I needed to know that if we make mistakes due to ignorance or lack of knowledge about matters related to religion and daily life, will we be held accountable? I have read so many places in Quran that Allah is most forgiving but despite this some traditional scholars are of the view that we are still accountable for any or all mistakes we make. They say thay ignorance is not an excuse. Do you agree with this in the light of Quran and Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH)? I know once we do find out that we did something wrong then it is mandatory on us to not repeat those mistakes but is there forgiveness in our religion for mistakes done due to ignorance or misunderstanding about matters of daily life and transactions? Jazzak Allah.
[The fact is that] God does not burden anyone beyond his capacity. – Al Baqarah 2:286
The above fact has been given in the Qur’an in 6 different places, emphasising that in the eyes of God, we are not accountable for anything that is beyond our ability.
The word “mistake” can be interpreted in different ways.
Perhaps a good way that we can put it is like this:
We have two types of mistakes-
Unintentional Mistakes: These are mistakes that are not easily avoidable. For instance you are offered a drink in a gathering and you have no idea that the drink might include wine. You drink a bit (naturally drinking wine) and you realise it had wine in the ingredients. This is a mistake that could not be avoided. To expect you to avoid this mistake means asking you to go beyond the extent of your ability. This means you are not considered accountable for drinking the wine by the above-described mistake.
Intentional Mistakes: These are mistakes that can be avoided fairly easy. For example, in the above scenario, assume you know that there is a possibility that the drinks have wine in them. You are offered a drink. You can easily ask if it has wine in the ingredient however because of feeling shame or laziness you do not ask this. After drinking the wine you realise that it included wine. In this case, asking about the drink after being suspicious is not something that can be seen as “going beyond the extend of ability”. You are therefore accountable for drinking wine.
I think what you are referring to as the opinion of some of the scholars about mistake is in fact about “intentional” mistake and not unintentional mistake. (note these are only words that are used here, they are not standard expressions).
Translation of the complete verse (No. 286) of Surah Al Baqarah follows:
[The fact is that] God does not burden anyone beyond his capacity; every soul will have what it has earned and it will be held responsible only for its own doing – [Knowing this, they call out to God, imploring:] Lord, do not hold us accountable, if we err or forget; Lord, do not put upon us responsibilities of the likes of what you put upon those before us; Lord, do not burden us with a load that we cannot bear; forgive us; cleanse us of our sins; have mercy upon us; You are our Master, therefore, help us against these rejecters.
May 23, 2005