Is Allah Cruel or Merciful?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by


I am a muslim who is leaning day by day towards athiestic views because I have doubts… Can you clarify them for me?

Lets start ….

1. Well i have heard allah does not place a burden on a soul more than it can bear…. So what about the people who commit suicide?

2. Allah loves us like 70 mothers. [***] and why would he then put people in hell?

I for one recall asking my mother, “if i cut your hands and feet and starve you… Torture you in every way i can and then you are given a choice to put me in heaven or hell… She said i would rather die than put you in hell… So i asked her is there any case in which you will put me into hell?

She said no….. So i asked her a second question if you have the power to put me into heaven for eternity which is absolutely great compared to the life of this world would you choose to put me into trials and tribulations in this mortal world…. So she said even if a thorn pricks you i can’t stand that….. See where i am getting with this…..

So your so called Allah the most merciful of those who show mercy…. [***]…. How does he do that when we can’t starve him, torture him, we can’t affect him in any way yet he chooses to enjoy people’s torture….

Looks like he is a lying [***]…

Now i don’t want you to prove that Allah is 70 times more merciful than a mother…. But if you prove that he is 1/70 times merciful that would be enough…

[The question has been edited to delete the vulgar/disrespectful content]


Bismillahi Ta’ala,

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah, 

First and foremost, having doubts is nothing unnatural and counter productive to one’s inquisitive mind. However, one’s attitude towards handling these doubts certainly has a role to play in the outcome of one’s journey towards contentment. Doubts grow stronger with a negative aptitude. Seeking clarity in theological arguments is one thing, and finding a content place for one’s heart is another matter. Consider two students who sit in a class. One with an aptitude to denounce any concept the teacher will throw at him, and the other with a desire to learn those concepts. One can imagine which student would gain contentment in the concepts sooner. It is quite possible for the former to actually denounce the entire field of study and consider it a sham simply because he does not understand it.

You have prefixed your email with the subject, “The great Cruel Allah”. These are reflection of the aptitude with which you are addressing your doubts in theology. As such, the aptitude itself is counter-productive in clearing any doubts. Nontheless, it is your failure to grasp the theology which puts you in doubt. Before I answer any of your concern, you must be completely aware that “reality” does not need an approval or disapproval for being real. When the sun shines brightly in the sky, one does not need approval of someone to establish that the sun is indeed shining. Similarly, a denial from a blind person does not prove it otherwise either.

Relating to your question, let us proceed.

1. A team of builders build a wooden bridge and say that this bridge will not break with up to a certain amount of force/weight. While this premise holds true, the user of the bridge neglects all possible care for that bridge which weakens it to an extent that the bridge collapses on its own weight. Would we then blame the engineers and architects to have lied in their claim whereas the cause for collapse was due to the user? The blame cannot be attributed to the builders.

Human body, life and spiritual self is a similar bridge structure. Allah swt has not only given us the physical means of sustaining ourselves, rather avenues of emotional, mental and spiritual means of finding a balance in our life. If a person chooses not to seek these avenues instead give up on every corner of one’s turbulence, then this is not Allah’s doing, it is the person himself choosing his path. In most cases suicidal tendencies occur when one gives up hope for a better life giving into the depression of the affliction of the hour. As cruel as it may sound, it is just as incorrect a decision of someone who is cold and chooses not to cover himself with a blanket or means of warding off that affliction.

Allah does not prohibit us from taking medical, therapeutic, or psychological help, nor is there any prohibition of providing these medical aids to someone who is under the cloud of depression. Allah has made this body able to sustain these afflictions and recover from them, but its the user who applies his free-will to opt out instead. Allah cannot be blamed for giving us free-will.

2. At the outset concept of Allah’s love being more than 70 mothers is not reported in Qur’an or in Ahadeeth. Yes, some ahadeeth do report a comparison of love of Allah with that of mother, such as the hadeeth about the captives as mentioned in Sahih al Bukhari. 

