Anthropomorphic Depictions of God: The Concept of God in Judaic, Christian and Islamic Traditions: Representing the Unrepresentable
This monumental study examines issues of anthropomorphism in the three Abrahamic Faiths, as viewed through the texts of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an. Throughout history, Christianity and Judaism have tried to make sense of God. While juxtaposing the Islamic position against this, the author addresses the Judeo-Christian worldview and how each has chosen to framework its encounter with God, to what extent this has been the result of actual scripture and to what extent the product of theological debate, or church decrees of later centuries and absorption of Hellenistic philosophy. Shah also examines Islam’s heavily anti-anthropomorphic stance and Islamic theological discourse on Tawhid as well as the Ninety-Nine Names of God and what these have meant in relation to Muslim understanding of God and His attributes. Describing how these became the touchstone of Muslim discourse with Judaism and Christianity he critiques theological statements and perspectives that came to dilute if not counter strict monotheism. As secularism debates whether God is dead, the issue of anthropomorphism has become of immense importance. The quest for God, especially in this day and age, is partly one of intellectual longing. To Shah, anthropomorphic concepts and corporeal depictions of the Divine are perhaps among the leading factors of modern atheism. As such he ultimately draws the conclusion that the postmodern longing for God will not be quenched by pre-modern anthropomorphic and corporeal concepts of the Divine which have simply brought God down to this cosmos, with a precise historical function and a specified location, reducing the intellectual and spiritual force of what God is and represents, causing the soul to detract from a sense of the sacred and thereby belief in Him.
The book is called Beyond Mere Christianity for two reasons. First, in response to C.S. Lewis’ influential 1952 work, Mere Christianity, which stands as a masterpiece of Christian apologetics. The second reason, perhaps less obvious, is that a case can be made, based on current, responsible Gospel scholarship, that Jesus was calling his people to the Salvation that lies beyond the worship of the merely created, the Salvation that relies instead on the direct worship of the Creator. I believe emphatically that the authentic words of Jesus invite us to move beyond what is conventionally understood as Christianity for this Salvation.
This interesting, topical and sometimes heated, conversation among theologians, social scientists and policy experts on British secularism helps to shed vital light on the challenges of accommodating religious minorities and majorities within modern societies. The contributors question a number of received assumptions about the public role of religion, and also challenge traditional Muslim suspicions of secularism, thus succeeding in moving the debate on Islam in Britain, and secular polities in general, to new and very promising ground. This is a vital contribution to ongoing topical debates on secularism, pluralism, inclusion and the direction modern societies should take. Dr. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, University of Westminster Religious voices in favour of secularism are often absent from the debate on religion and politics. But as a political attitude that will guarantee freedom of belief for all, secularism is relevant to all. This volume – though non-religious secularists may find much to challenge within it – is a welcome contribution to this most important of modern debates. Andrew Copson Chief Executive, British Humanist Association –Commissioned
This volume on the role of Muslims in British society very helpfully addresses two concepts about which there is currently much confusion, namely secularism and secularity. The fact that it does this in conversation with some of the other interested parties, namely Jews and Christians, and that it seeks to combine specifically religious, or theological, and political, or social-scientific, approaches, means that it will be of interest to both theoreticians in the academy and practitioners in different areas of society, and it therefore deserves a wide readership. Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, University of Edinburgh –Commissioned
The question of the relationship between politics and religion tends to generate more heat than light, especially when the focus is on Islam. This book, with its careful analysis and respect for facts, helps dispel the smoke. It is an invaluable contribution to the public debate, especially in the British context, and will assist people of good will – of all faiths and none – to clarify their own thoughts about ‘the secular state’. Dr. Brian Klug Senior Research Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy, St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford –Commissioned
Choosing Faith In a world of spiritual options, people constantly tell us what to believe. Yet, while we hear these pleas, we’re already functioning with existing beliefs–even if they are beliefs by default. So how do we choose what to believe–especially in the area of faith? Do we need to choose.
n her startling book, Forcing God’s Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture and the Destruction of Planet Earth, Grace Halsell explores the danger of a new religious doctrine sweeping America. Adherents to this doctrine are said to constitute the fastest growing movement in Christianity today. The cult members look like your average next- door neighbors. They are middle to upper-class Americans. Its leaders proclaim that God wants—even demands—that Planet Earth be destroyed in our generation.
Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe there will be catastrophic events on earth, some occurring already, including the turmoil in the Middle East, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon in which Christ will triumph and begin ruling the earth. At this point, they believe, non-believers will be destroyed, good Christians saved and any remaining Jews converted to Christianity. By praying for their Rapture and the End of Time, might they Force the Hand of God–to bring it about?
