Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore

 

What does Islam say about the existence of inequality in this world?

In Islam, this world is a place for the tests and trials of a person’s attitude towards life, how he faces life’s ups and downs and how he strives to achieve a desired end Islamically.

God says: “And most certainly We will try you until We have known those among you who exert themselves hard, and the patient.” (Muhammad, 47:31)

For instance, for the handicap who says: “O God! Why am I born blind?”, God replies: “Let not the life of this world deceive you.” (Fatir, The Originator of Creation, 35:05)

God advises: “O you who believe! Persevere in patience and endurance and remain steadfast.” (Al-Imran, The Family of Imran, 03:200)

However, in Islam, the onus falls not only on the individual, but also on the people around him to overcome these tests and trials. Thus, if a boy is born blind, it is for his parents and the community to find the means and ways of curing his blindness. Everyone stands to be judged for helping or not helping this blind person.

So, in a way, the boy’s blindness provides opportunities for people to do good in one way or another. It makes the parents strive to find ways to send the boy for medical examination; it encourages the community to raise the funds to help him get medical treatment and it spurs the doctors to use their expertise to help the boy gain his eyesight, if this is possible.

Generally speaking, without such a thing as blindness, there will be no branch of learning in this area. Also, if there were no such thing as toothache, fever or Siamese-twins, there would be no dentists, doctors or surgeons. So, actually, sicknesses, diseases and deformities are catalysts for medical research, development and accomplishments.

Again, there would be other problems. Someone might wonder why he is short and ugly while his friend is tall and handsome; why his sister is dark while his friend’s sister is fair; why his child is a moron while his neighbour’s child is a prodigy, and so on. But then, could human life exist if every person is equal in every respect. Could people recognise one another if everyone looks alike? For instance, regarding why God created so many different races, God says: “(We) made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other.” (Al-Hujurat, The Inner Apartments, 49:13)

In Islam, human life in whatever form serves a purpose. Thus, whatever situation a person is placed in, whether at birth or later in his life, Islam requires him to lead his life to the best of his ability. Equality can only be exercised in the Hereafter after meting out the due punishments and rewards.

Attainments, whether for this world or the next, could only be achieved through individual effort and righteousness, and this is why the Quran is replete with advice to the believers to be patient and righteous, and to persevere. God says: “(For) those who show patience and constancy and work righteousness: for them is… great reward.” (Hud, 11:11)