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Selected Tafsir of the Qur`an
  Tafsir of Surah Najm (53) Verses 38-41
Source: Trans by Abu Iyaad
Article ID : TFS020003  [16691]  

That no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. That man can have nothing except what he strives for. That (the fruit) of his striving will soon come to sight. Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete. (Quran 53:38-41)

Tafseer ibn Katheer

Then the Exalted clearly explains what He revealed in the Books of Ibraheem and Moosa, so He said {That no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another} meaning that every soul wrongs itself with rejection (kufr) and anything from among the sins. So upon it, is its own burden, no one else will carry it, just as the Exalted has said {If one heavily laden should call another to bear his load not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other) even if he be nearly related.}

{That man can have nothing except what he strives for.} meaning just as he will not carry the burden of anybody else, likewise he will not acquire any reward except what he has earned for himself; and from this noble ayah Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee concluded that the recitation (of the Quraan) and the presentation of its reward does not reach the dead, because it is not from among the actions or the earnings of the dead and because of this the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu-alaihi-wasallam) did not recommend it to his Ummah, nor did he direct them towards it, either with a text or indirectly. Furthermore, this has not been reported from anyone among the Sahaabah (radiallahu-anhum) and if there was a good deed then they would have been the foremost in doing it.

As for the matter of actions done for the sake of Allah, they are restricted to a text and are not dealt with with the types of Qiyaas (Deduction by analogy) or Ra'iy (Opinion); but as for supplication and charity then it is agreed upon that they reach the dead and there is a text from the Sharee'ah for them both. As for the hadeeth which is reported by Muslim in his Saheeh, from Abu Hurairah, who said that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu-alaihi-wasallam) said:

When a man dies his deeds are cut off except for three: recurring charity, knowledge by which people benefit and a righteous son who supplicates for him.

then these three are in truth from his striving, his toil, his struggle and his actions as is reported in the hadeeth

Verily the most wholesome of what a man eats is from his earnings and verily his son from his earnings.

The recurring charity such as endowments and the like, these are also from the effects of his actions and his endowments as the Exalted has said {Verily We shall give life to the dead and We record that which they send before them and that which they leave behind...}

As for the Knowledge which he divulged among the people and the people acted upon it, then that is also from his striving and his actions, and it is confirmed in the Saheeh

Whoever calls to guidance there is for him reward with the like of it and the reward of whoever follows him without any decrease form their reward.

The speech of Allah {And that (the fruit of) his striving will soon come to sight} meaning the Day of Judgement as He, the Exalted, says {And say: Work (righteousness); soon will Allah observe your work, and His Messenger, and the believers...} Then He recompenses you with a completeness of reward (a reward complete); if it is good then with good and if it is bad then with bad. Thus He said here {Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete} meaning amply, in abundance.

Tafseer al-Imaam ash-Shawkanee

{That man can have nothing except what he strives for} and the meaning of that is that there is nothing for him except the reward for which he strived for and the reward for his actions; one will not benefit by the actions of anyone else. This is a specified generality similar to the speech of Allah {To them shall we join their families} and with the like of what has been reported about intercession of the prophets and the angels for the servants, the legitimacy of supplication of the living for the dead and the likes of that.

He is not correct who says that these verses are abrogated with the like of these matters, and the specific does not abrogate the general, but rather it is specifically related to it; and any act by which a man can benefit, although it is not from his actions, is a specification of the generality of these verses.


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