Skip to main content

Kalām

Kalām (Arab., kalima, ‘word, discourse’). The science (ʿilm) of theology in Islam, developed in parallel with ʿilm ul-fiqh (and was originally called al-fiqh al-akbar, the greater fiqh). Its roots lie in early attempts to deal with rational questions prompted (or provoked) by Qur-ʾān—e.g., how can the qadar (determining power) of Allāh be reconciled with the freedom and accountability of humans? The earliest group to bring reason to bear on such issues were the Muʿtazilites. But that inclination to give primacy to reason seemed to others to subordinate the Qurʿān. Kalām, therefore, for al-Ashʿarī and al-Māturīdī became the elucidation and application of the Qurʾān as the absolute (and uncreated) Word of God. The dangers of Kalām to the uninitiated were signalled by al-Ghaz(z)ālī, whose reconciliation of philosophy, theology, and simple faith in effect put an end to theological exploration. Those who study theology are known as mutakallimun.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Kalām." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Kalām." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kalam

"Kalām." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/kalam

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.