Why Do Good People Suffer?

Islam provides Muslims with a code of behaviour, ethics, and social values, which helps them in tolerating and developing adaptive coping strategies to deal with stressful life events. Islam teaches how to live in harmony with others. Islam stops the wrongdoing from its roots and not at the end. Allah says:

 

وَلَا تَهِنُوا فِي ابْتِغَاءِ الْقَوْمِ إِن تَكُونُوا تَأْلَمُونَ فَإِنَّهُمْ يَأْلَمُونَ كَمَا تَأْلَمُونَ وَتَرْجُونَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَرْجُونَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

 

“And (do) not be weak in pursuit (of) the people. If you are suffering, then indeed, they are (also) suffering like what you are suffering, while you (have) hope from Allah what not they hope. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:104)

 

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. Allah says:

 

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا

 

“Indeed, those who believed and did the good deeds, indeed, We will not let go waste (the) reward (of one) who does good deeds.” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:30)

 

Some of us who are more self-examining might retrace our steps in an attempt to understand where exactly we went wrong. Allah has made it clear that he loves those who do good and hates those who do evil. So, His position is clear.  So, it does not make sense to blame Allah for the evil in the world. Allah says:

 

ثُمَّ لَمْ تَكُن فِتْنَتُهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا وَاللَّهِ رَبِّنَا مَا كُنَّا مُشْرِكِينَ

 

“Then not will be (for) them a plea except that they say, “By Allah, our Lord, not we were those who associated others.” (Surah Al-An`am 6:23)

 

Reasons Suffering through hardship and adversity is a reminder for people:

  1. Suffering is a reminder of Allah’s favours upon mankind
  2. Suffering is a lessen people’s attachment to the Dunya
  3. Suffering is a trial to visualize this world in this light
  4. Suffering is God would know the truthful ones
  5. Suffering is God’s design to subject people
  6. Suffering is the result of mankind’s sin
  7. Suffering establish of Allah’s proof
  8. Suffering makes us normal
  9. Suffering can be a blessing in disguise
  10. Suffering obliviously need to be reminded
  11. Suffering and adversity is also decreed by God
  12. Suffering cognizant Allah strengthen his character
  13. Suffering through hardship is a reminder for people
  14. Suffering is also a very effective reminder for people
  15. Suffering going through difficulties Allah give us trials

Certainly, He has the power to stop it but he does not for many reasons.  First, He knows more than we do.  So, even though it may not make sense to us why something happens, it does to Allah.  Second, He allows evil in the world so that people can make a distinct choice.  We have the free will to either help the poor or to persecute them, to be faithful or faithless, to be kind to all living things or be oppressive to them. Allah says:

 

هَٰذَا هُدًى وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مِّن رِّجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ

 

“This (is) guidance. And those who disbelieve in (the) Verses (of) their Lord, for them (is) a punishment of filth, painful.” (Surah Al-Jathiyah 45:11)

 

By the choices we make, Allah judges us and as such, He either rewards us in the next life or punishes us.  To those who suffer, He urges patience and the faith that He will help them. If you think about it, this was exactly the early Muslims were thinking. Allah says:

 

وَلَا يَأْتُونَكَ بِمَثَلٍ إِلَّا جِئْنَاكَ بِالْحَقِّ وَأَحْسَنَ تَفْسِيرًا

 

“And not they come to you with an example but We bring you the truth, and (the) best explanation.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:33)

 

They were suffering tremendous persecution, and the hypocrites were asking them when Allah would help them.  When all seemed hopeless, Allah opened a door and the persecuted Muslims now found safe-haven in another city and Islam began to grow and thrive, eventually defeating their pagan oppressors and claiming all of Arabia for Allah.

 

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

  • “…and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Al-Anfal 8:46)
  • “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer…” (Quran 2:153)
  • “For them is destruction and Allah will make their deeds vain.” (Quran 47:8)
  • “Perhaps Allah may bring victory or a decision according to His Will.” (Quran 5:52)
  • “They are dead, lifeless and they know not when they will be raised.” (Quran 16: 21)
  • “And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him] on.” (Quran, 3:159)
  • “There is nothing except our life on this earth, and never shall we be raised again.” (Surah Al-Anam, 29)
  • “O people, you are the ones who need God, while God, He is Rich, Praiseworthy.” (Quran 35:15)
  • “So Allah gave them the reward of this world and the excellent reward of the Hereafter.” (Quran 3:148)
  • “And grieve not over them, and be not distressed because of what they plot.” (Quran 16:127)

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. Allah says:

 

وَأَنَّكَ لَا تَظْمَأُ فِيهَا وَلَا تَضْحَىٰ

 

“And that you not will suffer from thirst therein and not exposed to the sun’s heat.” (Surah Ta-Ha 20:119 )

 

So while we are suffering, we should remember that God is merely testing our sincerity and resolve, which He has every right to do. Muslims are to be people of their words and Islam is a practical religion. A Muslim is enjoined to testify to his belief and to act upon that belief. Allah says:

 

وَاصْبِرْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

 

“And be patient, for indeed, Allah (does) not let go waste (the) reward (of) the good-doers.” (Surah Hud 11:115)

 

But sometimes Allah does punish people because of their violations of His laws whether they are physical or moral. 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. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they react to them. Allah says:

 

مَن كَفَرَ فَعَلَيْهِ كُفْرُهُ وَمَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِأَنفُسِهِمْ يَمْهَدُونَ

 

“Whoever disbelieves, then against him (is) his disbelief. And whoever does righteousness, then for themselves they are preparing.(Surah Ar-Rum 30:44)

 

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. The knowledge of this fact is a lustrous pearl from the ocean of inspirational knowledge, to which all other forms of knowledge area islands in the sea. Allah says:

 

وَالَّذِينَ سَعَوْا فِي آيَاتِنَا مُعَاجِزِينَ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مِّن رِّجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ

 

“But those who strive against Our Verses (to) cause failure – those – for them (is) a punishment of foul nature, painful.” (Surah Saba` 34:5)

 

It is to test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and charity. Believers face sufferings with prayers, repentance, and good deeds. The non-believers face the sufferings with doubts and confusion. They blame Allah or make arguments against Him. May Allah keep us on the right path, Amen!

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