Divine Knowledge and the Doctrine of Badāʾ
Badāʾ is one of the exclusive doctrines of the Shiʾte theology which has been commonly rejected by the Sunni thought in the Islamic world. According to a rough explication, this doctrine says that God’s will is not restricted by His eternal destiny, but He is free to intervene deliberately in some current affairs of the universe and direct it towards an end different from what was predestined by Himself. Shi’te thinkers commonly appeal to some textual evidences (including Quranic verses as well as some sayings of their imams) to present a satisfying religious ground for badāʾ. They have proposed both figurative (metaphorical) and non-figurative (literal) interpretations of these textual evidences. According to the latter, some theological problems concerning the principle of the Divine immutability arise. In this paper, I deal with one of these problems which claims that badāʾ entails God’s mutability via requiring a change in His eternal knowledge (i.e. changing His mind). After reformulating this problem as a simple argument against the rational plausibility of badāʾ, I explain and briefly examine three solutions for the problem which respectively consist in making an analogy between badāʾ and naskh, attributing the assumed change to the realm of the celestial souls’ knowledge and accommodating the change in God’s relational (not essential) knowledge.