Arguments from creation ex nihilo

The basic argument from creation goes as follows. The world is temporally originated (hadith). All that is temporally originated requires a separate originator. Therefore, the world requires a separate originator. This originator must be pre-eternal. Otherwise, if it too is generated, then, by the same reasoning, it will require another originator and ultimately the existence of a pre-eternal originator has to be admitted. Both premises in the argument were surrounded by complex discussions,...

The Mutazilite position

How do the Mu'tazila justify their contention that undertaking reflection with a view to knowing God is obligatory Al-Malahimi (d. 1141), a later Basran Mu'tazilite, puts forth two representative arguments in this regard.5 First, he argues that reflection offers the agent who is devoid of the foregoing knowledge the hope of allaying an inevitable fear resulting from a certain ''motive'' (khatir), which appears in his heart in one of several ways. If the sensible person hears or reads...

The need for revealed law

Muslim jurists were more concerned with practice than with theory. The primary purpose of Islamic law in their view was the well-being and salvation of the entire community, which required clear tenets of faith and practice, not abstruse matters that only theologians and the scholarly minded could understand. Sound adherence to the law was something that all Muslims could learn and potentially put into practice. From a legal perspective, conformity to God's commandments did not require an...

The fourth belief in Gods messengers

The recipients of scripture are ''messengers'' (rusul), who are all addressed by God with the words ''This community of yours is one -and I am your Lord be mindful of Me'' (23 52). Those who accept them are asked to profess that they ''make no distinction between any of them'' (2 284). Over twenty prophets are mentioned in the Qur'an, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, and over and over again the text rehearses their stories to emphasise that they brought a shared doctrine, which...

Terminology

The term falsafa is an Arabised form of the Greek philosophia. The Arabic hikma may also be used more or less synonymously with the same term, although more often the intended meaning is closer to the word wisdom. Used in numerous Arabic and Persian texts, falsafa indicates an inclusive rational process aimed at knowing the nature of things and expressing the result in a systematic way. The term hikma, by contrast, is used in several ways, some of them not related to the science, or the art, of...

Theological Issues

Theological issues arising from eschatological teachings include, significantly, the doctrine of intercession (shafa'a), which is treated in detail in the kalaam texts, partly in consequence of early challenges to its validity. While the Qur'an states that ''no soul shall bear the burden of another'' (6 164 17 15, and elsewhere), and explicitly rejects a redemp-tionist theology (2 48), it leaves the door open for some form of intercession in verses such as ''no one shall intercede with Him...

The creation of Adam and the Garden

The eschatological counterpart to the creation of the human prototype, Adam, would be the idea of the new or second creation (khalq jadid) (14 39) which takes place at the resurrection. ''As He originated you, so you will return'' (7 29), and ''As We originated the first creation so We will bring it back again - a promise binding upon Us, so We shall do'' (21 104). The doctrine of the resurrection of the body seems to have been difficult for the pre-Islamic Arabs to accept, as the Qur'an...

Further reading

Allard, Michel, Le probleme des attributs divins dans la doctrine d'al-Ash'ari et de ses premiers grands disciples (Beirut, 1965). Avicenna, Metaphysica of Avicenna, tr. Parviz Morewedge (New York, 1973). al-Bukharl, Kitab al-jami' al-sahih, partial tr. by Muhammad Asad as The Early Years of Islam (Gibraltar, 1981). Ess, Josef Van, Die Erkenntnislehre des 'Adudaddan al-Ica (Wiesbaden, 1966). The Flowering of Muslim Theology (Cambridge MA 2006). al-Ghazala, Abu Hamid, The Incoherence of the...

Introduction

From the time of Aristotle to the present, philosophers have assumed that there is an intimate connection between literal meaning and truth. Recent discussions in the West, however, have challenged this link and its corollary that non-literal meaning is a departure from truth. A similar challenge was offered in classical Islam. Its origin is traceable to the ''consensus of Muslims that the Creator of the world is a speaker (mutakallimj1 whose discourse consists of statement (khabar), command...

Info

Qualification consists in two things his following of the former authority to the highest degree of perfection possible for a human being and his best use of the instrument that God gave him for the purpose of ''measuring for Him'', that is, reason ('aql). But because there is always the possibility that reason may lose sight of the limits imposed on her as an instrument of knowledge and mistake herself for both the chief subject and object, not only the sources of knowledge but also the...

Overall trends

I have argued above that the social construction of theological orthodoxy took place at the intersection of three primary societal arenas, comprising the scholars, the ordinary believers and the government. To conclude, I will briefly summarise some broad historical trends that can be observed in these arenas during the millennium between the ninth and the nineteenth centuries. The history of the 'ulama' is marked by the progressive professionalisation of scholarly activity while early scholars...

Strategies Of Revival

There is a well-known hadith in which the Prophet predicts that during each century God will send someone to the community of Islam in order to revive its religion.16 Reviving religion involves, first, showing its capacity to achieve something which alternative systems cannot, namely, to provide spiritual guidance to the community. There is also the need to demonstrate that the arguments of those hostile to religion fail to persuade. Finally, it is important that the reviver can express himself...

The revivalist reaction

The second trend was initiated by the creative Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), an influential scholar who was born in Tus in the heart of the Iranian sphere of intellectual life. He was employed by the state, and was encouraged to define a concordist Islamic theology that would define a legitimate place for Sufism, tradition and rationality, to provide a stable and inclusive official creed for the Sunni rulers. His theological work, The Revival of Religious Sciences (Ihya' 'UlUm al-Din),...

The Asharite position

Early Ash'arites, too, contend that reflection constitutes a duty. Yet, to them, it is a religious (sharl) duty, since they maintain that duties can be engendered only by revealed religion to the exclusion of unaided reason or any other sources.10 One who lives on a remote island and has never heard of any revealed religions will not be under an absolute obligation to reflect in order to know God, or to do good and omit evil. Only when a religion is established through prophecy will knowing God...

The Nature Of Islamic

The Muslim lives in a theocentric universe, ''in surrender'' (muslim) to God, seeking through the prophetic Law to discover and implement God's will. The law's primary sources, the qur'anic revelation and the prophetic model (sunna), are the material referents of God's will. From a modern perspective Islamic law is at once legal and meta-legal a set of legislative rules within a moral system of ''oughts'' and ''ought nots'', defining outward standards, while addressing the inward state of the...

The creation motif humans accepting the Trust amana

A verse of the Qur'an states ''Indeed We offered the Trust (amana) to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains, but they refused to bear it because they were afraid of it. Yet the human being took it up indeed he is oppressive and ignorant'' (33 72). The eschatological principle to be paired with this aspect of creation is the concept of judgement, either of individuals or of nations in history. Both individual humans and nations have their determined terms (10 49 *5 4-5). At the end of time a...

Apocalyptic

As the end of the world nears, various ''signs of the Hour'' are anticipated. Specific sequences of these are elaborated in the hadith, for example You will not see the Hour before you see ten preceding signs. The first will be the sun rising from the West, then the Smoke, then the Dajjal, then the Beast,13 three lunar eclipses,14 one in the East, one in the West, and one in the Arabian Peninsula, the appearance of Jesus, upon whom be peace, then Ya'juj and Ma'juj,15 and the last will be a fire...

Theology In Society

There are few direct sources which shed light on the reception of theology by ordinary believers in the pre-modern period. Most of what can be discovered on this subject must be gleaned from the writings of scholars these, however, had little interest in popular religion and generally mention the beliefs of the common people only in the context of bemoaning ignorance and superstition among the masses. Consequently, not much is known about how ordinary Muslims received, understood and...

The comprehensiveness of religious content in islamic law

Ritual and secular concerns coexist in Islamic law. De Wael illustrates this fact by noting that the law may deem a prayer invalid or a sale reprehensible.16 Coulson cites the law's prohibition of pork, intoxicants and usury. He observes further that Islamic law invalidates sales contracted at the time of Friday congregational prayers, threatens hellfire for one who misappropriates an orphan's wealth, and portrays a wife's conjugal obedience as virtuous.17 The law's fundamental concern with...

