Is God Perfectly Good In Islam

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 18 (2):(SI9)5-33 (2022)
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Abstract

Based on a question posed by global philosophy of religion project regarding the absence of literal attribution of omnibenevolence to God in the Qur’ān, this paper aims to examine how to understand perfect goodness in Islam. I will first discuss the concept of perfect goodness and suggest that perfect goodness is not an independent attribute on its own and it is predicated on other moral attributes of God without which the concept of perfect goodness could hardly be understood. I will examine perfect goodness by a specific emphasis on the attribute of justice as one of the conditions to be satisfied by a perfectly morally good being. In so doing, I will appeal to the distinctions made among great-making properties by Daniel Hill, and Al-Ghazālī’s definition of justice by applying them to God’s moral attributes. I will argue that justice has a crucial role in maximality-optimality balance between great-making properties and it seems quite difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of goodness without justice. Having said that, I will claim that the conceptual frame I suggest sheds light on why omnibenevolence is not literally attributed to God in the Qur’ān. Then, I will briefly show how the divine attributes mentioned in the Qur’ān and the discussions about divine names and attributes in the Islamic tradition supports the understanding of perfect goodness I defend. Consequently, I will try to show that far from indicating that the Islamic concept of God doesn’t involve perfect goodness, the Qur’ān establishes the proper meaning of perfect goodness by focusing on its constitutive attributes, and thus provides us with a sound conception of it.

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Şeyma Yazıcı
Ankara University

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