Death is accepted and viewed as a natural part of life

The Concept of Suffering in Islam

God wants all of creation to exist together in perfect harmony like it was at the beginning. It is the mercy of Allah that we are saved. 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. 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. Allah says:

لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“Certainly, (has) come to you a Messenger from yourselves. Grievous to him (is) what you “suffer, (he is) concerned over you, to the believers (he is) kind (and) merciful.” (Surah At-Taubah 9:128)

God often uses suffering to train and discipline to grow us into maturity in our faith. We all feel it: the pain of this world, the darkness trying to cloud out the light. God gave us the will and power to act according to our will. Sometimes suf­fering and disaster are used not as a test, but as a warning to sinners or a punishment for transgres­sors. Those who will fail this test shall see the evil consequences of their sins and corruption. Allah says:

مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ وَأَرْسَلْنَاكَ لِلنَّاسِ رَسُولًا وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا

“What(ever) befalls you of (the) good (is) from Allah, and whatever befalls you of (the) evil (is) from yourself. And for the people (as) a Messenger and Allah is sufficient (as) a Witness.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:79)

God’s intention with us is not just to prove that sinning brings suffering. Even more important is to prove that living without sinning brings joy and peace and harmony. So even though God has to let the earth reap the wages of sin, He is far more interested in letting those who choose to serve Him reap the benefits of that. We are also called to live wisely. Some of our problems could be avoided if we would live consistently by the principles of wisdom in the Word of God.

Here are some reasons why God Allows Suffering:

  1. Suffering reminds us that this world is not our home
  2. Suffered when they disobeyed  God’s disobedience
  3. Suffering more for heaven and less for the world
  4. Suffering awaken the lost to their need for God
  5. Suffering reminds us that the world is broken
  6. Suffering does justice in response to our sin
  7. Suffering when a believer rejects the faith
  8. Suffering keeps us dependent on God 
  9. Suffering  is a matter of perspective
  10. Suffering hatred of certain people
  11. Suffering because of the jealousy
  12. Suffering  groans for redemption
  13. Suffering object away from evil
  14. Suffering is put our trust in God
  15. Suffering from the wrong choices
  16. Suffering receive praise and realms
  17. Suffering believers testament of faith
  18. Suffering is the result of mankind’s sin
  19. Suffering is meaning in the community 
  20. Suffering means a powerful God exists
  21. Suffering gives a picture to near to God
  22. Suffering makes the bliss of heaven sweeter 
  23. Suffering may learn patience and endurance
  24. Suffering reminds us of the impact of our sin
  25. Suffering is used to train us in righteousness

The good news in our suffering is that all our pain is temporary and all our joy is eternal. The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us with an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. No temptation, no sin, no strife, conflict, or disobedience. 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)

Suffering can also be a test and trial for some people. Allah allows some people to suffer to test their patience and steadfastness. Good people sometimes suffer but their sufferings heal others and bring goodness to their communities. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they react to them. When you see a person who is sick, poor and needy, then you are tested by Allah.

We are being tested, those who will pass this test will find an eternal world that is perfect and permanent:

  • Allah judges us and rewards us: By the choices we make, Allah judges us and as such, He either rewards us in the next life or punishes us.
  • Do good and hates those who do evil: 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.
  • This world is a test: The world is for tests, and with these tests, we will grow as people and grow closer to Him. He has also promised that there will be ease after every hardship.
  • Suffering from the wrong choices: Suffering brings faithful believers into a deeper understanding and relationship with Him.
  • Let go and let God: Suffering allows us to see that we have something worth far more than anything this earth can afford. 
  • Repent on the mistakes you have made: It is never too late for a true Muslim to repent to Allah, and to shed tears. When we see unrighteousness and cruelty, we can be champions for righteousness and compassion.
  • Change your expectations: God knows the outcome of the test beforehand, this is to serve as a testament about how strong one’s faith is in the Day of Judgement.

Allah is there with that suffering person to test your charity and your faith. God often uses suffering to train and discipline to grow us into maturity in our faith. We all feel it: the pain of this world, the darkness trying to cloud out the light.

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:

  • “Be not sad, surely Allah is with us.” (Quran 9:40)
  • “So be patient, with good patience…” (Quran 70:5)
  • “Verily, with hardship, there is a relief” (Quran 94:6)
  • “So do not become weak, nor be sad…” (Quran 3:139)
  • “…Bear with patience whatever befalls you….” (Quran 31:17)
  • “Nay verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.” (Quran 26:62)
  • “….and harm them not. And put your trust in Allah.” (Quran 33:48)
  • “Therefore remember Me and I will remember you…” (Quran 2:152)
  • “And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed…” (Quran 5:23)
  • “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Quran 13:28)

Hardships and tragedies are a prerequisite to prosperity and happiness and are their cause. Bliss and harmony hide behind hardship, just as sometimes hardship is hidden behind happiness.  Hardship and pain train the individual and awaken society, they awaken those who are sleeping in ignorance and motivate them. Allah says:

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَا إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ

“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees – before We bring it into existence.” (Surah Al-Hadid 57:22 )

Suffering allows us to identify with and draw near to Islamic through suffering as nothing else can. Rejoice when you participate in the sufferings, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. God is rich in mercy and He provided a way for guilty sinners to be forgiven. Allah says:

ثُمَّ بَدَّلْنَا مَكَانَ السَّيِّئَةِ الْحَسَنَةَ حَتَّىٰ عَفَوا وَّقَالُوا قَدْ مَسَّ آبَاءَنَا الضَّرَّاءُ وَالسَّرَّاءُ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ

“Then We changed (in) place (of) the bad the good until they increased and said, “Verily, (had) touched our forefathers the adversity and the ease.” So We seized them suddenly, while they (did) not perceive.” (Surah Al-Araf, 7:95)

Sufferings occur to teach us that we must adhere to Allah’s natural and moral laws. It is to test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and charity. When God puts people through adversity, it would serve as a reminder to them about the power that God has over their lives.  Allah says:

مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ وَأَرْسَلْنَاكَ لِلنَّاسِ رَسُولًا وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ شَهِيدًا

“What(ever) befalls you of (the) good (is) from Allah, and whatever befalls you of (the) evil (is) from yourself. And for the people (as) a Messenger and Allah is sufficient (as) a Witness.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:79)

Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the sufferings given to us. Sometimes it may also serve as a reminder to not be too preoccupied with the worldly life and forget about God and His absolute authority. May Allah keep us on the right path, Amen!