ʿIlm al-Kalām (Arabic: عِلْم الكَلام‎, literally "science of discourse"),[1] usually foreshortened to Kalām and sometimes called "Islamic scholastic theology",[2] is the study of Islamic doctrine ('aqa'id).[2] It was born out of the need to establish and defend the tenets of Islamic faith against doubters and detractors.[3] A scholar of Kalām is referred to as a mutakallim (plural: mutakallimūn), and it's a role distinguished from those of Islamic philosophers, jurists, and scientists.[4]

The Arabic term Kalām means "speech, word, utterance" among other things, and its use regarding Islamic theology is derived from the expression "Word of God" (Kalām Allāh) found in the Qur'an.[5]

Murtada Mutahhari describes Kalām as a discipline devoted to discuss "the fundamental Islamic beliefs and doctrines which are necessary for a Muslim to believe in. It explains them, argues about them, and defends them"[2] (see also Five Pillars of Islam). There are many possible interpretations as to why this discipline was originally called so; one is that the widest controversy in this discipline has been about whether the "Word of God", as revealed in the Qur'an, can be considered part of God's essence and therefore not created, or whether it was made into words in the normal sense of speech, and is therefore created.


As early as in the times of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258 CE), the discipline of Kalam arose in an "attempt to grapple" with several "complex problems" early in the history of Islam, according to historian Majid Fakhry. One was how to rebut arguments "leveled at Islam by pagans, Christians and Jews". Another was how to deal with (what some saw as the conflict between) the predestination of sinners to hell on the one hand and "divine justice" on the other, (some asserting that to be punished for what is beyond someone's control is unjust). Also Kalam sought to make "a systematic attempt to bring the conflict in data of revelation (in the Qur'an and the Traditions) into some internal harmony".[6]

Historian Daniel W. Brown describes Ahl al-Kalam as one three main groups in the time around the second century of Islam (Ahl ar-Ra'y and Ahl al-Hadith being the other two) clashing in polemical disputes over sources of authority in Islamic law. Ahl al-Kalam agreed with Ahl al-Hadith that the example of the Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was authoritative, but it rejected the authority of ahadith on the grounds that its corpus was "fill with contradictory, blasphemous, and absurd" reports, and that in jurisprudence, even the smallest doubt about a source was too much. Thus, they believed, the true legacy of the prophet was to be found elsewhere. Ahl al-Hadith prevailed over the Ahl al-Kalam and most of what is known about their arguments comes from the writings of their opponents, such as Imam al-Shafi'i.[7]

As an Islamic discipline

Even though seeking knowledge in Islam is considered a religious obligation, the study of 'Ilm al-Kalam is considered by Muslim scholars to fall beyond the category of necessity and is usually the preserve of qualified scholars, eliciting limited interest from the masses or common people.[8]

The early Muslim scholar Imam al-Shafi‘i held that there should be a certain number of men trained in kalam to defend and purify the faith, but that it would be a great evil if their arguments should become known to the mass of the people.[9]

Similarly, the Islamic scholar Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, held the view that the science of 'Ilm al-Kalam is not a personal duty on Muslims but a collective duty. Like al-Shafi'i, he discouraged the masses from studying it.[8]

The Hanbali Sufi, Khwaja Abdullah Ansari wrote a treatise entitled Dhamm al-Kalam where he criticized the use of kalam.[10]

The contemporary Islamic scholar Nuh Ha Mim Keller holds the view that the criticism of kalam from scholars was specific to the Mu'tazila, going on to claim that other historical Muslim scholars such as Al-Ghazali and An-Nawawi saw both good and bad in kalam and cautioned from the speculative excess of unorthodox groups such as the Mu'tazilah and Jahmites.[11] As Nuh Ha Mim Keller states in his article "Kalam and Islam":

"What has been forgotten today however by critics who would use the words of earlier Imams to condemn all kalam, is that these criticisms were directed against its having become 'speculative theology' at the hands of latter-day authors. Whoever believes they were directed against the `aqida or "personal theology" of basic tenets of faith, or the 'discursive theology' of rational kalam arguments against heresy is someone who either does not understand the critics or else is quoting them disingenuously."[11]

