Compulsion and Hereditary Traits
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Aasil Ahmad

You know that science says that the chromosomes and DNA are responsible for the characteristics being transferred from forefathers to their offspring. If this is true, then how come we are responsible for some of our bad actions that we perform since we inherited them from our forefathers? Kindly respond in detail, both scientifically and religiously.


Scientific discoveries 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.


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