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In the Name of God بسم الله

Did God Create Good And Evil?

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  • Advanced Member

Salam, everyone.

 

The question of whether God created good and evil is a question that has been on my mind for quite some time now. As a former Asharite, I find it difficult to imagine that God did not create these two forces. Recently, I have been doing some reading and I encountered a number of objections to the Asharite claim. 

 

The most disturbing objection to this notion follows this line of reasoning: if God created good and evil, ie He decided what is good and what is evil, then it would follow that God is acting arbitrarily. That would be tantamount to saying that God is acting without purpose, which would be blasphemous. Therefore, the only option left would be to realize that God only commands someone to do something because it is inherently good and that God only forbids certain things because they are inherently bad.

 

This seems like a compelling argument, but I have a problem with it. To me it seems like this line of reasoning implies that good and evil are concepts that already exist and that the decree of God has nothing to do with it. This seems to rob God of His absolute authority and implies that good and evil coexist with God and at no point in time did they come into existence. 

 

Is this not problematic? It would be appreciated if someone could this explain this in some depth.

 

~Mithrandir.

 

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Evil is the rejection of good. Evil can not exist without good but Good can exist without evil.

 

Allah, the most exalted and High is omnipotent and He is the first and the last (Al-Akhir),  now we say in our daily prayers in surah Fatihah, Alhamdu lillahi rabii alAAalameena, meaning All praise is due to the Allah, the Lord of the worlds. This ayat in itself makes it clear that Allah, the most noble is the ultimate source of goodness, beauty and whatever goodness exists has originated from him, and Allah swt is above any attributes to what we attach with him. 

 

To answer you question in short, No, Allah did not create Evil, Evil is the rejection of goodness. If we hypothetically say that Allah did create Evil, we are indeed associating  a defect or a shortcoming to him because Evil is the result of misconceptions and lack of knowledge or awareness but we know for sure that Allah is omniscient and free from all shortcomings, He is the ultimate source of goodness because He is the light who guides his lost creatures, He is the light of the earth and the heavens , and He is light upon light.

 

 

Ya Ali     

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I found two ahadith on this, but it might not be as literal as it may sound.

 

Other can analyse them.

 

 
 
عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن خالد، عن ابن محبوب وعلي بن الحكم، عن معاوية بن وهب قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: إن مما أوحى الله إلى موسى عليه السلام وأنزل عليه في التوارة: أني أنا الله لا إله الا أنا، خلقت الخلق وخلقت الخير وأجريته على يدي من احب، فطوبى لمن أجريته على يديه وأنا الله لا إله إلا أنا، خلقت الخلق وخلقت الشر وأجريته على يدي من اريده، فويل لمن أجريته على يديه.

Several of our companions from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid from ibn Mahbub and `Ali b. al-Hakam from Mu`awiya b. Wahab.

He said: I heard Abu `Abdillah عليه السلام say: Verily, Allah revealed to Musa عليه السلام and sent down in the Torah, “I am Allah, there is no god except Me. I created the creation, and I created good and I made it run upon the hands of those I love. Tuba is for those in whose hands I made it run upon. And I am Allah, there is no god except Me. I created the creation, and I created evil and made it run upon the hands of whomever I wanted. So, woe to those upon whose hands I made it run". (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 389)

(sahih) (صحيح)


عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن محمد بن حكيم، عن محمد بن مسلم قال: سمعت أبا جعفر عليه السلام يقول: إن في بعض ما أنزل الله من كتبه أني أنا الله لا إله إلا أنا، خلقت الخير وخلقت الشر، فطوبى لمن أجريت على يديه الخير وويل لمن أجريت على يديه الشر وويل لمن يقول: كيف ذا وكيف ذا.

Several of our companions from Ahmad b. Muhammad from his father from ibn Abi `Umayr from Muhammad b. Hakeem from Muhammad b. Muslim.

