Khalil Andani, PhD Profile picture
Assistant Professor of Religion; PhD Islamic Studies @Harvard | Quranic Studies | Islamic Intellectual History: Kalam, Islamic Neoplatonism | Ismailism | CA-CPA
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31 Aug
Thread: A fascinating element of Indo-Muslim literature is the use of Indic theological terms like Brahma, Vishnu, Nirinjan, & Avatara to articulate their Islamic message. Sunni Sufi & Ismaili Saints (Pirs) presented Prophet Muhammad & Imam Ali as the Avataras of Brahma or Vishnu
Sayyid Sultan was a Sunni Sufi poet in Bengal who composed an epic poem called Nabi-Vamsa in which he retells the epic of various “Hindu figures” like the Rama and Krishna Avataras functionally equates the Prophets of Islam to the “Hindu” avataras.
Contrary to popular opinion, Sultan wasn’t changing Islamic beliefs or promoting idolatry. He was reinterpreting what is a Prophet & what is a an Avatara while stressing their common function of divine guidance. This is an act of “conceptual translation”
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17 Aug
No, Taliban’s laws =/ Shariah. Taliban laws = Taliban’s interpretation of Shariah cherry picked to implement in modern state. Shariah is an ideal about God’s law & guidance which is then interpreted by every single Muslim branch/community differently using its own methodology.
Fundamental in the Sunni paradigm is that Shariah (the idealized divine law) differs from Fiqh - the human fallible understanding & interpretation of Shariah. In a Sunni paradigm what any given jurist or group can claim to present is Fiqh at best, not Shariah as such.
Most Muslims use & understand the term Shariah as a just/equitable system of governance and ethics that’s free of corruption as well worship rituals. Of course many Muslims will say they want Shariah as law of their land. But they don’t imagine shariah looking Talibanish
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21 Jul
Thread: How did the Umayyad Caliphs understand & articulate their own religio-political status to their subjects & competitors? Crone & Hinds work remains one of the best resources in English for this. Below I share some excerpts from "God's Caliph".
Mu'awiya, the son of Abu Sufiyan who was the Prophet Muhammad's arch nemesis & adversary, styled himself as God's Caliph with no reference to Prophet Muhammad. Mu'awiya said: "The Earth belongs to God and I am the Deputy of God" per Balahduri.
Mu'awiya likewise styled his son Yazid, the killer of Imam al-Husayn, as God's Caliph "over His worshippers". Yazid was declared by his supporters to be "the Imam of the Muslims and Khalifa (deputy) of the Lord of the Worlds."
Read 13 tweets
5 Jun
When did the Sunnis first adopt the view that the Four Madhhabs were equally legitimate/orthodox? The Prophet's time? The early Caliphs? Did the Prophet foretell the birth of Abu Hanifa, Malik, Shafi'i & Ahmad b. Hanbal? Who canonized these four schools as comprising Ahl al-Sunna
Believe it or not, there was no "Sunni consensus" over what comprises Ahl al-Sunna even into the late 11th century where fist fights & riots broke out between Hanbalis & Ash'ari-Shafi'is in Baghdad. Abu Nasr al-Qushayri (an Ash'ari) had to bring bodyguards to his lectures
The first instance of "equality" between the Four Madhhabs was a top-down imposition by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars in 1256 when he appointed four Chief Qadis (1 from each school). In other words, what would become the Sunni legal paradigm was a political not scriptural imposition
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4 Jun
Enjoyed listening to .@holland_tom ‘s take on historical Muhammad. While I don’t agree with all of your theory, I think your take was balanced compared to ultra revisionist theories & raises important questions.…
There are intra Muslim theories of Quranic revelation & prophecy from ancient & modern Muslims that are less mechanistic than the verbatim dictation model you spoke to. I’ve studied some in my dissertation - which I’m currently working into a book.
The Quran is arguably ambiguous on the mechanics of prophetic revelation - often called Wahy - which one can plausibly read to mean “nonverbal inspiration” as opposed to verbatim dictation.
Read 6 tweets
19 May
This chart received unexpected amount of engagement. I appreciate the critiques: some are warranted & some are not. It is not a perfect chart but I stand by it as a teaching tool & starting point to show intra-Muslim diversity. Some critique I am happy to take on board: (thread)
@MM_Knight makes a good point that the chart appears to show genetic origins - as if a "Sunni" family subdivided into madhabs & other groups, which is not correct. I agree on this. Will consider a better way to capture the history.
Others noted that the visual order of Sunni madhahib do not follow chronology of their 'founders'. This is true; chart did not presume to offer a historical narrative but more of a snapshot at a time (today).
Read 8 tweets
18 May
Thread: I created this chart to present the internal diversity of Islam from an inclusive & pluralist lens. This is how I teach Islam in the academy. I have tried to show important branches that emerged from larger groups -even if said branches no longer identify as Muslim
The Sufi Turuq & Theological schools in this chart are NOT meant to appear as separate from Shia & Sunni, but rather, as embedded within those branches. That is why the Sufi & Kalam schools are not in boxes, since their ideas pervade many communities.
Some people are freaking out because I included Quranists, Progressives, Salafis, and Ahmadis under the Sunni umbrella. That is because, for the most part, these groups emerged from the Sunnis - even if there is debate over whether they are still Sunni.
Read 8 tweets
21 Feb
.@shadihamid to ensure I don’t misrepresent you, here are parts of the book where you make descriptive claim re Muslim beliefs in the Quran as “God’s actual direct & literal speech” & that this makes Islam exceptional. What follows are my academic disagreements with you (thread):
If “Quran” means the recited Arabic sounds/letters/verses, then only Hanbalis & Mu’tazili say the Arabic Quran is God’s direct literal speech. Asharis, Maturidis, Ibn Sina, Ismailis & some Sufis believe God’s Speech is nonmaterial/uncreated & created Arabic Quran indicates to it
To be specific, Ashari & Maturidi theologians to this day say that Arabic Quran as words & verses is not God’s direct speech. It’s a created expression mediated by Gabriel or some other medium. Some believe God inspired His immaterial speech in Gabriel who then forms the words.
Read 11 tweets
21 Feb
@shadihamid with respect; your claim is not accurate. Only Hanbalis say Quran’s words (oral / written) are God’s direct uncreated speech. Asharis/Maturidis/Ismailis/Philosophers ontologically distinguish Quran’s Arabic words from God’s Speech/Word. My entire thesis is about this
Further; Ashari & Maturidi & Ismaili views of Quranic ontology affect their Quranic hermeneutics & ethical theory. See Vishanoff & Farahat’s work and mine as well
There were early Christians fathers & later Christians who do affirm verbal biblical inspiration / dictation as well. One can’t validly claim Muslims are unique in this nor can you claim Muslim inerrancy beliefs are not paralleled among Christians.
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