The Methods of Solving the Misfortunes
We have said that Allah is Just, and our misfortunes and sufferings are sometimes for our trial, so that our inner faculties become perfect. Now let us find out what we should do in order to come out successful in our misfortunes. Here also we have to seek guidance from the Holy Qur'an.
(i) To Have a Divine Outlook of the Universe
The Holy Qur'an has praised the people who show patience. Since they consider the worldly affairs subservient to Divine control, and when they were in difficulties they say that they are for Allah, and they are only short-lived; they do not demand anything from Him; their coming in this world and all the bounties are from Him alone. They are only His trustees. This world is not their permanent abode; it is a passage for the next world (the Hereafter). On arrival of death they shall return to Him, and shall not be perished. They exist in this world but there will be no change in their existence after death; only a place of their abode will be changed. This type of outlook on Universe prepares the man to face the hardships and difficulties in an appropriate manner. This outlook is reflected by the following Qur'anic verse:
We are the servants of Allah and to Him we shall all return. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:156)
(ii) Familiarity with the Ways of Allah
The Holy Qur'an asks us whether we should like to attain Paradise bearing hardships and making efforts like the other former nations who exercised patience in the extreme state of unpleasantness! Would we think that without experiencing all these things we would attain Paradise though like the people of the former nations, we have not yet experienced the ordeals like hunger, poverty, sickness, earthquakes, etc.! The Prophets as well as the believers only awaited Allah's Mercy to rescue them from all their troubles. The Holy Qur'an assured them of Allah's help to come to them ultimately and says:
Do you think that you will find your way to Paradise without experiencing the kind of suffering others have experienced before you? Distress and afflictions battered them until the Messenger and the believers sadly said, 'When will Allah send help?' Certainly Allah's help is near. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:214)
This verse of the Holy Qur'an points out to the fact that in the long period of history believers in Allah had to undergo great sufferings. Now that it is our turn to suffer as it is evident that the grinding wheel of time has to repeat its cycle anyway. It is the normal way of history that it has to repeat the events. The Holy Qur'an at a number of places says to the Holy Prophet to look into the condition of such and such groups of people so that they may not get the impression that they are not the only persons to be afflicted by sufferings.
Indeed, if man understands that the afflictions and suffer ings are the result of a process of a general rule, he will be in a better position to accept them and exercise patience. You observe fast during the month of Ramazan without any difficulty because it is commonly done by everybody during that month. But if in other months you have to observe fast, you will find it difficult to do so.
The Holy Qur'an which gives command for observing fasts says that other nations before you also observed fasts.
The knowledge of the past events of history helps man to bear things with patience and similarly the knowledge of the future happenings, too helps to strengthen one's capacity of exercising patience. The Holy Qur'an says:
Prophet Khizr said to Prophet Musa: How can you remain patient with that which you do not fully understand. (Surah al-Kahf, 18:68)
Thus the thing that enhances man's power of exercising patience is the knowledge about the patient people and their method of exercising patience. Knowledge about the patience and steadfastness of the previous people is an effective means to face misfortunes and afflictions. The Holy Qur'an has mentioned number of such things and has cited the examples of patience of the people of former nations. The Prophets of Allah used to say to their adversaries as follows:
We shall bear with patience the hardships you inflict upon us. (Surah Ibrahim, 14:12)
When the magicians, who were called by Fir'aun to humiliate Prophet Musa, realized his righteousness they embraced his faith and despite Fir'aun's threats and intimidations replied as follows:
We cannot choose you in the face of the clear testimony we have received, and over Him who created us. So do what you are determined to do. All that you would do will only be confined to our short-lived life on earth. (Surah Ta Ha, 20 72)
Hence, they meant to tell Fir'aun to do whatever he wanted. They would endure all the misfortunes that he inflicted upon them as they had discovered the right course leading to Paradise and were determined not to give up their stand.
