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Interfaith Dialogue
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Quote Israfil Replybullet Topic: The Inadequate Language
    Posted: 24 March 2005 at 7:03pm

In the name of God the merciful, Compassionate, praise be to the Lord of the Universe!

Moses Maimonides in his book called "The guide for the perplexed" believed that within God's holy doctrines one cannot help but understand the inadequate language in which the prophets and the sages referred to, to understand the Lord of the Universe. He believed that even glorifying God is inadequate lagnuage because it refers to God as something which relates to the corpereal world even though the intention is contrary. As a Muslim I firmly believe the same way. The understanding of Allah's attributes is to signify the unity in which there are no additional attributes which would misrepresent God in any way. Such as the attributes of Ar-Rahmaan which is to imply God as being "balanced" or "gracious." Is a state of being which refers to one who is viewing an object as being gracious or aperson who dances as being a "gracious" dancer.

As we apply to God words which revere him with good intention we are no less applying to God things in which the words themselves have a physical representation. As Moses has mentioned in his book contemplate the following:

"The negative attributes (such as unity, oneness and wisdom) however are those which are necesary to direct the mind to the truths which we must believe concerning God; for on the one hand, they do not imply any plurality, and on the other they convey to man the highest possible knowledge of God e.g., it has been established by proof that some being must exist besides those things which can be perceived by the senses, or apprehended by the mind.

When we say of this being that it exists, we mean that its non-existence is impossible. We then perceive that such a being is not, for example, like the four elements which are inanimate, and we therefore say its living, expressing thereby its not dead. We call such a being incorporeal, because we notice that it is unlike the heavens, which are living and material. Seeing that it is also different from the intellect, which, though incorporeal and living, owes its existence to some cause, we say its the first,expressing thereby that its existence, that is the essence of this being is not limited to its own existence; many existences emanate from it, and its influence is not like the influence of fire producing heat" e.t.c


Consequently, we have to apply inadequate language in order to apprehend the essence of God due to the limitation of the physical mind. As Moses earlier in his book he mentions:

"Consequently God exist without possessing the attribute of existence. Similarly he lives without possessing the attribute of life; knows, without possessing the attribute of knowledge, is omnipotent without possessing the attribute of omnipotence; is wise without possessing the attribute of wisdom."

If you are one to disagree consider the consequence if you do believe in the unity of God then Moses challenges you to argue against the positive application of attributes which is to apply an attribute in addition to his essence such as the attribute of wisdom. If God is an absolute essence then if we were to apply the attribute of wisdom this would be an additional attribute to his essence. As Moses argue that the Christian concept of God's oneness however is noble is not correct if we are to believe in God's unity. To say God is the head of a trio would imply the necessities of the other two for God's unity.  Please contemple my non-Muslim friends.....Salaam

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Quote fezziwig Replybullet Posted: 25 March 2005 at 7:49am

Of course mans words are inadequate to describe god, let alone encompass god. Not only that, but mans words contain inconsistencies and errors that can lead one in the wrong direction. Thus, it behooves a person to be prudent when trying to draw conclusions about god using mans words literally. I think the American christian fundamentalists fall into this trap, and that should be a warning to the rest of us.



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