Wisdom From Books

Is God responsible for disasters, illness and accidents?

Posted on: August 18, 2010

One day a father went to meet his elder daughter who was praying in the morning: “Oh God! What a beautiful sun shine. Let there be no rain as we need to complete construction of our home as early as possible”.  Father stayed at her home for a couple of minutes and then went to his younger daughter, wife of a farmer who was praying: “Oh God! we badly need rain for our crops. Please make it happen as early as possible”.

Father started to think: Whose side will God be? Rain or no Rain?

Is God responsible for disasters, illness and accidents?

If a mad man starts shooting in the street, what will happen?

Would he kill bad people only? or whosoever comes in range of gun shot will pass away? Tough question but obvious answer: Whosoever is hit by bullet will pass away.

God does not cause our misfortunes. Some our caused by bad luck, some misfortunes are caused by bad people and some are simply an inevitable consequence of our being human and mortal, living in the world of inflexible natural laws.

The painful things which happen to us are not punishments for our misbehavior, nor are they part of God’s design. Tragedy is not God’s will. Tragedies are part of natural law. Good people or bad people, whosoever is at wrong place at wrong time is going to suffer!

 We can turn to God for help in overcoming our obstacles.

Bad things that happen in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen. But we can give them a meaning!

The question which we should be asking ourselves should not be: “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?”

Rather the question should be: “Now, when this has happened to me, what I am going to do about it?”

Facts of life and death are neutral. We, by our responses, give suffering either a positive or a negative meaning. Illness, accidents, human tragedies kill people. But they do not necessarily kill LIFE or FAITH.

Law of averages suggest that most of the life is good. If we take a look into our lives, mostly, we reach offices safely. Most of the flights take off and land safely. Mostly, people live calm lives. Most illnesses are curable. However, there are exceptions. Floods, destruction, earth quakes are exceptions. They can happen based on nature’s way of work. Its up to us to give them a meaning.

God inspires people to help other people who are hurt by life. God inspires people to become doctors or nurses and serve others. God may not prevent tragedy but he gives strength and courage to overcome those obstacles. The heart attack which slows down a 46 years old person does not come from God but the determination to change life style, to stop smoking, to start exercising, to give more time to family – those things come from God!

Above ideas are from a very interesting and thought provoking book by Harold S. Kushner: When Bad things happen to good people. Your thoughts?

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13 Responses to "Is God responsible for disasters, illness and accidents?"

A good one sir

My point is: if we should not expect God to stop bad things from happening, why should we expect him to give us strength. maybe its confusing since I havent read the book?

Dear Safdar Sb – In this book, the author has presented both sides of the coin: Good and Bad – one of the points which he has discussed in detail is about sufferings in life. People who are pious, good and do good deeds get worldly sufferings. He has cited examples of Prophets – The most pious people on earth, yet they faced sufferings on this earth.

However, those sufferings were faced with calmness, courage and all the patience. We may not avoid things which are coming in our life but we can adjust how we feel about those things i.e. our attitude. God is all powerful and all good. Once we are in harmony with God, we feel at ease – again, the books is recommended. Thanks again for your comments and engaging in this healthy discussion.

Not sure what you are trying to imply, is it that God does not have the power to stop “bad” things, or he does’nt want to?

Thanks Safdar sb for reading and your comments. The author of the book implies that there are laws of nature. God has created nature and has put it to work. A person has a choice: To do good or to do bad. If a person starts shooting, whosoever will come on the way, will not be spared. This does not mean that God has no power to stop bad things. This means that a person has been given choice to do any act he or she may choses to do and the reaction will be in accordance with the laws of nature. I would really suggest that if you have time, please go through this book.

True, nature plays its role in human life. But then the question is : Who created nature?…As a Muslim we believe that God created nature..isn’t it?
Well said, we should not question why things happen, but now it has happened, what we can do about it? May God give us all strength to face all the nature’s good and bad spells and to help others in need.

nice one sir.

Dear Malik sb, please accept my general appreciation of what you are doing on this website, bringing books and people closer.

regarding the topic under discussion, it carryies many points, but in the interest of time, i would like to share some relevant verses from the Holy Qur’an. before that, there are 2 kinds of unwanted situations, 1) from humans 2) from God. for the second kind i.e from God like earthquakes etc, following is the background:

” And necessarily, We shall put you to test with something of fear and hunger and with some loss of wealth and lives and fruits; and give glad tidings to the patient. That when any calamity comes to them, then they say “We are belongings of Allah and we are to return to Him alone. These are the people on whom are the benediction from their Lord and mercy; and they are only on the guidance” (Albaqarah 2:155-157)

Conclusion: the purpose of sending man to earth is to test him and then reward/punish him with heaven/hell. This test is undertaken by involving man in unwanted situations to see how he responds. does he remember the uncountable bounties and remains patient on the unwanted affairs or does he start complaining to the creator.

For the unwanted circumstances created by humans it is evident that the humans theselves are responsible as God did not send them to earth with all the blessings for misadventure. i cannot recall the reference of the relevant verse, otherwise i would have pasted it, it says: “What ever disaster (Museebat) you come accross is because of your own deeds” (bombs, wars, draughts & floods in our case where we dont construct dams, other crimes etc.

apologies for the lengthy comment.

Nice topic malik.
A good food for thought.

Thanks Rehan Sb for your comments

While all of the above reasons are valid, all can be argued to be invalid too.

As Jim Rohn says, its perhaps one of those “mysteries”, those things that just happen.

While people who are not affected by any such disasters come up with explanations, others who are affected, would simply think it as unjust and refuse to listen to any reason whatsoever.

In the end, I think there are things we can control (again debatable if that is the case) and there are things we can do nothing about (except pray which some people might not believe in). I think the bottom line is to do what we can, pray and leave the rest to God.

p.s. Some people say that being wealthy is not a blessing if it leads us to do bad things, and being poor might be a blessing if it makes us a better person!! I think same can be said about anything and everything.

Dear Jawad sb – the first point which you have mentioned is the point which has been discussed in the book at length i.e. some people are affected, some are not. Then whose side God really is? Then the author has quoted several real life instances. His conclusion is not to associate these tragedies with God’s will. This is all about nature. Rather, a person should ask God for strength to help other people. Thanks for comments.

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