Sunni Sayings: Al-Maturidi on the verse “Ar-Rahmanu `alal `Arsh Istawa”

May 10, 2008

قال أبو منصور رحمه الله وأما الأصل عندنا في ذلك أن الله تعالى قال ليس كمثله شيء فنفى عن نفسه شبه خلقه وقد بينا أنه في فعله وصفته متعال عن الأشباه فيجب القول بالرحمن على العرش استوى على ما جاء به التنزيل ونفي عنه شبه الخلق بما أضاف إليه، إذ جاء به التنزيل وثبت ذلك في العقل ثم لا نقطع تأويله على شيء لاحتماله غيره مما ذكرنا وإحتماله أيضا ما لم يبلغنا مما يعلم أنه غير محتمل شبه الخلق ونؤمن بما اراد الله به وكذلك في كل أمر ثبت التنزيل فيه نحو الرؤية وغير ذلك يجب نفى الشبه عنه والإيمان بما أراده من غير تحقيق على شيء دون شيء والله الموفق

Abuu Manşuur, may Aļļaah have mercy on him, said: “Our principle regarding this (understanding Allah’s attributes) is that Aļļaah (تعالى) said that He does not resemble anything, so He denied that He has any resemblance to His creation. We have in this regard already clarified that He is in His actions and attributes greatly above having a like (such as being in a place or direction, as Abu Mansur stated earlier in this book.) For this reason one must say “الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَى [طه/5]” “Ar-Raĥmaanu ˆala-l-ˆArsħi-stawaa” (Tahaa, 5) as it came in the revelation, and deny that He has any resemblance to creation in what has been ascribed to Him. This is because it came in the revelation, and it was affirmed by the sound mind (i.e. “istawa” without Him being in a place, direction or location is not judged by the mind as impossible.) Then we do not assign any interpretation to it with certainty, because its actual meaning might be something else of the possibilities we have mentioned, or something different from what has reached us of meanings that do not involve ascribing to Aļļaah a resemblance to His creation. So we believe in the actual meaning of the aayah, and this is the way to deal with anything that has been confirmed as revelation, such as seeing Aļļaah, in which we must deny any resemblance to creation, and believe in the actual meaning, without authenticating a specific meaning over other (acceptable) meanings.

And Allah is the Creator of the ability to obey Him (Kitab-al-Tawhid 74).

References:

–Abu Mansur Abdul Qahir Al-Baghdadi (429 H). Usul-al-Din. Istanbul, Turkey: Daar Al-Funuun Al-Turkiyah, 1346/1928. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1981/1401.

–Abu Mansur Al-Maturidi (333 AH). Kitab-al-Tawhid. Turkey: Markaz al Buhuth al Islamiyyah, Waqf Diyanah Turkiyah.

Notes:

Surah Taha, 5; its pronunciation is: Al-Rahman `ala l-`Arsh istawa. If someone translated this statement literally, he would say: Al-Rahman (The Merciful) `ala (on) Al-`Arsh (The Throne) istawa (established Himself); “The Merciful established Himself on the throne”. This is not the meaning of the statement, however, and the Arabic Language is not limited to this meaning. Rather, the verb “istawa” in the Arabic language has some 14 different meanings. Moreover, the word Al-`Arsh does not necessarily mean “throne”, it could also mean “dominion”, and some of the Salaf said that. Abdul Qahir Al-Baghdadi said in his book Usul-al-Din, in summary: “Our colleagues differed regarding this āyah. Some said that it is among the ayahs that are Mutashabihat whose meaning is not known by other than Allah, and this is the saying of Malik (and Abu Mansur Al Maturidi, as seen above). Others said that istawa is something that Allah did to the `Arsh that He called istawa, and this is the saying of Abul-Hasan Al-Ash`ari. Others again said that istawa means that He is attributed with aboveness over the `Arsh without contact (i.e. in status, not physical aboveness.) The correct saying in our view, is that Al-`Arsh in this Ayah means the Dominion and istawa is the Dominion’s action, meaning that the Dominion did not settle in equilibrium for anyone but Him (Usul-al-Din 112-113).”

Translation and Notes by: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Qadari Contention: How can it be that Allah has willed some to do bad and go to Hell?

May 9, 2008

Qadari Contention: You say that Allah has willed some to do bad and go to Hell for it, but I have never read that one of Allah’s Attributes or Names was cruelty.

Sunni Response: And it isn’t, because whatever Allah does with His creation, He does so with a full right. The word “cruelty” implies injustice. Allah has created some humans to be disobedient, and some to be obedient, then He punishes some of the former. When you say that it would be cruelty, you are making yourself a judge of Allah’s action, merely based on your mind. This is the problem with the Mu`tazilah; they gave the mind a much larger role in religion than it can justifiably take. It is like when Ibliis questioned Allah for giving Adam a higher rank. Yours is a judgment that draws analogy between creation and the Creator (saying “if a human did that, then…”). One cannot judge Allah in human terms, or any other terms for that matter. Aļļaah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiyaa’, 23).

Clearly then, to make a judgment of Allah’s actions is nothing less than a rebellion.

Al-Bukhaariyy narrated that the Prophet said:

إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ اللَّهُ مَلَكًا فَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعٍ بِرِزْقِهِ وَأَجَلِهِ وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ فَوَاللَّهِ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ أَوْ الرَّجُلَ يَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ بَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعٍ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ ذِرَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعَيْنِ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا


“Verily one of you is gathered in his mothers stomach for forty days, then he is a blood-clot for forty days, then a piece of meat for forty days, then Allah sends an angel ordered with four words: his provision, his end, happy or miserable (1). By Allah, verily one of you may be committing the deeds of the people of Hell, until he is only an arm’s length away, when (it is as if) his destined end overwhelms him (2) and he starts to perform the works of the people of Paradise, and enters it. And verily one of you may be committing the deeds of the people of Paradise, until he is only an arm’s length away, when (it is as if) his destined end overwhelms him and he starts to perform the works of the people of Hell, and enters it.”

This is why one should always ask Allah to make one die as a Muslim.

Notes on the hadith:

1. Some said that it is four matters, and that the fourth matter is gender, but that it is well known from other narrations of the same hadith, so it was left out in this one. Others said that the fourth matter is his actions, but that this is understood from the context. (Umdat-al-Qaari).

2. Everything is always according to predestination, no one can ever do against it, so this is a figurative expression.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Qadari Contention: Good Deeds are Useless

May 8, 2008

Qadari Contention: “If you say that there is no such thing as one event causing another to exist, then there is no need for good deeds, because good deeds do not bring about the mercy or forgiveness of Allah.

Sunni Response: Only Allah brings anything into existence, because this is the definition of creating, and Allah is the only creator. Nothing influences Allah, because He has no needs. How can someone think of themselves as actually influencing the Creator of this world. Subhan-Allah.

Al-Bukhari narrated through Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Your deeds will not put you in Paradise.” They asked: “Not even for you, O Messenger of Allah?” He answered: “No, not even for me, except that Allah will cover me with grace and mercy.” (Sahih Al-Bukhaari No 5349, 5/2147; Umdat-al-Qaari 21/227)

What this means is that Allah is not obliged to do anything, and that your deeds do not influence Allah or anything else. It does not mean that you do not need to do anything. It means that if you do not, then this indicates that Aļļaah has not willed good for you, and this is a sign that you are heading for loss in the Hereafter. At-Tahaawi states: “The deeds of creation are created by Allah and acquired (committed) by creation.” Allah says in the Quran:

“وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ قَدَرًا مَقْدُورًا”

Meaning: “All created beings are predestined by Aļļaah.” (Al-Ahzaab, 38 )

This means that all things, has been specified and created exactly how they are to be by Allah. To clarify further:

“وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ”

Meaning: “Allah created you and what you do.” (As-Saaffaat. 96)

The truth of this aayah can be seen by looking at yourself. For example, take a simple act like standing up. This simple act requires the contraction and coordination of millions of muscle fibers, through signals from the brain, none of which we are even aware of. It is actually something extremely complex and coordinated. It must therefore be under the control of someone with a will to specify this complex event, and that is none other than Allah.

That does not mean that we do not have a choice. It means rather, that the choices we perceive as options, the perceived ability to choose one of them, and the choice finally made, is created by Allah. In other words, we commit choices, but Allah creates them. This is different from involuntary acts, such as shivering. In this case we have no choice, not even a created one. Our accountability for our deeds is for deeds for which we had a created choice. We are not accountable for involuntary acts, such as shivering.