(iii) Depending only on Allah
The remembrance of Allah and the belief that He hears our implorations, watches our deeds and solves our problems by rescuing us from afflictions is like looking only at Allah. Allah in the Holy Qur'an says to Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun as follows:
Be not afraid; I am verily with you all the time, and I hear and see. (Surah Ta Ha, 20:46)102
Allah commanded Prophet Nuh: To build the Ark under the supervision and guidance of hisLord. (Surah Hud, 11:37)
As soon as Prophet Nuh started building the Ark, the crowd of the infidels which passed by him made a fun of him and passed sarcastic remarks by saying that the Prophet had turned a carpenter but Prophet Nuh paid no heed to their taunts which became the means of his steadfastness, and reminded him that he was present before Allah and that Allah was supervising his work. Such firm determination and spirit of steadfastness instills a new life in man.
(iv) Concept of Reward and Punishment
The fourth thing that inculcates in man the spirit of steadfastness is the concept of reward and punishment because forbearing the hardships in this world ensures a big reward in the Hereafter. The Holy Qur'an gives frequent examples in this regard.
(iv) To Seek Help Through Prayers and Patience
The fifth thing which makes a man steadfast is to seek help by Prayers, supplications and patience. The following verses of the Holy Qur'an asks us to take the support of prayers and patience:
Help yourselves (in your affairs) with patience and prayers. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:45)
Believers, help yourselves through patience and prayers. Allah is with those who have patience. (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:153)
In Surah al-A'raf, 7:128, also it is said that we should seek help from Allah.
Besides, the traditions too indicate that in the face of difficulties Imam Ali used to get himself busy in prayers. Prayers bring the small one nearer to the great one and makes the. weakest one the strongest, and creates serenity and satisfaction. The following verse says that remembrance of Allah creates serenity of the heart:
Remembrance of Allah certainly brings comfort to all hearts. (Surah ar-Ra'd, 13: 28)
The gist of this discussion is that Allah is Just and whatever hardships befall us are from Allah; and they are for the purpose of putting us on trial and as already mentioned before, the people who face hardships are divided into four different categories. The course of action which leads us to success has also been stated.
(v) The fifth point is that the doubt about the Justness of Allah arises out of our misgiving and wrong conclusions as without pondering over the thing in its right perceptive we attribute our objections to Allah. As for example we know that death is the ultimate end of man's life and yet we object to Allah as to why such and such man died? Sometimes we assume that this world is an everlasting abode and yet we complain as to why people die of floods, earthquakes, diseases etc.? Then we assume that this world is the place of comfort and we complain as to why we are afflicted with hardships and difficulties.
We are like a man who enters a lecture hall and starts questioning as to why tea and snacks are not available because of one particular thinking, which is a wrong one, it was thought that the hall was meant for a reception function. If we tell him that the hall was meant for delivering lectures he will withdraw his objections and will feel sorry for that. Therefore, we should consider this world as it is. We should know the purpose of our existence and in that case all our objections will be nullified. We must be certain of the fact that this world is not a place of our permanent abode but it is a passage of our life. If we adhere to this conviction then all our objections such as with regard to the dying of people on account of disease, floods, and earthquake etc. will be removed because we have come over here not to live for ever but for departing from here. It is a different matter by what means we happen to depart from here, either through disease, floods or earthquakes etc.
Example: A customer entered a glassware shop where the glasses were arranged in an upside-down position. He looked at them minutely and said the mouth of the glass was closed. He picked up a glass in that condition and remarked that it had not even its bottom. The shopkeeper laughed at this and took the glass from his hand and put it into upright position and said, "Sir, the glass has its bottom as well as the mouth".
In the same way our objections are due to our wrong thinking and defective approach of things. So to say we see all things with coloured glasses. If we put on red glasses on our eyes we will take turnips as beets.
In short, all our objections originate from wrong thinking and incorrect interpretations. First we think that the world is a place of comfort and then we start making objections when we are faced with disappointments. As a matter of fact this world is a place of development and progress. This is a place where we sow the seeds. Obviously such a process involves hard work, hardships and difficulties.
