In the Name of God. the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready
to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account
for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence...
(The Holy Bible, I Peter 3:15)
This document has been written by a number of Christians who are active in Christian-Muslim dialogue. Some of the writers are former Muslims who have become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. As former Muslims (murtad, "apostates") there is a particular risk for their names to be revealed publicly. We offer this response to the open letter written by 38 Muslim leaders to the Pope about his September 12, 2006 lecture at the University of Regensburg in Germany.
Section 1 ∞ There is no Compulsion in Religion
There is no Compulsion in Religion
Muslim scholars are confused and unclear in regard to the issue of the commands for Jihad. Often time, they make the claim that jihad was decreed only to defend Islam and its followers, that jihad was not ordained for Muslims to attack their enemies land, and either to invite them to accept Islam or to fight them until Allahs word and his religion prevail. Time and time again, these so called scholars will try to present specific Quranic citations in order to convince non-Muslims, especially Westerners, that Islam is a very tolerant religion that promotes peace and existence of other religions. Such verses will include "There is no compulsion in religion" (al-Baqarah 2:256) which you mention "was not a command to Muslims to remain steadfast in the face of the desire of their oppressors to force them to renounce their faith, but was a reminder to Muslims themselves, once they had attained power, that they could not force anothers heart to believe". However, we find it interesting that in reviewing the interpretations of this verse by the earliest Islamic commentators such as (Ibn Katheer; Al-Tabari; Al-Qurtuby; or Al-Jalalayn); it becomes clear that they all give different accounts as to why this verse was revealed. These accounts are not as clear as you have stated. Rather, what was clear by all of these commentators that this verse was abrogated by the famous Sword Verse "slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (al-Tawbah 9:5). Other Muslim scholars have pointed out that "There is no compulsion in religion" (al-Baqarah 2:256) was abrogated by "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them." (al-Tawbah 9:73) and others even claimed that it was abrogated by "O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you". (al-Tawbah 9:123)
As we can read in these verses, both Christians and Jews are included in that command, as they are the only two religious groups allowed to pay the poor-rate (Jizya) as stated by the following verse in the same chapter "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." (al-Tawbah 9:29). Clearly, these passages are condoning offensive military expeditions against non-aggressive groups such as Jews and Christians, individuals who have not taken arms against Muslims.
Hence the question becomes: Does not this mean Compulsion in Religion is a command in accordance to these previous verses? How then can you argue that it is not? In fact, when we carefully review the wordings of (al-Tawbah 9:5) it becomes evident that these religious groups were given three choices; repent; pay jizya; or be killed. One might ask, what are they to repent of since they are already followers of a divine book, unless they are to reject their faith and follow Islam?
You also noted that Muslims are also guided by such verses as Say: The truth is from your Lord; so whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. (al-Kahl 18:29); and Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion (al-Kafirun: 109:1-6). However, you failed to mention that both of these verses were also abrogated by the Sword Verse. Therefore, your use of both of these verses as an example to support your claim of "There is no compulsion in religion" was a very poor and deceptive one.
When the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz Bin Baz, was asked about this very issue whether Islam teaches "no compulsion in religion", here is what he said:
"This claim is not valid as this verse was specifically mentioned of the People of the Book and the like, as they will not be forced to enter into Islam if they choose to pay the poll tax. This is one interpretation of the meaning of this verse. The second interpretation states that this verse also was abrogated by the Sword Verse. And if they refuse Islam and pay the poll tax, then they must be fought as noted in the previous glorious verses."
Some of these previous verses the late Mufti was referring to included "And fight them until there is no more worshipping others besides Allah, and the religion will all be for Allah Alone" (al-Anfaal 8:39). Hence, in reviewing the previous argument, we hope you agree with us that it is obvious that not all Muslim scholars hold the same view when it comes to the issue of "no compulsion in religion".
