Reflection No. 306 on Q 14:22 – Blaming Others

فَلَا تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ ۖ
Falā talūmūnī walūmū anfusakum
And do not blame me but blame yourselves
(Sūrat Ibrahim, No.14, Āyat 22)

Blaming others is an easy option for not accepting a mistake we might have done. This is true for anything that is wrong in our lives, or our relationships, our actions . . . etc. It is so more pleasant to throw the blame on others than to look within and find fault with ourselves.

This habit of playing the blame game will stay with the human being and on the Day of Judgement he will try it with the Shaytān. Eager to escape the displeasure of Allah and avoid personal responsibility, he will shift the blame for his evil deeds to the Shaytān who whispered to him and led him on. But Shaytān will fight back and this verse tells us what he will say. He will explain that he only called towards wrong. It was the human being who made the choice to follow that calling and do wrong. Ultimate responsibility thus lies with the human being himself. There may have been preconditions that made him vulnerable to the suggestions of Satan, but these preconditions were also brought about by choices made by the human being.

An example is when a human being is in a predicament and Shaytān suggests that he lie in order to get out of it. Prevailing conditions such as not having foresight, lacking taqwā or God consciousness, being afraid of others, lacking confidence , etc. make the human being more vulnerable. He thus makes the choice of telling the lie. But he has also made a lot of earlier choices that led to this eventual fall.

After the lie he may look around for who to blame instead of accepting responsibility. So he may blame the people who he was afraid of, or the circumstances that led to the predicament, etc. Over time such behavior can become so natural and ingrained that the human being does not even realize it. He believes it is the truth. It is only with knowledge and awareness that he is able to see the truth behind it. Imam Ali (a) says: Knowledge breaks up the excuse of those who make excuses (Nahjul Balāgha, Saying 284).

Blaming others is negative energy that spreads to all those involved. A lot of mental energy is wasted on finding someone to blame, thinking of excuses, etc. instead of using that energy to accept and move on. It becomes an obstacle to growth and progress which are only possible after admitting mistakes and finding solutions.

The following quote about blaming others is insightful:
As the opposite of responsibility, blame is so popular because it temporarily liberates you. It gives you a short-term emotional fix; you feel better for the time being. However, blaming others is ultimately immobilizing. It holds you back and cuts the legs right out from under your full potential for joy. Blame is like an emotional dirty bomb. (

Remind yourself of this verse and know that often it is your own choices that are to blame for a wrong you have done. Do not put the blame on others. Even if they did wrong, you chose to react and respond in a certain manner. Look within and you will find the potential to change and grow. Do not allow the habit of blaming others to conceal that potential.

Amīrul Mu’minīn Ali bin Abu Talib (a), Nahjul Balāgha;
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;
Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr-e Nūr