With regards to the fact that all which exists is by Allah’s Will and Creating, it is useful to recount the debate between Al-Qadi Abdul Jabbaar of the Mutazili sect, and the great Imam of the Sunnis of the time, Abu Ishaaq Al-Isfaraayiini (418 h.) When the two met, AbdulJabbaar said, “Exalted is Allah, who transcends the obscene.” (While this is a sound expression, what he meant to say was that Allah does not create evil. This is blasphemous, because Muslims must believe that Allah is the only creator, as it is stated in the Quran that He created everything, and that no one wills anything except by His Will.)

Imam Al- Isfaraayiini realized what he had implied and responded, “Exalted is Allah, nothing happens in His dominion but by His Will.” The Mutazili then made another attempt and said, “Does our Lord like to be disobeyed?” Al-Isfaraayiini quickly replied, “Could He be disobeyed against His Will?” Upon that AbdulJabbaar tried again to defeat his adversary and said, “If God denied me guidance, then ruled that I be destroyed for it, has He treated me fairly?” Al-Isfaraayiini calmly answered, “If He denied you something that was yours, then He would have been unfair, but if it was not rightfully yours, then Allah does with His creation what He wills.” AbdulJabbaar fell silent, and could not argue further. After all, Allah is the true owner of all creation. (V.4/ P. 261-262. Tabaqaat-al-Shafi’iyyah-al-Kubraa).

Finally, before one delves more on this, one should remember that Allah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiyaa’, 23).

Qadari Contention: With all due respect to Al-Isfaraayiini, there is a difference between what is fair legally and what is fair morally. Legally, Allah has created all that is, and it is His to do as He wishes. Morally, however, is different.

Sunni Response: The answer is that whether you call it legally or morally, the fact remains that Allah does not have a judge. Allah is neither subject to morals, nor laws, because He does not have a judge. AbdulJabbar did not answer Al-Isfaraayiyni, because he knew that injustice (thulm) is linguistically (in Arabic): “to put something where it does not belong,” and in common usage: “to deal in the rights of others without a right, or to transgress beyond one’s limits.” None of these meanings can apply to the Creator, as all right belong to Him, and all things belong to Him, and He is not limited in any way.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Qadari Contention: We cannot deny the causes and effects that Allah has put and can be observed in different aspects of His creation

May 7, 2008

Qadari Contention: Can we deny that Allah has put certain causes and effects, which can be observed into different aspects of His creation as He wills?

Sunni Response: We do not deny everything that we call cause in our daily language. You must believe, however, that what we call “cause” in our daily lives is not something that brings things into existence. Remember that words are just words, and what is important is the meaning behind them. The “cause” that Ahl al Sunnah denies is what in Arabic is called ta’thir, or influence. Only Allah can bring something into existence, however minute, so no event can truly and actually influence another event. If you believe this, then we are in agreement. If you do not, then you believe in more than one Creator, even if you call it something different. When we say that all is predestined by Allah, it means that all events, large and small, substances and actions have been created by Allah. When we say “created”, we mean brought into existence. So when a glass breaks, it is in reality because Allah created its breaking, and specified all details of how it is to be, not actually because of the impact of its fall or whatever. This is clearly all according to the Qur’aan:

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ”

Meaning: “Allah created everything.” (Al-‘An’aam, 101)

i.e. He brought everything, absolutely and categorically into existence.

“وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله”

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Allah has willed it.” (Al-Insaan, 30)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

“هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ”

Meaning: “Is there another creator than Allah?”

We can conclude from these that nothing brings anything whatsoever into existence except Allah, whatever it may be.

However, it should also be noted that what we normally call causes in our daily lives do exist. They exist because Allah has willed for certain events to always correspond with others. So, for example, if a field of wheat received no water then it will not grow, and if one jumps out of an airplane one will fall down, etc. Anything else would be considered extraordinary. This is because Allah creates relationships between such events, so that they always correlate. Based on our experience we call this “cause,” and say for example, “he died because he fell over a cliff,” “there is not enough food because of the drought,” etc.

These “causes of normalcy,” as we might call them, are a mercy from Allah, as they help us to deal with our daily lives. If there was no predictable gravity on earth, for example, imagine how difficult it would be to get through your day. Moreover, these “causes of normalcy” make it clear to us what is extraordinary and what is not, so that we can recognize miracles and distinguish Prophets from other people.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: Asharis contradict themselves by affirming some attributes and not affirming other attributes

May 6, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The Asharis and Maturidis contradict themselves. They affirm for Allah Life, Power, Will, Knowledge, Speech, Hearing and Sight, while making Ta’wil of Istiwa’, Nuzul, Maji’, Ityan, Wajh, Yad, Saq, Qadam, Janb, ‘Ain, and relocation in (various) levels. The basic rule with regards to the attributes is one, so if you affirm the seven attributes, what prevents you from affirming the rest? What is the difference? This is nothing less than a contradiction.

Sunni Response: There is no contradiction. Asharis do not deny any attribute that Allah has affirmed in the Quran, or that are established by flawless hadiths. What they do is believe that no attribute of Allah is like that of creation, because “He does not resemble anything.” This means that “yad” does not mean a physical hand, but something else in agreement with the Arabic language, and that nuzuul does not mean physical descent, but something else in agreement with the Arabic language. This is because Allah is not like creation, and limbs, location and movement are attributes of created things. All of Allah’s attributes are understood in this way in the Ashari school, including Life, Power, Will, Knowledge, Speech, Hearing and Sight, so there is no contradiction. The rule is to affirm attributes established unequivocally, and to deny that they have any resemblance to creation. To be clear: this is not denial of the attributes, but of their resemblance to creation.

The people who contradict themselves are those who say, for example, that “nuzuul” involves movement, because this contradicts with “He does not resemble anything.” Movement is a created attribute, because it has a beginning and needs specification. That is, it did not exist, and then it existed, so it needs a creator. Moreover, it needs a specification of “from where to where,” and “at what speed.” Clearly then, Allah is not attributed with movement, because his attributes are not created.

Moreover, to believe that Allah moves to the sky of this world, is to believe that Allah becomes inside the creation, because this is below the seven skies. This is blasphemy by consensus of all Muslims.

Finally, it has been established in a hadith narrated by Ibn Hibbaan and authenticated by Al-Asqalani (Fath-al-Baari, V.13/P.411) that the Prophet said:

“مَا السَّمَاوَات السَّبْع مَعَ الْكُرْسِيّ إِلاّ كَحَلْقَةٍ مُلْقَاة بِأَرْضٍ فَلاة وَفَضْل الْعَرْش عَلَى الْكُرْسِيّ كَفَضْلِ الْفَلاة عَلَى الْحَلْقَة””

The Seven Skies compared to the Kursiy is like a ring thrown on the ground in a desert, and the size of the Arsh compared to the Kursiy is like the size of the desert compared to the ring.”

Accordingly, if someone believes Allah descends physically, then he is saying that Allah is like a ring in the desert compared to the Kursiy, or that He crashes the skies on every descent, or that He is like a cloud passing through them. Can there be any doubt that all of this is blasphemy?

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Fatwa of the scholars of al-Azhar regarding the one who believes that Allah settles in created things or that He has a direction

May 6, 2008

Fatwa by Shaykh Abū Muhammad Mahmūd Khattāb Al-Subkīy al-Azharīy

Translated by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

[Introduction]

The Imām and great scholar, the muhaddith, The Renewer of the Religion, Abū Muhammad, Mahmūd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khattāb, Al-Subkīy, Al-Azharī, the founder of the Association of Islamic Law in Egypt, the author of Al-Manhal Al-‘Athb Al-Mawrūd Sharh Sunan Abī Dāwūd, who died 1352 H, #RH#, said in his book “Ithaf Al-Kā’ināt bi-Bayān Mathhab Al-Salaf wa Al-Khalaf Fi Al-Mutashābihāt“, page 2:

Praise to the Lord of the Worlds, Who is clear of the attributes of creation, like direction and body and place and physical highness, and may God raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad #SAW#, who wiped out shirk and blasphemy and ordered us to believe that Allāh is clear of created attributes and revealed to him in the Qur’ān that Allāh is one, doesn’t have a partner or parts, that He does not need anything or anyone, does not beget and was not begotten and that He has no equal, and also revealed to him that Allāh does not resemble anything and that He hears and sees everything. May Allāh also raise the rank of the Prophet’s companions and all those who imitated his ways.

