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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why Does Allah Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

"Indeed Allah is All-Powerful (Al-`Aziz) and He is able to do all
things (`ala kull sha'in qadir). The Qur'an has mentioned this
hundreds of times. It is also mentioned in the Qur'an that Allah is
the Creator and He is the Best Creator. "Glory be to Allah, the best
Creator." (Al-Mu'minun: 14)

But then the question comes why pain and sufferings exist in the world.
We find sickness, old age and death. We see things that are ugly, people
who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods,
draught and famine. We also see people commit sins, show disloyalty,
unfaithfulness, greed and insincerity. We see people commit rapes,
murders; they fight and make wars. We know all these and many more
problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are natural
disasters. There are suffering for individuals and there are those that
involve a large number of people.

But we also know that this is not the whole story. Besides all these
negative things, we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth,
wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among
people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We
also see a lot of virtue and piety. It is wrong to see one side of the
coin and not to see the other side. Any philosophy that concentrates on
one aspect of the creation and denies or ignores the other side is
partially true and partial truths are no truth at all.

It is also the fact that the element of good is more in the creation
than the element of evil. We all see that there are more people who are
healthy than those who are sick. There are more that eat well than those
who starve.

There are more people that lead decent life than those who commit
crimes. Goodness is the rule and evil is the exception. Virtue is the
norm and sin is the aberration. Generally trees bear fruits, the flowers
bloom, the winds move smoothly.

But then the question is why does Allah allow these exceptions to the

The Qur'an tells us that good, evil and whatever happens in this
world happens by Allah's Will (mashi'at Allah). Only Allah knows
fully His Will. We finite beings cannot grasp fully His infinite Will
and Wisdom. He runs His universe the way He deems fit. The Qur'an
tells us that Allah is Wise and everything that Allah does is right,
just, good and fair. We must submit and surrender to His Will. The
Qur'an has not given us all the details about Allah's Will, but
it has enlightened us with the guidance that is useful and sufficient
for us. There are several points that we should keep in our mind to
understand this issue:

1.First of all, Allah did not make this world a permanent world. This is
a temporary world and everything here has a time limit. When its times
comes it will die, come to an end and finish. Neither the good things of
this world are forever, nor the bad things eternal. We are here for a
short time and we are being tested. Those who will pass this test will
find an eternal world that is perfect and permanent. Those who will fail
this test shall see the evil consequences of their sins and corruption.

2.Allah has placed a physical law and a moral law in this universe.
Allah allows suffering to occur when one or more of these laws are
broken. The physical law is based on cause and effect. Sickness comes if
one does not take care of one's health or is exposed to infections.
A car accident occurs when one is not alert, or drives in a careless
manner, or if the cars are not checked, roads and freeways are not made
and kept in right shape, or the traffic laws are not right or not
properly enforced. Study of causes and effects is very important to
facilitate safeguards. Even here we should keep in mind that Allah often
saves us and He does not let us suffer from every negligence. How many
times it happens that we are not careful and still we reach safely to
our destinations. The way people drive in some cities, it is a miracle
that more accidents do not happen and more people do not suffer. Allah

"(Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur'an. He
has created man: He has taught him speech (and Intelligence) . The sun
and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed; and the herbs and the
trees both (alike) bow in adoration. And the Firmament (sky) has He
raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), in order that
you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice
and fall not short in the balance. It is He Who has spread out the earth
for (His) creatures." (Ar-Rahman:1- 10)

The ways we exceed the measures set by Allah and violate His laws of
cause and effect is incredible. It is really the mercy of Allah that we
are saved. Strictly speaking, the question should not be why does Allah
allow suffering, but how much Allah protects us and saves us all the
time in spite of our violations and negligence. The Qur'an says:

But sometimes Allah does punish people because of their violations of
His laws whether they are physical or moral. The Qur'an tells us
that many nations and communities were destroyed because of their sinful
3. Suffering can also be a test and trial for some people. Allah allows
some people to suffer in order to test their patience and steadfastness.
Even Allah's Prophets and Messengers were made to suffer. Prophet
Ayyub is mentioned in the Qur'an as a Prophet who was very patient.
Good people sometimes suffer but their sufferings heal others and bring
goodness to their communities. People learn lessons from their good
examples. Martyrs die for their faith, soldiers give their lives for
their nations and this brings liberation and freedom for their people.

4. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they
react to them. When you see a person who is sick, poor and needy, then
you are tested by Allah. Allah is there with that suffering person to
test your charity and your faith. In a very moving Hadith Qudsi (Divine
Hadith) the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

"Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, `O son of Adam, I was
sick and you did not visit Me.' He will say, `O my Lord, how
could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds.' Allah will
say, `Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick and you
did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you
would have found Me there?' Allah will say, `O son of Adam, I
asked you for food and you fed Me not.' He shall say, `O my
Lord, how could I feed you and you are the Lord of the Worlds?' And
Allah will say, `Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was in
need of food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had
fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?' `O son
of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.'
The man shall say, `O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You
are the Lord of the Worlds?' Allah will say, `My servant
so-and-so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water.
Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have
found that to have been for Me.' (Muslim, Hadith no. 4661)

So to summarize, we can say that sufferings occur to teach us that we
must adhere to Allah's natural and moral laws. It is sometimes to
punish those who violate Allah's natural or moral laws. It is to
test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and
charity. Whenever we encounter suffering we should ask ourselves,
"Have we broken any law of Allah?" Let us study the cause of the
problem and use the corrective methods. "Could it be a
punishment?" Let us repent and ask forgiveness and reform our ways.
"Could it be a test and trial for us?" Let us work hard to pass
this test.

Believers face the sufferings with prayers, repentance and good deeds.
The non-believers face the sufferings with doubts and confusions. They
blame Allah or make arguments against Him.

May Allah keep us on the right path, Ameen!


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