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In: Oriens

Abstract

The challenge of evil to rational Abrahamic religions has clearly been articulated in modern philosophy of religion predicated on the incompatibility of the omnipotence, omnibenevolence, and omniscience of God with the existence of evils. Even within the Islamic theological and philosophical traditions, there is a venerable history of theodicies and defences of a good God and the efficacy of human free will. That is the context in which we wish to locate the contributions in this special issue that examine the ways in which evil is considered in Islamic philosophical accounts (particularly of the Šiʿi traditions) from the classical period to the present.

Open Access
In: Oriens
Author: Sajjad Rizvi

Abstract

Despite the extensive work on the Safavid thinker Mullā Ṣadrā Šīrāzī (d. 1045/1636) nowadays in metropolitan academia, certain areas of philosophical and theological concern remain understudied, if studied at all – and even then, there is little attempt to consider his work in the light of philosophical analysis. We know of a venerable philosophical tradition of analysing the question of providence as a means for examining questions of creation (ex nihilo or otherwise), the problem of evil, determinism and free will, and the larger question of theodicy (and whether this world that we inhabit is indeed the ‘best of all possible worlds’). I propose to examine these questions through an analysis of a section of the theology in al-Asfār al-arbaʿa (The Four Journeys) of Mullā Ṣadrā (mawqif VIII of safar III) and juxtapose it with passages from his other works, all the while contextualising it within the longer Neoplatonic tradition of providence and evil. The section of the Asfār plays a pivotal role in outlining a wider theory of divine providence: following the analysis of the Avicennian proof for the existence of God as the Necessary Being and her attributes, and before the culmination on the emanative scheme of creation (or the incipience of the cosmos – ḥudūṯ al-ʿālam), Mullā Ṣadrā discusses the question of divine providence where one can clearly discern the influence of previous thinkers on him, namely Avicenna (d. 428/1037, al-Šifāʾ and Risālat al-ʿišq) al-Ġazālī (d. 505/ 1111, Iḥyāʾ ʿulūm al-dīn), and Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240, al-Futūḥāt al-makkīya). The section can be divided into four discussions: defining providence as well as the nature of good and evil, accounting for the ‘presence’ of evil in the cosmos, the ‘best of all possible worlds’, and erotic motion of the cosmos as well as the erotic attraction of humans for one another and back to their Origin. What emerges, however, is an account of providence that is subservient to Mullā Ṣadrā’s wider ontological commitment to the primary reality of being, its modulation and essential motion – the tripartite doctrines of aṣālat al-wuǧūd, taškīk al-wuǧūd and al-ḥaraka al-ǧawharīya – and fits within his overall approach to the procession of the cosmos from the One as a divine theophany and its reversion back to the One through theosis. Thus, an analysis of providence and evil demonstrates that underlying significance of Mullā Ṣadrā’s metaphysical commitments to a modulated monism.

Open Access
In: Oriens
Author: Mathieu Terrier

Abstract

The problem of the goodness of God, the freedom of man and the origin of Evil, i.e. theodicy, proves to be particularly acute in Twelver Shiʿi Islam, because of the historical awareness of evil within the community and of the fundamental dualism, metaphysical as well as moral, of the doctrine. However, this problem was the subject of various essays by Iranian Shiʿi philosophers of Neoplatonic inspiration, trying to harmonize the teachings of the Shiʿi tradition (i.e. the ḥadīṯs attributed to the Impeccable imams) with the arguments of the Avicennian philosophy. The first part of the article focuses in detail on the works of the philosopher, theologian and lawyer Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). His reflections on the problem are not collected in a single book, as they are in Leibniz, but scattered in works belonging to different fields (fiqh, kalām, or philosophy per se), in Arabic or in Persian. He deals successively with the problem of human freedom (qadar) versus divine determinism (ǧabr); with the Imami notion of badāʾ, i.e. the apparent change of the divine Will in the course of history; with Good and Evil with regard to the ontological categories of essence (ḏāt), accident (ʿaraḍ), existence (wuǧūd), and non-existence (ʿadam); with the execution of eschatological threats and the punishment of the damned – thus embracing all the dimensions of the problem and phenomenon of evil. The second part of the article considers some logical and unexpected developments of Mīr Dāmād’s theses in the works of two of his students, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), in a brief epistle on perfection, and Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. between 1088/1677 and 1095/1684), in a monumental history of universal wisdom. This should make appear that the problem of Evil was a powerful catalyst for the emergence of a “Shiʿi philosophy” in the 11th/17th century.