After that, Mahmūd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khattāb, Al-Subkīy says:

[The question asked]

Some of those who desire knowledge about the beliefs of the religion and to stand firm in the school of the Salaf and Khalaf [1]with regard to the hadīths and āyāt that do not have a clear or well known meaning (mutashābihāt) asked the following:

What is the saying of the scholars, may Allāh protect them, regarding the one who believes that God has a physical direction, and that He sits on the throne in a special place and says, “this is the belief of the Salaf!” promotes this idea, and accuses those who deny this of blasphemy. All this while pointing to the 2 āyahs:

“Al-Rahmān ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawā”[2]

and

“‘a ‘amintum man fī Al-Samā'”[3]

Is this a valid or an invalid belief? If invalid, does the one who says so commit blasphemy so that all his previous works are annulled, such as prayer, fasting and other religious activities and is his marriage contract invalidated? If he dies in this state, before repenting, is he not washed and prayed for and buried in the graveyards of the Muslims? Is the one who believed that what this one is saying is true, also a non-muslim, like him? What is your saying about what some people say that denying that Allāh is attributed with the six directions (i.e. up, down, front, back and the two sides) is wrong, and that it entails denying His existence? Let us benefit from your showing of what the madh’hab of the salaf and the khalaf is in these two āyahs, and other āyahs, such as,

“‘ilayhi yas’ad Al-Kalim Al-Tayib”[4]

and the hadīth,

“yanzil Rabbunā ilā Al-Samā’ Al-Dunyā”[5]

with a complete and satisfactory explanation.

(Please) include the sayings of the scholars of hadīth, Qur’ān-explanation, fiqh and tawhīd, and clarify completely, so that the tongues of those who speak thoughtlessly are silenced – those who liken Allāh to His creation and believe that what the khalaf scholars did in terms of ta’wīl (interpreting figuratively) is blasphemy, while claiming that this is the way of the Jahmīyah, the blasphemous sect, and spread this rumor among the common people. May Allāh reward you!

[The Answer of The Imām Abū Muhammad Mahmūd Khattāb Al-Subkīy]

So I answered, by Allāh’s help, and said: In the name of Allāh, the one who is merciful to Muslims and non-Muslims in this life, but only to Muslims in the next. Praise be to Allāh, the Creator of true guidance, and may Allāh raise the rank of the one who was given wisdom and clear speech, and of those who support him and his companions, whom Allāh guided and gave success and steadfastness. After saying that, the judgment is that this belief is invalid, and the one who believes it is a non-muslim by the consensus of those who count among the scholars. [6]

[The proof in terms of reasoning]

The proof of reasoning for this is that Allāh’s existence is eternal without a beginning, and therefore does not resemble anything that has a beginning[7].

[The proof in terms of Qur’an and Hadīth]

In terms of what has been related, the proof is:

“He does not resemble anything, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” [8]

[The consequence of these proofs for the one who believes something contradictory to them]

Accordingly, anyone that believes that Allāh settled in a place, or was in contact with it or anything else that has a beginning, such as the ‘Arsh[9] or the Kursīy[10], or the sky, or the earth, or anything else – he is a blasphemer absolutely and without a doubt. All his religious works are invalid, such as prayer, fasting and Hajj, and his wife is separated, and he must repent (by returning to Islam) immediately. If he dies with this belief, then he is not washed, not prayed for, and he is not buried in the graveyard of the Muslims. In addition, all those who believed that his belief is the truth take this same judgment. May Allāh protect us from the evils of our selves and the liability of our bad deeds.

As for such a person’s encouragement of others to have such blasphemous beliefs, and his telling them that the one who does not have it is a blasphemer; this (activity of his) is (another) blasphemy and an abhorrent lie with the intent to spread deviance. As for him taking as evidence, according to his invalid claim, the two āyahs mentioned, and their likes, to show that Allāh settles on the ‘arsh, or sits on it, or descends in the sky or the like, as this group of people claims… They do this despite the fact that Allāh’s attribute of speech[11] is not created, and it is one of the eternal attributes of Allāh that existed before the ‘Arsh or the sky. That is, Allāh is attributed with “‘ala al-‘arsh istawa” before the ‘Arsh existed[12]. Moreover, was He sitting, according to them, on the non existing ‘arsh before it existed???!! Was He (according to them) in the sky before it existed???!!

These (sorts of claims) are something a rational being does not even hesitate about. Does sound reason accept that something eternal settles in something that has a beginning[13]?

Verily we are Allāh’s creation and we will return to be judged by Him!

In summary, this careless person and his likes have claimed something that cannot be verified; neither by reason, nor by what has been related.[14] They have committed blasphemy, and they think they have done something good! And the greatest calamity that they are struck by is that they claim to be salafīys, while they are deviants from the true path, and disgracing the best among the Muslims.

Verily, there is no power or ability other than what Allāh creates!

[The Salaf’s way of dealing with mutashābihāt]

Concerning the way of the Salaf (the scholars of the first 3 centuries) and Khalaf (scholars after the salaf) in dealing with the āyahs and hadīths that do not have only one possible or well-known meaning: they all agreed that Allāh is clear of and above the attributes of whatever has a beginning. Therefore, He does not have a place for Him on the ‘Arsh or the sky or anywhere else. He is also not attributed with settling in or on anything that has a beginning, and not with transformation or movement or the like. Rather, He is as He was before the existence of the ‘Arsh or the Kursiy or the skies and other things that have a beginning. The Hāfith (ibn Hajar al-Asqalani) said in al-Fath[15]: “the Fuqahā’ (fiqh scholars) all agreed, from east to west, upon the belief in the Qur’ān and the hadiths that trustworthy people related from the Prophet #SAW# about the attributes of Allāh, without likening them to creation or explanation.”

They only disagreed on the matter of explaining the meaning of these āyahs, so the salaf (i.e. most of them) believe in them as they were related and that they are not literally meant, because of the saying of Allāh which means, “He does not resemble anything and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”, and leave the meaning be, due to the saying of Allāh that means: “and no one knows their meaning except Allāh” [16]

Accordingly, they say regarding the Āyah “Al-Rahman ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawa” [17], that He “istawa” in a sense that befits Him, and only He knows it, and regarding the āyah “a ‘amintum man fī al-samā’[18] that we believe in it and the meaning that Allāh gave it, while clearing Him of the attributes of whatever has a beginning and of settling (in a place.) They also say about the Āyah yad-ullahi fawqa aydīyhim[19] that He has a “yad” not like our yad, and only Allāh knows it. This was their way in dealing with these āyahs that do not have only a single possible meaning or only one famous meaning.

[A saying of Ibn Kathīr and Nu’aym Ibn Hammād about mutashābihāt]

The great salafi[20] (i.e. that he was like the salaf in his ways, not that this is a mathhab) Imām Ibn Kathīr said: “As for the saying of Allāh thumma istawa ‘alā al-‘arsh [21], there are so very many sayings about this that this is not the place to mention them all, and we will rather take the way of the pious salaf, Malik, al-Awzā’īy, Al-Thawrīy, Al-Layth ibn Sa’d, Al-Shāfi’īy, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishāq in Rāhwayh and other imāms, new and old, which is to pass by them without assigning to them a how, or a likeness, or deny them. As for the apparent literal meanings that come to the minds of those who liken Allāh to His creation; those are rejected, because He does not resemble anything, and there is nothing like Him, and He is All-Seeing, All-Hearing.

Rather, it is like what the imāms said, among them Nu’aym Ibn Hammād Al-Khuzā’īy, the Shaykh of Al-Bukhārīy: “The one who likens Allāh to His creation has committed blasphemy, and the one who denies what Allāh has attributed to Himself has also committed blasphemy. There is no (meaning of) likening (to the creation) in any of what Allāh has attributed to Himself or what the Prophet attributed to Him. So the one who affirms what has been related in plain āyahs and authentic hadiths in a way that is befitting with Allāh’s greatness, and denies that Allāh has any flaws; he has taken the path of guidance.” The like of the above is to be found in all tafseer books of the great imāms.

