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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Divinity : Divinity

Postgraduate Course: Islamic Theology: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives (PG) (DIVI11031)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Divinity CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course introduces students to diverse perspectives and major debates in Islamic theology from both the classical and contemporary periods.
Course description Academic Description:
The course introduces students to diverse perspectives and major debates in Islamic theology from the classical and contemporary periods. The course provides an in-depth understanding of the major schools of theology in both the classical Sunni and Shi'a traditions, and examines how new forms of theological analysis have emerged in the modern and post-colonial period. Topics may include, but are not limited to, the unity and attributes of God, the relationship between reason and revelation, divine power and human freedom, the eternality of the Qur'an, prophethood, the Imamate and political community, the problem of evil, and religious pluralism. Students will have the opportunity to read selections from major primary texts (in translation or in Arabic where ability allows) and also engage with burgeoning secondary literature in the field of Islamic theology.

Syllabus/Outline Content:
The course will begin with a two-week study of the origins and history of Islamic theology, examining the emergence of different schools and how these thinkers engaged with the Qur'an, philosophy, and reason. After introducing this historical background, the course will then be organized thematically around key topics in Islamic thought. The course will always include an analysis of the three following themes: the unity and attributes of God, prophetology and the Qur'an, and human freedom. The other themes to be studied will vary from year to year and may include the caliphate and umma, the problem of evil, social and economic justice, religious pluralism, gender and embodiment, mysticism, and the law.

Student Learning Experience Information:
The course will include one hour of seminar discussion, with in depth analysis of both primary and secondary literature, and then will be followed by a one hour lecture to prepare students for the next week's material. The lecture aims to provide students with the necessary background and framing of the course readings in order for them to better analyze and evaluate the readings. In addition, each student will be asked to prepare a short 10 minute presentation on a major thinker in the Islamic tradition. These presentations will offer the students an opportunity to connect the readings to the biographies of major Muslim intellectuals and broaden the community of learning. Where language abilities allow, there will be the possibility for an additional bi-weekly seminar to study the texts in their original languages.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course welcomes visiting students, although it is recommended that students have taken previous courses in one of the following areas: Islamic studies, philosophy, Christian theology, or Jewish thought.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a clear and critical understanding of the major schools of Islamic Theology, including how they understand the relationship between reason and revelation.
  2. Compare and contrast classical and contemporary understandings of key concepts in Islamic Theology.
  3. Develop a nuanced understanding of the major thinkers and themes that have shaped and influenced Muslim thought.
  4. Pursue and present independent research in Islamic Theology.
  5. Confidently analyse and persuasively contribute to the scholarly debate in the secondary literature on the nature of Islamic theology and Muslim thought.
Reading List
Indicative Bibliography:

The course will vary based on subject matter and themes, what will count as primary or required reading and what will be used as recommended reading.

'Abduh, Muhammad. Theology of Unity. Translated by Ishaq Musa'ad and Kenneth Cragg. (Islamic Book Trust, 1996).

Abrahamov, Binyamin. Islamic Theology: Traditionalism and Rationalism. (Edinburgh University Press, 1998).

Abu Zayd, Nasr Hamid. Critique of Religious Discourse. Translated by Jonathan Wright. (Yale University Press, 2018).

Afsaruddin, Asma. Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Aslan, Ednan (ed.). Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians (Peter Lang, 2013).

Chowdhury, Safaruk. Islamic Theology and the Problem of Evil. (American University of Cairo Press, 2021).

Farahat, Omar. The Foundations of Norms in Islamic Jurisprudence and Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2019).

Al-Faruqi, Isma'il Raji. Al-Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life. (International Institute for Islamic Thought, 2000).

Galadari, Abdulla. Qur'anic Hermeneutics: Between Science, History, and the Bible (Bloomsbury, 2018).

Al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. Moderation in Belief. Translated by Aladdin M Yaqub (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

-------. The Principles of the Creed: Book 2 of the Revival of the Religious Sciences. Translated by Khalid Williams (Fons Vitae, 2016).

Halverson, Jeffry R. Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood, Ash'arism, and Political Sunnism (Palgrave, 2010).

Harvey, Ramon. Transcendent God, Rational World (Edinburgh University Press, 2021).

Hassan, Laura. Ash'arism Encounters Avicennism: Sayf al-D_n al-_mid_ on Creation (Brill, 2020).

Hoover, Jon. Ibn Taymiyya: Makers of the Muslim World, (OneWorld Acadamic, 2019).

Jackson, Sherman. Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Al-Juwayni, Imam al-Haramayn. A Guide to Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief. Translated by Paul E Walker (Garnet Publishing, 2000).

Khalil, Mohammad Hassan. Islam and the Fate of Others. (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Nagel, Tilman. The History of Islamic Theology: From Muhammad to the Present (Markus Weiner Publishing, 2000).

Nguyen, Martin. Modern Muslim Theology: Engaging God and the World with Faith and Imagination (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).

Rahman, Fazlur. Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition (University of Chicago, 1982).

Schmidtke, Sabine (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Siddiqui, Mona. The Good Muslim: Reflections on Law and Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Sirry, Mun'im. Scriptural Polemics: The Qur'an and Other Religions (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Winter, Timothy (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Read and engage with a range of primary and secondary literature in Islamic theology and philosophy
- Articulate in written and oral form their own arguments and analysis, while fairly representing the views and arguments of others
- Synthesise a wide range of information and present this is in a clear and coherent fashion
- Ability to pursue independent research
KeywordsIslamic Theology,Philosophical Theology,Kalam,Islamic Thought
Course organiserDr Joshua Ralston
Tel: (0131 6)50 8928
Course secretaryMs Amy MacKinnon
Tel: (0131 6)50 7227
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