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Section 4: Allah’s Justice

Reason Is The Judge As To Good And Evil

111. Concerning Justice (‘adl). And in it are several subjects for investigation. (1) First, Reason (al-‘aql) of necessity passes judgment as to what actions are good (hasan), such as the return of a trust (fund) and doing good (ihsan), and veracity which is profitable, and as to what are evil (qabih), such as injustice and an injurious lie. For those who deny all systems of law, like the Malahida and the philosophers of India, judge good and evil thus, and moreover if they are denied by reason they would also be denied by tradition, because of the denial of the evil of lying in this case in the Law-Giver (ash-shari‘).1

112. When he finished the discussion of the Unity he began the discussion of Justice. And the meaning of Justice is that the Most High is far removed from every evil act and from being remiss in what is incumbent. And since Justice depends on the knowledge of good and evil as determined by reason, he introduced the discussion of that first. And know that an act the conception of which is necessary (daruri) either has a quality in addition to its origination (huduth), or it has not.

An example of the latter is the movement of one who acts thoughtlessly (as-sahi) and of a sleeper. And as for the former, either reason hates that addition or it does not – if it does, that is evil (al-qabih), and if reason does not hate it, it is good (al-hasan). (That is, an act which one can know of necessity, such as the things we see and hear, either has a moral quality in addition to its occurrence, or it has not. If it has, and reason does not hate it, it is good – otherwise it is evil.)

113. Either (1) the doing and not doing of an act is equal, and this is mubah (indifferent); or (2) it is not equal. And (in this latter case) if the not doing of it is preferable, then if the opposite (namely, the doing of it) is forbidden it is haram, otherwise it is makruh. And if the doing of it is preferable, then if the leaving it undone is forbidden, it is wajib, or if the leaving it undone is permissible it is mandub (or mustahabb).

(1) Doing and not doing equal Mubah
(2) Doing and not doing not equal
(*) Not doing preferable
(a) Doing it forbidden haram
(β) Doing it not forbidden makruh
(*) Doing of it preferable
(a) Leaving it undone forbidden wajib
(β) Leaving it undone permissible mandub (mustahab)

114. Since this is explained, know that good and evil are used in three senses: (1) First, a thing’s being a quality of perfection, such as our saying that knowledge is good, or a quality of imperfection, such as our saying that ignorance is evil. (2) Second, a thing’s being agreeable to nature, as pleasures, or disagreeable to it, as pains. (3) Third, good is that the doing of which deserves praise in this world and reward in the world to come, and evil is that the doing of which deserves blame in this world and punishment in the world to come.

115. And there is no difference of opinion as to the first two senses being determined by reason. But the scholastic theologians have differed regarding the third sense. The Ash‘arites say that there is nothing in reason which can guide to (a knowledge of) good and evil in this third sense, but law (must be the guide), and whatever it calls good is good, and whatever it calls evil is evil. And the Mu‘tazilites and Imamites say that there is that in reason which can guide to it, and that good is good in itself, and evil is evil in itself, whether the lawgiver pronounces it so or not.

And they reply to them (the Ash‘arites) as follows. (1) First, we know of necessity that some actions are good, such as veracity which is profitable and fairness and doing good and returning a trust and rescuing one who is perishing and other such things, without needing law (to tell us so); and that others are evil, such as an injurious lie and injustice and doing harm to one who does not deserve it and other such things, without having any doubt at all about it. For this judgment is inherent (markiz) in human nature. For when we say to a person, “If you speak the truth you will get a dinar,” and he be unprejudiced, by reason alone he will recognize the truth and desire to speak it.2

116. (2) Second, if that which recognizes (mudrik) good and evil were law and nothing else, it would follow that they could not be known apart from it. But this necessity is false, hence, that which necessitates it is false, also. And the explanation of this necessity is that it is impossible of necessity for a thing conditioned to be binding apart from the condition. And the explanation of the fallacy of the necessity is that those who do not believe in a law, like the Malahida and the philosophers of India, do affirm that some actions are good and others evil without hesitating in the matter. For if this (knowledge) consisted in what is learned from law then they would not have pronounced an opinion.

