Original Research

Anthropomorphism according to Al-Ghazali (d. 1111) and Maimonides (d. 1204): A comparative discourse

Nurhanisah Senin, Khadijah Mohd Khambali Hambali, Wan Adli Wan Ramli, Mustafa Kamal Amat Misra, Nazneen Ismail
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 1 | a8264 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i1.8264 | © 2023 Nurhanisah Senin, Khadijah Mohd Khambali Hambali, Wan Adli Wan Ramli, Mustafa Kamal Amat Misra, Nazneen Ismail | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 November 2022 | Published: 22 May 2023

About the author(s)

Nurhanisah Senin, Department of Da'wah and Usuluddin, Faculty of Islamic and Civilisation Studies, Selangor International Islamic University College, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia
Khadijah Mohd Khambali Hambali, Department of Aqidah & Islamic Thought, Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wan Adli Wan Ramli, Department of Aqidah & Islamic Thought, Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Mustafa Kamal Amat Misra, Department of Da'wah and Usuluddin, Faculty of Islamic and Civilisation Studies, Selangor International Islamic University College, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia
Nazneen Ismail, Department of Da'wah and Usuluddin, Faculty of Islamic and Civilisation Studies, Selangor International Islamic University College, Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia

Abstract

The existence of ‘human-like’ attributes and actions in the Qur’an and Hebrew Bible entails to various interpretations towards anthropomorphic verses among the Muslim and Jewish counterparts. Al-Ghazali and Maimonides in their discourses strongly affirmed the unity of God and refuted anthropomorphism. Therefore, this study expounded al-Ghazali and Maimonides’ methods in affirming the incorporeality of God through outlining the similarities and differences in their interpretation. This study was qualitative in nature which analyses writings of al-Ghazali and Maimonides in encountering anthropomorphism. It can be deduced that both scholars were found to be employing allegorical interpretation with different level of interpretations in their attempts to repudiate the corporeal form of God. Alternatively, they both agree on the literalist’s approach with conditions that one must not perceive God’s essence in a bodily figure. Consequently, believing so will lead one to heresy. In sum, their emphasis on an incorporeal God brought them to similar interpretation despite their different religion and theological or philosophical orientation.

Contribution: This article contributed to comparative theological study in understanding anthropomorphic verses through the discourse of al-Ghazali and Maimonides in Islam and Judaism, respectively.


Keywords

anthropomorphism; al-Ghazali; Maimonides; incorporeality; comparative analysis

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