Kalam

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ʿIlm al-Kalām (Arabic : عِلْم الكَلام, literally "science of discourse"), [1] usually foreshortened to Kalām and sometimes called "Islamic scholastic theology", [2] is the study of Islamic doctrine ('aqa'id). [2] It was born out of the need to establish and defend the tenets of Islamic faith against doubters and detractors. [3] A scholar of Kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (plural: mutakallimūn), and it is a role distinguished from those of Islamic philosophers, jurists, and scientists. [4]

Schools of Islamic theology set of beliefs associated with the Islamic faith

Schools of Islamic theology are various Islamic schools and branches in different schools of thought regarding aqidah (creed). According to Muhammad Abu Zahra, Qadariyah, Jahmis, Murji'ah, Muʿtazila, Batiniyya, Ash'ari, Maturidi, Athari are the ancient schools of aqidah.

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, universal religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, viewed by Muslims as the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

Islamic philosophy

Islamic philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition. Two terms traditionally used in the Islamic world are sometimes translated as philosophy—falsafa, which refers to philosophy as well as logic, mathematics, and physics; and Kalam, which refers to a rationalist form of Islamic theology.

Contents

The Arabic term Kalām means "speech, word, utterance" among other things, and its use regarding Islamic theology is derived from the expression "Word of God" (Kalām Allāh) found in the Qur'an. [5]

Arabic Central Semitic language

Arabic is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE. It is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, which is derived from Classical Arabic.

Quran The central religious text of Islam

The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature. The Quran is divided into chapters, which are subdivided into verses.

Murtada Mutahhari describes Kalām as a discipline devoted to discuss "the fundamental Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are necessary for a Muslim to believe in. It explains them, argues about them, and defends them" [2] (see also Five Pillars of Islam). There are many possible interpretations as to why this discipline was originally called so; one is that the widest controversy in this discipline has been about whether the "Word of God", as revealed in the Qur'an, can be considered part of God's essence and therefore not created, or whether it was made into words in the normal sense of speech, and is therefore created.

Morteza Motahhari Iranian politician

Morteza Motahhari was an Iranian cleric, philosopher, lecturer, and politician. Motahhari is considered to have an important influence on the ideologies of the Islamic Republic, among others. He was a co-founder of Hosseiniye Ershad and the Combatant Clergy Association. He was a disciple of Ruhollah Khomeini during the Shah's reign and formed the Council of the Islamic Revolution at Khomeini's request. He was chairman of the council at the time of his assassination.

Iman in Islamic theology denotes a believer's faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islam. Its most simple definition is the belief in the six articles of faith, known as arkān al-īmān.

The Five Pillars of Islam are some basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. They are summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel. The Sunni and Shia agree on the essential details for the performance and practice of these acts, but the Shia do not refer to them by the same name. They make up Muslim life, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage, if one is able.

Origins

As early as in the times of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258 CE), the discipline of Kalam arose in an "attempt to grapple" with several "complex problems" early in the history of Islam, according to historian Majid Fakhry. One was how to rebut arguments "leveled at Islam by pagans, Christians and Jews". Another was how to deal with (what some saw as the conflict between) the predestination of sinners to hell on the one hand and "divine justice" on the other, (some asserting that to be punished for what is beyond someone's control is unjust). Also Kalam sought to make "a systematic attempt to bring the conflict in data of revelation (in the Qur'an and the Traditions) into some internal harmony". [6]

Abbasid Caliphate Third Islamic caliphate

The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, from whom the dynasty takes its name. They ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE (132 AH).

Predestination Theological doctrine

Predestination, in theology, is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God, usually with reference to the eventual fate of the individual soul. Explanations of predestination often seek to address the "paradox of free will", whereby God's omniscience seems incompatible with human free will. In this usage, predestination can be regarded as a form of religious determinism; and usually predeterminism.

Jahannam in Islam refers to an afterlife place of punishment for evildoers. The punishments are carried in accordance with the degree of evil one has done during his life. In Quran, Jahannam is also referred as an-Narالنار, Jaheemجحيم, Hutamahحطمة, Haawiyahهاوية, Ladthaaلظى, Sa’eerسعير, Saqarسقر. and also the names of different gates to hell. Just like the Islamic heavens, the common belief holds that Jahannam coexists with the temporary world.

