The Quran

Commentaries for 17.15

Bani Israil (The Israelites) - الإسراء

17.15 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Whosoever goeth right) whosoever believes, (it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right) the reward for his belief will go to himself, (and whosoever erreth) and whoever disbelieves, (erreth only to its hurt) the punishment for his disbelief will be against his soul. (No laden soul can bear another's load) no soul laden with sin shall bear another person's sins with a good disposition of the soul, but rather she will bear them through retaliation; it is also said that this means: no soul will be punished for the sins committed by another soul; and it is also said that this means: no soul shall be chastised for the sins of another. (We never punish) a folk by causing their destruction (until We have sent) to them (a messenger) in order to establish a proof against them.
17.15 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Whoever is guided, is guided only to [the good of] his own soul, because the reward of his guidance will be for him; and whoever goes astray, goes astray only to its [his soul’s] detriment, because the sin thereof will be held against it. No burdened, [no] sinful, soul shall bear the burden of another, soul. And We never chastise, anyone, until We have sent a messenger, to make clear to him that which is his obligation.
17.15 Kashani - Kashani
No burdened soul shall bear the burden of another, because of the deep-rootedness in it of the configuration of what it has done and because of its [this configuration] becoming a disposition that adheres to it, to the exclusion of what one other than it has done and of which nothing has affected it. The one who is chastised is only chastised for the configurations which are in him and not because of anything external to him. And We never chastise until We have sent a messenger, the messenger of the intellect to make the definitive proof binding [upon his audience] and to discriminate between truth and falsehood. Do you not see that a [pre-pubescent] boy and a mentally deficient person are not legally obligated; or [until We have sent] the messenger of the Law due to the fact that whatever good or evil in [that] preparedness or felicity or wretchedness will have become manifest because of that [Law] and because he will have been responded to either with affirmation or denial. For, as regards the one who is prepared for perfection, what is in him by way of potential begins to stir when he hears the [messenger's] call and so he begins to yearn and seeks it receptively, affirming and accepting what he [the messenger] is calling him to, by virtue of his correspondence and proximity to him. As for the one who lacks preparedness, he denies and rejects obstinately by virtue of his incompatibility with what he [the messenger] is calling him to and his distance from it.
17.15 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
No One will have to bear the Sins of Another
Allah tells us that whoever is guided and follows the truth, walking in the footsteps of the Prophet, he will gain the good consequences of that for himself.
وَمَن ضَلَّ
(And whoever goes astray,) meaning from the truth, deviating from the way of guidance, he is wronging himself and will have to bear the consequences. Then Allah says:
وَلاَ تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى
(No one laden with burdens can bear another's burden.) no one will have to bear the sins of another, and he does not wrong anyone besides himself, as Allah says:
وَإِن تَدْعُ مُثْقَلَةٌ إِلَى حِمْلِهَا لاَ يُحْمَلْ مِنْهُ شَىْءٌ
(and if one heavily laden calls another to (bear) his load, nothing of it will be lifted) 35:15 There is no contradiction between this and other Ayat:
وَلَيَحْمِلُنَّ أَثْقَالَهُمْ وَأَثْقَالاً مَّعَ أَثْقَالِهِمْ
(And verily, they shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own.) 29:13 and:
وَمِنْ أَوْزَارِ الَّذِينَ يُضِلُّونَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ
(and also of the burdens of those whom they misled without knowledge.) 16:25 For those who called others to do evil will bear the sin of their own deviation as well as the sin of those whom they led astray, without detracting the least amount from the burden of those people, and none of this burden shall be removed from them. This is the justice and mercy of Allah towards His servants. As Allah says:
وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولاً
(And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).)
