Date of Award

12-2005

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. David Ede

Second Advisor

Dr. Adam A. Sabra

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephen G. Covell

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only

Abstract

This thesis investigates medieval Muslim literature on the study of religions other than Islam. It discusses the writings of Abu Rayhan al-B1run1 (d. 1048) and Abdul Karim al-Shahrastan1 (d. 1153) in their dealing with the Hind (India) and the nomenclature of world religions. The writer employs descriptive and analytical observations by exploring the writings of al-B1run1 and al-Shahrastan1. The findings of this thesis reveal that these two scholars used different approaches, categories, and models of classifications of world religious traditions, in general, and the religious traditions of the Hind, in particular. Al-B1run1 classified Indian religions based on the religious outlooks that are found in some Hindu texts or the sayings of Hindu philosophers/theologians as well as in the attitudes of ordinary people in a popular context. On the other hand, al-Shahrastan1 categorized the divisions and sub-divisions of Hindu beliefs and practices based on types of "idol-worshipers." This thesis points out that these two scholars treated some conceptual issues in their presentation of the belief systems of the Hindus, such as the concept of "religious representation," "intermediaries," and "anthropomorphism." Their studies may also represent approaches of Medieval Muslim scholars who analyzed religions other than Islam from the perspective of their own belief system.

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