Monday 13 June 2022

No one can share burden of sin committed by another - even though he be a near of kin

Sin is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law. No religion or culture advocates committing of sins or wrongdoings. Islam lays immense attention to committal of sins and cautions the believers to stay away from everything that has been ordained to be stayed away from.

And if the sin is committed, only the person who committed the sin will be help responsible and none other than him can carry the burden of his sin, no matter how close he may be. Even a son cannot bear the load of his father's sins, nor can father carry his son's sins.

There are many verses that caution men about committing sin for none will help them sharing even a small sin of his on the Day of Resurrection. We choose today 18th verse of Surah 18. Fatir with the same theme:

وَ لَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِّزۡرَ اُخۡرَىٰ ؕ وَاِنۡ تَدۡعُ مُثۡقَلَةٌ اِلٰى حِمۡلِهَا لَا يُحۡمَلۡ مِنۡهُ شَىۡءٌ وَّلَوۡ كَانَ ذَا قُرۡبٰى ؕ اِنَّمَا تُنۡذِرُ الَّذِيۡنَ يَخۡشَوۡنَ رَبَّهُمۡ بِالۡغَيۡبِ وَاَقَامُوا الصَّلٰوةَ ؕ وَمَنۡ تَزَكّٰى فَاِنَّمَا يَتَزَكّٰى لِنَفۡسِهٖ ؕ وَاِلَى اللّٰهِ الۡمَصِيۡرُ‏ 
(35:18) No one can bear another's burden. If a heavily laden one should call another to carry his load, none of it shall be carried by the other, even though he be a near of kin. (O Prophet), you can warn only those who fear their Lord without seeing Him and establish Prayer.41 Whoever purifies himself does so to his own good. To Allah is the final return.
"Burden": the burden of the responsibilities of actions. It means: In the sight of Allah every one is responsible for his own actions and for no one else's. There is no possibility that Allah will place the burden of one man's responsibility upon the other, nor is there the possibility that a person will take the burden of another's responsibility upon himself and get himself seized for the crime committed by the other. This thing has been said here because the polytheist kinsmen and relatives of the people who were embracing Islam in Makkah, used to urge them, saying, Give up Islam and return to your ancestral faith. We take the responsibility of any punishment etc. on ourselves."

In the preceding sentence, Allah's law of justice has been enunciated, according to which He will not seize any person for the sin committed by another, but will hold everyone responsible for his own sin. In this sentence the Muslims have been told: `Those who urge you to give up faith and commit evil on the assurance that they will take on themselves the burden of your sins on the Day of Resurrection, are in fact giving you a false hope. When Resurrection comes and the people see what fate they are going to meet in consequence of their misdeed, everyone will be concerned only about himself. Brother will turn away from brother and father from son, and no one will be prepared to take even an atom's weight of another's burden on himself." 

In other words, "Your warnings cannot have any effect on obstinate and stubborn people. Your admonitions can bring only such people to the right path, who have fear of God in their hearts, and who are inclined to bow before their real Master." 

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
(And no bearer of burdens shall bear another's burden;) means, on the Day of Resurrection.

(and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, ) means, if the person who is carrying a heavy burden calls someone else to help him carry his load, all or part of it,

(nothing of it will be lifted even though he be near of kin.) means, even if he is closely-related to him, even if he is his father or son, for each person will be preoccupied with his own self and his own situation. Then Allah says:

(You can warn only those who fear their Lord unseen and perform the Salah.) means, `the only ones who will draw a lesson from what you have brought are those who are possessed of insight and wisdom, who fear their Lord and who do as He commands.'

(And he who purifies himself, then he purifies only for the benefit of himself.) means, who does righteous deeds, the benefit of that will come back to him,

And to Alla0h is the Return. means, to Him everything will ultimately return, and He is swift in bringing to account. He will reward or punish everyone according to his deeds: if they are good, then the end will be good, and if they are bad, then the end will be bad.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
( AND NO BEARER of burdens shall be made to hear another's burden; ) I.e., on Judgment Day - for "whatever [wrong] any human being commits rests upon him alone" ( 6:164 , which is followed by a sentence identical with the one above).