No Punishment until a Messenger has been sent
Allah tells us that out of His justice, He does not punish anyone until He has established proof against him by sending a Messenger to him, as He says:
تَكَادُ تَمَيَّزُ مِنَ الغَيْظِ كُلَّمَا أُلْقِىَ فِيهَا فَوْجٌ سَأَلَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَآ أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَذِيرٌ - قَالُواْ بَلَى قَدْ جَآءَنَا نَذِيرٌ فَكَذَّبْنَا وَقُلْنَا مَا نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ مِن شَىْءٍ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلاَّ فِى ضَلَـلٍ كَبِيرٍ
(Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: "Did no warner come to you'' They will say: "Yes, indeed a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: `Allah never sent down anything (of revelation); you are only in great error.''') (67:8-9) And,
وَسِيقَ الَّذِينَ كَـفَرُواْ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ زُمَراً حَتَّى إِذَا جَآءُوهَا فُتِحَتْ أَبْوَبُهَا وَقَالَ لَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَآ أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِّنكُمْ يَتْلُونَ عَلَيْكُمْ ءَايَـتِ رَبِّكُمْ وَيُنذِرُونَكُمْ لِقَـآءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَـذَا قَالُواْ بَلَى وَلَـكِنْ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَةُ الْعَذَابِ عَلَى الْكَـفِرِينَ
(And those who disbelieved will be driven to Hell in groups, till, when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened. And its keepers will say, "Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves - reciting to you the verses of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours'' They will say: "Yes,'' but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!) (39:71) And,
وَهُمْ يَصْطَرِخُونَ فِيهَا رَبَّنَآ أَخْرِجْنَا نَعْمَلْ صَـلِحاً غَيْرَ الَّذِى كُـنَّا نَعْمَلُ أَوَلَمْ نُعَمِّرْكُمْ مَّا يَتَذَكَّرُ فِيهِ مَن تَذَكَّرَ وَجَآءَكُمُ النَّذِيرُ فَذُوقُواْ فَمَا لِلظَّـلِمِينَ مِن نَّصِيرٍ
(Therein they will cry: "Our Lord! Bring us out, we shall do righteous good deeds, not (the evil deeds) that we used to do.'' (Allah will reply:) "Did We not give you lives long enough, so that whosoever would receive admonition could receive it And the warner came to you. So taste you (the evil of your deeds). For the wrongdoers there is no helper.'') (35:37) There are other Ayat which indicate that Allah will not make anyone enter Hell except after sending a Messenger to them.
The Issue of Small Children who die
Here there arises an issue over which the scholars in earlier and modern times have disagreed, may Allah have mercy on them. This is the issue of children who die when they are little, and their parents are disbelievers: what happens to them By the same token, what happens to the insane, the deaf, the senile and those who die during the circumstances of Fatrah, when no Message reached them Several Hadiths have been narrated on this topic, which I will quote here by the help and support of Allah. The First Hadith from Al-Aswad bin Sar ®299؛ Imam Ahmad reported from Al-Aswad bin Sari' that the Messenger of Allah said,
«أَرْبَعَةٌ يَحْتَجُّونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: رَجُلٌ أَصَمُّ لَا يَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا، وَرَجُلٌ أَحْمَقُ، وَرَجُلٌ هَرِمٌ، وَرَجُلٌ مَاتَ فِي فَتْرَةٍ، فَأَمَّا الْأَصَمُّ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ قَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ وَمَا أَسْمَعُ شَيْئًا، وَأَمَّا الْأَحْمَقُ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ قَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ وَالصِّبْيَانُ يَحْذِفُونِي بِالْبَعْرِ، وَأَمَّا الْهَرِمُ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ لَقَدْ جَاءَ الْإِسْلَامُ وَمَا أَعْقِلُ شَيْئًا، وَأَمَّا الَّذِي مَاتَ فِي الْفَتْرَةِ فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ مَا أَتَانِي لَكَ رَسُولٌ. فَيَأْخُذُ مَوَاثِيقَهُمْ لِيُطِيعَنَّهُ، فَيُرْسِلُ إِلَيْهِمْ أَنِ ادْخُلُوا النَّارَ، فَوَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَوْ دَخَلُوهَا لَكَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا»
