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Ilm al-Kalam is a science that relates to reasoned speculative theology arising from the Muslim world's historic encounter with Greek philosophy. It seeks to understand what cannot be known via sense perception and science using speculative reasoning and skepticism. As such it has been and remains highly controversial amongst Muslim thinkers.

In the organization of questions addressed by this subject, the summaries and compendia generally follow the same basic scheme.

  1. Justified knowledge (al-'ilm) and speculative reason- ing (al-nazar).
  2. Proof of the existence of the Creator.
  3. The attributes of the Creator.
  4. God's governance of the world and the ontological status of human agency (al-qada' wal-qadar).
  5. Prophecy and Prophets.
  6. Questions related to Prophetic revelation.
  7. The hereafter.
  8. The status of individuals and the order of society.

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)


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