Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

When the Wicked Prosper

I learn so much listening to my Kuwaiti friends. The other night, over dinner, a good friend explained to me about how Islam teaches you that if someone slaps you, you are supposed to turn the other cheek. That is exactly what Jesus told us to do, and I had NO idea it was also in the Qur’an.

So here is my question for today: What does the Qur’an have to say about people who appear to prosper, even though they are bad, through and through.

In my culture, many times I have heard people ask how people who do such evil can also appear to be so blessed? The question crosses all the boundaries of church alliance, religion, morality. Isn’t good supposed to be rewarded? Why do the wicked appear to have abundance, and to be kept safe, while bad things happen to good people?

Psalm 37 has all the answers. My favorite is line 13 – The Lord laughs at the wicked; he knows their day is coming. I think I’ll write it out and put it on my dashboard, and instead of cursing when some yahoo cuts me off with only a millimeter to spare, I will repeat that verse.

Today’s Psalm from the readings of The Lectionary is about that very subject.

Psalm 37

Of David.
1Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

3Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

8Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight in abundant prosperity.

12The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;
13but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

14The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to kill those who walk uprightly;
15their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will abide for ever

February 7, 2008 - Posted by | Lent, Living Conditions, Random Musings, Spiritual


  1. Peace be upon those who are upon True Guidance –

    Nowhere in the Qur’aan does it state that if one is slapped, one should turn the other cheek. Rather, it states “a like for a like.” However, this forgiving attitude is mentioned elsewhere. For instance, in the case of punishing the one convicted for murder; Allaah says that it is the right of the family of the victim to ask for the killer’s death in return, but to forgive him–for he is their brother (in the case of him being Muslim)–is certainly better.

    Also, the Messenger of Allaah (SallAllaahu ‘Alayhi wa-Sallam) never took revenge for all the pain, harm and torture that was inflicted on him. Indeed, he was persistently beaten and persecuted, him and his followers, and he would starve. Yet he always sought Allaah’s forgiveness for them, and Allaah’s guidance for them.

    As for those who have taken to sinning, while also relishing in their worldly delights and joys, this is from Allaah, the Most High. In the case of the disbelievers, Allaah gives them from what they ask for of the worldly things, and as a general rule, their punishment is postponed till the Hereafter, where they will fall under the weight of their sins. So Allaah gives them more and more of what they desire, so that it will one day serve as their downfall. This is their punishment for denying Him, and for their associating partners with Him.

    However, for the believers, and they are the Muslims, if even the prick of a thorn harms them, this serves as an expiation for their sins in this life. Since this is the case with something as small as the prick of a thorn, then what of the Muslim battling cancer? So the believer is punished in this life as a Mercy from Allaah, the Most Compassionate, so that in the Hereafter, he is free from his sins and enters Paradise. Of course, this is not to say there won’t be some Mulims who will enter the Hellfire–we are responsible for our actions, and just because we believe in Allaah, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are “saved” and immune from the fire.

    The success of the disbelievers serves as a test of faith and patience for the Muslims, and Allaah knows best.

    Comment by Bu Seif | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. Thank you, Bu Seif.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. In Islam the goodness in people gets touched by God, they are brought closer. They might not get their own way always, might face obstacles, might have hardships, but they have peace of mind and a solace no money could ever buy. They will have all they need in this world and the next.

    The corrupt/evil/naysayers/nonbelievers – whatever we call them – are allowed to roam and do their thing, because the more they do ill, the harsher the punishment in the afterlife. Nevertheless, these people do not have peace of mind in the current life, they might have all they seek, but are never satisfied, they are plagued by problems, mental or otherwise. Additionally, the more they financially accumulate the more burdem is placed on them – how was their money spent? Did it help others? Was it wasted? Did they feel gratitude? Did they use their money to improve their surroundings or help their fellow man? (On the day of judgement, one of the major issues one will be asked about is how they spent their money – you cannot underestimate this point).

    It is a myth that a good Muslim has to live a harsh life, on the contrary, whether they are rich or poor, believers get their bounty in this world AND the next, not just the afterlife. That is the thing to remember. Because a bounty is not just money or power – its a good marriage, its a good reputation, its having good friends, its peace of mind etc.

    Also, sometimes you have good people who do bad things, and may have not completely moved to the Islamic way, they might fall sick, get ill, etc they get their punishment in this world so that in the next they do not. That is also a form of mercy by the AllMighty.

    Comment by amer | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. Baarak Allaahu feek, Amer.

    Comment by Bu Seif | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. Thank you, Amer.

    I often heard Baarak Allaahu feek when I lived in Tunisia, Bu Seif, it was the way people said thank you – but I never knew what it looked like. Thank you for that!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. OK now i had to revive my defunct wordpress blog to leave comments , hope i will get through…

    Wickeds prosper ! yes ! but there is a price to pay , here and here after as well , at the same time righteous prosper as well . Pslam 23 is the good example ..
    5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
    You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

    6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life, …

    so the Lord promises good things to righteous as well , I don’t want to fill more space here , If you read psalm1 you know for sure what will happen to the wicked..

    P.S : i was a fanatic ( once up on a time ) 😀

    Comment by GreY | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. where my comment go ?

    Comment by GreY | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  8. i dont like the standard american version!

    Comment by error | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  9. What version do you like, Error? I looked it up in Revised Standard and it looks pretty much the same. King James?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  10. OMG ! i’m still spammed !

    Comment by GreY | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  11. Since English translation of the Quran is written in King James style, I don’t know, I ought to read everything holy in such style.

    I think Catholics prefer King James too, no?

    Comment by error | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  12. 🙂 Error, when my husband was first studying Arabic, and would speak it, he would be speaking to people and saying things like out of the King James bible – in classical Arabic, the equivalent of “verily” and “lo!” and people would look at him in sheer amazement because no one really talks like that. (Have you ever noticed how close “verily” is to “wallahi,” both in sound and in meaning?)

    The King James version is very beautiful, and I love the “thees” and “thous” but the more modern versions are actually closer to the original language (it is believed) meaning.

    Most Catholics read a variety of translations, just as we Protestants do. Many older people, Catholic and Protestant, cling to the King James language because it is what they grew up with. As long as they are reading the Bible, it’s all OK by me.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 9, 2008 | Reply

  13. GreY, your comments don’t even show up in Spam until like more than 24 hours later.

    Once a fanatic, it is all still inside. All that good training. It all comes back when we need it.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 9, 2008 | Reply

  14. OK my bad ! should have checked before ! Sowwy !

    Comment by GreY | February 9, 2008 | Reply

  15. So right you are, international!

    On “….turn the other cheek.”

    Well, here I have to say, other Kuwaiti brahmins you will meet will forthrightly tell you that this essentially is the posturing of all world religions, be they Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Osho-ism or Islam.

    Comment by a.d. | February 17, 2008 | Reply

  16. Peace, BL

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 17, 2008 | Reply

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