Disclaimer: All views expressed in CIK Talks are those of the speaker and do not necessarily represent the teachings, views, and opinions of the Centre for Islamic Knowledge.
Dr. Ramon Harvey is Aziz Foundation Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Cambridge Muslim College where he teaches Revealed Foundations on the BA in Islamic Studies. He received his MA and PhD in Islamic studies from SOAS, University of London. His research focuses on Qur’anic studies, philosophical theology, and ethics, both studying the intellectual history of these disciplines and making his own contemporary interventions. Dr. Harvey’s first book, The Qur’an and the Just Society, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2018. He is currently writing a second monograph for EUP in constructive Muslim theology, drawing especially from the Māturīdī tradition. He is also a member of the Editorial Board for the journal Comparative Islamic Studies. Alongside his academic training, he has spent several years studying with traditionally trained Islamic scholars in the UK, has attended an intensive programme at Al-Azhar in Cairo, graduated from the Al-Salam Institute Islamic Scholarship Programme and was awarded the shahada al-‘alimiyya (Licence in Islamic Scholarship) under the supervision of Shaykh Akram Nadwi.
Islamic Theology and the Problem of Evil
Date - TBA
Presented by: Dr. Safaruk Chowdhury
Like their Jewish and Christian co-religionists, Muslims have grappled with how God, who is perfectly good, compassionate, merciful, powerful, and wise permits intense and profuse evil and suffering in the world. At its core, Islamic Theology and the Problem of Evil explores four different problems of evil: human disability, animal suffering, evolutionary natural selection, and Hell. Each study argues in favor of a particular kind of explanation or justification (theodicy) for the respective evil. Safaruk Chowdhury unpacks the notion of evil and its conceptualization within the mainstream Sunni theological tradition, and the various ways in which theologians and philosophers within that tradition have advanced different types of theodicies. He not only builds on previous works on the topic, but also looks at kinds of theodicies previously unexplored within Islamic theology, such as an evolutionary theodicy.
Distinguished by its application of an analytic-theology approach to the subject and drawing on insights from works of both medieval Muslim theologians and philosophers and contemporary philosophers of religion, this novel and highly systematic study will appeal to students and scholars, not only of theology but of philosophy as well.
Dr. Safaruk Chowdhury studied Philosophy at Kings College London completing it with the accompanying Associate of Kings College (AKC) award. He then traveled to Cairo to study the traditional Islamic Studies curricula at al-Azhar University. He returned to the UK to complete his MA at the School of Oriental and African Studies with distinction. His doctoral dissertation was on the eminent Sufi hagiographer and theoretician Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (d. 412/1021) published as A Sufi Apologist of Nishapur: The Life and Thought of Abu 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami (Sheffield: Equinox Publishing, 2019). Chowdhury's research interests, in addition to Sufism at the moment, are in paraconsistent logic, metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology with keen interest in how these subjects were articulated and discussed within the Islamic intellectual tradition - especially within kalam theology. His most recent book is entitled Islamic Theology and the Problem of Evil (New York and Cairo: AUC Press, 2021) which is the first work in Islamic Studies to treat the topic within the analytic theology approach. Chowdhury is currently lead researcher on the project Beyond Foundationalism: New Horizons in Muslim Analytic Theology funded under a John Templeton Foundation grant award in association with Cambridge Muslim College and Aziz Foundation. Chowdhury runs the Islamic Analytic Theology website and his academic work can be found on his Academia.edu page.