance to know of the divine guidance. Such a person will be tested on the Day of Resurrection.
According to a prophetic report, people with such excuses will be asked on the Day of Resurrection to give a pledge to obey Allah’s command. Then He will send a messenger to them commanding them to enter the Hellfire. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By the One in Whose Hands Muhammad’ soul is, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.” (Ahmad)
It is a test for unquestionable obedience to Allah and thus those who will disobey will bear the consequences.
Almighty Allah knows best.
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