Le problème de la bonté de Dieu, de la liberté de l’homme et de l’origine du mal, c’est-à-dire de la théodicée, s’avère particulièrement délicat dans l’islam shiʿite duodécimain, du fait de la conscience historique du mal dans la communauté et du dualisme foncier, moral et métaphysique, de la doctrine. Ce problème fit pourtant l’objet de véritables essais de théodicée chez des philosophes shiʿites iraniens d’inspiration néoplatonicienne, s’efforçant de concilier les enseignements de la tradition shiʿite (les ḥadīṯs attribués aux imâms impeccables) et les arguments de la philosophie avicennienne. La première partie de l’article se concentre sur l’œuvre du philosophe, théologien et juriste Mīr Dāmād (m. 1041/1631). Ses réflexions sur le problème ne sont pas rassemblées dans un même livre, à la différence de Leibniz, mais disséminées dans des ouvrages de différents domaines (fiqh, kalām, philosophie per se), en arabe et en persan. Il traite successivement du problème de la liberté humaine (qadar) vs le déterminisme divin (ǧabr) ; de la notion imâmite de badāʾ, le changement apparent de la Volonté divine dans le cours de l’histoire ; du bien et du mal au regard des catégories ontologiques de l’essence (ḏāt) et de l’accident (ʿaraḍ), de l’existence (wuǧūd) et de l’inexistence (ʿadam) ; de l’exécution des menaces eschatologiques et du châtiment des damnés – embrassant ainsi toutes les dimensions du problème et du phénomène du mal. La seconde partie de l’article étudie les prolongements, à la fois cohérents et inattendus, des thèses de Mīr Dāmād chez deux de ses élèves, Mullā Šamsā Gīlānī (m. 1064/1654), dans une épître sur la perfection, et Quṭb al-Dīn Aškiwarī (m. entre 1088/1677 et 1095/1684), dans une histoire de la sagesse universelle. Le problème du mal apparaît ainsi comme un facteur d’émergence d’une authentique « philosophie shiʿite » au XI e/XVII e siècle.

In: Oriens
Author: Meryem Sebti

Résumé

La question du mal problème pose un problème aigu au sein de la doctrine de l’âme d’Avicenne. Comment l’âme humaine qui est une substance spirituelle inaltérable impassible peut-elle être affectée par le mal commis ? Répondre à cette question nécessite l’étude de l’eschatologie avicennienne de même que celle du statut des normes éthiques. Ces dernières ne sont, selon Avicenne, pas universelles et donc pas accessibles à l’intellect mais sont données par la révélation. On ne peut comprendre la question du mal moral chez Avicenne sans la replacer dans le système métaphysique et éthique du philosophe persan.

The question of evil poses an acute problem within Avicenna’s doctrine of the soul. How can the human soul, which is an unalterable spiritual substance, be affected by the evil committed? Answering this question requires the study of Avicenna’s eschatology as well as the study of the status of ethical norms. The latter, according to Avicenna, are not universal and therefore not accessible to the intellect but are given by revelation. The question of moral evil in Avicenna cannot be understood without placing it in the metaphysical and ethical system of the Persian philosopher.

In: Oriens
Author: Daniel De Smet

Abstract

As is the case with other Shiʿi traditions, Ismailism developed a dualistic worldview ruled by the opposition between good and evil, light and darkness. However, it is a rather moderate form of dualism, as the principle of evil is not coexistent with the Creator or has not been created by Him. Evil only appears at a lower level of the cosmic hierarchy. This doctrine has been elaborated in four different ways in the history of Ismailism. We first meet a gnostic thesis where evil is the result of a rebellion in the intelligible world; second, there is a Neoplatonic thesis where evil and imperfection are caused by the process of emanation itself; and third, we distinguish a philosophical thesis where the generation of evil by “second intention” belongs to the rule of divine providence. Finally, Ṭayyibī authors in the 12th century made a synthesis of the three positions.

L’ismaélisme, à l’instar d’autres courants shiʿites, prône une vision dualiste du monde marquée par l’opposition éternelle entre le bien et le mal, la lumière et les ténèbres. Cependant, il s’agit d’un dualisme mitigé, où le mal n’est ni coexistant avec le Créateur, ni instauré par Lui, mais apparaît à un degré inférieur de la hiérarchie cosmique. Cette thèse a été développée de quatre manières différentes au cours de l’histoire doctrinale de l’ismaélisme. Nous distinguons successivement une thèse gnostique où le mal est le résultat d’une révolte dans le monde intelligible, une thèse néoplatonicienne où le mal et l’imperfection sont générés par le processus de l’émanation, et une thèse philosophique où le mal est causé par « seconde intention » par la Providence divine. Une synthèse de ces trois thèses a été élaborée dans le Ṭayyibisme à partir du 12e siècle.

