Lay No Burden Upon Us Greater Than We Can Bear

I’ve come at last to the end of Sura/Surah/Surat 2 in the Koran. The longest chapter in the Koran, the final verse begins with this:

On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.


Koran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do believe in an overall sense of divine justice, and who doesn’t like the concept of getting what is deserved — for good or for evil? This verse makes it very clear that goodness will be rewarded, as surely as wickedness will be punished. It’s not the whim of an arbitrary god but the natural consequence of our own behavior.

But what of that first line? On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. To me, this means Allah/God/the Supreme Being knows each of us and knows our limits.

Sounds good…but, wait!

Does this mean that the strong will be more heavily burdened with trials, troubles, and tribulations? Is this saying that the more faith we have, the more likely we are to be “dumped on” by our loving father in heaven? Sorry, but that doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s as though this great creator is actually punishing those who are working the hardest, or if not punishing, at least expecting them to carry more than their fair share of the workload.

It happens all the time on the job. The best workers are treated the worst until finally their attitude gets so bad they lose their motivation. They reach a point where they just don’t care anymore about whether or not they do a good job.

Meanwhile, the weak — in faith and in job performance — are able to slide by. Nobody expects much from them, so they’re under no pressure to perform. Maybe they don’t earn the big salaries, or in the case of religion, the big blessings, but they don’t have to deal with all those burdens, so it still sounds like a fairly good deal to me.

There’s more to Verse 286 of Al-Baqara, so let’s move on. We come now to a prayer to be offered.  In this prayer, we recognize Allah as our protector, and we ask for his mercy and forgiveness.  This prayers asks something else, too.

Pray: “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith.”

Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Slightly different wording, so maybe there’s a bit of “wriggle room”, but I’m not in the mood for wriggling. This strikes me as a quick disavowal of the opening line of the verse.


God won’t give me more than I can bear.

God, please don’t give me more than I can bear. 

There’s a disconnect between the two, at least in my mind. If I truly believed that God would lay no burden upon me greater than I could bear, I’ve have no reason to plead with him about it.

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5 thoughts on “Lay No Burden Upon Us Greater Than We Can Bear

  1. Reblogged this on mahasinsworld and commented:
    Pardon me? I am not your everyday blogger
    I came upon blogging from a process of transformation for myself.
    I started a blog. Meaning I don’t really know how this goes!
    In reading and striving for comprehension of your blog; from my perspective I see that I’ve caused some confusion?
    Allow me? If I may?
    I can only see you gazing at this world of existence to offer your responses. It means what it means to whomever is reading it. Al Qur’an is vast yet personal. Our Heavenly FATHER says that it is so simple that even a “fool” can understand it”. Now in the world of “study” can a “fool” gather the same or even similar understanding or comprehension for that matter? No, why? Well common sense says that’s a no. You can only expect one to understand from their level of understanding, you know “you can’t blame a person for their level of understanding? Correct?
    So to say that “the strong will be more heavily burdened is not what I was thinking. Only those that HE is preparing for Greatness (from history) are taken through the heavily burdened trials/troubles etc…
    Having faith from my study says this life may appear to be crap from your perspective, but from mine and I can only pray from many others we are as the Ceely character in the movie “Color Purple” when she says to Sophia “This life don’t last long, Heaven last always” So we are doing what we may believe (and we are entitled) to be what we need to be about doing for we’re looking forward to the rewards of the next life, the permanent one! Where there is no death or unhappiness or struggles. Not saying this cannot be achieved here, according to the physical existence there will be death sooner or later, but we can strive to create our Heavenly bliss here, why just look at some commercials: Calgon; The Dove candy, toilet paper! LOL! No, just joking to keep light of the one dominating fact “Humans we are”! Laughter is so needed.
    Time out for arguments let’s share the love, the beauty and the joy. If a people who worked worst than the beast of the fields and treated much worse! f they could end their days with sheer joy and exhilaration, knowing that the same was going to happen the next day! Than surely this day of pushing buttons to get most things done can be enjoyed by the leisure time it makes available. Such as blogging and the readers of blogs!! Where is the gratitude! Where is the love?
    One last thing? How did you get to view my blog?
    As far as the prayer at the end of Al-Baqara. Who care if you or not in the mood for wriggling. You are not the only one reading this prayer. It’s not about pleading, you don’t have to plead! It may never happen, but you must ask for what you seek as well as seek protection from possibilities!

    • Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s appreciated. You’re right that we each have our own understanding from our own perspectives, and I certainly enjoyed your mention of Calgon. It’s about time for me to take a little “time out” for today. I’m glad you came by. It’s always good to hear other points of view.

  2. Interesting question! Well, I don’t know the answer. My teacher used to say that sometimes we ask God for things, not because we really want the things we are asking for (and not because we suspect God will not give us, if we do not ask), but because of the joy of conversation.

    It’s like the story of Moses – peace be upon him – in the Quran:

    (God asked): “And what is that
    In thy right hand,
    O Moses?”

    18. He said, “It is
    My rod: on it
    I lean; with it
    I beat down fodder
    For my flocks; and
    In it I find
    Other uses.”

    Well, he could have just said it’s my rod. And God knew what was in his hand, even if he didn’t say anything…but again…joy of conversation! 🙂

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