( and if one weighed down by his load calls upon [another] to help him carry it, nothing thereof may be carried [by that other], even if it be one's near of kin. ) Thus, any transfer of moral responsibility from one person to another is shown to be impossible. Whereas the first part of the above statement implies a negation of the Christian doctrine of "original sin" with which mankind is supposedly burdened, the second part categorically refutes the doctrine of the "vicarious atonement" of that sin by Jesus. (See also 53:38 and the corresponding note [31].)

( Hence, thou canst [truly] warn only those who stand in awe of their Sustainer although He is beyond the reach of their perception, ) For an explanation of this rendering of bi'l-ghayb, see surah {2}, note [3]. The meaning is that only those "who believe in the existence of that which is beyond the reach of human perception" can really benefit by the "warning" inherent in the preceding statement. (See also {27:8-81} and {30:52-53}.)

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Natural relationship may be considered as a reasonable cause or opportunity for bearing each other's burdens. For example, a mother or a father might offer to die for her or his child, and vice versa. But this does not apply to spiritual matters. There the responsibility is strictly personal and cannot be transferred to another. In xxix. 13 we are told that the misleaders "will bear other burdens along with their own"; but the context shows that the "other" burdens are the burdens of deluding others with their falsehoods. Both sins are their own, viz., their original sin, and the sin of deluding the others. But the responsibility will be doubled.

Bil-gaibi "  بِالۡغَيۡبِ ": unseen in the adverbial sense. The man, who, though he does not see Allah, so realizes Allah's Presence in himself as if he saw Him, is the man of genuine Faith, and for him Allah's Revelation comes through many channels and is always fruitful.

Prayer is one of the means of purifying ourselves of lower motives in life, for in prayer we seek the Presence of Allah. But the purity which we seek is for our own souls: we confer no favour on Allah or on any Power in the spiritual world, as some imagine who make "gifts" to Allah. In any case the destination of all is to Allah.

Qur'an Wiki:
The sūrah then emphasizes individual responsibility, which means that everyone will have what they deserve. No one benefits anyone else in any way. The Prophet has no personal interest in guiding people to the truth. Everyone bears his or her own burden, alone, without help. Therefore a person who seeks to be pure will be the only one to benefit from this endeavour. The matter is ultimately left to God to determine. The fact of individual responsibility and reward has a decisive effect on morality and behaviour. When people are fully aware that they are rewarded according to their own deeds, that none will be responsible for anyone else, and that none can escape responsibility, they realize the need to take stock of their actions before they have to answer for them. At the same time, this is reassuring, because no individual needs to worry about answering for the actions of his community. As long as he has done his duty, giving advice to his community to follow divine guidance, no further responsibility is laid on him. God Almighty does not hold mankind to account for their collective actions. They account to Him individually, each for their own work. It is the duty of the individual to advise others and try hard to bring them into line. Once he has done this, however, he bears no responsibility for their wickedness or corruption. He will he credited for his own good work. Similarly, if he lives in a good community, its goodness will not benefit him if he himself is wicked.

We see, then, an image of a multitude, each person carrying his or her own burden, with none able to help others. Even if someone requests help from the closest of relatives, none will oblige. It is thus a long queue, with people carrying loads and moving towards the check-point where the load will he weighed. Everyone is tired, preoccupied with the heaviness of their load, unable to think of others, even their own kin.

At this point, the sūrah’s address is directed to the Prophet: “Hence, you can truly warn only those who stand in awe of their Lord, even though He is beyond the reach of their perception, and attend regularly to prayers.” It is such people that can really appreciate the warning: they are the ones who fear God even though they have not seen Him, and who attend to their worship so as to maintain relations with Him. The Prophet is told that these are the ones to benefit by admonition. Others, who have no fear of God, need not worry him.

“Whoever purifies himself does so for his own benefit.” No one receives the benefit of purification except the one who does it. Moreover, purification has pleasant and transparent connotations that apply to one’s heart, thoughts, feelings, behaviour and attitudes. “With God is all journeys’ end.” He is the one who reckons people’s actions and rewards them accordingly. Nothing good or evil is overlooked.

Please listen to explanation of the ayat by eminent Muslim scholar Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more selected verses on the subject, refer to our Reference Page: Selected Verses from Qur'an: Slandering and False Accusations and Sins

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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