How is it suitable for Allah’s mercy the animals’ living under harsh conditions?

The Details of the Question

- I have been thinking for a few months. I have always thought that atheists were wrong though they had seemed to be right regarding many issues. However, I cannot decide about an issue and I want to settle it. I am a member of some websites of animal lovers. They always seek help for blind, disabled and paralyzed animals.  

- Why does Allah deem it proper for those innocent animals? 

- It does not sound appropriate to my mercy but I want to find an answer. For instance, the life of penguins at the poles is very hard. Why are they tested like that though they are innocent?

- The mother of a young animal is killed by a sea lion and the young animal dies of hunger. Many cats and dogs are hit by cars on the roads. I have difficulty in thinking when I see them. Please help me.

- There are also congenital diseases that seem very bad like anencephaly; why do they occur; are they not contrary to testing? My mind is confused because of them?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. We think it is very difficult to find a way out except believing in Allah in the real sense because it is not possible to understand the real wise reasons of the deeds of Allah, who encompasses all aspects of the universe with His infinite knowledge and wisdom. That is why a poet states the following: 

“This small mind cannot grasp those high realities,
For, this scale does not weigh such a big weight.”

2. What does real belief in Allah express? It expresses the following:

Allah’s mercy is infinite; His wisdom is infinite; His justice is infinite. Therefore, o man, do not think that your tiny compassion is more than Allah’s compassion. For, it is actually a disorder to think that tiny compassion and small mercy are more than Allah’s infinite compassion and mercy. The sun, the moon, the earth, air, light and thousands of boons help the tiny young beings; the breasts of mothers are transformed into milk factories; thousands of other deeds are done additionally; they are all clear indicators of Allah’s infinite mercy and compassion. 

In that case, it is a necessity of a sound consciousness of belief to see several rays of wisdom and mercy behind the nature and results of the seemingly bad scenes that affect our compassion.   

3. There may be many wise reasons that we do not know behind the issues mentioned in the question. However, one of the reasons may be the secret of testing. That is, Allah states in the Quran tens of times that He has infinite mercy and that He will never oppress His creatures; He shows some scenes that are seemingly contrary to mercy in order to test whether the believers are sincere in their belief.  

“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, ‘We believe’, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.” (al-Ankabut, 29/2-3)

This fact is emphasized in the verse above.  

“O ye who believe! Allah doth but make a trial of you in a little matter of game well within reach of game well within reach of your hands and your lances, that He may test who feareth him unseen: any who transgress thereafter, will have a grievous penalty.” (al-Maida, 5/94)

The test measuring the sincerity of people through their attitudes toward Allah in terms of belief in the unseen/unknown (ghayb) is indicated in the verse above.

The verse below sheds light on the issue stating that the believers were tested through the 70 martyrs in the Battle of Uhud:  

“If a wound hath touched you, be sure a similar wound hath touched the others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loveth not those that do wrong.” (Aal-i Imran, 3/140)

4. Allah’s name Rahman means “the one that meets all needs of all creatures, primarily their sustenance, with His mercy”.

The name Rahman makes it necessary for the animals to fulfill their duties properly and to attain a happiness peculiar to them in the hereafter in return for the problems they have and the disorders and misfortunes they suffer in the world.  

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi shows the mujahids who sacrifice their lives in the way of Allah attaining the rank of martyrdom as an example and evidence for the issue. The martyr sacrifices his life in the way of Allah; similarly, the animals fulfill their natural duties assigned to them by Allah with the organs He gives them; in a sense, they sacrifice their lives in this way. Animals lose their lives "while fulfilling their duties and struggling". Therefore, it will be a different manifestation of the name Rahman for them to get a spiritual reward peculiar to them and to take a spiritual pleasure in the hereafter:

“Moreover, it is not far from the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful that just as He bestows the rank of martyrdom on a soldier who perishes on account of his duty while fighting, and rewards a sheep slaughtered as a sacrifice by giving it an eternal corporeal existence in the hereafter and the rank of being a mount for its owner on the Bridge of Sirat like Buraq." (see ad-Daylami, al-Musnad 1/85)

"So too with other animals and beings with spirits who perish while performing the dominical duties peculiar to their natures and in obeying the Divine commands, and who suffer severe distress, – it is not unlikely that there should be for them in the inexhaustible treasuries of His mercy a sort of spiritual reward and kind of wage suitable to their capacities...” (see Sözler, On Yedinci Söz)

Accordingly, every being that is disabled, undergoes misfortunes and suffers from an illness in this world will get a spiritual reward and pleasure peculiar to them in the eternal life in return for the distress they suffer, services they make and duties they fulfill in this world. They will get their shares from Allah’s infinite mercy eternally.

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