Our intention here is to present the essential character of classical, sunnī kalām within a strictly formal perspective and to set out its basic aspects. It was conceived by the mutakallimīn as a rational, conceptual, and critical science and, although kalām differed in a number of basic concepts and constructs and in its analytic system, the topical organisation of the major compendia parallels that of metaphysics as understood in the contemporary Aristotelian tradition. The debates between kalām and falsafa need to be examined within this context. Kalām, however, is theological in the strict sense of the term and it is as such that its problematic and its procedures are primarily to be understood. Thus seen, the object of kalām is to rationalise the cognitive content presented to Believers in the symbolic language of the koranic revelation. It has, then, four principal tasks, sc, to conceptualise, to order, to explain, and where possible to justify the primary doctrines of the community whose belief is held to be normative. Within this framework the differences that characterise the major schools as such and the various tendencies of individual masters within each school may readily be brought to light.