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Book description

In this volume, Salih Sayilgan explores the problem of evil and suffering in Islamic theology along with the questions that both religious and non-religious people alike perennially ask: Why is there evil and suffering? What is God's role in both natural and moral evil? If God is loving, just, powerful, why is there innocent suffering? Do humans have free will or are they predestined to act in a certain way? Examining both theoretical and practical theodicy in Islam, he provides Muslim perspectives on natural and moral evil in light of Islamic theological concepts. Sayilgan interrogates several specific topics related to evil and suffering, including death, sickness, aging, disability, climate change, and pandemics. These topics are explored through case studies from the lives of Muslims, with particular attention given to the American context. A comparative and dialogical study, Sayilgan's volume also engages with Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian approaches, as well as non-religious perspectives. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.


‘With a humble, compelling irenic voice Salih Sayilgan introduces Islamic teachings in conversation with other faith traditions and individuals of secular sensibilities pondering the seemingly imponderable suffering attendant to moral and natural evil. His is a magisterial voice modulated by a tender humanity.’

Paul Mendes-Flohr - The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Chicago

‘Why is there pain and suffering in the world? Do humans have free will or are they predestined? In addressing these ultimate questions that humanity continues to ask, Sayilgan offers a perspective that is scholarly and engaging. The book provides a critical analysis of theological and practical dimensions of the problem of evil and suffering in Islam.’

Zainab Alwani - Howard University

‘Sayilgan’s valuable study of the Islamic understanding of evil and suffering fills a gap in English-language resources. His study blends classical sources with contemporary issues. This well-informed book is composed with an eye for the newcomer to its topic, making it ideal for the classroom.’

Michael Birkel - Earlham College

‘Grounded in real-life case studies, particularly from the lives of Muslims in the American context, this book offers practical insights and relatable narratives. Whether you are a scholar of Islamic theology, a seeker of answers, or simply curious about the human experience of suffering, this book is an invaluable resource.’

Alparslan Acikgenc - Uskudar University

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  • 1 - Mapping the Problem
    pp 13-34


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