The Promise and its Conditions

Question and answer details
Dear Sir/Madam, My question concerns the suffering of many good people in the world. It is said in the Qur’an that those who believe in Allah and do good, Allah will make their paths easy.Yet, for most of my life, I have seen that those decent, good people are always suffering in some way. The bad people usually get away with what they do. Why is this the case if Allah say's He will make their way smooth?
Amani Aboul Fadl Farag
Salaam dear Saira,

Thank you for raising such a question, which I am sure storms within every single Muslim mind and heart, especially in our present circumstances.

I believe that the confusion usually takes place as a result of our understanding of the concept of “smoothness” as opposing to the concept of “suffering”. I think our minds instantly interpret these two concepts in terms of materialistic gains, such as wealth and luxury … etc.

If wealth and luxury are the indicators by which suffering or smoothness of life are measured, then you have to realize that Allah has warned us here. We should not be misled by the glamour of these pleasures, if possessed by those who are not on the straight path. Ibn Hanbal reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith:

“If you see that Allah sends His gifts to you while you are insisting on disobeying Him, then you have to know that it is only a trap, which you are gradually attracted to.”

In fact, this hadith supports many verses in the Qur'an, that stress the very same meaning. They all warn us against admiring the material goods that Allah gives, unconditionally, to those who do not obey Him:

Surah 43, verses 33 – 35:

*{And were it not that all people had been a single nation, We would certainly have assigned to those who disbelieve in the Beneficent Allah (to make) of silver the roofs of their houses and the stairs by which they ascend.

And the doors of their houses and the couches on which they recline,

And [other] embellishments of gold; and all this is naught but provision of this world's life, and the hereafter is with your Lord only for those who guard [against evil].}*

Surah 9, verse 54 – 55:

*{And nothing hinders their spendings being accepted from them, except that they disbelieve in Allah and in His Messenger and they do not come to prayer but while they are sluggish, and they do not spend but while they are unwilling.

Let not then their property and their children excite your admiration; Allah only wishes to chastise them with these in this world's life and (that) their souls may depart while they are unbelievers.}*

Surah 5, verse 100:

*{Say: The bad and the good are not equal, though the abundance of the bad may please you; so be careful of [your duty to] Allah, O men of understanding, that you may be successful.}*

Moreover, the idea that such pleasures are associated with happiness and inner peace is doubtful… Saira, please explain to me – and to yourself - why the rates of suicide is much higher in societies, which enjoy wealth and welfare… not in our underdeveloped ones?! Why should they resort to bizarre and eccentric ways to attain happiness after they have exhausted the normal ways, like all sorts of weird sex and sexual fantasies, though normal sex is open to them without restriction or incrimination?

The reason is that it has simply ceased to satisfy them any more! On the other hand, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the happiest of the happy, in this world and in the world to come. This is as `Aisha, his wife said, that he (peace be upon him):

"... died in a state that there had been nothing in my wooden tub, which a living being could afford to eat, but a handful of barely therein." (Narrated in the book of authentic hadith by Muslim.)

Many other details of the prophet’s life show us that this used to be the style of his life. Yet, he never considered it to be suffering because he was aware, that as he said:

“The world is a prison-house for the believer and paradise for a non-believer.” (Narrated in the book of authentic hadith by Muslim.)

Let me please add that sometimes we question fate and God’s will, while we should be questioning our own efforts and what we really deserve accordingly! I belong, as you do, to one of those Muslim countries, which are stuffed with what you call “good people”. Regretfully speaking, I found out that the last statistics, of our actual working hours per citizen - in average - are no more than 37 minutes per day! This figure is from official statistics indeed!! This, in fact, makes me reconsider the actual sense of the concept of “good people”.

Please do not blame this backwardness on lack of resources because Allah has not endowed any other nation with the wealth he has endowed us. Still, please don’t ask me where and how this wealth was spent, because... ... ... we all know!

If the successive defeats, which our umma (nation) suffers from, is what you mean by your question, then before you claim that God does not fulfill His promise of victory, just have a deep look at our life-style. Consider our mode of consumption; along with the hours we spend watching dish satellites aimlessly. This is while the Palestinian children are fighting with bare hands and mere stones! Then, you can decide whether we are actually the “good people” God has promised to grant victory!

Of course, it is never too late. What is important, is that we should start moving towards fulfilling the requirements of being *{the best umma dedicated to mankind}* - as God said in the Qur’an - before we ask Allah to fulfill His promise of a “good life”!

Thank you.

Useful Links:

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why Does God Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

Can Evil Be Good?

God is Merciful, Why Does He Allow Suffering?