[Al-Baqara : 286]
English Translation :
(2:286) Allah does not burden any human being with a responsibility heavier than he can bear. *338 Everyone will enjoy the fruit of the good that one has earned and shall suffer for the evil that one has committed. *339 (O Believers, pray like this to Allah: “Our Lord, take us not to task if we forget and lapse into error inadvertently. Lord! lay not on us the kind of burdens that You had lain on the people before us. *340 Lord, lay not on us the kind of burden that we have not the strength to bear. *341 Be kind to us, forgive us and show mercy to us. You are our Protector : help us against the disbelievers.” *342
*338). Man’s answerability to God is limited by the extent of his ability. If a man does not have the ability to do a certain thing, God will not take him to task for not having performed it. In the same way, if it is really beyond a man’s ability to abstain from something, God will not blame him for having failed to abstain from it. It should be noted here that man will not be the final judge as to whether he had the ability to do something or not. Such judgement will be made by God alone. *339). This is the second fundamental principle of God’s law of retribution. Every man will be rewarded for the services he has rendered, none will be rewarded for services rendered by others. The same applies to punishment. It is the one who is guilty who will be punished. It is possible, however, that if a man has initiated either good or bad practices, they will continue to affect people’s lives. The resulting good and bad deeds of people will be reckoned either to their credit or against them, since they are clearly related to their efforts and actions. It is impossible, however, that a map should be either rewarded for an act of goodness or punished for an act of evil in which he has had no share – neither by intent nor practical action. The requital of acts is not transferable. *340). The prayer made here is that God should not subject them to the severe tests and the terrible persecutions and hardships undergone by their predecessors. It is God’s law that those who commit themselves to follow Truth and righteousness are subjected to severe tests and tribulations, and it is a believer’s duty to meet them with patience and fortitude. At the same time, the believer should always pray that God may make it easy for him to follow the path of Truth and righteousness. *341). Believers pray to God not to place unon them a burden beyond their capacity of endurance, and to subject them only to those tests from which they may emerge triumphant. May it not happen that the hardships are too much for them to bear, and that their feet falter and are turned away from the path of righteousness, *342). In order to appreciate fully the spirit of this prayer, one should remember that these verses were revealed on the occasion of the ascension of the Prophet, a year before his migration to Madina. At that time the struggle between Islam and unbelief had reached its climax. Not only in Makka, but throughout the Arabian peninsula, there was no place where the lives of those who wished to follow the religion of God had not been made extremely difficult. In these circumstances the Muslims were told in what manner they ought to pray to their Lord. It is obvious that if the bestower himself tells one how to present one’s request, the granting of the request becomes virtually assured. Hence, this prayer greatly strengthened the hearts of the Muslims. Moreover, this prayer implicitly taught the Muslims not to allow their feelings to flow along undesirable channels. They should instead mould them into a prayer to their Lord. Think of the heart-rending cruelties to which the Muslims were subjected merely because of their devotion to Truth, and then turn to the contents of this prayer, where there is no trace of bitterness against the enemies. Consider the physical afflictions and material losses which the Muslims suffered, then note how this prayer does not contain the slightest hint of worldly ambition. Compare the wretchedness and misery of these devotees of Truth with the pure, exalted feelings with which this prayer is overflowing. This comparison will enable us to appreciate the nature of the spiritual and moral training provided to men of faith.