The Sunni Belief – Al-Taftaazaaniyy

August 6, 2013

I thought some of you might appreciate the below. I have inserted some comments of my own for clarification purposes in [brackets like these]:

The way of the Sunnis is to believe that:

  • The world has a beginning.

وطريقة أهل السنة أن العالم حادث

  • The Creator is beginningless and is attributed with attributes that are beginningless.
  • The attributes of the Creator are not Him Himself [i.e. Aļļaah is not merely an attribute, e.g. we do not believe that Aļļaah is power, but that He is attributed with power], nor other than Him [i.e. His attributes are not divisible or parts].

والصانع قديم متصف بصفات قديمة ليست عينه ولا غيره

  • The Creator is One, He does not have a like [so He is not something with size nor something that has bodily characteristics], or an opposite, or a partner [i.e. there is only one Creator]

وواحد لا شبه له ولا ضد ولا ند

  • He does not have an end [to His existence or to that of His attributes] or a shape, or a limit. [Thus, He is not a body, or a plane or a particle or dot.]

ولا نهاية له ولا صورة ولا حد

  • He does not exist in something else [because He does not need anything]

ولا يحل في شيء

  • Events do not occur in Him, and [hence,] He is not attributed with movement or changing position [or stillness, since He is not a body] or ignorance, or lying, or imperfection.

ولا يقوم به حادث ولا يصح عليه الحركة والانتقال ولا الجهل ولا الكذب ولا النقص

  • He is seen [by Muslims] in the Hereafter without being in a location or direction. [I.e. seeing Him is not like seeing a creation.]

وأنه يرى في الآخرة وليس في حيز ولا جهة

  • Whatever He has willed will be, and whatever He has not willed will not be.

ما شاء كان ومالم يشأ لم يكن

  • He does not need anything.

لا يحتاج إلى شيء

  • Nothing is incumbent upon Him.

ولا يجب عليه شيء

  • Everything created [i.e. everything that has a beginning, including bodies and what occurs in them of movement, color, shape, ideas, intentions, etc.] is according to His predestination, specification, and will.

كل المخلوقات بقضائه وقدره وإرادته ومشيئته

  • [All acts of creation are created by Aļļaah,] however, acts of creation that are said to be ugly due to their sinfulness [by Aļļaah’s legal prescription] are not said to be liked, ordered or accepted by Him.

[Note: Aļļaah is not attributed with emotions, since emotions imply needs as well as change in state of being, and Aļļaah does not change. Hence, words like mahabbah (literal translation: love) are ascribed to Aļļaah in Arabic with reference to certain acts of creation to mean that these acts are rewardable in the Hereafter].

لكن القبايخ منها ليست برضاه وأمره ومحبته

  • bodily resurrection [not just in soul];
  • the torture of the grave; the accounting of the deeds [in the Hereafter];
  • the Bridge [that crosses from the plain over Hell to Paradise];
  • the scale [with pans and a fulcrum on which deeds are weighed]
  • that non-Muslims will stay in Hell without an end, but not sinful Muslims. [i.e. Muslims sent to Hell will eventually come out of Hell and go to Paradise];
  • that Aļļaah forgives [without punishment in Hell] some sinful Muslims [whose bad deeds are more weighty than their good deeds] ;
  • there is intercession.

وأن المعاد الجسماني وسائر ما ورد به السمع من عذاب القبر والحساب والصراط والميزان وغير ذلك حق وأن الكفار مخلدون في النار دون الفساق وأن العفو والشفاعة حق

  • The signs of the day of judgment are true, such as the coming of Dajjaal, as well as Ya’juuj and Ma’juuj; the descent of Jesus, the sun rising in the west, the coming of the beast [that will tell everyone whether he is a Muslim or a Blasphemer].

وأن أشراط الساعة من خروج الدجال ويأجوج ومأجوج ونزول عيسى وطلوع الشمس من مغربها وخروج دابة الأرض حق

  • The first of the prophets is Adam and the very last is Muhammad.

وأول الأنبياء آدم وآخرهم محمد

  • The first Khaliifah was Abu Bakr followed by Umar, Uthman and Ali, may Aļļaah please them.

وأول الخلفاء أبو بكر ثم عمر ثم عثمان ثم علي رضي الله عنهم

  • The status of these four is in the same order, except for some [strange and unusual] hesitation regarding the order between Uthman and Ali.

والأفضلية بهذا الترتيب مع تردد فيها بين عثمان وعلي رضي الله تعالى عنهما

  • The famous scholars of Sunni beliefs in the areas of Khurasan, Iraq, Levant, and most areas in general, are the Ashˆaris, the companions of Abu Al-Hasan Ali son of Ismaaˆiil son of Ishaaq son of Saalim son of Ismaaˆiil son of Abdullaah son of Bilaal son of Abu Burdah son of Abu Muusaa Al-AshˆAriyy, the companion of the Prophet. He was the first [student of Al-Jubbaa’iyy] to disagree with Abu Ali Al-Jubbaa’iyy [the Muˆtazilite] and reject his school of thought in order to embrace the way of the Sunnah, i.e. the way of the Prophet (may Aļļaah raise his rank further) and the jamaaˆah, i.e. the way of the companions.

والمشهور من أهل السنة في ديار خرسان والعراق والشام وأكثر الأقطار هم الأشاعرة أصحاب أبي الحسن علي بن إسماعيل بن إسحق بن سالم بن إسماعيل بن عبدالله بن بلال بن أبي بردة بن أبي موسى الأشعري صاحب رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم) أول من خالف أبا علي الجبائي ورجع عن مذهبه إلى السنة أي طريقة النبي e والجماعة أي طريقة الصحابة

  • [The famous scholars of Sunni beliefs] in the lands behind the river [i.e. Amu Darya] are the companions of Al-Maaturiidiyy, who was the student of Abu Nasr Al-ˆiiaađ, the student of Abu Bakr Al-Jurjaaniyy, the companion of Abu Sulaymaan Al-Jurjaaniyy, the student of Muĥammad ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybaaniyy, may Aļļaah have mercy upon him. Maaturiid is a village in Samarkand [in today’s Uzbekistan].

وفي ديار ما وراء النهر الماتريدية أصحاب أبي منصور الماتريدي تلميذ أبي نصر العياض تلميذ أبي بكر الجرجاني صاحب أبي سليمان الجرجاني تلميذ محمد بن الحسن الشيباني رحمه الله وماتريد من قرى سمرقند

  • Some disagreement has appeared among these two groups with regard to belief and methodology issues like that of takwiin, exemption in belief [i.e. does the one who says “I am a believer – in shaa’ Aļļaah” imply doubt or not? All agree that doubt is kufr], the belief status of the imitator [but all agree that the imitator that thinks he might leave Islam if the one he imitates leaves is a kaafir, because ones commitment to the belief must be unconditional), and some other issues.

وقد دخل الآن فيها بين الطائفتين اختلاف في بعض الأصول كمسئلة التكوين ومسئلة الاستثناء في الإيمان ومسألة إيمان المقلد وغير ذلك

  • The great authenticators from the two groups of scholars do not accuse one another of bad innovation or heresy. This is unlike bigots that may even base heresy accusation on disagreements regarding detailed legal issues like animals slaughtered without mentioning the name of Aļļaah when it was not due to forgetting, or the wuđuu’ not breaking due to najis coming out of other than the private organs, or the validity of marriage without a waliyy, or prayer without reciting Fatihah.

والمحققون من الفريقين لا ينسبون أحدهما إلى البدعة والضلالة خلافا للمبطلين المتعصبين حتى ربما جعلوا الاختلاف في الفروع أيضا بدعة وضلالة كالقول بحل متروك التسمية عمدا وعدم نقض الوضوء بالخارج النجس من غير السبيلين وكجواز النكاح بدون الولي والصلاة بدون الفاتحة

  • The bigots do not recognize that bad innovations are the new matters in religion that either:
  1. were not existent [i.e. accepted] in the time of the companions or those who met the companions [and died as Muslims], or
  2. do not have a legal Islamic proof as a basis.

ولا يعرفون أن البدعة المذمومة هو المحدث في الدين من غير أن يكون في عهد الصحابة والتابعين ولا دل عليه الدليل الشرعي

  • Some ignorant people claim that all things that were not present at the time of the companions are bad innovations, even if there is no legal Islamic proof for it being bad. They base this on the saying of the Prophet (may Aļļaah raise his rank even further) [literal translation:] “Beware of new matters…” They do not know that what is meant by this is making a matter part of the religion when it is not a part of it.

ومن الجهلة من يجعل كل أمر لم يكن في زمن الصحابة بدعة مذمومة وإن لم يقم دليل على قبحه تمسكا بقوله عليه الصلاة والسلام إياكم ومحدثات الأمور ولا يعلمون أن المراد بذلك هو أن يجعل في الدين ما ليس منه

May Aļļaah protect us from following deviant whims and make us firm in following the guidance of the Prophet and His followers.

عصمنا الله من اتباع الهوى وثبتنا على اقتفاء الهدى بالنبي وآله


Source: Sharĥ Al-Maqaaşid, SaˆdudDiin Al-Taftaazaaniyy (712-793 H.), ˆAalam Al-Kutub, 1998, p. 231-232

What beginning to exist implies in terms of “cause”

August 2, 2013

If it was proposed that a particle came into existence, then the claims that may be made about this event are that it was:

  1. Necessary
  1. Possible
  1. Impossible

There is no 4th alternative. Moreover, the 3rd can obviously be dismissed. Thus two cases remain to be considered as follows:

If it was supposedly necessary, then this necessity could either be claimed to be:

  1. Intrinsic to the particle or
  1. Extrinsic to the particle

There is no 3rd alternative. The first is clearly self-contradictory, because the event did not exist, and what does not exist cannot be intrinsically necessary in existence. It follows that the supposed particles’ supposed necessity of existence must be from other than it.

If it was supposedly possible, then it follows that the possibility of its existence must have outweighed its prior non-existence. Otherwise it would have remained non existent. This outweighing could either be claimed to be:

  1. Intrinsic to the particle or
  2. Extrinsic to the particle

There is no 3rd alternative. The first is clearly self-contradictory, because the event/particle did not exist, and what does not exist cannot have any influence on anything. It follows again that the supposed particles’ existence would have to be from other than it.

With this understanding of “cause”, it is clear that to propose that something can begin to exist without a “cause” is absurd.

Hence, the atheist contention that we do not know if something can begin to exist without a cause is absurd.

Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 2

July 25, 2013

As for what is narrated from Al-Shafiˆiyy in blame of Kalaam, it is most likely, based on who he is and on his status, that he never said any of it. However, even if it is true, what he was referring to was some deviants in his time, because the science of Kalaam includes all of the different groups and sects. Indeed, Kalaam science began, was recorded in books, was studied and became part of the Sunni curriculum for the purpose of refuting the Muˆtazilites and other deviants….

Indeed, how would Al-Shafiˆiyy be against Kalaam as a science when he himself wrote the book “Kitab Al-Qiyas” in Kalaam science and wrote a book refuting the Brahmans (Indian philosophers)!? Likewise Abu Haniifah wrote books in Kalaam, such as “al-ˆAalim wa Al-Mutaˆallim” and “Al-Wasiyyah”. Further, Malik studied Kalaam for some 15 years … but he did not author books.

Moreover, Al-Shafiˆiyy founded the science of Foundations of Fiqh, which is strongly related Kalaam Science. After all, it needs to begin with abstract definition such as the meaning of “knowledge”, “will”, “speech”, details on the meaning of “order”, “forbidding”, etc. He would not object to Kalaam as a field of science when his own books are full of Kalaam topics!

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 26-27

Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 1

July 24, 2013

There are three types of people that are against the honorable science of Kalaam:  complete heretics, some deviant innovators, and imitators of literalists that associate themselves with Islam:

As for the heretics, one would expect nothing less from them, since they have no one to expose their blemishes and blind imitation of habits other than the specialists in Kalaam. Indeed, it has been said:

كل العداوات قد ترجى مودتها … إلا عداوة من عاداك في الدين

All enmities are hoped to turn to affections

Except the enmity of religious inclinations

As for the innovators, especially the Muˆtazilah and those who deny predestination, they did not generally reject Kalaam as a scientific field, but engaged in it. They were only against Sunni Kalaam.

As for the literalists, they are of three kinds:

1-         Those who say Kalaam has no basis in the religion because neither the Prophet nor the companions engaged in it. They also argue based on misguided interpretations of certain statements in the Qur’aan or in hadith narrations. This group (of literalists) is the most harmful to the common people among all groups against Sunni Kalaam. This is because they appear to (but not actually) find justification in the religion itself for their objections and convince people of their misguided interpretations.

2-         Those that believe that the science of Kalaam is the foundation of the religious sciences, but do not admit it because unlike some others they did not try to learn it, or tried but were unable to master it. Hence, they become against it out of arrogance and envy.

3-         Foolish imitators who follow one of the groups mentioned.

With regard to the first type of literalists, it is in fact known that there are no authentic narrations from the great scholars that attack or speak against this knowledge or science. And how can someone who claims to be a Muslim object to a science which:

  • Establishes and proves that Allaah is One and has attributes of complete perfection and refutes that Allaah has any flaws and declares Him clear of the wrong ideas that the deviants and blasphemers ascribe to Him?
  • Proves and affirms Prophethood based on miracles and on the same bases shows the difference between a prophet and a liar?
  • Establishes what an accountable person is accountable for, and when and how?

What trace of belief is left in someone who objects to this science and encourages people to avoid it?