[Examples of how the Salaf dealt with mutashābihāt]

They say about the hadith “yanzil Rabbunā ilaā Al-Samā’ Al-Dunyā,” [22] that this has a meaning that befits Allāh, and that only Allāh knows it. Then there is another hadith, the Hadith of the Slave Girl related by Muslim and Abu Dāwūd where it is mentioned that the Prophet said to her: “aina Allāh?” and she said “fīy as-samā'”[23] and that he said “who am I?” and she answered “you are the Messenger of Allāh.” Then he said “free her, for she is a believer.”[24] This hadith is handled with the same approach as the āyah ‘a ‘amintum man fī as-samā’[25] and likewise all other such hadīths and āyahs. They took this approach because of the āyah that means:

“Aļļaah revealed to you (O Prophet) some Aayahs -called muĥkamaat (with a clear meaning[26]) and other aayahs – called mutasħaabihaat (that do not have a clear meaning[27]). Those with deviance in their hearts will emphasize the latter kind of aayahs in order to spread deviance (i.e. by contradicting the meaning of the muĥkamaat) and explain the meaning (in a way that agrees with their sick hearts.) Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And the steadfast in knowledge, they say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.” (and there is no contradiction between them). Only the sound minded take heed and ponder this.”

The salaf[28] said there is a full stop in the āyah after, “only Allāh knows their meaning.” As for the “steadfast in knowledge” mentioned after this in the Qur’ān; this is the beginning of a new sentence (i.e. they do not know the meaning) to show that the great scholars believe in these āyahs, (i.e. without assigning a particular meaning. Note, however, that the prophet and at least some of the companions definitely knew the exact meaning of all statements ascribing attributes to Allaah – it is just that some of them became ambiguous to later generations and thus became mutasħaabihaat.)

[The Khalaf’s way of dealing with mutashābihāt]

As for the Khalaf[29] ; they say[30] that these āyahs and hadiths have a known meaning, so the meaning of “istawā[31] is “control”, and the meaning of “man fī as-samā’[32] is that it is a figure of speech referring to His punishment, authority and orders, or it is simply a figurative way of praising Allāh by attributing to Him aboveness and greatness, and clearing him of lowliness or belowness, not that He settles in it. This is because settlement is an attribute of bodies and signifies having a beginning, and Allāh is clear of that. [33]

The meaning of nuzūl (literally translated “descending”) in the hadīth is that His Messenger or His Mercy descends.[34] As for the Prophet’s approval of the slave-girl’s hint towards the sky; this was a concise way from her of showing that she was not associating partners with Allāh, because it was thereby known that she did not worship the idols on earth. [35]

This is the way of the khalaf in all āyahs and hadiths of this kind, based on their saying that the full stop in the āyah about the āyahs that do not have a single possible, or well known, meaning comes after only Allāh knows their meaning and those steadfast in knowledge,” i.e. the steadfast in knowledge knows their meaning. [36] Their proof is that the Qur’ān is in Arabic, and this Arabic uses these expressions. However, the weightiest opinion is that of the salaf. [37]

The one who attributes to the salaf or khalaf other than this is a deviant and a deviator.

[The Jahmīyah are very different from the Khalaf]

The one who claims that the way of the khalaf is the way of the Jahmīyah is a transgressor and a liar, because the Jahmīyah are the followers of Jahm Ibn Safwān, who said that humans are forced to do what they do and denied all ability to humans, and claimed that Paradise and Hell will end. He also claimed that belief is only knowledge of Allāh, whereas blasphemy is not knowing Him.[38] He said that no one does anything except Allāh, and that humans are said to have actions only as a figure of speech, in the same way one says that “the sun passed its zenith” or the “mill turned,” without any actual real action or ability from them. He also claimed that Allāh’s knowledge has a beginning, and prevented people from saying that Allāh is attributed with life, knowledge or will. He said “I don’t attribute to Him an adjective that can be used for others, such as existing, alive, willing and such,” and accepted to say that He has power, brings into existence, acts, creates, gives life and death, because only He has these attributes. He also claimed that Allāh’s attribute of speech has a beginning, as the Qadarīyah sect did, and refused to say that Allāh speaks. Our companions said he was a blasphemer for all his deviances, and the Qadarīyah said he was an infidel for his claim that Allāh creates the acts of humans, so all those who claim to be following the call of Prophet Muĥammad said that he was a Kāfir. Here ends the quote (i.e. the above description of the Jahmīyah) from the book “Al-Farq Baina Al-Firāq“, written by the Imām Abū Mansūr ‘Abd-ul-Qādir Ibn Tāhir Al-Baghdādīy, page 199. From this you know that the scholars of the Khalaf are clear of any association with this sect and its claims.

[An answer to those that claim that denial of direction is denial of existence]

As for the idea that denying that Allāh is attributed with any of the six directions is a denial of His existence, this is obviously invalid since Allāh existed before they existed, namely up, down, front, back, left and right. Rather, He existed before the world as a whole by consensus of ancient and later scholars. How then does someone that has even a tiny mind picture that clearing Him of being attributed with these 6 directions is the same as denying His existence??!! How can it be imagined that the Eternal Allāh’s existence depends on some things that have a beginning, or all of those that He created??!!

You (Oh Allāh) are clear of all imperfection!

This is a great lie! How (could it not be a lie), when a number of the salaf and the khalaf have plainly stated that the one who believes that Allāh is in a direction (i.e. up) is a blasphemer, as was stated by Al-Baghdadīy. This was also the saying of Abu Hanifa, Malik, Al-Shāfi’īy, Abu Hasan Al-Ash’arīy and Al-Bāqillānīy, as mentioned by the great scholar Mullāh Alīy Qārīy in “Sharh al-Mishkāt” in the second volume on page 137.[39] Allāh said what means that “real blindness is not that of the eyes, but that of the heart” (al-Hajj, 46.) and that “if Allāh has not created the light of guidance in someone’s heart, then he will never be guided” (al-Nūr, 40).

We ask Allāh to guide us all on the straight path and block the misguidance of the cursed Satan, and to raise the rank of The Last Of The Prophets #SAW#, and whoever follows him in his works.

[Scholars that signed this fatwa]

After writing this, I have shown this answer to a number of honorable scholars of al-Azhar University, and they have agreed and signed it, and they are the following distinguished companions of ours:

Shaykh Muhammad Najdīy, the Shaykh of the Shāfi’iy followers.

Shaykh Muhammad Sabī’ Al-Dhahabiy, the Shaykh of the Hanbalīy followers.

Shaykh Muhammad Al-‘Izbiy Rizq, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Abdul-Hamīd ‘Ammār, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Ali Al-Nahrāwi, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Dusūqīy Abdullah Al-‘Arabi, from the Council of the Great Scholars.

Shaykh Ali Mahfūth, the lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Ibrahim ‘Ayārah Al-Daljamūni, lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alyān, from great scholars of Azhar.

Shaykh Ahmad Makki, the lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Hamdān.


[1] The Salaf are the scholars of the first three centuries after the Hijrah, while the Khalaf are those after that.

[2] Surah Tāhā, 5; its pronunciation is: Al-Rahmān ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawā. If someone translated this statement literally, he would say: Al-Rahmān (The Merciful) ‘alā (on) Al-‘Arsh (The Throne) istawā (established Himself); “The Merciful established Himself on the throne”. This is not the meaning of the statement, however, and the Arabic Language is not limited to this meaning. Rather, the verb “istawā’” in the Arabic language has some 14 different meanings. Moreover, the word Al-‘Arsh does not necessarily mean “throne”, it could also mean “dominion”, and some of the Salaf said that. Abu Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy said in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, in summary: “Our colleagues differed regarding this āyah. Some said that it is among the āyahs that are Mutashābihāt whose meaning is not known by other than Allāh, and this is the saying of Mālik. Others said that istawā is something that Allāh did to the ‘Arsh that He called istawā, and this is the saying of Abu-l-Hasan Al-Ash’arīy. Others again said that istawa means that He is attributed with aboveness over the `Arsh without contact (i.e. in status, not physical aboveness.) The correct saying in our view, is that Al-‘Arsh in this Ayah means the Dominion and istawā is its action, meaning that the Dominion did not settle in equilibrium for anyone but Him.”

In case anyone is wondering who Abū Mansūr is, Al-Dhahabīy described him in his book Sīyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar…. He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabīy said further that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Sābūnīy saying: “Abū Mansūr 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 Islām.”

