Question: What is the correlation between making mistakes and having bad things happen to you? How to get out of the mindset of “whenever I sin and something bad happens, it means I’m being punished”? How should one explain that Allah’s wisdom and choices aren’t limited to what we do? How does one pull oneself out of thoughts like “I’m the common denominator and everything is my fault”? Is it correct to say that Allah doesn’t distribute punishment based on someone’s bad deeds? If something bad happens in a city, how should we think when someone says “Oh, they deserved it” or “Oh, of course, they are getting punished because that was a sinful town”. For example, Pompei was a town infamous for sins so I figure Allah punished them, but why is Las Vegas still around? Linking qadr and what’s happening in one’s life to what one has done and criticizing oneself is not useful, right?
Thank you for your question. Your question is a very important one and I pray that you can find clarity on it.
Generally speaking, our deeds are not linked to Allah’s punishment in this world because recompense is for the hereafter. Allah, Most High, says, “Your Lord is the Most Forgiving, and full of mercy: if He took them to task for the wrongs they have done, He would hasten their punishment on. They have an appointed time from which they will have no escape” [Qur’an, 18:58].
Rather one should look at what happens to them, of difficulties, pain, and suffering as trials and tests. Allah, Most High, says, “Do people think they will be left alone after saying ‘We believe’ without being put to the test? We tested those who went before them: God will certainly mark out which ones are truthful and which are lying” [Qur’an, 29:2-3].
Please see this excellent answer that covers your topic in detail:
And see this excellent article that refers to the Turkish earthquake in 1999, and how Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad looks at it:
May Allah reward you and give you the best in this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.