Suratul Ahzab (verse 71 continued and verse 72)

71.  He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (S.A) he has indeed achieved a great achievement.

Here, the believers are informed that if they truly fear Allah by being fully obedient to Him, refraining from His disobedience, and by speaking the truth, then Allah will reward them immensely for this. He will correct their actions (for them) by giving them the assistance (Tawfeeq) to do good deeds and will forgive all their past sins. As for the sins which may occur in future, He (Allah) will inspire them to repent for those sins. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 521 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan 1982)

The verse then states, ‘And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great success’. Here, the believers are informed that those who are obedient to Allah and His Messenger (S.A), will achieve a great success which is protection from the fire of Hell and entry into Paradise. This is indeed the greatest success and achievement which every soul will desire in the hereafter.

Obedience to Allah requires one to do that which Allah has commanded, and refrain from that which Allah has ordered one to abstain from. In the same manner, one should obey the Messenger of Allah in what he has asked one to do, and must refrain from that which has been prohibited. When this occurs, true obedience to Allah and His Messenger (S.A) will come about, and will then bring the great success which has been promised in the above verse.

While commenting on the above verses of Sura Ahzab, some scholars have stated that a beautiful lesson is drawn from these. They have stated that the believers have been taught that if they speak the truth and control their speech, Allah will correct their other actions and make them right. They (the scholars) have stated, ‘One who gains control over his tongue, learns to harness his/her power of speech and becomes accustom to saying what is true and right, then Allah Ta’ala will take care of the rest of his deeds, have them corrected and made better, as well as forgive any errors or slips made therein’. (Ma’ariful Quran vol.7 pg. 247)

Sura Al Ahzab goes further in verse 72 and states:

72. Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it. But man bore it. Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results).

In this verse Allah mentions that He offered ‘Al Amanah’ (the trust) to the heavens, the earth and to the mountains, however, all declined to bear it. Only one category of the creation took the responsibility to bear the Amanah, and it was the humans.

With respect to what was the ‘Amanah’ (trust) that was offered to these creations which they declined to bear, the exegetes/commentators have given various explanations. Regarding this, some commentators have stated that it refers to the obedience of Allah. Others like Qatada have stated that it means the religion of Allah, compulsory duties and the punishments in religious law. Zaid bin Aslam has stated that ‘the trust are three; Salaah, Fasting, and taking a bath from Janaabah (sexual pollution). After narrating this, Hafiz Ibn Katheer writes, ‘There is no inconsistency between these statements and all are linked to each other. Together, they all refer to the laws of religion placed upon the servants and the acceptance of the commandments and prohibitions of Allah with their conditions. This means that if a person fulfills these laws, he shall be rewarded, and if he fails, he shall be punished. Humans, notwithstanding their weakness, ignorance and unjust nature, chose to accept the responsibility of fulfilling these orders. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 522 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan 1982)

While explaining the verse, Hafiz Ibn Katheer has narrated from Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) that he said, ‘Al Amanah (the trust) is that of obedience to Allah. The responsibility of bearing this trust was offered to these creations (the heavens, earth and mountains) before Adam (A.S), but they declined to accept it. Allah then said to Adam (A.S), ‘O Adam, I have placed the Amanah (trust) upon the heavens, the earth and the mountains but they were not able to bear this responsibility. Would you take this responsibility?’ Adam (A.S) said, ‘O my Lord, what is in it?’ Allah said, ‘If you do well (in fulfilling the responsibility), you shall be rewarded, and if you do bad (and fail in bearing this responsibility), you shall be punished. Adam (A.S) then took the responsibility’.

Ibn Abbas (R.A) also narrated, ‘The Amanah (trust) was the Fara’iz (compulsory duties of the Shariah) which Allah placed upon the heavens, earth and mountains, saying that if they fulfilled it, they will be rewarded. But if they failed they will be punished. They disliked this (declined to take it) and were afraid even though they did not commit any sin. They were afraid because of the great respect they showed to the religion of Allah and fearing that they may not be able to fulfill the responsibility of the trust. Allah then placed this ‘trust’ to Adam (A.S) and he accepted it’. Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) narrated,  ‘ When Adam (A.S) took the responsibility of the trust, not much time passed, not even to the duration of that which was between Asr and the night, except that he fell into the mistake’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 522 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan 1982)

Imam Qurtubi has also given the same explanation in his Tafseer, and has stated, ‘This explanation is that which the exegetes/commentators of the Holy Quran have accepted’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 227 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan). The message established from the verse is that Allah had created understanding in these creations and placed the responsibility of fulfilling the compulsory duties and injunctions of His religion upon them. They, in turn, saw the great responsibility that was being offered to them, and being afraid that they may not be able to fulfill the right of the trust, declined from this Amanah. Adam (A.S) (the human being created by Allah) however, accepted it when it was presented to him.

It is to be noted that the courteous refusal shown by the heavens, earth and mountains to bear the responsibility of the Amanah (trust) given by Allah, was not due to an open denial or rejection to Allah’s order. Instead, it was on account of their fear and fright which they had for not being able to fulfill the responsibility if they took it. In this regard, the great scholar Ibn Al Jawzi says, ‘By saying that ‘they refused’ in the verse, it did not mean that they refused on account of rejection and violation (of Allah’s order). They refused because of their fear for Allah, since the order given to them was based on an option and choice. (It was not a mandatory one). (Safwatut Tafseer vol.12 pg. 75 Darul Quran Al Kareem Beirut from Zaadul Maseer)

A commentary given by the great Mufassir (exegete), Maqatil bin Hayan explains the nature of the refusal of these great creations of Allah and says, ‘When Allah created the creations, he gathered the humans, Jinns, heavens, earth and mountains. He then started with the heavens and placed ‘the trust’ upon them. He said to the mountains, ‘Would you bear this ‘trust’ and for you shall be kindness, honor and rewards in Paradise? They said, ‘O Lord, we are not able to bear this responsibility, and there is no strength with us to do so. However, we are fully obedient to You’. Allah then placed the ‘trust’ upon the earths and said to them, ‘Would you bear this ‘trust’ and accept it from Me, and I will grant you kindness and honor in this world?’ They said, ‘O Lord, we do not have the patience for this, and we do not have the power to do so. However, we listen to You, and are obedient to You. We do not disobey You in any matter which You have ordered us to do’. Then Allah brought Adam (A.S) close to Him and said, ‘Would you bear this ‘trust’ and guard/fulfill it in accordance to its rights?’ Adam said, ‘What will I get by doing this?’ Allah said, ‘O Adam, if you do well and you obey, and you guard/fulfill the ‘trust’, I will grant you honor, kindness and a good reward in Paradise. But if you disobey and you do not fulfill the rights of the ‘trust’, and you sin, then I will punish you and inflict a penalty on you, and send you to the fire of Hell. Upon this, Adam (A.S) said, ‘I am pleased (and I agree) O my Lord. I will bear the trust’. Allah said, ‘Then I have placed it upon you’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 522 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan)

It was in regards to this, Allah said in the verse, ‘But man bore it’. About this action of man, Allah further said, ‘Verily he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant of its results’. It means that by choosing to bear the responsibility of that great ‘trust’, man was unjust to himself.