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 25-26

(Updated) Takwiin, effective pertainment and AI-‘Iijiyy on Allaah not being in time

July 23, 2010

By actions the Asħˆariyys mean the created things themselves that exist by the influence of Aļļaah’s attribute of power, or what they call effective pertainment. Effective pertainment is the pertaining of Aļļaah’s power to what exists of created things, as opposed to valid pertainment, which is the pertaining Aļļaah’s power to everything possible. The Maaturiidiyys say that the attribute of power is Aļļaah’s power to bring into existence, while the bringing into existence is another attribute called takwiin. So what Asħˆariyys explain as (1) "effective pertainment" and (2) "valid pertainment" is explained as two attributes, respectively: (1) "takwiin" or "creating" and (2) "power to create" according to Maaturiidiyys.

Aļļaah’s providing, giving, bringing into existence, etc. is called effective pertainment in the Asħˆariyy school, while in the Maaturiidiyy school these are different names for takwiin according to what the attribute of takwiin pertains to.

When we remember that Aļļaah is not in time according to all, then it becomes easy to understand that this is mainly a semantical difference; using different words to explain the same thing. Although the Asħˆariyys say that the effective pertainment has a beginning, this is with respect to us, because we are in time. So we say that Jill was created yesterday, but the time element of yesterday is a created attribute of Jill, where as the attribute of Aļļaah is creating Jill with the "yesterday" as one of her attributes, the meanings associated with her being, sort of like color. In other words, Aļļaah does not pass through a state of time called before creating Jill and after creating Jill, because He is not in time.

This means that Aļļaah Himself did not change during those six days in which He created the Heavens and the Earth. What changed is creation; those six days are for creation. Accordingly, the Imam of Guidance, Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy says: “A fundamental belief principle is that whenever Aļļaah is ascribed an attribute, then this attribute is eternal (i.e. without a beginning or end). One says that He is attributed with knowledge, power and providing eternally without a beginning and without an end. If He is mentioned with regard to His management of creation and orders to it, then time is stated, but this time is for creation, not for Him. For example, it is said, "Aļļaah knows eternally that you are sitting here," or "(sitting here) at this time." I.e. Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or an end that the person is sitting now…. This is all to prevent people from thinking "How were the created things in eternity?”[1]

An-Nasafiyy, the second most important scholar in the Maaturiidiyy school after Al-Maaturiidiyy himself, said: "His eternal attribute of creating does not lead to saying that the world is eternal, because the possible in existence cannot be eternal, and because creating is not for the immediate existence of the created, but for the time of its existence."[2] He also said: "The Karraamiyyah all claimed that Aļļaah’s creating (takwiin) is an event in Aļļaah with a beginning, and that events occur in Aļļaah. Aļļaah is greatly above what the unjust ascribe to Him."[3]

It must be understood that Aļļaah’s creating is not a sequential action, it is an action without a how. It has no beginning or end. If it was sequential, one previously non-existent action coming into existence after another, then each action would itself need to be brought into existence. This is because it did not exist previously. Then if that action of bringing the action into existence also had a beginning, we would need a bringing into existence of that one also, etc. to infinity, which would mean that one single act of creating would need an infinite amount of bringings into existence prior to it. This means that the act of creating can’t ever exist, because the prerequisite infinite amount of bringings into existence cannot ever be concluded. The solution to this is to say that Aļļaah’s act of bringing into existence does not have a beginning, and therefore does not need to be brought into existence.

In other words, Aļļaah created the world in six days, without His act of creating it having a beginning or an end, because Aļļaah is not in time; His attributes do not change and do not renew.

Further to this concept, here is what the two famous asħˆariyys, ˆAđududDiin Al-’Iijiyy, and Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy have to say about Aļļaah not being in time. Al-‘Iijiyy’s words are bolded in brackets, while the rest is Al-Jurjaaniyy’s explanation[4]:

الشرح (المقصد الرابع إنه تعالى ليس في زمان) أي ليس وجوده وجودا زمانيا ومعنى كون الوجود زمانيا أنه لا يمكن حصوله إلا في زمان كما أن معنى كونه مكانيا أنه لا يمكن حصوله إلا في مكان

(The fourth topic: on Aļļaah not being in time.) That is, His existence is not in time. The meaning of existence in time is that it cannot be except in time, just as the meaning of existence in a location is that it cannot be except in a location.

(هذا مما اتفق عليه أرباب الملل ولا نعرف فيه للعقلاء خلافا) وإن كان مذهب المجسمة يجر إليه كما يجر إلى الجهة والمكان

(This is one of the things that the people of all sects and religions agreed upon, and we do not know of any disagreement upon this between rational beings.) This is so, even if the anthropomorphists imply that, just as they imply direction and location.

(أما عند الحكماء فلأن الزمان) عندهم (مقدار حركة المحدد) للجهات (فلا يتصور فيما لا تعلق له بالحركة والجهة)

(As for according to the philosophers, this is because time) according to them (is the amount of limited movement) in any direction (so being in time cannot be true of what does not have to do with movement or direction.)

وتوضيحه أن التغير التدريجي زماني بمعنى أنه يتقدر بالزمان وينطبق عليه ولا يتصور وجوده إلا فيه والتغير الدفعي متعلق بالآن الذي هو طرف الزمان فما لا تغير فيه أصلا لا تعلق له بالزمان قطعا نعم وجوده تعالى مقارن للزمان وحاصل مع حصوله وأما أنه زماني أو آني أي واقع في أحدهما فكلا

That is, gradual change is in time, in the sense that it is measured in time, and coincides with time, and its existence cannot be other than in time, and a momentary change defines the “now” which is a the last point in time [i.e. so far]. Accordingly, what does not change at all, is not related to time at all. Yes, Aļļaah’s existence is affirmed as true and real no matter what time one is in, but it is not in time, or momentary. That is, it is not occurring in a time or a moment.

(وأما عندنا فلأنه) أي الزمان (متجدد يقدر به متجدد فلا يتصور في القديم فأي تفسير فسر) الزمان (به امتنع ثبوته لله تعالى)

(As for according to us, this is because it) i.e. time (is something renewing by which something else renewing is measured, so it cannot be true of the beginninglessly eternal. Accordingly, no matter how we define it,) i.e. time (it cannot be affirmed as being true of Aļļaah.)

(تنبيه) على ما يتضمنه هذا الأصل الذي مهدناه آنفا (يعلم مما ذكرنا أنا سواء قلنا العالم حادث بالحدوث الزماني) كما هو رأينا (أو الذاتي) كما هو رأي الحكيم (فتقدم الباري سبحانه عليه) لكونه موجدا إياه (ليس تقدما زمانيا) وإلا لزم كونه تعالى واقعا في الزمان بل هو تقدم ذاتي عندهم وقسم سادس عندنا كتقدم بعض أجزاء الزمان على بعضها

(Important note) regarding this principle that we have just explained: (It is known from what we mentioned previously that regardless of whether we say that the world has a beginning that is in time) as is our view, (or that it is in being) as is the view of the philosopher (it is still true that the precedence of Aļļaah over creation) by His being its Creator (is not a precedence of time.) Otherwise He would be in time. Rather, it is a precedence of being, according to the philosophers, and a sixth meaning [of precedence] in our view [that is not in time], like the precedence of moments of time over other moments of time [The sixth meaning of precedence is that of Creator over created, not in time, and this is beyond what our minds can grasp, because the reality of Aļļaah's existence cannot be grasped. The precedence of moments of time over other moments is mentioned to show that precedence in existence is not necessarily in time].

(و) يعلم أيضا (أن بقاءه ليس عبارة عن وجوده في زمانين) وإلا كان تعالى زمانيا بل هو عبارة امتناع عدمه ومقارنته مع الأزمنة (ولا القدم عبارة عن أن يكون قبل كل زمان زمان) وإلا لم يتصف به الباري تعالى

(Moreover,) it is also known (that His everlastingness is not an expression meant to indicate His existence in two consecutive times,) otherwise He would be in time. Rather, it is an expression meaning that it is impossible for His to cease to exist, or accompany time [i.e. to be thought of as passing through time]. (Furthermore, His beginningless existence is not meant to express that there is a time before all times,) otherwise it would not be ascribed to Him.

(وأنه) أي ما ذكرناه من أنه تعالى ليس زمانيا (يبسط العذر في ورود ما ورد من الكلام الأزلي بصيغة الماضي ولو في الأمور المستقبلة) الواقعة فيما لا يزال كقوله تعالى إنا أرسلنا نوحا وذلك لأنه إذا لم يكن زمانيا لا بحسب ذاته ولا بحسب صفاته كان نسبة كلامه الأزلي إلى جميع الأزمنة على السوية إلا أن حكمته تعالى اقتضت التعبير عن بعض الأمور بصيغة الماضي وعن بعضها بصيغة المستقبل فسقط ما تمسك به المعتزلة في حدوث القرآن من أنه لو كان قديما لزم الكذب في أمثال ما ذكر فإن الإرسال لم يكن واقعا قبل الأزل

(In addition it) [i.e. the fact we have mentioned regarding Him (تعالى) not being in time] (justifies what has been revealed of Aļļaah’s speech expressed in the past tense, even for what pertains to the future) and happens with a beginning, such as His saying (تعالى):

إنا أرسلنا نوحا

Meaning: Verily we have sent Nuuĥ.

This is because if He is not in time, neither in His Self, nor His attributes, then His beginningless and endless Speech has the same relation to all times. It is just that His wisdom dictates revealing expressions regarding some issues in past tense, and some in future tense. Accordingly, the claim of the Muˆtazilites regarding the Qur’aan [i.e. the attribute of speech that the expressions in the revealed book refer to] having a beginning is invalid. [They claimed invalidly that it must have a beginning, and cannot be an eternal attribute, saying:] because otherwise the expressions like the one mentioned would be untrue, since the sending [of Nuuĥ in this case] did not happen before beginningless eternity.

(وههنا أسرار أخر لا أبوح بها ثقة بفطنتك) منها إذا قلنا كان الله موجودا في الأزل وسيكون موجودا في الأبد وهو موجود الآن لم نرد به أن وجوده واقع في تلك الأزمنة بل أردنا أنه مقارن معها من غير أن يتعلق بها كتعلق الزمانيات

(There are other hidden realities known through this that I will not mention explicitly, based on trust in your intelligence.) Among these is the fact that if we say “Aļļaah existed before creation, and shall exist forever, and He exists now,” then we do not mean by this that His existence falls in these times. Rather, we mean that His existence is true at all times, without Him being in them the way things in time are.

ومنها أنه لو ثبت وجود مجردات عقلية لم تكن أيضا زمانية

Another [fact known from this] is that if it was established that there are beings with a beginning that are not in place, then they would not be in time. [This is true according to the philosophers' definition of time, because it is dependent on space. In Sunni terminology, however, it is not acceptable to say that such beings would not be in time. This is because such beings would pass through renewed existence, as they are not necessary in existence, and can change in knowledge or will, or other attributes.]

ومنها أنه إذا لم يكن زمانيا لم يكن بالقياس إليه ماض وحال ومستقبل فلا يلزم من علمه بالتغيرات تغير في علمه إنما يلزم ذلك إذا دخل فيه الزمان

[Yet] another [fact known from this] is that if He is not in time, then the measures of time in terms of past, present and future would not hold true of Him. Accordingly, it is not necessitated from His knowledge of changing things that His knowledge should change. It would only be necessary if He was in time [and He is not.]

[1] Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy (333 AH), Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah, 9/473.

[2] Abu-l-Muˆiin An-Nasafiyy, Maymuun ibn Muĥammad (508 AH/ 1115 AD), Tabşiratu-l-Adillah, 1:1/99.

[3] Ibid., 1:1/401.

[4] Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy (740-816 AH/ 1340-1413 AD) and ˆAđudu-d-Diin Al-‘Iijiyy (756 AH/ 1355 AD), Sħarĥu-l-Mawaaqif, 3/41.


Abu-l-Muˆiin An-Nasafiyy, Maymuun ibn Muĥammad (508 AH/ 1115 AD). Tabşiratu-l-Adillah. Edited by Dr. Huuseyin Atay. Vol. 1. 2 vols. Turkey: Ri’aasat al-Shu’uun al-Diiniiyyah lil-Jumhuuriyyah al-Turkiyyah, 1993.

Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy (333 AH). Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1426.

Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy (740-816 AH/ 1340-1413 AD), and ˆAđudu-d-Diin Al-‘Iijiyy (756 AH/ 1355 AD). Sħarĥu-l-Mawaaqif. 3 vols. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jiil – Shaamilah, 1997.

Question: Can we say that we mainly use logic when it comes to belief (Aqeedah)?

July 19, 2010

I do not think that is precise. You need logic in all matters of belief and jurisprudence (fiqh). The question is where the most explicit and immediate premises come from; are they scriptural, or based on the nature of the world around us? In fiqh they are always scriptural, i.e. based on the judgments (orders/prohibitions, etc.) that they contain. In belief issues, however, they are sometimes based on the world around us. Why? Because the premises for relying on scriptures must be from something other than the scripture, to avoid circular reasoning[1].

This means that the proofs of Aļļaah’s existence, some of His attributes, and the miracles of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and thus his prophethood (صلى الله عليه وسلم), have premises based on:

a) the essential nature of the world, such as the fact that it changes, and consists of parts that are intrinsically possible in existence, and therefore need a creator (see Foundations of The Religion."

b) on what is normally correlated, such as "touch fire -> get burned". It is through the normal we can recognize the extraordinary, i.e. miracles that prove prophethood. We know the splitting of the moon as a miracle of the Prophet Muĥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) because it never happened before or after him.

Note that the underlying premises (unlike the immediate and explicit) on any fiqh issue are not based on the scriptures, but also on these premises. This is because the establishment of the scriptures as being revealed from Aļļaah, and obligatory to follow, are based on these premises.