He said: I heard Abu Ja`far عليه السلام say: In some of what Allah revealed from His Books is, “I am Allah, there is no god except Me. I created good and I created evil. Tuba is for those in whose hands I made good run upon, and woe be to those in whose hands I made evil run upon. And woe to those who say, ‘How is this; how is that’”. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 390)

(hasan `ala thahir) (حسن على ظاهر)

 

 

http://www.imamiyya.com/hadith/usul-kafi/book-3/chapter-29

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I don't know if this is correct but I heard once in a discussion that:

 

Evil is necessary for giving humans free will therefore it serves a good purpose.

 

Evil itself may also be good, there may not even be such a thing as we know as evil. This evil which we call evil, it has been taught to us to be evil because it contradicts what we consider to be good because we have been taught what good is. 

 

Therefore there is no such thing as an inherent evil, All is good but within this goodness what we have been forbidden from by our creator is evil and it is necessary for the existence of human free will. Therefore God has created Evil but he has only created good and one with purpose.

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Salam Mithrandir,

It seems to me that you have posed two questions. The first being, whether or not God has created good and evil, and the second being whether or not God has the power to abolish evil as such.

With respect to the first question, it must first be understood that God, when referring to His supra-personal Divine Essence, Beyond-Being, is absolute and indistinct (Allahu-samad). As it is His Nature to reveal Himself, the Divine Essence in Its indistinction reveals Itself in varied and distinguished forms; the Absolute extends Himself towards the relative. The first of these relativities is Being and it is Being that generates the world and from which all other relativities flow. To speak of the Creator or the First Cause is to speak of Being which already belongs to the realm of relativity, or a distance removed from the Absolute. This First Relativity deploys or extends (or if you like 'creates' with the purpose of differentiating) the infinity of the Divine Essence in the direction of nothingness.

Now it is clear that the Divine Essence in Its indistinction can be nothing but Good, and is indeed the measure by which all other things are determined to be good. Indeed, Being, the First Relativity, the Creator and Lord of the worlds, that Being to whom we pray and seek intercession, is also Good and in harmony with the Divine Essence. However, the further deployments of the Divine Essence into ever-increasing forms of relativity, do give rise to the possibility of that which is other than good. The 99 Attributes by which we recognize and invoke God are all present in the Divine Essence but in and indistinct and undifferentiated form. One can easily recognize how deployment of these attributes, not as an indistinct whole but as differentiated modes of being, can result in the expression of that which is not good and, at the extreme, what we would classify as evil.

Justice without mercy, destruction without creating, power without kindness, truth without covering faults, the one without the many, the outer without the inner and the first without the last can all give rise to outcomes that are bad, if not evil.

Accordingly, evil, as we would recognize it, is a necessary byproduct of creation itself. The deployment of the Divine Essence into relative forms is with what allows us to recognize God and his Signs in creation. When justice, or power, or strength are employed in a manner which aligns with the Divine Essence, we recognize it as an Ayatullah and a sign post to the Absolute. When such qualities are employed in a means which contradicts the Divine Essence, we do not see God, but rather we see frivolity and sometimes that which can be classified as evil.

Now as to whether or not God has the power to abolish evil, the points made above make it fairly easy to answer this question. As evil is a extreme but natural corollary of creation itself, the First Cause (the personal God to whom we direct our supplications) may abolish this particular evil or that, but He cannot abolish evil as such from creation without bringing all of creation to naught. Put in another way (which you should be able to arrive at following the above), since the world is not God, it cannot be perfect; if it were perfect, it would be reduced to God and cease to exist. Since it is within the nature of the Divine Essence to reveal Himself, God cannot abolish evil as such. That is simply to say that God cannot not be God.

Inshallah my response may assist you.

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The existence of evil in contingent and dependent, while the existence of good is not contingent or dependent.

It is like light and darkness. Lights exists, darkness is merely the lack of light. 

The existence of darkness is contingent and dependent, it depends on the lack of light, whereas the existence of light is not dependent on darkness. 

You can say, 'Turn on the light', to say 'Turn on the dark' would be illogical. 

This shows that evil actually exists only when good is not present, but it has no independent existence. 

So Allah(s.w.a) created everything as Good, it is only when the thing is used in the wrong or inappropriate way that it becomes evil. 