117. (3) Third, if rational good and evil be denied, then it becomes necessary that legal good and evil be denied also. But all agree that this necessity is false. Hence, that which necessitates it is false also. And the reason for this necessity (for the denial of legal good and evil), is the denial, in this case, of the evil of a lie on the part of the lawgiver, when reason does not pronounce it evil, so that he gives the lie to himself. And when the evil of a lie in him is denied, then the trustworthiness of what he tells us regarding good and evil must be denied also. (That is, till reason teaches us that a lie is evil, we cannot trust the lawgiver – for perhaps he is lying to us.)

Human Beings Are Free Agents

118. (2) Second, we are free agents (fa‘iluna bi‘l-ikhtiyar), and necessity requires this: (a) because of the necessary difference between a man’s falling from the roof and his going down from it by a ladder – otherwise our responsibility (taklif) for a thing would be impossible, and then there would be no sin; (b) and because of the evil of His creating an act in us and then punishing us for it; (c) and because of tradition.

119. The belief of Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash‘ari and those who follow him is that all actions take place by the Power of Allah the Most High, and no action whatever belongs to the creature. And some of the Ash‘arites say that the essence of the act is of Allah, and the creature has kasb, which they explain as the action’s being obedience or disobedience (that is, the moral quality of the act belongs to man, the act itself is Allah’s). And some of them say that its meaning is that when the creature determines to undertake some thing, Allah, the Most High creates the act thereupon.

And the Mu‘tazilites and Zaydites and Imamites say that actions which proceed from the creature, and their qualities and the kasb which they spoke of, all take place by the power and choice of the creature, and he is not forced (majbur) to act as he does, but he can act and he can refrain from acting, and this is the reality, for several reasons: (1) First, we find a necessary difference between the issuing from us of an action which results from purpose and motive, like the descent from the roof by a ladder, and the issuing of an action of another sort, like falling from the roof either by constraint or accidentally, for we have power to refrain from the first (action), but not from the second. And if actions were not ours, then they would all be of one uniform kind without any distinction. But a distinction is present. Hence, actions are ours, and that is what we sought.3

120. (2) Second, if the creature were not the bringer-into-existence (mujid) of his actions, then his taklif would be impossible, otherwise he would be responsible for what he is unable to perform. And we say this because in this case he would not have power to do that for which he is responsible, for if he were responsible, the responsibility would be for something which he was unable to perform, and this is false, by the agreement of all. And when he is not responsible (mukallaf), he is not disobedient (asl) when he oppose (God’s will), but by the agreement of all he is disobedient.4

121. (3) Third, if the creature were not a bringer-into-existence of his actions, and did not have power over them, then Allah would be the most unjust of unjust beings, for since the evil action proceeds from the Most High (not from man), it is impossible for the creature to be punished for it, for he has not performed it. But all agree that the Most High punishes. Then He would be unjust – but He is exalted above that!

122. (4) Fourth, the Mighty Book which is the Divider (furqan) between true and false teaches everywhere the relation (idafa) of the action to the creature and its occurrence by his will, according to the word of the Most High:

“Woe to those who with their own hands transcribe the Book corruptly, and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for some mean price! Woe then to them for that which their hands have written! and, Woe to them for the gains which they have made!” (2:79).

“...they follow but a conceit” (6:116).

“...So long as they change not what is in their hearts” (8:53).

“...He who doth evil shall be recompensed for it” (4:123).

“...Pledged to Allah is every man for his actions and their desert” (52:21).

And all the verses of promise and threatening and blame and praise (prove this), and they are more than can be numbered.

Evil Is Impossible in Allah

123. (3) Third, regarding the impossibility of evil (qubh) in Him, because He has that which deters Him from it, which is the knowledge (‘ilm) of evil, and He has no motive for doing evil, because the motive would be either need, which is impossible for Him, or the wisdom (hikma) of it, which is excluded here, and because the proof of prophecy would be impossible if it were possible for evil to proceed from Him.

124. It is impossible for the Most High to be the doer of evil. This is the belief of the Mu‘tazilites. But to the Ash‘arites, He is the Doer of everything, be it good or evil. And the proof of what we have said is twofold: (1) First, that which would deter Him from evil exists, and the motive for doing evil does not exist, and whatever is thus cannot come to pass of necessity. Now as for the existence of a deterrent (as-sarif), it is the knowledge of evil, and Allah the Most High knows it; and as for the non-existence of a motive – the motive is either need of it, and this is impossible for Him, because He needs nothing, or it is the wisdom of it, and this also is impossible, because there is no wisdom in evil.

