Interreligiosity as a Realist Learning Engagement: Theodore Abū Qurrah and ʽAlī b. Rabbān al-Ṭabarī—Two Comparative Theologians from Early Islam?
Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2018)
The comparative theologian, Francis X. Clooney, once opined that much recent comparative theology is done with Hinduism and Buddhism, and Islam is hardly gaining a proportionately sufficient attention in this scholarship. This essay aims at contributing to the attempt at filling-in the gap of doing comparative theology in relation to Islam. I pursue this task by studying fī al-Dīn wa-l-Dawlah (On Religion and State) by the Muslim ʽAlī b. Rabbān al-Ṭabarī in comparative conversation with Maymar fī Wjūd al-Khāliq wa-l-Dīn al-Qawym (Maymar on the Existence of the Creator and the Right Religion). by the Christian Theodore Abū Qurrah. It is my goal to shed comparative lights on Wa-l-Dīn al-Qawīm and Al-Dīn wa-l-Dawlah by observing similarities and differences with regard to the following: the method of verification; the criterion of credibility acknowledged by each; and the telos of verification they seek. Toward the end of the comparison, I reflect briefly on whether or not Abū Qurrah and al-Ṭabarī could be considered comparative theologians of the early Islam/middle Byzantine era and, if so, what kind of “comparative theology” are they presenting in their legacies?
Author: Najib George Awad
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