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Allah Claims That He Is Just but We Cannot Find God’s Justice Anywhere. Where Is God’s Justice? 

Answered by Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Question: Allah claims that He is Just but we cannot find God’s Justice anywhere. Just to mention some examples: Height, Skin Color, Gender discrimination, Health, Division of property between brothers & sisters, etc.  Where is God’s Justice? 

Answer: As-salaam ‘Alaykum,

We often struggle to understand God’s Wisdom and Providence in the world and it can lead us to confusion and even resentment. I will try and address the overall theme of your question and I hope you read the following with an open heart:

The majority of your question/objection revolves around why God chose to give certain people particular traits and not give those same traits to others. You describe this as unjust. And since God says that He is just, you seem to be claiming that this is clearly not true per the examples you have cited. However, your question makes an assumption, and understanding the mistakes underlying said assumption will answer the question/objection you have put forward.

Your mistaken assumption is that “justice,” is essentially to treat everyone absolutely equally [the same]. Therefore, any instance where someone is not given exactly what another person is given, that is unjust. But that is not what justice is. Rather, justice is to give someone their right. The opposite of justice, “injustice,” is to prevent or withhold someone’s right from them. God is totally just, He never withholds someone’s rights from them.

Below I will expand on this central point by focusing on whether God owes anyone anything, to begin with, exploring what God has promised us, as well as the fairness, justice, generosity, and bounty that He has shown all of us.

Does God Owe Us Anything?

At the outset, we must highlight that God does not owe us anything. He created us as an act of generosity and bounty from Him and we were not owed that creation. He gives us is purely an act of generosity and bounty. What proof do we have to say otherwise? If we claim we are owed something, anything, we need proof that we are owed said rights. What proof do we have? We don’t have any proof and we do not have any rights that God must fulfill.

Thus, it is important that we state that at the very beginning: principally, God does not owe us anything. So when He creates some of us tall, some short, some blonde, some with brown or black hair, some He has born into wealthy families and others not, some He tries with difficult diseases and others he has lead healthy lives… none of that can be considered unjust because there are no rights that we are owed that need to be fulfilled. Outward blessings are not given because they are owed to said individuals and those who don’t receive those blessings are not being shortchanged or dealt with unjustly.

This shouldn’t be hard to understand or grasp, we understand this same thought process in our day to day lives. Suppose you have four good friends and you decide to invite two of them over for lunch one weekend. You do the same thing a few weekends in a row. Then one weekend you decide only to invite one of the two over. If the one who had been coming over who is now not invited objects and says, “That is unfair! You are being unjust!” Wouldn’t you just say, “Wait, why? I don’t have to invite you over. My initial invitation was an act of kindness on my part, you weren’t owed it. Also, you weren’t objecting when I only invited the two of you and not the others. I don’t owe you an invitation.”

Another example would be if one had a stranger knock on their door. The stranger asks for some money and so he gives him $20. A couple of hours later another stranger knocks and also asks for money. This time he gives this second individual $10. If those two strangers somehow met up and the second individual returns and objects because he was given less, would he have a right to do so? No, of course not. He doesn’t owe either of them anything. Whether he gives them the same amount or different amounts it is totally up to him. A pure act of generosity.

I hope you can see from the examples above how wrong it is to treat all inequality in such cases as injustice. We can recognize the mistaken assumption when it comes to humans interacting with one another. It therefore should be even clearer when it comes to God.

God Has Promised Us Reward For Certain Matters

God has informed us through Prophecy that if we do certain things that we will be rewarded with particular rewards. That promising of reward is itself an act of generosity, He did not have to set up a reward system for our worship. He is deserving of worship regardless. However, He will not violate that promise. His not owing us anything He has Willed and Informed us that He will reward good deeds. Those good deeds and rewards are not a right we are owed just a bounty and generosity He has promised. How wonderfully Generous and Gentle is the Lord of the Worlds.