Major kalam schools

Hadith rejection





See also


  1. ^ Winter, Tim J. "Introduction", The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 4-5. Print.
  2. ^ a b c Mutahhari, Murtada; Qara'i, 'Ali Quli (translator). "An Introduction to 'Ilm al-Kalam". muslimphilosophy. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones, Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, p. 391. ISBN 1438109075
  4. ^ Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p. 119. ISBN 1441127887.
  5. ^ Schacht, J. Bearman, P., ed. Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Netherlands: Brill Publishers. ISBN 9789004161214. Retrieved 24 June 2016. kalam meanings a) the reed-pen used for writing in Arabic script; b) Ottoman usage, used figuratively to designate the secretariat of an official department or service; c) in the sense of kalām Allāh (the "Word of God), must here be distinguished from 1) kalām meaning ʿilm al-kalām, “defensive apologetics”, or “the science of discourse”, 2) kalima, expressed kalimat Allāh, means “a” (single) divine utterance; d) theology.
  6. ^ Fakhry, Majid (1983). A History of Islamic Philosophy (second ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. xvii–xviii.
  7. ^ Brown, Daniel W. (1996). Rethinking tradition in modern Islamic thought. Cambridge University Press. pp. 13–5. ISBN 0521570778. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b Bennett, Clinton (2012). The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 119. ISBN 1441127887.
  9. ^ Black Macdonald, Duncan (2008). Development of Muslim Theology, Jurisprudence, and Constitutional Theory, Chapter=III. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 187. ISBN 158477858X.
  10. ^ Jeffry R. Halverson, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam, 2010: p 37. ISBN 0230106587
  11. ^ a b "Nuh Ha Mim Keller - Kalam and Islam".

Further reading

Eissa, Mohamed. The Jurist and the Theologian: Speculative Theology in Shāfiʿī Legal Theory. Gorgias Press: Piscataway, NJ, 2017. ISBN 978-1-4632-0618-5.

External links

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam ( (listen); 15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015) was an Indian politician and aerospace scientist who served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. He was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India's civilian space programme and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organisational, technical, and political role in India's Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.Kalam was elected as the 11th President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the then-opposition Indian National Congress. Widely referred to as the "People's President", he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service after a single term. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

While delivering a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Kalam collapsed and died from an apparent cardiac arrest on 27 July 2015, aged 83. Thousands including national-level dignitaries attended the funeral ceremony held in his hometown of Rameshwaram, where he was buried with full state honours.

APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University

APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, also known as Kerala Technological University(KTU) is a state university established by the Government of Kerala headquartered in Trivandrum city. The objective of the University is to coordinate, supervise, regulate, guide and provide leadership in all aspects of technological and engineering education and research in Kerala State.

The university has its headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram and its jurisdictional authority extends to the whole of Kerala State. The university has been established both as a teaching and affiliation university. Engineering colleges may be affiliated as a regular college, a constituent college, an autonomous college, or as a college with academic autonomy.

Abul Kalam Azad

Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad pronunciation (11 November 1888 – 22 February 1958) was an Indian scholar, activist and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement. Following India's independence, he became the First Minister of Education in the Indian government Minister of Human Resource Development (until 25 September 1958, Ministry of Education) . He is commonly remembered as Maulana Azad; the word Maulana is an honorific meaning 'Our Master', and he had adopted Azad (Free) as his pen name. His contribution to establishing the education foundation in India is recognised by celebrating his birthday as "National Education Day" across India.As a young man, Azad composed poetry in Urdu, as well as treatises on religion and philosophy. He rose to prominence through his work as a journalist, publishing works critical of the British Raj and espousing the causes of Indian nationalism. Azad became the leader of the Khilafat Movement, during which he came into close contact with the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi. Azad became an enthusiastic supporter of Gandhi's ideas of non-violent civil disobedience, and worked to organise the non-co-operation movement in protest of the 1919 Rowlatt Acts. Azad committed himself to Gandhi's ideals, including promoting Swadeshi (indigenous) products and the cause of Swaraj (Self-rule) for India. In 1923, at an age of 35, he became the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress.

In October 1920, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was elected as a member of foundation committee to establish Jamia Millia Islamia at Aligarh in U. P. without taking help from British colonial government. He assisted in shifting the campus of the university from Aligarh to New Delhi in 1934. The main gate (Gate No. 7) to the main campus of the university is named after him.

