Please read the following three statements:
i. One, as an individual or as a nation, MUST correctly appreciate one’s essential survival needs (ie for example food, clothing, shelter/house, security of life, property and honor/self-respect, health and medical care, transport, utility expenditures of electricity and gas, children’s education, availability of justice, etc.) in accordance to the specific mandatory individual needs.
ii. One, as an individual or as a nation, MUST comprehend the correct method of acquisition of the above mentioned essential survival needs and then, as much as is appropriately possible, one MUST struggle to PROPERLY acquire these needs.
iii. One who has a severe head-ache or a tooth-ache or a stomach-ache EITHER cannot OR will not be able to pay proper attention to any other matter till the prevailing ache subsides. However, sometimes or quite often, one may have to live CONTENTEDLY with such aches when any of these aches could be a part of the scheme/program of one’s MOST AFFECTIONATE savior, Allah.
The questions on the above three statements are as follows:
a. Sura 2: Al-Baqarah verses 155-157 / Sura 21: Al-Anbiyaa verse 83-84
b. Sura 3: Aal-i-Imran verse 179 / Sura 3: Aal-i-Imran verse 142 / Sura 18: Al-Kahf verses 74(80-81), 71(79) / Sura 42: Ash-Shura verse 30 / / Sura 76: Al-Insan verse 12
c. Sura 23: Al-Muminun verse 62
Can the genuine survival needs, as mentioned above in statement (i), of any individual or of any nation/society get delayed, restricted or stopped by Allah, reference (a) and (b) above? And if they can, then to what extent? Can it be to the extent of making one desperate (eg untreatable/undiagnosed disease, situation of famine, etc.)? But then it shall be against reference (c), mentioned above! ALSO, how can one analyse if any of such difficulties is from Allah and NOT because of one’s own fault or NOT because of someones nuisance?
Though the statements you wrote, as a prelude also needs some clarification but I would directly come to the precise question.
According to the Holy Qur’an man’s life in this world is a test. All the conditions and circumstances constitute this test. For example a well off person is supposed to be grateful and a destitute is to remain steadfast on the ‘Truth’ despite all the hardships. The same is the case of sound health and incurable disease. Yet there is another requirement. This relates to our primary test in regards to remain truthful and according to the guidance provided both innate and revealed. Most of the hardships that you have referred to have been mentioned in the Qur’an relate to the second kind of test. For example we are required to spend our wealth in the way of Allah and do Jihad, which may even lead to sacrificing our life.
The verse, which states that Allah does not burden humans with something they cannot afford, is related to the religious obligations. To make the purport of the verse clear we need to study it with reference to the context in which it occurs. What follows is the translation of the verse in its context:
Surely those who live in awe for fear of their Lord; those who believe in the verses of their Lord; those who do not join partners with their Lord; and those who dispense their charity with their hearts full of fear, because they will return to their Lord- it is these who hasten in every good work, and these who are foremost in them. On no soul do we place a burden greater then it can bear. Before us is a record, which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged. (Al-Mu’minoon 23: 27 – 62)
In the verses 57 – 61 the traits of the believers are mentioned who are heading for everlasting success. Then the verse under consideration is brought as a parenthesis. It communicates that though the tasks of these believers are hard yet the Almighty does not put upon them a burden which they cannot bear. It refers to the common exceptions in discharging the religious decrees. For example a quadruple amputee is not required to take his sword and fight in the battlefield.
Therefore, there does not exist any contradiction in the Qur’anic verses between this verse and those which refer to the conditions and circumstances one lives in as the suffering from incurable diseases, befalling of natural disasters or inhuman cruelties brought by other humans.
The verses, which tell that we face evil only because of our behavior, are addressed to those who despite of being clear about the truth in various matters during their lives ignore it and stick to falsehood for example the rejecters of the messengers of Allah.
I hope this helps.
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
December 29, 2002