(There are four who will present their case on the Day of Resurrection: a deaf man who never heard anything, an insane man, a very old and senile man, and a man who died during the Fatrah. As for the deaf man, he will say, "O Lord, Islam came but I never heard anything.'' As for the insane man, he will say, "O Lord, Islam came and the young boys were throwing camel dung at me.'' As for the senile man, he will say, "O Lord, Islam came and I did not understand anything.'' As for the one who died during the Fatrah, he will say, "O Lord, no Messenger from You came to me.'' Allah will accept their pledge of obedience to Him, then He will send word to them that they should enter the Fire. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them.) There is a similar report with a chain from Qatadah from Al-Hasan from Abu Rafi` from Abu Hurayrah, but at the end it says:
«فَمَنْ دَخَلَهَا كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِ بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا، وَمَنْ لَمْ يَدْخُلْهَا يُسْحَبُ إِلَيْهَا»
(Whoever enters it will find it cool and safe, and whoever does not enter it will be dragged into it.) This was also recorded by Ishaq bin Rahwayh from Mu`adh bin Hisham, and by Al-Bayhaqi in Al-I`tiqad. He said: "This is a Sahih chain.'' It was reported by Ibn Jarir from the Hadith of Ma`mar from Hammam from Abu Hurayrah, who attributed it to the Prophet. Then Abu Hurayrah said: "Recite, if you wish:
وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولاً
(And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning)).'' This was also narrated by Ma`mar from `Abdullah bin Tawus from his father, from Abu Hurayrah, but it is Mauquf (it was not attributed directly to the Prophet ).
The Second Hadith from Abu Hurayrah
He said that the Messenger of Allah said:
«كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَةِ، فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ أَوْ يُنَصِّرَانِهِ أَوْ يُمَجِّسَانِهِ، كَمَا تُنْتِجُ الْبَهِيمَةُ بَهِيمَةً جَمْعَاءَ، هَلْ تُحِسُّونَ فِيهَا مِنْ جَدْعَاءَ؟»
(Every newborn is born in a state of Fitrah (the natural state of man), then his parents make him into a Jew or Christian or Zoroastrian, as animals produce whole animals - do you see any that is born mutilated (with something missing)) According to one report they said: "O Messenger of Allah, what about those who die when they are little'' He said,
«اللهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا كَانُوا عَامِلِين»
(Allah knows best what they would have done.) Imam Ahmad reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet as far as I know - the narrator was not sure if it was attributed to Musa - said:
«ذَرَارِيُّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فِي الْجَنَّةِ يَكْفُلُهُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَام»
(The children of the Muslims are in Paradise, being taken care of by Ibrahim.) In Sahih Muslim it is reported from `Iyyad bin Hammad that the Messenger of Allah said that Allah said:
«إِنِّي خَلَقْتُ عِبَادِي حُنَفَاء»
(I have created My servants as Hunafa.) According to another version, the wording is "as Muslims.''
The Third Hadith from Samurah
In his book Al-Mustakhraj `Ala Al-Bukhari, Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Barqani recorded the Hadith of `Awf Al-A`rabi, from Abu Raja' Al-`Utardi from Samurah that the Prophet said:
«كُلُّ مَوْلُودٍ يُولَدُ عَلَى الْفِطْرَة»
(Every newborn is born in a state of Fitrah.) The people called out to him: "O Messenger of Allah! What about the children of the idolators'' He said,
«وَأَوْلَادُ الْمُشْرِكِين»
(And the children of the idolators too.) At-Tabarani reported that Samurah said: "We asked the Messenger of Allah about the children of the idolators, and he said,
«هُمْ خَدَمُ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّة»
(They are the servants of the people of Paradise.)
