If Allah made all things, then Allah made evil. But for what purpose did Allah create evil? Some say evil was created for humans to be "tested," but why is it necessary for humans to be "tested"? What is the purpose of this test? Can't free will exist without evil? Couldn't our actions be between a) a good choice b) an even better, more positive choice? What is the purpose of pain, evil and testing and why did Allah create these things?
But for what purpose did Allah create evil?
Simply put, to punish those who pick the evil option and to reward those who choose not to. Let me use the example of Adolf Hitler. Hitler is willing to kill millions of people, but Allah does not allow evil choices so he is forced to do something good instead. And in the end he goes to Jannah. It doesn't make sense does it? Because the only reason he did good is because Allah forced him to (by not allowing evil). So instead of going to Hell, he goes to Jannah. All because Allah does not allow people to do evil.
So, the primary function of evil is to see who will choose to do it. And to punish those people.
Also, I would like to point out that inaction can also be evil. So unless Allah is going to force people to do certain things (for example, believe in Him), they would still be doing bad things. And if he forces people to believe in Him (which is one of the biggest good deeds) people get the reward for it for no reason whatsoever.
Another thing to point out is that intention plays an important role in deciding if an action is good or evil. For example, a person praying is a good deed if he is praying for the right intentions, otherwise:
So woe to those who pray [But] who are heedless of their prayer - Those who make show [of their deeds]
Praying to show off is a bad deed.
The implications become that Allah has to control people's intentions as well. Where is the free will now? When people are forced to think good thoughts and forced to do good actions.
What is the purpose of this test?
Allah knows best. But our main purpose is to worship him freely. Angels already exist who worship Allah and only do good at different degrees. But we are made specifically so that we can in fact choose not to worship him (which makes our worship better). If we can't even choose not to pray, we would be nothing but Angels except without all the cool powers.
Can't free will exist without evil?
As I have shown you, it can't. Or it can only exist as much as the Angels, and they already exist. But, Allah wants us to worship him when we can choose not to, do good deeds when we can choose instead to do easier evil deeds. That is the true test.
Couldn't our actions be between a) a good choice b) an even better, more positive choice?
Yes and such creatures already exist in the Angels.
What is the purpose of pain, evil and testing and why did Allah create these things?
So we can choose good when we could instead have chosen evil.
To conclude, the angels also asked the same question you are asking now:
And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority." They said, "Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?" Allah said, "Indeed, I know that which you do not know."
And we can only guess as to Allah's reasons:
So that people who will choose evil can be punished, otherwise Hitler would go to Jannah just because Allah forced him not to do what he was willing to do.
Allah would have to force people to do some good deeds which are mandatory, and that would mean they get rewarded for nothing.
Allah would have to control people's intentions, and that loses the whole purpose and people would just be robots.
Humans would just be Angels. And there is a reason Angels don't go to heaven or hell and that is because they have no choice except to do good. Allah does not want more angels. He made us distinct from angels so that we can choose to do evil.
Our good deeds are much better since we had the choice to do easier evil actions.
Let's say I give you two bowls of different sweets and ask you to taste it. Just after you tasted one, I force you to tell me which one is more sweet. Would you be able to tell me? The answer is NO.
According to my opinion, I would discuss two reasons here, there might be more (and I am not saying that I am correct)
- Just like the bowl of sweet, if you can't distinguish which one is sweeter by tasting one then imagine how could you distinguish GOOD and EVIL. Evil is necessary for the existence of good.
It's kind of implication. Let's try to understand.
1. If no evil exists -> there would be peace 2. If there's peace -> all have agreed over single cause 3. If all agrees over a single cause -> all would stop questioning 4. If all stops questioning -> all will loose creativity
It implies that if there's no evil, eventually there would be no creativity, progress and advancement. You can read about the inventions, innovations, progress and advancement during wars, specially World Wars
I don't claim to be accurate, but I think above are the reasons which concludes that we need evil to progress. By this I didn't mean to follow evil.
Now, if you believe in ALLAH and you believe that ALLAH created this world and you believe that ALLAH is needless than you have to keep faith. Take the example of teacher and student. If you are a teacher and taught any suject to your student with faith and sincerity, then it's your right to TEST him/her. It's just the case. ALLAH is testing you that you only either you only claim that you believe OR you do act on what you believe. And it's nature.
Hope it clears some of your confusions. I might be wrong, so anyone can correct me.
If you do not believe in life after death, I do not think any answer will satisfy you. You can stop reading now.
If you do believe in life after death, then, according to the Quran, which we Muslims believe as the word of Allah, the life of this world is a test. After this test, Allah will send the ones who have done good deeds and stayed away from evil, to paradise.
The life of this world is temporary while the life after death is eternal.
Ok, so I think it's quite clear on why these pain,etc. exist...to test humans. And why would He test us, you ask? Well, before I move on to try answer THAT, let me ask you: Why are tests aka exams held in schools? One of the reasons is to identify what topics the students haven't mastered yet. When the students know what they don't know, they will ask for guidance from their teachers. By analogy, when humans are tested with tragedy of any sort, it's because Allah wants us to realize our wrongdoings. But most of all, by testing us, Allah wants us to RETURN to Him.Seek His forgiveness and blessing.Complain our miseries to Him.Surrender ourselves and ask for His help.He wants us to remember Him, after being distracted by the world. Allah loves His creations more than we love ourselves.