Differences Develop the Society
If we accept some principles we shall realize that our basic differences play an important role in our life. First of all8 man's life is a social life, that is, we are not like self-growing grass which perishes all by itself. We are not born all by ourselves and do not perish all by ourselves without having any relation with somebody else. Another point is the social life cannot function without mutual cooperation and cooperation only comes in the face of differences. It is because a certain man is perfect in a certain profession or field of activity and is weak in another. The difference of capabilities, courage and perfection necessitates the improvement of the society so that one set of people or individuals should help to fulfill the wants and deficiencies of others. It is for that reason that differences give rise to necessities which develop the society.
Difficulties Build up Personalities
The Holy Qur'an says that unpleasant events and accidents in life are the danger signs for man. A life without difficulties and hardship makes man lethargic and pleasure-loving. It is said that if the road is smooth and straight, the driver falls asleep. We have read in the Islamic narrations that Allah afflicts His noble servants with difficulties and hardships.
The Holy Prophets have been subjected to the most trying and severest types of difficulties and their devout followers with hardships of a lesser degree. We read in the tradition that Allah nurtures His servants by afflicting them with difficulties in the same manner in which a mother nurtures her child by suckling. Difficulties not only help to build up man's personality but the experience of the past difficulties also does the same.
We read in the following verses of the Holy Qur'an.
Did He not find you as an orphan and take care of you? Did He not find you perplexed and show you the way? And did He not find you in need and enrich you? So do not oppress the orphans, and do not drive the beggars away, and proclaim the bounties of your Lord. (Surah az-Zuha, 93:6)
Allah considers it good to revive the memory of past difficulties and hardships. The Holy Qur'an stresses that difficulties and hardships are meant for offering supplications and purifying the soul as is evident from the following verses.
We had sent Our guidance to the nations who lived before you and afflicted them with distress and adversity so that they might submit themselves to Allah. ( Surah al-An'am, 6:42 )
In every town in which We sent a Prophet, We tested its inhabitants through distress and adversity so that perhaps they would submit themselves to Us. (Surah al-A'raf, 7:94)
The traditions say that had there been no poverty, diseases and death, no power on earth could subdue man and he would have been proud of his transgression. Really, comfort and luxuries make man without having any purpose and aim of life. Imam Ali says: "The wood obtained from the trees of the forest is comparatively strong". (See: Letter—45, Peak of Eloquence, ISP, 1985)
Imam Hasan Askari says that in a way there is some goodness in misfortunes (Biharul Anwar, vol. 78, p. 374) in the sense that these misfortunes establish a link between Allah and us on the one hand and on the other divert our attention to doing something good. Hardships affect our bodies with the result that our soul is strengthened. As for example the host has to undergo some sort of hardship in treating his guest with generosity but by this his personality is developed in attaining the quality of being generous and kind.
There is a tradition which says that hardships and adversities are warning signals to the cruel people. And for the believers they are a means of their trial and their betterment. For the pious and the saints they are a source of their attaining dignity and perfection. (Biharul Anwar, vol. LXXXI, p. 108)1ll
An Example: The following are the three ways of prompting a soldier to work:
(i) When a soldier commits any irregularity he is ordered to do a difficult job by way of punishment.
(ii) Sometimes he is reformed by giving him a strenuous training so as to improve his abilities.
(iii) Sometimes when his rank and status are to be elevated he is sent on leave or is assigned a difficult job so as to justify his promotion to the higher rank.
Hence, suffering is a trial for the believer and on this basis the bounties of Allah are not the proof of one's honour, nobility and virtue, for sometimes the best of pious and devout people are afflicted with misfortunes and adversities so that these people should derive strength to make themselves perfect, because unless sandal-wood is not burnt its scented smell will not be felt. Undergoing such sort of ups and downs in life is the means of gaining perfection for unless metals are not put into a furnace, they are not purified. Unless the soil is turned up with a plough it cannot be worthy of cultivation. Unless the grass is chewed by the teeth of a goat it does not get converted into flesh. Unless mutton is cooked on fire it is not fit to be eaten by human beings so as to become human protoplasm.
