Full course description
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This module examines the historical formation and continued relevance of key approaches, concepts and questions emerging from Muslim theological and philosophical engagement with fundamental Muslim beliefs such as the nature of God, prophethood, Imāma, and the afterlife. Different doctrinal positions, and the diversity of approaches to the justification of belief will be seen in light of competing ideas regarding the nature of knowledge, reason and revelation. Methodological features and central concerns of the internally diverse and often mutually competing projects of kalām-theology, its traditionalist responses, philosophy (falsafa), and important trends in Sufism will be examined with a view to gaining an appreciation of the diverse historical Muslim engagements with questions of theology and philosophy that continue to shape modes of Islamic thought today.
Lesson 1 What is theology and philosophy?
When is theology or philosophy Islamic?
Lesson 2 The emergence of kalām and its schools (I)
What is ʿilm al-kalām?
Diversity of intellectual traditions
Lesson 3 The emergence of kalām and its schools (II)
Evolution of schools
Shiʿi theological thought: formative, classical, and post-Ṣadrian periods
Lesson 4 Traditionist vs. rationalist thought
Lesson 5 The falsafa tradition (I)
The translation movement and al-Fārābī
Lesson 6 The falsafa tradition (II)
Ibn Sīnā and his impact
Lesson 7 Taṣawwuf and Islamic theology
Lesson 8 Mullā Ṣadrā’s ‘transcendental wisdom’
Lesson 9 Revisiting – “what is Islamic theology and philosophy?”
Lesson 10 God and His existence
Lesson 11 God’s existence and His nature
Lesson 12 Evil in Islamic theology and philosophy (I)
Lesson 13 Evil in Islamic theology and philosophy (II)
Prophethood: nature and purpose
Lesson 14 Prophecy in Islamic theology and philosophy
Lesson 15 Prophethood and Imāma (I)
Lesson 16 Imāma (II)
Death and the nature of the afterlife (I)
Lesson 17 Death and the nature of the afterlife (II)
Hours of Study
Written Exam (100%)
Dr Ali-Reza Bhojani (Lecturer)
After completing an undergraduate degree and professional qualifications in Optometry, Dr Ali-Reza Bhojani began studying at the Al-Mahdi Institute, graduating from its Hawza programme in 2008. He then moved to Durham University for 1+3 ESRC funded doctoral programme with the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW). He was awarded a distinction for an MA in Research Methods (International Relations and Politics) and graduated from the doctoral programme at the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in 2014. His thesis was published as Moral Rationalism and Sharī‛a (Routledge, 2015). He has since held academic posts at the Al-Mahdi Institute, the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, the University of Nottingham and the University of Oxford, and is currently a Teaching Fellow in Islamic Ethics and Theology at the University of Birmingham.
Shaykh Mohamed-Riaz Walji (Tutor)
Shaykh Mohamed-Riaz Walji completed his seminary education at the Al-Mahdi Institute and went on to complete an MA in Islam in Contemporary Societies at the University of Warwick in 2010. Since graduating, he has worked as a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at AMI where he teaches contemporary philosophy and runs tutorials for students in Islamic ethics, theology, and philosophy. He also works closely with Shaykh Arif Abdul Hussain in developing the latter’s legal methodology and philosophical approach known as the ‘existential framework.’ In addition to these research interests, he is also working on the legal theory of al-Sayyid Muḥammad Bāqir al-Ṣadr.