Logic is always needed, even if you are only dealing with proofs from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. This is because logic is about making precise definitions and constructing proofs, whether they be constructed from premises that are taken from the revealed scriptures or not.

[1] An example of this would be if someone said, "I pray because Aļļaah orders me to, because it says so in His book, and I know this book tells me what Aļļaah orders, because the book tells me it is." To get out of this line of reasoning, you need to prove by other means than the book’s instructions that the book is really from Aļļaah. To do this you need to prove that Aļļaah exists, and that miracles prove prophethood, and that is the role of Kalaam/Belief Science.

Marşad (topic) 1: Preliminary Introductions to Kalaam Science

January 30, 2010

Maqşid (subject) 1: Definition of Kalaam Science

A science by which one is able to verify the truth of religious beliefs bringing proofs and refuting misconceptions. (Maw, 7).

Maqşid (subject) 2: Topic of Kalaam Science

Information that pertains to verifying religious beliefs, whether it be closely or remotely related (Maw, 7).

Maqşid (subject) 3: Benefit of Kalaam Science

Among the benefits are:

To climb from the rank of imitation to that of certainty.

To use proofs to guide those who seek guidance, and force concessions from the stubborn.

Protect the religion from those who try to undermine it.

To base all religious knowledge on it, as it is the foundation for all such knowledge.

To achieve correct intention and belief to serve as the bases for one’s religious works, such as prayer. (Maw, 7).

Maqşid (subject) 4: Status of Kalaam Science

It is the highest ranking science as its topic is the most important of all, and its proofs are the strongest, as they are based on undeniable premises and sound deductive reasoning, supported by narrational proofs. If we were to rank sciences it would be according to its importance and its proofs, and Kalaam science is the highest in both (Maw, 7).

Maqşid (subject) 5: Its subjects (problematics)

Its subjects are all intellectual judgments regarding religious matters, or what they depend on. (Maw, 7). Its principles are either clear by themselves, or clarified within it, and its does not depend on other sciences. It is therefore the absolute head of all sciences. (Maw, 7).

Maqşid (subject) 6: Its being named Kalaam or Speech Science

There are several opinions regarding this. One is that it was named after its most debated subject, namely Aļļaah’s attribute of Speech. Another is that it leads to an ability to speak and debate in its student. (Maw, 7-8). Yet another is that it was called Kalaam Science, or literally “Speech Science” since its subjects are the cause of so much speech and debate.

Note that (Maw) is short for Mawaaqif Fii ˆIlm Al-Kalaam, ˆAđudu-d-Diin Al-‘Iijiyy, and that the above is a partial translation of that book, along with other comments.

Deviant claims: most commoners are not ‘Asħˆariyys therefore Asħˆariyys are wrong

January 17, 2010

Clasping at straws after their self-inflicted humiliation described here, a wahabi says:

<< It is enough that the leaders of the Asħˆariyys admit that they have few followers and that the great majority disagrees with them to the extent that Ibn ˆAsaakir said in Tabyiin kadħib Al-Muftarii:

فإن قيل أن الجم الغفير في سائر الأزمان وأكثر العامة في جميع البلدان لا يقتدون بالأشعري ولا يقلدونه ولا يرون مذهبه ولا يعتقدونه وهم السواد الأعظم وسبيلهم السبيل الأقوم قيل لا عبرة بكثرة العوام ولا التفات إلى الجهال الغتام وإنما الإعتبار بأرباب العلم والاقتداء بأصحاب البصيرة والفهم وأولئك في أصحابه أكثر ممن سواهم ولهم الفضل والتقدم على من عداهم على ان الله عز وجل قال وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلاّ قَلِيلٌ وقال عز من قائل وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ

If it was claimed that the vast majority of people at all times, and most commoners (i.e. the unschooled) in all places do not follow Al-Asħˆariyy or imitate them, and do not share their views, or believe their beliefs, and this is the great majority, and their way is the straightest path, then the answer is: “the size of the amount of commoners and dumb does not matter. What matters is the leaders of the Islamic sciences, and following people with insight and understanding, and the companions of Al-’Asħˆariyy are more than others among this kind of people. They are the people of superiority and precedence above all others. Moreover, Aļļaah (عز وجل) said:

وَمَا آمَنَ مَعَهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلٌ [هود : 40]

Meaning: And only a few believed with him. (Huud, 40)

He (عز من قائل) also said:

وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ [سبأ : 13]

Meaning: Only a few of creation are thankful. (Saba’, 13) >>

Comment: In other words, Ibn ˆAsaakir is saying that the Qur’aan is explicit in stating that the majority of humans are deviants and disbelievers, so a larger number of average people is no proof of being right.

We can add some aayahs other than those mentioned by Ibn ˆAsaakir as follows:

وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Meaning: “but most people do not believe.” (Huud, 17)

وَمَا أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

Meaning: “Most people, even if you struggle eagerly, are not believers.” (Yuusuf, 103)

وَإِنْ تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَنْ فِي الأرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

Meaning: “If you obey most people on Earth they will make you deviate from the path of Aļļaah.” (Al-’Anˆaam, 116)

So this Wahabi wants to follow the mass of commoners, because they are many, but as you can see from these aayahs, there is no proof in numbers alone. Quite the contrary. Moreover, he wants to do this instead of following the vast majority of leading scholars, even though Aļļaah says:

"إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ"

Meaning: "The only created beings that truly fear Aļļaah are the scholars." (Faaţir, 28)

There is still another point, which is that Ibn ˆAsaakir did not actually say that most commoners are in disagreement with Asħˆariyys. The Wahabi did not get this, because his ilk are the furthest away from understanding and reason. It was the person that argued with Ibn ˆAsaakir that said this. Let us reconstruct his argument as follows:

1. The majority of people is the correct fraction,

2. commoners are the majority,

3. commoners disagree with Al-’Asħˆariyy,

4. therefore Al-’Asħˆariyy is wrong.

If you review Ibn ˆAsaakir’s answer to this argument, you will notice that he did not address premise 3. He only addressed premise 1. Why? Because one only needs to show one of the premises of an argument wrong for it to fall apart, so there is no point in addressing the others. This is especially the case when the major premise is shown false, which is the case here. It is here also the premise that is most easily shown wrong, so it would be a waste of time to address any of the others, not the least because it makes no difference anymore whether it is right or wrong.

Kalaam and tasawwuf

October 4, 2009

I was sent a message the other day about sufis attacking kalaam. This is the world we live in. A lot of things will be clear if one just asks: what is sufism? What is kalaam? Do we all understand the same thing from these words? Can we reasonably assume that when a scholar of the past criticized “kalaam” that he understood what people understand today? (Assuming people today have even stopped to think about what it means – and that is a big assumption.) Can we reasonably assume that he meant that learning the proofs of Islam that pertain to certain knowledge is bidˆah or a source of confusion, or the like? I don’t think so.

To me tasawwuf is to live and think according to the belief that there is only One Creator that is not like creation, and all that bears in it of obeying Him, and relying on Him and loving Him more than anything. It is about directing all your thought and actions towards this. It is being absorbed by the belief in Allaah. Is this what is meant when some scholars criticize sufism? I don’t think so either. Anyway, my brief answer was as follows:

Kalaam without sufism is heartless.
Sufism without kalaam is mindless.

And no, I don’t mean that Sufis need to read Sanuusiyyah Kubraa, or Ar-Raaziyy’s Arbaˆiin, or Al-Iijiyy’s Mawaaqif. They need to know what is enough for the situation they are in, the things they are exposed to inside and outside of themselves. Kalaam is only there to protect the faith. Your own faith, and for those that are qualified, that of other Muslims. Once that is achieved, Kalaam serves no purpose. In fact, it can indeed be harmful. Why bring up questions you’ll never think of otherwise? This is the essential criticism As-Sanuusiyy and others had for Ar-Raaziyy, may Allaah please him. As Maalik said, “we are all criticizing, and criticized, except the man in this grave,” i.e. the Prophet’s in his grave is not criticized, (صلى الله عليه وسلم). One should get to work instead, once one knows enough about beliefs and their proofs to be satisfied and protected from the ultimate of disasters: deviance in belief.

Hints to the meanings Of Tawhiid In Throwing The Pebbles In Hajj by Ibn ˆArabiyy

September 16, 2009


Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy (898-973 AH/ 1493-1565 AD), ˆAbdulWahhaab ibn ‘Aĥmad ibn ˆAliyy Al-Ĥanafiyy (as he is a descendant of Muĥammad ibn Al-Ĥanafiyyah) was a scholar among the Sufis. He was born in Qalqasħandah in Egypt, and died in Cairo. (Al-’Aˆlaam (2002), 4/180) Among his many books authored are Lawaaqiĥu-l-’Anwaari-l-Qudsiyyah Fii Bayaani-l-ˆUhuud Al-Muĥammadiyyah, hereby referred to as Al-ˆUhuud Al-Muĥammadiyyah.

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy’s considerable knowledge and piety made him many envious enemies, to the extent that his books were perverted in his own time. He had to defend himself by showing the original manuscripts of his books to show his innocence. In the introduction to his book quoted below, he speaks of such an incident and explains that he started mentioning ĥadiitħs as proofs for everything he said to make them more difficult to pervert. After all, he argued, if the claims stated blatantly contradict the ĥadiitħ mentioned it would be easier for the reader to discover that there is something fishy going on! (Al-ˆUhuud Al-Muĥammadiyyah, 6)

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy is among the scholars that defended Muĥyiddiin Ibn ˆArabiyy and explained some of his strange expressions in a manner that agrees with the sayings of Ahlu-s-Sunnah. Note, however, that some of the expressions found in the latter’s books are perversions. Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy said:

Asħ-Sħaykħ Abuu Ţaahir Al-Muzaniyy Asħ-Sħaadħiliyy told me that all of what is in Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin’s books of things that contradicts blatant Islamic Law is forged, because he is a complete man by the consensus of authenticators." (Al-Yawaaqiitu wa-l-Jawaahir, 3)

In any case, this is all history, and what we are mainly concerned with here is belief in itself, not what particular non-prophets believe in particular. The following narration of Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy, however, shows Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin’s strong knowledge of, and adherence to, Sunni kalaam. First, however, let us see briefly what Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy’s attitude is, and where his loyalty lies.

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy is a mainstream Sunni i.e. an Asħˆariyy

He said with regard to his loyalty to Ahlu-s-Sunnah:

…. And know that what is meant by "Ahlu-s-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaaˆah" in the customary expressions of people today is Abu-l-Ĥasan Al-Asħˆariyy and whomsoever was prior to him, such as Al-Maaturiidiyy and others…. (because of Al-Asħˆariyy’s fame, however)…. people started saying "this man’s belief is correct and Asħˆariyy," but they do not mean that those who are not are necessarily wrong absolutely,… and there is no significant difference between Asħˆariyys and Maaturiidiyys in the sense that they accuse each other of bad innovation in the religion….

…. and know, dear brother, that whomsoever follows Ahlu-s-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaaˆah must have his heart full of content with following them, and against whomsoever disagrees with them. (Al-Yawaaqiitu wa-l-Jawaahir, 2)

With regard to ambiguous expressions found in books of sufis in general and Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin, he said:

I advise all those who are not capable of reaching the understanding of what the people of illumination to stand firm by the apparent decrees of the scholars of kalaam, and not go beyond that….. (Al-Yawaaqiitu wa-l-Jawaahir, 2)

Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin on the pebbles thrown in Ĥajj pilgrimage

(إشارات الشيخ محيي الدين للتوحيد في رمي الحصى بالحج) قال الشعراني في لواقع الأنوار القدسية: ذكر الشيخ محيي الدين في باب الحج من “الفتوحات”ما نصه: إنما كان حصى الرمي سبعا لأن الشيطان يأتي الرامي هناك بسبع خواطر، لا بد من ذلك فيرمي كل خاطر بحصاة ومعنى التكبير عند رمي كل حصاة: الله أكبر من هذه النسبة التي أتانا بها الشيطان وأطال في ذلك ثم قال:

Asħ-Sħaˆaraaniyy said: “Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin mentioned in the chapter on Ĥajj in Al-Futuuĥaat the following: ‘The pebbles we are throwing are seven, because the Satan always comes to the thrower there with seven seeds-of-doubt (misgivings). So, the thrower throws a pebble at each of these satanic suggestions. And the meaning of saying, " Allaahu-Akbar," with every thrown pebble is that Aļļaah is greater than what the Satan brought.’ He (Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin) explained this at length, then he said:”

The first pebble

إذا أتاك بخاطر الشبهة من إنكار الذات، فارمه بحصاة الافتقار إلى المرجح وهو أنه واجب الوجود لنفسه.

"If he comes to you with the satanic suggestion that Allah Himself does not exist, then throw at him the pebble that represents the absolute need of anything intrinsically possible-in-existence to have its possibility of non-existence outweighed by the One that makes it so (otherwise it would be non-existent); which means that He (Aļļaah) is intrinsically necessary in existence (so He does not need a creator as His existence is a must, and not a possibility).”

Background for understanding the meaning of the first pebble.

The actual existence of something can only be either intrinsically necessary to it or intrinsically possible. There is no third alternative. The intrinsically necessary to itself must exist, and its non-existence would be impossible. The intrinsically possible to itself might exist and it might not. The benefit of realizing this is that:

If something has a beginning it is only possible in existence.

If we can establish that something can cease to exist, or has a beginning, we can establish that it is possible in existence. Why is this true? Because its non-existence would then be possible, and hence its existence is not a must, but only intrinsically possible.

If something has an end, or could have an end, then it is only possible in existence.