Similarly, unless man also suffers hardships and adversities and endures them bravely he cannot attain his spiritual purity and perfection. Our existence is not for the sake of eating and relaxing, for this thing is also common among the animals. What distinguishes us from the animals is the qualities of human attributes that we possess, e.g. the remembrance of Allah by way of worship, fraternity, and the spirit of sacrifice. Obviously we cannot achieve these qualities without undergoing hardships.
Hardships Lead to Inventions
If you are not faced with any difficulty you will not be able to make something new or invent anything. If we had not happened to fall sick, the science of medicine would not have been so developed. If we had not experienced cold and hot weather we would have not been able to invent means to protect ourselves from cold and heat. In some branches of science and technology such as medicine, military science, and industries, etc. we have become so advanced because we had to face enormous difficulties. This is such an established fact that one need not to go into details.
(vi) The sixth point is that man should not always keep an eye on the negative aspect of things only. There is a wise saying that if you lay hand on a lemon do not throw it away because it is sour but instead prepare a lemonade out of it. It is wise to see the positive aspect also and benefit from it.
Prophet Yusuf was thrown into a well by his brothers. Thereafter, he was rescued by some people of a passing caravan and was sold by them as a slave. He was accused of an ugly charge in Egypt and was sent to the prison. After all after these calamitous happenings he became the king of Egypt. After a long time when he met his father, the latter asked him what treatment was meted out to him by his brothers? Prophet Yusuf replied to his father: "Do not ask me of the treatment of my brothers but only ask me of the Kindness and Benevolence that Allah had showered on me, how He took me out of the difficulties, that is conspiracies, serfdom, slander and the prison cell, and how He freed me from the baseless charge that had been leveled against me".
This is one way of thinking that man does not always think on the negative aspect of things, but he looks into the positive aspect of the things too.
We do not forget the tradition which has come to us from Imam Hasan Askari. He said: "There is no misfortune which does not have with it some goodness which overpowers it. (Biharul Anwar, vol. LXXVIII, p 374)
However the objections of some people against the Justice of Allah are based on the fact that they always look into the problem from one aspect only.
Here I quote an example narrated by a scholar: "The sun shines on the ocean and raises the water vapours, which are converted into clouds, laden with rain drops. The earth's gravitational force attracts these rain drops downward. These rain drops together flood the small drains which turn into rivers. Man builds dam on these rivers and generates electricity which helps the irrigation of agricultural lands. Now? if anyone out of sheer laziness or stupidity touches the live-wire and is electrocuted or if while ploughing the fields an ant-hill is destroyed, will somebody allow that man or the ants to blame Benjamin Franklin who discovered electricity and put it to useful purposes. Will the ants be justified in cursing the sun, the clouds, the rains, the man and the cultivation of lands because its home was destroyed in the process. Is it not that these objections are based on selfishness? Do such objections not indicate that we look into a problem from one aspect only and are motivated by selfish desires only as if the whole Universe should work for our own personal interest and that too for the temporary gain? Sometimes the difficulties that we face today turn to our benefit tomorrow, but we do not feel satisfied unless they give us fruitful result only today".
Another Explanation: In regard to Allah's Justice about unpleasant happenings is that we should accept one of the two concepts regarding the Universe. That is, we should either accept the well-balanced system of the working of the Universe or we should treat that system as defective. If in the Universe things are working on a set pattern and system, then there must be some unpleasant incidents also, or else one should try to find out any irregularities in it. To understand this if we think over some unpleasant happening we shall come to know that they are governed by such fixed rules and harmonies that to accept them will amount to accepting those unpleasant happenings too. Take an example of a house which collapses over the heads of its inmates. Let us try to find out the reasons of such a mishap in the following manner:
(a) The ball with which the children were playing in the street falls down on the roof of a house.
(b) The ball after rolling down on the roof of the house reaches the mouth of a drain and blocks the flow of rain water.
