teacher and student


For what reason would Allah create evil, when it is sinful?

Someone answered:

Who knows? I don't presume to know the mind of Allah, but only attempt to understand it according to my capacity, which is limited. Anyway, one thing I do know. If we are His creations, then we are His property, and He can do what He will with His property. He is not bound by any external restraint to be either all good or all evil to us. This is a fact of life that must be accepted rather than rebelled against.

To which Sidi Gibril replied:

Living a life of trial-and-error allows us to acquire levels (of learning, or action, or potential) we did not have before. This is the meaning of the fundamental verses in Sura Tabarak:
{Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the Dominion; and He has complete power over all things; Who created death and life in order to test you: Who shall be best in deeds? And He is the Almighty, the Forgiver}.

Through choosing good and rejecting evil one progresses in a way which otherwise one would be no different than anyone else and without merit. The ulamas [learned men in religion] have used this as evidence that man is superior to the angels, whose sole will is to obey Allah.

The trial-and-error of this particular debate will, hopefully, result in firmer and more beneficial knowledge for all parties who brought to it a sincere desire to learn. If one were infallible or irremediably ignorant then one would be wasting one's time.

Yes, the Ashʿari position - illustrated in the respondent's razor-sharp remarks: "He can do what He will with His property. He is not bound by any external restraint to be either all good or all evil to us" - is that Allah rewards and punishes without being obliged to do so by the actions of His servants ("Allah is doer of what He will": Ibn Khafif, ʿAqida Sahiha Par. 32.).
He is free to place the disbeliever in Paradise and the believer in Hellfire without any injustice on His part ("Injustice is not attributed to Him": Ibid. Par. 33), since He owns all sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and no one received any share or authority from Him to object to what He does. Further, "He brings near Him whomever He will without [need for] cause and He removes far from Him whomever He will without [need for] cause" (Ibid. par. 36). This is tawhid pure and clear.

The evidence for the above is in the verses:
{Know you not that unto Allah belongs the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth? He punishes whom He will, and forgives whom He will. Allah is Able to do all things} (5:40); {Say : Who then can do aught against Allah, if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on earth? Allah's is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He creates what He will. And Allah is Able to do all things} (5:17); {The sentence that comes from Me cannot be changed, and I am in no wise a tyrant unto the slaves} (50:29).

Felicity belongs to whoever submits to this. An example is given by the female saint Rabiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya who said: "I never worshipped You for fear of the Fire nor yearning for Bliss, but because You deserve to be worshipped."

At the same time - and this is the main point of this discussion - it is obligatorily known that Allah does *not* take back His promise to reward those who believe and do good and punish evil-doers: {But as for those who believe and do good works We shall bring them into gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever. It is a promise from Allah in truth; and who can be more truthful than Allah in utterance?} (4:122).

GF Haddad
qasyoun_ [1999-08-08]


see also:

•   see also question 10. If Allah is good why does He allow evil ?




latest update: Thu, 12 Feb 2009
* living ISLAM – Islamic Tradition *