Section 2 ∞ Gods Transcendence
Gods Transcendence in Islam A Christian Response
It is clear that Islam, a religion with the rich cultural, legal, intellectual and mystical heritage that has spanned over 1400 years of human history is not one monolithic faith. No one person, or even theological system can speak for all Muslims of all times. In fact, throughout all of Islamic history, various spiritual, theological and philosophical traditions have been greatly at odds with each other over their understandings of what it means to be a believing Muslim.
However, one can point to a general consensus of what constitutes mainstream Sunni orthodoxy. And according to this consensus, God is viewed as absolutely one, absolutely sovereign, absolutely transcendent, and therefore beyond any genuine human knowledge and understanding. Al-Ghazali, who is acknowledged by most Muslims (including the authors of the open letter to the Pope) to be the main representative of Islamic belief, wrote, "The end result of the knowledge of the arifin [those who know] is their inability to know Him [God], and their knowledge is, in truth, that they do not know Him and that it is absolutely impossible for them to know Him."
A contemporary and well respected Muslim theologian, the late Ismail Al-Faruqi, echoes a similar theme in Islamic understanding of God. He writes, "He [God] does not reveal Himself to anyone in any way. God reveals only His will. Remember one of the prophets asked God to reveal Himself and God told him, No, it is not possible for Me to reveal Myself to anyone . This is Gods will and that is all we have . But Islam does not equate the Quran with the nature or essence of God. It is the Word of God, the Commandment of God, the Will of God. But God does not reveal Himself to anyone. Christians talk about the revelation of God Himselfby God and of Godbut that is the great difference between Christianity and Islam. God is transcendent, and once you talk about self-revelation you have hierophancy and immanence, and then the transcendence of God is compromised. You may not have complete transcendence and self-revelation at the same time."
Another prominent Muslim intellectual, Shabbir Akhtar, articulates the Islamic consensus on this point. He points out, "The Koran, unlike the Gospel, never comments on the essence of Allah. Allah is wise or Allah is loving may be pieces of revealed information but in contrast to Christianity, Muslims are not enticed to claims that Allah is Love or Allah is Wisdom. Only adjectival descriptions are attributed to the divine being and these merely as they bear on the revelation of Gods will for man. The rest remains mysterious."
Although Islamic mysticism or Sufism has developed a greater emphasis on the possibility of intimacy between human beings and God based on a number of Quranic texts (and a heavy reliance on religious traditions outside of Islam), the fact of the matter is that overall, the heart of orthodox Islamic theology is not based on knowing (or loving) God but on only obeying His will.
This absolute dichotomy in Islam between Gods will and the self-revelation of Gods character also results in the moral dilemma about the goodness of God. If we take the Quranic declarations at face value that "There is no thing like unto Him" (Sura 42:11) or "There is none like unto Him" (Sura 112:4); if God is so utterly transcendent and different than anything we can relate to, then how can human beings make any sense of adjectives that describe Allah as the Merciful, the Just, the Seeing, the Hearing, the Knowing, the Loving and the Gentle? Kenneth Cragg, a life-long scholar on Islam, explains, "[All the attributes] are to be understood finally as characteristics of the divine will rather than laws of the divine nature . What gives unity to all Gods dealings is that God will them all . But God does not necessarily conform to any of them . One may not, therefore, say that God is necessarily loving, holy, righteous, clement, or relenting, in every and all relationships. It is this fact that explains the antithesis in certain of the Names [of God in Islam] . So God is the One who leads astray, as well as the One who guides. God is the One who brings damage, as also does Satan. God is described also by terms such as the Bringer-down, the Compeller or Tyrant, the Haughtyof all of which, when humanly used, have an evil sense. In the unity of the single will, however, these descriptions coexist with those that relate to mercy, compassion and glory.". Sir Norman Anderson, another British scholar of Islamic Law, concludes, "the Beautiful Names of God [in Islam] may, indeed, be beautiful sounds in a Muslims ear, but remain devoid of any intelligible content.".
