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Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why DO bad things happen to good people, really now? I mean it all seems pretty illogical sometimes, no? There are these folks who are so righteous and pious and generous and all, and they still don’t seem to have all they should. And then again, we have another type of folks-the bad and the ugly. Think corrupt politicians, terrorizing mafia dons and most of the rest of the world. They all seem to be very cosily set in life. Mirth, moolah, muck- they’ve got it all. So has God been unfair after all? For some people, that seems like a valid question. For others, there seems to be a valid answer-somewhere.

The above mentioned question had been playing on my mind for sometime now. God couldn’t possibly unfair, that much I knew, Alhamdulilah. But I still wanted an answer. It’s such a universally ubiquitous question. ‘Why does God behave the way he does?’ I recalled Milton with some sympathy. The scene must’ve been pretty bleak even back then. The poor chap wrote 9 books of Paradise Lost only to “justify the ways of God to men.” Man, the skeptic. Sigh.

So why do bad things happen to good people then? I pondered again. How do you define ‘bad’? Accidents? Penury? Sickness? Loss? Of loved ones, prized possessions, oppurtunities? Life’s tough, some say. And tougher for the ‘goody-goody’ folks. Hmmm. Perhaps.

May I be allowed to draw a little analogy here? Every nation requires a well maintained army. It’s crucial to national security, even when you are not in war. It’s a matter of being prepared. Being a soldier for the nation’s defense is a challenging job, but also one with great amount of honor and prestige attached. Yet, all the soldiers, especially the ones in training, have to lead an arduous lifestyle. I am not sure what kind of regimen they follow exactly, but I am sure of one thing-it’s tough. Tough as hell. In fact, quite a few army regimens across the globe have been categorized as “brutal”. Why? These young soldiers are apparently all good people; law abiding, patriotic citizens who are ready to give up their lives for the cause of the country. And yet bad things happen to them too. At least tough ones do. ‘That’s because the army heads want to test their endurance and toughen them up’, you may reason. Well, I take the same reason when it comes to God’s role in our hardships. Easier said than done, you say; and I agree with you wholly. There never comes a calamity in which we don’t exhibit at least some amount of despair. And that includes me. Objectivity is always the first casualty then. The bigger picture doesn’t matter, it’s just my overwhelmingly big problem that does. Oh well, that’s what makes us humans, doesn’t it?

I came across this verse in the Quran, in chapter 3, The Family of Imran (Surah Al-Imran, Verse 26):

Say: “O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.”

As one established commentator says, prosperity alone is not the criterion of honor. Allah has supreme authority over all things, and that includes wealth, wisdom, etc. The dispensation of these are his prerogative. The believer shouldn’t get flustered by the apparent disparity in their distribution.

The Hadeeth (traditions/sayings of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH) has much to console the striving soul too. Narrated ‘Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Apostle said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” – Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544

Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends 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).

Seriously now, do I need to say anymore?


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