Punishment of a Merciful God: A Qur’anic Explanation of an Apparent Contradiction

The International Journal of the Humanities, Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 47-54, 2012

7 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2012 Last revised: 18 Dec 2013

Abdulla Galadari

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST)

Date Written: February 25, 2012

Abstract

Punishment of a merciful God is a contradiction. The Qur’anic text uses the Arabic words (‘adhab) and (‘iqab) for God’s punishment. This study looks into the deep meanings of the root words from a Semitic perspective and compares its Hebrew and Aramaic usage in the Bible and the Arabic usage in the Qur’an. As the meanings of the root words are understood, the mystery is unlocked and the contradiction disappears. The Arabic (‘adhab) is the same as the Hebrew (‘azab), which along with many other meanings, means to forsake. The word (‘iqab) in the Semitic languages means to follow and to seek. Hence, the Qur’anic usage of (‘athab Allah) means forsaking God, while the Qur’anic usage of God’s (‘iqab) means that God follows and seeks. Although it is usually understood as punishment and infliction of suffering from God, it is to be understood that people forsake God, and so God follows them and seeks them back, due to His merciful nature. The Qur’anic text shows that as people forsake God, they feel they are suffering and as God follows them to bring them back to Him, they feel their egos are being punished. This study investigates the root meanings of the words linguistically and their usage in the Qur’anic text grammatically to explain that the apparent contradiction is due to humans misunderstanding the punishment of a merciful God. It also attempts to end the apparent contradiction between divine justice and divine mercy.

Keywords: Suffering, Punishment, Mercy, Justice, Grace, Qur’an, Bible, Interpretation, Exegesis, Scripture

Suggested Citation

Galadari, Abdulla, Punishment of a Merciful God: A Qur’anic Explanation of an Apparent Contradiction (February 25, 2012). The International Journal of the Humanities, Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 47-54, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2011140

Abdulla Galadari (Contact Author)

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) ( email )

MASDAR
PO Box 54115
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

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