Question: Regarding the last sentence of the following statement from Al Fiqh al Akbar of Abu Ĥaniifah: ” He has always existed, and will always exist with his Names, and Attributes. He has not aquired any new name or attribute;” I have found it stated elsewhere as ”Neither attribute nor name was created.” Aren’t these are two different meanings?
Answer: Both statements are translation of this same statement:
لم يزل ولا يزال بأسمائه وصفاته لم يحدث له اسم ولا صفة
Literally it states: “His names and attributes have not been given a beginning,” ie. Allah’s names and attributes are without a beginning. This is equivalent to saying that they are “not created,” and close to “not acquired” also.
I like to translate this as I have done, however, because this is more precise and more general and inclusive. This is particularly because some people think there are things with a beginning that are not created; they do not realize that saying that something has a beginning, and saying that it is created, is the same thing. The Hashawiyyah sects, such as the Karraamiyyah, and today’s Wahabis, have this problem. Because of this, they are sometimes in agreement with the Mua`tazilite sect without realizing it. Due to their failure to realize that different wordings do not necessarily have different meanings, and that the same words do not necessarily have the same meaning in all contexts, they made many, many mistakes. An example of this, related to Abu Haniifahs saying above, is the following:
Ahl-al-Sunnah believe that Allah is attributed with a beginningless and endless kalaam (speech) that is not language, letters or sounds, and that does not change and isn’t sequential. In other words, it is not attributed with any sense of beginning or beginnings, because Allah is not like His creation, and what absolutely all created things have in common is that they have a beginning. They pointed out that sequential meanings, expressing or communicating one meaning after another, is nothing but a beginning after a beginning after a beginning.
Ahl-al-Sunnah also said that anything with a beginning must have been brought into existence, since it was preceded by non-existence. Anything with a beginning therefore, is created, i.e. brought into existence. The sequential letters of the book of the Qur’aan, therefore, refer to Allah’s Speech, and are not actually attributes of His. Letters, after all, are sequential in order and must have a beginning, and must therefore have a creator. Based on this they said, “Allah’s speech is not created.” They also said “The Quran is not created,” because the word “Quran” is an Arabic word that refers to Allah’s attribute of speech, although it is also used to mean the book with letters. They also did not allow anyone to say “the Quran is created” if he meant the physical book and letters, because this was the expression that the Mu`tazilites had made up, and the Prophet is narrated to have said, “Whomsoever imitates a people is one of them.” To clarify all this: the letters and sounds in the book of the Quran refer to Allah’s speech, they are expressions that guide us to what Allah says. A similar concept is the fact that that the letters in the utterance of Allah’s name refer to Allah Himself, but those letters are not attributes of His. When I say “I worship Allah,” I don’t mean the letters and sounds of the utterance, but Allah Himself. Likewise, when I say “Allah says that He is One,” I do not mean that Allah speaks English or Arabic like created things, but that He said this without language, letters, sounds or a beginning or an end.
The Mu`tazilah, on the other hand, refused to accept that there can be speech without letters or sounds, so they said that Allah’s Speech is something that has a beginning, and that it is created. In other words, they said it is not an eternal attribute.
The Hashawiyyah agreed with the Mu`tazilites, and said that there can be no such thing as speech without letters or sounds. In contrast with the Mu`tazilites, however, they said: “although Allah’s eternal speech is letters and sounds, it is still not created.” In other words, they claimed that His speech has beginnings, but is not created. This was even worse than what the Mu`tazilites did, because they believed that Allah’s speech is created in meaning, if not by their words. They had committed the same heresy as the Mu`tazilites, but called it something different, just like someone might call wine “grape-juice” and consider it permitted to drink. Yet they added to this something more, namely the belief that you can have series of events that do not have a beginning (such as sequential speech), and the belief that something can have a beginning without having been created. This is why they have been relatively few until this day and age; they do not seem to even know what they are saying. That is also why Ibn Al-Jawziyy said to the corrupt Hanbali’s that were Hashawiyys, such as Abu Ya`laa, “You have sunk to the level of the mindless mob!”
This is also why Abu Haniifah chose his words so carefully; he realized that if he said “not created” someone might still think that Allah has attributes that have a beginning, but are not created. Note further that he said after that:
وصفاته في الأزل غير محدثة ولا مخلوقة, فمن قال: إنها مخلوقة أو محدثة, أو وقف, أو شك فيها فهو كافر بالله تعالى
“His attributes are eternal without a beginning and are not created. Whoever says that they are created or have a beginning, or is uncertain about the attributes or doubts them, is an unbeliever in God.” This is nothing less than a judgment of blasphemy made by Abu Haniifah for both the Mu`tazilites and the Hashawiyyah who said that Allah’s speech is letters and sounds, or sequential, so beware.
[Shaykh] Abu Adam