Here is the English abstract of Dr. Roohollah Zeinali (Assistant Professor, Department of Islamic Teachings, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran)'s presentation at the 9nd pre-con meeting of the conference “Imam Reza (PBUH) and Interreligious Dialogue" which was held in Hakim Sabzevari University Sabzevar, Iran on December 12, 2023.
Rereading the Arguments of Imam Reza in Dialogues with the Followers of Other Religions with a Theological Philosophical Approach
One of the most prominent part of the Imamate of Imam Reza was his participation in sessions of debate and discussion with followers of other religions and critics of religious thought in Tus. The Imam's enthusiasm for these discussions, the publicity of these sessions, the discussion of various topics, and the focus on core theological issues are some of the features of these sessions. Analysis of these sessions from a philosophical and Kalam perspective shows that Imam Reza used a variety of demonstrative, polemical, and allegorical arguments in these debates to defend his views and criticize his opponents. His first argument in proving the falsity of the view of Jathaliq (Nasrani Catholicos) that Jesus is God can be considered a type of demonstration. The argument that the knowledge of the Necessary Existence is immediate, which is based on the invalidity of circularity and succession, should also be considered a type of demonstration. The Imam also demonstrated that God is self-sufficient and that it is impossible to know the essence of the Creator. All of the Imam's explanations and interpretations of the Quran verses that seemingly contradict the infallibility of the prophets can be considered based on the demonstrations that prove the infallibility of the prophets. At the same time, the Imam has used polemical arguments in many cases, such as arguing for the prophethood of Moses by citing miracles and proving the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad by referring to the Gospel. The Imam used one of the most important polemical arguments in response to an atheist. The atheist did not offer any response other than silence in the face of the Imam’s argument based on the rule that avoidance of probable detriment is necessary. The Imam also used allegorical arguments, such as explaining how God and creatures are connected to each other by using the analogy of a mirror, or denying the divinity of Jesus Christ by referring to other prophets who have miracles. The Imam's arguments took into account the nature of the discussion and the beliefs of the audience. For example, in his discussions of God Almighty, his arguments are purely rational, and in his discussion of God’s knowledge and will with Solomon of Marv, he used rational arguments as well as revealed and tradition-based evidences. In addition, the Imam did not only rely on providing affirmative arguments, but also revealed the falsity of his opponent's view by showing the contradictions in his words, as he stated in his discussion with Solomon of Marv about the knowledge and will of God.
Translator: Mahdi Qasemi