(2) Second, if evil were possible for Him, then the proof of prophecy would be impossible. But this necessity is false by universal agreement, hence that which necessitates it is false also. And in explanation of this necessity – in case He could do evil, the attesting of a false prophet would not be evil for Him, and in such a case assurance (jazm) as to the veracity of prophecy would be impossible, and this is self-evident.

125. Hence, in this case, the will to do evil is impossible for Him, for it (that will) is evil.

126. The Ash‘arites hold that the Most High is the Willer (murid) of all contingent existence, be it good or evil, vice or virtue, faith or unbelief, because He is the bringer-into-existence of everything, and is therefore also the willer of it. And the Mu‘tazilites hold that it is impossible for Him to will evil and unbelief, and that is the reality. For the will to do evil is itself evil. For we know of necessity that just as rational beings blame the doer of evil so also, they blame the willer of it, and the command to do it. So, the saying of the author, “in this case,” stated the result, namely, that the impossibility of the evil act (in Him) necessitates the impossibility of the will to do it5.

Allah Acts With An Aim

127. (4) Fourth, regarding the fact that the Most High acts with an aim (gharad), because the Qur’an teaches it, and because the negation of it would result in vanity (al-‘abath), and that is evil.

128. The Ash‘arites hold that the Most High does not act with an aim, for if He did He would be imperfect, and would be seeking to perfect Himself by that aim. And the Mu‘tazilites say that the actions of Allah are effected (mu‘allal) by aims, otherwise He would be acting in vain and Allah is exalted above that. And this the opinion of our companions the Imamites, and it is the reality, for two reasons: (1) First, the traditional – and the teaching of the Qur’an regarding this is clear, according to the saying of the Most High,

“What! Did ye then think that we had created you for pastime, and that ye should not be brought back again to us?” (23:115).

And:

“I have not created jinn and men, but that they should worship me” (51:56).

“We have not created the heaven and the earth and what is between them for nought (batil). That is the thought of infidels” (38:27).

(2) Second, the rational proof is that if it were not thus (that Allah has an aim in all His actions) it would necessarily follow that He acts in vain. But this necessity is false, hence that which necessitates it is false also. Now, the reason for its being necessary is evident. And the necessity is false, for a vain thing is evil, and one who is Wise (hakim) does not engage in what is evil. And as for their saying that if He acted with an aim He would be seeking to perfect Himself by that aim, certainly if the aim benefited Him, He would necessarily be seeking to perfect Himself, and He is not like that. But the aim is beneficial for the profit (naf‘) of the creature, or else it is because of the requirements of the order (nizam) of existence, and this does not necessitate a seeking for perfection (on the part of Allah).

Allah’s Aim Is Man’s advantage

129. And the aim of Allah is not the injury of man, because that is evil, but (rather) his profit (naf‘).

130. Since it is established that the action of the Most High is effected by an aim, and this aim concerns not Himself but others, then in such a case His aim is not the injury of others, for that in the opinion of rational beings is evil – as if one should give poisoned food to another with the purpose of killing him. And since the aim is not injury, it is certain that it is profit (naf‘), which is what we sought.6

Taklif is necessary

131. Hence there must be taklif, which is responsibility (ba‘th) to Him to Whom obedience is due (wajib) in that in which is labour (mashaqqa) by way of a beginning (‘ala jihati’l-ibtida) on condition of knowing.7

132. It has been proved that the aim of the action of the Most High is the profit of the creature. And there is no real profit except final reward (thawab), for everything except that is either guarding against injury or acquiring profit that is not abiding, and it is not good that that should be the aim in the creation of man. Then final reward at the first is evil, as shall be explained later (that is, one must first labour, then receive a reward [see par. 143]). Hence, wisdom requires that taklif be the means (tawassut) (of attaining reward). And taklif is derived from kulfa, which means trouble, and in usage it is that which our author mentioned.