This narration states, 

“Umar bin Al-Khattab narrated that, Some Sabi (i.e. war prisoners, children and woman only) were brought before the Prophet and behold, a woman amongst them was milking her breasts to feed and when she found a child amongst the captives, she took it over her chest and nursed it (she had lost her child but later she found him). 

The Prophet said to us, “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet then said, “Allah is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.” (Bukhari)

Nontheless, the love being more than seventy mothers is widely popular in our thoughts. Hence I will try and tackle the concept and not a hadeeth or the kind.

At the same time, as I have already mentioned, Allah’s truthfulness and mercy is not dependent on me being able to prove it thus or otherwise. What you present is a theological argument which philosophers have tackled since ages even before the advent of Islam. A generic classical response follows that the entire incident you have presented with your mother is, first and foremost, incorrect representation of a mother’s love. Yes, a mother loves a child more than anything. And Yes, a mother would not want to afflict the child with any pain. Yes, it is not true that this “unconditional love” of a mother is void of any pain to the child, whether physical or emotional. 

The incorrect assertion of an unconditional motherly love stems from a polar thinking of absolute realities. Either a mother loves unconditionally, or a mother doesn’t love at all. This assertion is incorrect. A motherly love is not unconditional and the reality speaks volumes on it. As little as a scolding, and as much as cursing the child for the atrocities committed by the child are not only documentation reality in history rather denial of such behavior from a general mother is a factual lie. 

When a child continues to put his hand towards the candle flame for 20 times even after the mother tries and save him from harming himself, it is a common and acceptable practice by many mothers to let the realities of life teach the child. Is this cruel? perhaps. Does it work? Almost every time. Does it mean that such a mother ceases to be a loving mother? Of course NOT!

In essence though, this reality of life is that a mother could slap the child, spank him, or be verbally scolding and YET can be hailed as an example of loving mother from the very child, discredits the entire premise of the theological argument you have presented.

However, the reality is that the answer to your concern is beyond the attribute of “Rahmah”  (Mercy). It follows into the other attributes from the 99 attributes. One of them being “Adl” (Just). Person A oppressed and killed Person B and never got caught in his life for the murder. “A” is oppressor and deserving of a punishment that suits his crime. Yet your theological argument says that he Allah should not only forgive him, rather give him lofty status and joyous life in “Jannah” Heaven. Such an unjust God would definitely be merciless to the oppressed party (i.e Person B) who got unjustly killed by Person A. 

Hence anyone can discern that the judgement call is not as black and white as a polarized mind thinking only in absolute may think. Allah possesses all 99 attributes and carries them out in ways that befits Him the best. You, as an individual may perceive a judgement as void of mercy, but it has merit in it and is borne from mercy. Just because one is unable to comprehend the mercy in its real form, does not mean that mercy does not exist. 

What we do understand from our textual proofs is that Allah’s love, as strong as it maybe, is still conditional. Allah clearly and without question declares many time in Qur’an about those whom he does not love.



  • Allah does not love the ungrateful sinners. (2:227)
  • Allah does not love the transgressors. (2:190)
  • verily Allah does not love the disbelievers. (3:32)

Instead Allah love is for:

  • verily Allah loves those who act aright.
  • Allah Loves those who turn unto him in repentance (2:222)
  • Allah Loves those keep themselves pure and clean (2:222)
  • Allah Loves those who keep themselves conscious of Him (3:76)
  • Allah Loves the doer of good (3:134)
  • Allah Loves those who are patient (3:146)
  • Allah Loves those who rely on Allah (3:159)


So understand that Allah has clearly laid out whom He loves and whom He does not. Now it is our choice to choose whether we become Allah’s beloved ones or not.

The other argument you have presented is also fallacious. In seeking brevity I will not go into details instead just highlight these fallacies.  

a. You have assumed that since the love of Allah is 70 times that of a mother, the action of judgement would also replicate as that of a mother. Loving is one action while decision making is another. You feel that just as the love of a mother blinds her to the childs wrongdoings, so must Allah’s love also blind Him from our wrongdoings. This is fallacious.

b. You said, ” how does he do that when we can’t starve him, torture him, we can’t affect him in any way yet he chooses to enjoy people’s torture”. 

