FOR YOUR REFLECTION
Is God to be blamed for everything?
WRITER: Shaik Kadir
Atheists often ask: “If God exists, why are there so many problems in the world, like illnesses, death, poverty, inequality, greed, fights, storms, earthquakes, drought?”
Perhaps, what these people expect is: If God exists, there would be no hatred, no wars, no corruption, no jealousy, no greed, no fights, no poverty, no sicknesses, no suffering, no unemployment, nobody gets killed in an earthquake or tsunami.
Now, if a tsunami took place somewhere and thousands of people die, thousands made homeless, thousands suffer due to lack of food and water, the one who questioned God is back at square (question) one: if God exists, why there is tsunami, flood, earthquake, typhoon from which people die, suffer, become homeless, become sick, lose limbs and so on!!
What about physical appearance of a person? Can every man be of the same height and built? Can every woman have the same fairness and beauty? What about those born blind or deaf or maimed? What about those who die young from an illness or accident. The one who questioned God would again be left wondering!
People cannot have absolute peace all the time and absolute happiness all the time. If there is no sadness, one can never feel the pleasure of happiness.
There is also no such thing as absolute equality – there will be the rich and the poor; the healthy and the sick; the tall and the short; the ugly and the beautiful; some will die before they are 50, some live beyond 70. This is the nature of life on earth.
GATEWAY TO THE HEREAFTER
According to Islam, this world’s existence is the gateway for the next. In other words, this world is a place for the tests and trials of a person’s attitude towards life, how he faces life’s ups and downs and how he strives to achieve a desired goal in an Islamic way.
God says: “And most certainly We will try you until We have known those among you who exert themselves hard in patience.” (Qur’an: Chapter Muhammad (47), Verse 31.)
How one lives in this world determines one’s fate in the Hereafter. Prophet Muhammad saw said: “This world is the cultivation ground of the Hereafter.” (Hadith)
For instance, for the answer to someone who bemoaned: “O God! Why am I born blind?”, God tells us: “Let not the life of this world deceive you.” (Qur’an: Chapter Fatir (35), Verse 5), and advises: “O you who believe! Persevere in patience and endurance and remain steadfast.” (Qur’an: Chapter Ali Imran (3), Verse 200.)
In Islam, the onus falls not only on the individual, but also on the people around him to overcome these tests and trials. Thus, if a boy is born blind, it is for his parents and the community to find the means and ways of curing his blindness. Everyone stands to be judged for helping or not helping this blind person.
OPPORTUNITY FOR GOODNESS AND PERSONAL GROWTH
So, in a way, the boy’s blindness provides opportunities for people to do good in one way or another. It makes the parents strive to find ways to send the boy for medical examination; it encourages the community to raise the funds to help him get medical treatment and it spurs the doctors to use their expertise to help the boy gain his eyesight.
Generally speaking, without such a thing as blindness, there will be no branch of learning in this area. Also, if there are no such things as toothache, fever or Siamese-twins, there will be no dentists, doctors or surgeons. So, actually, sicknesses, diseases and deformities are catalysts for medical research, development and accomplishments.
Again, other problems would surface. Someone might wonder why he is short and ugly while his friend is tall and handsome; why his sister is dark while his friend’s sister is fair; why his child is a moron while his neighbour’s child is a prodigy, and so on. But then, could human life exist if every person is equal in every respect. Could people recognise one another if everyone looked alike? Surely, no. Regarding why God created so many different races, God says: “(We) made you into nations and communities that you may know each other.” (Qur’an: Chapter Al-Hujurat (49), Verse13.)
LIFE SERVES A PURPOSE
In Islam, human life in whatever form serves a purpose. Thus, in whatever situation a person is placed, whether at birth or later in his life, Islam requires him to lead his life to the best of his ability. Equality can only be exercised in the Hereafter after meting out the due punishments and rewards. God says: “O thou man! Verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord – painfully toiling – but thou shall meet Him!” (Qur’an: Chapter Al-Inshiqaq (84), Verse 6.)
Attainments, whether for this world or the next, could only be achieved through individual effort and righteousness, and this is why the Qur’an is replete with advice to the believers to be patient and righteous, and to persevere. God says: “(For) those who show patience and constancy and work righteousness: for them is…great reward.” (Qur’an: Chapter Hud (11), Verse 11.)
Earthquakes, floods, droughts are natural phenomena that happen in certain places at certain times. They depend on geographical factors created by God for the good of the earth, all non-human creatures and human beings. In Islam, such occurrences are not regarded as God’s wrath on the people. Instead they are regarded as a means for the country’s people to find ways to alleviate the situation. For instance, Japan, an earthquake-prone country, has marvelously made all its high-rise buildings earthquake-proof through its technological ingenuity. Such disasters also give opportunities for people to render their assistance to the inflicted in whatever ways they can afford, financially, materially or with their expertise.
Such virtue was clearly evident in the recent past, like during the Asian Tsunami and the disappearance of Malaysian Airways Flight MH370. So, an “undesirable” happening is really a test and trial for the afflicted, the surviving families and other people. The trust is: Be kind, helpful and compassionate to anyone without any prejudice as God has made us the best of His creatures – “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds.” (Qur’an: Chapter At-Tin (95), Verse 4) and that “Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you.” (Qur’an: Chapter Al-Hujurat (49), Verse 13.)
Islam says that the Bounties of God are given to both Muslims and non-Muslims and to the good and wicked as well. Thus, Islam teaches people to reject any belief that the natural laws can change in favour of any people or community. God says: “The Bounties of thy Lord are not closed (to anyone). See how We bestowed more on some than on others; but verily the Hereafter is greater in rank and gradation and more in excellence.” (Qur’an: Chapter Al-Isra (17), Verses 20-21.)
Islam teaches people to strive to improve themselves for both material and spiritual benefits. Thus, the situation in a society is not a sign of God’s approval or disapproval. A community’s worldly success and affluence or happy and easy-going lives do not mean that God approves them. This world is a place of test and trial, not of judgement.
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