Historian Daniel W. Brown describes Ahl al-Kalam as one three main groups in the time around the second century of Islam ( Ahl ar-Ra'y and Ahl al-Hadith being the other two) clashing in polemical disputes over sources of authority in Islamic law. Ahl al-Kalam agreed with Ahl al-Hadith that the example of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was authoritative, but it rejected the authority of ahadith on the grounds that its corpus was "fill with contradictory, blasphemous, and absurd" reports, and that in jurisprudence, even the smallest doubt about a source was too much. Thus, they believed, the true legacy of the prophet was to be found elsewhere. Ahl al-Hadith prevailed over the Ahl al-Kalam and most of what is known about their arguments comes from the writings of their opponents, such as Imam al-Shafi'i. [7]

Ahl ar-ra'y were an early Islamic movement advocating the use of reasoning to arrive at legal decisions. They were one of three main groups debating sources of Islamic law in the second century of Islam, the other two being ahl al-kalam and ashab al-hadith.

Ahl al-Hadith was an Islamic school of thought that first emerged during the 2nd/3rd Islamic centuries of the Islamic era as a movement of hadith scholars who considered the Quran and authentic hadith to be the only authority in matters of law and creed. Its adherents have also been referred to as traditionalists and sometimes traditionists.

As an Islamic discipline

Even though seeking knowledge in Islam is considered a religious obligation, the study of kalam is considered by Muslim scholars to fall beyond the category of necessity and is usually the preserve of qualified scholars, eliciting limited interest from the masses or common people. [8]

The early Muslim scholar al-Shafi‘i held that there should be a certain number of men trained in kalam to defend and purify the faith, but that it would be a great evil if their arguments should become known to the mass of the people. [9]

Similarly, the Islamic scholar al-Ghazali held the view that the science of kalam is not a personal duty on Muslims but a collective duty. Like al-Shafi‘i, he discouraged the masses from studying it. [8]

The Hanbali Sufi, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari wrote a treatise entitled Dhamm al-Kalam where he criticized the use of kalam. [10]

The contemporary Islamic scholar Nuh Ha Mim Keller holds the view that the criticism of kalam from scholars was specific to the Muʿtazila, going on to claim that other historical Muslim scholars such as al-Ghazali and an-Nawawi saw both good and bad in kalam and cautioned from the speculative excess of unorthodox groups such as the Muʿtazila and the Jahmis. [11] As Nuh Ha Mim Keller states in his article "Kalam and Islam":

What has been forgotten today however by critics who would use the words of earlier Imams to condemn all kalam, is that these criticisms were directed against its having become "speculative theology" at the hands of latter-day authors. Whoever believes they were directed against the `aqida or "personal theology" of basic tenets of faith, or the "discursive theology" of rational kalam arguments against heresy is someone who either does not understand the critics or else is quoting them disingenuously. [11]

Major kalam schools

Sunni

Orthodox

Unorthodox

Shia

Hadith rejection

See also

Related Research Articles

Hadith collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Ḥadīth in Islam refers to the record of the words, actions, and the silent approval, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith have been called "the backbone" of Islamic civilization, and within that religion the authority of hadith as a source for religious law and moral guidance ranks second only to that of the Qur'an. Scriptural authority for hadith comes from the Quran which enjoins Muslims to emulate Muhammad and obey his judgments. While the number of verses pertaining to law in the Quran is relatively few, hadith give direction on everything from details of religious obligations, to the correct forms of salutations and the importance of benevolence to slaves. Thus the "great bulk" of the rules of Sharia are derived from hadith, rather than the Qur'an.

Sunnah, also sunna or sunnat, is the body of literature which discusses and prescribes the traditional customs and practices of the Islamic community, both social and legal, often but not necessarily based on the verbally transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, as well as various reports about Muhammad's companions. The Quran and the sunnah make up the two primary sources of Islamic theology and law. The sunnah is also defined as "a path, a way, a manner of life"; "all the traditions and practices" of the Islamic prophet that "have become models to be followed" by Muslims.

Muʿtazila is a rationalist school of Islamic theology that flourished in the cities of Basra and Baghdad, both now in Iraq, during the 8th to the 10th centuries.

<i>Tafsir</i> exegesis of the Quran

Tafsir is the Arabic word for exegesis, usually of the Qur'an. An author of a tafsir is a mufassir. A Qur'anic tafsir attempts to provide elucidation, explanation, interpretation, context or commentary for clear understanding and conviction of God's will.

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Umdat as-Salik wa 'Uddat an-Nasik is a classical manual of fiqh for the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence. The author of the main text is 14th-century scholar Shihabuddin Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn an-Naqib al-Misri. Al-Misri based his work on the previous Shafi'i works of Imam Nawawi and Imam Abu Ishaq as-Shirazi, following the order of Shirazi's al-Muhadhdhab and the conclusions of Nawawi's Minhaj at-Talibin.

Nuh Ha Mim Keller is an Islamic scholar, teacher and author who lives in Amman. He is a translator of a number of Islamic books, a specialist in Islamic law, as well as being authorised by Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri as a Sheikh in the Shadhili Order.

Al-Ashari Muslim scholar

Al-Ashʿarī was an Arab Sunni Muslim scholastic theologian and eponymous founder of Ashʿarism or Asharite theology, which would go on to become "the most important theological school in Sunni Islam".

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Abu Abd-Allah Muhammad ibn Abd-Allah al-Hakim al-Nishapuri, also known as Ibn al-Bayyiʿ,) was a Persian Sunni scholar and the leading traditionist of his age, frequently referred to as the "Imam of the Muhaddithin" or the "Muhaddith of Khorasan."

Aqidah is an Islamic term meaning "creed".

‘Ilm is the Islamic term for knowledge.

Bi-la kaifa

The Arabic phrase bi-la kayfa, also bilā kaifa, is roughly translated as "without asking how", or "without how" which means without modality. It was a way of resolving theological problems in Islam over apparent questioning in ayat by accepting without questioning.

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Various sources of sharia are used by Islamic jurisprudence to elaborate the body of Islamic law. The scriptural sources of traditional Sunni jurisprudence are the Qur'an, believed by Muslims to be the direct and unaltered word of God, and the Sunnah, consisting of words and actions attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the hadith literature. Shi'ite jurisprudence extends the notion of Sunnah to include traditions of the Imams.

Traditionalist theology (Islam) Islamic sunni theologic branch

Traditionalist theology is a Islamic scholarly movement, originating in the late 8th century CE, who reject rationalistic Islamic theology (kalam) in favor of strict textualism in interpreting the Quran and hadith. The name derives from "tradition" in its technical sense as translation of the Arabic word hadith. It is also sometimes referred to by several other names.

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References

  1. Winter, Tim J. "Introduction", The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 4-5. Print.
  2. 1 2 3 Mutahhari, Murtada; Qara'i, 'Ali Quli (translator). "An Introduction to 'Ilm al-Kalam". muslimphilosophy. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones, Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, p. 391. ISBN   1438109075
  4. Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p. 119. ISBN   1441127887.
  5. Schacht, J. Bearman, P. (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Netherlands: Brill Publishers. ISBN   9789004161214 . Retrieved 24 June 2016. kalam meanings a) the reed-pen used for writing in Arabic script; b) Ottoman usage, used figuratively to designate the secretariat of an official department or service; c) in the sense of kalām Allāh (the "Word of God), must here be distinguished from 1) kalām meaning ʿilm al-kalām, “defensive apologetics”, or “the science of discourse”, 2) kalima, expressed kalimat Allāh, means “a” (single) divine utterance; d) theology.
  6. Fakhry, Majid (1983). A History of Islamic Philosophy (second ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. xvii–xviii.
  7. Brown, Daniel W. (1996). Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought. Cambridge University Press. pp. 13–5. ISBN   0521570778 . Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. 1 2 Bennett, Clinton (2012). The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 119. ISBN   1441127887.
  9. Black Macdonald, Duncan (2008). Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence, and Constitutional Theory, Chapter=III. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 187. ISBN   158477858X.
  10. Jeffry R. Halverson, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam, 2010: p 37. ISBN   0230106587
  11. 1 2 "Nuh Ha Mim Keller - Kalam and Islam".

Further reading

Eissa, Mohamed. The Jurist and the Theologian: Speculative Theology in Shāfiʿī Legal Theory. Gorgias Press: Piscataway, NJ, 2017. ISBN   978-1-4632-0618-5.