Why does God put us through the test of life? Why does not He love us as we are?
That this life is a test which will distinguish the good from the bad among people is certainly a fact. That God needs to test us is wrong, because God does not need to know anything about us as a race or a species, or as individuals. His knowledge is absolute which means that it is perfect and does not increase as a result of any event or any occurrence. He knows everything before it takes place.
If we find this difficult to understand, we should remember that time, as we know it, is coincidental to the earth and it results from its position in relation to the sun and its movement around itself and round the sun. As such, it does not apply to God. So, why the test if God will not know anything new as a result of it? The test is for us, so that every one of us may prove himself or herself, and none is punished before he or she has had a chance to follow God’s guidance. In the Qur’an, God makes it clear that He has sent His messengers to mankind so that they are fully aware of what course they should follow. Otherwise, if a catastrophe should befall them on account of what they do, they would be able to protest that they have had no messenger to teach them what is right and what is wrong. So, God has granted people the right to receive guidance before they are held to account. God does not punish anyone for any wrong he does, if he has had no knowledge of the divine message.
The question that is raised about God’s love betrays total lack of knowledge of the Islamic view. Certainly God loves us as we are, and the best evidence of His love is the fact that He has sent us messengers to teach us how to keep to the path of good which earns us God’s great reward. The fact is that God knows our potentials and our failings. He sends us messengers and provides us with His message, which He guarantees to keep intact, free from distortions, so that we can always follow it. He also provides us with the clear example of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his conduct in every situation in life. When we follow that guidance, God places us in a position higher than that of angels. Is there a greater evidence of God’s love of mankind?
It is important to understand that the whole idea of testing mankind relies on the fact that human beings have been given the freedom of choice. This is what distinguishes man from other types of God’s creations. Therefore when man follows the guidance provided to him by God, he deserves reward, and when he chooses to ignore that guidance and follow his caprice, he deserves punishment. Indeed the fact that man has been created with this ability is a mark of God’s love, as this is a unique position.
With all that God has given man to help him make the right choice, there is no doubt that God has shown how much He loves human beings. It is left to human beings to demonstrate how much they love God by believing in Him, accepting His guidance and following His messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. When they do that, God’s love is manifested in an everlasting way when He admits them to heaven where they enjoy eternal bliss and suffer no hardship whatsoever.
But there is another aspect to God’s love of human beings, which is seen most clearly in the way God rewards good deeds and how He punishes for bad ones. It is often repeated in the Qur’an that a good deed is credited at 7 times its value, but this is the standard reward. God may, if He so pleases, multiply that to 700 times the value of the good deed, and may give even greater credit. On the other hand, a bad deed is recorded against the offender exactly as it is. It is never multiplied. Moreover, when a bad deed is followed by a good one, the latter erases the former, and the slate is wiped clean.
Furthermore, God has given us means and methods to seek His forgiveness of our bad deeds, and He has promised to forgive those who seek His forgiveness after repenting having done them. He bestows on them His mercy.
This point is very important, because God describes Himself not only as compassionate and merciful, but as One who bestows His grace very often. Indeed, the derivations of mercy and grace as attributes of God are quite a few and they range from bestowing these in the normal way upon those who pray to God for mercy, to ones which signify frequency and multiplicity. This means that when we pray God to forgive us and have mercy on us He answers our supplication, and also bestows on us His grace to reward us for our supplication and for our repentance. If we are not satisfied with all this as evidence of God’s love, then I do not know what should satisfy us.