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Reason as Theo-logic

Considering the Durability of the Kalām Model of Theological Inquiry

Meeting in-person: March 19-23, 2022

at the Chicago Theological Seminary


Abstract Deadline: January 31, 2022

Bayan Islamic Graduate School



Approaching Kalām as systematic instrument for constructive philosophical theology, Bayan Islamic Graduate School invites students, academics, and Kalām practitioners to submit abstracts for papers to be delivered in-person during its 2022 Symposium programme. The Programme is part of Bayan’s larger partnership with the John Templeton Foundation, with an aim to contribute to a growing interest in Kalām theology—as a systematic method and approach to questions of religion and Muslim worldview; and to foster the capacity of emerging practitioners to draw on Kalām principles and analytic methods with the purpose of effective engagement with contemporary research and debate in epistemology, metaphysics, doctrinal integrity, socio-cultural change, and questions of religious truths.


As part of this objective, a four-day seminar/working-group event will be hosted to explore the place of reason in Muslim theology and its merits as an instrument for advancing theological aims and inquiries. Papers will be presented in plenary working group sessions over three days and form the basis of further collegial discussion and exploration of topics.


Contributing abstracts should treat a specific topic within one of the three working-group themes:


  • Realism and the “knowability” of metaphysical realities

  • Essentialism and the “definability” of particular things or kinds

  • Fideism and its viability as an alternative to reason 


Possible approaches to topics within the themes


Contributors may choose to approach chosen topics in an effective manner akin to the following:


  • highlighting current debates in philosophy or analytic theology with special attention to thinkers offering resolutions having some degree of convergence with classical Kalām principles and purposes, equally noting attendant aspects of critical divergence

  • outlining particular Kalām principles or instruments having a nuanced degree of apparent compatibility with contemporary philosophical questions, highlighting both the objectives as well as methods of the particular Kalām approach

  • a comparative analysis between the first two approaches

  • an analysis of classical Muslim Kalām debates aiming at a resolution or preferred position regarding one of the thematic topics of the programme


Proposed sub-topics under the three select themes


Contributors may wish to consider their chosen topic in light of the following examples:


I. Realism and the “knowability” of metaphysical realities


  • reason, realism, and metaphysics)

  • realism vs anti-realism

  • realism vs nominalism

  • notions of “noumena” in light of contemporary Kantianism(s) and their critics

  • theories of indeterminism and their effective relevance to regimes of rational thought

  • where have prominent Kalām scholars substantively stood along a spectrum between the two polarities of these debates

  • what are the operational principles treating Islamic concepts like abstract objects, second intentions, al-maʿdūm al-mumkin, mafhūm al-malakūt, or other ‘metaphysical’ religious truths in relation to contemporary notions of realism

  • when something is said to be known via the rational faculty, what is it that is actually known and how so

  • compare the requirements of any effective treatment of questions of realism and the instruments available to that end as offered by classical Kalām models

  • other….


II. Essentialism and the “definability” of particular things or kinds


  • essentialism as it relates to notions of ‘definition’—in logic, epistemology, or metaphysics

  • what is the current state of research—or popular assumption—regarding ideas of ‘natural kinds’ and or their relation to ‘predicables’ or ‘categories’

  • what are the merits of Kripke’s conception of essentialism and natural kinds and subsequent debates regarding these aspects of classical reason in the Kalām model

  • other….

III. Fideism and its viability as an alternative to reason 


  • do fideism or other hues of anti-rationalism constitute a sufficient alternative to reason for Muslim theology

  • what are the merits of reasoning from first principles for Muslim theology and is it compatible with revelation and its attendant priorities

  • other….


Papers need not be limited to the above topic, which are illustrative and not exhaustive.


The objective for producing these papers is to contribute to a new body of constructive research supporting a renewal of Kalām as an active applied science suitable for engagement with contemporary theological and philosophical inquiry. While there exist perhaps more pressing matters of theodicy, social justice, or the relationship of all things divine to lived human experience, it may be said that the work of reinvigorating the fundamental principles informing the methods, principles, and intellectual identity of a Muslim system of theological inquiry must precede other more ambitious enterprises. With this in mind, it is hoped that fostering an environment of honest, frank, and collegial discussion and practical interrogation might go a long way to advancing this end.


Submission Requirements


  1. Abstracts and writing proposals should be 500-700 words in length, with a sample bibliography of select sources. Papers will be related to rational Kalām theology as an applied science.

  2. The submitted abstract will be accompanied by basic contact details, the full name of the applicant, as well as professional position, and/or one’s affiliation with fields related to the subject-matter. The abstract should clearly indicate the approach and theme to be addressed.

  3. Participants responding to the CFP above should also have completed the application questionnaire associated with the programme, linked below.

  4. Abstracts, papers, and otherwise written contributions are expected to follow standard academic style and format.

  5. Submissions should be filed no later than January 31, 2022.



The symposium is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. We expect to invite 20 highly qualified participants to engage one another during the program, along with guest presenters and facilitators. Abstracts will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with letters of acceptance issued in August and by early September. Selection of participants will partially be based on the range of topics addressed in order to cover the three thematic groupings, and participants will be asked to present their works in progress on one of the thematic days and contribute to collective discussions during the event as a whole.


Program Schedule

Travel and Lodging


Accepted participants will be provided a $600 honorarium to assist with travel expenses (airfare, ground transport). A welcome dinner, and daily lunches will be provided. Hotel accommodations will be provided for accepted participants/presenters near the Chicago Theological Seminary. Transportation between the hotel and symposium location will be provided.


Participant and Contributor Profile


Professors, Kalām practitioners, advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and advanced students of classical Kalām theology and related fields are all encouraged to submit contributions and answer the invitation to attend. The Symposium committee cordially extends its welcome to all those bringing an enthusiasm for collegial dialogue, academic research & taḥqīq, as well as a motivated interest in the Kalām Model as an applied method of critical inquiry.

Convener: Shaykh Jihad Brown, Resident Scholar

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Fouad Elgohari at

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Supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation

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