Q.13: Two righteous people live in this world, one for 30 years and another for 60. The first objects to God: Why could I not remain alive longer like my brother in order to worship more and earn more reward...? What is the answer?
A: More or less of deeds is from the viewpoint of either quantity: such as one remains awake for a year engaging oneself in ritual prayer, recitations and also fasts during days and utilizes his wealth to fulfill only his genuine needs and donates the rest to charity; or it is from the viewpoint of quality.
For example, one only offers the obligatory evening and night prayer with full concentration, humility, fear and respect, and then he goes to sleep. Such prayer is of course better than one that does not have these qualities though one may remain engaged in prayer all night. It is mentioned in Biharul Anwar that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
"Two units of ritual prayer offered with sincerity are better than a whole night of worship."15
Moreover, the deed of one who has more piety is higher in quality; and more likely to be granted a greater reward. There are many examples of this.
After this preface, we can say that it is possible that one who had a lifespan of only thirty years, but he spent his life in worship; he may have got more good sense whereby his deeds might have become better than one who lived for sixty years. Therefore, there is no scope of such a doubt.
Second reply: It is possible that one lives and worships for thirty years and then God makes him die in such conditions that had he lived longer, he would have faced such trials and hardships and changes in life, whereby it would not have been possible for him to perform more good deeds; on the contrary he would have been likely to lose whatever good he had earned and, finally, on Judgment Day he might have realized that his death at that time was a great and special mercy of God on him. Thus there is no scope to ask why he did not get a longer life.
Third reply: It is also possible that one, who was to live more, used his freedom badly and committed evil deeds like cruelty with relatives or false witnessing etc., thereby inviting a cut in his destined age. Likewise, it is also possible that one who got a sixty-year life earned that extension because of good deeds which cause a longer lifespan. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) is responded to have said: "Those who die due to sins are more than those who die because of destined death. Likewise those who live because of good deeds are more than those who live due to destined life."16
On Judgment Day, all realities would become evident and then there will be no scope for such questions.
Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib