The subject of Ilm al-Kalam comprises little more than "Futile Debates".
For over a millennium theologians (mutakallimeen) have debated topics like:
Whilst it can be argued there is a time and place for these discussions in academic circles, there is no real benefit in any of these discussions for the layman.
If you are young and new to these debates, it may be fashionable to belong to a cause and debate opponents, but you will reach the same conclusion after many years of wasted effort.
Imam al-Tibbi wrote 700 years ago in a similar context:
. والمنازعة في ذلك كمن يأتيهم كتاب من سلطان يأمرهم فيه وينهاهم، وهم يتشاجرون في أن الكتاب: كيف خطه، وكيف عبارته، وأي شيء فيه من صنعة الفصاحة والبلاغة؟ ويذهلون عن صرف الهمم إلى الانتداب لما ندبوا إليه".
"Quarreling about these issues is like the example of a people to whom their king sent a letter in which he commanded them to do certain things and forbade them from doing certain things.
What they did instead is: they quarrelled among themselves about the letter itself:
How did he write it?
How did he phrase it?
What kind of eloquence and rhetoric does it contain?
And their astonishment at these issues distracted them from the actual mandate which they were assigned to do."
فالسبيل الأمثل والطريق الأعدل- أيها الإخوان من الطائفتين- أن تتركا المنازعة والخوض فيما لم يشرع فيه أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم. فاعملوا في تلاوة كتاب الله وتدبره والعمل بما فيه
"O my brothers from both of these opposing camps: The best and fair way forward is to abstain from disputing and delving into issues altogether which the companions of the Prophet did not indulge in.
Act on what you recite from the Book of God, reflect on it and simply perform what is mentioned in it." (Futuh al-Ghayb 1/629)
The best way for us is to leave all of this and stop where the Sahaba stopped. The classical scholars acted on the following formula:
مذهبنا صواب يحتمل الخطأ
ومذهب مخالفينا خطأ يحتمل الصواب
"Our Madhab is correct,
but it could be incorrect.
The Madhab of our opponents is incorrect,
but it could be correct."
Kalam, or Islamic speculative theology, is a branch of Islamic science that deals with the study of Islamic beliefs and practices. It is based on the principles of logic and argumentation and is used to defend and explain Islamic beliefs and practices. Some scholars argue that kalam is of great benefit because it helps to clarify and defend the principles of Islam and to promote understanding and unity within the Muslim community.
Others, however, argue that kalam can be problematic because it can lead to unnecessary divisions and disputes within the Muslim community, and because it can sometimes be used to justify certain beliefs or practices that may not be based on solid evidence or reasoning.
Ultimately, the value and benefit of kalam will depend on how it is practiced and applied. If it is used in a responsible and constructive way, it can be a useful tool for promoting understanding and unity within the Muslim community. However, if it is used in an irresponsible or divisive way, it can be harmful and cause unnecessary divisions within the community.
Here are a few examples of problems that have been associated with the Islamic science of kalam:
Divisiveness: Some scholars argue that kalam can lead to unnecessary divisions and disputes within the Muslim community because it often involves debates over complex and controversial issues. For example, the debate over the nature of God's attributes (known as the "theology of attributes") has been a source of disagreement among Muslim scholars for centuries.
Misuse: Kalam has also been criticized for being misused or abused by some individuals or groups to justify certain beliefs or practices that may not be based on solid evidence or reasoning. For example, some scholars argue that kalam has been used to justify extremist or violent ideologies that are not in line with the teachings of Islam.
Limited focus: Some scholars argue that kalam can be problematic because it tends to focus solely on theoretical or abstract issues, rather than on practical or ethical concerns. This can lead to a lack of emphasis on issues such as social justice, poverty, and other important issues facing the Muslim community.
"The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities" by Abdullah Saeed: In this book, Saeed discusses the ways in which kalam has been misused to justify extremist ideologies and the need to reform and revitalize the science of kalam to better serve the needs of the Muslim community.
"The Role of Theology in Civil Rights and Social Justice Movements" by Obery M. Hendricks Jr.: In this article, Hendricks discusses the need for theology to address practical and ethical concerns and the ways in which kalam has sometimes failed to do so.
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