133. And ba’th for a thing is being responsible for it. And He to whom obedience is due is Allah the Most High. So, for that reason he says, “by way of a beginning” (first of all), because the obligation to obey any other than Allah, such as prophet, imam, father, lord, or benefactor follows, and is a consequence of, obedience to Allah. And his saying, “in that in which is labour,” was to guard against that in which is no labour, such as the responsibility of marrying, which produces pleasure, and of partaking of foods and drinks which produces pleasure. (Only those commands which require us to do distasteful things, such as namaz (worship), ruza (fasting), and so forth, must be obeyed, and have rewards and punishments. Allah commanded marriage, but if one does not marry he is not punished, and if he does, he is not rewarded).

134. And his saying, “on condition of knowing,” means on condition that the mulkallaf knows what task has been laid upon him, and knowing is one of the conditions of the taklif’s being good. And the conditions of its being good are three. (1) The first of these concerns taklif itself, and is fourfold, (a) first, the absence of a cause of corruption in it, since such a cause would be evil, (b) second, its preceding the time of the act (we must be told our duty before the time to perform it), (c) third, the possibility of its performance, because taklif for something that cannot be done is evil, (d) fourth, the presence (in the act) of a quality in addition to being good (husn), since one is not responsible for (the performance of) mubah8.

135. (2) The second concerns Him who imposes the task (mukallif), that is, the Author (fa‘il) of the taklif, and it is fourfold. (a) First, His knowledge of the qualities of an action, whether it is good or evil; (b) second, His knowledge of the measure of the reward and punishment which each single mukallaf deserves, (c) third, the power of giving to each one his due, (d) fourth, His not being a doer of evil.

136. (3) The third concerns the mukallaf, that is, the one upon whom rests the taklif, and it is threefold. (a) First, his power over the act, because it is impossible for one to have a task imposed on him (taklif) which he cannot perform, such as the taklif of a blind man for a dot in the Qur’an, or of a cripple for flying, (b) second, his knowing what task has been imposed upon him, or the possibility of his knowing it, for the ignorant man who is able to know is not excusable, (c) third, the possibility of the means (of performing) the action.

137. Then that which is covered by taklif is either knowledge (‘ilm), or supposition (zann), or deed (‘amal). (a) Knowledge is either rational, such as the knowledge of Allah and His qualities and His justice and His wisdom and of prophecy and of the Imamate, or traditional, such as (the knowledge of) the religious ordinances, (b) and supposition is like (finding) the direction of the qibla, (c) and deed is like worship9.

138.Otherwise He would be an inciter (mughri) to evil, in that He created (in man) the passions and the desire for evil and the hatred of good. Hence, there must be a restraint (zajir), and that is taklif.

139. This is a suggestion that taklif is incumbent on philosophical grounds. And this is the belief of the Mu‘tazilites, and it is the reality, as opposed to the doctrine of the Ash‘arites, for they do not make anything incumbent (wajib) upon Allah the Most High, either taklif or anything else. And the proof of what we have said is that if it were not thus Allah would be the author of evil. In explanation of this, (we say that) He has created in man passion (ash-shahwa) and desire for evil and hatred of and aversion to good. Hence, if He did not lay upon man as a task the incumbence of that which is incumbent and the evil of what which is evil, and promise (him rewards for obedience) and threaten him (with punishment for disobedience), then Allah the Most High would be inciting man to evil, and inciting to evil is evil10.

140. And knowledge (‘ilm) is not sufficient, because blame is easy (to bear) in attaining an object desired.

141. This is the answer to a supposed question, namely, why the knowledge that one is worthy of blame for doing evil does not prevent one from doing evil, and why the knowledge that one is worthy of praise for doing good does not induce one to do good, in which case there would be no need for taklif, because the aim would be realized without it? (This is the position of the Ash‘arites.) The author answers that knowledge is not sufficient, because frequently man finds blame for evil easy (to bear), since by means of it he attains his object. This is especially true in view of the presence of sensual motives, which in most people triumph over rational motives.

142. And the reason for taklif’s being good is that it apprises (men) of reward (ath-thawab), that is, of the merited advantage which is joined (muqarin) with exaltation (at-ta‘zim) and veneration (al-ijlal), the beginning with which is impossible (that is, God cannot reward men for actions which have not been commanded them. Hence, He first appoints them tasks, and then rewards them for doing them).

143. This also is an answer to a supposed question, the supposition being that the reason for taklif’s being good is either that it brings punishment, which is absolutely false, (for punishment is not a good), or that it brings reward, which is also false, and that for two reasons: first, the infidel who dies in his unbelief is a mukallaf in spite of his failure to acquire reward, and second, reward is decreed (maqdur) by Allah the Most High in the beginning, and therefore there is no advantage in taklif’s being a means of reward.

The author replies that the reason for taklif’s being good is that it apprises (ta‘rid) men of reward, not that it brings them reward. And apprising is universal as regards both believer and unbeliever. And that reward is decreed by Allah the Most High in the beginning is admitted, but it is impossible for Him to begin with it except by means of taklif (that is, to reward men without first appointing tasks for them). For reward consists of exaltation and veneration, and reason pronounces the exaltation of a person who does not deserve it to be evil.

And the author says in explanation of reward, that it is “merited advantage which is joined with exaltation.” Now advantage (naf‘) comprises reward (thawab) and grace (tafaddul) and recompense (‘iwad). Hence, by the condition that it be merited, grace is excluded, and by the condition that it be joined with exaltation, recompense is excluded. (Recompense is merely wages paid – but Allah does more – He pays us our due and exalts us besides. Hence, this is not recompense but reward)11.

Kindness (Luft) Is Incumbent Upon Allah

144. (5) Fifth, regarding the fact that kindness (luft) is incumbent upon the Most High. And lutf is that which brings the creature near to obedience and keeps him far from disobedience. And it is no part (hazz) of ability (tamkin), and it does not go as far as compulsion (al-ilja’) for the aim of the imposer of tasks (al-mukallif) depends upon it, for whenever He who wills an act from another (that is, when Allah wills that man do something) knows that He will not do it except with the aid of an act which the willer can perform without any trouble, then if He does not perform it, He would be contradicting His own aim, and reason pronounces that evil – Allah is exalted above that!12

145. On what does the performance of obedience and the refraining from disobedience depend? (1) First, on the presence of the power and means without which the act cannot be performed; and (2) second, on the presence of lutf (kindness), by which one who is responsible (mukallaf) for an act of obedience which he cannot perform without lutf is enabled to draw near to disobedience and refrain from disobedience (for example, in worship the acts of kneeling, speaking, etc., are ours, by Allah’s lutf).

146. And his saying, “it is no part of ability,” refers to the first part, namely power, for power in actions is not lutf, but rather a condition of their possibility. (My power to pray is not Allah’s kindness to me – rather, it is the necessary condition of the possibility of my obeying the command to pray.) And his saying, “it does not go as far as compulsion,” is true, because if it went as far as compulsion it would nullify taklif.

147. And since this is settled, then know that lutf is sometimes shown in the act of Allah, in which case it is incumbent upon Him, and sometimes it is shown in the act of the mukallaf, in which case it is incumbent upon the Most High to inform the mukallaf of his duty and make it incumbent upon him, and sometimes it is shown in (the act of) someone other than Allah and the mukallaf (namely, the Prophet), in which case it becomes a condition of taklif that one know the Prophet, and that Allah make incumbent on him that act (namely, delivering his message), and confirm it for him. And our saying that they (the three kinds of lutf) are all incumbent on Allah is because He would contradict His aim if this were not the case. And contradiction of aim is evil for Him.

148. And the explanation of this is that when He wills that someone perform some act, and knows that the man for whom it is willed will not perform the desired act unless the Willer aids him with an act which He performs with him, such as an act of kindliness (mulatafa) toward him or of correspondence with him (mukataba) or of sending to him or of striving for him, and so forth, in which there is no trouble (mashaqqa) for Him – then if He does not do these things which He had resolved to do, rational beings would judge that He had contradicted His purpose, and would blame Him accordingly. And like this is what (the author) said regarding the Most High Creator, that if, when He wills the performance of obedience and the removal of disobedience, He does not do that on which these two things depend, He would then be contradicting His aim. And contradiction of aim is evil, and Allah is exalted above that, the Most High and Most Exalted!

Recompense For The Sufferings Is Incumbent Upon Allah

149. (6) Sixth, in regard to the fact that an action in recompense (‘iwad) for the sufferings (alam) which come to man from Him is incumbent upon Him – and the meaning of recompense is a deserved advantage in which is no exaltation or veneration – otherwise He would be unjust, and Allah is exalted above that. And it is incumbent that it be in excess of the suffering, otherwise it would be in vain.

150. In the suffering which living creatures experience either some sort of evil is recognized (and that proceeds entirely from us), or else evil is not recognized in it, in which case it is good. And several things have been mentioned as to the good of pain: first, its being deserved, second, its containing advantage in excess (of the pain) which benefits the sufferer, third, its containing protection from injury in excess of the pain, fourth, its being common to man, fifth, its containing a sort of protection. And this good sometimes proceeds from the Most High, and sometimes proceeds from us. And that which proceeds from the Most High is for our advantage, and it is necessary that there be in it two things:

(1) First, recompense for the suffering, otherwise He would be unjust, and Allah is exalted above that. And it is necessary that the recompense be in excess of the pain to the extent that every rational being be satisfied. For it is evil in our opinion (fi’sh-shahid) to cause anyone to suffer in order to recompense him for the suffering without (giving him) something in excess, because that would be in vain.

(2) Second, there must be (in the suffering some) kindness (lutf), either for the sufferer or for another, that it may not be in vain. But as for that suffering which proceeds from us in which there is some sort of evil – it is incumbent upon Allah to avenge the sufferer of their tormentor, because of His justice (‘adl), and because the Qur’an teaches it. And in this case the recompense must be equal to the suffering. And if it were not thus, He would be unjust.

151. And here there are several matters of importance: (1) First, recompense (al-‘iwad) is a merited advantage in which is no exaltation or veneration. By the condition of being merited it is distinguished from grace (tafaddul), and by the condition of being without any exaltation it is distinguished from reward (thawab).

(2) Second, it is necessary that recompense be abiding (dawam), because it is not good in our opinion (fi’sh-shahid) for one to endure perilous woes and painful and great and laborious trials for a small transient advantage.

(3) It is not necessary that the recompense be acquired in this world, for possibly Allah knows that there is an advantage in its delay. Hence, it is sometimes acquired in this world, and sometimes it is not.

(4) He who receive the recompense for his sufferings at the last day will be either of those who are rewarded or of those who are punished. And if he be of those who are rewarded, then it is sufficient for Allah to give him his recompense, that is, that He divide it up into periods, or that He shows grace to him in some such way. (The Ash‘arites say that Paradise is in itself sufficient reward for pain, but the Shi‘ites say that a recompense is also necessary.) And if he be of those who are punished, Allah will cancel a part of his punishment because of his former sufferings, in such a way that the lightening of it will not be evident to him, since He will divide the measure of it into periods.

(5). The suffering which proceeds from us to others, either by the command (amr) of the Most High or else by His permission, and that which proceeds from creatures such as the dumb brutes, and like the wasting of profit for the advantage of someone else which proceeds from Him, and the downpour of woes which come from something other than the act of man – the recompense for all this is incumbent upon Allah the Most High, because of His Justice (‘adl) and His Mercy (karam)13.

  • 1. The Sunnite theologians do not make Justice one of the Principles (usul) of religion. The Shi‘ites owe their emphasis upon Justice to their connection with the Mu‘tazilites, who called themselves “the people of Unity and Justice” (Shahrastani, p. 29, Macdonald, “Development,” p. 136).
  • 2. According to Shahrastani (p. 30) the Mu‘tazilites hold that “The cognition of good and evil is also within the province of reason; nothing is known to be right or wrong until reason has enlightened us as to the distinction”. (Sell, “The Faith of Islam,” p. 197).

    Note that only an injurious lie is considered evil. Shi‘ites hold that in some circumstances lying is not justifiable but is positively incumbent.

  • 3. See Macdonald, “Development,” p. 192. In the creed of al-Ash‘ari (Macdonald, p. 294) we read: “There is no Creator but Allah. The works of creatures are created and predestined by Allah, as He said: “And Allah has created you and what ye do” (Qur’an, 37:96), Man is able to create nothing.”

    So also, the creed of an-Nasafi (Macdonald, p. 310): “And Allah the Most High is the Creator of all actions of His creatures, whether of unbelief or belief, of obedience or rebellion, all of them are by the will of Allah and His sentence and His conclusion and His decreeing. And to His creatures belong actions of choice, for which they are rewarded or punished, and the good in these is by the good pleasure of Allah (rida) and the vile in them is not by His good pleasure”.

    The Mu‘tazilites insisted upon man’s freedom, and denied kasb. “They are united that the creature has power over and creates his actions both good and evil.”

    The Zaydites were a Shi‘ite sect who derived their name from Zayd, a grandson of Husayn (see Macdonald, “Development,” p. 36 etc).

  • 4. The Ash‘arites replied to this objection that Allah gave man the ability to perform the action. “And the ability to do the action (istita‘a) goes along with the action and is the essence of the power (qudra) by which the action takes place, and this word ‘ability’ means the soundness of the causes and instruments and limbs” (Macdonald, p. 310).
  • 5. “We witness that He is a Willer of the things that are, a Director of the things that happen, there does not come about in the world, seen or unseen, little or much, small or great, good or evil, advantage or disadvantage, faith or unbelief, knowledge or ignorance, success or loss, increase or diminution, obedience or rebellion, except by His will. What He wills is, and what He wills not is not. Not a glance of one who looks, or a slip of one who thinks is outside of His will He is the Creator, the Bringer back, the Doer of that which He wills.” (Creed of al-Ghazzali, Macdonald, “Development,” p. 302).

    Shahrastani says that the Mu‘tazilites taught that “the Lord is far removed from having evil and injustice and unbelief and disobedience attributed to Him, because if He had created injustice He would be unjust” (p. 30).

  • 6. The Ash‘arites held that “it is not incumbent upon Allah the Most High to do that which may be best for the creature” (creed of an-Nasafi, Macdonald, p. 300) “There is nothing incumbent upon Allah, against the doctrine of the Mu‘tazilites, who say that it is incumbent upon Allah to do that which is best (salah) for the creature” (See the creed of al-Fadali where the Ash‘arite answer to the Mu‘tazilite position is given – Macdonald, p. 343).

    The Mu‘tazilites insisted that Allah could do nothing which was not for the good of the creature. “And they have agreed that the Wise (al-Hakim) does nothing except what is advantageous (salah) and good (khayr), and because of His wisdom it is necessary for Him to consider the advantage of the creatures. But they differed as to what is most advantageous” (Shahrastani, p. 29) See Macdonald, “Development,” p. 136.

  • 7. So far as I could discover, taklif is mentioned only once in the Sunnite creeds translated by Dr. Macdonald and published in his “Development”. The emphasis placed upon it in the Shi‘ite creeds is due to the Shi‘ite doctrine that Allah must do what is best for man, and therefore must give man a reward in the future life. But Allah is Just, and cannot reward one who has no desert. Hence, He must give man the opportunity to earn reward. Hence, He must impose tasks for man to perform, that reward may be merited. But Allah will do more for man than merely give him a recompense for his labours, for the merited advantage will be joined with exaltation (see par. 142).
  • 8. See paragraph 113 of this book.
  • 9. Note that the Shi‘ites hold that the usul must be known by reason. The orthodox belief is that the usul must be known by tradition, and that reason has to do only with the furu‘ (Sell, “The Faith of Islam,” p. 190).
  • 10. “It is the belief of both Shi‘ites and Sunnites that man was created with a desire for evil as well as for good. This desire has its seat in the nafs-i-ammara, which must therefore be constantly kept under by ‘aql, the seat of all good desires.
  • 11. The Mu‘tazilites also distinguished between reward, recompense, and grace. “Recompense (‘iwad) and grace (tafaddul) have another meaning from reward (thawab)” (Shahrastani, p. 30).
  • 12. Lutf is anything that Allah does, either directly or indirectly, to make is easier for man to obey and harder for him to disobey. Shahrastani says that the Mu‘tazilites differed among themselves as to whether lutf was wajib for Allah or not. None of the Sunnite creeds translated by Dr. Macdonald in the “Development” mention luft, and the Sunnites did not need the doctrine, for since they held that all of man’s actions were created by Allah there was no fear that His will would not be done. But the Shi‘ites and Mu‘tazilites, since they insisted upon man’s freedom, had in some way to make sure that Allah would attain His purpose in human affairs. And so, they set forth the doctrine of lutf, by which Allah influenced men to do His will, but did not force them.
  • 13. See note on paragraph 143.
    The Mu‘tazilites also distinguished between reward, recompense, and grace. “Recompense (‘iwad) and grace (tafaddul) have another meaning from reward (thawab)” (Shahrastani, p. 30).