There are at least three dimensions for the problem of the justice of God;
1) justice in the creation, such as the differences between humans,
2) justice in legislation, such as the difference between the male and the female’s share in inheritance, and
3) justice in punishment on the Day of Judgment, such as eternity in hell.
- Man’s limited knowledge: God is All-wise, and behind every apparent evil there are goodly benefits, although man with his limited knowledge may not be able to discover them. Thus, he should accuse his knowledge not his Creator. “And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little.” [17:85] The best example of this limited knowledge is described in the story of Prophet Moses (P) and the learned man (Kedhr). [The Quran 18:65-82]
- Difference, not discrimination: Among the creation of God there are differences but there is no discrimination. Discrimination is to differentiate between two people who are in the same situation and the same conditions. For instance, to give them the same job under the same condition, but with a different payment. What we have in the universe is difference, not discrimination. In fact, the world we live in is an amazing collection of different beings, species, talents and capabilities, all designed to fulfil different purposes. “We have created all things with measure.” [54:49], “Our Lord is He Who gave to each thing its form and nature, then guided it aright.”[20:50]
- Self-Induced Problems: Many of the catastrophes that occur in the world are due to human negligence, greed or cruelty. We seem to blame God in order to exonerate ourselves.
- Divine Punishment: Some of the catastrophes in our lives are, in fact, the effect of our own evil deeds. “And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” [42:30] It is also narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s): “Those who die because of their sins are more than those who die because their lives ended, and those who live because of their good deeds are more than those who live because of their natural lives.” [Behar 5:140]
- Awakening Catastrophes: Some bitter experiences lead to an awakening within people, by subduing their pride and arrogance; which, if unchecked, lead them to commit great crimes.”And indeed We punished the people of Pharaoh with years of drought and shortness of fruits, that they might take heed.” [7:130]
- Testing: Divine trials are one of the purposes of man’s creation. In the furnace of trials people demonstrate their potential and present their skills. It is only then that the patient from the impatient, and the sincere from the hypocrites, and the thankful from the thankless people will be distinguished. “If Allah had willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you.” [5:48]
- Acknowledging the Blessings: In general, man forgets the blessings of God when in a state of constant happiness. The blessing of health wouldn’t be so much appreciated if there were no sickness at all. The blessing of living in such a peaceful planet, despite its high speed of rotation, wouldn’t be acknowledged if there were no earth tremors at all.
- Purification of sins: Catastrophes of life are also the means of purification for the sinful believers. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s): “Sickness for a believer is a (means of) purification and mercy and punishment and cursing for a disbeliever. Surely, an illness stays with a believer until there is no more sin on him.” [Thawabul-A’mal, p.429]
- God Compensates: Difficulties and catastrophes are part of the nature of this world. However, the Almighty God will surely compensate those who were patient and grateful with His abundant blessings in Paradise. Imam Sadiq (a.s), about those who were afflicted with calamities yet were thankful and patient said: “God will compensate them so much that if they were given the opportunity to come back to this world to experience those difficulties again they would prefer to return to gain more rewards.” [Behar 3:71]
10.What is Good and what is Evil?
- Something may be good for one person, and evil for another. Something can be good for humans and evil for animals and so forth. The sting of insects and the venom of poisonous animals and plants are their defence mechanism and tools of catching food. Besides, many of their poisons also have some medical benefits for humans. At the same time, their poison may kill some other species. We need to remember that it is their world too. But their lives are disrupted, their space is invaded, their safety is threatened and their world is usurped by man and yet we consider them to be evil. Thus, evils are relative, not real. Volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and such natural disasters are given the name ‘disasters’ whilst ignoring their beneficial aspects. From a geological point of view, all are beneficial and vital in providing life on the surface of planet Earth. This means that without them occurring, no living creatures would be able to live on the surface of the Earth.
- Moreover, these so-called natural disasters have yielded economic resources for humans too. Zinc, copper, lead and many other metals are found as a result of volcanic activity, to the extent that volcanic areas have nowadays become important sources of geothermal energy. Thus, we ought to look at the bigger picture.