But evil is not an essential quality of that thing, only a contingent quality. 

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Evil can not exist without good but Good can exist without evil.

 

Good cannot exist without evil but evil can exist without good

The existence of good is contingent and dependent, while the existence of evil is not contingent or dependent.

Just an interesting thought that popped up in my mind as I read this thread. In order for your statements to be true, you will need to objectively disprove the changes I have made in your statements above. Looking forward to the discussion.

Salaam

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One bit still confuses me. If evil is the rejection of good, then what is good? If everything is created good, then aren't we saying that God created good? So rejecting the true nature of anything is in fact evil. So evil is in essence anything that is not in alignment with true reality--am I right?

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Advanced Member

Salamun alaykum

Abrahamic religions contend that God is the all omniscient, all omnipotent, and all mercy. On the other hand, the existence of “evil” in the world is undeniable. Thus, as the divine wisdom (or providence) requires that the cosmos be brought into existence with the best order and utmost goodness, the question may be raised as to what is the source of the evils?—both natural evils like earthquakes, floods, and illnesses, and human’s wrong actions such as the various kinds of injustice and crime.

In order to solve this problem, it is necessary first to explain something about the ordinary concepts of good and evil, and then to provide a theological analysis of them.

First, we are to explain that “Good” is being applied to anything in accordance with our existence and make our evolution happen. And “evil” is being applied to anything apposite our evolution and make it decline. Then to answer the main question we should remark significant points:

1.    Philosophers and scholars maintain that “evil”, in analysis, reverts to non-existence issues. For example ignorance is absence of knowledge that is non-existence of knowledge, so ignorance is not an existent; illness is absence of health and peace that is non-existence. Therefore, as “evil” reverts to non-existence in exact analysis, it does not need a creator, for existent beings need creator but not non-existent imaginations and concepts.

Then another question raises: why has not God replaced these non-existences with some existences? Here we should go to other answers.

2.    Evil is relative:

We can imagine three types of “good” and “evil”:

a.    “Absolute good”: there would be no evil aspect for this class

b.    “Absolute evil”: there would be no good aspect for this class

c.    “Relative good/evil”: in some aspect the thing is good, and in some aspect is evil.

As a monotheistic viewpoint, the “absolute evil” and the “relative evil” that its evil aspects is the major part of the thing than its good part, are impossible, for God is wise and does not create them.

God had created “goods” but someone’s good is not like the others. For example the poison of a snake is good for itself but when the snake bites a human we say that poison is evil. Again when we use this poison in medicine we conclude that is good but when we misuse those drags we claim that is evil. So everything is “good” in its position but in others’ perspective things become good or evil in a relative status.

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Interesting user "followers"

You reminded me of the absolute and relative refractory periods of an action potential for repolarization and depolarization :D

They use the same concept, just with neurons.

Edited by AhlulBayt_313
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"Evil Is The Absence of Good"

 

The argument relies on a fallacy known as mistaking the map for the territory. The principal error is that even though at the microscopic level cold is indeed an absence of heat, it means only that cold does not exist as a physical quantity - the sensation of cold as perceived by humans clearly does exist. Similarly, regardless of the dubious definition offered in the argument, the perception of evil does exist. Moreover, there is no fundamental physical quantity one could identify with good - both good and evil are human perceptions, and so the analogy does not apply at all.

Applying this argument to actual instances of evil results in really bizarre statements. If someone murders a man's wife, the apologists would tell him that his wife did not experience evil, she just experienced a temporary lack of God while the killer was stabbing her with a knife. However, the man still experiences suffering and his wife is dead, regardless of how the apologists describe this event. An omnibenevolent God would not absent himself/herself/whatever in ways that cause or allow suffering.

One doesn't even need examples to show the oddity. Applying this argument at a conceptual level is sufficient: If evil is the comparative lack of God's inclusion in a situation, then what is the baseline? How much light do we need to see? How much heat do we need to feel warm? How much God do we need to be good?

