Sunday, April 21, 2013

Islam, Paradoxes, Dialectical Tensions and Squaring Circles


“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:   

10 comments:

Timothy said...

Please explain abc!! You are the best explainer!

biswajit malbisoi said...

thank you bro.may god bless you and your family

ajiboye emmanuel said...

Isalm is only simple 4 people who can not use their brain, and let someone do their thinking 4 them , yet its also complex to none muslims, because we dnt always understand a dilution mind of aLlah.

IslamLeadsToHell said...

Once a Muslim told me since 'Trinity' doesn't make any sense to him therefore it can't be true. I asked him if he could explain to me what it means to say 'Allah is one!' He said it's so easy for one is one is one! To which I said does it mean similar to I am one, you are one, a tree is one and a dog is one? Then his 'explanation' became such an entertaining exercise bringing so much amusement to me others which I can't forget even today:-)

Nakdimon said...

On the one hand, Muslims will claim that God MUST be like anything in creation otherwise He makes no sense. But on the other hand, Muslims will claim that you cannot compare anything in creation with the Creator, because there is nothing like Him.

What???

Radical Moderate said...

Yes Muslims have a simple god for the simple minded

JP Pŕáşãď said...

I wonder how come Muslims study those quranic texts n obey it,, even it teaches hate,, any normal human can easily question about those hate texts,,

Traeh said...

The world is full of paradoxes. For example, it's both one and many. The ultimate oneness of all is real, but equally so is the differentiation of that oneness into a pluralistic manifold full of spiritual and material variety, for example all the colors of the rainbow. And consider the rainbow. Is it continuous? Or discontinuous? Irreducibly and utterly both. Think about your identity. Are you inside yourself? Or outside yourself? Irreducibly both. Are you center? Or periphery? Both. Are you within God? Or is God within you? Both, though in different ways. So "paradox" is all over the place. It's our substance.

The Trinity makes much more sense than Islam's notion of God's mere Unity. Trinitarian Unity comports much more with our experience than does mere unity without any inward differentiation or diversity. We can easily grasp, for example, that a human being is threefold unity: Will, feeling, and thinking. Head, heart, and limbs. Body, soul, spirit. Despite that threefoldness, the human being is truly also one. It's a paradox, yet it's one we experience every day. What is impossible to understand, because it's false and has no relation to experience, is Islam's notion of Tawhid or unity without any differentiation whatsoever. That comports with no experience. It's the invention of a Liar.

sab of the dar al Haarb said...

"devout piety" means one who is willing to overlook reality and accept the Qur'an without thought and "enlightened mind" means one who is enlightened by Islam as opposed to one endarkened by any other religion of ideology.

GRev said...

God bless you David! Just to let you know I have an audio of Yvonne Ridley giving taqiya ridden talk on women's 'rights' in Islam and another taqiya ridden talk by Yusuf Estes on whether or not Islam was spread by the sword (He argues that since the Quran doesn't mention the word 'sword' and the Bible does Islam and the Quran are true...)of when they came to Scotland for a big conference, if you would like it. But obviously the points are so poorly argued one would hope people could debunk them themselves. Much peace. Your's in Christ