The logical outcome of Islamic orthodoxy is not only agnosticism in regard to our knowledge of Gods being but also agnosticism in regard to Gods character and ultimate goodness and love. For according to Islamic theology, God has willed and has acted in many ways, but these actions in no way reflect Gods character behind them. It is interesting that according to the Quran Allah "has prescribed for Himself mercy (Sura 6:12), but in no way does this verse teach that mercy and compassion are rooted in the very being and character of God himself. It seems that based on a number of Quranic verses and hadith attributed to the prophet of Islam, Allah does in fact act in any way that he please without any regard to our understanding of justice and mercy.
Section 3 ∞ The Use of Reason
The Use of Reason
The context of the Pope's remarks about the use of reason included personal experiences at the university where even the existence of God was questioned. The Pope embraced the use of reason by those who would question even the very foundations of Christian faith.
Indeed, Western and Christian reason invites an inquiry about matters of faith. We Christians invite the world to investigate the core fundamental teachings of our faith. Who is Jesus? Is he God? What does His death on the cross mean? And did he really resurrect from the dead? What historical proof is there for such a faith?
Likewise, it is also reasonable for the world to ask such questions about the fundamental teachings of Islam. The use of reason concerning matters of faith compel us to ask Muslims questions about the person of Mohammed and we, who have embraced serious inquiry from non-believers about our Christian faith, also think it reasonable for Muslims to embrace such inquiry from both Muslims and non-Muslims.
We expect Muslim leaders around the world to demonstrate their commitment to the use of reason about the inquiry of faith by refraining from issuing threats of death against those who ask basic questions and point out certain historical truths about Mohammed and the Quran. Indeed, it makes no sense "to deny the power of human understanding to address ultimate questions." Such questions include the following:
Why should anyone believe Mohammed is a prophet of God?
What does Islam teach about Muslims who later reject Mohammed as a prophet?
Does the life and character of Mohammed serve as a role model for people to follow today and how does his life, character and teachings compare to that of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Is it not reasonable for people to think critically about both the nature of "revelation" which Islam tells us Mohammed received and the textual transmission of the Quran?
Too many times we, as Christians or as Westerners, are asked by Muslim leaders for us avoid offending the tender sensibilities of Muslims while threats of death are issued against us by Muslims in the name of Mohammed over the same issue. A commitment to the use of reason in matters of faith is not demonstrated by the questioning of another's faith, but by embracing the inquiry into our own faith from those not of our own persuasion. While some might be offended by such inquiry, the use of violence in response to perceived attacks against the very foundations of our own faith is contrary to the character of God. It is not unreasonable for non-Muslims to be concerned about the use of violence by Muslims against those who question and doubt the basic tenets of Islam, especially as it relates to the person, life, and teachings of Mohammed.
Section 4 ∞ What is "Holy War"?
What is "Holy War"?
The Pope quoted Manuel II Paleologus about the use of violence to force people to change their religion. The quote is in the broader context of how using violence to spread "faith" is contrary to reason and ultimately contrary to God's nature. The biblical texts you cite in your open letter to the Pope have nothing to do with the point the Pope was making in his speech and do not refute his basic premise.
Moreover, two events in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ are mentioned in your discussion about "holy war" but they are presented as if they are one event.
First, the use of "violence" by our Lord Jesus Christ against the merchants in the holy temple, a place of prayer for all nations, was virtually limited to driving them out of the temple grounds and turning over their tables. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as one person, driving out many merchants from this holy place is more of a testament to His divine authority and purity than it is Him advocating violence.
Here is the Gospel account from John 2:13-22 which refers to the temple cleansing event:
And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated.
And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise."
His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me."
The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?"
Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews therefore said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"
But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Furthermore, the context of this passage from the Holy Gospel, teaches us about how the Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself to be crucified at the hands of violent men.
