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.
“Crucial to the vitality of any religious community is its ability to attract and engage descendants and converts. By this measure, notwithstanding the proliferation of mosques and Islamic organizations, the Muslim community in America is not doing at all well.” This rather sober assessment motivates Dr. Lang to address, in this book, the alienation from the Mosque of the great majority of America’s homegrown Muslims. In Losing My Religion: A Call For Help, the author comes to terms with many of the queries put to him by Americans of Muslim parentage and converts to Islam since the publication of his book Even Angels Ask in 1977. Lang asserts that to effectively respond to the general malaise of American-born Muslims, the Islamic establishment in America needs to be willing to listen to the doubts and complaints of the disaffected. This entails engaging in open discussions on issues with which many in the Muslim community will be uncomfortable, but Lang avers that such open dialogue will be of more benefit to young American Muslims struggling with their faiths than the covert and uniformed discussions that often take place or no discussion at all. For this reason, Lang feels it is important and beneficial “to be candid and objective and not evade controversy, for to inadequately state the case for or against a specific position, especially when it challenges convention, only serves to further alienate the sceptical.” In addition to examining questions of theodicy, hadith authenticity, and moot practices within the American Muslim community, the author includes many testimonials and inquiries that make this book informative. Dr. Lang is Professor of Mathematics at The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. He is the author of two best selling works: Struggling to Surrender and Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America. Both books have been translated into other languages.
Based on the perceptions of non-Muslims, this book uncovers the truth about Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and explains the reasons for misunderstanding between Islam and the West. It also highlights the prophet’s characteristics and teachings which help to build unity and peace amongst Muslims and other communities. Data was collected by reviewing appreciations of Muhammad (SAW) made by non-Muslims across history and also conducting semi-structured interviews involving contemporary non-Muslim prominent personalities including MPs, Lords, and priests from interfaith communities and chaplaincies of some leading universities. About Dr. Lais – Having developed a career as a Career Adviser providing advice and guidance to students in education, and also achieved a PhD degree which brought me a’ National Research Award’. I have been involved in many studies conducted by universities including Imperial College, University College London and Oxford University. Noticing a literature gap in this topic, I became motivated in conducting a self-funded research and this book is its outcome. Keywords: Prophet, Muhammad, Honesty, Simplicity, Patience, Tolerance, Forgiveness, Care, Compassion, Unity.
In The Cross and The Crescent, Dr. Dirks, a former ordained minister (deacon) in the United Methodist Church, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and with a doctorate in clinical psychology, reaches out to the Christians and the Muslims for an interfaith dialogue. Drawing on his seminary education and thirty years of interaction with Muslims in America and overseas, the author digs deep into the roots of Christianity to bring out obscure information that highlights what was once common between Christianity and Islam. He envisioned that, “In writing this book, I would like to touch the lives of those Christians who have not been given the knowledge that I have gained both about Islam, from my direct contact with Muslims, and about Christianity from my seminary education. I want to share with those Christians, who are willing to listen, what is so often known by their clergy and church leaders, but seldom finds its way into their knowledge of their own religion. Likewise, I would like to reach out to the Muslims, in order to help them understand the religious commonality that they share with Christians”.
Written by former minister who converted to Islam, this book expounds the commonalities and contrasts between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. An excellent book for da’wah purposes and for Muslims to gain a deeper appreciation for the two earlier faiths.