Message of Thaqalayn

A Quarterly Journal of Islamic Studies

Divine Justice and the Problem of Evil

Divine justice and the problem of evil is a fundamental question and one of the most discussed topics among theologians and philosophers in the last two thousand years. The most important reason for this attention given to the subject is that human beings have always been faced with natural and moral tragedies. Consequently, some philosophers have doubted God’s justice; others have denied the existence of God or believed in duality, because they were not able to how God, the Benevolent, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient can let these happen.1 Among the Christian thinkers, there have been two historical types of theodicy: Augustine theodicy and Irenaen theodicy. The core of Augustine theodicy is goodness of God and goodness of the created world, but because of the Original Sin, all problems associated with pain and suffering have emerged. In contrast, the Irenaen theodicy is built on the purpose of a soul-making process. Among Muslim theologians, Abu’l Hasan Ash‘ari and his followers denied objectivity of justice and injustice and maintained that whatever is done or commanded by God is good and just. On the contrary, the Mu‘tazilites and Shi‘ites believe in the objectivity of justice and choose divine justice as one of their principles. They believe that God does and commands only what is objectively good and just.  

In this paper, we will first analyse the problem of evil and divine justice in general terms from a historical perspective. The phenomena of pain and suffering shall also be discussed. Then we will focus on the notion of divine justice and the extent to which this relates to the problem of evil from the point of view of Augustine theodicy. Finally, there will be a discussion about what I think to be an appropriate position to be held.


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