The Metaphysical School Of Isfahan

During the late sixteenth century in Isfahaan, the beginnings of a remarkable, widespread and prolific philosophical activity are in evidence. Safavid rulers initiated a new era in Iranian intellectual life by their lavish endowment of many new centres of scholarship, as in the previous century when the mother of the ruling Timurid Shah, Shaahrokh, had been the prime mover in large endowments given to scholarship and the founding of religious colleges (madrasas). One of the major results of...

The ulama AND discourses Of Orthodoxy

Within the informal and decentralised institutional framework of the pre-Ottoman period, several divergent discourses of theological orthodoxy could emerge and flourish, both competing and overlapping with one another. Two of these, the discourses of the traditionists (muhaddithun) and the dialectic theologians (mutakallimun), stood at the heart of the debate that eventually yielded an extent of common ground between Sunni theologians of all persuasions. This shared understanding formed the...

The State Of The Field

Drawing together the core topics of Muslim theology from these historically distinct disciplines has brought into sharp relief the very fragmented and sometimes idiosyncratic nature of Western scholarship of Islam, the tradition sometimes known as ''Orientalism''. Overwhelmingly this discipline has been built up from contributions made by individuals, not by schools. Thinkers and texts are brought to the fore during a scholar's lifetime, and may then quickly sink into undeserved obscurity....

Notes

Mahmud Shaltut, al-Islam 'aqida wa-shari'a (Cairo, 1990), p. 1471 M. S. Lashin, al-La'ali' al-Hisan fi 'ulum al-Qur'an (Cairo, 1982), p. 19. To this definition should be added the property of i'jaz, inimitability, which makes the text an evidentiary miracle (mu'jiza), greater than the Prophet's other miracles of healing the sick, etc. see Sophia Vasalou, ''The miraculous eloquence of the Qur'an general trajectories and individual approaches, Journal of Qur'anic Studies 4 (2002), pp. 23-53. 2....

Background

The intellectual milieu of seventh-century Mecca and Medina into which the Qur'an came was rustic, and bore no resemblance to the environment of the urbanised, far more literate societies of the organised empires of the Romans and Persians to the north. While literacy was nowhere widespread in early medieval times, it seems to have been especially lacking in the Arabian peninsula, where the prevalent Arabic language appears not to have possessed a written literature before the seventh century....

Paradise and the fire

More than any other key postulate, the nature of heaven and hell has been subjected to a range of interpretations stretching from the purely literal to the utterly allegorical. Hell is a place of just chastisement for sin, which forms a temporary purgatory for sinning believers,whether any punishment there would be truly eternal was a matter of considerable dispute.23 Paradise is presented as a garden (janna) arranged in levels, a verdant place where all wishes are fulfilled, and where the...

The subTle Ties of allusion

Yet, as the Niche continues, if nothing exists other than God, the ''Light of the heavens and Earth'' (24 35), ''then the name 'light' for things other than the First Light i.e. God is sheer majaz''.47 Thus, ''the 'arifun ascend from majaz to haqaqa'', from the figural to the literal.48 For ''nothing possesses huwHya ('he-ness') other than He huwa except in a figural sense (bi'l-majaz)''. ''Huwlya'', the abstract form of the third-person pronoun huwa, is one of the terms used in falsafa to...

Ma Turidism

To give another example of how misleading the nomenclature often used in theology can be, let us examine briefly the controversy over irja' or ''postponement''.13 As Khalid Blankinship has outlined in chapter 2 of the present volume, a central controversy in early Islam had evolved over the nature of belief (aman) was it primarily a matter of belief and acts, or of beliefs alone Could one be a sinner and yet at the same time remain a sincere Muslim An important school which was initiated by Abu...

The bakriyya salimiyya and karramiyya

Basri's main legacy to Sufism must be sought in a different quarter from the Sufi Mu'tazila. The important eighth-century proto-Sufi order known as the Bakriyya derived directly from his influence. This group, who were strongly aligned with the ahl al-hadith, had their origins in a figure who was reputedly a student of Basri, 'Abd al-Wahid ibn Zayd (d. 793), although the name Bakriyya derives from the latter's nephew and disciple Bakr ibn Ukht 'Abd al-Wahid ibn Zayd. The sect was strongly...

