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What’s the Point of this World? – Why So Much Pain?

22 October, 2018
Q I don't quite understand the point of being in this world. As in, why all this pain and misery when we didn't even opt for it? Every time I have asked this question, I am given that verse from Quran (the one in which all people had pledged to obey Allah), but then I wonder, we don't remember that pledge. It is in human nature to not honor any promise he doesn't remember. I don't understand why do some people have such easy and pleasant lives and why do so many people have very difficult lives. I know how scholars say this is temporary and eternal ease will follow, but what if someone is so sick of his circumstances that he wants to become non-existent. There is so much of chaos, even amongst the people who claim to be religious. There is no agreement. No peace. Also, there are people who don't have any people who love them. They don't have adequate resources too. Why would be life like that when it's not even been opted for by us? Moreover, no one has ever returned from the other side, what if there is no paradise.


Short Answer: Some of the most beautiful realities emerge from some of the most excruciatingly painful moments. Contemplate on pregnancy and labor for example. Think about all the changes a mother goes through over a period of nine whole months. Think about those long hours of intense labor, of waiting, screaming, tears and pain…. Then comes the child! And the moment the mother holds on to her child, it is as though she holds the whole world in her arms.


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Salam Alaykum Dear Brother,

We are very happy to receive your message. Thank you so much for approaching us, and may Allah (SWT) shower ease, peace, mercy, happiness and serenity upon your heart.

We completely understand your questions and the points you were raising.

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And we highly appreciate you taking the time to explain all of this to us.

We noticed around 7 points or questions in your message.

So let us discuss them together bit by bit.

1- Why all this Pain and Misery?

This is a legitimate question. For some reason, it reminded me of this hadith.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked which people are the most severely tested. He replied: The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

The message is that the strongest believers are the ones who’re given- what appears to be- the biggest trials.

“But why?” you may ask.

Think about this for example: if you have friends who only stick by your side when things are going well, but they abandon you when the going gets tough. Does this make them real friends?

Aren’t those friends who stick by you in the most difficult times- no matter how long it takes- prove to be the most truthful, committed and loving friends?

Not only that, but also your relationship after getting through much difficulty together evolves into a deeper, stronger and more intimate one. Right?

This is what happens if you stick by Allah through what you think is a difficulty or a hardship.

It is a manifestation of one of the most sophisticated and divine relationships one could have with The Creator. Clinging on to Him, trusting His Wisdom and Mercy until one is elevated from the state of hardship into a state of durable inner peace, light and closeness.

{Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light….} [Quran 2: 257]

Points to Remember

Now, there are some points that we need to remember.

  • Allah [SWT] gave us an ability to learn and He will continue to teach us until our last breath. When Allah [SWT] created our father Adam, He said “And He taught Adam the names-all of them…..” [Quran: Chapter 2: Verse 31].

This is not a fleeting moment of history. This a reality of life: Allah teaches us. The word ‘Rabb’ (Lord) in Arabic comes from the word ‘tarbiyaa’ (education).

Allah [SWT] is the Supreme Educator. We will learn from everything that happens in our lives. There is a lesson, a message, a meaning and a wisdom for us in every experience we go through- good or bad. We just need our hearts and minds to be attentive.

  • We ALL will experience our fair share of blessings and tribulations in this life according to our individual capacities.
  • Our life is temporary, did anyone live forever? We learned that the Day of Judgment the extent of which is 50 thousand years. On that Day, people would think they haven’t lived but an hour on this earth. Think: what is 70-80 years compared to 50 thousand years? What is 70-80 years compared to the eternal life that follows the Day of Judgment?

According to the hadith, on the Day of Resurrection, a righteous person who has experienced extreme misery in the life of this world will be dipped in Jannah. Then he will be asked: ‘O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any misery? Did you ever encounter difficulty?’ He will say: “By Allah, no my Lord, I neither experienced misery nor passed through hardship” [Muslim]

  • One dip in Jannah will make the most miserable human being forget the most miserable experiences he/she ever had in the temporary life of this world.

The Bigger Picture

Now that we remember of these points, let us please reflect together on the bigger picture.

We understand from the Quran and prophetic hadiths that Allah [SWT] essentially wants us to deeply know Him, fall in love with Him and develop a relationship with Him. This relationship will be carried with us when we live near Him for eternity in an eternal Jannah.

Look at Surat Ad-Dhariyat verse 56, Allah [swt] says that He didn’t create the Jinn and Mankind except to worship Him. This by no means an empty, void, robotic worship or a meaningless prayer. This is a day-to-day commitment and a day-to-day relationship.