(c) When it rained, the rain water did not pass through the mouth of the drain and instead got accumulated on the roof and the inmates of the house remained quite unaware of this.
(d) The rain water was soaked through the roof and the bricks also became wet and weak.
(e) The roof of bricks which had become heavy with water gave way and collapsed. Some of the inmates of the house died because of the falling down of the roof.
The ball, its rolling, the slope of the roof, the narrowness of the hole on the roof, the weight of the accumulated water, the weakening of the bricks, the heaviness of the roof, the distance above the heads of the inmates who were sleeping under the roof, their bone structure and such other things are regulated by a fixed system. If one accepts the general principle of a fixed system one will have to accept the happenings of the mishap as a result of falling down of the roof over the inmates of the house. But if one wished that such an unpleasant accident should have not occurred, then it will amount to accepting a disruption and irregularity in the set system; as for example:
(a) The ball should have been so heavy as to not fall on the roof, or
(b) the arms of the children should have not been strong enough to handle the ball, or
(c) the mouth of the hole on the roof had been so wide as to let the ball pass through it, or
(d) the rains should have not occurred, or
(e) the water should have lost its property of getting absorbed into the bricks, or
(f) the bricks would have been hard enough in not absorbing the water inside them, or
(g) the gravitational force of earth would have ceased to function on that particular night so as to avoid the falling down of the roof over the inmates of the house, or
(h) the bones of the inmates of the house should have been as hard as steel, so that the falling down of the roof would have not crushed them, or
(i) the heavy roof should have been as light as feather, so that by falling down over the inmates it would not have hurt them. From this it is proved that if we accept a definite system of cause and effect and order of working, we shall have to accept the happenings of accidents and mishaps as a natural consequence, and to defy the happenings of such mishaps would amount to breaking the natural laws and physical phenomena which have been established by Divine Wisdom.
In short, if this Universe has certain set principles and rules it envisages mishaps and accidents also. If it is decided that there should occur no mishaps or accidents, then there would be no definite principles and set rules of working of everything. One should remember that if there are irregularities and disorders the chaos thus caused would lead to manifold evils and mishaps.
Great Caution: In our discussion about the Justice of Allah and the variation found in the human faculties, we should also give attention to the fact that some people who consider themselves lacking in one or the other faculties may be having capabilities in other spheres of activities. There are people who for the sake of personal benefit or greed or enmity adopt a certain profession or vocation in which they do not succeed, and bring frustration, they blame the Universe and consequently are embittered by failures and anxieties. On the other hand other people despise them and consider them as useless though such people show exemplary success in other departments.
It is said that the father of Charles Darwin was a physician and he wanted his son to adopt the same profession but Darwin could not make any progress in that field. His father got very much dejected and he forced him to acquire religious learning so that he could have become a good priest but he proved a failure there too. After failing in these two different fields, he chose natural sciences and became the pioneer in propounding a theory known as 'The Theory of Evolution".
We read in the tradition that if a man faces failure in a certain field or profession he should change it; possibly in the other field he may attain distinction.
There is some hidden defect in every perfection, and in every defect there is a hidden perfection.
Imam Ali says: "Often physical characteristics and features do not respond to mental capacities. Many a time it is seen that very handsome persons are slow-witted and dull. Many tall and well-built persons are found to be cowards and un-aspiring while one often comes across very ugly and sinister-looking people who are good tempered, honest and pious. Similarly, short and stumpy men may be very intelligent and foresighted. It is often found that men of good character have accidentally addicted themselves to bad habits". (See: Sermon—238, Peak of Eloquence, ISP, 1985)
Therefore, every successful man is not successful in all the fields, nor he who is unsuccessful in one sphere of activity is necessarily unsuccessful in all his activities.
