It is not difficult to imagine that individuals will be responsible for their actions, but what about children and those who are mentally disabled, or those who have never heard of religion? What does Islam say about them? This short article will explain the position from the Quran and the Hadith.
Statements from the Quran
36|54|On that Day, no soul will be wronged in the least, and you will be recompensed only for what you used to do.
99|7|Whoever has done an atom’s weight of good will see it.
99|8|And whoever has done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.
So there will come a day when all the good things and the bad things will be accounted for and God will decide if your scales of good outweigh the bad things you have done.
2|286|God does not burden any soul beyond its capacity. To its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits. “Our Lord, do not condemn us if we forget or make a mistake…
How will the scales be judged? It depends on your capabilities, so someone who is very intelligent, knowledgeable with means at their disposal would be judged differently to one who is simple, poor, with no way to effect the world around him. That is straight forward enough, but what about children, and the mentally ill?
In surah 9 the different types of people are discussed, the good, the bad, the ones who have done both good and bad, and then there’s the group who are neither :
9|106|Others are held in suspense, awaiting God’s decree, as to whether He will punish them, or accept their repentance. God is Aware and Wise.
Hadith from Al Kafi
H 2877, CH 167, h 1 Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from Yunus from certain individuals of his people from Zurara who has said the following: “Once I asked abu Ja’far, recipient of divine supreme covenant, about feeble-minded (weak) people. The Imam said, ‘They are those who have no means to become unbelievers and cannot find guidance to belief. They are not able to establish belief or to become unbelievers. Of such people are children and those of men and women who are of children’s mentality; the pen is held back from writing to hold them responsible.’”
H 2881, CH 167, h 5 It is narrated from him (narrator of the Hadith above) from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa’id from Fudalah ibn Ayyub from ‘Umar ibn Aban who has said the following: “Once I asked abu ‘Abd Allah, recipient of divine supreme covenant, about the feeble-minded people. The Imam said, ‘They are the people under guardianship.’ I then asked, ‘What kind of guardianship is it?’ The Imam said, ‘It is not a religious guardianship. It is guardianship in marriages, inheritance and social affairs. They are neither believers nor unbelievers. There are those among them for whom one may hope in the command of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy.’”
H 4713, Ch. 92, h 6 Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from ibn abu ‘Umayr from Hisham who has said the following: “Abu ‘Abd Allah, ‘Alayhi al-Salam, has said that the Messenger of Allah was asked about those who die in the interval (between the passing away of one prophet and coming of the other), those who have not committed sins, and people with severe mental conditions. He replied, ‘Allah argues against them by lighting up a fire and telling them to walk in it. Those who go in the fire it becomes cool and peaceful for them and to those who refuse Allah will say, “Consider, I just commanded you but you disobeyed Me.”’”