The Idea of Subjective Faith in al-Maturidi’s Theology

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Al-Māturīdī is seemingly the first medieval theologian who gives precedence to his theory of knowledge over other theological issues. 4 He opens his discourse with a chapter of invalidity of taqlid and continues with a discussion of means of knowledge. In that chapter, Al-Māturīdī offers two ways of knowing the divine will: reason (‘aql) and tradition (sam’). For him, tradition, as a source of knowledge, refers to knowledge of past events, names of things, distant countries, benefits and harms of a thing. They are not self-evident nor are we able to witness their reality for ourselves by way of senses. In principle, Al-Māturīdī says, we acquire all our knowledge about external world by way of hearing. However, this kind of knowledge is not valid unless it is transmitted by uninterrupted chains of authority (mutawātir) or unless its validity is determined by sensual or rational channels of knowledge. 5 Thus, the reliable knowledge originated by tradition is of two kinds; one is that mutawātir, the other is that which can be validated by reason. Al-Māturīdī asserts that due to the rational signs demonstrating the truth of the message of prophets, their message richly deserves to be admitted as truth.
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