[Surface Contradictions]

“[E]very evil is by definition a ‘part’, never a ‘totality’; and negations or fragmentary privations, which are the various forms of evil, are inevitable since the world, not being God and unable to be Him, is of necessity situated outside of God. But with regard to their cosmic function as necessary elements of a total good, evils are in a certain way integrated into this good, and this point of view makes it possible to affirm that metaphysically there is no evil; the notion of evil presupposes in fact a fragmentary vision of things, characteristic of creatures, who are themselves fragments; man is a ‘fragmentary totality’.

As we have seen, evil is in the world because the world is not God; now from a certain point of view—of which the Vedantists are especially aware—the world is ‘none other than God’; Maya is Atma, Samsara is Nirvana; from this point of view evil does not exist, and this is precisely the point of view of the macrocosmic totality. This is suggested in the Koran by means of the following antimony: on the one hand it declares that good is ‘from God’ and evil is ‘from yourselves’, and on the other hand that ‘all is from God’ (Surah ‘Women’ [4]:78, 79), the first idea having to be understood on the basis of the second, which is more universal, hence more real; it is the difference between fragmentary vision and total truth. The fact that the two maxims nearly follow each other—the more universal coming first—proves moreover the lack of concern in sacred dialectic for surface contradictions and the importance attached to penetration and synthesis.

And this brings us back to our more general subject, the question of antinomic expressions in the Koran; an example that has become classic is found in the following verse: ‘Nothing is like unto Him (God), and He it is that hears, that sees’ (Surah ‘Counsel’ [42]:11). The flagrant contradiction between the first assertion and the second—the second drawing a comparison, precisely, and thereby proving that an analogy between things and God does exist—has the function of showing that this evident analogy, without which not a single thing would be possible, in no way implies an imaginable resemblance and does not abolish in the least the absolute transcendence of the divine Principle.”

Source: Frithjof Schuon, Sufism: Veil and Quintessence, pp. 13-14


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