Religion and morality in Islam: a proposal concerning ethics in the formative period

Kelsay, John Edward, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Little, David, Department of Religiious Studies, University of Virginia
Sachedina, Abdulaziz, Department of Religiious Studies, University of Virginia
Childress, James, Department of Religiious Studies, University of Virginia
Thompson, Kenneth, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia

This study is an inquiry into, or proposal for understanding of certain features of Islamic thought and practice in the early classical or ‘formative' period of the tradition. In particular, the focus of interest is al-Ash’arī,’s Kitāb al-Luma', viewed in the context of the response to Mu'tazilī thought and ‘Abbāsid policy which was characteristic of the hadith movement.

The point of view which this study offers is in terms of an analysis of central portions of the Islamic tradition in this early period, formulated in a way which is termed ‘perspectival’: i.e.; having to do with certain problems or questions related to the author's context, and which it is hoped will illumine Islamic materials. In particular, the perspective is that of 'religion and morality', and is connected with questions concerning the relationship of those concepts; questions typical in Western ethics, but which have not been asked previously in relation to Islamic materials. The terms 'religion' and 'morality' are taken ultimately to indicate differing ‘worldviews’ or 'perceptions of reality' which, in the case of the formative period of Islam, provide a way of understanding the conflict between the Mu’tazila and the hadīth movement.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ashʻarī, Abū al-Ḥasan ʻAlī ibn Ismāʻīl, Ethics, Islamic ethics
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