Calamities befalling us

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Are we victims of destiny?
Do we have any part in the calamities befalling us?

This question has been discussed in different places in this book. However, here I will try to sum up those discussions.

No one is a victim of Destiny. God does not destine our acts; rather, He creates whatever we will to do. Destiny’s decrees or verdicts are based on Its consideration of our free will.

We are directly responsible for whatever happens to us. If we experience misfortune, it is either because we have misused our free will or because, as with Prophets, God wills to promote us to higher ranks. For example, the sun is absolutely necessary for and indispensable to life. If we stay outside too long and die of sunstroke, can we blame the sun? Of course not, for we could have gone inside or taken sufficient precautions. In the same way, our own free will (not Destiny) is responsible for any misfortune that comes our way. Blaming Destiny only causes the misfortune to worsen.

To cite another example: God Almighty created and endowed us with certain faculties or powers, one of which is lust. If we use this power improperly and thus harm ourselves, it can only be our fault. God gave us this power so that we may reproduce the species in the proper manner and be promoted to higher spiritual ranks by resisting our carnal self’s illicit suggestions. It is the same with anger. God Almighty gave it to us so that we can defend ourselves and our religious and social values, not to hurt others. Therefore, if an uncontrolled burst of anger causes us to kill someone, it is our fault, not Destiny’s.

Destiny relates to the cause and the effect together at the same time. If we judge only by considering the effect, usually we make mistakes. For example, if we accuse a father of abusing his daughter while he is only trying to discipline her because he likes her or so that she may reform herself and learn how to behave properly, we would be wronging the father. While judging any event, we should consider all related information. If we cannot see any good in it, we should tell ourselves that whatever God does is good either in itself or in its consequences, and never accuse Destiny. This is what is meant by the following verse: It may be that you dislike a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows but you know not (2.216).

In such calamities as earthquakes or floods, God usually does not choose between the good and the evil or the innocent and the guilty. Such calamities fall on everyone, for they are part of the tests and trials prepared for us and serve His purpose. However, in return for undergoing such calamities, good and innocent people will receive a great reward in the Hereafter. Also, it should be pointed out that sometimes God uses such calamities to punish such people because they do not try to enjoin what is good and prevent what is evil.

Whatever God does is the best and most proper. So, we should try to see His wisdom behind the good He bestows on us and the suffering to which He subjects us.

 

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