[3] Surah al-Mulk, 16; its pronunciation is: ‘a ‘amintum man fi-s-Samā’. If someone translated it literally, he would say: ‘a ‘amintum (Do you feel safe from) man (who) fīy (is in) Al-Samā’ (the sky); “Do you feel safe from who is in the sky?” This second Ayah can be dealt simply with by saying that the pronoun “who” refers to the angels. After all, the Sky is their abode, and they bring winds and other tribulations to Earth by Allāh’s orders. In other words, there is nothing which says that this āyah must be taken literally, or that it refers to Allāh.

[4] Its pronunciation is: ‘ilayhi yas’adu-l-Kalimu-N-Tayyib. If translated literally, it would say: ilayhi (to Him) yas’adu (ascends) Al-Kalim Al-Tayyib (the good words). Al-Imām Al-Nasafīy said in his tafsīr, explaining this āyah: “to Him” means “to the status of acceptance and reward”, not that Aļļaah is in the direction up. All things that are characterised by acceptance are described with highness and ascendancy. Source: Tafsīr Al-Nasafīy.

[5] Its pronunciation is: “yanzilu Rabbunā ila-s-Samā’i-d-Dunyā “. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yanzil (descends) Rabbunā (Our Lord) ilā (to) Al-Samā’ (the Sky) Al-Dunyā ((of) the World); “Our Lord descends to the sky of the world.” Ibn Al-Jawzīy said, in summary, regarding this hadīth: “I have mentioned earlier, in things like this, that it is an obligation upon us to know what it is possible to be an attribute of Allāh, and what is impossible to be an attribute of His. Among the things that it is impossible that Allāh should be attributed with is movement, transport and change. The scholars have two approaches to the remaining meanings: one is to remain silent without assigning a specific meaning. They said, “Narrate it on, without saying it has a modality”. This was the approach of the Salaf in general. The second approach is to assign an acceptable meaning, knowing that movement cannot be an attribute of Allāh. The Imām Ahmad said “wa jā’ Rabbuka” means: “His orders came”” (P. 3/379, Kashf Al-Mushkil).

Ed. This is what this great Hanbalīy scholar said. Note that “wa jā’ Rabbuka” if literally translated, would state: wa (and) jā’ (He came) Rabbuka (your Lord). In other words, Al-Imām Ahmad is one of those among the Salaf that sometimes would interpret figuratively to protect people from misunderstanding in dangerous ways. Source: P. 3/379, Abū Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzīy. Kashf Al-Mushkil. 4 vols. Riyadh: Dar Al-WaTan, 1997.

[6] Ibn Al-Mu’allim Al-Qurashīy, in his book Najmu-l-Muhtadīy on page 588 narrates from ‘Alīy ibn Abī Tālib, the fourth Khalīfah: “A people of this Nation (of the Prophet Muhammad #SAW#) shall return to being blasphemers when the Day of Judgment is near.” A man asked, “O Prince of the Believers! What is their blasphemy for? Is it for inventing something, or for denying something?” ‘Alīy #RA# replied: “It is for denial. They deny their Creator; they say that He is attributed with a body and limbs.” E.d. What we observe today testifies to the soundness of the meaning of this narration.

To understand why this is denial of Allāh’s existence, it is useful to mention what the great and encyclopedic scholar of the 6th century after the Hijrah, Al-Fakhr Al-Rāzīy said when explaining the statement “qātilu-lladhīna lā yu’minūna bi-llāh” in the Qur’ān (Al-Tawbah, 29): “The evidence shows that the one who says that Allāh is a body has denied Allāh’s existence. The reason is that the God of the World exists, and is not a body or positioned in a body. Therefore, if the one who says that Allāh is a body denies this existence (without a body) then he has denied Allāh’s existence. It is correct to say then, that the one who says that Allāh is a body does not believe in Allah.” (Mafātīh Al-Ghayb, Al-Rāzīy).

The famous Shāfi’īy scholar, Al-Suyūtīy, said in Al-Ashbāh wa-n-Nathā’ir P. 488: “Al-Shāfi’īy said: I do not say that the people that have somewhat deviant ideas (ahlu-l-ahwā’) are non-Muslims,” but he exempted those who say that Allāh has a body and those who say that Allāh does not know all details of things.” Ed. In other words, those who have deviance to the extent of blasphemy. Abū Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy, in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, states about those who say that Allāh has a body, or that events happen in Him or His attributes (such as hearing or seeing one thing after another as they happen to creation) : “All those who disagreed with them say that they are blasphemers, so in this respect they are the worst of all the deviant sects.”(P. 338 ) He also commented: “By claiming that Allāh has events happen to Him, they ruined for themselves the proof of the monotheists which holds that bodies are creations since they have events in them. Based on this principle of theirs, they cannot prove that the world has a beginning, and thus they have no way of knowing the Creator of the world. Consequently, they are like all others who do not know Him.” (P. 337-338 ). That is, they are idolaters.

Al-Qurtubīy in his commentary in the Qur’ān narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-‘Arabīy regarding the those who say Allāh has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed.” (4/14).

The encyclopedic scholar Abu Ja’far Al-Tahāwīy said in his famous text on the Islamic Belief: “This is a detailed remembrance of the belief of the People of (adherence to) the Sunnah (what was narrated of sayings, deeds and confirmations from the Prophet #SAW#) and (following) the Jamā’ah (the companions of the Prophet).”

That is: the belief of the Sunnis, and all the scholars agreed with him on this. Then later on, he mentions as one of the beliefs of the Sunnis that: “ًWhoever attributed to Allāh a meaning that is of the meanings that apply to human beings has committed blasphemy.”

Note, in light of the above, that what has been mentioned in some scholarly books in terms of not claiming Al-Mujassimah non-Muslims needs careful explanation. Its explanation is that the word Mujassim is used for the person that says Allāh is a jism. The word jism means body in English, but that does not mean that it understood in exactly the same way always, or that it has the same connotations. For this reason I have not translated Mujassim as “those that believe Allāh is a body” to explain this particular point; what applies to the use of the word jism in Arabic does not necessarily apply to using the word “body” in English. With this in mind; the scholars that mention a difference of opinion regarding saying that Allāh is a jism mean a particular group among these perpetrators, not all of them. They mean those among the foolish and uneducated commoners that say this, but do not understand from this the usual linguistic meaning of size, shape or direction. They simply mean by jism Allāh’s existence, and not any of the meanings that apply to human beings, such as direction or size. The remaining perpetration then, is the use of a this word regarding Allāh. In this there is a difference of opinion, but only regarding people who are uneducated who say this, not scholars. Those who said that this is blasphemy even so, argued that this person was willing to use this word about Allāh, without it having been narrated in any revealed text, and knowing what this word usually refers to. He has therefore shown disrespect to the Creator, like a person who said that Allāh has a son, but meant by it only that he is highly accepted by Allāh; he is still unquestionably a blasphemer by the explicit verdict of the Qur’ān regarding even uttering this word.

The view that it is blasphemy to merely use the word jism , even if one only meant existence, was considered weightiest by Ibn Amīr Al-Hājj, the student of the great Hanafīy Imām Ibn Al-Humām and the Prince of Believers in Hadīth, Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalānīy in his book At-Taqrīr Wa-t-Tahbīr (3/319), narrating from Ibn Al-Humām’s book “Al-Musāyarah“. Along the same lines it is stated in Al-Fatāwā Al-Hindīyah, which is a reliable book for fatwā in the Hanafīy school: “If someone said: “Allāh fīy Al-Samā,” (literally “in the Sky”) then: if he intended simply to imitate what is mentioned in apparent scriptures, then he has not blasphemed; if he meant by it the (sky as a) place then he has blasphemed; and if (he said to the judge in court that) he did not intend any particular meaning, then he has blasphemed according to most, and this is the soundest opinion, and it is the chosen fatwā.” (2/259).

In summary, the difference of opinion is regarding what appears to be the case about someone else’s belief according to what he utters with his tongue, and not regarding someone who believes that Allāh has a limit, shape or size. This is because such a person believes that Allāh has attributes with the meaning of creation, and then the belief of the Sunnis applies, as stated by Al-Tahāwīy: “ًWhoever attributed to Allāh a meaning that is of the meanings that apply to human beings has committed blasphemy.”