This is because it’s non-existence is possible, and this means that its existence is not intrinsic to it.

The beginninglessly eternal does not accept non-existence.

This is because it is then clear that its existence is dependent on something else, and not intrinsic to it.

Moreover, if it accepted non-existence, then its period of existence would need to be specified. This means that it would then be only intrinsically possible in existence, because it depends on the specification of something else. This again means it would have a beginning, and it was assumed that it was beginningless, so this is a contradiction.

The beginninglessly eternal cannot be intrinsically possible in existence, so it must be necessary.

If we establish something as beginninglessly eternal, we can know that its existence is necessary. How is that? Well, because if you said it is without a beginning, you would have said that it does not need something else to specify its existence.  This means that it must exist, and that its existence is intrinsic to itself.

The possible in existence must have a beginning.

That is, if something is possible in existence, it needs to be specified by something other than itself. After all, something that has many possible and alternative aspects to its existence, needs to have one alternative specified over another, such as the period of existence relative to other possible things. This other must be precedent to its existence to specify it, and it must be brought into existence according to this specification. This means that the possible cannot be beginningless, because it must have been brought into existence.

Moreover, if someone suggested that something possible in existence was beginningless, then he is saying that its existence is without prior non-existence. If it has no prior non-existence, however, then it would not be needing something else to exist. This means that its existence is intrinsic to it. Accordingly, it is self-contradictory to claim that something possible could be beginningless.

If something must exist due to something else, then it is intrinsically possible in existence.

If we say that something must exist, then this is either because of something else, or not. If it is because of something preceding it, then it is possible in existence. If it is not, then it is necessary in existence. This means that what must exist and is necessary in existence cannot end, because that would mean that its existence is not a must.

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying

He is saying that our minds tells us that the world is not intrinsically necessary in existence, but needs to be brought into existence. The reason for this is that it changes all the time by moving, being still, changing in shape and color, changing in composition, and so on. To clarify, these changes entail the cessation of one characteristic and the emergence of another, which tells us that the attribute was only possible in existence, and not necessary.

This means again that the world needs specification for how it is at any point in time. This specification either comes from something else that is possible in existence, namely a cause that occurs, or from something necessary in existence. The latter is what we believe. It cannot come from something possible in the final analysis, because all intrinsically possible things have a beginning.

If one said that there was an eternal series of possibly existent things in the past, leading up to the existence of what exists today, then this is contradictory. The contradiction is that one would have to say that an infinite series of beginnings came to pass before today. This is a contradiction, because infinity cannot pass, that is, infinity cannot finish.

We know then, that this world must have been brought into existence by a being that is necessary in existence. The idea that Aļļaah does not exist is thereby refuted by “the absolute need of anything intrinsically possible-in-existence to have its possibility of non-existence outweighed by the One that makes it so.”

The second pebble

وإن أتاك بأنه جوهر فارمه بالحصاة الثانية. وهو الدليل على الافتقار للتحيز والوجود بالغير.

"And if he comes to you suggesting that Allah is an essence, then throw at him with the second pebble; which is the proof that any essence is in absolute need of space existing in dependence on something else.”

The categories of the intrinsically possible existence.

Existence is either said to be only possible or necessary or impossible. The necessarily existent is Allah; whereas the possibly existent is anything that could exist and depends on its existence on being created, as we have explained previously. The possibly existent is either going to be something that exists in itself or in something else.

1. If it exists in itself (not in something else), then it is either going to be in a place or not.

i. If it is not, then this is what is called the stripped essence (الجوهر المجرد), which was affirmed as existent by the Greek philosophers, but the vast majority of scholars denied its existence; as there is no proof of it.

ii. If it is in a place, it is called the indivisible particle Al-Jawhar Al-Fard (not to be confused with the atom because the atom is divisible into electrons, protons, etc…).

Note that what the two essences have in common is that they depend on others in their existence, because their existence in only intrinsically possible.

2. If it exists in something else, then this is incidental characteristics (al-ˆarađ)

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the second pebble

He is saying that Aļļaah cannot be an essence, because essences are dependent in their existence, and therefore only possible. They need to be brought into existence by something else. For something in a space this is clear, because the position of the space and the amount of space can only be something possible. After all, if something is in a particular position, then it could just as well have been in another, which means that the position is possible. Likewise, the amount of space it occupies is possible, because it could be bigger and it could be smaller depending on its specification.

Even if it was hypothesized to be a stripped essence, that is, without space, it would still have to be created. This is because it is impossible that there should be two or more that are all intrinsically necessary in existence. The reason is that they would either be completely identical or different. They cannot be completely identical, because this would mean that they would not be different at all, which would mean that they are not more than one in the first place. If they were different, then they would need specification in terms of which one should have which eternal attribute to distinguish it, which would make them both in need of specification and therefore possible in existence.

The third pebble

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy continues his narration from Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin:

وإن أتاك بخاطر الجسمية، فارمه بحصاة الافتقار إلى الأداة والتركيب والأبعاض.

"So, if he comes to you with the suggestion of anthropomorphism (believing that Allah has bodily characteristics), then throw at him the pebble of (all bodies) need for instruments, composition and parts.”

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the third pebble

He is saying that a body is intrinsically dependent in its existence on having instruments, being composed and having parts coming together. This necessitates specification, which means it is only possible in existence, and Aļļaah’s existence must be necessary, or it would not be eternal. Note that it does not matter whether these parts of claimed to be inseparable or not, because having a tangible border necessitates specification of this border, which means that anything with a tangible border is only possible in existence.

Moreover, bodies or particles are either moving or still. First, a body that is moving, must have a beginning, because being in a place at a point of time has a before and an after. The beginninglessly eternal cannot be something that reaches a point which has a before and an after, because any such hypothetical point will have beginningless eternity ending before it, and this is contradictory. Moreover, if it was eternally moving, then its movement would be infinite in distance, and moving across an infinite distance cannot be concluded, which means that no existing body could have been eternally moving. Furthermore, if movement was an eternal attribute, then it would be necessary, and could never end, and we know without a doubt that movements can end.

If it is argued that a body could be still in eternity and not moving, then this would mean that it could never move; because it would mean that stillness is an eternal attribute without a beginning; that it is “beginninglessly still.”We know, however, that any object in a particular position could be in another one. This means that it must be possible, and not necessary, and therefore not eternal.

The fourth pebble

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy continues his narration:

وإن أتاك بالعرضية فارمه بحصاة الافتقار إلى المحل والحدوث بعد أن لم يكن.

"And if he comes to you with the suggestion of incidental/temporal characteristics then throw at him the pebble of need of something to exist in, and that of existence after non-existence.”

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the fourth pebble

Incidental characteristics are attributes of essences, like taking a place, movement, color, shape, odor, softness, sound, ideas, sequence, feelings, emotions, drives, needs, change, etc… These all need an essence to exist in, and essences can only be possible in existence, as they need to have their incidental characteristics specified.

The fifth pebble

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy continues his narration:

وإن أتاك بالعِلّية، فارمه بالحصاة الخامسة وهي كان الله ولا شيء معه.

"If he comes to you with the suggestion of ‘cause’, (which is the satanic suggestion that the effect is eternal with Him in existence,) then throw at him the fifth pebble, which is the affirmation that Allah existed and there was nothing else existing with Him.”

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the fifth pebble.

The Greek philosophers believed that Allah is the cause of the world’s existence not by choice (i.e. He did not create by choice, according to them). This meant that they believed one or more creations to be eternal. Similarly, Ibn Taymiyyah believed that the world (i.e. other than Aļļaah) is eternal, even though no particular creation is eternal. He says:

It is a necessity of Aļļaah’s self to act, but not an act in particular, and not having something done in particular, so there is no eternal object in the world, and He is not eternally a complete influencer for anything (to exist) in the world, but He has in beginningless eternity always been a complete influencer for something (to exist), one after another…[1] (Aş-Şafadiyyah, 2/97)

Note that his statement “It is a necessity of Aļļaah’s self to act, but not an act in particular,” means that Aļļaah has no choice but to create something. This is a plain ascription of flaw to the Creator, and the one that has such a belief is light years away from being anything that can be called a Muslim. All Muslims must believe that Aļļaah does not need to, and is not compelled to, or obligated to, create at all, and does not achieve more perfection by it.

These claims of the philosophers and Ibn Taymiyyah then, contradict the Islamic belief. This is as indicated by the Qur’aan:

"وهُوَ الأَوَّلُ",

Meaning: "He is Al-Awwal[2].” (Al-Ĥadiid, 03)." This means that He existed before everything else, and that He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else . Al-Bukħaariyy[3] narrated that the Prophet Muĥammad r said:

"كان الله ولم يَكُنْ شَيْءٌ غَيْرُهُ"

"Aļļaah existed and there was nothing else" (Bukħaariyy No. 3019) Aļļaah’s existence then, does not resemble the existence of created things. It is a beginning-less, eternal and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything, or shared with anything. This is what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin meant by “the affirmation that Allah existed and there was nothing else existing with Him.”

One important point needs to be stressed: Beginningless Eternity is not a past time. Rather, it is an expression by which we mean the existence of Aļļaah with the non-existence of time, place and all creation. Our minds naturally want to know what this precedence of the Creator with respect to His creation is. It is not in time, however, because time is possible in existence, as it is parts (moments) following each other in sequence, and these parts are definitely not eternal. The whole of time then, is made up of possible parts, and is therefore only possible in existence. Accordingly, the precedence of its Creator cannot be in time, not the least because that would make Him both in time and not in time, which is self-contradictory.

The reality of this, however, is not something the mind can grasp, because anything that enters the mind is in a situation of time. That is why Aļļaah being precedent is known by us in general, but not in detail or comprehensively.

وَرَبُّكَ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيَخْتَارُ [القصص : 68]

Meaning: “Your Lord creates what He wills and chooses what He wills; nothing obligates Him and nothing prevents Him[4].” (Al-Qişaş, 68) (Tafsiir Al-Bayđaawiyy, 4/301)

The sixth pebble

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy continues his narration:

وإن أتاك بالطبيعة فارمه بالحصاة السادسة وهي دليل نسبة الكثرة إليه، وافتقار كل واحد من آحاد الطبيعة إلى الأمر الآخر في الاجتماع به إلى إيجاد الأجسام الطبيعية، فإن الطبيعة مجموع فاعلين ومفعولين حرارة وبرودة؛ ورطوبة ويبوسة، ولا يصح اجتماعها لذاتها ولا افتراقها لذاتها ولا وجود لها إلا في عين الحار والبارد والرطب واليابس.

"And if he comes to you with suggesting ‘nature’, then throw at him with the sixth pebble; which is the proof that (possible) multitude is dependent on Him in existence, and the need of each one of the natural elements for something else to join with in order to (hypothetically) bring natural bodies into existence.

For verily, nature is a collection of things that are actors and acted upon; respectively, heat and cold vs. moisture and dryness. And it is not correct that they get together (by intrinsic necessity) in themselves, nor that they separate by themselves (because these are possibilities in need of specification, and not necessities.) And they don’t exist except in the thing that is hot or cold, or moist or dry.”

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the sixth pebble

He is saying that since nature (the tempers: heat, cold, moisture, dryness, movement, etc.) are all possible in themselves. Moreover, they can’t exist without an essence to be in, which brings us back to the second proof which is that any essence needs a creator (because such an essence is only possible in existence). What he says here applies to modern atheists as well, who speaks of “natural laws,” such as gravity, as there is no gravity without bodies, and bodies cannot be eternal.

The seventh pebble

Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy continues his narration:

وإن أتاك بالعدم وقال لك فإذا لم يكن الحق هذا ولا هذا من جميع ما تقدم فما ثمّ شيء، فارمه بالحصاة السابعة وهي دليل آثاره في الممكن، ومعلوم أن العدم لا تأثير له، وهو كلام نفيس.

"And if he comes to you suggesting ‘non-existence’ and says to you, ‘if Allah is not this and not that of all the things that have been mentioned previously, then there is nothing existing left!’ Then throw at him the seventh pebble, which is the proof of His influence on the possibly existing, and it is well known that what is non-existing cannot influence anything.”(Al-ˆUhuud Al-Muĥammadiyyah, 188)

Clarifying what Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin is saying regarding the seventh pebble

We know that Allah exists because this world can only be possible in existence, and therefore needs a Creator. This Creator then, definitely exists. He is not, however, anything like what we have perceived by our senses in this life. If He was, then He Himself would only be possible in existence and in need of a Creator. That is why Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin denied Aļļaah being an essence, anthropomorphism, being or having incidental/temporal characteristics, being a cause or nature. Human nature, however, is to imagine the reality of something it has not perceived, in terms of what has been seen. For this reason, denying that Aļļaah is like anything one knows, the feeble minded may jump to the conclusion that He is non-existent. This is fallacious, because it assumes that anything existing must be like what one has experienced, and this is completely unfounded.

Instead, as Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin indicates, one knows that Aļļaah exists by the existence of possible things, and rejects likeness to creation for the same reason, namely that anything like creation would itself need a creator. This is as narrated authentically by Ibn Ĥajar in Fatĥu-l-Baarii[5] from Ibn ˆAbbaas[6],

“تفكروا في كل شيء ولا تفكروا في ذات الله”

"Ponder about everything, but do not ponder about the Self of Aļļaah." (Fatĥu-l-Baarii, 13/383) .

