How can Allah be “the Most Merciful” when there is so much suffering in the world? For example, genetic diseases, hunger, mental depression, and war etc. I understand that this life is a test, and that these things are for testing purposes, but doesn’t that negate Allah being the Most Mercifull? For example, why didn’t Allah just give everyone paradise without having to go through suffering? Wouldn’t this make him more fitting of the title Most Merciful?
This question has been plaguing my mind, so please do comment on it.
My dear brother, there are many things regarding the decisions and actions of God, which we cannot understand to the fullest details, due to our limited knowledge in the life of this world. Why did God not do ‘this’ rather than doing ‘that’, is to question God’s wisdom, on the basis of our extremely limited knowledge. To appreciate this point, consider the example of a child, who with the limited knowledge of the life ahead of him, asks in his frustration: ‘If my parents truly love me, than why do they not let me sleep in the morning, rather than waking me up and sending me, away from themselves, to school?’ With his limited knowledge and exposure, it may become difficult for parents to make him truly appreciate why his parents put him through the ‘torture’ of waking up early in the morning, packing his bags and going to school. It may be quite sometime before the child realizes that it was indeed the love of his parents, which prompted them to do, what he had considered to be unnecessary.
As a child is not in a position to fully understand many of his parents’ actions, never in his life is man in a position to understand the complete wisdom of each and every one of God’s decisions and actions; but unlike the child, a grown-up man is in a position to realize that his knowledge is extremely limited and that he cannot even aspire to understand each and every one of God’s decisions.
In view of the foregoing explanation, I consider it beyond the scope of human knowledge to pass a judgment about or suggest an alternative to God’s overall plan of granting man the eternal bliss of paradise1. Nevertheless, what we can try to analyze and understand is that after having decided about the overall plan for granting man the eternal bliss of paradise, did God make the arrangement within this test and regarding this test with abounding mercy or not? For instance, some of the points that we may consider are:
By giving man life (which is now to continue forever), has God granted man something, which he values and cherishes?
Has God adequately provided for man’s temporary life, which is to serve as man’s testing ground?
Has God granted every man the potential to succeed in this test and, thereby, qualify for the eternal bliss of paradise?
Has God adequately guided man to the path of eternal success?
Is the responsibility placed upon man, relative to his ability and knowledge?
Will God hold man responsible for his unintentional mistakes?
Does man have the potential of being forgiven even after he has committed the gravest of crimes – whether against God or against other human beings?
Will there be an end to man’s suffering?
Take a close look at these questions and try to answer them. You shall see that after having decided about the overall plan for granting man an unending life, all the arrangements that could have been a requirement of abounding and all-encompassing mercy were fulfilled. Please do note that had the case been otherwise, in each of the case, it would not have been unjust on God’s part, but would indeed have been lacking in mercy.
I hope this helps.
September 28, 2001
- The recommended attitude in this connection is that of the angels, as referred in Al-Baqarah 2: 30 – 33. [↩]