Note finally the subtle eloquence of Al-Tahāwīy’s choice of the words ” a meaning that is of the meanings”, because this provides the general rule that the meaning is the main concern. So for example, the person who says that Allāh moves, or has a limit or a size, or a limb; he is a kāfir, even if says, “not like His creation”, because these are all meanings that apply to human beings. Saying: “not like His creation” will not help him, because the aspect of physical dimension remains in the meaning. One can further understand from this that if a person uses an expression about Allāh that has a single known meaning in his language, and this meaning applies to human beings, then he has committed kufr. If it has non-blasphemous meanings as well, then it needs to be established that he meant the blasphemous meaning before he is considered a blasphemer.

The difference of opinion can sometimes also refer to whether every member of a sect is considered a blasphemer for merely belonging to their group. So for example, those sects that went completely overboard and made it their basic distinguishing characteristic that they worship ‘Alīy, or something of that nature, all members of such sects are considered blasphemers without further inquiry. In other cases, like people associated with the Mu’tazilites or Khawārijites; in these cases it is not clear that a person actually accepts and believes all the beliefs associated with them. The scholars will thus sometimes disagree whether a person associated with a particular sect is automatically considered a blasphemer, or that he will only be considered a sinful Muslim as long as he has not made it clear that he has one of their blasphemous beliefs. For example, it may be the case that some of the uneducated members of the Wahhābīy sect do not believe that Allāh has attributes with physical dimensions, such as a place or a direction.

[7] All aspects of creation, be it physical things or their attributes, has a beginning. There is nothing about Aļļaah’s attributes, however, that has a beginning. It is therefore impossible that He should resemble anything created in any of its aspects, because whatever the aspect of creation might be, it is going to be something with a beginning. Having a beginning necessitates having a creator to bring it into existence. Likening Aļļaah to His creation then, is equivalent to saying that He has a creator or is partially created, and that is identical to the blasphemy of the Christians.

[8] The meaning of al-Shurā, 11; what Al-Subkīy has mentioned is enough for the sound minded, because Islam does not teach something contradictory – all its teachings are harmonious in meaning. However, in order to bring hadīths as well as Qur’ān and logical reasoning, he might have added that Al-Bayhaqīy, Muslim and others, related the hadīth of the Messenger of Allāh, #SAW#: “You are Al-Dhāhir, hence there is nothing above You, and You are Al- Bātin, hence there is nothing underneath You.” Al-Bayhaqīy said (in his book “Al-Asmā’ wa as-Sifāt”): “If there is nothing above Him and nothing underneath Him, then He is not in a place.”

[9] Sometimes translated as “throne” – it is a creation with 4 legs, and is like the Ka’bah for the Angels

[10] Sometimes translated as “chair”.

[11] The revealed book of the Qur’ān refers to Allāh’s attribute of speech (which does not have a beginning, or an end, and does not change – as is true for all of His attributes), just as the word “Allāh” refers to the Creator and is not Him Himself. Words, languages, letters and sounds are all obviously created things – if someone is in doubt, let them say “bismi-llāh-ir-Rahmān-ir-Rahīm” without a beginning or an end! The fact that uttering it necessitates a beginning means that it is created, because anything with a beginning must have been brought into existence, and this is the definition of creating; to bring into existence. That is, when someone utters a word, it means that Aļļaah has created in him/her this utterance, and that he/she committed it by His will. The word “Qur’ān” in Arabic may refer to Allāh’s eternal attribute of speech or to the book. It is blasphemy to say that the Qur’ān is created if one means Allāh’s attribute. It is a sin (but not blasphemy) to say so if one is referring to the book, because it is inappropriate and a bid’ah. Some said, however, that it may be said for teaching purposes, if one feels it is necessary in order to avoid misunderstandings.

[12] i.e. Because Allāh attributed to Himself eternally “‘ala al-‘Arsh istawā“, and since the ‘Arsh is a creation with a beginning, the meaning of istawā cannot be a physical relationship, such as establishment, sitting or hovering. After all, such a physical relationship would have to have a beginning.

[13] Something eternal cannot be changing, because change itself has a beginning. The thing that changes must therefore be something that has a beginning, because it is clear that its existence is not a necessity; not a must. This is clear because its changing from one state to another shows that none of its states are necessary; they are mere possibilities. That is, one cannot say that this thing in any of its state must exists. If the thing’s existence is not a necessity, then something must have brought it into existence, and therefore it must have a beginning.

[14] Subkīy’s saying that this belief “cannot be verified neither by reason, nor by what has been related” needs some explanation. In terms of reason it is clear, because Allāh is eternal, and directions are not, as Al- Subkīy has already pointed out. With regard to what has been related; the scholars all agreed that all hadīth and Qur’ān sayings must be understood by their apparent meaning, with two exceptions only:

The first exception is if taking it literally would lead to the absurd, i.e. it is self contradictory, such as saying “a square circle” or “the part is larger than the whole.” Saying that Allāh is actually in a geographical direction leads to saying either that directions are eternal or that Allāh changed from being without direction to having a direction. This cannot be, because direction is an attribute of space, and space is attributed with change, therefore it must be a creation. Moreover, it cannot be that Allāh changes, because that would mean He needs a creator.

The second exception is if there are other hadīths and Qur’ānic sayings that contradict the literal meaning. In this case there are many texts that contradicts the claim that Allāh is in a direction, among them: “He does not resemble anything,” as Al-Subkīy mentioned. This latter text is taken literally in the absolute sense, because sound reasoning tells us that this must be so, as explained in footnote #8.

[15] Fathu-ul-Bārīy – the explanation of Al-Bukhārīy.

[16] Sūrah 3, 5 – more details later.

[17] See footnote #…..

[18] See footnote #….

[19] Sūrah al-Fath, 10; its pronunciation is: “yadu-llāhi fawqa ‘aydīhim”. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yadu (the hand) Allāhi (of Allāh) fawqa (is above) ‘aydīhim (their hands). The word yad in Arabic can mean power, among other things. Ibn Al-Jawzīy in his commentary on the Qur’ān states regarding this āyah: “the fourth view (regarding its explanation) is : “His power and support is above theirs. This was stated by Ibn Jarīr and Ibn Kaysān.”

[20] i.e. that he was like the Salaf in his ways, not that this is a Madhhab. Ibn Katħiir was a Sħaafiˆiy scholar.

[21] See footnote #….

[22] Its pronunciation is: “yanzilu Rabbunā ila-s-Samā’i-d-Dunyā“. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yanzil (descends) Rabbunā (Our Lord) ilā (to) Al-Samā’ (the Sky) Al-Dunyā ((of) the World); “Our Lord descends to the sky of the world.” It is a figure of speech for acceptance, and does not mean movement, or it refers to the angel that descends at that time; i.e. His angel descends. See details in footnotes above.

[23] If someone translated it literally, he would say that “ayna Allāh?” means: “where is Allāh?” and that her saying “fiy Al-Samā’” (pronounced fi-s-Samā’) means: fiy (in) Al-Samā’ (the sky). The meaning is not literal, because it is impossible that Aļļaah should be in a place. Rather, it is a question about status, not place or direction, as shown in the below footnote.

[24] This hadīth, also called “the hadīth of the slave girl” cannot be taken literally and adopted as a belief for the following reasons:

First, because this hadīth is singularly transmitted so it does not give certainty and the obligation of believing something about Allah can only be established by proofs that provide certainty.

Second, this narration is weak according to some scholars, because there are other narrations which use different wording. For example, the authenticated and sound narration in the hadīth collection Musannaf ‘AbdurRazzāq, which reads, “Do you testify that ‘la ilāha ill-Allāh’ (there is none worthy of worship except Allah)?” In addition, although some narrations of this hadīth states that the Prophet called her a “believer”, not all of them state that.

Third, the apparent meaning that Allah is in a direction with regards to His creation is rejected by thesound intellect as absurd.

Fourth, the disputed text in the singular hadīth which literally states “Where is Allah?” does not fit with the well-known principles set forth to determine if someone is Muslim. The principle is that one asks them to testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His prophet and Messenger.

Fifth, it contradicts sound hadīths in the same collection (Muslim) that clearly show that Allah is neither above nor below any created thing, namely, “You are Al-dhāhir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Bātin, so there is nothing below you.”

Sixth, it contradicts the statement in the Qur’ān that means, “Absolutely nothing resembles Him in any way at all, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” This statement is what the Muslims have taken as their basic guide in their belief in absolute terms, and any other statements in hadīth or Qur’ān are understood accordingly.

Seventh, it contradicts the geographical reality that what is up in Saudi Arabia is down in the Fiji Islands. It also conflicts with the fact that the earth turns, so that what is up at one point in time is another direction at another time.

