Interpretation of Sura al-Fatir - Verse 18
18. “And no one laden bears the burden of another; and if one heavy-burdened calls for its load to be carried, not a thing of it will be carried, even if he be a near kinsman. You warn only those who fear their Lord in secret and keep up prayer. And whoever purifies (himself), he only purifies for his own self. And Unto Allah (alone) is the destination (of all).”
Based on justice, everyone must carry his own burden. The verse says:
“And no one laden bears the burden of another; …”
In the Hereafter, the Record and Reckoning of everybody is separate from those of others.
In the Qur’a-n we recite that, in order to deceive others, a group of disbelievers say: “… follow our path and we will certainly bear (the burdens of) your sins’. …” 35 This verse is an answer to them.
Question: Taking this verse which says in Hereafter the burden of everybody is on one’s own shoulder and it does not harm others, can we say we should leave alone the sinners, because they themselves will carry the burden of their own sins and it does not relate to us?
Answer: This verse does not justify the silence before unlawful things, because undue silence itself is a sin upon those who commit this action. Our duty is to bid the right and forbid the wrong, but if they did not follow it, their sin would not be upon us.
The Qur’a-nic term /wizr/ means the heaviness and a load. The Arabic word /mu?qalah/ means the weight of a load. The word /himl/ refers to the load on the back while /haml/ refers to the load in the womb. (Mufrada-t by Ra-gib)
This Qur’a-nic sentence: “And no one laden bears the burden of another. …” is one of the basic fundamentals in Islamic convictions. In fact, on one side, it relates to the justice of Allah that He counts everybody pledged in his own action, rewards his righteous efforts and endeavours, and gives retribution for his sins.
On the other side, it points to the severity of the divine punishment on the Day of Hereafter when nobody agrees to carry the burden of the sin of another person, even though he had been fond of him extraordinarily.
Being attentive to this meaning has a great effect in man’s self-improvement, because whoever is careful of himself he never tends to corruption with the pretext that his entourage or his environment is polluted. He does not count the pollution of the environment as a justification for his own pollution, because everybody carries his own burden.
On the other side, it gives man such a conception and understanding that the reckoning of Allah with societies is not a total and a lamp reckoning, but everybody will be reckoned separately and independently. That is, if he has done his duty both in relation to his purification and struggle against corruption, there will be no fear and horror on him, although all humankind totally, except him, are polluted with infidelity, polytheism, injustice, and sins.
Principally, no training program will be effective without attracting the attentions to this basic principle.
This very subject is referred to in the second sentence in another form. It says:
“… and if one heavy-burdened calls for its load to be carried, not a thing of it will be carried, even if he be a near kinsman. …”
An Islamic tradition indicates that on the Day of Hereafter there will be brought a mother and a son both of whom have a heavy burden of sins. The mother asks her son to carry a part of her burden of sin and responsibility instead of those labours she tolerated in the world for him. The son will say to the mother to get distance from him, because he is involved in difficulty more than her. (The Commentary of Abul-Futu-h, Qurtubi-, and Rauh-ul-Baya-n)
Finally, in the third sentence this fact is revealed that the warnings of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) affect only in the receptive hearts, where it says:
“… You warn only those who fear their Lord in secret and keep up prayer. …”
The warnings of Divine prophets and Allah’s friends will not have any effect unless there is the fear of Allah in the heart, and the one does not feel the observance of a spiritual power over him inwardly and outwardly, and by establishing the daily prayers which survives his heart and causes him to remember Allah, he does not help this inner feeling.
At the beginning of an action, when a person has chosen no faith and has not believed, if he has not a truth-seeking character and does not feel responsibility before the cognition of the facts, he will not hearken to the invitation of prophets, and consequently he will not contemplate over the Divine signs in the world of existence.
In the fourth sentence, the verse returns again to this fact that Allah is self-sufficient from all. It adds:
“… And whoever purifies (himself), he only purifies for his own self. …”
And, at last, in the fifth and the last sentence, it warns that if the good doers and the evil doers do not reach the result of their deeds in this world, it does not matter because the return of all is to Him. It says:
“… And Unto Allah (alone) is the destination (of all).”
35. Sura Al-'Ankabu-t, No. 29, verse 12
Adopted from the book : "The Light of the Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Surah al-Fatir" by : "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and a Group of Muslim Scholars"
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