“What’s the number-one item on the agenda of the Christian right? Abortion? School prayer? No and no. Believe it or not, what’s most important to a lot of conservative Christians is the Jewish state, Israel; its size, its strength, its survival. Why so?” CBS 60 Minutes (read inside)
“God save us from these people,” Yossi Alpher, Israeli political analyst, to CBS 60 Minutes.
“A great expose’ of the strange marriage of convenience between the U.S. Christian Right and Israel. Neither likes the other- but they use one another. It’s not about religion, but about politics. I highly recommend this book for exposing the hypocrisy.” Dr. Alfred Lilienthal, Author-Historian
“Halsell exposes Falwell’s Christian tours as having only one purpose: to raise money for Falwell and Israel, under the guise of preparing the pilgrims for the approaching Armageddon. An excellent book.” Gore Vidal, Author
In his book Islam and the west Norman Daniel wrote: People seem to take it for granted that alien society is dangerous, if not hostile, and the spasmodic outbreaks of warfare between Islam and Christendom throughout history has been one manifestation of this. Apparently, under the pressure of their own sense of danger, Whether real or not, beliefs take shape in men’s minds. By misapprehension and misrepresentation, a notion of ideas and beliefs of one society can pass into the accepted myth of another society in a form so distorted that its relation to the original facts is sometimes barely discernible. Doctrines that are the expression of the spiritual outlook of an enemy are interpreted ungenerously and with prejudice and even the facts are modified to suit the interpretation.
This process began among the Greeks whom the Arab armies conquered when they occupied Syria… St John of Dainascus, born fifty years after the Hijrah (precedented) The severe attitude of condemning whatever Muslims believe in. In this Byzantine polemic, the Anatrope, Niceta of Byzantium does not even try to understand the Qur’an before refuting it. It follows that the God of Muhammad is really a devil.
Enemies of Islam, whatever their motives, will always exploit much the same facts, as recently did Salman Rushdies Satanic Verses.
As they (Christians) resented the doctrines of Islam and saw them in the light of their own misconceptions, they inevitably deformed them. Anti-Islamic polemic inhibited any possible empathy with Muslims. The main attack on Islam was already determined in the thirteenth century.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziah, a contemporary to the outcome of these polemics against Islam, the Age of Decline, did not restrict himself from delivering tit-for-tat replies, and sometimes he went overboard in some of his descriptions equally demeaning the Christians and the Jews.
PhD in Applied Linguistics (Michigan State University, USA)
Dr. Arfaj spent more than 20 years researching comparative religion. This book came about as a result of his extensive research and experience.
The first question usually posed to a new Muslim convert — especially a woman — is: Why? Why would you leave the religion of your family to embrace Islam? I Became a Muslim was written to answer this question. Beginning with her early childhood memories in England, Aysha Parry, explains how she became confused and then disillusioned by her Christian religion. After travelling around the world in a spiritual quest, during which she discovered different cultures and witnessed unusual religious practices, the powerful ‘call to prayer’ captured her heart, inviting her to embrace Islam. Her final and brave decision was to put Allah, love and family at the heart of her new religious lifestyle in the place she now calls home: Egypt. Her distinctive story explains exactly what she found in Islam and what she left behind. The candid discussions of the challenges she faced before and after Islam may occasionally include statements that are not entirely in accordance with Islamic creed, but they reflect her unique experiences and ongoing process of learning. I Became a Muslim will inspire those who are considering converting to Islam as well as those who simply want to better understand this religion.
This work by Alija Izetbegovic, the late first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, following its tragic birth from the ashes of Yugoslavia, was first published in 1984 when he was imprisoned by the Communists. It analyses the West’s denial of Islam and the contributions made by Muslims in comparing the offerings of secular and Islamic civilization. It shows where the two meet and part, investigating along the way art, morality, culture and law. Banned in France, this book was a bestseller throughout the rest of Europe in the 1980s, and is now for the first time being re-issued in a new and improved format.
Majed Al-Rassi’s popular booklet, compiled from the works of respected writers on the subject of comparative religion, has been revised and greatly expanded in this new edition. Islam is Your Birthright is a useful and comprehensive guide for Muslims who would like to know how to address non-Muslims on the subject of the relationship between Islam, Christianity and other religions. It is as well a helpful, easy-to-follow explanation of the basic precepts of Islam that interested non-Muslims can pick up and read, without having had any prior study of Islam. Wise men and women know that they are in existence for a purpose and a final destination, whether they know that destination or not. Also, wise people know that if they do not know where they are going, then they will never arrive. In this little book, light is focused on: Why human beings were created What is their final destination How to reach ‘safely’ to that destination