KIERKEGAARD AND THE ASH‘ARITES ON REASON AND THEOLOGY

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 University of Religions and Denominations, Faculty of Islamic Sects

2 University of Qom, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy

Abstract

Neither the Ash‘arites nor Kierkegaard’s systems of theology are anti-rational, for Kierkegaard regards the contradiction present in the object of faith as absolute rather than logical, suggesting thereby the existential dialectics for understanding this contradiction instead of resolving it. The Ash‘arites also hold that one can understand the existence of God through absolute reason, or reason that is not commanded by shar‘ (religion), yet such understanding does not lead to any practical outcome. The anti-rationalism option is thus rejected. The other two options here are supra-rationalism and rationalism. Kierkegaard’s theology is that of supra-rationalism while the theology of the Ash‘arite is rationalist. Faith, Kierkegaard says, is not rational because it will be undecided by the abeyance and postponementof philosophical reasoning, by the approximation of historical evidence, and because of the lack of confidence in the Bible; however, it is not irrational because the contradiction is present in the understanding of faith rather than in existence. For the Ash‘arite, however, faith can be made rational and justified through the command and guidance of shar’ in order to find sound reasoning. Reason has no contribution in Kierkegaard’s theology neither as a necessary nor as a sufficient condition. For the Ash‘arite, nonetheless, reason is a necessary but not a sufficient condition and is in need of shar‘. Reason, in Ash‘arite theology, both fails to penetrate into all of the premises of the argument and falls short of binding man to accept its knowledge. It is shar‘ which comes into play in order to help reason both improve its objection and compensate the binding and obligation

Keywords