He said this because such dwelling leads one to draw analogies between the Creator and the created, which is blasphemy. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy said:

هذا ذكر بيان عقيدة أهل السنة والجماعة…. ومن وصف الله بمعنى من معاني البشر فقد كفر…. وتعالى الله عن الحدود والغايات والأركان والأعضاء والأدوات…. لا تحويه الجهات الست كسائر المبتدعات…. ولا نخوض في الله

This is a detailed remembrance of the belief of the People of the Sunnah and (following) the Jamaaˆah…. Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy…. Aļļaah is clear of and above having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments…. The six directions (up, down, front, back, left and right) do not contain Him unlike all created things…. We do not engross ourselves in (thinking about the reality of) Aļļaah.

This completes the discussion on what Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy narrated from Asħ-Sħaykħ Muĥyiddiin regarding the pebbles, wa laa quwwata illaa billaah.


Al-’Aˆlaam (2002). Az-Zirikliyy. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar El-Ilm Lil-Malayeen, 1423.

Al-Yawaaqiitu wa-l-Jawaahir. ˆAbdulWahhaab Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy (898-973 AH/ 1493-1565 AD). Egypt: Al-Maba’ah al-Maymanyah. 12 Sep 2009 <;.

Aş-Şafadiyyah. Aĥmad Ibn Taymiyyah (728 AH) Al-Ĥarraaniyy. Egypt: Maktabah Ibn Taymiyyah, 1406.

Fatĥu-l-Baarii Sħarĥu Şaĥiiĥi-l-Bukħaariyy. Ibn Ĥajar Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Marefah, 1379.

Lawaaqiĥu-l-’Anwaari-l-Qudsiyyah Fii Bayaani-l-ˆUhuud Al-Muĥammadiyyah. ˆAbdulWahhab Asħ-Sħaˆraaniyy (898-973 AH/ 1493-1565 AD). Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiya, 2005.

Tafsiir Al-Bayđaawiyy. Al-Bayđaawiyy (685 AH/ 1286 AD), NaşirudDiin. Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Fikr.

[1]قال ابن تيمية في الصفدية (2 / 97): وحينئذ فالذي هو من لوازم ذاته نوع الفعل لا فعل معين ولا مفعول معين فلا يكون في العالم شيء قديم وحينئذ لا يكون في الأزل مؤثرا تاما في شيء من العالم ولكن لم يزل مؤثرا تاما في شيء بعد شيء وكل أثر يوجد عند حصول كمال التأثير فيه.

[2]The word "awwal" in Arabic means "first", but its meaning when referring to Aļļaah is as stated.

[3]Muĥammad ibn Ismaaˆiil ibn Ibraahiim ibn al-Mugħiirah Al-Bukħaariyy (194 h. – 256 h.) is the author of the famous ĥadiitħ book “Şaĥiiĥ Al-Bukħaariyy”, which is recognized as the most authentic ĥadiitħ collection of all.

[4]تفسير البيضاوى (4 / 301): وربك يخلق ما يشاء ويختار ( لا موجب عليه ولا مانع له )

[5]Fatĥu-l-Baarii is the most important of all commentaries on Al-Bukħaariyy’s ĥadiitħ collection. It is written by Ibn Ĥajar Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy, who said that this narration from Ibn ˆAbbaas is good. Ibn Ĥajar is Aĥmad ibn ˆAliyy ibn Muĥammad Al-Kinaaniyy, Abuu Al-Fađl, SħihaabudDiin, Ibn Ĥajar (773-852 AH / 1372-1449 AD). He was the greatest scholar of ĥadiitħ in his time. He was also a great historian, linguist and poet. He was born in ˆAsqalaan in Palestine, but died and is buried in Cairo where he was a judge for many years. He wrote many valuable works in the ĥadiitħ sciences that are widely used, but the greatest of them is his commentary on Şaĥiiĥ Al-Bukħaariyy called Fatĥu-l-Baari’. He was also appointed as head judge of Egypt in his time.

[6]Ibn ˆAbbaas was the son of the Prophet’s r paternal uncle Al-ˆAbbaas. The Prophet r asked Aļļaah to make him a great scholar, and so he became at an early age. The companions of the Prophet r called him “Turjumaan Al-Qur’aan” – the Translator of the Qur’aan.

Wahabi contention: the Ashˆariyys deny explicit texts.

May 4, 2009

A wahabi wrote: To me, the biggest problem with the Ash’arees is their denial of numerous explicit texts in favour of their corrupt philosophical arguments that few- if any- of them even claim the Salaf believed in.

Comment: An argument is either sound or not. If it is sound, then its conclusions are sound, i.e. true. The argument itself is not really a matter of belief, it is the conclusions that are important. If you can think of new proofs for what is correct belief in Allaah then this is a good thing, even if no one mentioned it before. The Qur’aan encourages us to ponder Allaah’s creation to see proofs for His existence, Power, Will, Knowledge, etc. and to use our minds. This process doesn’t really stop, and should not stop.

The belief of the wahabis is not that of the Salaf, because it is self contradictory, and therefore foolish, see The ‘Simple’ Wahabi Belief II: Contradiction versus narration.

To know the actual origin of wahabi beliefs read this: Ibn Taymiyyah says that Allaah has six limits, and could have settled on a mosquito, and Ibn Taymiyyah says Allaah needs, is divisible, and settles in a place.

The Ashˆariyys do not deny explicit texts in favor of corrupt arguments. If you think that, then you have not understood what they are saying. I advice that you take a look at this article Wahhabi Contention: How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?

Omnipotence and the so called unliftable stone

March 22, 2009

Someone said: I came across this post for some reason, and decided to answer this “unliftable stone” question from logical (not religious) point of view.

In the question, we have imaginary omnipotent entity referred to as “god”, which does not have to be actual muslim God. We might call it “Bob”, if you want; what matters for the question is that our imaginary Bob is omnipotent. Then we ask, can Bob create a stone that he will not be able to lift? As long as Bob is omnipotent, he obviously can create it. As soon as he does, however, he loses his omnipotence. There is no logical problem with the question this way.

We can, however extend this question, by asking Bob to create such a stone AND remain omnipotent. In the language of logic, this is asking for A and B to be true at the same time, while we know that A makes B necessary false. This is clearly not possible, as far as logic is concerned.

Comment: There is no separation of logic and religion in this question or any other in Islam.

When you say that Bob was omnipotent and then became not omnipotent, then you are saying that his omnipotence is a possible attribute, not a necessary attribute, as it accepts non-existence. This means that Bob’s claimed omnipotence would have a beginning, because the possible in existence needs a cause to become existent, which means that it would need to be given to him by something else.

This something else would have to be omnipotent without a beginning, or we would end up with another Bob in need of a cause (i.e. someone else to give him the omnipotence), and going down that path we would end up claiming an infinite past series of Bobs, which is impossible, because infinity cannot pass. Since this omnipotent being is necessarily omnipotent, as it is eternal and therefore not in need of preponderance to exist, it cannot end, because whatever ends is only intrinsically possible in existence (one moment it’s here, the next it’s not; so, it is not necessarily existing). This means again that Bob cannot become omnipotent, as you cannot have two omnipotent beings at the same time. After all, that would mean that they would have to agree to bring something into existence, as they are both of equal power, and this is a restricted power, not an absolute power, and would have meant that the necessary omnipotence prior to Bob’s, became restricted and would therefore be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

Omnipotence cannot be a created attribute, because if we assumed that it had a beginning, then the one that gave it must have been either omnipotent before it, or not. If the one that supposedly gave it was omnipotent, then we have already shown that this means that it must be eternal and necessary in existence, and cannot be given away.

On the other hand, if the one claimed to have given omnipotence was proposed to have power restricted to creating omnipotence, then this is refuted, because if it could create omnipotence, then anything less than that would definitely fall within its power. If not, then this would require someone to specify the restricted power of the proposed creator of omnipotence, which would mean he is not the true creator of omnipotence, and this way we are either ending up saying there is an infinite series of specified creators, or end up at a creator that is omnipotent, thus not in need of specification, and since his power would be necessary, he could not lose this power later, or part of it, or it would have to be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

If someone argued, on the other hand, that omnipotence was restricted by a hindrance or prerequisite before Bob, then this contradicts the concept of omnipotence. Moreover, this proposed restriction to create anything but omnipotence would either be eternal or having a beginning.

A) If it was proposed eternal, then it would be universal, because it would not be specified, which would make it impossible for anyone to create anything but omnipotence, which is absurd, because omnipotence is not omnipotence if nothing other than omnipotence can be created, such as entities. After all, omnipotence is about creating other than omnipotence. Thus the proposed restriction cannot be eternal.

B) If it was proposed not eternal, then it would need a creator to specify it. This creator would either be proposed omnipotent or not. If he was omnipotent, then we have shown that this omnipotence cannot be given away to Bob. If he was not, then we are dealing with someone with created power, which needs a creator, and he would be either omnipotent or not.  This brings us into the problem of needing an infinite past series of specified creators, and this idea is rejected, because one cannot conclude an infinite series of past creating, or claiming there is a creator who’s necessary omnipotence ceased, which we have shown to be impossible.

The “simple” Wahabi belief

January 10, 2009

According to the Wahabies Allah is literally above the throne without ever leaving it, AND literally in the sky of the world in the last third of the night (i.e. always, because the Earth is round, so it is always the last third of the night somewhere.) Anyone see a problem here? Then they say it is blasphemy to Read the rest of this entry »

Imam Abdul Qahir al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Final Part

June 19, 2008

After this generation came the Shaykh of Insight, the Imam of the Horizons in debating and verification: Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Ismail Al-Ash`ari.

Ali ibn Ismail ibn Ishaq, Abu Al Hasan, was among the descendants of the famous companion Abu Musa Al Ash`ari. He is the founder of the Ash`ari school in beliefs and a Mujtahid scholar. He authored some 300 books. (Source: Al A`laam). He outlined the Sunni belief system in detail with explanations and proofs more than anyone else before him. For this reason, the Sunni scholars call themselves followers of the Ash`ari school.

He is the one that became a cut in the throats of the Qadariyyah, the Najjaariyyah, the Jahmiyyah, the anthropomorphists, the Shi’ites and the Khawarij. He filled the world with his books. No Kalam scholar has ever been bestowed with a following like the one he was endowed with. The reason is that all the People of Hadith follow his way, as do all the People of Insight

The people of insight are the followers of the Hanafi school today. Their belief are identical to that of the Ash`ari school, although they are usually called Maturidis as opposed to Ash`aris. The differences between these two schools basically come down to semantics. For this reason, the label as an “Ash`ari” follower is applied to followers of both schools.

that do not have Mu`tazilite inclinations.

Among his famous students are: Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili

Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili Al Basri was a direct student of Al Ash`ari. The Hafidh Ibn Asakir narrated from Abu Bakr Al Baqillani that he, Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini and Ibn Furak would have a lesson with Al Baahili once every week. Abu Bakr said that he was so preoccupied with worship of Allah that we had to remind him of the length of the lessons. He would also sit behind a curtain so that neither the three of them, nor the commoners that would attend could see him. When asked about this he answered, “You can see the commoners with your eyes, and they are people that tend to be negligent of religious concerns, and this way you will also look at me with the same eyes.  Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini used to say, “I was like a drop in the ocean beside Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili.” On the other hand, Al Baahili used to say, “Beside Abu Al Hasan Al Ash`ari  I was a like a drop beside the ocean.” This was all mentioned by Ibn Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al Muftari under the biography of Al Baahili in the chapter listing the students of Al Ash`ari.

and Abu Abdullah ibn Mujahid,

Muhammd ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammd ibn Yaqub ibn Mujaahid (? – 370 h.) was a scholar of the Maliki school  a student of Al Ash`ari, and the teacher of Abu Bakr Al Baqillani. (Source: Al A`laam).

and these two are the ones that are the shining suns of their time and the masters of their generations, such as:

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al Tayyib (Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani)

Muhammd ibn Al Tayyib ibn Muhammd ibn Ja`far, Abu Bakr Al Baqillani, Al Qadi Al Baqillani (338 h. – 403 h.) was the head of the Ash`aris of his time. He wrote many books, some of which are in print. (Source: Al A`laam). Al Dhahabi in his “Tarikh al Islam” V. 28, P. 89 relates that Al Baqillani was once sent by the Muslim ruler to debate the Christian scribes of the Roman Emperor. When he arrived to the emperors hall they had made the entrance to the emperor very low, to the extent that one had to bow down in order to enter. Al Baqillani realized that it was a trick to make him bow to the emperor, so he turned and entered back end first. Once there, he turned to one of the monks and said, “How are the wife and kids?” Astonished, the emperor replied, “Do you not know that the monk elevates himself having a wife or kids?” Al Baqillani closed his trap by quickly replying: “You consider him above this, but you do not consider Allah to be clear of and above having a female companion and child?” He was also mockingly asked, “What happened to `Aisha?” They were referring to the time that she, the Prophet’s wife, was accused by the hypocrites of having been unfaithful. They wanted to make him lose his temper by their insinuations. Al Baqillani answered: “As what happened to Maryam. (They were both accused of adultery), then they were both declared innocent by Allah, and Maryam brought a baby, while `Aisha did not.” They could find no response to this, because he had shown them that permitting  the slander of `Aisha would imply permitting ugly and heretical slander of Maryam even more.

the head of the judges of Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Faris (Southwest Iran), Karmaan (Southeast Iran) and all the border areas belong to these lands,

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn ibn Furak (Ibn Furak),

Muhammd ibn Al Hasan ibn Furak Al Ansaari Al Asbahani (? – 406 h.) was among the greatest scholars of belief methodology, as well as Shafi`i fiqh (jurisprudence).

and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Mihrani (Abu Ishaaq Al Isfaraini).

Ibrahim ibn Muhammd ibn Ibrahim ibn Mihraan,  Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini (? – 418 h.) was a great scholar of beliefs, methodology and fiqh. He used to be nicknamed “the pillar of the religion.” He was also a reliable narrator of Hadith.(Source: Al A`laam).

Before these there was Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Mahdi Al Ţabari,

Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Muhammd ibn Mahdi Al Tabari was a student of Al Ash`ari in Al Basrah. The meaning of one of his poems is: He is not lost who has a companion able to mend his ways. For the world is merely by its inhabitants and a person is by his companions.

the master of jurisprudence, Kalam, methodology, literature, grammar and Hadith. Among his heritage is a student like Abu Abdullah Al Husayn ibn Muhammad Al Bazzaazi,

I was unable to find anyone of this name that is of Abu Mansur’s generation or earlier. The Al Husayn ibn Muhammd Al Bazzaazi mentioned in Al Waafi bi-l-Wafayaat died in 495 h., which seems too late for being meant here.

the master debater and author of books on all aspects of Kalam.

Also before this generation was the Shaykh of the Sciences, Abu Ali Al Taqafi.

Muhammd ibn Abdul Wahhaab ibn Abdul Rahmaan ibn Abdul Wahhaab, Abu Ali Al Thaqafi (244 h. – 328 h.) was among the greatest scholars of all time in fiqh, methodology and belief. He stayed in Naysabur. Ibn Khuzaymah told him one time: “It is not allowed for any of us to give fatwa as long as you are alive.” (Source: Siyar A`laam al Nubalaa’).

In his time the Imam of the Sunnis was Abu Al Abbas Al Qalanisi,

Ahmad ibn Abdul Rahmaan ibn Khaalid Al Qalanisi Al Razii, was among the Sunni scholars that lived in the time of Al Ash`ari and fought deviants. His appearance as a defender of the faith was earlier that that of Al Ash`ari, and he was not among his students. (Source: Ibn Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al Muftarii P. 293.)

who authored more than one hundred and fifty books in Kalam. The books and critiques authored by Al Thaqafi against deviant groups are more than one hundred.

In our time we have reached  Abu Abdullah ibn Mujahid and Muhammad ibn Al Tayyib (Abu Bakr Al Baqillani) the head of the judges,  Muhammad ibn Al Husayn ibn Fuurak, Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Mihrani (Abu Ishaq Al-Isfaraini) and  Al Husayn ibn Muhammad Al Bazzaazi. Our own teachers follow the same path of these that we have reached, which is to enliven the truth and put its enemies in chains.”

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part V

June 18, 2008

As for Dawud, the leader of the literalists, he wrote a lot on belief along with his many writings on jurisprudence. His son, Abu Bakr,

Muhammd ibn Dawud ibn Ali ibn Khalaf Al  Dhahiri (255 h. – 297 h.) was an Imam and son of the Imam Dawud Al Dhahiri. He took over his fathers position as a Mufti and teacher after his father. (Source: Al A`laam).

was a scholar of jurisprudence, Kalam <belief>, methodology, literature and poetry.

Abu Al`Abbaas Ibn Surayj

In the manuscript it is written “Ibn Shurayh”, but it is likely a typographical error, and should be Ibn Surayj, because he was the head of the Sunnis at that time and wrote very many books, as indicated by Abu Mansur: Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Surayj Al Baghdadi, Abu Al Abbas (249 h. – 306 h.) the head of the Shafi`is of his time who wrote some 400 books and was a Judge in Shiraz (in today’s Iran). He fought deviant sects and had debates with Dawud Al Dhahiri. (Source: Al A`laam).

the best of this group in these sciences, and he has a critique on the book of Al-Jaruf

Al Jaruf was a philosopher of the school of equality of proofs.

against those who claim equality of proofs

The claim of equality of proofs is when someone looks at the evidences presented by two opponents and then declares himself unable to decide who is right. The book of Al Jaruf, which defended the idea of equality of proofs, was written by a philosopher against Al Jubba`i, who was a Mu`tazilite. This belief of equality of proofs is basically agnosticism, in the sense that they neither affirm nor deny, but its followers fall into three groups: First, those who question the existence of the Creator. Second, those who believe in the Creator, but doubt prophethood. Third, those who believe in the Creator and the prophethood of Muhammd, but have doubts about other beliefs. (See Al Fisal fi-l-Milal by Ibn Hazm).

and it is more complete than the critique of Ibn Al-Rawandi

He seems to mean Abu Al Husayn Ibn Al Rawandi (? h.- 298 h.), who was a philosopher accused of numerous heresies. (Source: Al A`laam).

against them. As for his writings on jurisprudence – Allah knows their number.

Another of the Kalam scholars in the time of Al Ma`mun is Abdullah ibn Sa`eed Al Tamimi,

Abdullah ibn Sa`eed ibn Kullaab, Abu Muhammd Al Qattaan (? – 245), was one of the greatest Kalam scholars of his time. (Source: Al A`laam). He is also mentioned with the last name Al Tamimi by Al Subki in  Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah Al Kubraa. In Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah it is stated in the biography of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed ibn Kullaab that Abu Hasan Al Ash`ari was heavily influenced by him and by Harith ibn Asad Al Muhasibi

who crushed the Mu`tazilah in the assembly of Al Ma`mun, and scandalized them with his eloquent exposure and clarification of their faults. The remains of his clarifications are in his books. He is the brother of Yahya ibn Sa`eed Al-Qattaan,

Yahya ibn Sa`eed Al Qattaan Al Tamimi, Abu Sa`eed (120 h. – 198) one of the Imams of Hadith science. He gave the Fatwas of Abu Hanifah and is regarded as a highly trustworthy Hafidh. (Source: Al A`laam).

the inheritor of the knowledge of hadith and the master of narrator criticism.

Among the students of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed is Abdul Aziz Al Makki Al Kattaani,

Abdul Aziz ibn Yahya ibn Abdul Aziz Al Kinani Al Makki (? h. – 240) was among the students of Al Shafi`i and debated Bishr Al Marisi. (Source: Al A`laam).

who scandalized the Mu`tazilah in Al Ma`mun’s assembly. Yet another Kalam scholar was, his student, Al Husayn ibn Al Fadl Al Bajali,

Al Husayn ibn Al Fadl ibn Umayr Al Bajali (178 h. – 282 h.) was one of the leaders of the knowledge of the meanings in the Quran. He was originally from Al Kufa, but the governor Abdul Aziz ibn Tahir brought him to Naysabur where he bought a house for him. He stayed there teaching until he died.

the master of Kalam, methodology, Quranic commentary and interpretation. Later scholars relied upon his notes and pointers in interpreting the Quran. He is the one that Abdul Aziz ibn Tahir, the governor of Khurasan <in North East Iran> brought with him to Khurasan, and as a result people said, “He took with him all the knowledge of Iraq to Khurasan.”

Among the students of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed is also Al-Junayd,

Al Junayd ibn Muhammd ibn Al Junayd Al Baghdadi, Abu Al Qaasim, Al Khazzaz (? – 297) was one of the greatest scholars of all time. One of his contemporaries said, “I have not laid my eyes on anyone like Al Junayd. The scribes come to his lessons to learn from his words, the poets for his eloquence, and the Kalam scholars for the meaning of what he says. The great scholars and historian Ibn Al Athir said about Al Junayd: “The top scholar in the world in his time.” He is considered as one of the great imams of Sufism for his compliance to the sciences of Hadith and Quran along with leadership in Sufi knowledge. He said, “Our way is controlled by the Quran and Hadith.” (Source: Al A`laam).

the Shaykh of the Sufis and the Imam of the monotheists. He has an article that is written according to the requirements of the Kalam scholars, but with Sufi expressions.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part IV

June 17, 2008

After Al-Shafi`i came his students that mastered the sciences of both jurisprudence and Kalam. Examples are Al-Harith ibn Asad Al-Muhasibi,

Harith ibn Asad Al Muhasibi, the great Sufi and encyclopedic scholar of Islam. He is the Shaykh of the famous Sufi, encyclopedic scholar and judge: Al Junayd. It is said that people named him “Al Muhasibi,” which in Arabic means “the one who calls to account,” because he was constantly calling himself to account for his own deeds in light of the teachings of Islam. (Source: Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah Al Kubraa).

Abu `Ali Al-Karaabisi,

Al Husayn ibn Ali Yazid Al Karabisi, Abu Ali, was one of the students of Al Shafi`i. He was  a great scholar of Fiqh, Hadith and Kalam. He narrated the old sayings of Al Shafi`i from Baghdad, and it is said that Al Karabisi was that greatest of Al Shafi`i’s students there. Al Bukhari used to narrated the saying of Al Shafi`i through him, as mentioned in Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah.


Harmalah ibn Yahya Al Tujibi, (166 h.-243 h.) was a great Hafidh (master savant of Hadith) and Faqih (master savant of Fiqh) from Egypt. (Source: Al A`laam).

Yusuf Al-Buwaiti,

Yusuf ibn Yahya Al Buwaiti, Abu Yaqub (?- 231 h.) from Buwait in the Sa`eed area of Egypt. Al Shafi`i said about him: “None of my companions are as knowledgeable as he.” He is the one that narrated the famous book of Al Shafi`i called Al Umm. (Source: Al A`laam).

and Dawuud Al-Asbahaani.

The later scholars of Kalam relied on Al-Karabisi for knowing the various sub-sects of the Khawariji as well as all other sects. The jurisprudent and hadith scholars relied on him for knowing the conditions for authentication (acceptance as authentic) of hadith along with the types of flaws, and evaluating narrators.

The books of Al Harith ibn Asad Al-Muhasibi became the primary source for the Kalam scholars of our associates,

By “our associates,” he means the scholars of the Shafi`i, Maliki and Hanbali schools of Fiqh (Islamic laws and practices) and the scholars that have similar methodology. They are referred to as “the People of Hadith”. People of Hadith” as opposed to the “People of Insight” are terms used by the scholars to refer respectively to the fiqh scholars that have a strong apparent focus on Hadith, and those with a strong focus on deeper issues of meaning. It does not mean that the latter group ignores authentic Hadiths, both groups agree that authentic Hadith without any flaws must be applied. It also does not mean that the former lack deep insight. It is rather a matter of how the two groups apparently differ in their ways. One finds the former speaking much like Hadith specialists, while the latter focuses on long and intense debates on finer points of the meaning of Hadiths and the Quran. The latter will often refuse to go by the apparent meaning of Hadith due to a weakness related to its meaning, while the former will largely (but certainly not always) override such flaws based on the strength of the chain of narration. To fully understand the differences needs a lengthy study of Usul al Fiqh – the scholarly methodology for drawing judgments regarding Islamic laws and practices directly from the four sources: The Quran, Hadith, ijma` and Analogy. An important note also is that the “People of Hadith” in scholarly terminology of old has a different meaning than those that call themselves by this name today.

both the jurists and the Sufis.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part III

June 16, 2008

The first Kalam scholars among the jurists and the heads of the schools of jurisprudence were Abu Hanifah,

Abu Hanifah, Al Nu`man ibn Thabit (80 h. – 150 h.) is one of the four great Imams of Islam that founded the four schools of fiqh. He was the earliest of the four, and lived in Kufa in Iraq. He was the head of the scholars there and also a rich textile trader. He died in prison for refusing his appointment as judge in Baghdad by the ruler at the time. He is known for his brilliance in proving his views to be the strongest, to the extent that Malik, second of the four imams said about him, “If he claimed that this pillar you would have no choice but to agree with him.” Al Shafi`i, the third of the imams said: “All people are dependent on the fiqh of Abu Hanifah.” (Source: Al A`laam).

and Al-Shafi`i. Abu Hanifah wrote a book against the Qadariyyah called “Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar,” and he has an article that he dictated to champion the saying of the Sunnis that ability comes at the point of action. He said, however, that the ability applies to two opposites, and this is the saying of a number of our companions. The companion of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf,

Yaqub ibn Ibrahim ibn Habib Al Ansari (113 h. -182 h.) was the companion of Abu Hanifah and his student. He was also the first to spread the teachings of the school of Abu Hanifah. He was a great Faqih, encyclopedic scholar, and a Hafidh Hadith scholar. He was the Judge of the Abbasi empire and the first to be called “the Judge of Judges in this world.” (Source: Al A`laam). As an anecdote, it was narrated by Ibrahim Al Jarrah that he visited Abu Yusuf while the latter was sick in bed with the sickness he died from. Ibrahim told what happened as follows: “Abu Yusuf opened his eyes and said, “Is throwing the pebbles (in Hajj pilgrimage) while riding better or while walking?” I said, ‘Walking.” He said, “You are wrong.” Then I said, “Riding.” He said, “You are wrong.” Then he said, “It is better to walk for all throwing that has standing <to supplicate> after it, while it is better to ride for throwing that does not have standing after it.” After that I stood up and left, and I had not reached the gate of the building before I heard the cry that he had died. I was astonished by his craving for knowledge even in such a situation. <Al Mabsut>.

said: “the Qadariyyah are apostates.”

Al Shafi`i has two books in Kalam science. One of them to prove and authenticate the existence of prophethood, against the claims of the Brahmins (the Hindus). The second was a refutation of deviant sects. He also mentioned some Kalam issues in the book “Kitaab Al-Qiyaas”. In it he pointed to having gone back on the saying of accepting the testimony of deviant sects.

