Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism

By Shenk, David W. | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism


Shenk, David W., International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism. By Jon Hoover. Leiden: Brill, 2007. Pp. xii, 276. euro99 / $139.

Theodicy is a persistent question for theists. If God is good and sovereign, why do people suffer? Christian engagement with Muslims needs to include being conversant with Islamic theodicy. Jon Hoover explores Islamic theodicy through Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), who significantly forms Muslim thought "in the rationalistic and egalitarian age of modernity" (p. 237).

Hoover has a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the University of Birmingham (2002) and is assistant professor of Islamic studies in the Near East School of Theology, Beirut. Fifteen years of studying and teaching in the Middle East have enlivened his interest in the Muslim response to suffering and evil.

According to Hoover, Ibn Taymiyya's "plain language reading of the Qur'an and Hadith is unusual and possibly unprecedented in the Islamic tradition" (p. 233). Hoover explores that exposition within six themes: (1) "Worship, Religious Epistemology, and Theological Jurisprudence"; (2) "God's Wise Purpose, Perpetual Activity, and Self-Sufficiency"; (3) "God's Creation and God's Command"; (4) "God's Creation of Acts in the Human Agent"; (5) "The Wise Purpose and Origin of Evil"; and (6) "The Justice of God and the Best of All Possible Worlds. …

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