For Muslims, as for adherents of other religions, intentions as well as practices are paramount in one's religious life. Lawrence elucidates how public utterances, together with private pursuits, reflect the emotive, sensory, and intellectual aspirations of the devout. Ranging from the practice of the tongue (speaking) to practices in cyberspace (online religious activities), Lawrence explores how Allah is invoked, defined, remembered, and also debated. While the practice of the heart demonstrates how Allah is remembered in Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, the practice of the mind examines how theologians and philosophers have defined Allah in numerous contexts, often with conflicting aims. The practice of the ear marks the contemporary period, in which Lawrence locates and then assesses competing calls for jihad, or religious struggle, within the cacophony of an immensely diverse umma, the worldwide Muslim community.
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Uniquely focused on the theme of Allah, which serves as a vehicle to examine the many dimensions of Muslim understandings of and engagements with Allah, Bruce Lawrence demonstrates a respectful recognition of Islamic perspectives while maintaining a secular integrity that does not reduce the question to simple social, psychological, economic, or political causes. Lawrence's fresh take illuminates Islamic approaches in new ways, and the book will be useful to a general audience as well as to students of Islam and Muslim cultures learning in both secular and Islamic classrooms.
The anticipation evoked by the title "Who is Allah?" is divinely gratified by this innovative and engaging approach to hinting at the unknowable. In this masterfully concise work, Bruce Lawrence navigates vast epochs of history and traverses a multitude of cultures, weaving threads of traditions and disciplines into a guide for a brief yet intimate encounter with the infinity of the Divine. This labor of love is an eloquent and erudite inquiry that is compassionate yet candid and keenly probing. The mystery of this fast and vast quest for Allah is that it manages to say so much with superb clarity and wit.
This very original and rewarding book on Islam's core tenet--the belief in the unity and unicity of God--emphasizes the holistic nature of Islam as a lived religion. Lawrence addresses the intellectual and experiential dimensions of faith and brings together the insider and outsider dimensions of the study of religions. One of the key authorities in both Islamic and religious studies, he draws on his rich experience as a veteran teacher to offer different angles on the Muslim experience of the transcendent in the past and present.--Carool Kersten, author of Cosmopolitans and Heretics
Lawrence dares to imagine the unimaginable: refusing the cliches, he locates plurality inside Muslims' own engagement with Allah, identifies Islam as the "conduit for Allah," and expands our lens to identify how conversations about Allah are relevant not only for Muslims, but indeed for the whole of humanity. An absolute masterpiece, and a must read for everyone who wishes to understand Islam, Muslims, and Allah
This very original book on Islam's core tenet--the belief in the unity and unicity of God--will be a rewarding read for nonspecialist readers, students, and scholars. Bruce B. Lawrence, one of the key authorities in both Islamic and religious studies, draws on his rich experience as a veteran teacher of religion to offer different angles on the Muslim experience of the transcendent in the past and present. Emphasizing the holistic nature of Islam as a lived religion, the book addresses the intellectual and experiential dimensions of faith and brings together the insider and outsider dimensions of the study of religions.