Attributes

God's words find expression in language by virtue of which they are communicatively preserved in the supplements of writing and recitation: ''Read! In the Name of thy Lord'' (96:1). However, the divine words, which are expressed phonetically and graphically, are not necessarily appropriated by the anthropocentric nature of language, nor are they readily measurable by its grammatical-logical criteria. Religiously, the divine words are not semantically exhausted; their meaning remains open to indeterminate interpretations, without being reduced to a uni-vocal sense, either in literal readings, or in the esoteric folds of allegory or metaphor. The revealed word finds its trace in a language that acts as a supplemental image to what is eternal. By their concealed character, and their withdrawal from anthropocentric appropriation, the divine words reveal language as being what is not at our disposal, or of our mere authorship. The Prophet was called upon in revelation to read and to deliver the message, to rise and warn: ''Nor does he speak of his own desire'' (53:3). The divine Word exposes the insufficiency of anthropo-centric measures, and this reveals the Book as being unlike any text. In this sense, no principle of analogy between human language and divine ''Language'' is readily conceivable. As with the attributes, no human similitude is to be implied, given that analogy is stamped herein by anthropocentricity. Based on this, the revealed scripture cannot be coherently interpreted in the sheltering of its integral ''sacredness'' by simply using the methods of human textuality. God's words are religiously approached by way of acceptance (qubul) ''without why or how'', while being recited and memorised. Nevertheless, any reading is already interpretive, and is determined by projective conceptual foresights or intellective prejudices, which frame doctrinal disputations. This calls for the strictness and restraint that are manifested in the adherence to the literal sense of scripture. This is especially the case when no reasons arise to hold that this sense is not adequate; and yet these reasons are often central. One salient instance where a literal sense may mislead is where it implies that the divine qualities are anthropomorphic. Accepting the literal meaning may express a declared conviction associated with the testimonial attestation to the truth of revelation. Yet such a religious mood and attitude need not force a disclosure of the literal meaning in anthropocentric terms. God's words, in their literal-ity, are not simply posited as utterances of human idioms. Their literal sense must be received with thoughtfulness, by recognising with integrity the fragility of our readings, since ''none knows its interpretation save God'' (3:7). Regarding allegorical interpretations, these have generally proceeded from the hypothesis that literal meanings are mis-leadingly anthropocentric. Yet from a philosophical standpoint, language itself is mysteriously neither of our own mere human doing, nor simply subordinate to our skill. Furthermore, caution and sound judgement must be exercised in any attempt at resolving the ambiguous verses of the Qur'an (al-mutashaabihaat) because of the need to avoid dissension (fitna).

Although the question concerning God's essence and attributes has primarily remained a classical madrasa problem that has been peripheral to modern reformist deliberations, it nevertheless confronts us with exacting metaphysical riddles. Attempts to advance a definite thesis in this regard are likely to be part of a call for a conversion to one doctrine or another. The atmosphere is one of ideological indoctrination preoccupied with historicity rather than a commitment to the uncanny realities of this question. This should, as a minimum, be replaced with a restraint in taking conclusive positions, and by resisting intellective haste, given that the doctrinal unfolding of this question did not always maintain, with purity, the indeterminacy, indecision, openness and submission that befit a genuine experience of the holy.

0 0

Post a comment