Second, the use of the word "sword" from the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ on another occasion is not associated with the temple cleansing event and the context of its use in your remarks misrepresents our Holy Scriptures. The two events, the temple cleansing and the use of the word "sword" in the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ on another occasion, are not related events.
Although you gave the full reference of the Gospel account from Matthew 10:34-36 you only quoted one of those three verses. All three verses, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Gospel, say this,
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And then the next two verses, where Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to speak:
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.
This not a command for Christians to use violence against others, as you imply in your partial quote of Our Lord. Instead, the context of these words, which is very clear to even the casual reader, have to do with the violence others would perpetrate against those who would follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
This teaching from Our Lord Jesus Christ describes very clearly what many have experienced who have become His disciples. This has been especially true of former Muslims who have left Islam and are now following Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
So this brings up the issue of the former Muslim (murtad). Just what does Islam teach about the murtad? And isn't such teaching a part of jihad? Your kind statements about the innocent Catholic nun who was murdered in Somalia on September 17, 2006 does not deal with the issue of the murtad and jihad, which is the crux of the matter.
Section 5 ∞ Forced Conversion
The fact that ancient communities of non-Muslims have not all been exterminated from Muslim lands is no proof of Islamic tolerance toward non-Muslims. Are they not forever locked into second class status (saghirun) as dhimmis?
As previously mentioned, what about the role of the murtad (a former Muslim) in Muslim society? What if the murtad refuses to confess that Mohammed is a prophet once again? Is this not forced conversion back to Islam?
Accordingly, why can't there be churches in Saudi Arabia and in Mecca itself? What about Saudi and other Christians who are former Muslims who meet together for prayer and worship of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Mecca? Are they subject to the rules of the murtad or are they only to be considered insane like our brother Abdul Rahman of Afghanistan?
Truly, "no compulsion in religion", should include the freedom for Muslims to leave Islam and the choice to reject Mohammed as a prophet, right?
While your emphatic agreement that forcing others to believe is not pleasing to God sounds very nice, the issue is not one of belief and faith but one of submission. While you make the claim that Islam does not teach conversion by force, the various degrees of submission to the teachings of Mohammed for dhimmis and "justice" for the "corruption" of the murtad defines the Quranic "no compulsion in religion" phrase. Even though you dispute claims that your faith was spread by the sword and even if this was true the world should not be impressed with your lack of conversion by the sword since the end result is submission and not necessarily conversion.
Section 7 ∞ The Experts
The "Experts" Signers
In the body of the letter is a significant statement regarding the two Europeans whom the Pope called "experts" on Islam. The Muslims appear to invite any non-Muslim who is "sympathetic" to qualify for endorsement as an expert. At any rate, the Popes two sources have not been endorsed. This statement is followed by the hope that inter-religious dialogue will continue provided that the discussions will represent the "actual voices of those we are dialoguing with, and not merely those of our own persuasion." Those who signed this letter appear to be messaging the Roman Catholic Church that they are far more qualified to represent Islam than the non-endorsed, European Christian scholars.
Among the 38 signers of this letter are 14 who actually hold the highest national and religious office as "Muftis" or "Grand Muftis." This group of top Muslims have won the endorsements not only of their respective Islamic hierarchies but as Muftis they survive amid the political climates in countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey, Oman, Syria, and what was once the Yugoslav federation. Most of the other signatories are either sheikhs or professors which does not automatically make them experts in Islam but very likely they have passed the rigorous years of study of Islam and possibly entered into what is known as the "Ulama," the custodians of Islamic Law. The Popes informants, Professor Khoury, an Arab Christian, and Professor Arnaldez, an authority on Ibn Hazm and the now extinct Zahiri School of Islamic law, need not apply as experts as the first requirement is that they be Muslims.
