Statement of Intention
1. Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative is a cross-cutting research initiative for analytical, systematic and methodological studies of the Religion of Islam in the context of contemporary knowledge, challenges and needs.
2. It is based on the well-established and long-cherished analytical tradition of the foundations of Religion in Islam namely the tradition of Kalam – the Islamic Analytical Theology.
3. Throughout the historical development of Islamic thought and civilization until the early 20th Century, the tradition of Kalam of Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaah especially the Ash’ariyyah and Maturidiyyah had been the most prominent and widely-accepted analytical articulation of the Religion of Islam profoundly influenced the vast majority of Muslims around the world.
4. Despite the domination of discourse on ‘reforms in Islam’ in its various theoretical dimensions and practical manifestations throughout the 20th Century, there has been a glaring omission and a serious neglect about the role and position of Kalam and its research tradition either as the analytical platform, tools and resources or as the systematic framework, methodology and research paradigm during the whole venture of ‘reforms in Islam’.
5. Varieties of analytic failures and systemic crises that epitomized much of the states of the Muslims both religious and non-religious affairs today could be partly attributed to the lack of analytical and systematic knowledge, skills and competencies embodied in Kalam and its research tradition.
6. With the impasse of the 20th Century Islam, the 21st Century could provide new opportunities for the Muslims particulars scholars in Kalam to harness the potentials of their very own religion analytical and systematic tradition notwithstanding these scholars’ requirements to master the contemporary analytic and systemic tools and methods largely resulted from the Western intellectual and knowledge endeavors.
7. It is hope that this renewed interest in the tradition of Kalam would set off much desired ingenuity and genuine journey for re-articulation of the religion of Islam in the context of contemporary knowledge, challenges and needs while at the same time being consistent with and appreciative of the richness and resourcefulness of the Islamic intellectual and spiritual traditions that represented the heritage of the Islamic thought and civilization.
Call for Collaboration
1. Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative seeks to bring together Kalam specialists among scholars, academics and researchers for the transdisciplinary engagement in an attempt not only to revitalize the analytical and systematic understanding of the religion of Islam in dealing with contemporary knowledge, challenges and needs but also to provide a critical response to the present day knowledge, challenges and needs from the Islamic theological, spiritual and intellectual perspectives.
2. As a voluntary and open transdisciplinary research platform, Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative also invites scholars, academics and researchers in other fields of knowledge who are interested to broaden their horizons of research to incorporate the Kalam analytical tools and resources, its systematic framework and methodology, and also its premises and findings in their existing scholarly research activities.
3. Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative strives to create a platform for collaborative spirit and epistemological humility in which scholars, academics and researchers committed to the tradition of Kalam could work together in the true transdisciplinary approach which may integrate inter-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary approaches along the way in spite of their own disciplinary specialties and expertise.
4. The creation of Kalam’s community of practice and networks which acts as a catalyst for the revival of Kalam research tradition may take place in various forms depending on levels of commitment among scholars, academics and researchers involved. Willing individuals, groups, organizations and institutions could autonomously initiate research projects and conduct training programs that will enhance the capacity building of transdisciplinary approach to Kalam.
5. Encouragement and facilitation for autonomous and decentralized transdisciplinary research on specific Kalam theme and topics that meets the requirement or suits the interest of willing individuals, groups, organizations and institutions is the key modus operandi of Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative.
6. The overarching goal for this call for collaboration is to prepare a preliminary groundwork for building network and mobilizing community of practice to realize Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative’s goals and objectives.
Strategy for Action
1. Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative has identified three major areas of Kalam research and these will be its focus for these formative years, namely;
a. Historical Kalam – research on the origins, development, diffusion and impact and decline of Kalam in the Muslim world in general and the Malay world in particular.
-History of Kalam, Early Kalam Sects, Key Early Kalam Debates, Development of Kalam as a Discipline, Further Development of Kalam as a Discipline
– Major Kalam Scholars, Major Kalam Works, Kalam through 8 -18 Centuries
-Ash’ari and Maturidi’s kalam Influences in the Muslim world and other Kalam
-Regional Kalam Develoment,-19 and 20th Century Kalam-21st Century Kalam
-Collections of Key Kalam Manuscripts, Libraries and Translations
-Kalam Primary and Secondary Literature
-History of Kalam’s Institutions and Organisations -History of Kalam’s Education
-Kalam Relationship with other Fields of Islamic Sciences in Shariah, Usul, Fiqh, Tasawwuf, Tariqah, Tafsir, Hadith and Other Religious Sciences
-Other Classificatory Works
b. Theoretical Kalam – research on the substantive philosophical themes in Kalam such as epistemology, ontology, cosmology, divinity, prophecy, theodicy, eschatology and other relevant theological and metaphysical questions.
Classical Debates Revisited
-Free Will and Freedom-Theodicy-Nubuwwah-Eschatology
New Kalam Debates
-Philosophy-Science (Natural)-Technology-Physics-Biology-Chemistry- Engineering Systems-Innovation
-Sociology-Psychology-Politics-Ethics-Economics-Business-Communication and Media Studies
-Human Rights-Democracy-Freedom-Genetic Engineering-Comparative Religion
Emergent Issues and Other Analytical Works
c. Applied Kalam – research on a more practical issues on Kalam such as pedagogy of Kalam and Kalam education, comparative religions and interfaith dialogue, ethics of politics, ethics of governance, challenges of modernity / postmodernism / postructuralism, liberalism, anarchism, religious pluralism etc.
-State of Kalam Education-Kalam Pedagogy-Kalam Syllibus-Kalam Curriculum
-Kalam at Lower, Secondary and Higher Levels-University Kalam-Kalam Scholarship
-Short History of Muslim Sects-Current Challenges-Literalism-Salafism
-Neo-Muktazilah, Khawarij and Sufastaiyyah
Comparative Religion and Interfaith Dialogue
Political and Ethical Issues
Civilisational and Worldview Construction
2. For these three major areas Kalam research, Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative will embark on another three key research thrusts, namely;
a. Building foundational analytical and systematic resources on Kalam
b. Engaging with Kalam research tradition stakeholders and new alliances
c. Advocating public understanding and developing long term roots of Kalam.
3. Main ouput for Kalam Transdisciplinary Research Initiative will be:
a. Book, Journal and Articles Publications
b. Training and Expert Workshops
c. Outreach and Roadshows
d. Policy Papers and Proposals