Other possible criticisms: How would we know or prove that it is not "evil" that "exists as a quantity", with "Good" being merely the absence of evil, as well as the "absence of a hypothetical malevolent being"? Not only that, but an Omni-benevolent being wouldn't just content themselves with "erasing what is bad", but also filling the world (At least plane Earth) with elements that are widely seen as good. After all, what isn't "bad" isn't automatically or necessarily "good", it can be a neutral state of a varying nature. Finally, if the one making this claim declares that it is only the biblical deity which erases evil, then how could we explain high rates of violence, vice and the such in many regions that fundamentally embrace the Abrahamic religions (the bible belt, Saudi Arabia...)? A convincing rational explanation would also be required to justify why some non-religious or secular countries seem to be doing relatively fine (a few Northern European countries for instance).

[edit]Similar examples of stunningly amazing logic

Widespread poverty isn't systemic dysfunction but is a lack of well funded social programs and a lack of money in people's hands: You see, people aren't poor because the state doesn't have social programs, there's simply a lack of funding and poverty isn't really poverty but a lack of means to support yourself. So poverty doesn't exist but is just a lack of money. The state in the end is a kind, caring compassionate perfect government that sometimes goes a little over budget.

Systemic homophobia isn't abuse but is in fact a lack of humanity and tolerance: You see people need to educate themselves about sexual differences and so their psychopathic behaviour isn't really [Edited Out]try but a lack of human decency. So when a group of jocks go up to a gay teenager in school and punch his face in and dunk his head in the toilet, it isn't an actual act of assault, bullying and ignorance but is really just a lack of kindness and understanding.

Constipation isn't a blockage in your bowels but is a lack of good bodily regulation: You see, when you are constipated it isn't an inflated organ you are dealing with (that's just an illusion) it's really an absence of well regulated and consistent bolidy function. So eat some more fibre and get an enema if it gets really bad and that illusion of constipation will go away and you'll get more of that good bodily regulation you were temporarily lacking.

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Salam, everyone.

 

The question of whether God created good and evil is a question that has been on my mind for quite some time now. As a former Asharite, I find it difficult to imagine that God did not create these two forces. Recently, I have been doing some reading and I encountered a number of objections to the Asharite claim. 

 

The most disturbing objection to this notion follows this line of reasoning: if God created good and evil, ie He decided what is good and what is evil, then it would follow that God is acting arbitrarily. That would be tantamount to saying that God is acting without purpose, which would be blasphemous. Therefore, the only option left would be to realize that God only commands someone to do something because it is inherently good and that God only forbids certain things because they are inherently bad.

 

This seems like a compelling argument, but I have a problem with it. To me it seems like this line of reasoning implies that good and evil are concepts that already exist and that the decree of God has nothing to do with it. This seems to rob God of His absolute authority and implies that good and evil coexist with God and at no point in time did they come into existence. 

 

Is this not problematic? It would be appreciated if someone could this explain this in some depth.

 

~Mithrandir.

God Himself is Goodness. His Being defines Goodness. Evil is the lack of good. This doesn't mean that Evil is the lack of God because that would imply that God has a limit. God is absolute and unlimited. Therefore evil (as defined above) simply does not exist with respect to God's Being which is Absolutely and Infinitely Good. Evil exists only in relation to goodness as a relative reality (as a manifestation of God's Being).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Salam,

Your answer is in the Quran and al kafi book .

Al kafi :

When God created the Intellect (al-`Aql), He examined it. Thereupon He said to it: `Come forward!' It came forward. Then He said: `Go back!' It went back. Thereupon He said: `By My power and majesty, I didn't create any creature dearer to me than thee! I will not make thee perfect except in one whom I love. Indeed, to thee are My orders and-prohibitions addressed. And thru you are My rewards and retributions reserved.'

Than God gave 72 armies ( please check al kafi to go thru the 72/3 armies God gave intelligence.)

Than God created ignorance. He commanded to ignorance , come forward . It did . Than it commanded it to go back , and it did not . Than ignorance asked for the same army God gave intellect. God him the armies opposite to the ones he gave intellect.

