My friend resumed his questions, addressing me derisively:
How do you people claim that your God is perfect, gracious, merciful, beneficent, and compassionate while he has created all this evil in this world? Diseases, feeble old age, death, earthquakes, volcanoes, microbes, poisons, scorching heat, freezing cold, cancer sufferings that spare neither the newborn child nor the feeble old man. If God is love, beauty, and good, how does he create hatred, ugliness, and evil?
The topic that my friend has triggered is one of the main philosophical problems around which opinions have differed and schools of thought have split.
We say that God is all mercy, all good, and he does not instruct evil, though he has allowed its existence for a wise purpose.
Say: Surely Allah does not enjoin indecency; do you say against Allah what you do not know? Say: My Lord has enjoined justice, and set upright your faces at every time of prayer and call on Him” (Quran 7:28-29)
God does not instruct except with justice, love, philanthropy, forgiveness, goodness, and he does not accept except what is good.
Then why has he allowed the unjust to treat unjustly, the killer to kill, and the robber to rob?
The reason is because God wanted us to be free, while freedom necessitates error. Freedom would be of no meaning without the right of trial, error, correct judgment, and the unrestricted choice between sin and obedience.
God was quite capable of making us all benevolent by compelling us to obey him, and that would have necessitated that he deprives us of the freedom of choice. Though under God’s law and plan, freedom with suffering is more honorable to man than slavery with happiness. For that reason, he has allowed us to make mistakes, suffer, and learn; and that is the wisdom behind human freedom.
Nevertheless, an honest and unbiased observation at the universe would reveal to us that good is the rule, while evil is the exception.
Health is the rule, sickness is the exception; we spend most of our years in health, while sickness pays us a visit occasionally. Similarly, earthquakes are a total of few minutes compared with the age of the earth that is calculated in millions of years, and the same concept with volcanoes. Wars are short convulsions in the life of nations in between long extended periods of peace.
Then we get to notice a bright side in all what we see as bad. With sickness comes immunity, while pain nurtures strength and tolerance. Earthquakes vent the pent-up pressure inside the earth, preventing its crust from blowing up and restoring mountains to their places as ‘belts’ and ‘weights’ that stabilize the crust. Volcanoes spew up minerals and other hidden resources thus covering the land with rich soil.
Wars bind nations, combining them into groups and alliances, then into a group of united nations, finally forming a security council that serves as an international court for complaints and conciliations. In addition, the greatest of inventions came out during wars; penicillin, atomic power, rockets, jet planes, all came out of the crucible of wars.
From snake poison comes the antidote, and serums are made from microbes. If it wasn’t for our forefathers’ death we wouldn’t be in our positions today. And Evil in the universe is like shaded spaces in a painting, seeing them from very near gives you the sense of a defect or a fault, while taking a step backward to see the picture as a whole shows you how it is necessary and indispensable, fulfilling an aesthetic function within the structure of that art work.
Had we known health if it wasn’t for disease? For health remains an invisible crown on the healthy, right until sickness comes to visit. Similarly, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish beauty if it wasn’t for ugliness, neither the norm if it wasn’t for the odd.
For that reason, the philosopher Abu Hamid Al Ghazali says: The universe’s imperfection is the essence of its perfection, just as the curvedness of the bow is the essence of its eligibility, if it was straightened it wouldn’t throw an arrow.
Another role for hardships and sufferings is that they sort out people, revealing their true nature.
If it wasn’t for hardships all people would rule supreme, bounty beggars and boldness kills.” Al-Mutanabbi
They are the tests through which we get to know ourselves, and the trials upon which our degrees in the sight of God are determined. After all, this whole world we’re living in is nothing more than a chapter in a novel that contains several chapters, and death is not the end of the story but rather its beginning. It wouldn’t be rightful to judge a play on the basis of one act, neither to reject a book because the first page wasn’t so appealing to us; judgment here would be invalid. It is impossible to understand the complete wisdom behind something except at its end.
Then what is it that the mocking enquirer sees as an alternative? Does he want us to live a life that is void of death, disease, growing old, disabilities, limitations, sadness, and sufferings? Does he in fact enquire utter perfection? In fact, utter perfection belongs to God alone, and The Utterly Perfect is one with no plurality; Why would he? What does he lack that is found in someone other than himself?
This means that our friend won’t be satisfied unless he himself becomes God, which is the ultimate trespass.
So let us, in our turn, mock him, and those like him, who dislike everything. Those who want it a paradise; what have they done to deserve it? What has our friend presented for humanity to set himself up as The Almighty God who orders a thing to become and it simply comes into existence?
In fact, my grandmother had more sense than our friend here, the professor with a PhD degree and graduating from France, by simply putting it:
Good from God.. Evil from ourselves”
Simple words, but an honest summarization to the whole problem.
God sends the winds and flows the river, yet the greedy captain overloads his ship with passengers and goods leading to its sinking, then he moves on to curse divine providence and fate. What does God have to do with this? God sent the wind and flowed the river for good reasons, but greed and avarice of the soul have turned this good into evil.
How can those fine words be more true: “Good from God.. Evil from ourselves”
This is my (Mohamed the blog owner) first attempt to translate Arabic books that I find interesting and worth reading, in a simple and easy way to follow. If you have any comments please don’t hesitate to leave them, and of course feel free to share this wherever and whenever you like.