Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. -- Qur'an 2:286 (Muhsin Khan translation.)

I'm trying to get a better grasp as to what this means. People die in natural disasters, so logically it seems either:

  • natural disasters are not a burden,
  • natural disasters are a burden, but are not Allah's burden, or
  • natural disasters are Allah's burden, but dying in a natural disaster is not considered beyond a person's scope.

None of these make much sense. The first point seems obviously silly (except perhaps at some abstract level of thinking). The second point contradicts the nature of Allah (see: Does God cause natural disasters?). If the third point is true, it raises into question what "beyond his scope" actually means if death is not considered beyond someone's scope.

Question: How is "Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope" compatible with people dying in natural disasters?

  • I'm not sure how you can consider death as a burden beyond a person's scope. All souls shall taste death. Whether it's through old age, natural disaster, disease or car accidents. It simply depends on the individual. Whether they are being punished at their very last moments, or whether Allah wants them to die as martyrs, or final moments to expiate a person's sins so that they stand sinless on the Day of judgment, etc.
    – Shadi
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 15:56

2 Answers 2


From Tafsir Maududi:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا رَبَّنَا وَلَا تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْنَا إِصْرًا كَمَا حَمَلْتَهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِنَا رَبَّنَا وَلَا تُحَمِّلْنَا مَا لَا طَاقَةَ لَنَا بِهِ وَاعْفُ عَنَّا وَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا أَنتَ مَوْلَانَا فَانصُرْنَا عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

Allah does not burden any human being with a responsibility heavier than he can bear. Everyone will enjoy the fruit of the good that one has earned and shall suffer for the evil that one has committed. (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. Lord, lay not on us the kind of burden that we have not the strength to bear. Be kind to us, forgive us and show mercy to us. You are our Protector : help us against the disbelievers."

That is, "Allah will not call to account anyone for not doing something which he could not possibly do: nor will He punish him because he did not abstain from a thing, when he could not possibly abstain from it." It must, however, be clearly understood that an individual himself is not his own judge to decide what he can do and what he cannot do. It is Allah, Who will decide what a certain person could do and what he could not do.

The verse is talking about that Allah controls what we do and can't do. We can't decide it. Allah is saying that he will not test those people who did not do something they are unable to do. For example, if someone cannot fast because of a permanent condition and the time for Ramadan comes and they don't fast, Allah will not call for account why they didn't fast because the reason they are unable to fast is because Allah decided that they are unable to fast and no one but Allah can decide it.

This verse is not compatible with natural disasters and has nothing to do with it.


((Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity.)) [2:286] [Qari translation] .

The verse is talking about when you are assigned a task . No task is beyond the scope of people and no one is required to do a task beyond one's capacity. That's why when you are very ill or travelling , some tasks are not required from you , or parts of it are not. Or the tasks themselves like Prayer and fasting and so on; are not a burden beyond people's scope. Having cancer or becoming poor or broke , or having your children killed , is not an assignment or a task , but patience and accepting god's will is the task that is required from us in such cases, and these can be tasks that are required only from the people who are facing it (like the death of a child) and no man will have his child dead without him not able to accept god's will , because "Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity" .

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