Master of Arts
‘The Problem of Evil’ has continued to survive as one of the most contested issues in the history of philosophy of religion. This thesis aims at contributing to the existing literature by exploring the notion of evil in the Qur’an and Islamic Mystical thought as expressed in the writings of Jalal ad-Din Rumi and Muhammad Iqbal. The Qur’an sheds light on various shades of moral evil and explains how they are manifested through the actions of various agents. When it comes to natural evil and human suffering resulting from it, the Qur’an provides a utilitarian place for it in human life. Rumi and Iqbal, whose mystical views are rooted in the Quran, argue that evil is relative, and that evil has an important role to play in advancing the spiritual development of an individual. Moreover, Rumi regards evil as a logical necessity for the functioning of life in this world.
Summary for Lay Audience
This thesis aims at providing a view of how the Qur’an, Islamic religious text, and Islamic Mystical thought explain the existence of the problem of evil in this world. The Qur’anic narrative elaborates on various kinds of evil, moral evil and natural evil, in a comprehensive style and enlightens the readers on their implications in human life. As far as moral evil is concerned, the Qur’an explains the semantic field of sharr and elaborates on how various forms of moral evil are manifested through the actions or interactions of various agents such as the devil, nafs, and free will. In the context of natural evil or physical evil, the Qur’an sheds light on how God uses it, in various forms, to test the believers and punish the wrongdoers.
As far as Islamic Mystical thought is concerned, this thesis explains the views of Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic, and Muhammad Iqbal, a Muslim philosopher of the 20th century, as expressed in their writings. Rumi and Iqbal, whose mystical views are rooted in the Quran, argue that God is the creator of everything in this universe including evil, and that evil exists to serve as an instrument in the actualization of God’s plan of creating this universe. Both mystical thinkers agree that evil is relative, that is, things are bad only in relation to human beings and not in relation to God, and that evil plays an important role in unfolding the spiritual potential of an individual. Moreover, Rumi regards evil as a logical necessity for the functioning of life in this world as, in his view, it would have been impossible for human beings to identify good in the absence of evil.
Asghar, Irfan, "The Notion of Evil in the Qur'an and Islamic Mystical Thought" (2021). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7986.