Evil in Islam

The following presents the BBC’s ‘Religious Studies’ article ‘Islam: good and evil’

Religion has a great deal to say about ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Religious leaders and sacred texts all encourage believers to live ‘good’ lives. The problem of evil and suffering is one of the commonest reasons people give for not believing in God.

There are two types of evil:

• natural evil – suffering caused by events that have nothing to do with humans, and which are to do with the way the world is, eg, natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, floods or earthquakes

• moral (or human) evil – suffering caused by humans acting in a way that is considered morally wrong eg, bullying, murder, rape, theft or terrorism
Human evil and natural evil can often work together, with human evil making natural evil worse – or better! For example, the suffering caused by an earthquake or floods can be made worse by people looting, but it can be made more bearable by people showing compassion and making personal sacrifices to help those who are suffering.

It is important to remember that: ‘evil’ is a cause of suffering; ‘suffering’ is a result of evil.