In: Oriens

Résumé

Dans le shiʿisme duodécimain iranien, deux catégories de traditions populaires (comprenant rituels, pratiques et croyances) ont pris forme au cours du temps autour de la question du mal, précisément des souffrances et de la mort subies par les personnes de la famille du Prophète (ahl al-bayt). La première catégorie comprend les expressions poétiques élégiaques (marṯīya) accompagnées de pratiques reflétant la passion et la compassion pour les victimes de la mort injuste, à commencer par le troisième imam Ḥusayn. La seconde catégorie comprend de violentes expressions satiriques de malédiction adressées aux auteurs de ce mal. Cette tradition mobilise aussi la récitation de prières et de formules dévotionnelles tirées du corpus scripturaire sacré, ainsi qu’un ensemble de pratiques particulières appelées ʿUmar-košī (« le meurtre de ʿUmar »). Cet article propose d’analyser la formation et la fonction de ces deux traditions, ainsi que l’évolution de leur forme et de leur signification dans le contexte social du shiʿisme iranien contemporain. Il montrera que ces deux traditions, tout en étant cohérentes avec le double principe shiʿite de tawallāʾ (loyauté et amour pour les imams) et tabarrāʾ (dissociation et haine à l’égard de leurs adversaires), reflètent clairement l’autonomie des croyants vis-à-vis du pouvoir politique comme de l’autorité religieuse institutionnelle.

In Iranian Twelver Shiʿism, two categories of popular traditions (including rituals, practices and beliefs) have taken shape over time around the issue of evil, namely the harm and death suffered by the holy figures of the house of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt). The first category includes elegiac poetic expressions (marṯīya), accompanied by ritual practices reflecting passion and compassion for the victims of unjust death – notably the third imam, Ḥusayn. The second category includes violent and satirical expressions of maledictions, addressed to the authors of this evil. This tradition also involves the recitation of prayers and devotional formulas borrowed from the sacred scriptural corpus as well as particular practices called ʿUmar-košī (the murder of ʿUmar). This article offers an analysis of the formation and function of these two traditions, as well as the development of their form and meaning in the social context of contemporary Iranian Shiʿism. It shows that, by being in line with the double Shiʿi principle of tawallāʾ (loyalty and love towards the Imams) and tabarrāʾ (dissociation and hatred towards the enemies of the Imams), these two traditions clearly reflect the autonomy of the believers vis-à-vis both political power and institutional religious authority.

In: Oriens
Author: Jari Kaukua

Abstract

Šihāb al-Dīn al-Suhrawardī’s philosophical works seem to contain two conflicting views on providence: in the Talwīḥāt and the Mašāriʿ, he endorses the Avicennian view, only to deny providence altogether in the Ḥikmat al-išrāq. This contribution aims to explain the seeming inconsistency by investigating it in light of the underlying question of God’s knowledge of particular things. I will also argue that despite his qualms concerning providence, Suhrawardī accepts the closely related Avicennian answer to the problem of evil.

In: Oriens

Abstract

In To Serve God and Wal-Mart historian Bethany Moreton describes the rise of the Wal-Mart model of Christian free enterprise. Most Americans do not see Wal-Mart as Christian or even as religious, but as non-sectarian. Like the United States, Wal-Mart rises above the particularity of religion. It transcends religion. Moreton’s argument resonates powerfully with broader questions in the study of American politics. This chapter explores political theologies of American exceptionalism through the lens of Moreton’s work in conversation with Winnifred Sullivan’s book on prison religion in the United States, Lisa Sideris’s writings on American techno-exceptionalism, and Gil Anidjar’s essay on rethinking what we study when we study Christianity/ies. While each of these authors offers important correctives, most Americans and America-watchers cling to outdated assumptions about the boundaries between the political, the religious and the economic, ignoring their fluid inter-relations and theological aspirations. Exploring these dynamics offers a window onto the ambivalent role of protestant Christianity in American exceptionalism, an ambivalence that affirms and naturalizes what legal theorist Jothie Rajah describes as “an affective conviction in the United States as transcendent.” These convictions, in turn, resonate in and through contemporary American populism.

In: The Spirit of Populism
Author: Vincent Lloyd

Abstract

Media accounts often suggest that anger motivates the rise of populist political movements. Indeed, populism and anger are so closely associated in popular discourse as to become almost one: populism is angry people doing politics. And today, many people are angry. From Trump to Brexit, from rivalries in the Middle East to nationalisms in Eastern Europe to protests in Hong Kong, from racial justice protests in Ferguson to the global #metoo movement, anger now seems to be a prime mover of global politics. In this chapter, Vincent Lloyd classes accounts of anger into two groups. Some cultural critics and philosophers take anger as a fitting response to a wrong. Others take anger, or at least a certain type of anger, as opaque, directed at the injustices baked into a normative order. By turning to accounts of anger from the Hebrew Bible, where human and divine anger are closely tied with authority, Lloyd argues that the opaque concept of anger is often forgotten, or repressed. When it is recovered, we are attuned to questions of domination, and to possibilities for flourishing in a radically different world.

In: The Spirit of Populism