Reasoned and Inspired Beliefs: A Study of Islamic Theology



Abstract:  In most cases, Islamic theology has been examined as a sub-field of Islamic legal studies. Ignaz Goldziher and Joseph Schacht for instance, see a link between Islamic law and theology. However, Islamic materials from the formative period of Islamic thought show that Muslim scholars distinguished between disciplines dealing with theological themes and those dealing with legal and jurisprudential topics. In this article, the author defines theology and identifies the major trends that contributed to the development of theological doctrines in Sunni and Shi‘ite Islam. He argues that, during the various historical periods, the scope and reach of Islamic theology depended on the political, social, and intellectual environment. He concludes that, in the end, Muslim theology could only be understood in a context radically different from its counterpart in Judaism and Christianity.