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Delivered by: Dr Ayman Shihadeh [SOAS – University of London]*

Muhammad ibn `Umar ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Husayn Abu `Abd Allah al-Qurashi, al-Bakri, al-Taymi, al-Tabaristani al-Shafi`i, known as Ibn al-Khatib and as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (543-606), a great scholar of kalam, Shafi`i school of Jurisprudence, commentator of the Qur’an, Philologist, genealogist, heresiographer, logician, mathematician, astronomer and physician. He traveled widely before settling in Herat (in modern Afghanistan) and authored more than 100 books (on subjects as diverse as medicine, mineralogy, and grammar), and gained fame and respect through his scholarship and skill in debate, in which he often presented unorthodox views fully and favorably before refuting them and also accusations of heresy.

His works include one of the major commentaries on the Qur’an, Al-Tafseer al-Kabir or the Mafatih al-Ghayb (Keys to the Unknown), which has an emphasis on rational and scholastic debates and on the refutation of false sects and contains much of philosophical interest.

One of his major concerns was the self-sufficiency of the intellect and according to some they say he believed that proofs based on tradition could never lead to certainty (yaqin) but only to presumption (zann), a key distinction in Islamic thought’. However, his acknowledgement of the primacy of the Qur’an grew with his years and his rationalism undoubtedly holds an important place in the debate in the Islamic tradition on the harmonization of reason and revelation. In his later years, he also showed interest in mysticism

The course will look at following:

  • Life and work of Imam Fakhruddin Razi
  • His thoughts on Islamic philosophy & Kalam
  • His magnum opus – ‘Tafsir al-Kabir’

Dr Ayman Shihadeh [SOAS – University of London]

Dr Shihadeh is an intellectual historian specialising in medieval Arabic and Islamic philosophy and rational theology. He began his studies at SOAS, the University of London, where he obtained a first-class BA (Hons), and completed his postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. He then worked at universities in England and Scotland before returning to SOAS in 2008. His main areas of interest are the Avicennan philosophical tradition, the development of the Ash’ari school, the interaction between post-Avicennan philosophy and kalam, particularly during the late-eleventh and twelfth centuries, and Arabic codicology. Much of Dr Shihadeh’s work focuses on Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210) and al-Ghazali (d. 1111), two hugely influential medieval thinkers whom he has been contextualising by the exploration of key, though little-known, figures and manuscript texts. One of his main current research projects investigates the transformation of the Ash’ari stance towards Avicenna’s philosophical anthropology, especially his body-soul dualism, during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

External Affiliations Section Editor (Philosophy and Theology) for the Encyclopaedia of Islam (3rd ed., Brill). Contributor to the Arabic Manuscripts Project at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin. Member of the Editorial Board, Intellectual History of the Islamicate World (Brill). Member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Islamic Translation Series (BYU Press). Member of the Editorial Board, Journal of Qur’anic Studies (EUP). Member of the Editorial Board, Ilahiyat Studies (Uludağ University).

He has authored, edited and contributed a number of publications, such as:

– Shihadeh, Ayman (2006) The Teleological Ethics of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. Leiden: E.J. Brill. (Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science. Texts and Studies)

– Shihadeh, Ayman, ed. (2013) Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī’s Father, Ḍiyāʾ al-Dīn al-Makkī. Nihāyat al-Marām fī Dirāyat al-Kalām. Facsimile of the Autograph Manuscript of Vol. II. Berlin; Tehran: Freie Universität Berlin and Mīrāth-i Maktūb.

– Shihadeh, Ayman (2005) ‘From al-Ghazali to al-Razi: 6th/12th Century Developments in Muslim Philosophical Theology.’ Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, 15 (1). pp. 141-179.

And more – For a full list his publications, please visit:

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