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Muslim Societies in South Asia Seminar

Asad Ahmed, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of California Berkeley

Chair: Khaled el-Rouayheb, James Richard Jewett Professor of Arabic and of Islamic Intellectual History; member of the Steering Committee of the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program

This lecture aims to show that the history of the rationalist disciplines (ma’qulat, such as logic, philosophy, astronomy, etc.) in Muslim South Asia was driven by non-trivial social and political contexts.  Taking up the example of a theological debate on the finality of the Prophet, this lecture examines how reformist and establishment scholars deployed various technical tools in rationalist scholarship (especially logic) to argue for the validity of their position on this issue.  In the process, they breathed new life into several subfields of the rationalist disciplines.  This brief period of focus on the relevant technical tools was not due to some predictable orientation of texts, but was the product of the complex layers of the cultural, social, political, and technological landscapes of nineteenth century Muslim India.

Cosponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program