Azad was one of the main organizers of the Dharasana Satyagraha in 1931, and emerged as one of the most important national leaders of the time, prominently leading the causes of Hindu-Muslim unity as well as espousing secularism and socialism. He served as Congress president from 1940 to 1945, during which the Quit India rebellion was launched. Azad was imprisoned, together with the entire Congress leadership.

Amidst communal turmoil following the partition of India, he worked for religious harmony. As India's Education Minister, Azad oversaw the establishment of a national education system with free primary education and modern institutions of higher education. He is also credited with the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the foundation of the University Grants Commission, an important institution to supervise and advance higher education throughout the country.

National Education Day (India) an annual observance in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first education minister of independent India, who served from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958. National Education Day of India is celebrated on 11 November every year in India. He also worked for Hindu-Muslim unity through the Al-Hilal newspaper.

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University

Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU), formerly Uttar Pradesh Technical University (UPTU), is a public collegiate university in Lucknow in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It was established as the Uttar Pradesh Technical University through the Government of Uttar Pradesh on 8 May 2000. To reduce workload and to ensure proper management, the university was bifurcated into separate universities, Gautam Buddh Technical University and Mahamaya Technical University, with effect from 1 May 2010. In 2013, as a new government came into power, the university was formed again by combining the two on 5 January 2013.It is an affiliating university, with approximately 800 colleges affiliated to it. The university was earlier on the IET Lucknow campus. Now it is in its newly inaugurated campus in Jankipuram, Lucknow. Additionally, the university had a Centre and Regional Office in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, which was retained by Mahamaya Technical University.

On 18 September 2015, the university was officially renamed as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University.On 20 June 2017, the newly constructed campus of Centre for Advanced Studies, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University, Lucknow in Jankipuram, Lucknow was inaugurated by the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi. All the programmes including MTech, PhD & DSc are AICTE approved. It is a Research Driven Autonomous Government Institution of AKTU & is recognised u/s 2(F) of UGC Act, 1956. At present, CAS is funded by Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. It is trying to get grants-in-aid status from MHRD, GoI u/s 12 (B) of UGC Act, 1956.

Uttar Pradesh Institute of Design, Noida is also a new constituent coliege of AKTU & offers BDes, MDes & PhD programmes approved by AICTE.

Galesh Kalam-e Leyla Kuh

Galesh Kalam-e Leyla Kuh (Persian: گالشكلام ليلاكوه‎, also Romanized as Gālesh Kalām-e Leylā Kūh; also known as Gālesh Kalām) is a village in Divshal Rural District, in the Central District of Langarud County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 199, in 59 families.

Golam Kabud-e Olya, Kermanshah

Golam Kabud-e Olya (Persian: گلم كبودعليا‎, also Romanized as Golam Kabūd-e ‘Olyā; also known as Kalam Kabūd-e ‘Olyā) is a village in Sar Firuzabad Rural District, Firuzabad District, Kermanshah County, Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 23, in 5 families.

Golam Kabud-e Sofla, Kermanshah

Golam Kabud-e Sofla (Persian: گلم كبودسفلي‎, also Romanized as Golam Kabūd-e Soflá; also known as Kalam Kabūd-e Soflá) is a village in Sar Firuzabad Rural District, Firuzabad District, Kermanshah County, Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 66, in 11 families.

Golam Kabud-e Vosta

Golam Kabud-e Vosta (Persian: گلم كبودوسطي‎, also Romanized as Golam Kabūd-e Vostá; also known as Kalam Kabūd-e Vostá) is a village in Sar Firuzabad Rural District, Firuzabad District, Kermanshah County, Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its existence was noted, but its population was not reported.

Kalam cosmological argument

The Kalām cosmological argument is a modern formulation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God; named for the kalam (medieval Islamic scholasticism), it was popularized by William Lane Craig in his The Kalām Cosmological Argument (1979).

The argument is a variant of the unmoved mover in Aristotelianism; it is named for medieval Islamic scholasticism because Craig, arguing against the possibility of the existence of actual infinities, traced the idea to 11th-century philosopher Al-Ghazali.

Since Craig's original publication, the Kalam cosmological argument has elicited public debate between Craig and Graham Oppy, Adolf Grünbaum, J. L. Mackie and Quentin Smith, and has been used in Christian apologetics.

