Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I'jaz al-Qur'an and Philosophy of Religion

I've thought for some time now that undergraduate philosophy of religion courses should spend some time discussing the inimitability of the Quran. 'Philosophy of religion' as it is usually understood is a patchwork discipline: a little metaphysics, a little ethics, a little epistemology, a little religious tradition. In an undergraduate course you have to find simple ways to get across the most important issues; and in philosophy of religion, given its patchwork nature, the issues are legion. Discussing the philosophical implications of i'jaz is a useful way to do it, because (1) historically, it has been a religious origin for a hefty amount of important philosophical thought; (2) despite this, it is a much, much simpler theological doctrine than most such jumping-off points (although there are quite a few different philosophical accounts of it, the basic point is fairly easy to grasp);(3) one would have to discuss the issue of revelation anyway, and i'jaz gives a straightforward means of discussing it. My ideal philosophy of religion course would probably be structured something along these lines:

(1) the nature of religion
(2) natural theology (existence of God, divine providence and foreknowledge)
(3) natural religion (religion and ethics)
(4) revealed religion (faith and reason, miracles, revelation)

I'jaz would be a great contribution to the discussion of revelation, and would, besides, give a useful break from the standard stuff. (I'd use Aquinas on the virtue of religion for (3) and Boethius for divine providence and foreknowledge, and would discuss (1) using the historical example of the Chinese Rites Controversy, which turned precisely on the question, "What should be counted as religion?".)

Some resources on i'jaz:

* The Miracle of the Quran and What is the Challenge of the Quran?, both from the Islamic Awareness website.
* Is the Qur'an Miraculous?, a website on the subject from a Christian perspective, which has, interestingly, grown out of discussions between Christians and Muslims on the subject.

I posted (somewhat roughly) on a related topic once before, suggesting that it needs to be taken more seriously than it usually is.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please understand that this weblog runs on a third-party comment system, not on Blogger's comment system. If you have come by way of a mobile device and can see this message, you may have landed on the Blogger comment page, or the third party commenting system has not yet completely loaded; your comments will only be shown on this page and not on the page most people will see, and it is much more likely that your comment will be missed.