Salvific Luck in Islamic Theology


  • Amir Saemi
  • Scott A. Davison



One of the major arguments for theological voluntarism offered by the Ash’arites (e.g. al-Ghazali) involves the claim that that some of the factors upon which our salvation or condemnation depend are beyond our control. We will call this “the problem of salvific luck.” According to the Ash’arites, the fact that God does save and condemn human beings on the basis of factors beyond their control casts doubt on any non-voluntarist conception of divine justice. A common way to respond to this Ash’arite argument for voluntarism is to eliminate the role of luck in God’s judgments. But this is not the Mu’tazilite way of resisting the argument. The Mu’tazilite, who oppose theological voluntarism, choose a more daunting solution to the problem of salvific luck. They reject the claim that God’s Judgment concerning the eternal destiny of some persons would be unjust (relative to the objective common sensical standard of justice that could not have been different) if it depended upon factors beyond their control. The paper discusses this solution to the problem of salvific luck.






Diversifying Analytic Theology