Suffering in the Islamic Tradition and Its Influence on Spirituality

By: Tuba Erkoc Baydar  

There have always been illnesses that become a source of sorrow, pain and suffering for human beings, since the ancient times until the day. Hence, the first Islamic philosopher al-Kindî (d. 252/866) stated that suffering, including the one sourcing from an illness or the one resulting in death, is a part and inevitable aspect of life, and that if an individual does not suffer a bit in this world, it means s/he does not exist at all. Therefore, since suffering due to illnesses, problems, troubles and negative life events is the most important part of one’s existence, how this suffering will be interpreted and given a meaning should be paid special attention. In the Islamic tradition, pain and troubles are considered to have a role in the training of people, bringing them to maturity, and giving them the strength and will to tolerate and endure in the face of heavy troubles of this life. In order to explain the meaning of suffering in the Islamic tradition, firstly the words used in the literature in relation to suffering, and their epistemological roots will be examined. Secondly, philosophical and sufistic grounds of suffering in the Islamic literature will be presented and their effect on the generation of juridical verdicts in the Islamic law will be discussed. After these chapters that aim to build the theoretical grounds for the issue, the interpretation of the suffering in an intercultural context will be examined through a case example.

Suffering, Spirituality, Illness
Religious Commonalities and Differences
Focused Discussion

Tuba Erkoc Baydar

Assistant Professor, Theology, Ibn Haldun, Turkey