Why are great oppressions and oppressors not punished in the world?

Details of the Question

​- Great oppressions and oppressors are not punished in the world; both the oppressor and the oppressed die without being punished or rewarded.
- I have been praying to Allah for a long time due to an oppression; is it appropriate to fall into despair by looking at the oppressed people who were wronged before me?
- There is a verse saying, ‘Despair not of the Mercy of Allah’ but many people die before seeing the oppressor’s being punished. How can this issue be explained?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- The penalty of the oppression of great oppressors are postponed to the great court in the hereafter; that is why, their penalty is not executed fully in this world.  

Let us quote from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi to clarify the issue:

“Just as the penalties of those perpetrating small crimes are delivered locally and serious crimes are sent to the high courts, so too, according to the rules, the small errors of believers and close friends are punished swiftly and in part in this world, in order to quickly purify them. But the crimes of the people of misguidance are so great that since their punishments exceed this brief worldly life, as required by justice they are referred to the Supreme Tribunal in the eternal realm, and mostly they do not receive any punishment here.(see Lem'alar, p. 48)

“...For generally the oppressor leaves this world while still in possession of his might, and the oppressed while still subjected to humiliation. These matters are therefore deferred for the attention of a supreme tribunal; it is not that they are neglected. It sometimes happens too that punishment is enacted in this world. The torments suffered by disobedient and rebellious peoples in previous centuries show that man is not left to his own devices, and that he is always subject to the blows that God’s splendor and majesty may choose to inflict on him.(see Sözler, p. 65)

- The acceptance of a prayer is dependent on Allah’s wisdom. We cannot know what will be good or bad for us and how. This fact is underlined in the following verse:

“But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (al-Baqara, 2/216)

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi sheds light on the issue:

“...Therefore, although for thirty years I have offered supplications to be healed and apparently my prayer has not been accepted, it has not occurred to me to give it up. For illness is the time for supplication. To be cured is not the result of the supplication. If the All-Wise and Compassionate One bestows healing, He bestows it out of His abundant grace. Furthermore, if supplications are not accepted in the form we wish, it should not be said that they have not been accepted. The All-Wise Creator knows better than us; He gives whatever is in our interests. Sometimes he directs our prayers for this world towards the hereafter, and accepts them in that way. In any event..."

"A supplication that acquires sincerity due to illness and arises from weakness, impotence, humility and need, is very close to being acceptable. Illness makes supplication sincere. Both the sick who are religious, and believers who look after the sick, should take advantage of this supplication.” (Lem'alar, 215)

- Cursing/damning is different from prayer. In principle, “cursing/damning” is not something that gains man thawabs; on the contrary, it helps the penalty of the oppressor to be commuted. As a matter of fact, according to a narration, Hz. Aisha damned a thief that stole her quilt; the Prophet (pbuh) said, “You will commute his penalty by damning him.” (see Abu Dawud, h. no: 1497)

- It is necessary to be careful about the following points while damning:  

a) The damnation must not be more than the wrong committed by the oppressor. For instance, it is not appropriate to say, “May Allah kill him or blind his eyes” for a person who steals or grabs your pen. For, the value of a life or two eyes is much higher than a pen. In that case, the oppressed might turn out to be an oppressor.

“The prohibited month for the prohibited month,- and so for all things prohibited,- there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” (al-Baqara, 2/194)

The criterion for getting or demanding one’s right is indicated in the verse above.

b) It is appropriate to damn the oppressor but it is not appropriate to damn his family and relatives. Something like that will make an oppressed person an oppressor. This fact is underlined in the following verse: “Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.” (an-Najm, 53/38)

c) Making peace and forgiving one’s enemy make a person attain the consent of Allah.

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong.” (ash-Shura, 42/40)

It is emphasized in the verse above that forgiving and making reconciliation are better than taking revenge.  

The phrase “those who do wrong” included in the last sentence of the verse “for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong” is related to both the person who does wrong and the person who gets more than his due in retaliation. (Nazmud-Durar, the interpretation of the verse in question)

This shows that when a wronged person damns an oppressor more than what he deserves, he will be an oppressor.

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