Here we can highlight another possible mistake in the assumption of the question posed. When did God promise us that He would have us all lead the exact same life in this world? Did He say we would all look the same? Have the same opportunities? Did Prophecy tell us that He would treat us all the same in terms of height, weight, wealth, family, etc? Since we are not owed those things principally, as a right, and He has not promised that He would treat us the same therein, then where are the oppression and injustice? God is not only being Just, He is going above and beyond in His Generosity and Bounty.

Reward For Trials and Difficulties

Every difficulty and outward trial or oppression that we go through will be taken into account in the next life. Those with a lot of wealth will not be tried like those who had no wealth. Those with health will not be tried the same way as those stricken with extreme illness. God knows what He gives and to whom and He will not oppress anyone on the Day of Judgement. This is despite the fact that He does not owe any of us anything. In theory, He could tell us that all we did get of blessings was from Him and we should just be thankful, but He will not just stop there, He will recompense us for our difficulties. These are not the actions of someone who is unjust, they are the actions of the Generous, the Wise.

Final Summary

The very idea of injustice or oppression only applies to cases where an individual misuses that which someone else owns or has sovereignty over. Allah is The Sovereign. Everyone and everything belongs to Him. He can do as He pleases with His creation. Yet He does not act only based on what is owed, which is nothing, rather He acts out of Generosity and Wisdom. Everything He gives us or withholds is out of generosity, bounty, and wisdom. He is the epitome of Justice, Generosity, Mercy… He has promised reward for certain deeds out of His Generosity. He will recompense us for our difficulties and take them into account out of His Generosity. None of that is because we are owed those things, it is completely out of His Generosity and Bounty. So where is the injustice in any of that? It is the pinnacle of justice, fairness, generosity, and bounty.

I leave you in Allah’s care,

[Ustadh] Mohammed Tayssir Safi

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Mohammed Tayssir Safi was born in Dubai and moved to the United States six months after he was born. He graduated from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor in 2006 as a double major in Political Science and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. He spent the next 3 years of his life traveling the Middle East, completing the Arabic program, CASA, in Egypt, and pursuing private studies in Arabic linguistics and introductory Islamic sciences. His brief introduction to Islamic studies continued for another year at the Dar al-Mustafa Institute in Tarim, Yemen. Mohammed also teaches Arabic at the University of Michigan. Apart from classes at the University of Michigan, Mohammed studies at the hands of Muslim scholars privately in multiple sciences including linguistics, law, and theology.

Chaos in My Life

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: How to know if Allah is unhappy with me or if it is a trial? Life has been challenging throughout but right now I am in utter chaos. What should I do?

Answer: First, I thank you for reaching out to us in your time of need and I pray that things turn around for you, in all respects. That being said, there are important things to bear in mind.

It is not the job of the servant to figure out whether Allah is pleased or displeased with him. Nor is it his job to figure out why Allah has sent what he has sent upon him. Rather reflect on the hadith of the Prophet, Allah bless him and send him peace, “I am what my servant thinks of me, and I am with him whenever he mentions me….” Think of your Lord has merciful, kind, and compassionate and He will be that for you!

In terms of your difficulties in life, I recall one of my teachers saying that you should always compare yourself to one who is better than you in matters of religion (din), but always compare yourself to one who is worse off than you in this-worldly matters.

I believe you should do three things. First and foremost, be sure that you are applying your personally obligatory knowledge? Are you purifying and praying correctly? Fasting and paying zakat correctly? Do you guard your tongue against the enormities? Take a moment to assess this and feel free to take a free course at Seekersguidance to be sure that Allah is #1 for you and not #2 or #3 or further down the list.

Second, I would figure out some methods to de-stress. Some thoughts that come to mind are: exercise regularly, eat healthily, take your supplements, get enough sleep, and recite a daily invocation or devotional act (wird).

The last thing that comes to mind is time management. Building up a business takes time and effort. Have you done all the consulting necessary? Are you rushing into things or taking it a step at a time? Are you checking your work and details with excellence (Ihsan) or doing things haphazardly and expecting great results? Are you taking out enough time to study for the exam while working on the business? Which takes priority of your time?

