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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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Iconic Books and Gestures: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt in the Public Sphere

Iconic Books and Gestures: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt in the Public Sphere

(p.267) 5 Iconic Books and Gestures: Aḥādīth al-Ṣifāt in the Public Sphere
Anthropomorphism in Islam

Livnat Holtzman

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the ubiquitous presence of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt in the public sphere by focusing on four iconic texts: the caliphal Qadiri Creed, Ibn Khuzayma’s (d. 924) Kitāb al-Tawḥid, Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s (d. 1210) Asās al-Taqdīs and Ibn Taymiyya’s (d. 1328) al-Ḥamawiyya al-Kubrā. These iconic texts, which offer various discussions of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt, stood at the centre of public attention, and were revered as objects of political power. This chapter fully unfolds the connection between these four texts, and the role that they played in political events that took place in different venues from tenth century Nishapur to fourteenth century Damascus. Both the extremely popular Asās al-Taqdīs and al-Ḥamawiyya al-Kubrā ignited a public controversy about the performance of two iconic gestures that were linked to the recitations of aḥādīth al-ṣifāt: pointing the index finger heavenward and raising both hands in prayer. The chapter highlights al-Ḥamawiyya al-Kubrā’s iconicity by addressing the derogative name ḥashwiyya (vulgar anthropomorphists) which was central to this public controversy. The iconic books and gestures that are discussed in this chapter underscore the interface between theology and politics, and reveal a layer as yet unknown of the controversy between the ultra-traditionalists (Hanbalites) and the rational-traditionalists (the later Ashʿarites).

Keywords:   Iconic books, iconic gestures, ḥashwiyya, vulgar anthropomorphists, ultra-traditionalists, Hanbalites, rational-traditionalists, Ashʿarites

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