Academic Programs 


The Attributes of God and the Purpose of Creation: 
Readings in Islamic Theology
Summer 2004

In this class we will examine the essential questions of theology through the eyes of Muslim scholars over the centuries.  How does one understand the attributes of God without falling into anthropomorphism?  What is the role of reason in interpreting revelation? Are humans truly free to choose their own destiny?  In what way can we understand the Qur'an to be "God's speech" without undermining God's transcendence? Is paradise only for Muslims?  These are the questions we will explore in our readings of classical and pre-modern theologians, including al-Ash`ari, al-Maturidi, al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and modern theologians including Fazlur Rahman and Sayyed Hossein Nasr.  

Meeting Day, Time and Dates:
Monday, June 14 – Friday, June 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.    

Ingrid Mattson
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9531


Course Syllabus

Course Requirements:

Since this is an intensive five-day course, full attendance and participation are absolutely necessary.  Students will be graded for participation and will lose points for unexcused absences from class.

Students will submit two 300-word book reports on a book approved by the instructor.

The research paper must be on a topic approved by the instructor.  In addition to any monographs the student may find on the paper topic, he or she must also consult the "Index Islamicus," the "Religion Index" or another source to search for relevant scholarly articles.  The student is encouraged to submit a draft of the paper before the final due date.  Students should follow Hartford Seminary guidelines for writing research papers.  A copy of these guidelines are available from the course instructor or the Dean’s office.



Participation                     30%
Book reports                     20%

Research paper                 50%

Deadline:      Book reports and final paper/project due: August 15.


Required reading:  If you can at least start reading these books before class, you will get more out of the lectures and discussions.   I will also be handing out a number of articles and other readings during class. 

The Faith and Practice of al-Ghazali, translated by W. Montgomery Watt (Oxford: Oneworld, 1994).

Sherman A. Jackson, On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam:  Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Faysal al-Tafriqa (Karachi:  Oxford University Press, 2002).


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