I came across a wonderfully well-written, honest, and thought-provoking post today on a blog named ‘120 Words of Torah’. I will quote the article — 120 words in length — in full (emphasis in the original):
It’s easy to preach causality: take enough precautions, you’ll stay healthy. Keep divine commandments and you’ll be rewarded, or punished if not. “If you listen to the Voice of God… I will not strike you with the plagues of Egypt. I am God the healer.” The first part is a simple reward-and-punishment formula. But ‘God the healer’ adds a twist: the Talmud explains “I heal whomever I please.” The true truth: healing is as chaotic and random as disease. Many vaccine-deniers are healthy; many pious people fall sick; many prayers don’t ‘work’; much suffering is meaningless. Only after abandoning a quest for fairness, at least sometimes, can we begin to pray again, by encountering the world as it actually is.https://120torah.wordpress.com/2022/01/14/beshalach-5782/ [accessed 14/01/2022]
I agree entirely with one aspect of this, that is, the absolute freedom of God to do whatever He pleases. This is something I have emphasised repeatedly on my blog and in my books. However, I believe there is something lacking in the view that because God has total freedom, we must abandon any confidence in His fairness.
The Qur’an is believed by Muslims to be a perfect revelation reflecting what God has written on a preserved tablet which He keeps with Him. Note the recurring theme of God’s fairness and justice in the following verses:
Beware of a Day when you will be returned to God: every soul will be paid in full for what it has earned, and no one will be wronged.Surah 2: 281
…anyone, male or female, who does good deeds and is a believer, will enter Paradise and will not be wronged by as much as the dip in a date stone.Surah 4:124
Whoever has done a good deed will have it ten times to his credit, but whoever has done a bad deed will be repaid only with its equivalent—they will not be wronged.Surah 6:160
Whatever you give in God’s cause will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged.Surah 8:60
On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, every soul will be paid in full for all its actions—they will not be wronged.Surah 16:111
I could give many other examples from the Qur’an expressing the same sentiment.
The ideas of ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ and ‘being wronged’ are of course subject to the subjectivity of God; that is to say, ultimately God will decide what is fair and what is not. But we must trust that the God who created the Universe is able to administer justice appropriately. We must also not neglect to understand that what may seem unfair during our short sojourn on Earth, will eventually be put right after we are resurrected to face judgement.
The subject matter of this article highlights why interfaith dialogue is so important, because we need some of God’s revelations (i.e. the Qur’an, which claims to be a ‘corrective’ text) to illuminate others. According to Muslims, the Qur’an was sent down to humankind to provide clarity concerning the Scriptures of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) who came before. While the Jewish Scriptures may have relatively little to say about the nature of the afterlife, the Qur’an is very focused on providing insight in this regard.
If you only believe one thing about God, believe that God is just. Having read the Qur’an and wept at the emphatic insistence that God will administer perfect justice, I refuse to believe otherwise.
I have written an 80-page book titled Discovering the Qur’an. To find out more, click here.