Islamic Religious Epistemology

In John Greco, Tyler Dalton McNabb & Jonathan Fuqua (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Religious Epistemology. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press (2023)
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This chapter aims to lay out a map of the diverse epistemological perspectives within the Islamic theological tradition, in the conceptual framework of contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. In order achieve that goal, it aims to consider epistemological views in light of their historic context, while at the same time seeking to “translate” those broadly medieval perspectives into contemporary philosophical language. In doing so, the chapter offers a succinct overview of the main epistemic trends within the Islamic theological tradition concerning religious epistemology. The chapter is divided into two main sections designated for discussions of differing accounts found in distinct trends of the tradition, namely the Rationalist and Traditionalist trends. The discussion concerning the Rationalist trend focuses on the philosophical-theologians of the dominant Mu’tazilite, Ash’arite, and Maturidite schools. The section on Islamic Traditionalism focuses on the Atharite scripturalism of Ibn Qudāma, and in particular the thought of Ibn Taymiyya. In order to map out these historic positions in light of contemporary religious epistemology, reference is made to a threefold typology of current views in the literature: (1) theistic evidentialism, (2) reformed epistemology, and (3) fideism. As such, the remainder of the chapter will attempt to outline the different approaches toward religious epistemology in the Islamic theological tradition with this threefold typology in mind.

Author's Profile

Jamie B. Turner
University of Birmingham


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