Punishment of a Merciful God: A Qur’anic Explanation of an Apparent Contradiction
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST)
February 25, 2012
The International Journal of the Humanities, Vol. 9, No. 6, pp. 47-54, 2012
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 7
Keywords: Suffering, Punishment, Mercy, Justice, Grace, Qur’an, Bible, Interpretation, Exegesis, Scripture
Date posted: February 26, 2012 ; Last revised: December 18, 2013