The OpeningIn the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
[1.1] All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
[1.2] The Beneficent, the Merciful.
[1.3] Master of the Day of Judgment.
[1.4] Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
[1.5] Keep us on the right path.
[1.6] The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors. Not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down, nor of those who go astray.
I notice a lot of common themes here between Islam and other monotheistic faiths especially Christianity. You have an all powerful god, who is depicted as merciful (especially to his followers, he is willing to rescue his followers in time of need), but is harsh, delivering swift judgement upon those who reject him.
I noticed the mention of the "Day of Judgement", as it turns out, there is a lot of prophecy in Islam, and Islam has it's own theological field of eschatology (study of religious prophecy, and it's interpretations), just like Christianity does.
Islam believes that there will be an end of the world, where the evil will be judged, the righteous rewarded. Before this time, there will be chaos and calamity that will happen. Before this time, there will be decadence, immorality, and a a falling away from Islam. Many people will claim to be Muslims, but few of them will read the Quran and act upon it's words.
A false prophet called the Masih ad-Dajjal will lead people, including Muslims astray, and a man sent by god called the Mahdi will fight back against him, and rule over the earth until the final Day of Judgement.
This all sounds very familiar, like I have heard a story with this common theme, but I can't place it. What was that book called? Wait, I know, it sounds remarkably similar to Revelation! That's it!
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.), then either god planned the events that cause suffering, or he let it happen.
In doing some research, I ran across an article written by the religious discussion site Patheos.
Here's what it had to say:
The monotheistic faiths must consider the problems of suffering and evil within the context of God's power and mercy. In Islam, there are two views of suffering, both of which resemble views held by its sister faiths, Judaism and Christianity. Suffering is either the painful result of sin, or it is a test.
In the latter view, suffering tests belief; a true Muslim will remain faithful through the trials of life. But suffering also reveals the hidden self to God. Suffering is built into the fabric of existence so that God may see who is truly righteous. In other words, God not only allows the various agonies and struggles of life, but has a purpose for them. Suffering opens up the soul and reveals it to God. God uses suffering to look within humans and test their characters, and correct the unbelievers.
Suffering is also a painful result of sin. In Islam, sin is associated with unbelief. Muslims surrender to God's will, and find peace in that surrender. Sometimes people forget to listen to the prophets, and fail to serve God in all that they do. This is the state of unbelief, called kufr, which literally means to forget through hiding of the truth. Therefore someone who is a kafir is someone who has purposefully forgotten the Lord. They become preoccupied with their own particular needs and their passions. Islam does not condemn human passions or human needs, seeing them as a necessary part of a full and useful life.
I wanted a perspective on this from someone who is actually a Muslim ( from the perspective of the writing, it didn't sound like the last writer was a Muslim herself), so I found this by someone named Mubasher Ahmad, he's from an organization out of Louisville, Kentucky called the Islamic Research Foundation International, he takes the view that suffering is a test by Allah to prove a Muslim's faith, and that it is the result of evil in this world. Muslims who suffer in this life, (if they dedicated their life to "fighting evil") will be rewarded in the next life:
Therefore, according to the teachings of the Holy Quran, it does not matter how much a person suffers in this world, as long as he or she is engaged, according to his or her capacity, in repelling the evil and doing the good works. The joys and comforts of the life yet to come are far greater, unparalleled and everlasting as compared with human sufferings of this life! The human sufferings of the present life are termed as "a trial" -- a test, an evaluation and a validation to measure the success and strength of each human soul, its capacity to do good deeds.
So, according to the Holy Quran, all the tragedy, affliction, anguish, grief and fear that we may have to go through in this life are actually tests and trials from God. If we succeed in the test by remaining prayerful and patient, showing complete perseverance and trust in God during the period of suffering, and we continue doing good deeds, and we avoid evil thoughts and actions, then the end result is that God grants us boundless joy, happiness and His everlasting pleasure.
So suffering is caused by god testing us, our own sin, or by evil in this world? These are the exact same explanations that I used to hear from all the people around me in my fundamentalist past. 4 verses into the Quran, and a little research into Islamic beliefs and I'm already finding an incredible amount of similarities with Christianity? No wonder fundamentalist parents hate world religion classes like the one taught by the author of the blog Teach Not Preach. It shatters the illusion that their religion is incredibly unique and superior to all others, which then leads the students to question and learn more.