College Honors Program

Date of Creation


Document Type



Religious Studies

First Advisor

Caner K. Dagli


What is the Muslim conception of the Divine? To answer this question, we first must look to the Qur’an, since Muslims consider it God’s self-revelation to human beings. However, when we look to the Qur’an for guidance, we are presented with a God who describes Himself using Names that indicate both His incomparability to creation (tanzīh) and His similarity (tashbīh) to the created order. For example, God refers to Himself as the Hearing (as-Samī), the Seeing (al- Baṣīr), and the Living (al-Ḥayy), but also says He is the Unique (al-Ahad). For many Muslim scholars, these contrasts lead to paradoxes when understanding the Divine. This thesis examines the positions of three intellectual schools on this issue, namely Kalām (Islamic dialectical theology), Falsafah (philosophy), and Taṣawwuf (Sufism) and traces the development of their distinct conceptions of God using the Qur’anic doctrine of the Divine Names. Through a close study of all three approaches, we can realize how Muslims have approached these questions from three distinct perspectives, namely through the lenses of revelation, reason, and experience. Through a contemplation on numerous Names, and a study of the plethora of approaches to this tradition, we are inevitably led back to the One.


Included in the 2020 Virtual Academic Conference.