All of us go through hardships and calamities that are not pleasing to us. We have all experienced moments and days of sorrow and suffering; be it one or more of the natural disasters, the loss of health or wealth, the loss of one of our dear ones, or even simpler issues that we face in our everyday life. The number of people who do not complain while they are suffering an incident is very few. Sometimes the calamities are so huge that they put us under severe pressure and take us to the point where we start complaining to Allah and asking Him the famous “why” question: “Why should this happen to me? Why don’t you help me overcome my problem? Why does this suffering seem everlasting?”
If you are one of those who have happened to ask these questions from Allah in specific situations, then this article might be useful to you and to myself, as it tries to answer all the above questions based on the words of Allah and the Islamic traditions.
We may be surprised in reading the verse of the Quran in which Allah (SWT) says:
“Certainly We created man in travail.” (90: 4)
Why would He do such a thing to us? Was He going to take revenge on us for something? Or does He enjoy seeing us suffering?
The fact is that all different types of problems, sorrows, losses, and sufferings can be looked at from two different perspectives. If one looks at problems and calamities only from a materialistic perspective, one may be able to find a material reason for each; For example, the drought is caused by the lack of rain, the disease is caused by poor hygiene and bankruptcy is a sign of lack of business awareness. But from the Islamic viewpoint, there are several factors influencing these events and disasters only some of which are considered material causes.
One of the wisdom behind worldly sufferings according to the verses of the Quran is that Allah tests His servants with hardships and calamities, and in this test only those who are patient are victorious:
“We will surely test you with a measure of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits; and give good news to the patient.” (2: 155)
It is noteworthy that there is no problem in mourning for our sorrows, feeling down, and even crying over them. We are all human beings, flesh, and blood, and sometimes we feel so burdened by the difficulties of life that we find it hard to bear. Yet one should be wary not to blame Allah for these sufferings and turn his/her back to Him. Instead, we should find the capacity to submit to the fate destined for us by Allah, believing in the fact that Allah is the only One who can save us from these calamities and would never do injustice to us. These are the times we should get closer to Allah and rely on His mercy and help.
But, why would Allah need to test His servants? He mentions in a verse of the Quran that being faithful is not accepted in words only, and to prove one’s faith, he/she should go through different tests:
“Do the people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested? Certainly, We tested those who were before them. So Allah shall surely ascertain those who are truthful, and He shall surely ascertain the liars.” (29: 2-3)
It is not for Allah (SWT) to find out if we are real believers or not, but by putting us through tests He allows us to see the real level of our faith and try to improve it or leave it as it is.
Therefore, one can conclude that the divine test is performed to separate and recognize the truthful from the false claimants and to make the believers pure. The higher the level of our faith goes the harder the tests become.
Another reason behind worldly sufferings according to Islamic teachings is that Allah (SWT) wants to save and strengthen His servant’s faith. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) narrated from Gabriel from Allah that:
“Among my faithful servants, there are some whose faith is not amended except by poverty and destitution, and if I make him rich, this wealth will corrupt and destroy his faith. And among my believing servants, there is one whose faith is not corrected except by wealth, and if I make him poor, poverty and misery will corrupt and destroy his faith. ... I guide them by the knowledge that I have of the hearts of my servants. It is true that I am Wise and Knowledgeable.” 
Therefore, there are many things that happen to us by the will of Allah which may not be pleasing to us and we may interpret them as sufferings while at the heart of them are great blessings for us:
“… may be that you dislike something, which is good for you, and it may be that you love something, which is bad for you, and Allah knows and you do not know.” (2: 216)
Sometimes we are so pleased and drowned in the blessings that Allah (SWT) has provided us that we totally forget our mission and goal of living in this world. In these moments Allah (SWT) tests us with some calamities and puts us through some sufferings to remind us of our goal and warn us about the consequences of neglecting our mission. These little sufferings as mentioned in the Quran are the ones that keep us away from the harder sufferings:
“We shall surely make them taste the nearer punishment prior to the greater punishment, so that they may come back.” (32: 21)
Another important reason behind worldly sufferings is that these types of things show the human being how weak he is and how needy he is toward his Lord. It is at the time of suffering that we realize there is nothing we can do to solve the problems and we turn to Allah to ask Him for help.
Allah (SWT) mentions this point in the Quran in different verses:
“When distress befalls you at sea, those whom you invoke besides Him are forsaken. But when He delivers you to land, you are disregardful [of Him]. And man is very ungrateful.” (17:67)
Therefore, hardship and suffering cause us to remember that He is the only One who can help us, thus we turn to Him.
Compensation for our sins
According to Islamic teachings, worldly sufferings are also a way by which Allah (SWT) makes up our mistakes and sins. It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that:
“The sorrows, sicknesses, and sufferings that befall on a believer are the means of wiping away his/her sins by Allah.” 
However, sometimes these sufferings are not to compensate for our sins. We have all seen or heard that sometimes some of the very faithful servants of Allah face huge sufferings. These types of suffering according to Islamic teachings is to elevate the spiritual or even the material capacities of human beings.