This argument is like people standing in front of a 100ft tall solid and strong wall which protects them from enemies, yet the people claim,”Since we cannot break it, wound it, or affect it in anyway possible, it does not have the ability of protecting us”. It is these very qualities which makes the wall a construct of significance. It is the absolute independence of Allah from all that is mortal which gives him the absoluteness of attributes. That is not a blemish on Allah, that is his superiority over us. 

c. You said, ” yet he chooses to enjoy people’s torture”. 

This is an open assumption. While we are unable to comprehend Allah’s attributes and Allah’s essence, to claim that we have become able to discern whether he enjoys people’s torture or despises it is a sheer assumption. 

Allah says in Surah Hud, verse 118-9

“Had Allah wished He would have made the people one nation; yet these choose to have diverging views. Except those on whom God bestowed His Mercy: and for this did He create them: and the Word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled: “I will fill Hell with jinns and men all together.”

Allah’s intent from his creation of jinns and human is crystal clear that He created them for this Rahma. This Rahmah is understood from the opposite of the punishment which has been mentioned at the end of this verse. So, definitely Allah has not created them for punishment rather for then to choose the path of mercy.

The bottom line remains that if a person is given complete free-will to choose to do actions which will take him to Jannah, or to reject them and choose the path of punishment. Then, it is not rational to take Allah to task for the person’s choice. As I mentioned before, the reality is reality. We live with it. There is Heaven and there is Hell. We believe in that theological construct. Its rationality is the bases for our life of good and bad. 

Without this there is no reason for a person to attribute an action to be “good” action or a “bad” action. We, in our belief, do not accept the athiestic fallacy of moral decision making since that is a social construct, while good and bad deeds need a divine construct. One man’s good deed can be another man’s bad deed, while a divinely inspired good deed will remain good regardless of social construct.

Hence, for a divine construct of good deed, a Heaven is real. Likewise for the bad there is punishment. When even in our own social norms we do not blame the judge for establishing a life-sentence on a criminal with severely reprehensible crime (in any court of law), how naive can we be to blame the supreme judge for passing a judgement for crime(s) which He has already outlined for us. It is infact a mercy upon us that as a True Master, He may choose to do whatever he wishes with His slaves, yet he chooses to inform them of the consequences that could come about from different actions. Moreover He instills and encourages them to go towards those actions which will earn them heavenly bliss and not hellfire. This is the Mercy Allah has created us for as instructed in the above verse.

What else does Allah need from punishing us? Nothing. His kingdom over us is not like that of a dictator who stands to gain from punishing his subjects. For Allah, our punishing neither increase in His Might nor His kingdom. Hence Allah declared, Surah Nisaa, verse 114,

“What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.”

We realize the reality. Allah has created everything. To deny Allah because a slave perceives oppression in life is like denying the Sun when the night shows no sign of it. Allah wishes all to be Just, yet if the slaves bring about injustice among themselves by their own actions, it is not rational to denounce the reality of existence of Allah. The right path has been shown, and so is the wrong path. Choose the one which one wishes, and do not blame someone else for it.

P.S. As a courtesy, I have overlooked your lack of decorum and use of vulgarity in language, and addressed you like any doubtful or troubled individual. If you wish to continue correspondence, please do so with an positive aptitude and learning with cordial ethics. If future responses are either inciting knee-jerk reactions or are disrespectful, they will simply be ignored. That too shall be because of your own deed and not because of any bias towards you.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Faisal al-Mahmudi


This answer was collected from, which is a fatwa portal operated by Mufti Faisal al Mahmudi from Canada. 

Find more answers indexed from:
Read more answers with similar topics:
Subscribe to IslamQA Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to IslamQA Weekly Newsletter

You will receive 5 Q&A in your inbox every week

We have sent a confirmation to you. Please check the and confirm your subscription. Thank you!