Islam students at LUC

The Vision of Islam: Tanzih and Tashbih

Posted on: August 1, 2010

I am really enjoying the book The Vision of Islam. I especially like the way that the authors embrace paradox and repeatedly return to the paradoxical concepts of tanzih and tashbih to explain so many of the most common theological questions.

A major issue in theology is reconciling the image of God as merciful and loving with the image of God as the punisher. People are often turned off from religion because we are puzzled and offended by the idea that God wants to punish us, looking for our failings and ignoring our very humanity. I know that one of the reasons I have been turned off from religion in the past is that there are so many religious sects (like the Westboro Baptist Church) that emphasize God’s condemnation of human failing (and then attempt to appear God-like by contributing to the condemnation of humanity).

I really like the way that Chittick and Murata are able to reconcile God’s attributes, however- God is at once completely and inherently different from creation and therefore inapproachable while creation is only able to exist at all because it is infused with God, the only source of life.

One of the questions that has been discussed in many of our blogs last week related to Surah 56 and how God can be so damning while also being merciful. I considered this in the light of the idea of “the law of universal reciprocity,” that God treats us in the way that we ask to be treated, with respect to the way we treat others and the way that we approach the world. This relates to the paradox of tanzih and tashbih as well- it is up to the individual to emphasize distance from God or connection to God.

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