“Indeed, we offered the Trust (freedom of choice) to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant”. (Quran 33: 72)
Here, the word ‘amanat” (trust) implies khilafat (caliphate), and obidience for that man has been given authorities and power to make use of them in obeying Allah, it’s, indeed great responsibility. When Allah asked Heaven, Earth (including all creature and species in it) and mountain that you all will be assigned the free will and free choice to carry out the duty as a vicegerent on earth. But they excused in humility, expressed their incompetency to take the trust and agreed to voluntarily submission in obedience. Here Amaanah or trust implies vicegerent, this position demand obedience to their Lord that’s why human are not pre programmed as and when the situation arise he has to use his free will and choice to decide ..
The amanat means “The Trust” given to man was successorship of the earth. The word “Hamala”… hamala was also used by the Arabs for unfulfillment of a trust. By this terminology the verse could mean mankind did not fulfill the trust of Allah with justice. Whereas the heavens earth and mountains fulfilled their trust in obedience, without being ungrateful or unjust to their trusts in existing. The words translated as “unfaithful “to the Trust literally means bear the trust. Hamala-ha-insanu as meaning man was unfaithful to it. Not bearing the trust signifies that they paid it back and everyone who is unfaithful to a trust it said to have borne it. The meaning is that nature is true to its laws which bring about its evolution, but man is not true to the laws on which depends his real happiness.
So the heavens and the earth and the mountains were apprehensive to take up the trust of free will and choice. However we are not acquainted with the “languages” or the medium through which they communicate or just literate way to describe the situation. As Allah also says in a few verses that each has his own way of praising Allah but we cannot understand. So they only abided to the choice which was in consent to Allah’s choice and thus they would never disobey or in fulfill the trust. But man bore the trust of free will and choice which was to be dictated by man himself in accordance to the will of Allah. But man did not keep up to his promise by disobeying Allah’s command. The man who kept up to his promise had a higher rank than the rest of the creation because he kept up to the will of Allah in spite of with free will and choice to do whatever he wants. And the man who did not keep up to Allah’s will did not fulfill the trust would become amongst the lowest and amongst the deniers because he violated the trust given to him in spite of giving this advantage of free will. As being Trustee has a great responsibility and commitment for which he would receive an eternal blessings and reward..to fulfill this duty honestly he has been given the Divine revelation and Guidance.
Just one verse of the Surah would not give us the perfect and clear meaning of a verse, for we should have the understanding of historical context as well as theme and subject of the Surah, that influences its meaning , hence all are interlinked with each other generally and theme are also corelated with surah. Above verse is the second last verse of the surah.. Surah starts with addressing to Prophet Muhammed pbuh that you obey only Allah (after it to Ummah) ending with the same instruction but just metaphoric expressions.
“O Prophet, fear Allah and do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise”.