Dialogues and Jihad
On display in the Open Letter to the Pope are typical admonitions from a group of "experts" who feel that they must defend their Islamic faith in polite but sharply critical terms, hoping to expose any weaknesses of the Christian apologist who happens to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. This type of dialogue/debate between Muslims and Christians has gone on since the beginnings of Islam in the middle of the Christian seventh century when the Jacobite Patriarch John I dialogued with the Amir ibn al-As in 639 AD. Muslims today have added to these discussions a victimization plea that was not apparent when the Muslims were in the ascendancy during their conquests of the Middle East, North Africa and large swaths of South Asia. As victims of the Crusades, Colonialization, and Zionism, many Muslim contend that they have a duty to strike back as part of their defense of the faith of Islam.
The letter states that even Jesus Christ used violence when he confronted the money changers in the Temple and it quotes Jesus words, " I came not to bring peace but a sword " from Matthew 10:34-36. These fighting words are nothing like the problems the Ulama and others are facing in their interpretations of their own "sword" verses of Sura IX which come very late in Prophet Muhammads revelations. An eighth century "expert," the Imam Muhammad ibn al-Shafii, the founder of a still surviving Islamic Legal School, offered this opinion on the fifth verse of Sura IX ("fight the polytheists totally"). He made jihad obligatory for all able Muslims. (Muhammad ibn Idris al-ShafiI, "al-Risala fi Usul al-Fiqh" by Majid Khadduri, Johns Hopkins Press, 1951, pp 80-87.) The Quran adds that the fighting shall continue until the non-Muslims are either slain or submit by becoming Muslims and pay the poll tax (IX: 29). Most of the experts whose names appear on this list would find it very uncomfortable to argue in todays climate of seeking tolerance and interfaith dialogues by advocating open warfare on modern-day polytheists. I suspect that the politically correct consensus today is that the word Jihad means first and foremost "inner struggle." Only the terrorist fringes are actively pursuing acts of war against the enemies of Islam.
Section 8 ∞ Islam and Christianity
Islam and Christianity
Truly the relationship between Islam and Christianity is of momentous importance. And any moves in the direction of mutual understanding are to be desired. However, an expression of a desire for frank, sincere dialogue and friendly relationships built on mutual respect and justice is easier said than done. Integrity is a must. Islam has frequently shied away from honesty and forthrightness about its own practice and history. A radical change is needed in this regard to demonstrate any sort of meaningful common essence in the Abrahamic tradition. If Muslims would resurrect their time honored practice of ijtihad" and apply it without reservation to their own fundamentals they could be credited with a greater degree of credibility in conversation
When it comes to talking about Islam and Christianity a host of different approaches might be undertaken. One could look at "similarities" of belief and depending on the depth of analysis a number of points of contact might be found. Or one could stress "differences" in theology and belief, which can be striking depending on what one chooses to analyze. It is not necessarily helpful to stress "practice" as each has a range of people (from "fundamentalists"/reactionaries to nominal people to those who are hostile and reactionary in the name of "progressivism") who profess to practice and represent the faith.
Occupying center stage in any comparison is Jesus, and a host of issues revolving around ones assessment of him his nature, death and resurrection and role in Gods scheme of things. A long historic debate involving questions of texts (both Quranic and Biblical) and their trustworthiness immediately force themselves into the conversation.
Critical areas such as the nature of humankind, the problems which beset the world, in a word, the nature of "sin" and Gods response to the worlds problems reflect vast differences of viewpoint. The nature of revelation, inspiration, faith and salvation as well as the ultimate status of the believer are also areas of significant divergence.
Beyond these considerations are a host of practical issues, such as those that relate to the status of Christian minorities, treatment of those who desire to be other than Muslim, and human rights in general.
But a prior point and vital question is the apparent internal difference between Christians and Muslims (common people as well as scholars) in allowing a willingness to raise "hard questions" about ones own faith before asking about the other faith and its assumptions the very right, if you will, to raise questions at all questions which each might be judged presumptuous or almost blasphemous. There seems to be a fundamental difference here between the traditional Muslim outlook and Christianity. And yet without permission to ask (not the other, but ones own history) and discuss, interaction becomes monologue and monologue is frequently a dialogue of those who are not listening.
