In Islam there is a concept known as “shirk” which I will paraphrase to mean: when you place something in the same level, or higher, to God. It’s one of the biggest no-no’s in Islam, as well as Christianity and Jewishness.
One way to accidentally fall into shirk is when we attempt to think about evil.
One method is to think of evil as an opposing force (or energy) to good. When thinking about evil in this way, we have to question where the source of this evil force comes from. One source of the dark force can come from a lord of darkness, Satan.
We can think of Satan as an equal force to oppose to force of good, who’s source is God. This is shirk because we are placing Satan in the same power level as God.
We can try to avoid shirk by arguing that evil is never as powerful as good, good always triumphs and thus Satan isn’t equal to God. This is a simple way of avoiding Shirk, but then we come upon another quandary.
If we believe that there is a Satan, then we must wonder about the source of Satan, and thus the source of evil. Since God is the ultimate source, then the source of Satan, and the source of evil, is God. This is unsettling for most people, to think that God is the source of Evil as well.
One can try to avoid this unsettling thought by saying that, even though God might have initially created Evil and Satan, he then gave up control and gave Satan free reign over the use of the Evil force. But then we are almost borderline shirking because we are saying that there are aspects of reality that God doesn’t control. And really it doesn’t solve anything because God is still the source of all that exists, and if Evil exists, then God is the source of it. Even if Satan is a proxy through which the force of evil emanates, Satan itself cannot exist without God constantly allowing it to.
So it turns out that no matter how much wiggling we try to do, if we think of evil as a force to oppose good, we’ll either fall into shirk, or we’ll have to accept that God is the ultimate source of such Evil.
Another way of thinking about evil that frees us from the trap of shirk or the unsettling thought of God being the source of evil, is to think of evil as, not a force, but the absence of one.
Everything that exists, we can say is sourced from God. Every single moment of existence for every single thing that exists is a continuing intention that God has, and everything that is outside of that is “evil.” Thus there is no source of evil, since non-existence is the absence of a source. And so there is no shirk, and we can avoid the unsettling thought that evil “comes” from God.
What is interesting about thinking of evil in this way, is that evil becomes only possible for human beings, among all the creations of God. When God gave us “free will” he basically gave us the ability to practice non-existence. He allowed us the ability to conceptualize a reality that is separate from existence, from Him. Thus we in essence become “satan” when we attempt to exist in non-existence. If you analyze what we label as “evil,” you will inevitably come across a point where someone was attempting to exist outside of reality, outside of truth, outside of God.
But what’s even more interesting is that this practice of evil isn’t all “bad.” Human beings have the ability to think of things that aren’t real. We call it imagination and usually it’s harmless and sometimes it’s even the most wonderful thing we are capable of. Through the use of our imagination, we can dream up of things that does not exist and then sometimes cause it to exist through our manipulation of reality.
There was a point when flying people only existed in people’s imagination. But imagination is actually an “evil” practice because inside our heads we are thinking of things that do not exist, thus it isn’t part of God. But the source of our minds, thus the source of our thoughts, are from God. So such a practice is still sourced from God, it’s allowed by Him, so we aren’t above God in that sense. And then we use tools and things in existence to realize our dreams, we are still in the realm of existence and thus we do not separate ourselves from God when we try to build a plane to allow us to fly.
In a way, we Humans are gateways between existence and non-existence. And with the help of God, we are able to reach into non-existence and bring forth things in existence that didn’t exist before.
We are able to straddle good and evil and transform evil into good. What a wonderful thing we little satans are.