Suggested Texts for Studying Māturīdī Kalām

In response to a recent enquiry into suggested paths of study of Maturidi works (in light of the enquirer’s particular desire to add to the curriculum of study provided by most institutes in the subcontinent), I am providing a short list of suggested readings that can be studied on one’s own but are preferably read with a teacher.

1. Badʿ al-Amālī by al-Ushī. This sixty-plus line didactic poem should be memorized and read with any number of its wonderful commentaries. The size of the poem is manageable for even a Western student. I suggest, in fact, to memorize at least one text in all of the major sciences.

2. ʿUmdat al-ʿAqīdah by Abuʾl-Barakāt al-Nasafī. It is concise enough to be read at a beginner’s level but will likely require the aid of a teacher. I don’t necessarily suggest reading the commentary, al-Iʿtimād, along with it, as it is more helpful for a teacher and can confuse some beginner students.

3. Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid al-Nasafiyyah by al-Taftāzānī or al-Musāyarah by Ibn al-Humām. Both are not purely “Māturīdī” works, as they combine arguments and stances of the Ashʿarīs along with the Māturīdī ones. This is helpful, however, instead of harmful.  A good instructor should help the student recognize the various methodologies at play in the issues already discussed at the ʿUmdah level. These works should not satisfy the serious student of discursive theology, however. A much more in-depth text that treats the Māturīdī arguments more thoroughly is the al-Tabṣirah which will complete this list.

4. Uṣūl al-Dīn by Abuʾl-Yusr al-Bazdawī. Nasafī’s matn, which Taftazānī comments on, is largely based on this work. Some argue that this work is a bit challenging and can’t be read without a teacher. I would imagine that a student who has covered all the previously recommended works, however, will find no difficulty in handling this one. In fact, I find this book remarkably lucid, well-organized, and self-explanatory. If one can’t read this work with a teacher, it can be read on one’s own along with Taftāzānī’s work or Ibn al-Humām’s.

5. Tabṣirat al-Adillah by Abūʾl-Muʿīn al-Nasafī. An encyclopedic work and a masterpiece of the school, it is very challenging to comprehensively cover with a teacher. At Darul Qasim, Shaykh Amin Kholwadia, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, Mawlana Hamzah Wald Maqbul, and others read a major portion of it together and discussed sections when needed. This was sufficient to familiarize us with the work and remove any possibility of intimidation by its language. I also recommend reading portions of Bayāḍī’s Ishārāt al-Marām, Saffār’s Talkhīṣ al-Adillah, and Māturīdī’s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd at this point without covering the entirety of each in a classroom setting.

Obviously, this list is quite a bit longer than what is covered in a typical Nizāmī curriculum, but that is intentional as the enquiry specifically aimed at adding to what is typically taught in madrasahs (usually just Sharḥ al-ʿAqāʾid after Taḥāwiyyah).

These are also thoughts off the top of my head and not intended to be a perfect list.

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