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Why Does Allah Allow Evil and Suffering?

Why does Allah make us suffer? Why does Allah give us illnesses? There is never a straight forward answer. You're asking a question from your situation in your life. In response, Allah's grand gesture explains you are His important but unique creation in a vast universe of cosmic explosions. You can either feel the fire, or see the light.

I had this post drafted in various versions since I was fifteen. It's always walking on eggshells. Studying philosophy meant a regular topic was comparing Allah's mercy to His anger. Biblically it was easier to explain evil because Christian Saints had provided unquestionable one-liners and we memorised them for exams.

Islamically though, it became difficult to digest that on one hand Allah is All-Compassionate, but down the street that young woman is getting abused.

We never said it but we could think it. Why would Allah allow that.

As a disclaimer I mean no disrespect. These are human questions that I asked as my faith developed and I still am learning the immense lessons Allah gives us all. This is a brief compilation of research that I will credit appropriately insha-Allah.

• Allah is Greater

Allah subhana'hu wa'ta`la, is Al-Aziz (The All Powerful). He has complete control over our lives' path and has already written our destiny. This is called Qadr (pre-destination). Muslims accept this and believe pre-destination is part of our faith. We also have freewill which means I can choose to act or believe and I cannot assume Allah is making my choices for me.

We also believe Allah is Al-Wadood (The Most Loving). He is Ar-Rahman, The Entirely Compassionate. It is part of our Aqeeda (belief system) to accept Allah made both good and evil, happiness and sadness, joy and suffering. He has complete power over these things.

If we happily live through the joys of life we should (ideally) accept the dark times of this life too. Hence the phrase, Alhamdulillah `ala kulli haal: All praise is for Allah in every situation. There is no disparity.

• But why would a forgiving and loving God make good believers suffer? 

This is where the believer’s faith is tested. This is why many people have depression, anger, leave Islam or lash out. Initially it's hard to understand. You ask why did he have to die, what was the lesson in being despressed, who benefitted from that robbery?

Our sight and understanding is limited since we are the creation and not the Creator. Yes, you'll learn the why's of some things but not every thing. Accept that. We are limited in our knowledge. Accept that too. We assume we know what is good for us, we assume we know ourselves better than anyone else. We don’t. Allah knows you better. Allah knows what is good for you and what you need.

When you don't know something be patient and let Allah teach you at the right time. Christianity calls this missing answer the 'god of the gaps' but Islamically this is explained by Allah's name the All-Knowing. You won't know everything, but have the assurance that Allah does and will explain it later. He is still your Protector.

• Why can't I make the right choices? Things I do backfire.

Allah sees everything and knows everything. Allah's understanding goes way beyond ours. You may think doing such-and-such a thing is good for you because you want it but it may have long-term consequences for you.

This knowledge changes our predispositions: it's not ‘mum knows best’, it's Allah knows best. You need to learn to have unconditional trust in what Allah has planned for you. The path he has set for the believer is a beautiful one, though difficult, and where will it eventual lead? Jannah (Paradise). Eternal ease. Eternal happiness and eternal comfort.

This Dunya (life on Earth) is a temporary human experience. Temporary suffering. Understand that the nature of life is designed to be weary. Even the the trees shed their leaves to be reborn!

“…But perhaps you hate a thing [fasting] and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Qur'an, 2:216)

• Why is Allah punishing me?

Do not think Allah is placing a difficulty on you because he wants bad for you or he wants you to suffer as a means of punishment. Your parents and coaches don't push you for entertainment: it's to make you better!

Shaytaan on the other hand will ruin your mental health and fill your mind with negativity. He will try everything he can to push you away from faithful actions and Allah. When you feel depressed and start to pity yourself that is all Shaytaan’s work. We are Muslims - we have hope in Allah, that is our religion. We have hope in Jannah. We think the opposite of what Shaytaan wants for us. We are positive and hopeful because we trust Allah. This mindset alone changes half of the battles you face.

There are many reasons why Allah makes us go through a hardship, two of them are
  2. A TEST.
Allah answers us clearly in the Qur’an:

'Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture so that We may test him; and We made him hearing and seeing. Indeed We showed him the way, be ge grateful or ungrateful.’ (Qur'an, 76:2-3)

• How is everyone else happier than me?

Every individual will be tested in one way or another. Right now you will all be going through a difficulty or test. Do you know anyone that isn't? If you feel your life is trouble-free (masha-Allah) then realise that is a test too! The question is, are you paying the right price for it? Blessings require your gratitude. Are you doing Shukr and thanking Allah for your life? Are you sharing your happiness with others and helping others? Think about it. Nothing is without a price.

Your test in life will reflect your internal relationship with Allah. If you are closer to Allah and He is pleased with you He will actually test you more. Allah tests those that he loves.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “When Allah loves a servant, He tests him,” (Tirmidhi).

• Why were the Prophets tested?
Look at the Prophets; they were the most pure and the most pious yet they suffered so much.
  • Ayyub `alayhis-salaam (peace be upon him) – was given a terrible illness and his whole family left him. 
  • Yusuf `alayhis-salaam –  was unjustly imprisoned and taken away from his family. 
  • The Prophet Muhammad salallahu `alayhi wasallam – was orphaned, his followers were tortured, his uncle humiliated him, many of his family passed away.  
Why? Because they were Allah’s chosen people. And when you go through difficulty know that Allah has chosen you for it especially, no-one else. The prophets' hearts were always remembering Allah and these difficulties was a means of purification. They were already pure, but trials made them even purer.

What happens when you have been completely forgiven? You get upgraded to hundreds of guaranteed good deeds. Hundreds of Hasanah.

It is very easy for Allah to design a pain-free life and give prophets mansions in this life. But where is the lesson of life and building faith. Why do we have freewill to react when Allah could have made this universe Heaven already. That is not what this universe is for.

• How are we forgiven?

"When the believer is afflicted with pain, even that of a prick of a thorn or more, God forgives his sins" (Bukhari).

Difficulty is purification of sins. Even for the millisecond you are suffering, your sins are being forgiven. Maybe after a few days of an illness, your entire slate is wiped clean. This is a hidden mercy from Allah, a hard pill to swallow. You may have been too busy with work and in love with the Dunya to repent to Him so you got sick to give you a second chance. That's what it takes.

“How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything... If prosperity befalls him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is good for him.” (Sahih Muslim)

When you are ill, imagine now how many good deeds you will be getting. Not every day, or every hour, but imagine how blessed your seconds are! Every second you are breathing will be reward and cleansing of sin!

• When will evil and suffering end?

“… Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” (Qur’an, 65:7)

Judgement day exists to correct and realign all the injustices that occured on Earth. Throughout history, even the animals' attacks will be brought to balance on the last day of accountability. While it's terrible that crimes go unpunished in this life, Allah is still The Wise and created a Day of complete transparency and fairness. Your enemies will be brought to that court to testify. So will you.

• Finally, what is Allah's Grand Scheme?

The trials help us remember we’re not in charge of our lives. The happiness, comfort and all the cures are from Allah. When you forget, Allah will do something drastic to make you see again. It is to shake us up from a plastic Dunya! Sometimes you need something serious to wake up!

Before it takes a life or death experience, turn to Him and rely on him: When you are alone in the hospital, when your family lie about you, when your friends attack you, when you have no money for food, when your partner hurts you, when your children laugh at you... Seek help and turn to Allah.

You need something more powerful than anyone else. Allah may deprive you of something cherished so that you recognise He is the ultimate source of everything. He will never turn you away.

In a Hadith Qudsi Allah tells Jibreel to delay the response to the Du`a’ of a servant because Allah swt loves hearing his voice (Tabarani).

Du`a and sakinah for you,

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