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Anthropomorphism in IslamThe Challenge of Traditionalism (700-1350)$
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Livnat Holtzman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780748689569

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748689569.001.0001

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Gestures and Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt

Gestures and Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt

(p.120) 3 Gestures and Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt
Anthropomorphism in Islam

Livnat Holtzman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter spotlights the gestures (ishāra pl. ishārāt) which the teachers of Hadith (muḥaddithūn) performed while transmitting aḥādīth al-ṣifāt. The use of gestures in the context of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt entailed doctrinal and theological implications, and was in itself a matter of dispute. The performers of gestures among the muḥaddithūn of the seventh and eighth centuries, like Thabit al-Bunani (d. 740) and Harmala ibn ʿImran (d. 777) attributed the gestures to the Prophet and the ṣaḥāba. These muḥaddithūn perceived the gestures as iconic, namely gestures that display a concrete scene. The muḥaddith who in particular promoted the trend of performing gestures was Hammad ibn Salama (d. 784), and this chapter elaborates on his scholarly activity and public performances. Finally, this chapter evaluates the hermeneutical solutions to the gestures that accompanied the recitation of the anthropomorphic verses in the Quran and aḥādīth al-ṣifāt. These solutions were offered by the Hadith scholars who were active between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries. These scholars, who were mostly Ashʿarites, tended to interpret the gestures as metaphoric, namely gestures representing abstract concepts. The chapter concludes with the unique discussion of the Hanbalite Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 1201) on the topic of gestures and aḥādīth al-ṣifāt.

Keywords:   Iconic gestures, metaphoric gestures, ishāra, muḥaddithūn, recitation, performing trend, hermeneutical solutions, Ashʿarites

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