SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Philosophical Theology In Islam: The Later Ash'ari Tradition

Philosophical Theology in Islam
Convenors: Ayman Shihadeh and Jan Thiele

Date: 2 September 2014Time: 12:00 AM

Finishes: 3 September 2014Time: All Day

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Kamran DJAM Lecture Theatre (Formerly G2)

Type of Event: Conference



The Ash‘arī school is the dominant and most influential school of theology and philosophical theology in pre-modern Islam, and still exerts considerable influence, mostly implicit, on contemporary Islamic thought. In many respects, however, it remains sorely understudied. Emerging in the 10th century as a school of rational theology (kalām), Ash‘arism developed during the 12th century into a school of philosophical theology, which continued to thrive across the Muslim world until the advent of modernity. Focusing on the later phase of the school’s history, this conference will offer an array of perspectives, ranging from investigations of philosophical and theological theories to explorations of regional, institutional and socio-political contexts within which the school developed.


Monday, 1 September 2014
Opening & Keynote Lecture
17.00 - 18.30Professor Ulrich Rudolph (University of Zurich)
Post-Ghazālian theology: What were the lessons to be learned from Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī
Chair: Ayman Shihadeh (SOAS)
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
1. Earlier Contexts
Chair: Jan Thiele (SOAS)
9.30 - 10.15Ayman Shihadeh (SOAS)
The Avicennan milieu and the rise of Neo-Ash‘arism
10.15- 11.00Talal Al-Azem (Oxford University)
Scholasticism versus traditionalism in Ayyubid-era madrasas
11.00 - 11.30Break
2. Ash‘arism in the Maghrib
Chair: Hugh Kennedy (SOAS)
11.30 - 12.15Delfina Serrano (CCHS-CSIC, Madrid)
The Almoravid contribution to the diffusion of Ash‘arism in the far Maghrib in the eleventh-twelfth centuries
12.15 - 13.00Jan Thiele (SOAS)
Arguing with imaginary Mu‘tazilites? A seventh/thirteenth-century Maghrebi guide to Ashʿarite kalām
13.00 - 14.30Break
3. Ash‘arism in Egypt
Chair: Ulrich Rudolph
14.30 - 15.15Jon Hoover (University of Nottingham)
Mamluk state Ash‘arism: Al-Nuwayrī’s account of Ibn Taymiyya’s trials of 705–709/1306–1310
15.15 - 16.00Aaron Spevack (Colgate University)
Continuing conversations: An exploration of developments in post-thirteenth-century North African and Egyptian Ash‘arism
16.00 - 16.30Break
4. Theological Debates
Chair: Sajjad Rizvi
16.30-17.15Walid Saleh (Toronto University)
A dispute with al-Taftāzānī (d. 793/1390) over the proofs of God’s unity: Dalīl al-tamānu‘ in later Ash‘arite theology
17.15-18.00Harith bin Ramli (University of Nottingham)
Ibrāhīm al-Kūrānī’s critique of al-Taftāzānī on the question of kasb: The impact of Akbarī Sufism on Ash‘arism in the seventeenth century
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
5. Ash‘arism in the East
Chair: Judith Pfeiffer (Oxford University)
9.30-10.15Reza Pourjavady (Free University of Berlin)
‘Aḍud al-Dīn al-Ījī’s students and their works: a preliminary study
10.15-11.00Ahab Bdaiwi (University of St Andrews)
When and why did the later Ash‘arī tradition fade out in western Iran?
6. Philosophical Theories
Chair: David Bennett (University of Gothenburg)
11.30-12.15Bilal Ibrahim (University of California, Berkeley)
Structured universals (al-hay’a al-ijtimā‘iyya) in post-classical Ash‘arism
12.15-13.00Andreas Lammer (University of Munich)
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī on the essence of time
7. Commentaries
Chair: Konrad Hirschler (SOAS)
14.30-15.15Asad Q. Ahmed (University of California, Berkeley)
Later Ash‘arī theology in India: Glosses on the Mawāqif of al-Ījī
15.15-16.00Gregor Schwarb (Free University of Berlin)
Post-Rāzian Ash‘arism in a 14th-century Muslim commentary on Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah
8. Theological Anthropology
Chair: Ayman Shihadeh
16.30 - 17.15Christian Lange (Utrecht University)
Ash‘arī and Māturīdī soteriology: A parting of the ways?
17.15 - 18.00Sophia Vasalou (Oxford Brookes University)
Reason, the law, and the human good: Reconstructing Ibn Taymiyya’s Ash‘arite antagonists

Organiser: Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4343

Sponsor: Kalam Research and Media and the John Templeton Foundation.