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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Prior to the rise of the Ashʿarism in the ninth century as the dominant Sunni theological tradition utilizing the approach of dialectical theology (kalām), a number of theologians such as Ibn Kullāb, al-Muḥāsibī and al-Qalānisī attempted a spirited defence of traditionalist doctrine through engagement with kalām discourse. As affirmers of the eternity of distinct divine attributes (ṣifātiyya, ahl al-ithbāt) against the more radical monotheism of the Muʿtazila, they shared key tenets with their traditionalist brethren. However, as in the case of their successors the Ashʿarites, these early attempts to formulate a systematic and rationalist Sunni theology provoked hostility from Hanbalites who saw such endeavours as ‘innovations’ to the original doctrines of Islam. This chapter summarizes research on these theologians over the past decades, situating them within the context of wider developments, but also shedding light on the unique aspects of their theological teachings.

Keywords: kalām, Sunni, Ashʿarites, Ashʿarism, Hanbalites, traditionalism, ṣifātiyya, ahl al-ithbāt, divine attributes

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