Allah Ta’ala declares:
“And whatever strikes you of calamities – it is due to what YOUR own hands have earned (i.e. misdeeds); although He overlooks much.” (42:30)
The early Muhaddith, Ibn Abi Haatim (rahmatullah alayh), narrates in his Tafseer of the aforementioned verse:
“When it was revealed, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“By the one in whose Hands is the soul of Muhammad, there is no scratch from a twig, nor palpitation of a vein, nor a slip of the feet, except (that it occurs) due to a sin. And what Allah overlooks is more.”
ﻟﻤﺎ ﻧﺰﻟﺖ ﻗﺎﻝ ﺭﺳﻮﻝ اﻟﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰ اﻟﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ ﻭﺳﻠﻢ: «ﻭاﻟﺬﻱ ﻧﻔﺲ ﻣﺤﻤﺪ ﺑﻴﺪﻩ ﻣﺎ ﻣﻦ ﺧﺪﺵ ﻋﻮﺩ ﻭﻻ اﺧﺘﻼﺝ ﻋﺮﻕ، ﻭﻻ ﻋﺜﺮﺓ ﻗﺪﻡ ﺇﻻ ﺑﺬﻧﺐ ﻭﻣﺎ ﻳﻌﻔﻮ اﻟﻠﻪ، ﻋﻨﻪ ﺃﻛﺜﺮ
It needs to be noted that what Allah overlooks pertains to the private sins of a servant which do not affect others. If Allah wills, He may punish. If He wishes, He may pardon the servant who is sincerely repentant.
However, in relation to a sin which infringes on the rights of others, such as a reckless utterance which amounts to slander, or one that is responsible for the misguidance of others, the Sunnah of Allah is that the servant is required to make adequate amends before the calamity that descended as a result is averted. Even the silent bystanders of such a crime can be regarded as complicit and be justly liable for affliction of worldly calamities.
In the Tafseer of at-Tabari, it is related that Ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said regarding this “lesser punishment”:
“The calamities of this Dunya, its diseases (both mental and physical), and its misfortunes (of all forms) with which Allah afflicts his servants UNTIL they repent.”
ﻋﻦ اﺑﻦ ﻋﺒﺎﺱ (ﻭﻟﻨﺬﻳﻘﻨﻬﻢ ﻣﻦ اﻟﻌﺬاﺏ اﻷﺩﻧﻰ) ﻳﻘﻮﻝ: ﻣﺼﺎﺋﺐ اﻟﺪﻧﻴﺎ ﻭﺃﺳﻘﺎﻣﻬﺎ ﻭﺑﻼﺅﻫﺎ ﻣﻤﺎ ﻳﺒﺘﻠﻲ اﻟﻠﻪ ﺑﻬﺎ اﻟﻌﺒﺎﺩ ﺣﺘﻰ ﻳﺘﻮﺑﻮا.
It thus behoves a servant suffering from disease, tragedy, pain, and the like, to sincerely search within himself, introspect deeply, and seek to make amends immediately, especially for those sins for which he has thus far obstinately refused to even acknowledge as sins, for instant relief from the difficulty he is undergoing and to prevent his pain and suffering from being multiplied manifold in the near future with the arrival of the Greater Torment:
“And verily, We will make them taste of the near lighter punishment prior to the Greater Torment.” (32:21)