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Age of responsibility

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Arnold Yasin Mol

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:17 pm    Post subject: Age of responsibility Reply with quote

Question through Email by a young sister:

"I think if a young child dies who is aware of good and bad he will be questioned about his deeds whether good or nad whereas my brother is of the view that if that child dies he wont be questioned since he was just a child and his deeds don't matter as he was just a child ( In Process Of Learning). My point is that WILL A SMALL CHILD WHO CAB DISTINGISH BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD BE REWARDED FOR HIS DEEDS ( By deeds i mean; Not cheating in class, giving money to the poor from his pocket money or or maybe watching indecent stuff on t.v?)
I have tried my best to explain you my point, hope you get it. Though I have many other questions in my mind which i can't really explain. As my mother say that i will get an answer to them as soon as i get a bigger"
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Arnold Yasin Mol

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To answer your question, you have to understand that life is a purifying experience. It is called a fitnah, which literally means 'to purify gold'. When you become older and learn the difference between right or wrong, you are responsible for your deeds to a certain level. The responsibility will increase with age. For example look at verse 46:15:

46:15 Now, We have enjoined upon man goodness toward his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the child and his total dependence on her took thirty months. And so, when he attains maturity and reaches forty years, he says, "My Lord! Enable me to be grateful for the blessings You have given me and to my parents, and that I may do works that meet Your Approval. And cause my generations to be righteous as well. Verily, unto You I turn, and truly do I submit to You." (2:233, 7:189, 31:14).

46:16 Such are those from whom We accept the best of their deeds and We shall absolve their imperfections. They are among the dwellers of Paradise. This is the True Promise that is made to them. ('Best of their deeds' indicates Allah's Reward surpassing the best of the best).

So when a person attains maturity and when he reaches forty, and his faith is the main course of his life. That persons deeds will be accepted.
But when a person reaches the age of forty, and still denies, he will be lost in his denial and doesn't develop his Self/Nafs.

46:17 And whoever says to his parents, "Shameful it is for both of you! Do you threaten me that I shall be brought forth again although so many generations have passed away before me?" And they both pray for Allah’s help and say, "Alas for you! Believe! Behold, Allah’s promise always comes true. But he replies, "All this is nothing but fables of the ancient."

46:18 Such are the ones against whom the Word came to pass among the previous generations of the rural and the urban. Verily, they will be lost!

46:19 And for all there will be ranks according to what they did that He may recompense their actions. And none shall be wronged.

So you can see that the level of responsibility for your deeds will reach its full when above 40. A child will be judged according to his age. Even though he might known the difference between right and wrong. He is still not old enough to have experienced the result of his deeds. This is also why you have adult punishments and child punishments in the court of laws in Europe. The same holds for Allah. Also remember that Heaven and Hell, Jannah and Jahannam, are not to places, but states of existence. In the Next Life, how you will feel is determined by how well you have developed your being. How much you have alligned your Nafs with the Laws of Allah.

Jannah is reaching the full potential of a Nafs, Jahannam is lacking behind in this development and thus will be experienced as pain and grief and regret. A child has not even reached its full potential of his natural body, how then can it even be judged as a developed mature person?

I hope this answers your questions a bit. You were right to some extent, and also was your brother. The child will be confronted with its deeds, but not on the same level as a grown mature person would have been confronted. Allah is Rahman, the ultimate Source of Mercy and Nourishment to perfection.
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Joined: 22 Dec 2006
Posts: 186
Location: dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is the job of the parent of the child, while in this life, to question their deeds, call them to account for their actions and let each mistake present not a perceived obstacle, but an opportunity for maturity.

My eldest son took a small red rubber ball from a local pharmacy at age three. As we left, he pulled it out of his pocket and said "Look Mama. I got a ball." Did I yell at him? Of course not. He was innocent and did not understand theft.

I squatted down to his eye level and explained the concept of theft. We then proceeded back into the store where I gave him money to pay for the item. After that, I made it a habit to occasionally allow the child to pick out and make a small purchase, letting him both pay for the item and request a receipt. It solidified the concept that you do not take things from a merchant without paying him.

Children can have very tender personalities. And we can drive them from us if we do not handle them carefully. Always speak to your child in a measured tone. Speak the truth on their level. Ask them questions that will cause them to reflect on consequences. Give them a swat or two, if required, but never a beating. And then later, if you need to drive to a field and scream out loud just to relieve your own stress, please do so! Children upset our very pleasant lives at times, but they are worth it! And in teaching them to learn from their mistakes, they make better choices along the way.

Tammy Swofford, a mother of sons
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