According to Michael Martin, the cosmological arguments presented by Craig, Bruce Reichenbach, and Richard Swinburne are "among the most sophisticated and well argued in contemporary theological philosophy", while also noting that, in reference to Craig's argument specifically, "there may have been trillions of personal agents involved in the creation".The Kalam argument's underpinning is the impossibility of an actual infinite, which is what distinguishes it from other cosmological arguments such as that of Thomas Aquinas, which rests on the impossibility of an essentially ordered infinite regress, and that of Leibniz and Clark, which uses the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Kobon language

Kobon (pronounced Kxombon) is a language of Papua New Guinea. It has somewhere around 90–120 verbs.

Kobon has a Pandanus language, spoken when harvesting karuka.


Kolamsar (Persian: كلامسر‎, also Romanized as Kolāmsar and Kolām Sar; also known as Kalām Sarā, Kālehsān, and Keliser) is a village in Khara Rud Rural District, in the Central District of Siahkal County, Gilan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 436, in 132 families.

Kulegh Kalam

Kulegh Kalam (Persian: كولغ كلم‎, also Romanized as Kūlegh Kalam; also known as Kūlekhkalam) is a village in Band-e Zarak Rural District, in the Central District of Minab County, Hormozgan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 344, in 51 families.


Maturidiyya (Arabic: ماتريدي‎) is one of the main schools of Sunni Muslim theology. It was formalized by Abu Mansur Al Maturidi and brought the beliefs already present among the majority of Sunnis under one school of systematic theology (kalam). It is considered one of the orthodox Sunni creeds alongside the Ash'ari school. Māturīdism has been the predominant theological orientation among the Sunni Muslims of Persia prior to its forced conversion to Shiaism in the 16th century, Hanafis, and the Ahl al-Ray (people of reason) and enjoyed a preeminent status in the Ottoman Empire and Mughal India. Outside the old Ottoman and Mughal empires, the majority of Turkic tribes, Central Asian, and South Asian Muslims also believe in Maturidi theology. The Maturidi school is strongly connected with Sufism.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (মৌলানা আবুল কালাম আজাদ ইনস্টিটিউট্‌ অফ এশিয়ান স্টাডিজ্‌ ) is an autonomous research institute based in Calcutta. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India. It was founded on 4 January 1993. The foundation stone of the institute was laid where the new building now stands on 12 March 1993. It is devoted to the study of the life and works of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the eminent nationalist leader and India's first education minister, after whom it is named, and to the furtherance of Area Studies, with special reference to South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia, especially dealing with social, cultural, economic, political and administrative developments in Asia from the nineteenth century to the present. M.Phil. and Ph.D. level students of the University of Calcutta, Jadavpur University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi are also associated with it.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, West Bengal (MAKAUT, WB), formerly West Bengal University of Technology (WBUT), is a state university located in Kolkata, India. Founded in 2000 and funded initially by the Government of West Bengal, MAKAUT, WB provides facilities for the pursuit of degree and advanced-level courses in engineering, management and other professional areas through affiliated institutions and in-house departments.

Qalam, Iran

Qalam (Persian: قلم‎; also known as Kalam) is a village in Shamil Rural District, Takht District, Bandar Abbas County, Hormozgan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 135, in 36 families.

Qeshlaq Aghdash-e Kalam

Qeshlaq Aghdash-e Kalam (Persian: قشلاق اغداش كلام‎, also Romanized as Qeshlāq-e Āghdāsh-e Kalām) is a village in Qeshlaq-e Sharqi Rural District, Qeshlaq Dasht District, Bileh Savar County, Ardabil Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its existence was noted, but its population was not reported.


Sangaki (Persian: سنگكي‎, also Romanized as Sangakī; also known as Gūlokh Kalam, Kolūkh-e Kalam, and Kolūkh Kalam) is a village in Band-e Zarak Rural District, in the Central District of Minab County, Hormozgan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 306, in 53 families.

Seyyed Kalam Sar

Seyyed Kalam Sar (Persian: سيدكلامسر‎, also Romanized as Seyyed Kalām Sar and Seyyed Kolāmsar) is a village in Kuhestan Rural District, Kelardasht District, Chalus County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 32, in 7 families.

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