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Imami Theology

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Kalām al-Imāmīyya (Arabic: کلام الإمامیة, Theology of the Imamiyya) or Shiite Kalām is a branch of Islamic theology concerned with the proof, explanation, and defense of theological doctrines in accordance with the method of Ahl al-Bayt (a) and their prominent students. It highlights the employment of reasoning and hadiths in theological problems. The main difference between the theology of the Imamiyya and other Islamic theological schools goes back to their method and the problems of imamate.

The theology of the Imamiyya had both rational and transmission-based inclinations in the period of the presence of the Shiite Imams (a). After this period, Shiite theologians adopted textualist and philosophical rationalist approaches to theological issues. It exhibits the development of Shiite theology since the period of the Major Occultation. Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, and Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi were, respectively, founders and prominent figures of textualism, rationalism, and philosophical rationalism.

Historically speaking, the theology of the Imamiyya is considered as the first theological school of Islam. Its issues were raised immediately after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and was developed in the periods of the Rashidun Caliphs and was organized and elaborated in the subsequent centuries. It was structured in the 5th/11th century by al-Shaykh al-Mufid. It was transformed by Khwaja Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in the 7th/13th century.

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Origination

The theology of the Imamiyya was originated immediately after the demise of the Prophet (s). The first theological issue discussed by Muslims at the time was the problem of imamate and caliphate. There were two views about the problem: one that the successor of the Prophet (s) is selected by God and announced by the Prophet (s) himself, and the other that it was left to Muslims to elect the Prophet's (s) successor.

Imam 'Ali (a) and a number of prominent figures from Muhajirun and Ansar were proponents of the first theory. Their names and arguments are cited in sources of history and hadith. In his book, al-Khisal,