God (Allah)Qur'anPunishmentDivine Mercy
How can a loving and merciful God, my own Creator, be so severe in punishment according to the Qur’an that describes various horrific punishments?

I understand after each punishment He tells us to be good, do good so we can achieve His mercy. But isn’t faith in Him based on pure love? If I fear His punishment at all times, how could my love be unconditional for Him? I understand if I don’t want to displease God, I have to avoid the bad things that He forbade, because that is for my own good. But why would I have to be always so afraid? In a book of love and mercy, it’s hard to see such punishments, because as for me, if I love God, I would aim to refrain from those things that may hurt me.

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Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour, Sheikh Mohammad Saeed Bahmanpour is lecturer of Islamic Studies at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Oriental... Answered 1 year ago

The punishments of Allah are consequential not conventional. In other words, as the Quran mentions, they are the consequences of our actions, or as some believe they are the embodiment of our actions returned to us. Its pain is to change something in the heart and soul so that the evil doers can have a change of heart and attitude and be capable to accept the mercy and blessing of God and go out of hell. 

Mahmood Abu Maryam, Trying to make sense of it all... Answered 1 year ago

With such questions, it sometimes helps to think about our own selves and how we behave in this world. That can give useful insights on the Divine. There is a narration along the same lines that states that "Whoever knows himself knows his Lord".

So in that vein, let's think about a few realities of this world. We are on a rock that is spinning at a certain speed and revolving around the sun at a certain pace, while keeping a certain distance from it. We are alive, as biological creatures, because of these facts. Everything we do, even the atmosphere we breathe, exists because of such uncontrollable facts.

The fact that we can even drive a car on a motorway is a function of these and other uncontrollable facts, such as the various laws of physics and chemistry. Think speed, inertia, the combustion of fuel.

We didn't get asked about these laws and rules, and we don't seem to complain about them. We just accept them as, quite simply, laws of nature.

However, in such a world, we find we do have some choices. 

So now let's go for a drive on this motorway. Imagine you pick up pace in your car and get to a nice comfortable speed suitable for a motorway. You are probably cruising along, chatting to others in your car, listening to a nasheed. Happy and content.

Now imagine what would happen if you suddenly, for no reason whatsoever, decided from your own free will to twist that steering wheel around!

Death, destruction, both of your own vehicle and several others who are unable to avoid collision with the maniac who did that.

The impact of that crash is a result of the laws of physics, obviously. And chemistry - the fuel tank blows up. And biology - the fragile human bodies cannot survive the impact.

At this point, do you feel the laws of physics, chemistry and biology that govern your lives are unfair and should have been different?

Isn't it true that we take those uncontrollable facts as a given, unchallenged, and would place total blame on the terrible exercise of free will of the driver?

Why don't we feel the same way when we think of Divine laws? The horrific punishments are simply laws having their consequences when the driver on the motorway of life decides to do crazy things despite being warned not to do so by the Creator who set the rules.

Remember that there was no fear when you were on that motorway. Just a clear and constant awareness of the rules and the boundaries.

And just as the laws of nature in this world are there to nurture life here, the Divine laws of religion are there to keep us in the correct lane so we reach the right destination in the afterlife.

There is no need to be fearful of God in the meaning of being terrified and scared. But rather being in a state of awareness of the Divine rules and boundaries. And that is called Taqwa.

And there is no contradiction with God's Love or Mercy. The fact that He created us with free will so we can navigate His path, and then sent Books and Messengers, is a sign that He loves us and wants us to succeed.

I wish you a safe and pleasant journey, but do drive carefully :)

Abolfazl Sabouri, Abolfazl Sabouri is based in New Zealand and has an MA in Jurisprudence and Islamic Studies. He is a graduate of Elmiyeh seminary in Qom with more than 15 years of study and research where he has... Answered 1 year ago

To complete the answers:

To inter heaven the person must be pure and perfect. Punishment is because of the mercy of God to pure the one who has infected himself by his own will.

Therefore, in chapter al-Rahman, hellfire has been counted as one of the blessings of Allah. 

Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 1 year ago

The Mercy of Allah is His main tribute (Al-Rahmaan , Al-Raheem) that is why we are been ordered to remember His Mercy at least 40 times every day in our obligatory daily Prayers. (Sura Al-Hamd mentioned His Mercy four times and we must recite Sura Al-Hamd in every Salah minimum two times 2x5=10x4=40)

His Mercy is the reason behind our creation (But because Mercy of your Lord, and for that He created them) (Sura Hood; 119)

His Mercy on us is mentioned in hundreds of places in Quran.

What do you think about a person who denys all the mercy of Allah and opposes Him and insists on doing wrong again and again. Anything but punishment should be his result? The sever punishment is a direct result of the severe arrogance and insisting to do it again and again.

Allah , The Most Merciful does not like to punish any one but those who insist on evil and wrong deserve punishment to drive people away from doing like them. In fact, it is part of His Mercy on people is to punish those who want people to do wrong like them. This punishment secures the Mercy on people.

Wassalam

Masuma Jaffer, Dr Masuma Jaffer is a qualified dentist, with a Masters in Islamic Studies and has also attended Hawza in Qum. She obtained a PGCE - teaching qualification – and has taught Hawza studies at the... Answered 1 year ago

Allah out of His love and mercy tells us what will happen if we do certain things in order to warn us - it's like as an adult I know that if I throw a rock up it will fall back down due to the law of gravity - a child may not  know this - as a loving parent would I not tell my child that if you throw the rock up it will come back down and hurt you.

There is a system of cause and effect and Allah is explaining this to us. So we know if we do somethin what the effect of it will be. 

It is important to fear disappointing Allah rather than fearing Him.