mere human being is able to do anything more than his duty and thus atone either for his own sins or for those of other
men. It is worthy of note that some of the passages which we have quoted from the Traditions support what we have said
on this point, as, for instance, Muhammad's prayer: 'O God, reckon with me an easy reckoning,' and his declaration:
'Verily he whose reckoning is dealt with strictly on that day 1 perishes. This is also in accordance with
what is stated in the Qur'an no fewer than five times: 'The 2 burdened soul beareth not another's burden.'
Since then man is from childhood subject to the rule of his sensual disposition
and since this is contrary to God's
will, and since man is a sinner and on that account his spirit has grown feeble, it is evident that it is impossible for
him to perform that which is incumbent upon him. Consequently there is no man who so completely performs God's will and
obeys His commandments that during his whole life he is guilty of no single transgression or sin. On the contrary, in
God's sight all men fall short of being what they should be, and therefore they are sinners, according to what is
written in many verses of the holy Scriptures, for instance:
They 3 have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable;
There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one.
This is a quotation from Psalm xiv. 3.
Again it is written: 'All 1 have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.'
The fact that man is a sinner, and that it is impossible for him in his own power even to do all that it is his duty
to do is very generally admitted. Thus Sa'di says in the Gulistan:
What man with hand and tongue each day
His debt of praise to Him can pay?
Best he, for duties left undone,
Who pardon seeks from God, the One.
Aught else that for his Lord is meet
None can perform without deceit.
And he adds: 'Those who piously frequent the shrine of His glory admit the defectiveness of their worship, saying:
"We have not adored Thee as Thou shouldest be adored": and those who depict the robe of his beauty are struck with
amaze, and say: "We have not known Thee as Thou shouldest be known."'2
In the same way, in one of his Persian odes
he says humbly:
What was due to Thy Godhead hast Thou done: but we
Nothing, Lord, have we done that is worthy of Thee. 3