There are many concepts and views which are circulating around us in form of forwarded emails, SMS, shared post or advertisements. We usually do not bother much upon them but they have impact on our minds. I wish to share with you a part of similar ‘forwarded post’:
Professor: You are a Muslim, aren’t you, son?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: So, you believe in God?
Student: Absolutely, sir.
Professor: Is God good?
Professor: Is God all powerful?
Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill, but God did not. How is this God good then? Hmm?
The Student was silent.
Professor: You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fellow. Is God good?
Professor: Is Satan good?
Professor: Where does Satan come from?
Student: From … God …
Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything. Correct?
Professor: So who created evil?
The Student did not answer.
Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Student: Yes, sir.
Professor: Let me put this together. You say that God is really powerful and good; still He created Satan and all sorts of miseries in this world which are harming humankind from everywhere, the same humankind whom God is supposed to love very much?
The student is still silent.
Professor: Does God listen to prayers?
Student: Yes sir.
Professor: Then why are so many people who pray day and night and their prayers go unheard? Why doesn’t God save them from misery? Is He not powerful enough to do it?
Student: Sir God has power and control over everything and we can’t question God’s wisdom. I only have my faith.
Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem science and logic has.
Ah! What else could the student answer? This is all the reality of life and no one can deny it!
We all must have faced some part of above discussion in our lives and unless we can get proper logical answer to the above mentioned questions of the professor, our mind will never rest, no matter how firm we are on our beliefs.
This is one of the classical examples of discussions based on “The Problem of Evil” which has been propounded by philosophers repeatedly throughout the history. We, as Muslims, believe that Islam is the solution to all problems until end of earth so it should have a satisfactory answer for this issue as well.
The student mulled over the problem throughout the night but did not find a satisfactory answer. The next day, he went to the professor and another set of dialogue started. The professor of yesterday, who sounded to be an atheist, was in a different appearance today.
Student: Sir, I contemplated “the Problem of Evil” but was unable to find the answer. Can you please guide me. I am much frustrated.
Professor: My son, have you not read the Quran which clearly tells that the worldly life is only a test. Example of testing ground is similar as an examination hall. All the facilities provided in the exam hall (electricity, room conditioning, seating arrangement, disciplined environment, invigilators for helping with answer sheets etc.) Every student has a few hours time to do whatever he/she wants to do before the checking and result-making starts. Some students are in easier comfortable situation as compared to others; some may think questions are easy while others find them hard.
If there are different classes of students sitting together (as in schools) then some students may also look at senior’s question and think ‘Oh! That’s tough what my senior is going through’ but that is not the end of story. Every student has the choice to do well in the exam or do bad. Every paper has to go for checking and the result will be out after some days and the marks will decide the after-exam life of each student.
Similar is the situation for humans on the earth. It is all a test. It is Allah who made our exam papers, our exam situation, and it is Him who will check our papers fairly after it is all over. Yes, it is true that Allah made Satan who is the source of evil, but Allah also created all the goodness of this world.
Student: Sir, your explanation is right but still I am unable to find the reason behind existence of evil? This whole world is a victim of evil. How is it possible that evil dominates the entire world?
Professor: The problem of evil arises because we regard this world as to be “EVERYTHING” but if we look at the big picture of our entire life cycle, it carries no more importance than an exam-hall carries in our whole life. The luxury or distractions in the exam hall are only temporary things and the only thing going ahead is the answer-sheet. Whether a student chooses to create fuss for others, sleep in the relaxing environment of the hall, cry at the hard question paper or fill up the answers honestly; it is the choice given to each student within the boundaries of the exam hall.
Student: Then what will happen to those who create fuss for others and what will be the fate of their victims?
Professor: Students who create problems for others are like evildoers and Satan. They are later penalized for what they did to others and their victims will be rehabilitated / given ease on basis of what they had gone through. The important point is that there will be a time during which these victims will have to suffer before they get the justice they deserve. Thus, the punishment process may or may not take place within exam hall or during exam timings.
Student: Some students feel that the exam hall is full of luxuries and they can have fun-filled, care-free resting time. Others envy them and think that they are lucky who get options to chill in face of stress also! What do you say about it?
Professor: Yes, this is stupidity as luxury never leads to success or failure in exam. In reality, such students are at a loss because they forget what they were supposed to do. We all can imagine what will be their result.
Students who cry over the difficulty of question paper and do not try solving whatever they can also waste their time and forget that pass percentage is only 33% (not 100%). In fear of a failure, they even stop trying and the result is their failure. Who is responsible for their failure?
Students who forget the surrounding issues and focus on solving the paper are the ones who will eventually pass the exam. It is true that some students will do better and will get better marks than the others will. The rule is that whoever passes the exam goes to the next class and that is the thing which we all really need i.e. to be in hereafter as ‘successful’ people. Luxuries or hard conditions in the exam hall are temporary and we should ignore them.
Student: All what you are explaining relates to something in future? Why will all this happen in future? Why does it not happen now?
Professor: It is foolishness to think of getting the results while solving the question paper. The final checking of paper is always done after all the students have finished their papers and exam has ended.
Allah has absolute power and control over everything and ultimately He will ensure justice to everyone. Whoever suffered any sort of hardship and bore it with patience, will get its additional reward; and whoever transgressed on someone else’s rights will face an additional trial on the Day of Judgment. The exam scores will be adjusted for the hardships faced during the worldly life and every one will get fair result. A student, who faced hardships during the exam, will be given an extra weight and his score will be adjusted. According to a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (sall Allah alaihi wassalam,) poor people will go to paradise 500 years earlier than the richer ones.
Student: Sir, your explanation is plausible but why did God put us in the exam?
Professor: As per the Quran [7:172-173 and 33:72,] this exam was not forcefully imposed upon us but in reality, we chose to attempt it with our own free will. If you want to discuss it further, please discuss through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student: Thank you very much, sir. I like your way of teaching as you created questions in my mind and when I exhausted in search of these questions, you provided me the answers. I am really feeling very relaxed and lighthearted.
Professor: My son, every faithful has faith in his religion but the real peace of mind is not attainable without satisfying the questions raised by your intellect.
(Author: Fatima Saem)
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Think about it!
1. Is there any way to get rid of Satan’s deceptions so that we can concentrate on getting ready for the Day of Judgment?
2. Why does the problem of evil arise again and again despite of Divine Guidance available through prophets?
3· Imagine, if there is no Satan and no evil, would it still be possible to have a test?