Controversy as a mechanism for search and approval of truth (the case of debate on ‘aqidah between Shihabetdin Marjani and his opponents in the Volga region in the last third of the 19th century)

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Abstract


The article is focused on the theological debates on the issues of ‘aqidah between Shihabetdin Marjani and his opponents. The debate is viewed as a mechanism for the search and approval of truth. Being one of the possible answers of the Tatar Muslims to the imperial challenge, the religious debate is analyzed in the light of the changed political, economic and social conditions of the new era, when through theological discussions about the kalam and divine attributes, there were outlined new boundaries of the religious tradition. Within the framework of this problem the following issues are discussed: 1) the polemical genre in the Islamic world; Majlis as a forum for discussions and debates of Muslims in solving topical issues of the intellectual, religious and social character; the types of disputes are jadal and munazara ; 2) the reformation of Islam in the late 19th century among Muslims of the Russian Empire; 3) the discussion of the image of the “true” creed (‘aqidah) through dogmatic discussions about the kalam , mutakallims , the doctrine of the divine attributes and the connection of the attributes with Allah; 4) the sources of the creed (‘ aqidah ), the boundaries of the sources authority; forbidden innovations ( bidaat ); 5) the accusation of unbelief ( takfir ) and the boundaries of unbelief ( kufr ); 6) the return to the “uprightness” through a renewal (tajdid), which supposed, on the one hand, the introduction into the tradition of “necessary” and “true” conceptions, and on the other hand, the rejection of “irrelevant”, that is, allegedly, “untrue” views; 7) the criticism of Marjani as a legitimate participant in the dispute, the innovator of Islam ( mujaddid ) and a theologian and jurist capable of ijtihad ( mujtahid ). The study of the polemic as a reaction of Muslims to the imperial challenge in the new era conditions made it possible to trace the way Muslim scholars outlined the new boundaries of the religious doctrine and thanks to this adapted the religious tradition to the social realities of the Russian Empire in the last third of the 19th century, and simultaneously they reviewed the environment in the light of the sources.


About the authors

Dinara Z Mardanova

Sh. Mardjani Institute of History Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan

Author for correspondence.
Email: dinara.mardanova@gmail.com
7 Baturina Str., Kazan, Russia, 420111

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