Summary And Conclusion

In the Niche, Ghazili writes that ''nothing possesses existence (huwiya) other than He i.e. God except in a figural sense (bi'l-majaz)'' and ''the knowers of God who ascend from majaz to haqiqa''. But in the Mustasfi he claims ''Every majaz figural sense has a haqiqa i.e. a literal sense but it is not necessary that every haqiqa has a majiz.'' Should we conclude that Ghazali has simply reversed himself, that non-literal and literal are symmetrically interdependent And if for Ibn Taymiyya...

The Transmission Of Knowledge

From the emergence in the eighth century of the traditional ''Islamic sciences'', which include grammar (nahw), exegesis (tafsi), dialectic theology (kalam), study of hadith, and jurisprudence (fiqh), the establishment and maintenance of a connection to the event of revelation became the central preoccupation of those who dedicated themselves to learning. If revelation represented a special infusion of knowledge into the world, this knowledge had to form the basis of human scholarly endeavours,...

Messianism

Belief in a figure who will come to the world in the end-time to combat the forces of darkness or evil is a theme common to the Western religious traditions. Meaning in history is brought to vindication through this potent image of a cosmic conflagration, succeeded by a just resolution and the ultimate victory of the good. The Muslim messianic figure, known as the Mahdi, or ''guided one'', is generally presented in hadith chapters called the books of crises, calamities or civil wars (fitan)....

Ghazali And The Seljuk Synthesis

This is not the place to rehearse the details of Ghazala's life. Elsewhere in this volume, David Burrell has described how he came to confirm the centrality of Sufism through terrible inner traumata.49 The result was that Ghazala made his famous flight from Baghdad, dedicating himself to the contemplative disciplines of Sufism. Ghazaalai hyperbolises when he expresses himself in terms of an actual disavowal of the exoteric sciences. For the fruit of his conversion was of course a bold attempt...

The Fate Of Falsafa

As Hossein Ziai demonstrates in his chapter, Abbasid civilisation showed itself willing and able to embark on one of the most ambitious projects of deliberate cultural borrowing known to history. If the Qur'an represents a first moment of Islamic xenophilia, rejecting the indigenous beliefs of the Arabs in favour of the monotheistic worldview and prophetic tales of their neighbours and rivals, then the process whereby Greek texts were translated into Arabic is surely the second. (The third,...

The rescue of integrality

His earlier observation of the Nur affair probably made him wary of Hallij's strident form of esoterism, and many accounts point to his censure of Hallij's outspokenness. It is not a matter of Junayd being more scrupulous in upholding the Shari'a, for Hallaj himself was allegedly extremely meticulous in his religious observance and renounced all legal mitigations and concessions (rukhas). Nonetheless, Junayd makes a reassertion of what has been referred to...

Problem

Reflections on the essence-attribute question were not restricted to kalam deliberations but were also systemically debated by the exponents of falsafa. For instance, Avicenna addressed this question in terms of an ontological analysis of the modalities of being namely impossibility, contingency and necessity. Avicenna argues that the impossible being is that which cannot exist, while the contingent in itself (mumkin bi-dhatihi) has the potentiality to be or not to be without entailing a...

Places Of Learning

In the pre-Ottoman Islamic world, scholarship was not rooted in any single specific venue. Nevertheless, the mosque has always been, and remains to this day, an important place of teaching. In the first Islamic cities, particularly the garrison towns built by the early Arab-Muslim conquerors in the seventh century, the mosque represented the public space par excellence. It was in the mosque that scholars sat between the five daily prayers, lecturing to their students as well as to interested...

The Moral Imperative

The centrality of worship in Islam is demonstrated already by the very structure of sura i, known as the Opener (al-Fatiha), which is traditionally understood as the epitome of the Qur'an. After beginning in God's name, the Fitiha praises God in three verses. The final two verses offer the request of the servant. Verse 5, which is structurally the middle, provides the best-known and most often recited reference to worship in Islam Thee alone we worship serve, and from Thee alone we seek help.''...