Just contemplating on the meanings of what we say in the five daily prayers would reveal that not a day passes but we acknowledge Allah, remember Him, seek wisdom from Him since He is The Source of Wisdom, seek guidance from Him since He is The Source of Guidance and seek clarity and aid from Him. It’s not a part-time job. It’s a full-time commitment.

In Surat Al Ma’ida Verse 54, Allah [SWT] says that if we turn our back or walk away from Him, He will bring other people that “He will love, and who will love Him.”

The Starting Point is Love

So, the starting point, the essence and core of our relationship with Allah [SWT] is to love Him. How do you love someone without getting to know them?

If you wish to know someone, you need to listen to them and spend time with them. Right?

Allah [SWT] has given us His Words [the Quran], and a life time to get to know Him. It takes a life time, our life time, to know Allah [SWT] and experience His Names and attributes and grow in admiration and longing to Him and that’s only befitting for Him.

You might need minutes, days or months to fall in love with a created being. But, Allah, The CreatorWhat’s the Point of this World, is the Infinite Source of everything we ever loved or admired. He is the infinite Source of Beauty, the infinite Source of Wisdom, the infinite Source of Power, the infinite Source of Mercy, Kindness, and Gentleness…. And we can get to learn, see and experience that in our life time.

Now, let us think….what is love? When someone is in a loving relationship with someone else, doesn’t he/she promise to hold on to the other for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health?

I remember listening to a lecture where the speaker mentioned that his partner told him “you never really loved me because when we disagreed and when things didn’t go well, you turned away. And this is not love.”

Now to Allah [SWT] The Creator belongs the Highest Example. If we only maintain our loving relationship with Him and think highly of Him only when things are going well or ‘good’….. Is this really true love or true commitment?

Point of Reflection

Think of this exquisite verse from the Quran:

{And of the people is he who worships Allah on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction]….} [Quran 22:11]

If we turn against Allah [SWT] when we face a trial, is this real love or real commitment? Think about that and about the way we perceive and handle difficulties that we might not understand instantly…

Now, back to our question: is being in a test or a trial an indication that the person is cursed or doomed and there is no point in existence?

The answer is no.

Allah [SWT] doesn’t charge a soul more than it can handle, and He knows they can get through this situation even better and more beautiful as human beings with reflections, understandings, experiences and knowledge that not only illuminate their hearts, but the hearts and minds of many others around them.

Some of the most beautiful realities emerge from some of the most excruciatingly painful moments.

Don’t believe me?

Then let us contemplate on pregnancy and labor for example. Think about all the changes a mother goes through over a period of nine whole months. Nine whole months of constant worry. The changes that happen to her body, the changes that happen to her mood, the constant discomfort…

Think about those long hours of intense labor, of waiting, screaming, tears and pain….

Then comes the child!

And the moment the mother holds on to her child, it is as though she has been given the whole world in her arms. It is as though the whole world stopped…

Pain in Life

A more evolved role came out of the pain. Immense love came out of the pain. Mercy came out of the pain. LIFE came out of the pain!

They call it a miracle. Now imagine if there was a magic button you click on that just pops the baby out of his mother’s womb. Would this have any meaning, any special feeling, any taste or anything to reflect on and learn from?

Magic and blessings are not really about ease, they are about endurance, patience and suffering …and then earning the reward and fruits of all of that. It is an educational process that elevates the human being physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.

The heart of the matter is: some of the deepest, most refine and most enlightening realities we could learn about life could come out of difficulties that we might perceive as ‘pain and misery’.

We can live with a defeatist mentality, we can take a defensive position from Allah [Exalted and Glorified be He] and walk away from Him because we can’t seem to understand why certain things are happening.  But some people will not run away. They will stand right there.

Steadfast. In the moments of darkness, they will not be lost, they will continue to have their hearts and minds directed towards their Creator Who is The Light [AnNur] until He truly bestows upon their hearts a light from Him “Light upon light” that allows them to see and understand magnificent realities about this life. There are realities we cannot understand when we simply become defensive, lose hope and run away.

Darkness and Light

If there was no darkness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated the light, if there was no difficulty, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated the ease, and if there was no evil, we wouldn’t have truly craved for all that is good. 

These are all experiences that should strengthen us and deepen our relationship with the Creator, not take us away from Him…And the promise of Allah [swt] is ever clear on this…

{For indeed with the hardship [will be] ease. Indeed with the hardship [will be] ease.} (Quran 94: 5-6)

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Answer continued in Part 2   &   Part 3

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Understanding Wisdom Behind Pain and Suffering

How to Overcome Pain and Worry?

5 Ways to Profit from Pain



About Dina Mohamed Basiony
Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt. She specializes in Islam and spirituality. Dina holds an MA and BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.