1st Edition

From the Divine to the Human Contemporary Islamic Thinkers on Evil, Suffering, and the Global Pandemic

Edited By Muhammad U. Faruque, Mohammed Rustom Copyright 2023
    244 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Featuring the work of leading contemporary Muslim philosophers and theologians, this book grapples with various forms of evil and suffering in the world today, from COVID-19 and issues in climate change to problems in palliative care and human vulnerability.

    Rather than walking down well-trodden paths in philosophy of religion which often address questions of evil and suffering by focusing on divine attributes and the God-world relationship, this volume offers another path of inquiry by focusing on human vulnerability, potential, and resilience. Addressing both the theoretical and practical dimensions of the question of evil, topics range from the transformative power of love, virtue ethics in Sufism and the necessity of suffering, to the spiritual significance of the body and Islamic perspectives on embodiment. In doing so, the contributors propose new perspectives based on various pre-modern and contemporary materials that can enrich the emerging field of the global philosophy of religion, thereby radically transforming contemporary debates on the nature of evil and suffering.

    The book will appeal to researchers in a variety of disciplines, including Islamic philosophy, religious studies, Sufism, and theology.


    Muhammad U. Faruque and Mohammed Rustom

    1. Remarks on Evil, Suffering, and the Global Pandemic

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    2. The Existential Threat of Climate Change: A Practical Application of Avicenna’s Theory of Evil

    Rosabel Ansari

    3. On Self-Knowledge, Divine Trial, and Discipleship

    Mukhtar H. Ali

    4. Necessitated Evil: An Islamic Neoplatonic Theodicy from the Ismaili Tradition

    Khalil Andani

    5. Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Metaphysical Theodicy

    Justin Cancelliere

    6. Hume on Trial: Can Evil and Suffering be Justified?

    Muhammad U. Faruque

    7. Cultivating Prayerful Presence at the Bedside: From Mastery Towards Mystery

    Hina Khalid

    8. The Gifts of Suffering and the Virtues of the Heart

    Atif Khalil

    9. Cain, Systemic Evil, and Our Inhumanity

    Martin Nguyen

    10. Practical Muslim Theodicy: A Ghazalian Perspective on Emotional Pain

    Joel Richmond

    11. The Student and the Sage

    Mohammed Rustom

    12. Trials as Transformation in Islamic Chaplaincy

    Ailya Vajid

    13. Transformative Love Amid Suffering in Hilmi Ziya Ülken

    Taraneh Wilkinson

    14. Suffering as Metaphysical Narrative: Exploring an Islamic Theodicy of Authorship

    Cyrus Ali Zargar


    Muhammad U. Faruque is Inayat Malik Assistant Professor of Islamic Thought and Cross-Cultural Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati. 

    Mohammed Rustom is Professor of Islamic Thought and Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam at Carleton University.

    "For those of us who have sometimes felt let down after encounters with lackluster approaches to the question of evil and suffering, this remarkable collection of essays provides clarity, hope, and inspiration. The authors take fresh and invigorating dives into oceans of philosophical, theological, and literary material; we are the fortunate beneficiaries of their rich findings and reflections. Their energetic and synergistic efforts combine to provide us with multiple approaches and paths of wisdom that highlight the creative and transformative possibilities for human beings facing the inevitable trials of this world."

    Kristin Zahra Sands, Frieda Wildy Riggs Chair in Religious Studies, Sarah Lawrence College

    "The product of an innovative and collaborative conference on evil, suffering, and the COVID-19 pandemic, From the Divine to the Human makes a distinctive contribution to the globalization of philosophy of religion, advancing a unique array of Islamic perspectives on the classic problem of evil, many of which relocate the 'problem' to the human sphere, where 'evil' serves as a catalyst of spiritual and ethical development."

    Timothy D. Knepper, Professor of Philosophy, Director of The Comparison Project, Drake University

    "This incredibly rich volume brings together a series of eloquent and inspiring studies that mine the spiritual and intellectual contributions of a wide range of Muslim luminary thinkers, past and present, for wisdom and understanding in the face of suffering, including the extraordinary global suffering brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Few books demonstrate as broadly and powerfully as this one the continuing relevance, vibrancy, and practical applications of Muslim philosophical, theological, ethical, and mystical thought to our contemporary human struggle."

    Maria Massi Dakake, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, George Mason University

    "Muhammad Faruque and Mohammed Rustom are to be congratulated for this scholarly tour de force that brings some of the best minds in contemporary Islamic thought to weigh in on one of the most vexing problems in the history of human thought. The so-called problem of evil is here cast in an entirely new light that will be as instructive for Islamic Studies as it will for a variety of other disciplines across the humanities and the social sciences."

    Yousef Casewit, Associate Professor of Quranic Studies, University of Chicago Divinity School

    "At a time when indigenous Muslim perspectives on issues related to human suffering are often overlooked, this volume amplifies the voices of premodern and contemporary Islamic philosophers and theologians. It speaks to the most pressing questions that pull at the strings of our conscience in a way that is academically rigorous and publicly accessible, shifting the current focus in the discipline of the philosophy of religion from the divine to the human experience. As such, From the Divine to the Human offers compelling insights on global challenges ranging from climate change and mental health, to the pandemic and post-traumatic healing."

    Hadia Mubarak, Assistant Professor of Religion, Queens University of Charlotte

    "Resplendent with insights, this volume presents a range of vibrant voices that collectively construct a philosophy of religion based on Islamic sources. The original thinking assembled here demonstrates the plurality of perspectives and practices internal to the Islamic tradition. The contributors also highlight several critical concepts from Sufi virtue ethics for thinking creatively and compassionately about the tribulations facing our planet today, from COVID to climate change."  

    Ali Altaf Mian, Assistant Professor of Religion and Izzat Hasan Sheikh Fellow in Islamic Studies, University of Florida