“At the center of Christianity are theological conundrums such as the Trinity and the hypostatic union. Islam knows nothing of such conceptual muddles; Islam’s message is pure, clear, and coherent, no paradoxical preservatives added.”
I recently saw a statement like the above for the umpteenth time in connection with Hamza Yusuf, who was being touted as someone who converted from Christianity to Islam because the Christian God is so unlike anything in human experience that he couldn’t wrap his mind around Him.
That the Islamic view of God is one that is simple and clear is a claim Muslims never tire of repeating, and many seem to think that the more they say this and get others to mindlessly chant it with them, that it will, somehow, magically become true; hence the reason some witty fellow coined the term dawaganda.
I don’t know if Hamza Yusuf is still repeating this old canard, but I can say for sure that he no longer has any excuse for doing so after finding out on his own that attempts to make sense out of the teachings of Islam amount to attempts to square a circle. According to Hamza Yusuf, when one looks at questions like the relationship of Allah’s essence to his attributes, as well as a number of other issues that have been fiercely debated by Muslims throughout the centuries, Islamic theology must be defined or described as:
“…a mental activity by nature and often involves paradoxes, in which seemingly insoluble problems…are dialectically entertained in the mind of the theologian, who then attempts to reconcile them, using sacred scripture and intellect—a combination made volatile and dangerous in the absence of a devout piety that would otherwise illuminate both the effort and the outcome. For this reason, true theology is, to a certain degree, the squaring of a circle within an enlightened mind.” The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi, Translated, Introduced, and Annotated by Hamza Yusuf (Zaytuna Institute, 2007), p. 13.
This gives rise to another paradox: Muslims pretending on the one hand that God has to be so simple that a simpleton could have him all figured out, and Muslims who cling on the other hand to a theology that is admittedly fraught with mind-bending and logic-straining doctrines. Maybe someone characterized by "devout piety" and who has an "enlightened mind" could explain this paradox to us.
For more on this theme, see the following video: