Analysis of the responsibility related to sin, and whether ignorance is an excuse.

60 The Review of Religions – August 2007 … and Satan made all that they did seem fair to them. (Ch.6:V.44) One of man’s most vain fantasies is to escape the consequences of his actions, to do everything he pleases and be accountable for nothing, not to others, not to himself, nor to God. One means to this end is ignorance. If one is unaware that an action is wrong, one is not as accountable as one who does wrong intentionally. Thus, if one convinces himself that one is ignorant of the wrong in one’s actions, theoretically, one is not responsible. Accountability seems to dissi- pate in a myriad of deliberate confusions and calculated mis- understandings. In the desperate pursuit of this vain freedom, one is capable of going to great lengths to pretend to oneself that there is nothing wrong with what one wants. The last resort of the irrational is to rationalise one’s actions. Some may be inclined to believe that this is far-fetched and rare, but on the contrary it is quite common. Such people under- estimate what foolishness man is capable. However great our intellectual capacity may be, proportional is our ability to use that capacity towards the most senseless purposes. And Satan made their deeds appear good to them, and thus turned them away from the path, sagacious though they were. (Ch.29: V.39) Rationalisation constantly mani- fests itself before us in various forms. For example, people are always convincing themselves that a lie, carefully worded, is not Rationalisation By Rizwan Khan – USA 61The Review of Religions – August 2007 actually a lie, or that cheating on a test, done with certain intentions, is not actually cheating. These are common occurrences which we witness regularly or may even be guilty of ourselves. We turn a blind eye to the obvious evil in our actions in the hope that, as a result, we will not be answerable. Is he, then, to whom the evil of his deeds are made to appear pleasing, so that he looks upon it as good, like him who believes and does good deeds?… (Ch.35: V.9) If we were straight-forward with ourselves, we would realise that we cannot divert blame for such faults away from ourselves by claiming ignorance. The fact is that we ourselves are responsible for that ignorance, for deliberately imposing it upon ourselves. If we try to fool ourselves into unconsciously doing a wrong, we cannot escape responsibility for consciously fooling ourselves and everything which results there- from. The responsibility of our actions which we seek to escape ultimately finds its way directly back to us. This deliberate ignorance, which we imagine is our freedom from responsibility for our wrongs, is, in itself, the worst wrong. Under its cover, we permit ourselves a host of new evils from which we would have otherwise abstained. In its delusional bliss, we sink deeper into self-righteous hypocrisy. Through it, we open a Pandora’s Box of wrongs from which we had previously been secure. When we rationalise an evil, we know it. Though we may convince ourselves on the surface, deep down we are always aware of the truth which we conceal from ourselves. It is for this reason that people always become so defensive when it is brought to their attention. Every defence mechanism in our personality reveals an insecurity which we seek to protect. The sad result of this state of RATIONALISATION 62 The Review of Religions – August 2007 affairs is that, though we may know the difference between right and wrong, that knowledge fails to benefit us at all. When we make up our minds to believe what we need to in order to do what we want to, we abandon any advantage our knowledge could have afforded us. We may know what is right, but fail to profit from it; we may believe in the religion, but fail to gain from it. Under such circumstances, we find ourselves with scholars who know everything and comprehend nothing, with saints who believe in everything but have faith in nothing. The corruption of this hypocrisy is centred on one phenomenon, rationalisation. Rather than administering the anaesthetics of ignorance to subdue the symptoms of our moral diseases, perhaps it would be far better that we simply confront ourselves for what we are and be straight forward in our actions. RATIONALISATION ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS IN The Review of Religions and see sales scale to new heights. Existing adverts can be placed and sponsorship on regular features is available in this longest running worldwide Muslim monthly magazine in the English language. 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