Good and bad is from Allah, Most High. So, where’s the test?


1. Is the Test based on our choice between good and bad?

Yes. Some trials are in order to distinguish the believers from the disbelievers:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.

And We indeed tested those who were before them. And ALLAH will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although ALLAH knows all that before putting them to test)” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3]

الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

All praise is due to ALLAH and peace and blessing upon His Messenger

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the Name of ALLAH, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful


“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabiroon (the patient).

Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to ALLAH we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’

They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones” [al-Baqarah 2:155-157]

Some trials are via wealth and children… to know who will give thanks for them, and who will be distracted from ALLAH by them:

“And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that surely, with ALLAH is a mighty reward” [al-Anfaal 8:28]

Some are warned to heed the implication of the trial:

“And indeed We seized them with punishment, but they humbled not themselves to their Lord, nor did they invoke (ALLAH) with submission to Him” [al-Mu’minoon 23:76]

“See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” [al-Tawbah 9:126]

Some trials are to expiate our sins in this (temporary) life rather than the (permanent) hereafter (as a favour to us):

The Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) said: “No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but ALLAH will expiate for some of his sins because of that.” (Agreed upon. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5641)

Source: IslamQA


2. If good/ bad are from ALLAH, then our good/bad is His Choice?

ALLAH tests us, sometimes with calamities and sometimes with blessings, to show who will be thankful and who will be ungrateful, and who will obey and who will disobey, then He will reward or punish them on the Day of Resurrection:

“and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned” [al-Anbiya’ 21:35]

And yet:

“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” [al-Shoora 42:30]

“What comes to you of good is from ALLAH, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad], to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is ALLAH as Witness.” [an-Nisa 4:79]

From our point of view, it is 100% our choice and we’re responsible. But from ALLAH’s point of view, He already knows all. Because He is beyond space /time.
Note: Knowing from beyond space /time does not necessarily mean the Knower is controlling our choices in space/time.
I.e. This notion is similar to (but not the same as):
A) A camera looking into room.
B) A man walks in and steals something from inside the room.
C) The camera ‘knows’ but did not make him steal
Qur’anically, this paradox – or antinomy (of our choice vis a vis ALLAH’s Choice) is explained as follows (and is – Quranically – the best way for us to think of it):
A) Good is from ALLAH (e.g. good events, but also our inspiration to do good.) That is, it is our choice but we had help/favour from ALLAH. Hence, always say (and mean), ‘Alhamdulillah’.
B) Bad events are from ALLAH to test us (irrespective of sins).
C) Bad events come from ourselves as a result of our bad choices (i.e. due to our sins).
D) Bad choices come from ourselves (desire, opinion, nafs ie our Self)
Our choices ought to be made to earn ALLAH’s pleasure ALL THE TIME. Any choice made this way is a ‘good’ choice.
  • Hadith on reward if right or wrong…

Amr ibn Al-As reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning (ijtihad) and he is correct, then he will have two rewards. If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is mistaken, then he will have one reward.”

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6919, Sahih Muslim 1716

Caveats: 1) he is a judge and 2) he is Muslim, working within an Islamic modus operandi.

But you can see the principle at work here: It encourages positive action (so long as it is within the purview of Qur’an and Sunnah).

  • Hadith on prayer-instruction disagreement where both methods are right…

Acceptable disagreement in Islam can be seen via this other Hadith reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, in which:

Excerpt: “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered his companions after the battle of Al-Ahzaab saying, No one of you should pray Asr until you reach the village of Bani-Qurayzah (A Jewish tribe) .” While they were on their way, the time of Asr came. Some companions said we should not pray until we reach Bani-Qurayzah. Others said we should pray Asr now because the Prophet (S.A.W.) did not mean for us to leave the Asr prayer, but he wanted us to be in a hurry. So some of the companions prayed Asr , while others continued on until they reached Bani-Qurayzah after sunset. When they went back to the Prophet, they mentioned to him the story and he did not blame either one of them.” This Hadith clearly shows us that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) accepted both opinions, because if one of them were wrong then the Prophet would have expressed it at that time”

Source: Islam1

  • Hadith on intention…

`Umar b. al-Khattâb, relates that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) say: “Actions are but by intentions and every man will have only what he intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated to attain something of this world or to marry a woman, then his emigration was for whatever reason he emigrated.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

Excerpt: “If a person performs a good and correct deed with a good intention, then his action will be good and rewardable, and if he performs the same action with a bad motive, then his action will be bad and deserving of punishment.

