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An Islamic Theodicy

An Islamic Theodicy

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Published by: Norwegian79 on Jun 21, 2012
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Most of the remainder of this study surveys the numerous ways in which Ibn

Taymiyya brings his theology of a God who creates everything for a wise purpose

to bear upon various rational difficulties in the relationship between divine and

human agency. One of these problems is the apparent contradiction between

God's command to believe and obey and God's creation of all existents, most

peculiarly, unbelief and disobedience. The bulk of the present chapter is devoted

to expositing passages in which Ibn Taymiyya affirms both creation and command

and contends against Kaläm theologians and Sufis whom he believes fail in this

regard. The shaykh's critique of Sufism growing out of his concern to give

creation and command each their due is extensive and ranges very widely. ' The

present discussion is limited to indicating some major directions this takes. More

detailed treatment of Ibn Taymiyya's criticism of various aspects of Sufism may

be found elsewhere. 2

Apart from polemical labeling and argument, this chapter surveys the

diverse terminologies into which Ibn Taymiyya casts the basic dichotomy

between creation and command. On the creation side, the shaykh speaks also of

God's lordship, inspiration, determination, decree,

and generative will. On the

side of God's legislation of command and prohibition, he discusses God's

divinity, love, good pleasure, hate,

anger, legislative will, and the distinction

between Godfear

and immorality. Ibn Taymiyya softens, but does not eliminate,


the logical contradiction between God's command to obey and God's creation of

disobedience by

attributing wise purpose, justice,

and mercy to God's creation.

The purposive or teleological character of God's love also becomes apparent in

some places. This, as well as the shaykh's suggestions as to how it might be

possible that God wisely commands one thing and creates its opposite, will be

noted at the end of the chapter. The chapter closes with an excursus on the

character of God's love for Himself.

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