Evil and Islamic Theodicy

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Zakyi Ibrahim

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Abstract

On 12 January 2010, the world witnessed the complete devastation of Haiti, this
hemisphere’s first black independent nation. That this is evil in its nature is disputed
by none (Plato uses evil to refer to poverty, disease, pain, sickness, harm, injustice,
badness, discord, chaos, disorder, ugliness, weakness, deformity, and other things).1
What is deliberated, however, are the causes, effects, and what to do next. More
appropriately, the international community rallied to help the innocent and helpless
Haitians instead of trying to justify why this particular earthquake occurred. In this
editorial, I seek to provoke philosophical debate and refocus theological attention on
evil in the world, while hoping to raise more pointed questions about those who
attempted to provide absolute answers for this particular earthquake.
The very next day, the infamous televangelist Pat Robertson of the “700 Club”
dared to offer an apparent justification and cause of this earthquake.2 Much has been
stated about his insensitivity and the fabricated story he cited. But the absurdity of his
argument and the underlying ideology are even more troubling. He concluded that
God was punishing the Haitians because their ancestors had made a “pact with the
Devil” to help them gain independence from France. Thus, God has cursed all generations
of Haitians.
Setting aside his lack of consideration of how this pact could have been made,
the underlying conclusion is that the Haitians’ ancestors abandoned God in favor of
the Devil (who had become effective in their quest for independence) and since then
God has been taking revenge upon them, even on those citizens who follow other
religions and thus have nothing to do with that alleged sin, either then or now. What
does that say about God and His omnipotence and justice? Philosophers and theologians
have long struggled with these questions ...

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