Archive for the ‘Islam's God is remote’ Category

Allah’s Names, but not his nature can be known

August 24, 2009

Since there is no likeness of him, He or ‘His nature’ is not known by other than Him. So Al-Junayd …was right when he remarked: ‘Only God knows God’…One says, ‘I know God’ and one says, ‘I do not know God’. If you were to show a piece of intelligible writing to a reasonable person and say to him: “do you know its writer?” and he said “no,” he would be speaking truly. But if he said “yes: its writer is a man living and powerful, hearing and seeing, sound of hand and knowledgeable in the practice of writing, and if I know all this from the [the sample] how can I not know him? he too would be speaking truly. Yet the saying of the one who said “I do not know him” is more correct and true, for in reality he has not known him. Rather he only knows that intelligible writing requires a living writer, knowing, powerful, hearing, and seeing; yet he does not know the writer himself. Similarly, every creature knows only that this ordered and precisely disposed world requires an arranging, living, knowing and powerful maker.

Al-Ghazali, The 99 Beautiful Names of God, in Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent, IVP, 1995, p.108

God’s names but not his nature can be known. But if his names are not founded upon his nature, can knowing his names really be knowledge?

Allah does not reveal Himself but His Will

August 24, 2009

He [God] does not reveal Himself to anyone in any way. God reveals only His will. Remember one of the prophets asked God to reveal Himself and God told him, “No, it is not possible for Me to reveal Myself to anyone. “…This is God’s will and that is all we have, and we have it in perfection in the Qur’an. But Islam does not equate the Qur’an with the nature or essence of God. It is the Word of God, the Commandment of God, the Will of God. But God does not reveal Himself to anyone. Christians talk about the revelation of God Himself – by God of God – but that is the great difference between Christianity and Islam. God is transcendent, and once you talk about self-revelation you have hierophancy and immanence, and then the transcendence of God is compromised. You may not have complete transcendence and self-revelation at the same time.

Muslim scholar al-Faruqi, Christian Mission and Islamic Da`wah: Proceedings of the Chambèsy Dialogue Consultation [held 1976 in Chambèsy, Switzerland], (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1982), pp. 47-48

Al-Ghazali, the most prominent theologian in the history of Islam, went so far as to say:

The end result of the knowledge of the `arifin (knowers) is their inability to know Him, and their knowledge is, in truth, that they do not know Him and that it is absolutely impossible for them to know Him.

So Allah may reveal His will, but that does not mean the Muslim can infer his essence from what he has said he wants. And who is to say he will not want something else tomorrow?

God is remote in Islam

August 24, 2009

There are several ways to establish contact or communication between man and God. The best would have been incarnation, but Islam has rejected it. It would be too degrading for a transcendent God to become man, to eat, drink, be tortured by His own creatures, and even be put to death. However close a man may approach God in his journey towards Him, even in his highest ascension, man remains man and is very much remote from God. Man may annihilate himself, like the mystics, and efface his personality completely in order to act according to the will of God, but still – and let us repeat that – man remains man and subject to all his weaknesses, and God is above all these insufficiencies.

Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, Introduction to Islam – Chapter 4 “Faith and Belief”, paragraph 138 in Cross and Crescent, Colin Chapman,  p.226

John 1.14