The Existence of Evil

Many have wondered if God is truly merciful and loving, how can he allow us to suffer through tragedies such as earthquakes, hurricanes, illness, poverty and criminal acts. The Islamic view to this is both simple and direct, God said: “And we test you with evil and with good as trial, and to Us you will be returned.”

He further expounded:

“And verily We shall try you till We know those of you who strive hard (for the cause of God) and the steadfast, and till We test your record.”

What we glean from this is that this life is a test for the Hereafter.  This life comes with joy, but joy is not the primary focus, just as a student cannot expect a joyful experience while preparing for and taking an exam. Rather, based on the outcome of the test, there may or may not be a cause for celebration afterwards. Accordingly, this life is also a test and the celebration will come in the Hereafter. God said: “O my people, this worldly life is only [temporary] enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter- that is the home of [permanent] settlement.”

We can illustrate this as viewing good as the norm and challenges as the exception. The norm is for the sea to remain calm and the exception is for the hurricane, for the winds to be gentle and the exception is a tornado, for the earth to be still and the exception is an earthquake.  Without some shortcomings, we cannot appreciate benefits.  Illness leads us to appreciate health.  Poverty guides us to appreciate wealth.  God said:

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.”

Experiencing challenges exposes a person’s strengths and weaknesses.  To build muscles, you must first rip and tear at the muscle through exercise.  To learn patience, you must overcome obstacles.   

When an individual or a community face a challenge, it allows others to come to their sides to aid and assist them in overcoming their obstacles.  Without being in need, we cannot appreciate hospitality and care. 

As for the question, how do unjust acts exist, it is a part of the freedom that God has allowed the human beings to attain and he has informed us about the consequences of our actions.  Students expect a teacher to teach and explain the material not to correct them while taking the test.  Justice will prevail on the Day of Judgment when we will all be held accountable for our performance.   God said:

“And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if there be the weight of a mustard seed, we will bring it.  And Sufficient are We to take account.”