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Internal Evidence for the Risāla's Polemical Context

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Chapter Summary

This chapter attempts to sketch aspects of Risāla's polemical context on the basis of what is in its text. The analysis falls into two main sections, one concentrating on the various groups named by Shāfiʿῑ's in the Risala and another concentrating on his invocation of the vocabulary of contemporaneous theological debate. If one considers the Risāla to be primarily a work of anti-Mutazil polemic, one would have thought that its targets would appear more frequently and more conspicuously. Shāfiʿῑ also has comparatively little to say about theological questions. Of course, his theology in the Risla is simply that Islam is a religion of laws, and that revelation, which includes the Sunna, forms a coherent body of legal materials. But he does not really take up the burning theological issues of his day, except, perhaps, for signaling his belief in pre-destination.

Keywords: polemical context; Risāla's; Shāfiʿῑ



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