Islamic law and classical theology

Opinions differ regarding the influence of theology on Islamic law. Fazlur Rahman stresses that the origins of theology and of law were distinct, and that even in the case of the Mu'tazila there is no evidence that their theology affected their positions in positive law.27 The profound influence of kalam was in classical legal theory by contrast, in all legal schools, the content of positive law remained essentially untouched, regardless of the influence kalaam was wielding upon legal theory....

Illumination

Philosophy continued in Andalusia, where the texts of Averroes were instrumental in its development. Other types of philosophical writing emerged in Andalusian centres such as Cordoba and Seville in the twelfth century. The dominance of legal strictures, among other reasons, ensured that the production of philosophical writing by Ibn Bajja d. 1138 and Ibn Tufayl d. 1185 took the form of individual works rather than a trend or school. Ibn Baajja's writings were an interpretation of Faaraabai's...

Introduction To Islamic Philosophy Notes

Ibn 'Arabi, Fusus al-hikam, ed. Abu'l-'Ali' 'Afifi Beirut, 1365 1946 , pp. 122, 178. Ibn 'Arabi also on occasion speaks of ''the deity conditioned by dogma'' al-ilah al-mu'taqad M. Chodkiewicz, An Ocean Without Shore Ibn 'Arabi, the Book and the Law Albany, 1993 , p. 128. 2. ''Locution theopathique'' is the term of the French scholar Louis Massignon, though interestingly ''theopathy'' ''theopathetic'' is attested in English as early as the eighteenth century. Louis Massignon, Essay on...

The challenge of esoteRism

Aside from bequeathing to Sufism the distinctive institution of the khanqah, the influence of Karrimism on Islamic mysticism is indirect. It should be remembered that Ibn Karram's movement was not mystical sensu stricto. However, the violent asceticism of its exponents, which cast such a spell over the working classes of Khurisanian towns such as Nlshapur, provoked an epochal reaction amongst mystics in the ninth century. With Hamdun al-Qassar and Abu Hafs 'Amr al-Haddadi at their head, their...

The Qadaris

It was the tension between free will and determinism that gave rise to the first properly theological dispute in Islam. The pre-Islamic Arabs had tended to believe in a predetermined fate dahr , and hence received the Qur'an in the same spirit. The early caliphs seem also to have upheld this view, particularly Mu'awiya 661-80 , 'Abd al-Malik 685-705 , and 'Umar II 717-20 , in connection with each of whom epistles or traditions of a deterministic hue have been associated. Usually, modern...

The Kharijites

Despite Umayyad success, opposition continued. All three of the groups which had been eclipsed during the First Civil War 656-61 continued to exist and to promote their opposition. All three contended again with the Umayyads during the Second Civil War 680-92 , which proved longer and more disastrous than the first. In this period, each of the three oppositions underwent further ideological development. The most confrontational was the radical Khawarij, who initially rejected any compromise...

Steffen Aj Stelzer

Following the Aristotelian example in the field of metaphysics, it is often preferable not to accept received wisdom as to what a discipline is, but, after inquiring into the possibility of its existence, to go instead in search of it. This is certainly advisable in a field like Islamic ethics, where the very concept of such a science has not originated in the place in which one looks for its manifestation. In this case, instead of insisting on an already established understanding of ethics...

Political philosophy

Farabi was the first thinker to define the classical political philosophy of Plato's Republic, harmonised with Aristotelian epistemo-logical, ontological and cosmological principles within the broader frame of Islamic religion. While political philosophy in the structure presented in Farabi's independent studies does not continue after him, his study of the typology of political regimes, the concept of law and the role of the lawmaker, and the identification of an ideal form of Islamic...

Mas Abdel Haleem

The Qur'an is the starting-point of Islamic theology, and indeed of all things Islamic. As technically defined by Islamic theology and law, it is ''the corpus of Arabic utterances sent down by God to Muhammad, conveyed in a way that categorically establishes its authenticity''.1 For the tradition, this classical definition summarises the basic characteristics of the Qur'an and distinguishes it from anything else the Prophet said. The key phrase is ''sent down by God'', for God speaks directly...

