This course explores the content and structure of Islamic belief, as elaborated by Muslim classical thinkers (7th-15th centuries), in relation to a selection of representative texts. The Introduction questions the nature and modalities of theology in Islam. History studies the origins and growth of the science of Kalâm in its interaction with the other major religious disciplines of Sunnism — exegesis, Prophetic tradition, jurisprudence, sects, Sufism and philosophy (falsafa). The Creed is then analyzed more theoretically in its major components: the lordship and divinity of God, the mediation of the Messenger, the servitude and ethics of the believers. Society offers a last avenue for enquiry, in so far as it was shaped by particular theological doctrines. The Way/Law (sharî’a), power, love, innovation, and alterity — religious or other — are among the topics envisaged. No knowledge of Arabic is required for this course.
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