Lesson 9: Grace or Obligation? (Adalah – Part 4)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful



The "Usool ad-Deen" course has been put together by volunteer experts and teachers in the Mohammad (PBUH) Scientific and Cultural Foundation Center for Kids and Teens (Khaane Koodak va Nojavan in Farsi). This course is appropriate for children between the ages of 8 to 12. It aims to make students familiar with the basics of Shia Islam, including beliefs and doctrine...


Lesson 9: Grace or Obligation?
(Adalah – Part 4)


Zahra Moradi, Zahra Entezar Kheyr, and Sara Entezar Kheyr

Translated by: Shamsi Nasiri

Edited by: Marzie Salehi and Ali Mansouri


Note to Instructor: God’s relationship with His servants is based upon the principle of His Grace. He neither owes us anything, nor has an obligation to give us anything. Any blessing that we have from Him originates from His Mercy.   



During the last few sessions, we discussed God's justice and that He is not an oppressor. Allah does not oppress anyone. He wants nothing but goodness and blessing for His servants. Any kind of suffering that we have to go through or undesirable events that we experience arise from one of the following scenarios:

-    An undesirable event could contain a blessing that we are unaware of. As human beings with limited knowledge, we do not know what the future consequences an event or circumstance, whether it seems fortunate or unfortunate at the time, contains..

-    Alternatively, undesirable events and suffering can be the results of the mistakes and unwise actions of human beings. These undesirable events cannot be interpreted as oppression from God.

This brings up the following question: Is it fair for there to be inequality among people, such as diseases or disabilities that someone is born with? For example, one person may be born blind and another other one sound and healthy. Or from another perspective, some kids grow up in difficult conditions, such as being orphans. At the same time other kids enjoy living in loving families that support them.

To answer this question, let's think about the following scenario: Imagine one of your friends had a beautiful marker and then gave it to you to use. Was is their obligation to give you this marker? Did they have to give it? Or did they give it as an act of grace, out of kindness? Without any doubt, their action was out of grace. When we say “grace”, we mean doing something for others out of niceness and kindness, not because we have to.

Now let’s think about the other possibility. What if your friend was not willing to do this favor? Could they refuse to give the marker to you? Of course, they could. They own the marker. It is their possession and they have the right to do what they want with it.

In this second case, would you have any right to get upset? Would it be ok to start to fight and complain because they will not let you borrow their marker? Absolutely not! Our friend owes us nothing. Remember that marker is your friend’s possession. They have the right not to share it.

Now what if your friend decided to give that same marker to another one of your classmates? Are we in any position to question why they allowed someone else to borrow it but not us? Again, the answer would be no. Why? Simply because it is theirs. They have every right to give the marker to one person and not to another. We are not able to complain in any way about who they decide to let borrow their pen and who they do not.

Do you agree?

Now tell me whether Allah gives us all these numerous gifts out of an obligation or out of His Grace?

Does He have to bless us? Does He owe us anything? Of course not. Any blessings that are given to us are purely because of His Mercy and Favor upon us. Could God give some things to some people and not others? Absolutely, He could.

So, any blessing that Allah has given to us comes from His Mercy. On the other hand, if He has not given us something, for any reason, that does not mean God has oppressed us. God is not obligated to look favorably on us. God’s gifts are from His Grace. This leaves us with no room to complain about which blessings God grants to which people. Things that are given out of God’s Grace are given out of His Favor and so there is no cost to receive them and there is no ownership on our part towards them.

Now, let us return to our original question. Is it fair that one person is born blind and another person seeing? Is it fair that some kids are born as orphans and others born in loving families?

The answer to this question comes from what we discussed about mercy and duty.

All good things that we possess, such as our healthy body, kind parents, talents, and good looks are blessings. And any blessing which God gives to His servants comes from His Mercy and Kindness. If for any reason certain blessings are not given to one servant, it is not right to say that they have been oppressed. This is similar to the friend that can choose whether to share their marker. Even if Allah did not give us any blessings, we still would not have any right to complain. Of course, this is not our situation! God has already given us too many blessings to even count.

My dear kids, God is more kind than you can even imagine. Sometimes, God postpones what we ask from Him. Even if He preferred to not give us a certain blessing that we desire, He will compensate us later. God compensates us for all our suffering. If we demand a blessing from God which He does not provide us in this life, He will give us much more blessings in the next world in return. Because of this, after many of God’s servants die, they will wish that their prayers had not been accepted by Allah in this world, so they could be compensated with greater and better blessings in the next world.

These blessings are not an obligation of Allah’s. He does not owe us anything such that He needs to compensate us for what we do not receive. However, He still chooses gives us compensation for what we did not get out of His Kindness.

Another important point is that God’s expectations from each person are based on their unique situation and the opportunities given to them, including their blessings. Let me give an example. Imagine two kids that are the same age. One is sound and healthy and lives with his parents. In contrast, the second kid has lost his parents, one eye, and one hand in a horrible accident and lives with his old grandparents. Which of them would you expect to be able to study better? Correct! The one who is healthy and has more blessings. Now if you were their teacher, which student would you expect to get better marks on their exams? Which one would you be more lenient towards?

Dear kids, Allah expects us to do more good deeds if we have given more blessings. Any person that has more blessings than us also has to take a harder exam and achieve higher marks than us through doing good deeds. At the same time, individuals are given concessions and flexibility based on what they suffer from or the blessings from which they were deprived.

Today we learned that any blessing we have comes from Allah's Mercy and Kindness, and not any obligation towards us. He could have easily not given them to us. This would not be considered negligence or unfairness from Him. Thus, it would be very rude of us to think that He owes us something, or nag at Him about why He has given a blessing another person, but not us.

Even though anything that we have received from God is out of His Mercy, He is still so kind that He compensates us for what we asked from Him but did not receive. He will give us so many blessings in the next world in return for all of our pains and unaccepted requests in this world.

It is worth remembering that Allah’s expectations from each person are dependent on the amount of blessings that they have been given. The more blessings that you receive, the more good deeds you need to gain His Satisfaction.


Main Source: Mohammad Foundation


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