The 1992 edition of the Gifford Lectures brings an analysis of the perceptible details of Islam and the symbolism and meaning in relation to the divine. Sacred texts, scholarly commentary on those texts, poetry and traditions in the lives of the people are used to identify the signs of the religion, such as the symbols and rituals commonly found. The same sources are also used to identify the importance and meaning of these same signs of God for the followers of Islam. Many different viewpoints and traditions are considered, representing the various sects and schools of thought found in the modern branches of Islam. Viewpoints from different historical periods are also included in order to show the historical views in relation to the present popular views.
Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam
Part 1 reveals the many sacred aspects of nature and society. The inherent symbolism of the many interpretations and metaphors found in the natural and society aspects are reviewed. The symbols and interpretations are often conflicting, even contradictory, as the aspects are seen from different viewpoints depending on the culture dominant in the area prior to the advance of Islam. Regional variation even leads to a given aspect or symbol being viewed quite favourably in one region but viewed negatively in another.
- J. Douglas Mastin