Hadel Jarada gave a presentation on Ethical Value in Post-Classical Maturidi Kalam in Marrakech, Morocco (16 March 2018).
A much debated topic in Islamic speculative theology (kalām) is how humans know the ethical value of acts. Theologians disagreed about whether acts have intrinsic moral qualities or whether we know these qualities through revelation (al-sharʿ), which through its commands and prohibitions, subtly instructs us of the particular moral qualities each thing has. Some theologians argued that God instructs us to obey particular injunctions precisely because of their moral goodness, while others argued that injunctions are good simply because God commands them. The later Māturīdī tradition took an approach that differed from the prevalent Ashʿarī view by harkening back to an older stance concerning the innateness of ethical value and human rational knowledge thereof. While this issue has been explored in Ashʿarī and Muʿtazilī thought, the Māturīdī position is still relatively underresearched and understudied. In this paper, I explore the Māturīdī position through an analysis of one of the more important Hanafī uṣūl al-fiqh works, al-tawḍīḥ fī ḥall ghawāmid al-tanqīḥ, written by the eminent Central Asian theologian and logician Ṣadr al-Sharīʿa al-Maḥbūbī (d. 1347), alongside an analysis of commentaries on the treatise contained within it, titled “The Four Preliminary Statements,” which presents an original take on the issue of human moral knowledge of good (ḥusn) and bad (qubḥ) and the ethical valuation of acts. My paper will analyze how Māturīdīs understood this issue in relation to their Ashʿarī counterparts through a textual analysis of this text and its later commentaries in the Māturīdī and Ashʿarī schools.