ISC100 – Islamic Thought


The module studies the Islamic theological issues in a two-fold manner, firstly by looking at the historical development of theological positions by examining notable theologians and theological schools, and secondly by assessing the arguments and positions themselves. The syllabus will thus cover the following topics:

  • Brief overview of important theologians, their lives and works
  • The concept of iman (faith) and pertaining issues
  • Tawhid, Divine Unity or Oneness
  • Attributes of God, His Essence and His qualities
  • Speech of God and the createdness of the Qur’an
  • Divine Justice, theodicy and rational and inherent good and evil
  • Free-will and predestination, and examining concepts such as kasb (acquiring actions)
  • Concept of prophethood
  • Necessity for prophets
  • Infallibility of prophets, angels and Imams
  • Intercession
  • Leadership: imamah and khilafah
  • The coming of the Mahdi

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate awareness the origins, development and history of Islamic doctrine. (A1, A2, A8)
  • Analyse different approaches to and outline theological concepts (A3)

This module will call for the successful student to:

  • Select relevant and appropriate information in the context of Islamic thought. (C1, C5, D1, D5, D6)
  • Examine and argue persuasively, coherently and in detail in regards to theological matters. (B1, B2, B4, B5, C2, C4, D2-D4)

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

Lectures provide the basic structure of the module but will include time in informal discussions, which will be used to debate and explore specific issues. Students will also be expected to undertake individual study consisted of free and set reading and preparation for lectures, and to actively participate in the debates of their peers.

Assessment Mode

Formative Assessment:
Questions arising from lectures form the basis formative assessment, through small group discussions leading to the development of theological understanding. Each portfolio assignment is entitled to formative feedback from the module leader before the 10th learning week. Students are required to see the module leader regularly to receive feedback and support with their portfolio work. Additionally, tutorial time enables the module leader to give guidance to students on topics of concern and provide constructive feedback related to portfolio work. Revision sessions are also arranged that will cover topics in preparation for exams, providing constructive formative feedback to students.

Summative Assessment:
Summative, graded assessment for this module consists of portfolio and a written examination. The portfolio will consist of two assignments of 1,500 words each (Outcomes 3, 4). The 2 hour written examination will take place at the end of the semester (Outcomes 1, 2).

Assessment Weighting
Portfolio: 50%
Written Examination: 50%

Learning materials

Core readings

  • Al-Juwayni, ‘Abd al-Malik. (2000) A Guide to Conclusive Proofs for the Principles of Belief, Paul E.
  • Walker trans. (Reading: Garnet Publishing)
  • Sa‘idi-Mihr, Muhammad and Amir Divani (2014), Islamic Thought. ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
  • Sobhani, J. (2003) Doctrines of Shi’a Islam, Reza Shah-Kazemi (trans.), Qom: Imam Sadeq Institute
  • Watt, M. (1998) The Formative Period of Islamic Thought, UK: Oneworld Publications