The Fourth Hadith from the Paternal Uncle of Hasna
Ahmad reported that Hasna' bint Mu`awiyah, from Bani Suraym, said that his paternal uncle said to him: "I said, `O Messenger of Allah, who is in Paradise' He said,
«النَّبِيُّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، وَالشَّهِيدُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، وَالْمَوْلُودُ فِي الْجَنَّةِ، وَالْوَئِيدُ فِي الْجَنَّة»
(Prophets are in Paradise, martyrs are in Paradise, infants are in Paradise and baby girls who were buried alive are in Paradise.)
It is Makruh to discuss this Matter
In order to discuss this issue we need good, sound proof, but people who have no knowledge of Shari`ah may try to speak about it. For this reason some of the scholars did not like to discuss it. This view has been narrated from Ibn `Abbas, Al-Qasim bin Muhammad bin Abi Bakr As-Siddiq, Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah and others. Ibn Hibban recorded in his Sahih that Jarir bin Hazim said: I heard Abu Raja' Al-`Utardi saying that he heard Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) saying, "While he was on the Minbar, the Messenger of Allah said:
«لَا يَزَالُ أَمْرُ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ مُوَاتِيًا أَوْ مُقَارِبَا مَا لَمْ يَتَكَلَّمُوا فِي الْوِلْدَانِ وَالْقَدَر»
(This Ummah will be fine so long as they do not talk about children and the divine decree.)'' Ibn Hibban said: "This means talking about the children of the idolators.'' Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar also recorded it via Jarir bin Hazim, then he said, "A group narrated it from Abu Raja' from Ibn `Abbas, but it is Mauquf''.
17.15 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This is to impress that if a person adopts the right way, he does not do any favor to God or His Messenger or a reformer but he himself gets its benefits. On the other hand, if a person deviates from the right way, he can do no harm to God or His Messenger or a reformer, for they desire only to protect men from wrong ways and guide him on to the Right Way, and not for any selfish ends. Therefore, the right course for a wise man is to adopt the righteous way, when it becomes distinct to him what is truth and what is falsehood. On the other hand, if he rejects Truth because of his prejudices and self-interest, he will be his own enemy and not a well-wisher.
The Qur'an has laid great stress on the doctrine of personal responsibility at several places, for one cannot follow the Right Way scrupulously without understanding fully its implication. It means that, everyone is solely responsible for one's moral conduct and is accountable to God as an individual in one's own person and no other person can share the burden of responsibility with him. As an instance, we they take the case of a particular action or a particular way of conduct in which a generation or a community or a large number of people had collaborated. When the people will assemble before Allah on the Day of Judgment their collective action will be analyzed so as to lay the burden of its responsibility on each and every person who had been conducive to it, and rewarded or punished in accordance with it. Neither will a person be punished for. the part another had played in its performance nor shall the burden of the sin of one individual laid on the shoulders of another. This doctrine has been emphasized over and over again so that a wise man should not act in imitation of another or justify Iris own conduct by similar deeds of others. If a particular person feels the sense of his own responsibility, he will act in such a way as to come out successful on the Day of Judgment, regardless of what the others do.
This is another doctrine which has been impressed on the minds by the Quran in different ways. This is to emphasize the basic importance that a Messenger has in the dispensation of Divine justice because this is determined in the light of the Message brought by him. This will be employed as an argument in favor of or against the concerned people. Otherwise the infliction of punishment on the people would be unjust for in that case they could argue that they should not be punished as the knowledge of the righteous way had not been conveyed to them. But after the Message had been conveyed to a particular people, and they had rejected it, there would be left. no excuse for them.
It is an irony that instead of accepting the Message some foolish people are misled by reading verses like these and they ask such absurd questions: "What will be the position of those, who might not have received the message of any Prophet?" The wise course for such persons would have been to ask themselves what their own position will be on the Day of Judgment, because they themselves had received the Message. As regards other people, Allah knows best who has received the Message, and when, how and to what extent and what attitude a certain person adopted towards it. In short, Allah alone is aware of whether a particular person received the Message in such a way as to fulfill the required condition for punishment.