What does ‘The world is a dungeon for the believer and Paradise for the unbeliever’ mean?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

9.1.2-The world is Paradise for the unbeliever

Question:“Believers believe in Allah, try to obey His orders, but they are usually hit by misfortunes. What is more, the Messenger of Allah said, ‘The world is a dungeon for the believer and Paradise for the unbeliever”. Although the unbeliever is an enemy of Allah and the believer is His friend, why does Allah send misfortunes to believers?”

First of all, the misfortunes that hit believers are primarily blows of compassion. A father may punish his son to make him give up  his mistakes. This punishment is not because of his hostility to his son, but his love for him and his desire to protect him from danger. He wants to educate him and lead him to goodness. Allah Almighty warns His friends with blows of compassion by sending them misfortunes. Besides, He accepts the misfortunes as atonement for their sins and protects them from penalty in Hell. He also regards the goods and wealth lost in the misfortune as sadaqah.

We know that minor crimes are punished in small courts. Major crimes are referred to large courts. Similarly, the penalty of the minor faults of believers can be given in the world in the form of misfortunes. Thus, they are purified here. That is a kind of mercy for them. Since the crimes of unbelievers and heretic people are so big, their penalties are postponed to the Great Court in the hereafter. Therefore, they are not usually punished in the world.

Since the believer is punished in the world for his sins,  the world becomes a kind of a place of punishment and dungeon. And the world is relatively considered a “dungeon” for them compared to the hereafter where they will be very happy. In other words, even if they do not suffer misfortunes in the world, their worldly life is like a dungeon compared to the hereafter.1

The world is like Paradise for those who do not believe since their major penalties are postponed to the hereafter and since they are rewarded partly for their good deeds in the world.

Secondly, believers obey the commands of Allah, carry the burden of worship and bear the responsibility of being slaves of Allah. Even though they are free, they are “Abdullah = servants and slaves of Allah”. The burden and responsibility of worship are apparently distressful and hard for them. In this respect, the world is also considered their dungeon. However, those who do not believe and heretic people do not have the burden and responsibility of worship in the world. They live freely and independent of all commands and prohibitions, based on their own desires and as they wish; so, they are in a kind of false Paradise.

In addition, no matter what difficulties and misfortunes a believer encounters, he is happier than an unbeliever. His belief grants him a spiritual paradise. Unbelief is a spiritual hell that spiritually punishes it in his spirit.

1.Nursi, B. S. Sözler. Diyanet Vakfı Yayınları-600, Ankara, 2nd impression, 2016, p. 205.

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