Religious Experience and Islamic Theology

By: Mustapha Tajdin  

The systematization of theological precepts into organized doctrines threatens the very essence of any religious experience which, by definition, tries to escape the confinement of conformity. Spirituality and religious experience are generally overlooked by Islamic theologians allowing Sufism to grow along a different course. Although Islamic theology is generally speculative, this paper attempts to show that some Islamic theological concepts could, otherwise, help nurture a vivid religious experience owing to the fact that, the theological project in Islam is not limited to the nature and qualities of the transcendent God but also includes the need to account for His relationship with men. Not only does theology inform the religious experience, Sufism addresses questions of theological character. Islamic theology is the product of a speculative activity which started as a result of Muslims’ disagreements over issues of political succession (Imāmah) and human free will. Part of this activity was a response to external intellectual attacks on Islam. The paper discusses the possibility of building a spiritual religious experience in its universal form based on some theological doctrines. I concede to the fact that the issue of spirituality in Islam is to be found outside theology, but there are some schools of Kalām which proved to be in harmony with Sufism owing not only to preference but, more than that, to theological considerations. The example to be explored here is the Sunni Ashʿarite doctrine and how it is here assumed to provide solid grounds for a rich and universal religious experience.

Religious Experience, Asharism, Spirituality, Sufism, Theology
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Mustapha Tajdin

Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Khalifa University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates

I'm a moroccan. My experience in teaching and in administration goes over a span of 13 actual working years in the field of Arabic Language, Translation, and linguistics. I devised programs in Translation and Arabic for non-natives. I participated in many international and national conferences. I authored a book on creative thinking and published more than 6 scholarly articles.