In Sahih Muslim there is a hadith about the sins of Muslims being given to the يهود و نصارى. A scholar said that the hadith is rejected and weak because it contradicts the Quranic verse on soul bearing the burdens of another. How are they reconciled?
Also, could there not be another understanding of the verse “no one can bear the sins of another” because Mawlana always relates the hadith of “man al-muflis” and what transpires… ?
Regarding this particular hadith Imam al-Nawawi and others said that what is meant by the sins being given here is a figure of speech (majaz) standing for the ineluctability or inevitability of punishment for the people of hellfire. So the appearance is that they take on the burdens of others, but the reality is that the others belong in paradise and their sins were forgiven while these belong in hellfire and their sins were not forgiven, so they look as if they are being made to pay for any and all sins of the former. And Allah knows best.
The rightly-guided caliph `Umar b. `Abd al-`Aziz and Imam al-Shafii both said that this was one of the most hopeful hadiths for the Muslims.
Regarding your second question, yes, of course, and that was probably how the early Muslims such as Imam al-Shafii took it. I.e. literally, and as a qualifier of the verse of wa-la taziru. Because if Allah decides, “He is free to put even Sayyidina Isa and his mother in hellfire,” i.e. the legal evidence (dalil shar`i) does not pre-empt the rational evidence (dalil `aqli); likewise He is free also to burden a soul with the sins of another, but in the latter case it is not only a dalil `aqli but a dalil shar`i as well, namely, that the burdened soul has legally deserved it because of its evildoing. Wallahu a`lam.
Hajj Gibril Haddad