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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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The Diversified Solution to the Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt and Bi-Lā Kayfa

The Diversified Solution to the Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt and Bi-Lā Kayfa

Chapter:
(p.185) 4 The Diversified Solution to the Challenge of Islamic Traditionalism: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt and Bi-Lā Kayfa
Source:
Anthropomorphism in Islam
Author(s):

Livnat Holtzman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748689569.003.0005

This chapter examines the challenges that aḥādīth al-ṣifāt posed to the traditionalists, and the way the traditionalists met these challenges through the implementation of the bi-lā kayfa formula. According to the traditionalists, this formula meant ‘without asking further questions’. The Ashʿarites used this formula to dissociate any improper description from God. They named this concept tanzīh. The chapter presents the traditionalistic understanding of bi-lā kayfa through the work of Ibn Qutayba (d. 889). The Ashʿarite understanding of bi-lā kayfa is presented through the work of Ibn Furak (d. 1015). The lion’s share of this chapter presents the case-study of what is undoubtedly the most extreme text in the repertoire of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt, namely ḥadīth ḥaqw al-raḥmān, ‘the ḥadīth about the loin of the Merciful’. The chapter examines the transmission process of this text and focuses on several techniques that enabled the acceptance of this text in the Islamic canon. The chapter in particular considers the creative three-stage hermeneutical solution to ḥadīth ḥaqw al-raḥmān in the writings of Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalani (d. 1449), Badr al-Din al-ʿAyni (d. 1451), and Shihab al-Din al-Qastallani (d. 1517). Their hermeneutical solution added a new dimension to the Ashʿarite tanzīh and was inspired by Muʿtazilite thinkers.

Keywords:   bi-lā kayfa, tanzīh, traditionalists, Ashʿarites, The loin of the Merciful, ḥaqw al-raḥmān, transmission process, hermeneutical solution

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