There are some people who join a particular field of activity on account of sheer jealousy, despite the fact that they have no aptitude or interest in it, but when they prove to be a failure they blame the Justice of Allah by saying: "O Allah! Why such and such man was successful and I met with failure?" If such a man had adopted a profession in which he had some interest and which was in keeping with his inborn faculties he would have met with sure success. Thus it can be said that a man can be unsuccessful if he had been unable to recognize his own talents and mental disposition in a certain field of activity which he chooses for himself and if we give a careful thought to the success achieved by a person we can discover certain weaknesses, failures, and defects along with that success.
There are other questions which come to our mind in regard to our discussions on the Justice of Allah.
The First Question: Is the creation of Satan in line with the Wisdom and Justice of Allah? Was the creation of man not for the purpose of worshipping Allah, and accordingly was the creation of Satan the negation of this purpose? Apart from that man performs a certain deed after undergoing great efforts but errors and false notions on his part nullify such a deed in three different ways. Firstly, such a deed loses its real image as envisaged by Divine Will from the very beginning because of its showy character. Secondly, in the course of performing such a deed an element of pride defeats the very purpose of its accomplishment; and thirdly, because of the sins committed after its accomplishment the very deed is brought to naught. Can in such a case the creation of Satan be in consonance with the Wisdom and Justice of Allah?
Answer to the Question: The existence and the qualities that Allah gave to Satan were all good, and for a long longtime, he had been worshipping Allah. Satan's wickedness lay in his disobedience to the command of Allah and even worse than that his disobedience became his sin as he did not feel sorry for his misbehavior and did not repent of his sin. Not only that he became arrogant and moreover he objected to the command of Allah by saying that His command was unjust because he was made of fire and Adam was made of earth, and hence he was superior to Adam. Accordingly Satan's flouting the Divine command was due to his arrogance.
In the case of man, however, his unfounded fears are not such that he may become forced to commit sins. The strength of these unfounded notions leads to inclinations only. That is all. It does not kill our intention. And also there is a useful aspect of these fears, because our training and firmness of character lies in our fighting against our wicked desires and devilish notions. If a dumb man does not commit backbiting, it does not give him any credit. We give a man title of a strong man because he lifts a heavy weight from the ground against the greater force of earth's gravity. Indeed the sign of strength lies in opposing or counteracting the gravitational force.
The Holy Prophet said, "If anger draws a man towards doing an evil thing and he controls himself, he actually is as strong as a wrestler".
Apart from that if a man-falls a prey to the evil thoughts there is a door of repentance open to him up to the last hour and he can repent of his sins. On the other hand if we had been left alone with Satanic thoughts, it would have been a difficult thing, but as against the evil temptations induced by Satan we are blessed with wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Prophets which lead us to tread the straight path. But for distracting us from this path we are followed by Satanic temptations. It is not that Satan draws us towards him but the fact is that we too attract him towards us. It is for this reason that the Holy Qur'an narrates the following incident of a depraved scholar:
Muhammad, relate to them the plight of the person whom We inspired with Our guidance, but he passed them by, so that Satan came after him and he went astray. (Surah al-A'raf, 7:175)
From this verse it is established that Satan reaches the people who by their own deed show their inclinations towards Satan. The man referred to in this verse was Bal'am a scholar, who belonged to the tribe of Bani Isra'il. Allah had endowed him with some kinds of knowledge by virtue of which his supplications used to be granted by Allah, but he established his contacts with the court of Fir'aun and thus for the sake of attaining worldly gain and power he was detached from knowledge and the signs of Allah and fell into the trap of Satan.
