Today, the religion of Islam is most distinctly characterized by the emphasis it places on the transcendence of God.1 God's otherness (mukhālafa), it is said, is presupposed in Islamic thinking from the Qurءan.2 A review of the history of dogmatic development in Islam reveals, however, that during the formative period—that is, the period to about 9503—divine transcendence was only one alternative among several models attempting to explain God's unity. Indeed, it coexisted alongside its antithesis, “assimilation” (tashbīh), or as we term it, anthropomorphism.4 Muslim and Western scholars agree that, although the anthropomorphist model certainly existed—the various heresiographies attest to it—it existed only on the margins of Islam, in the extravagant fancies of a few deviant doctors.5 Thus, anthropomorphist ideas were relevant only marginally, if at all, to Islam's attempt at theological self-definition. Such, at least, is the current scholarly consensus. But how accurate is this reading of Islam's theological history?
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed.