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Sufism and Theology$
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Ayman Shihadeh

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748626052

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748626052.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Sufism and Theology

Ayman Shihadeh

Edinburgh University Press

This volume provides an exploration into various aspects of the interface between Sufism and theology, which are two major currents in the religious and intellectual history of Islam. Compared to the interaction and relation between Sufism and jurisprudence, between the Sufi and philosophical currents, and between the theological and philosophical currents in Islam, this subject has received little scholarly attention, much less than it merits. Not only does any examination of the complex and diverse historical manifestations of this multifarious relationship expose major gaps in our know ledge, it also highlights the need to question some widely accepted notions still current. It is in these two respects, rather than in providing a comprehensive survey of the subject, that the overall contribution of this volume lies. The ten chapters in this volume are studies in intellectual history, which also account for relevant elements in their appropriate socio-political contexts. This volume begins with the early 6th/12th century and continues up to the modern period, avoiding the question of the relation of Sufism to theology in the earliest, formative period, up to the 4th/10th century. By the late 5th/11th century Sufism had emerged from a complex earlier ascetico-mystical milieu, having consolidated its generally identifiable classical characteristics, orientation and distinct identity as a movement. Sufism came to understand itself as a systematic and well structured path to knowing God through a process of internal transformation, which attempts to transcend the ordinary human condition, usually by means of ethico-spiritual discipline. It is mainly this transformative and noetic orientation which allows reference to Sufism to be ‘mysticism’. Theology, by contrast, is that form of enquiry which attempts to know God, or to defend certain conceptions of God, through an exposition which reasons from evidence, whether rational or scriptural. Both the evidence and the method of enquiry will be known either ordinarily or through instruction.

Keywords:   Sufism, theology, Islam, Sufi, mysticism

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