I recently had a discussion with a Sunni friend of mine, revolving around God being Merciful. He personally said it’s not a large theological issue he faces anymore, but it’s still not something he’s fully solved either.

The issue revolves around these keys points:

1) Humans (among others) have free will, meaning we are free to choose our actions in any given situation, from what Allah سبحانه وتعالى has made possible ofcourse.

2) Allah is All-Knowing, meaning he is fully aware of what each human will do with their free will, and thus whether they will bring unjustice upon themselves, which would result in them getting punished with hellfire.

3) God Himself has free will, and he may create whatever He Wishes. (He’s not bound by anything in what He creates)

4) Meaning, Allah جل جلاله Could create only those humans whose free will leads them to do good. This would not take away from their free will, as they’re still in charge of their actions with their free will, they just choose the correct ones (or do so most of the time). As for those who wouldn’t do so well, He’s not bound to create them and so they wouldn’t have to face punishment.

This, as my friend argued, would seem to clash with God being All-Merciful, seeing as He creates beings knowing they will end up in the hellfire.

He’s said that he has heard, as a response that “God’s Mercy isn’t the same as ours” or something along the lines. The essence being that you can’t judge God’s Mercy with our sense of mercy since they aren’t the same standards of mercy. The issue he has with this is that it defeats the purpose of God سبحانه وتعالى describing Himself as Merciful if it doesn’t actually mean anything we understand it to mean.

Here’s a brief response to that:

So why doesn’t Allah create only those whom He knows will use their free will properly? The answer is: he did, trillions of them. They are the angels. They have intellect and free will, and there’s nothing but goodness in them. They always use their free will to obey God and do good. And Allah has filled the universe with them.

After creating them, Allah wanted to create a creation that could be potentially be higher than them. One way to do that is to give this being free will and the capacity to do evil. When the human uses his free will to choose good, he is potentially higher than angels. Now if Allah would create only those whom would be good, then there is no trial. How are they tried when there is no evil around them? There must be evil around us to choose goodness. If there is no evil around me then how do I get tried? That’s like having a multiple choice exam without any wrong answers in the options. That’s not a test. Allah’s wisdom dictated that we should be given a chance, we should be tried, and that can be achieved if both are given a chance—those who would choose good and those who would choose bad.

Hope this makes sense.