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Why Didn’t We All Receive the Same Opportunities for Survival?

03 November, 2023
Q If we assume that God exists, is omniscient, omnipotent and knows each individual I have the following concerns. At creation, we got a free will, it is said. God must have known before he gave us, it would result in misery for so many, so why he gave us that? Why did not God, that at creation equip us in a way that subsequent people got fairly similar intelligence and ability to show empathy? Why was it necessary to "plant in" physical / mental / disability in our genes? I've heard IF EVERYONE stood up for what is right, against those who do wrong, then much of the evil is not the rule as it does in many places. But we are obviously created so that we do not all stand up for what is right, and that God knew from the beginning, because he is omniscient. There is a conflict, I think, how do you explain it? It is also argued that when people are suffering on earth as it is this time very very short compared to the time they get in paradise. In my opinion this is the time many people suffer on earth still terrible and felt very long for these people. Many of those who suffer are the children who are too young to sin, it is also animal suffering and who also can not be blamed for it. In addition, there are many adults who are really good and makes a lot of good things but who still suffer, and adults who behave horribly bad. That those who behave terribly badly suffer, I have no problem with, but all the others ... This is the big hurdle for me to believe. I read about people who captured and tortured while the people "who tortures" calling relatives and blackmails them out of money. Sometimes dying victims, sometimes they survive with enormous injuries for life. Many of the victims are teenagers. That you have to suffer if you are a victim of natural disasters or car accidents can I accept with not that God thinks that you have to do it because you have the misfortune to meet a psychopath with zero empathy and who commit extremely serious assault completely arbitrary. In addition, we have poverty in some parts of the world, where young children are often orphans, for ten years a prostitute to survive.


Salam (Peace) Dear Triva,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Yes, Life is a Test

From the Islamic point of view, God created this world as a testing ground for us. And as you know, compared to the life in the other world, our life here is very short.

If we pass this short test here, we are going to be gifted with a never-ending life of happiness in Paradise.

And our test is basically our contention with Evil, which comprises not only of all the wickedness in and around us, but also the pain and suffering we undergo.

This includes personal deformities and diseases and all the natural calamities as well as man-made disasters like wars, invasions and tortures.

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Your question can be summarized thus: “If God is good, why did He create Evil?”

Why Did God Create Evil?

As Muslims we seek the answer to this question in the Book of God, the Quran. And God says in the Quran what means:

Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial; to Us must you return. (Quran 21:35)

That is to say, this life is a trial where good and evil play their parts. And for this trial to be fair, we are gifted with freedom of will and choice (within limits of course).

As a result, humans may choose evil instead of good.

If they are forcefully prevented from choosing evil, there won’t be any freedom. That is to say, God cannot have free beings whom He forces to choose good.

In fact, a lot of valuable things like moral responsibility, a sense of individual achievement, and satisfactory personal relationships cannot exist without freedom of choice.

At the same time, all man-made disasters are the consequences of the free choice of humans too.

Evil and Good: Two Sides, Same Coin

From the Islamic point of view, evil is like one of the twins, the other being good, as good on earth is ironically linked to evil.

Good in this world cannot exist without bad, as they are two sides of the same coin, and both are relative concepts.

For instance, to help a cancer patient is good work; but this is possible only when there is someone suffering from cancer, which is a bad thing.

That is to say, we have a chance to do good work only when there is a need, which in itself is “evil”, or at any rate not “good”.

We replace that evil, or the absence of good, with good.

The imperfections and deficiencies of this world provide ample opportunities for us to make creative efforts for improvement, and this makes our lives and work meaningful.

Suffering is Necessary for True Growth

We can see that both good and evil are equally necessary for the spiritual development of man. For the spirit to grow, it has to overcome evil in the pursuit of good.

God says in the Quran what means:

Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel evil with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. (Quran 41:34-35)

That is to say, we must confront evil with good. But to do this, immense patience is necessary.

As for believers, good does not spoil them, nor does evil drive them into a state of despair.

When Disaster Strikes

There are natural disasters like earthquakes or floods, in which people including children suffer.

Believers in such situations do not become desperate; rather they view such misfortunes as a test of their faith. They go out to help the victims in whatever way they can.

And the victims, if they are believers, show patience and seek forgiveness from God for their own failings and pray for protection.

God says in the Quran what means:

Seek help in patience and prayer; It is indeed hard, except to those who bring a lowly spirit… (Quran 2:45)

Believers are always convinced that all things exist and events happen within the framework of Allah Almighty’s jurisdiction and control; so they never lose hope.

They trust in the overarching mercy of God, who says in the Quran what means:

On no soul does God place a burden greater than it can bear. (Quran 2:286)

And the All-Merciful ensures the suffering humanity that after every hardship comes ease:

So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. (Quran 94:5)

In short, both good and evil are equally necessary for the spiritual development of humanity. The spirit grows when it confronts evil and overcomes it to do good deeds.

I hope this helps address your concerns.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(This is from AboutIslam’s archives and was published previously)

Read more…

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?


Life as a Journey of Self-Actualization


My Bad Luck: Is it Jinn Possession, Black Magic, or Fate?


Are We Entitled to Our Own Free Will?


Why Does Allah Decree Suffering and Hardship?



About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.