Last of all, intend the pleasure and remembrance of Allah in your studies, your work, and in your worship and you will have success from whence you never expected it.

Wassalam,

[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.

Being Patient Despite Financial Hardship

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat advises on how to bear the trials and hardships that one faces with patience and acceptance.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I’m a young adult and it seems my family and I have never ending financial difficulties. I feel we are all doing our best, yet we struggle even with meeting our daily needs sometimes. The fact that money controls a lot in your life is taking a toll on me.

This question can go much deeper because everyone has different circumstances but what I”m trying to get at is how do I make sure I’m being patient, pleased with, and grateful when I feel so beaten down by life.

Is there a specific dua you would recommend? At times I do get angry and discontented with my situation. and often at myself because I feel like I’m not helping out in my family financially as much as I should. What limits me is my mental illness, I can’t really function due to it. Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Everyone is tested in life. The tests are not necessarily a bad thing. Allah changes us through the tests for the better. Sometimes we feel pain because others hurt us, and sometimes our situation in general pushes us to the limit of what we can bear.

Throughout all of this one should remember the words of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, “[I am truly] amazed at the affair of the believer. Everything that happens to him is the best for him – and that is not the case for anyone except the believer! If good times come to him He is grateful and that is best for him. And if difficulties come to him he is patient and that is better for him.”

It is important to note that the one expressing wonder here in this hadith is the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. He was granted more knowledge of the reality of things than anyone else created by Allah. If he was amazed by the great consequences of the tests a believer faces in life, then we should realize that everything that happens to a believer is a gift from our Loving Lord.

Allah Makes Us Grow Through Trials

Our difficulties do not leave us as the people we were before we were tested with them. This growth is on many levels – but most importantly, it is a means of drawing closer to Allah. The key to it is patience.

Patience (Sabr), in many prophetic narrations, is connected to expecting a reward from Allah (Ihtisab). This means that one of the means to getting through a difficulty is to keep your focus on the rewards Allah has promised His believing servants. This will help you look beyond your immediate difficulties and see the bigger picture.

Maryam – the Mother of Isa

It is possible to become overwhelmed with emotions when in very difficult situations, as was the case with Sayyidi Maryam when she was giving birth the prophet Isa, Allah bless them and our Messenger, and give them all peace.

She was from a family of righteous people with prophets as relatives and ancestors. She had been known for righteousness, and had been pledged to worship in the synagogue by her mother from before her birth. She was the paragon on virtue, religiousness, and chastity. And suddenly she found herself all alone, giving birth to a child who had no father.

Imagine all her feelings, her pain, her worry, her fear of people leveling accusations against her out of ignorance, and what her family must endure because of it. All of this, combined with the difficulties of labor made her say, “O how I wish that I had died long before this, or that I was some worthless object, forgotten.” (Sura Maryam 19:23).

Shaykh Ahmad ibn Ajiba, when commenting on this verse said that it is possible to say something unbecoming when overwhelmed by a situation, but one should not stay in such a state. How? By looking at those before us, and how their trials ended up being the means of them being raised above others.

She gave birth to one of the greatest of the prophets, and someone through whom Allah will give the ultimate victory to the Muslims through at the End of Times. She attained the highest rank of iman a believer can be blessed with and was used as a role model for believing women in the Qur’an. She is fortunate to be the mother of Isa, and he is also blessed to be her son.

Where are all these virtues, and where is the pain she experienced in those fleeting moments?

Practical Steps

Keep reminding yourself that Allah – the All-Merciful – is using this test as a means of making you draw closer to Him. He has been giving you blessings all your life. In reality, if we think about matters, we live better than many kings did in the past. Just the blessing of being able to flush your waste down the toilet, and not having to haul it outside to dispose of it is something many people could not do without.

