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Friday, December 20, 2013

A History of God by Karen Armstrong

When the Koran used anthropomorphic terms to describe God's activity in the world or when it said that God "speaks" and "sees" and "sits upon his throne," Ibn Hanbal insisted that it be interpreted literally buy "without asking how" (bila kayf)... Ibn Hanbal was stressing the essential ineffability of the divine, which lay beyonf the reach of all logic and conceptual analysis - A History of God, pp 165.

Neither Kalam nor Falsafah could satisfy somebody who was in danger of losing his faith, as Al-Ghazali himself was brought to the brink of skepticism when he realized that it was absolutely impossible to prove God's existence beyond reasonable doubt.

Al-Ghazali joined the sufis for 10 years (without abandoning his reason intellect -and avoiding the more extravagant forms of Sufism). He found that the religious experience was the only way of verifying a reality that lay beyond the reach of the human intellect and cerebral process. - A History of God pp 188-190

To the philosophers, "God is wise" is insufficient because the wiseness is comparable to the creation. So they use in the negative, "God is NOT wise", as in the wise is not the wise as human understood. Moving on, they conclude by, "God is more than wise", because we do not understand what "more than wise" can possibly mean.

God of the philosophers is for the elite, needs certain level of IQ. If unsuitable people attempted these mental disciplines they could become seriously ill and develop all kinds of psychological disorders. This is also true with Kalam.

Hence, the philosophers believed that Falsafah was the most advanced form of religious knowledge and the royal road to God. Everybody else should take the Koran at face value and read it only literally. -A History of God pp 192-196.

Sufi/mistik adalah mereka adalah golongan yang mahu 'merasa' pengalaman 'berinteraksi' dengan Tuhan sebagaimana Nabi s.a.w. menerima wahyu dengan menggunakan disiplin dan teknik tertentu yang termasuk berpuasa, ibadat malam dan zikir. Oleh kerana 'merasa' itu adalah pengalaman yang abstrak dan biasanya tidak rasional (di alam fana), maka dianjurkan supaya pengalaman itu diarah dan diawasi oleh mereka yang 'ada pengalaman' i.e. guru/mursyid supaya tidak tersasar (kembali ke alam baqa).

Kesan kepada amalan ini boleh membawa kepada kategori "drunken" sufi seperti Al-Hallaj (Ana al-Haq) atau "sober" sufi seperti Al-Junayd al-Baghdadi.

- A History of God, pp 226-227.

Kabbalah. The mystic of the Jews. God is unknowable, inconceiveable and impersonal. Hence the search of the 'hidden' Gid, En Sof which is not even mentioned in the Bible nor the Talmud. The Nameless One. The Kabbalists imagined a process whereby En Sof made himself known to humanity; manifested to the Jewish mystics under ten different aspects or 'sefiroth', depicted as a tree growing upside down (see pic). - A History of God pp 144-146.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650) a scientist and an orthodox Catholic; saw no contradiction between faith and reason. There should be a system that would enable humanity to reach all truth. Nothing lay beyond its grasp. It is just a matter of putting the pieces together in a reliable body of knowledge that would disperse all confusion and ignorance towards God.

He totally ignored the mysterious and the mystical sides of the scripture which is essential for God to exist. Thus, the fallout is near. Soon, atheism - which originally defined as the "wrong" idea about God, not necessarily throwing away the "concept" of God, and used as a term to insult becomes the total rejection of God and worn with pride.

- A History of God pp 287-302.

Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians had suggested, at one time or another, that it was more accurate to describe God as "Nothing" rather than the Supreme Being, since "he" did not exist in any way that we could conceive.

- A History of God pp 352.


Muslims in the 18th and 19th century were engaged in a struggle to catch up with the West. Some saw Western secularism as the answer, but what was positive and invigorating in Europe could only seem alien and foreign in the Islamic world, since it had not developed naturally from their own tradition in its own time. In the West, God was seen as the voice of alienation; in the Muslim world it was the colonial process.

- A History of God pp 361.



Adi Herman said...

Lama dah buku ni....kalo tak silap dah ada byk edition dah....pernah teringin nak beli buku ni dulu masa zaman kolej, cuma terfikir pulak dlm diri, ilmu agama dan iman masih belum kuat, so skip la dulu...skrg teringin pulak nak cari buku ni.

PC kOKak™ said...


setelah membaca beberapa perenggan pada bab;
5 - Unity: The God of Islam
6 - The God of Islam

aku dapati buku ini penuh dengan tahi lembu.

Adi Herman said...

hahaha tahi suci....itu yang tepat sekali bro