Likewise, if a person performs a permissible action without an intention to do something good or bad, but merely with the intention of doing something permissible, then he will be deserving of neither a reward nor a punishment for doing so.

Deeds can be good and bad in and of themselves. However, a person will only be deserving of a reward for his good deeds if he performed them for the sake of Allah and not for some ulterior motive.

ALLAH [Most Exalted,] says:There is no good in much of their secret talk save (in) him who enjoins almsgiving and goodness and peace-making among the people. Whoever does this seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall bestow on him a vast reward.” [al-Nisâ’ 4: 114]

Ibn Rajab comments on this verse that Allah describes enjoining almsgiving, goodness, and reconciliation as good deeds in and of themselves. This is because such deeds benefit the people. However, ALLAH only promises a reward to those who carry out these deeds “seeking the good pleasure of ALLAH”. Therefore, if a person performs these good and beneficial deeds for the sake of ALLAH, then the deeds will be good for him as well as for those who benefit from his deeds. If he had other ulterior motives, then these deeds will be of no good for him. [Jâmi` al-`Ulûm wa al-Hikam]

Ibn Rajab further observes that a person who prays, fasts, and recites ALLAH’s name with some ulterior motive is performing deeds that have no good in them whatsoever. The person who performs such deed in such a manner is earning sin for doing so. At the same time, his deeds do not bring the least benefit to anybody else. …

The hadîth related by `A’ishah … states [that] whoever innovates a matter in this matter of ours will have it rejected…

[which] presents us with the [an]other condition that needs to be fulfilled before a deed is acceptable in Islam. The deed has to be in accordance with the Qur’ân and Sunnah. It cannot be something unlawful in itself, and if it is a formal matter of worship, it must be prescribed for us by Allah and His Messenger.

If a person performs a deed with the best of intentions, but that deed is contrary to the teachings of Islam, it will still be rejected. A good intention is absolutely necessary for a deed to be accepted, but it is not enough. The deed also has to be correct in and of itself.

A good intention joined to a bad deed is a very dangerous combination. A person doing something wrong, like a heretical innovation [bida’ah] in worship, believes he is doing something good. Therefore, he continues in what he is doing and never feels the need to repent for it. On the other hand, a sinner who knows he is doing something wrong has the advantage of being able to repent in the future for his mistakes. He has no illusions about what he is doing.”

[Source: Islam Today – Emphasis via bold and underline are mine.]