I highly recommend reading al kafi , specially chapter on intellect and ignorance.

http://ijtihad.ir/images/FileUploaded/2530.pdf

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Continuation from exact script of al kafi :

intelligence and ignorance began to emerge among them. Thereupon Imam abu ‘Abdallah said:

, "You, first, must recognize intelligence and its army and ignorance and its army only then you would find proper guidance.

" I then asked, may Allah make my soul of service to you, we only learn what you teach us."

The Imam (a.s) said, "Allah, the Glorious, the Majestic created intelligence and it was the first creature of spiritual world on the right side of the Throne from His light. He then told him to move backwards and intelligence moved backwards. He then told him to come forwards.

Intelligence came forwards. Allah, the Sacrosanct, the Most High said :

"I have created you a great creature and honored you above all others of my creatures.

The Imam (a.s) continued, "Allah then created ignorance from a salty dark ocean and told it, "move backwards and did move backwards. He then called it to come forwards but it did not come forwards. He then said to it, ‘Did you shun coming forward? He then pronounced it condemnded.

He then assigned seventy five armies for intelligence.

When ignorance saw all the honors Allah has granted to intelligence it bore hidden animosity towards intelligence and said,

" Lord this creature is just like me . You created and honored it and gave it power. But i have no power against it , Give me also likewisr armies. The lord then said , " I will give you also an army but if you disobey Me I will expel you and your army from my mercy.

Ignorance the said , " I agree."

Allah gave it seventy- five armies and it was out of the army of intelligence.

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Well...Its a deep discussion but i would try to answer it short and descriptive...

Allah can create everything....It is His Power , His Authority.
But being The Shias...we believe in the 5 roots of Islam..Starting with Touheed then Adal then Nabuwat then Imamat and then Qayamat....

I would like to invite ur attentions towards the second root i.e Adal. , 
Allah is Aadil , The Just , The Kind
so as it was mentioned before that Allah can create everything but Being an Aadil He would not create Evil and just for an instance if we believe tht evil is the creation of Allah...Then the purpose of Sataan would b demolished....Then the concept of Heaven and Hell would have no meanings....
And if Allah would ask us about our evil deeds then we can say easily that Evil is ur creation...U created it....we practised...(Astagfirullah) 
We believe that our Masoomeens are free from Evil then how can we imagine that Their(AS) Allah would posses evilness...??? 

No...My Brother....As far as Good is concerned...Yes..its the creation of Almighty but as far as evil is concerned..Its the curse of Sataan e Rajeem...
Regards...
 

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The position of the Imamis is that Allah does not commit Evil actions nor does he create that which is unjust and evil. Rather Allah creates beings with free will that commit evil.

In regards to the hadith, then it's interpretation is punishment not that Allah is unjust (evil) with his servants.

 

 
عدة من أصحابنا، عن أحمد بن محمد بن خالد، عن ابن محبوب وعلي بن الحكم، عن معاوية بن وهب قال: سمعت أبا عبد الله عليه السلام يقول: إن مما أوحى الله إلى موسى عليه السلام وأنزل عليه في التوارة: أني أنا الله لا إله الا أنا، خلقت الخلق وخلقت الخير وأجريته على يدي من احب، فطوبى لمن أجريته على يديه وأنا الله لا إله إلا أنا، خلقت الخلق وخلقت الشر وأجريته على يدي من اريده، فويل لمن أجريته على يديه.
 
Several of our companions from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid from ibn Mahbub and `Ali b. al-Hakam from Mu`awiya b. Wahab.
 
He said: I heard Abu `Abdillah عليه السلام say: Verily, Allah revealed to Musa عليه السلام and sent down in the Torah, “I am Allah, there is no god except Me. I created the creation, and I created good and I made it run upon the hands of those I love. Tuba is for those in whose hands I made it run upon. And I am Allah, there is no god except Me. I created the creation, and I created evil and made it run upon the hands of whomever I wanted. So, woe to those upon whose hands I made it run". (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 389)
 
(sahih) (صحيح)
 
 
So sharr (evil) here means that Allah punishes who he wills.
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