“Evil and Human Suffering in Islamic Thought: Towards a Mystical Theodicy” by Dr. Nasrin Rouzati

Dr. Nasrin Rouzati, holds a Bachelor degree in Broadcast Journalism, Masters in Educational Technology, and a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from University of Durham, UK. Along with having a full time career as the Director of Technology for New York school districts, Dr. Rouzati joined the Department of Religious Studies, Manhattan College, New York in 2007. While a part time faculty member, in 2018 she was promoted to Associate Professor position. Dr. Rouzati has taught World Religion courses, and currently teaches two upper class courses on Islam. Some of her areas of interests include: Qur’anic Studies, Islamic Theology, Islamic Mysticism, Theodicy, and Comparative Theology. Dr. Rouzati’s book, Trial and Tribulations in the Qur’an: A Mystical Theodicy was published in 2015. She is also the author of other scholarly articles in the area of Islamic studies. Webinar Title: Evil and Human Suffering in Islamic Thought: Towards a Mystical Theodicy Abstract: This paper sheds light on the treatment of the ‘problem of evil’ and human suffering from an Islamic perspective. I begin by providing an overview of the term ‘evil’ in the Qur’an to highlight its multidimensional meaning and to demonstrate the overall portrait of this notion as it is presented in the Islamic revelation through the narrative of the prophet Job. Having established a Qur’anic framework, I will then provide a brief historical overview of the formation of philosophical and theological debates surrounding “good” and “bad/evil” and the origination of Muslim theodicean thought. This will lead us to Ghazalian theodicy and the famous dictum of the “best of all possible worlds” by one of the most influential scholars of Islamic thought, Abu Hamid Ghazalı. The final section of this paper will explore the Sufi/ mystical tradition of Islam through the teachings of one of the most distinguished mystics of Islam, Jalal al-Dın Rumi. The conclusion of the paper will attempt to bring about a new understanding of how the so-called “problem of evil” is not presented in Islam as a problem but rather as an instrument in the actualization of God’s plan, which is intertwined with human experiences in this world—an experience that is necessary for man’s spiritual development. Keywords: problem of evil; theodicy; Qur’an; Job; good; evil; al Ghazalı; mysticism; Islam.

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