Ilm al-Kalām, the term applied to theology in classical Islam, occupies an interesting place in our history. Much more than law (fiqh), its intellectual counterpart, theology became the focus of the nascent Islamic civilization’s conversation with the world around it. The term itself, which literally translates as “talk-ology,” carried with it mild sarcasm owing to the fact that it tended to produce tedious dialectic and excessive amounts of technical jargon. Although it’s difficult to imagine, addressing the terms “tawḥīd” (Divine Oneness) or “`aqīdah” (creed) to one of the Companions of the Prophet (upon him be peace) would likely have drawn blank stares. As a community which pre-dated the development of discursive theology and its distinct vernacular, these terms and the discourse which gave them meaning simply weren’t a part of their religious experience.