The developed kalam tradition

OLIVER LEAMAN PART i AND SAJJAD RIZVI PART Ii A few initial points need to be made about the nature of Islamic theology in its later stages before a discussion of some of its main themes and thinkers can be attempted. First, there often exists no clear distinction between Islamic theology, in the sense of kalam, and the other Islamic and not so Islamic sciences, such as grammar, jurisprudence fiqh , philosophy falsafa hikma , Sufism, and the even more specific activities of learning how to...

The fifth belief in the day of judgement

The Qur'an frequently evokes the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and belief in a final end gives sense and purpose to the whole creation. But for the judgement, the world would be in vain 23 115-16 95 7-8 , which is why the next life is mentioned in the Qur'an exactly as often as the life of this world. The semantic logic of the qur'anic text makes the domain we presently occupy the ''first world'' al-ualaa , which exists only with reference to the ''other'' world which is to come...

David B Burrell

''Originator Badi' of the heavens and earth. When He decrees a thing, He says only 'Be ' And it is.'' There are eight names for God, among the canonical ninety-nine, which direct our attention to Allah as the source of all that is al-Badi' Absolute Cause , al-Biri' Producer , al-Khaliq Creator , al-Mubdi' Beginner , al-Muqtadir All-Determiner , al-Musawwir Fashioner , al-Qidir All-Powerful and al-Qahhar Dominator , each with various connotations of creating.2 Nothing seems simpler than...

Characteristics

We need to ask what is Islamic about Islamic theology Most evidently, it is Islamic to the extent that it may be traced back in some way to the Prophet Muhammad and his distinctive vision of the One God. According to his scripture, he was sent ''as a mercy to the worlds'' Qur'an 21 107 , and one aspect of that mercy, as Muhammad Abdel Haleem suggests in chapter 1, was that he mapped out a religious path of great simplicity. This was to be the simplicity of an Abrahamic and ''primordial''...

Tim Winter

This volume presents a series of critical scholarly reflections on the evolution and major themes of pre-modern Muslim theology. Given Islam's salience in religious history and its role as final religious inheritor of the legacies of monotheism and classical antiquity, such a collection hardly needs justification. The significance of Islamic theology reflects the significance of Islam as a central part of the monotheistic project as a whole, to which it brings a distinctive approach and style,...

The Role Of Ibn Taymiyya

In particular, there emerged a few late medieval thinkers like the Syrian Hanbalite Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya d. 1328 whose campaign to critique theology was more radical than that found in earlier generations.9 He criticised the very basis of kalam by attacking the notion of definition, that is, specifying a clear and distinct meaning for abstract concepts,and without the possibility of definition there is no possibility of theological discussion, since one is then without the basic materials...

Notes on contributors

Abd-Allah received his PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1978 with a dissertation on the origins of Islamic law. His principal interests are Islamic intellectual and spiritual history, the history of Islam in the West, and comparative religion. He taught academically in the United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia for more than twenty years before taking up his present post as chairperson and scholar-in-residence of the Nawawi Foundation Chicago , an...

The Hadith

Although the Qur'an is the unrivalled supreme revelation of Islam, the tradition also recognises a second form of revealed scripture the hadith hadith . Technically, Muslims came to define the hadith as ''the attested reports of the sayings, actions, and tacit approvals and accounts of the Prophet Muhammad''.6 These present records of the Prophet's statements, as well as statements by his companions relating to him. Collectively the hadith literature provides evidence for the Prophet's way of...

Islamic Philosophy Notes

Arthur Koestler, The Sleepwalkers A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe London, 1959 , p. 105. For the attitude see Dimitri Gutas, ''The study of Arabic philosophy in the twentieth century an essay on the historiography of Arabic philosophy'', British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 29 2002 , pp. 10-12. 2. Robert Wisnovsky, Avicenna's Metaphysics in Context London, 2003 , p. 301. 3. Louis Massignon, Essay on the Origins of the Technical Language of Islamic Mysticism, tr....

Reason And Revelation

Closely linked to this dialectic was the even more taxing balance which high medieval Islam thought it had achieved between ''reason'' 'aql and revelation naql . Those who stressed the former tended to assume that the Qur'an's arguments for itself proceed on the principle that reason is prior to the authority of revelation they therefore tended to support a strongly abstract model of God strict scripturalists, by contrast, often inclined to anthropomorphism. It was generally admitted that...