We learn from the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:
Satan has certainly no control over the Believers who have trust in their Lord. The only authority he has is over his followers and those who consider things equal to Allah. (Surah an-Nahl, 16:99-100)
The fact that Satan has no power over the believers does not mean that he does not tempt them into wrong ways, but the fact is that those, who know the Satan quite well, are the true believers. They do not fall a prey to his temptations but resist them with full force and they are never influenced by him in any way. The Holy Qur'an describes the believers' resistance against the Satan in the following verses:
Those who are pious remember Allah when assailed by the instigations of Satan, and certainly they begin to understand, even though their (devilish) brothers would like them to continue in error and would not desist. (Surah al-A'raf, 7: 201—202)
Therefore, the believers are the antagonists of Satan and the transgressors are his friends and patrons. The Holy Qur'an says:
We shall make Satan the companion of whoever ignores the remembrance of the Beneficent Allah. (Surah az-Zukhruf, 43:36)
In short, Satan is such a creation of Allah that he could make the best use of his abilities but owing to his pride and obduracy he ruined himself for nothing. His ruination concerns him alone. The Satanic thoughts cannot, therefore, compel us to transgress and abandon the right path. Thus for those, who fall under his trap, the door of repentance is open and the Satanic influences only come through our own doing. From all that has been stated now it cannot be said that the creation of Satan was against the Justice of Allah.
The Second Question: Another thing which is often asked in respect of the Justice of Allah is the problem of those unfortunate individuals who pass their lives under agony and hardship, and are subjected to humiliation by the people. They ask as to why such individuals have been created at all?
The answer to the second question can be found from the foregoing discussions as we have already stated before that the very cause of our unpleasant happenings is our own doing. The less fortunate people are also the product of our indifferent and lethargic attitude. It is the parents who should abide by the hygienic and psychological principles. It is by their ignoring them that abnormal and retarded children are born. Fortunately, instructions on these principles have been laid down in the narrations of our infallible Imams. Cohabitation in the state of intoxication, menstruation, or food poisoning can have an adverse effect on the fetus. It is necessary that for the purpose of enlightening the young men and women in the family planning centres, sex education, in line with Islamic teachings, be imparted so as to produce healthy children, and bring them up properly according to Islamic standard.
What is the Fault of a New-born Child?
The question arises: "What is the fault of the new-born child?" Our answer is: "What is the fault of Allah?" Here both, the new-born child and the Beneficent Allah are faultless. Those who are at fault are the parents, but the new-born child is the sufferer. This is not so only in the case of a new-born child, but in all cases of oppressions and cruelties the fault is of the oppressors and the oppressed have to suffer.
If I throw a stone at you and you are wounded, then neither you nor Allah are at fault, but the fault is only mine and you suffer. Similarly when the question is raised as to why the offspring should suffer on account of the faults of the parents, the same question can be raised in case of the oppressors, who have committed oppression but the oppressed suffer.
If you brought a saltish or bitter yeast to a baker to make the bread for you, would you blame the baker who gave you the saltish or bitter bread?
If you sowed the seed of a watermelon and you got a watermelon will anybody raise an objection to it?
Would you expect to reach your destination in the north if you happen to travel southward?
Every food and every disposition has its natural effect and to save oneself from those effects one will have to defeat all the natural laws (which is impossible). To expect something else from the seed of a fruit or from the sperm is contrary to reason. Again the question that the parents' fault was a temporary error but the damage done to a deformed baby was a permanent one has no concern with Allah. You cap blind yourself in a moment with a knife and you remain blind for the lifetime. The fault was for a fraction of a moment but you suffered the agony for the whole life. You smash a glass in a moment but the glass is broken forever. Similar are the psychological problems. If you abuse a man, he severs his connections with you for the whole of his life, and an apology made for a moment annul the lifelong rancor and enmity. I had cited an example of a man who was very careful about his health but when he took a spoon of poison he nullified all his efforts of maintaining his good health.
Here arises another point to consider that the parents did not know that their action according to the Divine laws would have an adverse effect on the new-born baby. The answer to this is that the parents awareness or unawareness does not affect the natural consequences. It is immaterial whether or not we know that a certain wire is a live-wire and if we touch it we are sure to be electrocuted. Electricity would not stop its function if we are unaware of its existence, and would not leave us alive. If by mistake we drink wine taking it to be water, we shall certainly be intoxicated because it is the effect of the wine to make one intoxicated. Hence the innocence of the parents is in the sense that they did not commit a mistake intentionally, but after all the natural effect of a certain action must follow its own course.