  • Now… in conclusion
ALLAH is not responsible for our sins; and so if we are thinking that ‘He is responsible for our sins’, this is ‘bad/incorrect thinking’.
There was a sect – in the past (who have been refuted) – that believed everything was from ALLAH including our sins. They were the Determinists. The Qur’an and Sunnah perspective is they were 95% correct in everything about the true religion except the (remaining 5%) idea that Allah is responsible for our sins. (They focused on verses but did not factor-in counter verses, as above.)
3. How we live = based on our perception of good/bad.
Yes, but. This is about human subjectivities. The fact is the Qur’an and Sunnah, for Muslims, become an objective compass to guide us. Without it you will have moral relativism. But if everything is good then nothing is truly good. And vice versa in terms of bad. Relativism underpins a nihilist (meaningless) worldview (Nietzsche).
This discussion can lead into philopsophical grounds. For instance, good and bad is determined by social agreements of men (Habermas) or pragmatic concerns (Rorty) etc.
And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of ALLAH. They follow not except assumption [or conjectures], and they are not but falsifying.” [al-Anam 6:116]
However, such discussions, surely are of secondary importance if we accept ALLAH will judge us. HE will not judge us according to the philosophical points of view (of men) but by the Criterion of Islam (a) the religion of all the Prophets for those preceding our time, (b) the Last revelation of the Last Prophet for our time and till the end of time (peace be on them all), which is to say (c) Qur’an and Sunnah; this is the primary concern.
Note: this is not to dismiss the philosophical. But rather, to place things in the correct level of importance/ priority. Humans, generally, but many Muslims currently – it seems – have lost their sense of priorities.
Islamically, there are certain codes/rules we need to learn/know in order to know what is authentically good or not (i.e where there is reward and sin). ALLAH subhana wa ta’ala’s words (and the Prophet’s, peace be on him) are the measure insofar as this life is concerned. Note: technically, being a God and our Creator, He can do anything He wants. He is not restricted or delimited by our (limted) perceptions of Him. And He need not observe any rule He laid out. But Being The Wise (al-Hakim) and The Just (al-Adil) and The Truth (al-Haq), we must hold the BEST opinion of Him and trust Him (i.e. His promise and Judgement).
This is all well and good – holding a relativist perspective, except, if we accept:
1) historically there were prophets to every nation, where some are known to us, and some are not known (the Quranic perspective),
2) that they all preached to us about submitting to the Oneness of ALLAH (Tawhid, which is Islam)
  • I.e. this notion is still retained despite corruption in parts of the Bible (ie ‘Hear O Israel, your Lord is One.’)
  • I.e. do not rely on or have a lifestyle worshipping false idols (children, spouse, wealth, career, celebrities, other people, fame, popularity, power etc) because they have no intrinsic power to do anything without the Will of ALLAH.
  • Our devotion/reliance must be to God alone (i.e. pure monotheism, articulated by Ibrahim (peace be on him) most famously), as only ALLAH is, in fact, the True Power (al-Muqtadir – one of His 99 Names).
3) Then we know there will be a judgement awaiting us based on this: are we living (via our deeds) solely submitting to Him with our choices, going forward? – Or to our desires, opinions, lifestyle choices that may not refer to revelation?… I.e. Prophets have given us a Way (the Deen).
The (rewards for) good action and the (sins for) bad action has been demarcated in a workable way via the Deen. We will be judged according to this criterion. (Note, the Qur’an is also called the Furqan, which means the Criterion.) The fact is, the reason why our Prophet (peace be upon him) sent messages to the emperors of neighbouring lands is to tell them, he is the Last Prophet. We must all heed his warning (about the Last Day of Judgement). The Qur’an is also called a Warning.
In this age, noone is now exempt. Everyone has heard of the Prophet. Presumably they will be asked what did they do with that knowledge. But that’s between them and their Lord. But what are we doing about relaying the message? We do not have to convert people because that’s in ALLAH’S Hands. But we are obliged to deliver the message.
“So if they argue with you, say, “I have submitted myself to ALLAH [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me.” And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, “Have you submitted yourselves?” And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away – then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And ALLAH is Seeing of [His] servants.” [al-Imran 3:20]



4 How will we be judged (by Allah) in this test based on our perception of good/bad?

See above
5 How do we judge others (people) in this test?
We judge public action. Not the person. Every person is flawed. Leave the judgement of the person to ALLAH, Most High. But judging the action is permissable, if it is public. But we have a duty to remind when we see bad action in front of our faces. ‘Command the good, forbid the evil.’ (This is Quranic.) But not subjective notions of good and bad. But Qur’an and Sunnah articulations (the Objective standard). How we do that ought to be done ‘by hand, tongue or heart’ (paraphrase of hadith). And conduct yourself in the best of methods.
And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. [al-Fussilat 41:34]


ALLAH will also judge our efforts when it translates to action (good, neutral or bad) or inaction (good, neutral or bad).

ALLAH Knows Best.





سبحان ربك رب العزة عما يصفون وسلام على المرسلين والحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وعلى اله وصحبه أجمعين

Exalted be your Lord, the Lord of Glory, above what they attribute to Him, and peace be upon the Messengers, and all praise be to ALLAH, the Lord of the Universe. And the peace and blessing upon prophet Mohammed and his relatives and all his companions.


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