- Shaikh Sadough: Al-tawheed. (1398 A.H.), p. 400
- Ali bin al-Husain bin Shu’ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.38.
The responsibilities of a Muslim towards family, relatives and other Muslims in general, were already reviewed in an article. Here one's responsibility in Islam towards neighbors, friends, and enemies are discussed.
Doing good to neighbors is highly emphasized in Islamic teachings: “Worship Allah and … be good to … the near neighbor and the distant neighbor” (4:36). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) advised Imam Ali (AS) to honor the neighbors, even if they are disbelievers (Kafir) . Imam Ali (AS) said that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to invite repeatedly to doing good to neighbors such that we thought he (PBUH) was going to consider an inheritance for them .
To honor them in their presence, and to help and care about them when they are absent . It includes visiting neighbors when they are sick, to assist their funeral, and to offer them your tasty meals that smell good ;
To keep their secrets. It means that not to look for their faults and errors. And, if ever you become aware of some of their faults, do not reveal them but try to conceal their deficiencies ;
Do not leave neighbors alone in difficulties ; e.g., help them in case of financial needs ;
Do not be jealous of them if God grants them some blessings ;
Ignore their errors to yourself and forget about them. If ever they do wrong to you unintentionally, be patient and in peace with them ;
Do not let others talk behind their back and reveal the deficiencies of your neighbors here and there .
Giving priority to the neighbors. It is narrated from Imam Hassan (AS) that Lady Fatima al-Zahra (AS) used to pray firstly for the neighbors and then for members of the family .
According to Imam Sadiq (AS), having good behavior and interaction with neighbors increases the provision (Rizq) . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised to respect neighbors as much as one should respect his\her mother  and he (PBUH) said: “God bless whoever does good to his\her neighbors” . On the contrary, whoever sleeps peacefully at night while one of the his\her neighbors is hungry, God will deprive him of his blessings on the judgment day . The same will happen to whoever annoys his\her neighbors .
Take your time and think about these attitudes towards the neighbors. Life will be surely much agreeable and peaceful if we improve our social interactions with our neighbors within the Islamic framework.
Having a good companion is known as a blessing; on the contrary, a bad one is like a disaster . Friends and companions have certain rights one over the other including:
To interact with them with generosity as much as you can, otherwise, be fair to them ;
To be smiling when you meet them and to receive them modestly ;
To respect them as they respect you ;
To be the first one who does good to the other one, otherwise, try to compensate properly ;
To help them in difficulties and whenever they are in need, as Imam Ali (AS) advised to ;
To hold them in great affection according to Imam Ali (AS) ;
Not to reveal their deficiencies and mistakes;
To encourage them in obedience to God and to prevent them from committing sins ;
To be honest with them and not to cheat ; e.g., nor to talk behind their back neither to reveal their deficiencies and to guard their secrets;
To be trustworthy whenever they rely on you .
The enemy here means a person whom one is in conflict with. There are some recommendations in Islamic resources on how to treat enemies and what is one's responsibility in Islam towards them:
To be fair with them . According to Imam Sadiq (AS), a real believer (Mu'min) does not oppress his\her enemies ;
To testify in favor of the enemies if they are right  even if your testimony is against yourself ;
To keep the promises you made to your enemies ;
To forgive and tolerate them, if possible . According to Imam Ali (AS), there is a virtue in forgiving enemies ;
To talk nicely and shortly with whoever you have complained of , to argue with them in a way that is best (16:125), and not to ignore their rights if ever you are wrong .
- M. Shoueiri “Jami’ al-Akhbar”, p. 84.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 7, p. 51.
- Imam Zayn al-'Abidin (AS), “Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq)”.
- responsibility towards others
- Shaykh al-Saduq, "Ilal Al-Shara'i", p. 181
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 666.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Al-Amali”, p. 288.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 668.
- “Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim”, T. 4719-4720.
- “Nahj al Balaqa”, p. 494.
- “Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim”, T. 9665.
- Ibn Shu’bah, “Tuhaf al-Uqul”, p. 88.
- Shaykh al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 1, p. 47.
- Shaykh al-Saduq, “Sifat al-Shia”, p. 24.
- “Nahj al Balaqa”, p. 53.
- “Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim”, p. 435.
Homosexuality that means sexual or romantic attraction to the people of the same sex has been a controversial issue to psychiatrists since they have been expected to examine this sexual orientation and its relation to mental health.
It has also caused controversy in the religious communities as they have been condemned for being narrow-minded due to their denial of this so-called natural and instinctive phenomenon. Here, we attempt to explore Islamic view on Homosexuality and explain the philosophy behind Islam’s objection to this matter.
In the Quranic view, the family consists of a pair of male and female. This was indeed the basis of the creation of Adam and Eve. The couple who were the father and mother of the whole human race:
‘O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another.’ (49:13) .
