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Wednesday, March 6 • 14:30 - 16:30
#6/089.1 – Transcendentalism and Anthropomorphism: The Assimilation of Conflicting Discourses in Islamic Thought (10th - 14th centuries)

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The primary aim of this panel is to analyze the theological and political controversies that shaped the perception of God in Islamic thought from the 10th to the 14th centuries. This time-span represents the culmination of Islamic theology and philosophy.  By spotlighting the debates that occurred in the major centers of Islamic studies, from Spain in the west to Afghanistan in the east, we will define the patterns of communication and images in two main theological discourses in Islam: the rationalistic discourse on transcendentalism (tanzih) and the traditionalistic discourse on anthropomorphism (tashbih) and immanence (hulul). The panel’s main research question is: How did Muslims describe the indescribable and imagine the unimaginable? The interplay of traditionalism and rationalism, the role that the verbal, gestural, and visual images of God played in the political history of Islam, and Islam’s tolerance of these images, all branch from this question.

  • Livnat Holtzman (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Camilla Adang (Tel-Aviv University) - A Ẓāhirī’s rejection of anthropomorphism: When the sacred texts are not to be taken too literally
  • Livnat Holtzman (Bar-Ilan University) - Fakhr a-Din al-Razi’s Discussion of the Bi-Lā Kayfa Formula: Contextualization and Political Implications
  • Jon Hoover (University of Nottingham) - Resisting divine corporealism: Ibn Taymiyya and his early 14th century Ash‘ari opponents
  • Aydogan Kars (Monash University) - Anthropomorphism and Theological Hermeneutics in the Formation of Sufism
  • Tzvi Langermann (Bar-Ilan University) - The “Face of God” in Jewish and Islamic Philosophical Exegesis
  • Miriam Ovadia (Independent scholar) - Spatial Transcendence: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Discussion on the Divine Attribute of Direction (ṣifat al-jiha)
  • Delfina Serrano (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC Madrid) - Arguing against anthropomorphism in the dynastic shift between Almoravids and Almohads
  • Jan Thiele (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC Madrid) - Debates on anthropomorphism among the Ashʿarites of the Islamic west

Language: English


Camilla Adang

Tel Aviv University

Jon Hoover

University of Nottingham

Aydogan Kars

Monash University, Centre for Religious Studies

Miriam Ovadia

Independent Scholar

Delfina Serrano

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

Jan Thiele

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

Tzvi Langermann

Bar-Ilan University

Livnat Holtzman

Bar-Ilan University

  • Language English
  • Language English

Attendees (2)