As for Bishr Al-Marisi,

A well known Mu`tazilite deviant, known for following the school of Abu Hanifah in fiqh, but had some Mu`tazilite beliefs.

who was among the Hanafis, he only agreed with the Mu`tazilite stance on the creation of the Quran,

The statement “Quran” has two meanings. One is the book of the Quran, the other is the eternal and everlasting speech of Allah that is not letters, not sound, not sequential and does not change. If someone declares that the “Quran is created,” then it is not blasphemy if he meant the book. However, if he meant Allah’s attribute, then it is blasphemy. Some of the Mu`tazilites meant the first meaning, but others meant the other.

but declared them blasphemers for saying that humans create their own actions.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part II

June 15, 2008

The first Sunni of the generation following the companions to engage in Kalaam debates was Umar ibn Abdul Aziz,

The Khalifah and great scholar. He is counted as the fifth righteous Khalifah after the first four. He was born in 61 h. and died in 101 h. – may Allah reward him. He became Khalifah in 99 h., and during his short rule peace and justice quickly spread. He forbade cussing Ali ibn Abi Talib, which had become a habit of speakers in the Masjids of the day. It is said that he died from being poisoned. (Source: Al A`laam.)

he wrote an eloquent letter against the ideas of the Qadariyyah sect. After him came Zayd ibn Ali ibn Al Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Zayd ibn Ali ibn Al Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son of Zayn al Abideen. One of the greatest scholars of all time and grandson of Al Husayn, the Prophet’s grandson. He rebelled against the Umawi king Hisham ibn Abdul Malik, was killed, crucified, beheaded and burned. He was the one that named those Shi’ites that reject Abu Bakr and Umar as “Al Raafidah” – The Rejectors. They came to him offering their support in his rebellion if he would disavow Abu Bakr and Umar, but he said, “Rather I ally myself with them and disavow those who disavow them.” They responded, “Then we refuse you.” From this came the name of the sect. (Source: Al Waafi bi-l-Wafayaat.)

He wrote a book rejecting the Qadariyyah sect based on proofs from the Quran. Then came Al Hasan Al Basri,

Al Hasan Al Basri is one of the greatest of the Taabiˆiin, the students of the Prophet’s companions. He was the leader of the scholars in Basrah. He was eloquent, brave, ascetic and a master of fiqh. (Source: Al A`laam.)

whom the Qadariyyah claimed as one of them. How can that be right, however, when in fact he wrote a letter to Umar ibn Abdul Aziz showing their faults, and chased their leader Wasil away from his teaching sessions when he showed his deviations?

After him came Ash-Sha`bi, who was among the toughest opponents of the Qadariyyah, and then Al Zuhri. The latter was the one that gave Abdul Malik ibn Marwan the fatwa that the blood of the Qadariyyah should be shed.

Following this generation came Ja`far ibn Muhammad Al Saadiq, who authored a book refuting the ideas of the Qadariyyah and another refuting those of the Khawarij. He also wrote an article against the extremists of the Shi’ites. He is the one that said, “The Mu`tazilites wanted to declare the Oneness of Allah, but committed apostasy. They also wanted to declare Allah just, but ended up attributing to Him stinginess.”

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part I

June 14, 2008

Abdul Qahir ibn Tahir Al Baghdadi Al Tamimi, also known as Abu Mansur, (?-429 AH/ ?-1037 AD) was the head of the scholars of his time. The historian Al Dhahabi(673-748 AH/ 1274-1348 AD) described him in his book Siyar A`laam al Nubalaa’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar” …. “He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al Dhahabi said that he would have like to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abu Uthman Al Sabuni saying: Abu Mansur is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islam. Abu Uthman Al Sabuni, who said this, is one of the greatest scholars of Islam and among Sunnis he is known as “Shaykh Al Islam” – the Shaykh of Islam. Al Subki, in his “The Levels of the Shafi`i Scholars,” quotes a number of scholars praising Al Sabuni, among them Al Bayhaqi, who knew him and said, “Verily he is in reality the Imam of the Muslims and in truth the Shaykh of Islam. All the people of his time are humbled by his state of religion, leadership, sound beliefs, amount of knowledge, and his commitment to the way of the Salaf generation (the first three generations, or first three centuries of Muslims).”

What follows is a translation of a passage from his book Usul al din. This passage lists the scholars amongst the Salaf who had engaged in Kalam. A small commentary will also be presented, providing greater detail on the `ulema mentioned in this tract. The main text of the tract will be in quotations, and the commentary will be in regular typeset. Since the tract, together with its commentary, is long, it will be presented in parts. Hereunder is the first part:

The first Sunni scholar of Kalam among the companions was Ali ibn Abi Talib, as he debated the Khawarij on the issues of the promise and threat,

He is referring to the Khawarij claim that Allah does not forgive big sins, such as drinking wine, even if the person believes it is a sin (Usul al Din, Al Bazdawi, Al Maktabah Al Azhariah, P. 256.)

and the Qadariyyah on predestination, will, and ability.

The Qadariah claimed that humans create their own actions, while Sunnis say that Allah is the only creator, and that Humans only commit actions. The Sunni stance is unquestionably correct, because claiming that someone did something that Allah has not willed, is equivalent to saying that He either did not know it or was unable to prevent it. This is clearly impossible.

The issues of predestination, will, and ability are the issues related to the Qadariah’s blasphemous claim that humans create their own actions, because they ended up saying that humans are not predestined, that their will is independent of Allah’s, and that the human ability to act is an ability to create. The Muslims said that human will is by Allah’s will, because he knows everything and cannot be overpowered. They also said that human ability does not include creating. Rather, the ability to act is an ability created by Allah and it occurs at the moment of the act itself. The simplest proof of the truth of this, is that a human never knows with complete certainty that he is going to be able to do even a simple intended act, such as standing up after sitting. It could be, for example, that one suddenly fell ill.

Then came Abdullah ibn Umar

A great scholar and companion of the Prophet, the son of Umar ibn Al Khattab.

with his sayings against the Qadariyyah, and his declaration of wanting nothing to do with them or their leader known as Ma`bad Al-Juhani.

The Qadariyyah claimed that Ali was one of them, and that their leader Wasil ibn Ata’ Al Ghazzaal took his sayings from Muhammad

Muhammd ibn Al Hanafiyyah, the son of Ali, one of the greatest scholars of Islam and famous for great physical strength.

and Abdullah, the two sons of Ali – may Allah reward him. This is one of their scandalous lies. It is among the strangest of things how they claim that Ali’s two sons taught them the rejection of Ali’s and Talhah’s

Talhah is one of the greatest companions of the Prophet, and is one of the famous ten that were promised Paradise by the Prophet. See the Biography of the Prophet for more details.

testimonies and doubt in Ali’s trustworthiness. Do you see them teaching him that the testimonies of Talhah and the Prophet’s brother in law are invalid?

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

Refutation of “Kalam & Trinity”

June 8, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

This is a detailed exposition of the article “Kalam & Trinity” authored by Dawud Israel of

I have attempted here to give as detailed an exposition as possible of the problematic statements he has made in his article.

A few brief comments before diving in:

  • One should always define their terms. Using undefined and vague terms becomes problematic. I refer to the use of the word “Kalam.” He apparently seem to be criticizing the Kalam of the heretics. What else did the Kalam of the Sunnis seek to do if it wasn’t that?
  • One must be careful when saying anything with respect to Allah. Many seemingly harmless statements can be kufr. I’ve pointed out some mistakes of this nature.
  • I think the grammatically correct way of saying it would be “The Trinity” and not simply “Trinity.”

His statements are in bold blue, and mine are in simple black.

Dawud says: Perhaps this is why the Christians stuck to their belief in Trinity; their discomfort with monolithic Islam.

You meant monotheistic. It would be folly to say that Islam is monolithic. Even within the Ahl al Sunnah you have so many variations that it’s impossible to say that even Sunni Islam is “monolithic.” I hope that was a mistake.

Dawud says: But in Islam Allah is simply One and there is no difficulty conceivable with this, unless one forcefully encourages himself to make this simple concept difficult (i.e. Ahlul-Kalam).

First mistake: You didn’t define kalam. First define “kalam,” then define “difficulty” and then connect the two.

You have forced yourself into thinking that kalam makes tawhid difficult when this is not true.

That is not to say that kalam doesn’t deal with difficult topics, but that is a far cry from saying that kalam made Tawhid difficult to understand.

Furthermore, you’re ignoring the different levels at which the human mind operates. Actually, you’ve axed your own foot here. Tawhid is going to be a difficult topic for a Christian, precisely because he is a Christian. On this basis, a Christian needs to be dealt with according to his or her level of understanding, not at the “easy” level of understanding that a normal lay Muslim believer has.

Dawud says: We can understand from the Quran that Trinity was a sort of ‘kalam before kalam’-that is to say that the Christian priests had done something not too dissimilar from what Ahlul-Kalam would do; and this placed them dangerously close to shirk: “They take their rabbis and their monks as gods besides Allah…” (9:31).

Again, I don’t see the link. You’re treading on extremely dangerous grounds. How in the world is the Christian view of things “not too dissimilar” from kalam? Again, a serious lacking in the definition of terms is observable.

This should be a lesson to you. Always define your terms. You can observe this method in absolutely any classical text on absolutely any classical Islamic topic.

Dawud says: As it is obvious the Christians would try to explain the Trinity as a Unity, as being one and would focus on repeating, “They are one” in as many ways as he possibly could. The Muslims would merely say, “But they are still three.”

That, my friend, is the beginning of kalam, vis a vis a Christian. That is the entrance of classical logic into the picture. Again, I must say, you axed your own foot. That is, precisely, what kalam is all about.

Dawud says: Today it’s ironic that when the Christians analogy is refuted by the Muslim that he responds, “Well it’s just an analogy,” as if he knows that a clever analogy can never be enough to bring someone into his faith.

“Axed your own foot” seems to be my favorite idiom. Again, you’ve done it here. A discussion on fallacious analogies is part of classical logic, which incidentally is part of kalam.

Dawud says: We can understand that the Christian mind thinks of the Word as Jesus. In Islam it is interesting to note that this is true to an extent as Jesus was created from the Word of Allah.

I hope you made a mistake here, because if taken literally, that statement is clear kufr. There’s two ways you could read that statement:

  1. The “Word” of Allah is created, and Isa alaihissalam was created from it.
  2. The “Word” of Allah is not created, and Isa alaihissalam was created from it.

The first one is clear kufr, because it assumes that the “Word” of Allah is created. That is the belief of the Mu`tazilis.

The second statement could perhaps as well imply the same type of emanation or hypostaseis that the Christians have used. There is fundamentally no difference between saying that Sayyiduna Isa was created from the “Word” of Allah, and saying that the Father is the uncaused, while the Son is the caused and proceeding. This is extremely close to the belief in the eternality of the world, though that is another topic altogether.

Suffices to say that Sayyiduna Isa alaihissalam was created, that is, from another creation or from nothing.

The laqab of Sayyiduna Isa is “Kalimat-Allah”, or if someone translated it literally: “Word of Allah,” and the value of this title is metaphoric. It refers to the fact that Isa was created by Allah’s decree, like everything else, but without a father.

Dawud says: The spirit however is a somewhat different as the Spirit or Soul (ruh) could be understood in a general sense. The Spirit (ruh) is understood to mean Gabriel (as) and at other times to mean the human soul and its connection to Allah for He “blew His spirit (the soul) in him,” (32:9).

To say that the ruh is connected to Allah is exactly the kufr of the Christians. It is the belief that Allah is physical and therefore “connected.”

Dawud says: O people of the Book! Do not commit excesses in your religion and speak only the truth about Allah. The Messiah Jesus son of Mary was but the Messenger of Allah, His word (the word “Be” that Allah used to create him) that He cast onto Mary and a spirit (or soul) from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messenger and do not say, “Three” (thalath). It will be best for you to desist. Allah is the only One God. He is Pure from having children. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the Earth. (Quran 4:171)

Linking this back to the comment I made earlier, this is a laqab, not the Attribute. It’s the same as saying Bayt Allah or Habeeb Allah. It’s the nisbat idafiyyah in Arabic. It’s not the “Word” be as you wrongfully imagine, because if that was the case, then everything in creation is the “Word of Allah” because every single thing in creation came about by Aļļaah’s decree.

Your using the word “used” is extremely dangerous. It shows that one believes Allah is like a sorcerer with magical formulas. The meaning of the Quranic “kun fayakuun” is that Allah decreed without a beginning or end that something is to be so and so at such and such a time, or it is a figurative expression meaning that nothing is difficult for Him.

Dawud says: In this verse it is interesting to note a few things. At the start of the ayah there is the phraseology similar to Christian thought of “His Word” and “A spirit from Him” but in the latter part of the ayah there is a clear definition of Tawhid. What is especially important is the turning point in the ayah: “So believe in Allah and His Messenger and do not say, “Three” (thalath).” One thing that we understand from human psychology is that when a person speaks and then says “but”-the listener does not pay attention to what was said before the “but” rather they only pay attention to the latter part. Allah uses the word “and” (wa la takullu) instead of “but” and this serves as the bridge; reminding the Christian of the Injeel but negating shirk.

Try not to be mufassir. Speaking on the ayaat of the Quran without knowledge surely lands one in hellfire, even if one’s tafsir was correct.

Dawud says: Like Harut and Marut these Greek philosophers were nothing more than a test from Allah yet the scholars chose to learn a speech not too distant from shirk.

Again, you have yet to show how kalam is shirk.

Dawud says: Kalam breached the Aqeedah of the believers; for how could man try and understand the nature of Allah; the ant could not understand the nature of Sulyamaan (as) so what chance does man have against His Lord?

What? Kalam tried to understand the nature of Allah? Kalam “breached” the Aqidah of the Believers? The aqaid are mentioned in the books like the Tahawiyyah. Kalam is a rational defense of those beliefs.

Dawud says: Kalam was, for that matter, not known to the Prophet SAAWS or any of the Sahabas nor was it ever mentioned to have any virtue in it or as an encouraged act in the Sunnah and so it takes its place in Islam as little more than a pseudo-science.

