|Answer: The sufferings people go through happen
because of various reasons. Enabling others to learn a lesson through them (‘ibrah)
is just one of them. When a person suffers, he normally suffers in a particular
aspect of his life. I mean, he may have a physical disability, for instance, but
may have other aspects of his personality in a normal or better-than-normal
state. A blind person normally has a more sensitive ability to hear and so on.
It is incorrect to assume that an affluent and apparently healthy person is
always happy and successful. We don’t know the extent of sufferings such people
may be going through in other aspects of their lives. The quality of life should
be taken in its totality.
I do, however, agree that this world is divided in the
material sense into two groups: haves and have-nots. But who promised that this
world was going to be a perfect place? This phase of our life is only a trial.
For that purpose it had to be somewhat imperfect. It is in the next life that we
will have the result of this trial fully unfolded. Those who were rich and
healthy (of course the two don’t always go together) shall be held accountable
for what they possessed. The others shall be accountable in what they possessed.
Clearly haves will have much more to account for than the have-nots. Who then is
at an advantage?
I agree that we can’t offer a ready explanation for the
suffering of children in Iraq and elsewhere. However, going by the understanding
that God is absolutely fair, that He never does anything wrong, that He has
designed worldly life as only one phase of our existence, and that our knowledge
is limited and therefore we can’t know all His secrets in this life, we have a
good reason to feel comfortable that our world, which includes the life
hereafter, is not going to remain unfair forever. The above explanation
shouldn’t lead one to feel complacent. The imperfection of this world is a test
for us: We have to face the challenge and attempt to correct the problems of
this life as best as we can. One of the things we’ll be asked in our
accountability would be as to how much we tried to make our imperfect world a
better place to live for ourselves and for others.