The second question that arises is with regard to humiliation of the physically-handicapped persons who are born as such. The matter of their humiliation by the people is not connected with Allah or anybody else but it is a matter of their own way of thinking. We should not look down upon the people born with congenital physical defects. The sacred teachings of Islam have given many instructions in this regard.
In fact, it is the responsibility of the Government in power that it should take care of them with due respect and solemnity and provide them suitable work according to their individual capacity and ability so as to provide reasonable means for their livelihood and also ensure that their efforts are rightly rewarded by giving them maximum return. We wish to conclude this topic but not without making a request to our readers.
A Request: We should not entertain any doubt about the fundamentals of our beliefs and ideology. Whenever a problem regarding faith and ideology crops up and we cannot answer it we should better refer the matter to a religious scholar. We should note down the telephone numbers of a few religious scholars so that we may seek their guidance on even small objections. Just as sometimes a small nail pierces our foot and makes us unable to walk, a small objection disturbs our mind and makes us skeptical about our faith and makes our life miserable although apparently it looks like a very trifle thing. Our youngsters who are often confronted with some such objections and criticisms raised by some vested interest should in particular be in touch with a well-informed, virtuous and pious scholar so that he may give them proper advice and guidance.
A Reminiscence: Once I happened to come across a few friends of mine who told me that the Islamic laws do not fall in line with the true spirit of culture and civilization because according to Islamic jurisprudence the four fingers of a thief are to be chopped off while communism says that if we change our financial system and satisfy everybody's wants, there would be no possibility of thefts. When I inquired of them how they have formed such an opinion they told me that one of their teachers who was a supporter of socialism had told them such a theory which appealed to them and which they took to their heart.
However, I replied to them that Islam does not allow chopping off the hands of every thief; on the contrary in Islam there are twenty conditions before a thief's hand can be chopped off. I asked them who amongst them knew those conditions. All of them said that they did not know those twenty conditions. I told them that had they acquired some knowledge about Islamic laws they would have questioned their teacher in the classroom and told him that if he did not know the true facts about that matter he should have not poked his nose without having acquired proper knowledge about it. I told my friends that they should have invited their teacher to, a frank discussion on the point or they should have consulted an Islamic scholar. After I told them a few of those conditions they started pondering over it and then we parted company.
I invite the attention of my esteemed readers on the statement that the Holy Qur'an claims that in the long run Islam would be triumphant against evil forces and the people of the entire world would ultimately embrace Islam, and Imam Mahdi, the Imam of the Age will rule over the whole world. But there are some certain conditions with this claim as follows:
(i) People's attention towards Islam.
(ii) Identification of Islam.
(iii) Mental preparedness to understand Islam.
Indeed, the martyrs of the Islamic Revolution in Iran have turned the attention of the people towards Islam and in that way they have initiated a major step towards that direction. It is our duty now that we move forward to acquaint the people with the true spirit of Islam and then it is the duty of the other people who have been disappointed with different faiths and ideologies and are inclined towards Islam. Therefore, it is necessary that we read at least one good book every week so that we keep ourselves abreast with the Islamic learning.
Imam Ali Riza said: "If people become familiar with Islamic guidance they would be easily inclined towards it".
In the study of books priority should be given to those books which deal with faith and general outlook on the Universe, because our deeds are based on our thinking, and therefore considering other schools of thought we should choose for ourselves a proper line based on solid arguments.
In concluding our discussions on the Justice of Allah we should like to invite the attention of the reader to the following important points:
Categorization—the Means of Recognizing Allah
Just as undue preference is cruelty, in the same way rational categorization is real justice besides being a source of recognition of Allah. The Holy Qur'an says:
Among other signs of His existence is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the differences of languages and complexions. (Surah ar-Rum, 30:22)
Thus if a draftsman makes the same type of lay-outs and blueprints, an architect the same type of buildings, and the poet writes the verses of the same style, it will show his weakness and lack of knowledge, but if all these people show some originality in style and crafts it will speak of their creative faculty.