Shaykh Ahmad b. Ataʾillah advised us, “Let the pain of your tribulation be lightened by your knowing that it is He – Transcendent beyond imperfections is He  – who is the one testing you. The one from whom the blows of fate have come is the very same being who has accustomed you to Him choosing the best for you.” (Ibn Ataʾillah, al-Hikam).

If he has granted you priceless gifts such as faith, He certainly has a plan for you. Watch it unfold.

Seek Treatment

You mental issues clearly play a part in your difficulties. Seek medical treatment and try to keep the company of people who will inspire and support you. This is critical. You cannot rise if you spend time with people who kick you down.

One Day at a Time

Don’t worry about the next week, month, or year. Live each day with your concern being the five prayers, and thanking Allah for what you do have in them. Worrying about the long term leads to anxiety.

Part of the trick here is letting things unfold as they do. Resisting leads to pain. Let things happen. Allah will take care of you. Remembrance of Allah helps a great deal with this. Send blessings on the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, with the focus on Allah raising His rank and giving him more blessings. This will help avert your focus on your own pain.

Ask Allah

Whatever the difficulty is – financial or otherwise – the only one who can fix things in reality is Allah. Turn to Him, pray for others in a similar situation, and you’ll see a response. Even if it takes a while to come. It will come.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim.

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

 


 

Understanding Trials

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: I understand that a Muslim is tried either because of something wrong he is doing (or has done) or because Allah is trying to raise his status. So, I believe, the first case would necessitate tawbah and the second case, patience. So if one is undergoing hardship, how can you tell which of the two scenarios applies to him/her?

 

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

Trials occur for one of three reasons:

[1] Due to sins: the sign of which is impatience, restlessness and complaining;

[2] As an expiation for sins: the sign of which is patience and obedience being easy on the body;

[3] To raise one’s rank: the sign of which is calm and contentment along with obedience being easy for the body and heart.

[Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha]

In any case, one should realize the hidden blessing of the trial. Renew one’s repentance, resolve, and turning to Allah, and seek out the people of knowledge and righteousness striving to be counted amongst them. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “How amazing is the believer’s affair! Allah decrees nothing for the servant except that it is good for him.” [Musnad Ahmad]

See: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment? and A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

How Do I Cope With the Constant Hardships and Challenges in My Life?

Answered by Ustadh Abdullah Anik Misra

Question: I’m friends with a family who are going through extreme hardships in life right now.

The husband will probably lose his job soon.  He has a lot of debt due to being laid off in the past while dealing with family medical issues.  His parents live with him and both of them have debilitating health problems.   He also has health problems and can’t exercise as a result.  The entire family seem to be very good, concerned Muslims who are active in the Muslim community.

Are there some daily practices that they should do to relieve them of their hardship?

Answer: Wa alaikum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray all is well.  Thank you for your question, and your concern for your friends.

What is happening in your friends’ lives right now are tests from Allah Most High.  When Allah loves someone, He tests them- so give them glad tidings of Allah’s love for them.  Even the most beloved of creation to Allah, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), went through very hard trials.

Alhumdulillah, you mentioned they are practicing, conscientious Muslims.  Thus it might be too much to advise them to take on extra spiritual works or extra charities given their burdens, if they are already reading the Quran and doing some dhikr by day and night, and giving regular charity – even if little.

While outward works are important, the inward states are their secret.  Pray 2 rakats of shukr each night, thanking Allah for the still-many blessings He gave.  Express neediness to Allah constantly.

Practice being content with His decree and not complaining, even to oneself.  Know with firm belief that the help of Allah is ever near, and after every hardship, comes two eases.

Finally, as their friend: don’t offer help, just do it!  Make them food; babysit their kids; drive their dad to the hospital; leave money anonymously.  Those watching others in hardship are in just as much of a test.

May Allah Most High make it easy for them, and for all the Muslims suffering in the world, Ameen.

Wasalam,

Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life

Advice to a Young Cancer Patient

What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials In My Life?

Asking Allah for Well Being

Prophetic Supplications to Cure Illness