TRAKIMI | Knowledge and Power


Travelling knowledge in medieval Islam: The Ashʿarites of al-Andalus and North Africa

Jan Thiele

Muslim intellectual history is a history of movement. Pre-modern scholars used to cross wide distances to seek knowledge. As a result, ideas and texts travelled between the Maghreb, Central Asia and even beyond. This research project is a case study of the transmission of knowledge in pre-modern Islamicate societies. It explores how the literature and doctrines of a specific school of dialectic theology (kalām)—the so-called Ashʿarite school—were transferred to the western lands of Islam, that is the historical unit formed by the countries of the Maghreb and parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The purpose of the project is to understand more about the interaction between scholars, about the transfer of knowledge and its effects in pre-modern Islamicate societies.

This project has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under REA grant agreement no 624808.


  • • Jan Thiele (2017): “Commonness and Derivative Work in Ashʿarite Literature: A Comparison of Ḍiyāʾ al-Dīn al-Makkī’s Nihāyat al-marām and Abū l-Qāsim al-Anṣārī’s al-Ghunya fī l-kalām.” Mélanges de l’Institut Dominicain d’Études Orientales 32, pp. 135-166.
  • • Jan Thiele (2016): “Conceptions of Self-Determination in Fourth/Tenth-Century Muslim Theology: al-Bāqillānī’s Theory of Human Acts in Its Historical Context.” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 26/2, pp. 245-269. doi: 10.1017/S0957423916000035
  • • Jan Thiele (2016): “Ḥāl (theory of “states” in theology).” The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Three. Eds Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Leiden: Brill. doi: 10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_30220
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