This module begins with an exploration of the multiplicity of beliefs in human cultures about our origins and destinies. The Abrahamic account of creation is one of many. Why do we believe one story is correct and others are not? The Islamic scholarly tradition addressed these same questions of pluralism, and determined that reason was key to the study of knowledge.
The following sections introduce students to epistemology (the study of knowledge) and the study of history. The introduction to history comes through examples of pluralism and theological attempts in Islamic intellectual history to deal with pluralism. This brings us to the role of reason (ʿaql) in theology (kalām). The two main questions that are raised in this module are:
- If theology is justified by reason independent of revelation, then how do changes in our understanding of reason over time influence rational justifications for theology?
- If tradition is our guide, do changes in our understanding of history today change our relationship to tradition?
Link to excerpt from project essay with list of texts used as supplementary reading in original course that do not appear on this site.
Thumbnail: Genesis. Photo Credit: Carl Jones, 2014. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.