In Medieval Islamic Philosophy, it is difficult to find any direct analogue to the problem of evil in medieval Islamic philosophy. However, some positions held by early Muslim thinkers may be relevant to the free will defense. Early Muslim Aristotelian thinkers like Ibn Sina held that God is a necessary being, who had no other attributes besides His existence, and that all other beings emanated from the divine by necessity. Despite holding this position, they attempted to reconcile it with Islamic doctrines. Ghazzali points out that this is not possible. That is, to say that whatever proceeds from God does so by necessity denies God agency, i.e. it denies Him Free Will. If God has no will, since he has no attributes, then God has no free choice to decide which world to create. It seems that Ghazzalis criticism can be equally applied to advocate of the problem of evil who states that God by necessity must always in a way that will ensure that its consequences are wholly good. This would then break down the dilemma posed by trying to reconcile the divine attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, wholly goodness versus the reality of evil in the world. Since, now God would not be obliged to abide by the condition of wholly goodness. Another stream of thought in Islam, advocated by Ghazzali, Ibn Arabi, Al-Attas and Islamic mystical traditions, is to argue that the only true way to grasp the ultimate reality, and thus resolve this problem is through a Direct Awareness of Reality,(Religious Experience) unencumbered by intellectual interference.
Modern Attempts: The lack of intense debate on the problem of evil may be, because the problem was not formulated at the time or those Muslim thinkers were preoccupied by other issues. In modern times, the 20th century Muslim philosopher Iqbal did attempt to address this problem. He suggested that Goodness would not be possible without the resistance of evil. The evil in the world is meant to be overcome. Whoever asks why must there be evil when God can remove it is missing the point. Iqbal insists that without evil there could be no moral or spiritual development. He sites a simile used by Kant in which he refers to birds who resent the resistance of air, yet it is the very air that allows them to fly high, they would be unable to do so in a vacuum. Likewise, a certain amount of evil is necessary for the inner growth of humans, so that they may be able to overcome it. As the Quran states, And for trial will We test you with evil and with Good (Quran;21:35).
Iqbal could be subject to criticism, since he has ignored the victims of evil. What about those people who suffered so the rest of mankind could build itself? Iqbals answer here would be consistent with his philosophy of self. Like Nietzche (1844-1900 C.E, German philosopher who reasoned that Christianity's emphasis on the afterlife makes its believers less able to cope with earthly life), Iqbal believed that ultimately the self, the individual is the only thing of utmost importance. That is we have no concrete knowledge of the external world and factors therein. What we can be sure of is only ourselves; hence, we must view happenings to beings other than ourselves only in the capacity in which they help to build ourselves. The fact that the suffering of an innocent victim serves to bolster our personality is sufficient. [Islamic concept of Divine justice and reward, in hereafter to those who suffered takes care of sufferings here] The independent suffering of the external individual cannot be verified. Nietzsche has criticized Christian theology for placing mankind in a state of guilt for the original sin, Iqbal had pointed out that this concept of original sin is absent in Islam, and that the Quran encouraged a positive self image of the self or man. Many modern Christian theologians also adopt this view.