Usul al fiqh was not practiced by the Rasul sallallahu alaihi wasallam, nor the ashab. Usul al tafsir wasn’t either. Sunni kalam was merely developed by the Muslims to fight heresies. It’s as simple as that. As such, the first heresies that needed to be fought were the Mu`tazila and the Kharijites. In fact, the ashab refuted the heresies of the Kharijites. That, my friend, is kalam.

Dawud says: Either revelation was flawed or the mind and the Ahlul Kalam made the mistake of choosing mind over revelation.

Again, another false claim, without proof. The key element in the discussion on the attributes is the element of tanzih, or affirming that Allah is completely dissimilar to His creation.

But first, a lesson in Arabic. We know that words in the Arabic language can mean a ton of different things. Hence, the earliest Muslims would not venture to speak on the attributes and simply pass the words as they had received them from the Quran or the Hadiths, not because of a lack of knowledge of what those words might mean, but because they did not want to get into specifics and discuss these issues. Hence, the word “yad”, for example, was left as it is, because in the Arabic language, not as an attribute, it can mean “hand” as well as “power.” Or the word “wajh” which can mean “face” or “countenance,” or other meanings. Allh are meanings from the Arabic language. To understand this is key.

Tafweed is to simply consign the meaning really meant by those words to Allah, while denying it could be a meaning that would mean that Allah resembles created things. It’s really simple to understand. We read the word “yad” in the Quran, applied to Allah. We know, linguistically, it could mean “hand” or it could mean “power.” We also know that it is impossible that Allah should have a hand in the sense of a part or a limb. Tafweed is to affirm that we do not know what the real meaning of yad is, while being firm that it does not mean limb.

Note that there is a permissible tafweed and an impermissible tafweed. The question of permissibility centers around the physical import of certain words as they are applied to Allah.

Let’s take the example of “yad.” If someone says that he believes that “yad” could mean “hand”, as it applies to Allah, then this is clearly impermissible because otherwise we would be contradicting the Quran, which clearly says, “There is nothing like unto Him.” Impermissible tafweed would be to say that we acknowledge that it is possible for the word “yad” to mean anything, including the physical “hand.”

If someone were to say that he wants to consign the meaning of “yad” to Allah, along with denying the physical meaning of a word, then this type of tafweed is permissible. Denying the meaning “hand” is NOT the same as denying the attribute of “yad” itself. Denying one possible meaning does not imply denial of the attribute itself, especially when this denial is based on another statement in the Quran. This denial is important because Allah categorically does NOT resemble anything, as He Himself has stated.

Let’s consider the possibility of acknowledging the meaning of “yad” as hand. So someone says, “I believe that ‘yad’ means ‘hand.’ Since Allah says he has a ‘yad,’ this means he has a ‘hand.’ But I also believe that Allah is completely dissimilar to His creation.” If someone says this, then he has fallen into the SAME trap the Christians fell into. Just like the Christians who affirmed a logical impossibility (3 = 1), this person has affirmed a logical impossibility, namely, that Allah has a “hand” and yet is completely dissimilar to His creation. How in the world can something be completely dissimilar to His creation if it also possess a “hand”? A “hand” is an attribute of creation. A hand is created. If someone says that Allah has a hand, then he has attributed to Allah something that is an attribute of creation. Now, if the affirmation of something is contradictory, its denial simply has to be the right course. In this way we know that denial of the physical import has to accompany any tafweed.

This denial of the physical import is, contrary to popular opinion, present amongst the Salaf. The Tahawiyyah states:

Wa la yashbihuhul anam – And Humans do not resemble Him.


Wa man wasafa Allaha bima’nan min ma’ani al bashar faqad kafar – And whoever attributes Allah with an attribute that has a meaning that applies to humans has committed kufr.

Therefore, both the consignment of the meaning of an attribute to Allah and the denial of its physical meaning is from the Salaf. If Al Tahawi is not from the Salaf, then I don’t know who is.

Now let’s try to understand ta`wil. Ta`wil is simply the affirmation of one meaning of a word, when other possible meanings exist. Therefore, to say that Allah has a “hand,” is effectively ta`wil, because one has confined the meaning of the word “yad” to the word “hand.” The same applies to the word “power.” If someone says that the word “yad” means “power,” he has also made ta`wil. Just like tafweed, ta`wil is permissible and impermissible.

The impermissible ta`wil is where (1) one affirms the physical meaning of a word OR (2) one affirms a non-physical meaning of a word and confines his affirmation to that meaning alone without sufficient proof.

The permissible ta`wil is where one affirms a non-physical meaning of a word, acknowledges the possibility of other non-physical meanings of the word and acknowledges that it is possible that Allah has assigned a meaning to this word of which He has made most humans unaware.

The key is internal consistency. We can’t hold two contradictory beliefs at the same time. Whether we make tafweed or ta’wil it has to be internally consistent. It is for this reason that tanzih is an extremely important principle. If the karramiyyah or the mujassimah hadn’t reared their ugly heads into Islamic history, none of the above would have been necessary and we would have lived as the earliest Muslims lived.

Dawud says: The errors were many and we could go into them but suffice it to say is they decided to see the world and Islam through the eyes of the philosophers and this was the door that the Christians would utilize in driving home the message of the Trinity.

No arguments about what other sects believed. Sunni kalam was merely a defense against them, regardless of whether or not they were influenced by the Greeks.

Dawud says: The classic mistake is obvious: limiting Allah to the confines of human intellect when Allah is truly beyond all that the word ‘infinite’ could mean.

Be clear by what you mean by this. A better way of saying this would be to say that the mind can grasp neither the “dhat” of Allah, nor his “sifat.” (I have used the Arabic “dhat” instead of “essence,” because “essence” does not quite mean “dhat”).

However, using the intellect to (1) establish what our aqidah is in the first place by deriving it from the source texts and (2) to defeat heresies, is fundamentally different from subjecting Allah’s dhat and sifat to the intellect. And that is precisely the basis of my argument in my previous comment, though it might not be quite obvious.

Dawud says: By distorting the meanings of the phrases Life/Spirit and Word/Speech/Knowledge the Christians explained the Trinity in a way not all too different from the Ahlul Kalam.

Again, this is a perhaps reference to the heresies, not to Sunni Kalam. Sunni Kalam is far from junk like this.

Dawud says: One can get a feel that Ahlul Kalam would indeed battle it out and at times do so successfully however, it must be noted that it was a battle that need not fighting.

Then how would you explain the fact that Sayyiduna Rasulallah sallallahu alaihi wasallam readied himself for a debate with the Christians of Najran? Or why does the Quran refute Christian ideas? If it is a battle that needs no fighting then the Rasul would not have done it, and neither would the Quran do it. And what is Kalam if it isn’t using reason and revelation against all heresy?

Dawud says: In a sense, the entire historical exercise was one that would prove to be an intellectual testimony to the brilliance of the Quran; as if Allah is telling us the dangers and weaknesses of the human mind. And in a sense we can understand that kalam failed the Christians because it failed the Muslims (as was discussed in Light upon Light).

I’m surprised to find that your source for this claim is another heretic! How convenient. This is someone who believes that created things have intrinsic properties, which is exactly the belief of the pagans. If that isn’t forbidden Kalam then what is?

If you want I could go into a detailed historical exposition of the beliefs of the pagans, but for now I think I will desist.

Dawud says: But turning to Kalam we can see its dangers easily.

Yes, kalam is dangerous. But not for the reasons you have mentioned. It’s dangerous because not many people can understand the arguments.

As I mentioned before, Sunni kalam battles heresies. The arguments presented by a sect may be convoluted in the first place. Trying to dissect those arguments is an extremely difficult process. So for those who attempt to read such arguments and their refutations prior to proper training, kalam is indeed dangerous.

This is why it’s the domain of the `ulema, not average Joes.

Dawud says: The greatest problem with the people of kalam, the philosophers and the Christians in their explanations is that they try to make the abstract un-abstract: exactly what it is not.

I think you are saying that Allah is at the level of the abstract, and what the Christians did was to make the “abstract concept” of Allah unabstract.

So the crux is this: Christians are saying that Allah is un-abstract. You’re saying that Allah is abstract.

Both statements are problematic.

Something that is un-abstract exists in the realm of our direct sensorial experience. And since Allah is beyond the sensorial realm He subhanahu wa ta’ala is not “un-abstract.” I think that much is clear.

Something that is abstract exists at the level of the mind. The “abstract” is nothing but a generalization of particulars. What we experience in the sensorial realm can be generalized into abstract concepts in the mind. The source of abstractions is our sensorial experience. Thus, how can Allah be “abstract” if we haven’t seen, heard or in any sensorial way, experienced Him? This is precisely against the principle of tanzih as expounded by the ayah: laysaka mithlihi shay’ – there is nothing like unto Him.

For example, take at the color red. In the physical world the color red exists as an attribute of different objects. You never find the color red existing on its own. You will always find the color red existing as an attribute of some object. However, after looking at a number of different objects that are red in color, we can begin to think of red separately, i.e. not as an attribute of any object. However, this “separation” of the color red from its objects only exists in the mind. The red color does not exist on its own. This is an example of an “abstraction.” As is obvious, the source of this abstraction is our senses, that is, that we needed to be able to look at red objects to think of red as a separate idea. The implication here is that if someone says that Allah is “abstract” he must have seen, heard or experienced Allah in a sensorial manner. But we know that this is impossible for Allah. Since we cannot see Allah, (or hear Him or experience Him any sensorial way) we cannot “abstractize” Him, either. Thus it is also wrong to say that “Allah is abstract.” Allah is not abstract and He is not unabstract.

Please be careful of what you say.

Dawud says: One can marvel at the heavens and earth, the concepts of justice, power, hearing and seeing and contemplate on the miraculous nature of these concepts and get a feel of the majesty of Allah; but how can one focus one understand Allah’s Majesty through his imagination and desires?

By the apparent claim of Allah being abstract, you have done precisely what you are admonishing against here. Contradiction, I daresay?

Dawud says: The question that really irks a believer is how do these people plan on meeting Allah? What if Allah is not as they imagined?

Again, Kalam seeks to do just that, that is, to remove our understanding of Him from our feeble “imaginations.” He is Pure from any conception that someone might attribute to Him!

Dawud says: It may be that in order for us to comprehend Allah (in the Akhirah) we will need not 5 but 5000 senses.

Again, you’re just too loose with your words. Allah is beyond the sensorial realm. Even if we had a million senses we still wouldn’t comprehend Him because He does not resemble creation and only creation can be experienced via the senses. As far as seeing Allah in the Aakhira is concerned, it’s not a matter of the number of senses. It’s a matter of Allah creating the ability with human beings for them to be able to see Him without Him being at a distance, in a direction or having a form.

Dawud says: This alienates Islam from the soul to an area of thought alone, a place where Islam is less than a mental exercise than a relief to the soul.

The purpose of kalam is not primarily to soothe. It’s purpose is to defend Islam from heresies. Arabic grammar also does not do much for soothing the soul, but does that make grammar a bad thing, or even make it unimportant?

Dawud says: The key point that one must realize is that the Quran is a book free from errors and therefore is untouchable by Shaytaan.

And this is precisely the reason why the Sunnis say that the Quran cannot contradict itself. And if it cannot contract itself, then any two verses of the Quran cannot have mutually contradictory meanings. And if any two verses cannot have mutually contradictory meanings then those verses that can have more than one meaning either should be left alone or should be interpreted.

Dawud says: The whole aspect of accepting there is something greater than us is to not diminish that greater into lesser and that is why as much as logic can recognize there is something far greater than us; it cannot quantify that greatness as even the simplest logic understands it to be unmatched.

Quantification of Allah is illogical. So please don’t tarnish the good name of logic with your simplistic notions of it.

A special comment from Sheikh Abu Adam:

Dawud Israel says: Ibn Kullab would explain things in an even more difficult way saying, God’s attributes are “of his essence, neither God nor other than him” and so he attempts to imply something similar to that of the Christian explanation of the Trinity placing an aspect of God at equal level as God Himself (or making less of God’s existence)-for this reason the Mutazili refer to Ibn Kullab as a pseudo-Christian. And it was this same phrase of Ibn Kullab that was used by Christians. The classic mistake is obvious: limiting Allah to the confines of human intellect when Allah is truly beyond all that the word ‘infinite’ could mean.

Answer: The meaning of the phrase is that Allah’s attributes are not Him Himself nor are they other than Him, i.e. you cannot say that “Allah is Power,” or “is Knowledge.” Rather we say that Allah is attributed with power and attributed with knowledge. You also do not say that they are other than Him, because they are not separate from Him, because He is one in the absolute sense and not something divisible, or “many”. Rather we say that Allah is One, and that He has attributes that are not other than Him. This is unlike humans, for their attributes are separable. For example, if I lost all of my knowledge, I would still exist. This is not true of Allah, because what has no knowledge is not God. The purpose of this phrase is to refute the accusation of the Mu`tazilah that to say that Allah has attributes is to say that Allah is many. The Mu`tazilah did not accuse Ibn Kullab of being pseudo-Christian for saying “Allah’s attributes are not Him Himself nor are they other than Him” but for saying that Allah has attributes. They accused anyone who says that Allah has attributes, such as knowledge, to be a musħrik. Is it peculiar to sunni Kalam scholars to say that Allah has attributes??? To this accusation Ibn Kullaab answered that saying that Allah has attributes does not mean that Allah is many, rather “we say that Allah’s attributes are not Him Himself nor are they other than Him.”

Authored by Ibn Mazhar. Checking, revision, additions and approval by Sheikh Abu Adam al Naruiji.


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