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

By Abdulla Galadari.

Published by The Humanities Collection


This paper has been retracted per the author's request.

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

Dr. Abdulla Galadari

Adjunct Faculty, Civil Engineering, Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Abdulla Galadari has a PhD in Civil Engineering with two Masters degrees and two Bachelors. Besides his interests in the advancement of science and engineering, he has undertaken a spiritual journey through different religions and human philosophy in search for the Truth, studying Comparative Religion and esotericism. For such, he is currently working on a PhD in Islamic Studies. Human spiritual experiences have changed the course of history tangible to this day and Abdulla looks on how those experiences apply in every day life. His research goes into esoteric symbolism and spiritual meanings of Holy Scriptures, comparing them and drawing parallels between different traditions. He believes that the power of any spiritual research is not through scholarly work alone, but also through experience.

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