Classical Islamic Theology: The Ash`arites: Texts and Studies on the Development and History of Kalam, Vol. III, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Classical Islamic Theology: The Ash`arites

Texts and Studies on the Development and History of Kalam, Vol. III, 1st Edition

By Richard M. Frank, edited by Dimitri Gutas


440 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789796
pub: 2008-08-28
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This is the third of three volumes reprinting the collected papers on Islamic subjects by Richard M. Frank, Professor Emeritus at the Catholic University of America, and completes the set. The present volume on the Ash`arites and the classical Ash`arite tradition brings together articles written in the last two decades of Richard Frank's scholarly activity which represent his mature thought on the main philosophical and doctrinal elements of that tradition. The volume opens with two more general studies, one on the science of kalam, presenting Frank's most profound insights on its very nature and essence, followed by a series of detailed and incisive analyses of the physics, metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology of the Ash`arite system. This body of work forms the vanguard of modern studies on the subject and will repay repeated and prolonged study.


’When we today claim to have some sense of the terminology of early kalam, it is because Richard M. Frank analysed it and taught it to us. His works are fundamental for anyone working with kalam literature. It is fitting that his papers have been collected… this volume is well suited for students of Islamic theology, even the beginners among them.’ Journal of Islamic Studies ’[These studies] are among the most significant resources for the study and understanding of medieval Islamic theology… Dimitri Gutas is to be congratulated for the entire project.’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword; Hearing and saying what was said; The science of Kalam; Moral obligation in classical Muslim theology; Can God do what is wrong?; Attribute, attribution, and being: three Islamic views; Two Islamic views of human agency; Knowledge and taqlid, the foundation of religious belief in classical Ash'arism; The non-existent and the possible in classical Ash'arite teaching; The Ash'arite ontology I: primary entities; Bodies and atoms: the Ash'arite analysis; Al-Ahkam in classical Ash'arite teaching; Notes and remarks on the Taba'i in the teaching of al-Maturidi; The autonomy of the human agent in the teaching of 'Abd al-Gabbar; Al-Ustadh Abu Ishak: an 'Akida together with selected fragments; Index.

About the Authors

Richard M. Frank is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, at the Catholic University of America, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General