• If you were to ask: You say that the obligations laid on human beings and their accountability are to secure their happiness, but they are the reason for most of them being wretched. If it hadn’t been for this accountability there wouldn’t have been such an enormous difference between people?
You would be told: Just as Allah the Most High entrusted man with the faculty of will (al-juz’ al-ikhtiyārī) and charged him (al-taklīf) through it (lit. through its acquisition – bi-kasbihi) to form the world of voluntary actions; so too He made this obligation the means of watering the unlimited seeds planted in the human spirit and their germination. If it were not for that obligation those seeds would not sprout. If you study the history (aḥwāl) of mankind deeply, you will see that all advances of the [human] spirit, and divine perfecting of the conscience, and progress of the intellect, and the productive advances in thought which are so great as to be astounding, have occurred only due to man’s accountability, and [those faculties] being awakened by the sending of prophets, and the fecundation of religious laws, and the inspiration of the religions. Had it not been for them human beings would have remained as animals and those perfections of the conscience and moral virtues would have been non-existent. A minority accepted the responsibility [and undertook the obligations] voluntarily and they both won happiness for themselves and were the means of the happiness of the human race. As for the majority, quantitatively, even though they may have disbelieved in their hearts and in those areas in which they were free, since not every attitude and attribute of every disbeliever arises from his disbelief, because the prophets aroused the sensibilities of the human conscience and awakened its moral sense, the sacred laws [they brought] have been heeded and their works are known, [and the majority] has willy-nilly accepted some of the obligations [with which man is charged].
• If you were to say: How can happiness for the few and wretchedness for the majority be happiness for the human race, that the Shari‘a may be a mercy? For the happiness of the human race could be [attained] only through [the happiness] of all or [at least] the majority.
You would be told: If you have a hundred eggs and you put them under a hen, and twenty hatch and eighty do not, wouldn’t you say that you had brought the species up to full-strength? For twenty living chicks are equal to thousands of eggs. Or if you have a hundred date stones and you [plant and] water them, and twenty become towering date palms while eighty rot, wouldn’t you say that the water was happiness for the species? Or if you