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Living The Quran

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From Issue: 1025 [Read full issue]

Suffering
Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) - Chapter 21: Verses 83-84

"And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, 'Suffering has truly afflicted me, but you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.' We answered him, removed his suffering, and restored his family to him, along with more like him, as an act of grace from Us and a reminder for all who serve Us."

That there is always hope is well illustrated in the story of Prophet Job. First, he lost his wealth. But he was not grieved. Then his children were killed. Still, he remained steadfast. Then he was struck with an unbearable illness that left him incapacitated. Indeed, his body was so afflicted that people felt disgusted when they looked at him. In excruciating pain, he cried to God.

There are three lessons to be drawn from this story. First, suffering is a natural part of life: anyone can be inflicted with pain and sorrow, and no one, not even a prophet, has the right to escape pain. Of course, no one wants to suffer; and we must do all we can to alleviate pain and reduce suffering as much as possible. But there is no absolute right that states that we should not suffer. Second, suffering has a value. It is only through seeing the pain and agony of others that we learn what compassion is all about. People found it difficult to look at Job: but only by looking at him could they realize that they too can become a victim of such affliction. It is through that connection, of seeing someone suffering, that one understands the true meaning of human compassion. Three, one should never give up. At each stage of the story, Job remains steadfast; he does not ask for death as an escape from his suffering, but prays for an end to suffering itself. It is his steadfastness that is ultimately rewarded. When it comes to suffering and death, mercy comes only from God; it is not a human prerogative.

Compiled From:
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, pp. 346-347

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