||Natural disasters are perhaps the most frightening phenomenon for human beings, because humans have no power to prevent them. Every time this happen, many people raise the question: "Is this a punishment from God?"
- Religious Opinion - Article Ref: AE1001-4045
Number of comments: 7
Opinion Summary: Agree:5 Disagree:1 Neutral:1
By: Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
AllExperts.com* - Dec 2005
Natural disasters are perhaps the most frightening phenomenon for human
beings, because humans have no power to prevent them. Every time this happen,
many people rise question: "Is this a punishment from God?"
In this regard, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Director of the Islamic Society of
Orange County and former President of the Islamic Society of North America,
"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.
But then the question comes why do 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 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
But then the question is why does Allah allow these exceptions to the rules?
Let us ask this question to understand Allah's ways in His creation. 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 says:
"(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 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 way 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:
"If Allah were to punish people according to what they deserve, He would not
leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them
respite for a stated Term: when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His
sight all His servants." (Fatir:45)
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 lifestyles:
"If they treat thy (mission) as false, so did the Peoples before them (with
their Prophets), the People of Noah, and Ad and Thamud. Those of Abraham and Lut;
and the Companions of the Madyan people; and Moses was rejected (in the same
way). But I granted respite to the Unbelievers, and (only) after that did I
punish them: but how (terrible) was My rejection (of them)! How many populations
have We destroyed, which were given to wrong-doing! They tumbled down on their
roofs. And how many wells are lying idle and neglected, and castles lofty and
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 (Job) 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
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)
Prophet 'Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, is also reported to have said something
similar. (See Matthew 25: 35-45)
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.
May Allah keep us on the right path, Amen! Allah Almighty knows best.
"Blaming God" by Abo Muhammed Samir Faid, he is a muslim expert
volunteer on allexperts.com.
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