Will we be held responsible for the sins that we commit unknowingly? That is, is there a difference between a person who commits a sin deliberately and a person who commits a sin without knowing that it is a sin?

Details of the Question

There is a saying, "Is a person who knows equal to a person who does not know?" In that case, is there a difference between a person who commits a sin deliberately and a person who commits a sin without knowing that it is a sin? Is a person who commits a sin without knowing that it is a sin punished less severely? Is his responsibility less?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The origin of the saying "Is a person who knows equal to a person who does not know?" in your question is a verse in the Quran:

"... Say: 'Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?' It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition." (az-Zumar, 39/9).

The rewards people get for the good deeds they do by searching and knowing about them very well are more than the rewards they get for the good deeds they do by imitating others. Similarly, the punishment for a sin committed deliberately is not equal to a sin committed without knowing that it is a sin. 

However, if a person has not learned something that he has to know due to his neglect and commits a sin consequently, his responsibility will not decrease very much.

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