Christianity has always had its detractors, both internal and external, and has not always responded well to them, whether internal or external. But Christians have always had within their ranks a group who seem to have matured to the point of tolerating "hostile" questions about Christianity while putting forth the effort to sincerely wrestle with answers. Some might say this is a by-product of Western enlightenment influences. But it might also be seen as a consequence of an appreciation of a Biblical understanding of Jesus and the Abrahamic tradition.
There seems to be little of this spirit within Islam today, yet historically there is a basis for it in the doctrine of "ijtihad". At one point in Islamic history ijtihad carried a wide range of latitude. Thankfully it is slowly being rediscovered by some progressive elements in Islam today.
A major need is for the full range of Muslim religious leaders to rediscover a genuine "ijtihad" allowing for its initial energies to focus on Islam, it prophet, text, traditions, practice, history and relation to others. Christians can and should ask hard questions of Islam; but to be meaningful there must be a prior initiative from within Islam by credible Muslims. Otherwise, hard questions will only be seen as yet another attack by "Orientalists". Christians must engage in a similar, balanced practice of looking at their own life, beliefs and history. Only with this kind of spirit operating on both sides can useful comparisons take place. Only then can valid grounds for serious interaction and comparison between Christianity and Islam come into being.
Until then no constructive comparisons are possible. Without this, Islam and Christianity exist each within its own universe, "sealed off from the other except for words hurled back and forth like missiles over a divide. It seems that Christianity has a freedom here that Islam in practice does not. A comparison or contrast focusing on the question of the freedom to look at ones own essentials must be resolved before any meaningful comparisons with the other can take place. Otherwise a call for frank and sincere dialogue is just words words devoid of any real meaning.
1 Available online: Open Letter to the Pope written by 38 Muslim scholars
2 Available online: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/index.php?pgmat&type=article&id=549
3 Quoted in Fadlou Shehadi, Ghazalis Unique Unknowable God, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964, p. 37. Shehadi, a prominent scholar on Ghazali, after an extensive analysis of the writings of Ghazali, concludes, “If God is a unique kind of being unlike any other being in any respect, more specifically, unlike anything known to man, it would have to follow by Ghazalis own principles that God is utterly unknowable. For, according to Ghazali, things are known by their likeness, and what is utterly unlike what is known to man cannot be known. Furthermore, God would have to be unknowable, completely unknowable, not only to ‘the man on the street,’ but to prophets and mystics as well. This is a conclusion that Ghazali states very explicitly and not infrequently.” Shehadi goes on to say, “The uncompromising character of Ghazalis agnosticism follows logically from the uncompromising stand on the utter difference of Gods nature.” Ibid, pp. 21-22, 48 (emphasis added).
4 Al-Faruqi, Christian Mission and Islamic Dawah: Proceedings of the Chambesy Dialogue Consultation, Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1982, pp. 47-48 (emphasis added).
5 Shabir Akhtar, A Faith for All Seasons, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 1990, pp. 180-181 (emphasis added).
6 Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1985, pp. 36-37. Cragg goes on to say, “Terms taken from human meanings—and there are of course no others—were said to be used of God with a difference. They did not covey the human connotation but were used in those senses feasible of God. When the further question was pressed: What then do they convey as applied to God? No precise answer was capable of being formulated. Islam here falls back upon a final agnosticism. Terms must be used if there is to be religion at all. But only God knows what they signify. Muslim theology coined the related phrases Bila Kaif and Bila Tashbih. We use these names ‘without knowing how’ they apply and without any human similarity.” Ibid, p. 55.
7 Norman Anderson, Gods Law and Gods Love: An Essay in Comparative Relgion, London: Collins, 1980, p. 102.
8 See Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002, pp. 140-150.
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