Scholastic Traditional Minimalism: A Critical Analysis of Intra-Sunni Sectarian Polemics
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis is an analytical exploration of the influence of medieval theology on contemporary scholastic traditionalist polemics within Sunni Islam. Intra-Sunni sectarian polemics as an emerging area of study is relatively untouched as opposed to sectarian violence. A detailed mapping of the theological terrain from the genesis of Sunni ‘orthodoxy’ and the perennial tensions within the classical theological tradition and how they have manifested parochially into the contemporary scholastic traditionalist trends of the Barelwi, Deobandi, Ahl-i-Ḥadīth and Wahhābī within the backdrop of the Sufi-Salafi contestation of Sunni authenticity is timely. Concern regarding growing extremism prompted Muslim Ulama, academics and political leaders to create unity initiatives such as the Amman Message and the Sunni Pledge in dealing with this problem and also delineating ‘orthodoxy’. The theological basis for these neo-credos can be explained as doctrinal ‘minimalism’. Minimalism is a growing social construction of scholastic traditionalists through which the warring factions are attempting to salvage the historical continuity with ‘orthodoxy’ and placate Sunni infighting. The thesis aims to examine the theological veracity of the minimalism project and explore its doctrinal, methodological and ethical facets. Polemicism and excommunication is the current state of affairs within Sunni theological discourse. Minimalism is deemed as the antidote to this problem.
PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies