Why do children suffer in this world?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
I tried to call a colleague of mine to belief in God, and to Islam. He said that his main barrier to belief in existence of God was the puzzle that totally innocent children go through pain and suffering on Earth, and that he could not understand why, if a God existed, this could be allowed to happen.
I gave it some thought, and came up with an answer, but would like your comments too before communicating to him the answer. I wouldn’t like to tell you about my answer since it might affect your original thinking.
Praise be to Allah.
All people should know that Allah is All Wise, and that there is great wisdom behind His commands and decrees. He may let His slaves or some of them know the wisdom behind them, or it may be concealed from them as a test and a trial.
What He decrees in general matters happens for a general reason, such as sending the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah has told us that He sent him as a Mercy to the worlds. And similarly, He created the jinn and mankind so that they might believe in Him and worship Him alone.
Ibn Taymiyah said:
Based on this, everything that He does, we know that there is wisdom behind it. This is sufficient for us in general terms, even if we do not know the details. Our lack of knowledge about the details of His wisdom is like our lack of knowledge about the details of His Essence.
Just as it is proven that His attributes are perfect, but we cannot know how His Essence is, so we do not reject what we know and are sure of (that He is perfect) because of what we do not know (the details of His perfection).
Similarly, we know that He is All-Wise in all that He does and commands. The fact that we may not know the wisdom behind some minor decrees and issues should not undermine the basic principle of what we know of His wisdom. So, we should not deny what we know of His wisdom because we do not know all the details of His wisdom.
We know that whoever realizes the brilliance of mathematicians, doctors and grammarians but does not share their attributes by virtue of which they deserve prominence, cannot criticize what they say because he does not comprehend what they are saying.
People are less likely to understand the wisdom of Allah in His creation than the common man is to understand mathematics, medicine, and grammar.
So, objecting to Allah’s wisdom is more ignorant and the one who does that is worse off than an ignorant man who criticizes mathematics, medicine, and grammar without having any knowledge of these disciplines.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 6/128
Undoubtedly in Allah’s allowing children to suffer there is great wisdom which may be hidden from some people; thus they object to the Divine decree and the Shaytan takes advantage of this issue to turn him away from the truth and right guidance.
Among the reasons why Allah allows children to suffer are the following:
1-It is a means to show that the child is sick or in pain; if it were not for that suffering it would not be known what sickness he is suffering from.
2-The crying that is caused by the pain brings great benefits to the child’s body.
3-Learning lessons: the family of this child may be committing haram actions or neglecting obligatory duties, but when they see the suffering of their child, that prompts them to give up those haram actions such as consuming riba, committing zina, not praying or smoking, especially if the child’s suffering is due to an illness that they caused, as happens in the case of some of the haram things mentioned above.
4-Thinking about the Hereafter, for there is no true happiness and peace except in Paradise; there is no suffering and pain there, only good health, well-being and happiness. And thinking about Hell, for that is the abode of eternal and never-ending pain and suffering. So, one will do that which will bring him nearer to Paradise and take him further away from Hell.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah said:
Then think about the wisdom of Allah in causing children to cry a lot, and the benefits that that brings to them. The doctors and naturalists have attested to the benefits of that and the wisdom behind it. They said: There is moisture in children’s brains which, if it were to remain in their brains, would cause a great deal of harm. So, crying draws that moisture out and drains it from their brains, which makes them stronger and healthier.
Moreover, crying and yelling widens the breathing passages and veins, and strengthens them, and it strengthens the nerves.
How greatly do children benefit from the crying and yelling that we hear from them. If this is the wisdom regarding crying that is caused by pain and the wisdom behind this never crossed your mind, the same applies to the suffering of children and its causes and good consequences. There is a great deal of wisdom that may be hidden from most of the people, and they are greatly confused about it.
Miftaah Daar al-Sa’aadah, 2/228.
He also said:
These pains are one of the inherent features of man’s development from which no man or animal can be free. If man were free of pain, he would not be a man, rather he would be an angel or some other creature.
Children’s pain is not more difficult than the pain experienced by grownups, but grownups have become accustomed to pain, so it is no longer a big issue for them. What a great difference there is between what a child suffers and what a rational adult suffers.
All of that is one of the main aspects of the human condition. If man were not created like that, he would be a different creature. What do you think if a child gets hungry or thirsty or cold or tired – is it something that he was singled out for and tested with that the grownups are not tested with? Man – and indeed animals – have been created on this basis.
They said: If someone were to ask: Why has man been created thus? Why was he not created without this vulnerability to pain and suffering?
This is a flawed question, because Allah has created him in a world of trials from a weak substance. So, he is vulnerable to diseases and suffering, and Allah has created him in such a way that he is vulnerable to all kinds of pain…
The fact that these pains and pleasures coexist is one of the signs of the Hereafter, for divine wisdom has decreed that there should be two abodes: an abode that is devoted fully to pleasure, in which there is no pain at all, and an abode that is devoted fully to pain in which there is no pleasure at all. The former abode is Paradise, and the latter abode is Hell.
Miftaah Daar al-Sa’aadah, 2/230, 231.
The reason behind diseases and suffer of innocent children in this world?
Some very severe diseases which usually end in death happen for kids or even infants and cause them a great amount of pain!!
Why is this happening? And why the all kind Allah doesn’t do anything to cure them or at least release them of this pain by making them die sooner!!
First of all, we have to know purpose of life, and how Allah tests us:
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to as-sabirun (the patient ones).” [Al-Qur’an 2:155]
Also, regarding the point,why Allah does put anyone in pain, Allah says in Quran:
and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.’ (Surah Baqarah: 216)
Which means we never know what is best for us and those children, only Allah knows the best that what is better in it.
Another point is that
(2:286) Allah charges no soul except to its capacity.
So, when we already know that Allah never puts a burden on us, without our patience or what we cannot bear, then we should not have any problem with any problem we face. The pain and suffering children face, it is in their ability to withstand its pain.
Also, this life is just a test, as Allah says in Quran:
And know that your possessions and your children are a test, and that with Allah is immense reward. Al-Anfal – 8:28
Hence? conclusion is that we should put our trust in Allah
‘And when someone puts all his trust in Allah, He will be enough for him.’ (Surah at-Talaaq:3)
It is known from the hadeeth, that children who die at infancy will enter jannah. From another hadeeth, we know that a child will wait at the gates of Jannah for his/her parents to hold them by their hands and enter… Although it’s quite painful to lose a child at infancy, Allaah the most kind is replacing that loss with an amazing reward!
And Allah knows best.