have shown that certain physical and biological characteristics are
inherited from parents by their offspring. This includes traits such as hair
color, height, facial features, eye color, etc. Also, it is known that
certain genetic diseases are transmitted from parents to offspring such as
diabetes, sickle cell anemia, heart disease and high blood pressure, and
various neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
However, there is no
established scientific link between actual behavioral characteristics and
genetic inheritance. A father or mother, inclined towards evil deeds, cannot
pass such characteristics onto their children. Behavioral traits are widely
understood to be the result of one’s environment and upbringing.
From the Qur’ān we understand
that an individual does not inherit the sins of other people or of his
forefathers. The clearest example of this is Islam’s rejection of the
doctrine of Original Sin that exists in Christianity. Every individual is
responsible for his/ her own actions before Allah. Similarly, we cannot say
as an excuse that we were engaged in wrongdoings only because our
forefathers were involved in the same evil acts. It is up to the individual
to think and reflect on his ethical and moral condition and make decisions
between right and wrong based on reasoning and more importantly on the
guidance provided by divine revelation.
Therefore, the answer to your
question, in short, is that we are indeed responsible for our own actions.
Genetic inheritance refers only to physical traits and not ethical or moral
values upon which we base our lives. Every individual bears the weight of
his own misdeeds and the benefit of his righteous actions. Before Allah, the
individual person will be accountable for that which he has done, and not
what has been done at the hands of his forefathers.