Since family is of high importance in Islamic teachings, anything that damages this ‘Holy’ social unit is subject to criticism. Same-sex marriages contradict the law of creation which is based upon the continuation of the human race. Had homosexuality become popular, reproduction would stop.
It is also due to its social consequences that Islam warns us against homosexuality. A person once questioned Imam Sadeq(AS): “Why has Allah prohibited sodomy?”. The Imam (AS) replied: “Had sex with boys been lawful, the men would have become independent of women (and disinclined towards them) causing man's lineage to become terminated and natural heterosexual intercourse to come to an end, and this would have brought about great moral and social evils” .
The above narration explains that sodomy, or homosexuality, makes men needless of women sexually and vice versa! So the doer of sodomy no longer desires to marry the opposite sex. This is seen as a serious threat to the continuation of the human race. Since it is through the opposite-sex marriages that the human race will continue.
Homosexuality is addressed in the Quran through a well-known story called the story of the ‘People of Lot’. This story is cited in the Quran seven times. And it shows the importance of these people and the acts that they were punished for. ‘People of Lot’ are known as a nation that was thoroughly destroyed by God owing to their lustful acts :
"And Lot, when he said to his people, ‘What! Do you commit an outrage none in the world ever committed before you?! Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people’"(7:80-81).
In the above verse, the Prophet Lot (PBUH) condemns his people for their sexual desires towards men instead of women. Elsewhere in the Quran, he recalls:
‘O my people, these are my daughters: they are purer for you. Be wary of Allah … Is there not a right-minded man among you?’ (11:78)
One of the important aspects of Lot’s story is their punishment. According to Islamic teachings, homosexuality is a sin greater than adultery. So its punishment is more severe.
It is also admitted in the Islamic narrations that when people commit sins that have not been committed before, their punishment will also be unprecedented. The Quran describes People of Lot’s chastisement and remarks that the whole nation was massacred except the Prophet Lot (PBUH) and his true followers:
‘O Lot, we are messengers of your Lord. They will never get at you. Set out with your family in a watch of the night; and none of you shall turn round, except your wife…..So when Our edict came, We made its topmost part its nethermost, and We rained on it stones of laminar shale’(11:82-83)
In today’s liberal societies people are educated the way that they perceive homosexuality as an 'inborn’ tendency and only a variation of human sexual orientation . In other words, the fact that one is born either male or female does not say anything about his or her sexual orientation. They might be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender! (LGBT) or it may happen that they are sexually straight!
Homosexuality has caused the field of psychiatry such a controversy that even after decades of studies on the issue one single position cannot be found in their findings. Homosexuality used to be identified as a mental disorder for the most of the 20th century. Even so, since 1970 there started a high scientific attempt to declassify homosexuality as a disorder. As a result of almost fifty years of attempts, we can see that since the late 20th-century homosexuality started to become legal in a few liberal countries (mainly Europe and America). And the same-sex marriages started to become recognized as a social norm.
Yet, there are still studies that argue against prior studies. They state that there is a misconception as to the definition of homosexuality in some of the major studies on the issue. Meaning, in the definition of a homosexual person they included any person who had had a same-sex sexual experience as an adult. But, some of the subjects that were engaged in homosexual behavior were not even attracted to the people of their own sex. It is also suggested that ‘homosexual people are at a substantially higher risk for some forms of emotional problems. These include suicidality, major depression, and anxiety disorder’ .
Despite the current professional position on homosexuality, same-sex orientation is still understood as immorality and as a rebellion against God by most nations and cultures throughout the world. The table of the LGBT rights according to different countries and territories is the evidence for this claim .
It has to be noted, however, that the fact that an individual has homosexual desires does not make him or her criminal according to Islamic law! This tendency is either a psychological or a physiological disorder that has to be cured. And as long as the person does not commit homosexual acts, he is not subject to any divine punishment.
The aim of this article was to explore the Islamic view on Homosexuality. We found that Islam objects to homosexuality for several reasons. Most importantly, Islam regards the same-sex union as a threat to the continuation of the human race.
Also, since the family in Islam is seen as a holy unit and it consists of a male and a female, again homosexual orientation goes against Islamic values and teachings and threatens human survival. We also examined if the same-sex sexual orientation is a disorder. Despite the high controversy of the issue, there is a kind of consensus that homosexual people are at a higher risk for emotional problems such as suicidality, major depression, and anxiety disorder.
To conclude, despite recent attempts of declassifying homosexuality as a disorder and the legitimization of the same sex union and marriages in some liberal societies, as statics show still the majority of countries and cultures understand homosexual acts as immorality and as a rebellion against social norms and religions that threatens human survival.
- Qari translation of the Quran, available at
- Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 14, pg. 252.
- Qur’anic references to the People of Lot: 7:80–84, 11:77–83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165–175, 27:56–59, and 29:27–33).
- Rizvi, Sayyid Muhammad, Marriage and Moral in Islam, available at
- Bailey, J. Michael, ‘Homosexuality and Mental Illness’, available at
- See the chart at