Comparative Theology in the Islamic Sciences

Document Type : Research Paper


Professor of Philosophy, Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, Qom, Iran


This article provides a brief background of how Comparative Theology is understood today, to point out features of how it is practiced that are responsive to issues peculiar to contemporary Catholicism, and to suggest how a version of CT might be developed that is more consistent with Islamic traditions of thought on related issues. In order to accomplish this last goal, a brief introduction to the traditional “Islamic sciences” is provided. It will be suggested that an Islamic Comparative Theology (ICT) can be understood as a multidisciplinary field that draws on several Islamic sciences, as well as research in religious studies. I argue in favor of a blurring of the distinction between Comparative Religion and Comparative Theology, and point out that relevant discussions are to be found across a variety of traditional Islamic sciences, but that it would be advantageous to collect these discussions together and to augment them with information gleaned from both secular and Islamic approaches to the teachings of Muslim thinkers about theological issues, broadly understood, in comparison with what is found in non-Islamic traditions in such a manner to enrich our own understandings of the issues and those with whom we engage in dialogue.


Main Subjects

Avci, B. (2018). Comparative theology: an alternative to religious studies or theology of religions. Religions, 9(83), 1-9.
Baker, O. (1998). Classification of knowledge in Islam. Islamic Texts Society.
Clooney, F. X. (2010). Comparative theology: deep learning across religious borders. Wiley-Blackwell.
Clooney, F. X. (Ed.). (2010). The new comparative theology: interreligious insights from the next generation. T&T Clark.
Cornille, C. (2020). Meaning and method in comparative theology. Wiley Blackwell.
Cornille, C. (2024). Resisting religious relativism in comparative theology. In A.
M. Takacs, & J. L. Kimmel (Eds.), The Wiley Blackwell companion to comparative theology (pp. 21-31). Wiley-Blackwell.
Fitzgerald, T. (2000). The ideology of religious studies. Oxford University Press.
Fredericks, J. L. (1995). A universal religious experience? Comparative theology as an alternative to a theology of religions. Horizons, 22(1), 67-87.
Gadamer, H.-G. (1990). Wahrheit und methode. J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Gadamer, H.-G. (2004). Truth and method, 2nd ed. Continuum.
Hedges, P. (2017). Comparative theology: a critical and methodological perspective. Brill.
Husayni Qal'ehbahman, S. (2019). Illāhiāt-e taṭbīqī: haqīqat-i ghāīī dar adiyān [Comparative theology: ultimate truth in the religions]. The Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute Publications.
Kant, I. (1979). The conflict of the faculties/Der streit der fakultäten. (M. Gregor, Ed.). Abaris Books.
Kiblinger, K. B. (2010). Relating theology of religions and comparative theology. In F. X. Clooney (Ed.), The new comparative theology (pp. 21-42). T&T Clark.
Koskinen, I. (2020). Defending a risk account of scientific objectivity. British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, 71(4), 1187-1207.
Legenhausen, M. (2011, March 5). Hermeneutical foundations for Islamic social sciences. Retrieved from  ; and
Legenhausen, M. (2013). Nonreductive pluralism and religious dialogue. In M. H. Khalil (Ed.), Between Heaven and Hell: Islam, salvation, and the fate of others (pp. 153-179). Oxford University Press.
Legenhausen, M. (2020). Objectivity and values in the Islamic social sciences. Journal of the Socio-Political Thought of Islam, 2(1).
Leukel-Schmidt, P. (2017). Religious pluralism and interreligious theology. Orbis.
Martin, C. (2017). A critical introduction to the study of religion, 2nd ed. Routledge.
Masuzawa, T. (2005). The invention of world religions, or, how European universalism was preserved in the language of pluralism. University of Chicago Press.
Misbah Yazdi, M. T. (1380/2001). Akhlaq dar Qur'an [Ethics in the Qur'an], 3 vols. (M. H. Eskandari, Ed.) Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (RA).
Putnam, H. (2002). The collapse of the fact/value dichotomy. Harvard University Press.
Rosenthal, F. (1968). A history of Muslim historiography, 2nd ed. Brill.
Stackhouse, J. G. (2016). Putting God in God’s place. Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, 45(3), 377–396.
Takacs, A. M., & Kimmel, J. L. (Eds.). (2024). The Wiley Blackwell companion to comparative theology. Wiley-Blackwell.
Taqizadeh, M. (2020). Dar amadi bar Illahiyat-i ijtima'i [An introduction to social theology]. Shi'i Studies Institute.
The Qur'an with English Paraphrase, revised edition. (2005). (S. Qara'i, Trans.) The Centre for Translation of the Holy Qur'an.
Van den Brink, G. (2020). The future of theology at public universities. Skriflig (Online), 54(2), 1-9.
Von Stosch, K. (2012). Comparative theology as liberal and confessional theology. Religions, 3, 983–992.