For these reasons, the hadīth of the slave girl is given an acceptable figurative interpretation. Such an interpretation is to say that the word “ayna” (where) in Arabic is commonly used as a question about status, not only about place, such as in, “‘Ayna anta wa ‘Uthmān”, literally: “Where are you and ‘Uthmān?” meaning: “Where is your status compared to ‘Uthmān?” Her answer, literally translated as “in the sky,” means “very high”, just as one in English might use the expression “sky high”, without this meaning place, direction or distance. In other words, what she meant to say was that Allāh’s status is very high, unlike those worshiped idols on the ground.

[25] See footnote #….

[26] Āyahs that have only one meaning according to the Arabic language or only one famous meaning, such as those prescribing halāl and Harām.

[27] The opposite of muhkamāt; they do not have a clear or well known meaning.

[28] i.e. the Salaf in general, not all of them. See footnote above regarding the meaning of the hadīth “yanzilu Rabbunā…etc.”.

[29] Scholars after the 3rd century.

[30] i.e. it is more prevalent among them to say, not that they all say that.

[31] See footnote #….

[32] See footnote #….

[33] Also, understanding it literally contradicts āyah 93 of the Sūrah Maryam, which means: “All those in the heavens and earth must come to Allāh as a slave.” It is possible also that the word “who” is referring to the angels, because the sky is their abode. Finally, the sky is below the ‘Arsh (Throne) …

[34] The original hadīth text attributes the “nuzūl” to the last 3rd of the night, and since it is always the last 3rd of the night somewhere on earth, we know that the meaning is not at all that Allāh is moving from one place to the sky at that time, because it is always that time somewhere.

[35] Also, some scholars said the hadīth has weaknesses in its text, because ‘AbdurRazzāq related it without any mention of the words “ayna?” or “fi-s-Samā’“.

[36] He is referring to the last part of the āyah rendered in interpretation earlier as: “Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And he steadfast in knowledge say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.”…” This rendering is according to the way of the Salaf in general; avoiding figurative interpretation of statements that do not have a clear or well known meaning. Note, however, that what is not clear or well known depends on the generation. There is no doubt that what some of the later salaf considered ambiguous was clear to at least some of their predecessors. Definitely the Prophet himself and companions like Ibn ˆAbbaas knew the meanings of all ayahs referring to the attributes of Allah, even if some of them were later considered ambiguous. The way of the Khalaf that Al-Subkīy is referring to is to render the interpretation differently through changing the place of the full stop as follows from: Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And the steadfast in knowledge, they say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.” to: Only Aļļaah knows their meaning and the steadfast in knowledge. They say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.”

[37] Note: he means of course that the majority of the Salaf take this approach to this āyah, not absolutely all, since that would be consensus (ijmā’), and ‘ijmā’ cannot be contradicted once it has been established on an issue. It has already been mentioned in previous footnotes that the scholar of the Salaf Ahmad ibn Hanbal affirmed a figurative explanation of “wa jā’ Rabbuka” as meaning “His orders came”. I.e. There is no ‘ijmā’, except on a few mutashābihāt, like those that refer to the timing of the Day of Judgment. The mutashaabihaat that refer to the attributes of Allah were definitely known in meaning to the Prophet, and at least some of the companions.

[38] This is lunacy, because Iblīs definitely knows Allāh and is despite of that, a blasphemer.

[39] A number of scholarly sayings have already been mentioned in previous footnotes, but it is worth adding here that Ibn Hajar Al-Haytamīy said in Al-Minhāj Al-Qawīm Sharhu-l-Muqaddimah Al Hadramīyah: “Know that Al-Qarāfīy and others narrated from Al-Sħāfi’īy, Mālik, Ahmad and Abū Hanīfah #RH# that those who say that Allāh is in a direction, or has a body, have committed blasphemy — and they deserve this verdict.”


Allah Exists Without Place or Direction

May 6, 2008

Fatwa by Shaykh Ali Jumu’ah

Translated by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

The Question:

“I am a student at the college of Sharī’ah and I have learned and studied in the Science of Belief that Allāh exists without being in a place, and that He is not placed in any direction. So please give me a fatwa on this, because there are some people that attack the belief of Al-Azhar.”

The Answer:

It is one of the established matters of the belief of the Muslims that Allāh (He is clear of and above all flaws) is not contained in a place and not limited by time, because place and time are both creations. Allāh is clear of and above being surrounded by any creation of His. Rather, He is the Creator of everything, and He (has complete knowledge and control of his creation, so in this sense, not the sense of place or direction, it is said in Arabic that He) “surrounds” His creation. This belief is agreed upon among the Muslims, no one denies this among them.

The scholars of the religion have expressed this by saying:

“Allāh existed and there was no place, and He is now as He was before the creation of place; He has not changed from what He was.”

Among the expressions of the Pious Salaf on this topic is the saying of Abū Ja’far Al- Sādiq radiallahu ta’ala anhu:

“Whoever claims that Allāh is in something, or from something, or on something has associated a partner with Allāh[1], because if He was in something, then He would be confined; and if He was on something, then He would be carried; and if He was from something, then He would be something that has a beginning.”

It was said to Yahyā ibn Mu’ādh Al- Rāziy rahmatullahi alayh: “Tell us about Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala!” He said:

“One god.” Then someone said: “How is He?” He said: “An absolute ruler with absolute power.” Then someone said: “Where is He?” He answered: “Seeing and Hearing[2].” The person who asked said: “I was not asking about that.” He replied: “Other than that would be an attribute of a creation. As for the attribute of Allāh; it is as I told you.”

Dhu-n-Nūn Al-Misriy rahmatullahi alayh was asked about the saying of Allāh: Al-Rahmān ‘alā Al-‘Arsh istawā[3]. He answered: “He affirmed His existence, and denied that He has a place. So He Himself exists independently, while other things exist by His Wisdom as He Wills.”

With regard to what has been narrated to us of texts from the Qur’ān and hadīths that indicate the Highness of Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala; over His creation; it means highness in the sense of status and prestige; and of dominance and power. This is because He is clear of any resemblance to created things; His attributes are not like their attributes; there is nothing in an attribute of the Creator that is related to the limits of the attributes of created things.

Rather, He is Great and High in Status, He has the attributes of complete perfection and the names that are beautiful. Anything that might enter your mind; Allāh is different from it – He is clear of and above imperfection. The inability to reach understanding is understanding[4], and to search for the complete reality of what Allāh Himself is, is to commit blasphemy and associate partners with Him[5].

The belief of the Honorable Azhar University is the belief of the scholars of the Ash’ariy school, which is the belief of the Sunnis. The Ash’arīy Masters, may Allāh reward and please them, are the majority of the scholars of those who are associated with the call of the Prophet Muhammad subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are the ones that stopped the spreading of doubts done by the blasphemers and other deviants.

They are the ones that clung to Allāh’s book and the teachings and way of our master, the Messenger of Allāh #SWT# throughout history. Whoever said that they are blasphemers or sinners; his religion in in danger. The hadīth master Ibn ‘Asākir rahmatullahi alayh said in his book “Tabyīn Kadhib Al-Muftariy fiy mā nusiba ila-l-Imām Abiy Al-Hasan Al-Ash’ariy“:

“Know – may Allāh grant you and me success by His reward, and make us among those who truly fears Him – that the flesh of the scholars is poisonous, and it is the well known norm of Allāh in His creation to expose those who insult them; the one that slanders them will be afflicted by Allāh before he dies with the death of his heart.”

The Honorable University of Al-Azhar is the lighthouse of knowledge and religion throughout the Islamic history. This lofty castle made the greatest heartland of knowledge that the Islamic nation has known after the first and best centuries. By it, Allāh protected His religion from all the wrong headed and those who spread doubts. The one who is haphazard about his belief is in grave danger. It is feared that he is one among the Khawārijite[6] or Murjite[7] sects.

Allāh said concerning them what may be rendered in meaning as:

“If the hypocrites, and those who have disease in the heart, and the alarmists in al-Madīnah do not cease, then Allāh will put you (O Muhammad) in control of them and let you finish them off, after that you will find very few of them as neighbors to you there”[8]

…. and Allāh knows best.


[1] “Associated a partner with Allāh” is a translation of the Arabic word Shirk – i.e. Blasphemy.

[2] His answer in Arabic was “bi-l-Mirsād“, and it is a Quranic expression which means that Allāh sees and hears all that His creatures do and will hold them accountable. It could also mean “watch post” or “ambush”. In other words, this answer was an eloquent play on words in the sense that it fit the answer for “where?” without giving the meaning of place.

[3] Its pronunciation is: Ar-Rahmān ‘ala-l-‘Arshi-stawā. If someone translated this statement literally, he would say : Al-Rahmān (The Merciful) ‘alā (on) Al-‘Arsh (The Throne) istawā (established Himself); “The Merciful established Himself on the throne”. This is not the meaning of the statement, however, and the Arabic Language is not limited to this meaning. Rather, the verb “istawā” in the Arabic language has some 14 different meanings. Moreover, the word Al-‘Arsh does not necessarily mean “throne”, it could also mean “dominion”, and some of the Salaf said that.

Abu Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy said in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, in summary: “Our colleagues differed regarding this āyah. Some said that it is among the āyahs that are Mutashābihāt and its meaning is not known by other than Allāh, and this is the saying of Mālik. Others said that istawā is something that Allāh did to the ‘Arsh that He called istawā, and this is the saying of Abu-l-Hasan Al-Ash’arīy. Others again said that istawa means that He is attributed with aboveness over the `Arsh without contact (i.e. in status, not physical aboveness.) The correct saying in our view, is that Al-‘Arsh in this Āyah means the Dominion and istawā is its action, meaning that the Dominion did not settle in equilibrium for anyone but Him.”

In case anyone is wondering who Abū Mansūr is, Al-Dhahabīy described him in his book Sīyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar…. He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabīy said further that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Sābūnīy saying: “Abū Mansūr 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 Islām.”

[4] i.e. Realizing that one cannot know Allāh as He knows Himself is to know Allāh.

[5] This is because such a search leads to draw analogies between Allāh and created things, and this is blasphemy.

[6] A sect of many branches that share the love for killing and plundering Muslims on the basis of claiming them idolaters, and for claiming that committing sins is blasphemy, even if one believes that its commitment is sinful.

[7] A sect that claimed that as long as one believes in Islam, then committing sins does not harm.

[8] Al-Ahzāb, 60


Various Wahhabi Contentions About Allah’s Wisdom

May 5, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: If Allah’s wisdom must have a different meaning than human wisdom, why do the Asharis not apply this principle with all of His Attributes?

Sunni Response: Actually, we do apply this principle with all His attributes. Allah’s wisdom does not have the meaning of need, or achieving benefit, or avoiding harm, because He has no needs and nothing can harm or benefit Him. This is firmly based on the scriptures.

Wahhabi Contention: What is the need for saying “Allah has perfect knowledge, and perfect action” and thus rejecting the attribute of wisdom?

Sunni Response: How does having perfect knowledge and perfect action reject wisdom? Moreover, can there be perfect wisdom without perfect knowledge? Beware that Ibn Faaris states in Al-Mujmal: “Al-hukm comes from the idea of prevention. Al-hikmah (wisdom) also comes from this, because it prevents ignorance.” So in Arabic hikmah is related to knowledge.

Wahhabi Contention: If you affirm that Allah has Wisdom (yet not like our wisdom), then why can you not then affirm that He has a hand (but not like our hand)?

Sunni Response: We affirm that Allah is attributed with “yad”, but we deny “limb,” or any other physical meaning. Note that Abu Hanifah prohibited translating “yad” (which you translated as “hand”) to Persian, even if one added “without a how.” This is mentioned in “Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar”. The difference between wisdom and “yad” is that the former has a known meaning, while the latter does not. Another difference is that “yad” in its literal translation means “hand” and a hand is literally a body, except in expressions like “Its not in my hands.” That is why you find the scholars saying “yad without a how” and they will not usually find it necessary to add “without a how” after “wisdom,” because when a person hears the word wisdom he does not usually think of something physical.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: The Asharis say that just because His actions result in wisdom, this does not mean that this wisdom is intended

May 5, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The Asharis say that just because His actions result in wisdom, this does not mean that this wisdom is intended.

Sunni Response: This is completely untrue, and such a claim would be considered kufr by the Asharis. Asharis all claim that Allah has complete knowledge of all things; future, past and present. They also believe that everything happens by His Will. What they do say is that Allah Himself does not need anything, and therefore that His actions cannot be explained in terms of benefits or preventing harm. Human action can be explained in such terms, but His cannot, because He has no needs. Or put it in another way, nothing could possibly harm or benefit Him, because He is attributed with absolute and complete perfection. So while human wisdom is related to avoiding harm and achieving benefits, Allah’s wisdom is not, because nothing can harm or benefit Him. That is why Allah’s wisdom must have a different meaning than human wisdom, as is true for all Allah’s attributes – ليس كمثله شيء – nothing resembles Him. Saying that Allah is wise means, rather, as stated by Al-Asbahani in Mufradaat-al-Quran, that He is attributed with perfect knowledge and absolute perfection in His actions – He never misses or fails.

The only thing that is essential about all this is that Allah does not have needs and does not have obligations and is not required to do anything. In other words, Allah was perfect before the world existed and did not benefit from its existence more perfection:

فَإِنَّ ٱلله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
Meaning: Verily Aļļaah has absolutely no need for the worlds. (Aal Imraan, 97)

This is all the Asharis are aiming at when they say that He does not have Aghraad, sometimes translated as “motives” or “purposes”. They don’t mean that created things do not have a role or purpose pertaining to other creations. Maybe it would be less misleading in English to say that “Allah is not driven by personal motives,” as He has no needs.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Shaykh Buti on Hikam: Foreordained Destiny and the Inefficacy of Material Causes-and-Effects by Shaykh G. F. Haddad

May 4, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

This article, translated by Shaykh G. F. Haddad, is a commentary on one of the Hikam of Sidi Ibn Ata’illah Iskandari, by Dr. Said Ramadan al Buti. It goes into very fine detail with respect to the issue of causes-and-effects and their efficacy in this world. Kudos to Sidi Faqir for having it brought to my attention. Read it and enjoy!

wa `alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Ibn Mazhar


Wahhabi Contention: Allah creates substances with intrinsic properties

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi contention: Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties. These properties may, in fact, affect other substances, if Allah allows them to. Allah can prevent these natural causes from acting, but if He wills, the cause can have an effect. Hence, nothing happens except by the Will of Allah. Allah is indeed the creator of all things. However, this does not negate that Allah Himself has created substances with intrinsic properties.

Sunni Response: Are you telling me that substances can act without Allah having created that act? That they will act unless He prevents them? If you do, then you are a contradicting the Qur’aan, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If this is not your opinion, then you don’t know what you are saying, because this is exactly the position of the Asharis. No one is saying that if you put a fire on your hand you won’t burn, what is being said is that the fire itself, the heat that it generates, and the burn that it makes are all separate creations. So whenever fire has heat it means that Allah has created that particular heat of that particular incident, and if it ever burns a hand it is because Allah created the burn in the hand for each and every incident. This is true even if the burning never fails to happen, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

This comes back to the belief of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah that Allah is the only creator. Only He can bring any event into existence, and no one and nothing else, ever, without exception. Every single movement, every single thought, every single change that occurs is created and predestined by Allah. If you believe this, then it is clear that no substance has actual and real power to affect things It just appears that way.

So if water is followed by growth of the harvest, then this is because every incident of growth in every single plant has been created and predestined by Allah. If it did not grow, it was not because it was going to grow by itself and then Allah prevented it, but because Allah has not created growth in it. Rather, He created the next periods of its existence as a non-growing plant. The non-growing plant is not remaining this way independently either. Rather, every moment of its existence is created by Allah.

Your statements “Allah is indeed the creator of all things,” and “Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to” contradict one another. Why? Because in the first you say that Allah creates all things, and in the second you are saying that properties might affect things. If something happens in this world, however minute, it is because Allah has created it. You cannot say that Allah willed something, anything at all, and did not create it, because:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: Comparing Allah to Accidents

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The problem is that one takes a non-Quranic evidence as a certain fact, and then uses it to deny or distort what is clearly Quranic (in this case, the Attributes of God). Herein actually lies the main contention that we have with the Asharis. If there is nothing like Him, we should not compare Him to ‘accidents’ or ‘bodies’ but rather simply accept what He says about Himself.

Sunni Response: Actually, if there is nothing like Him, then you must deny that whatever is mentioned in the Qur’aan about the attributes of Allah means Him having a like. Asharis do not deny Allah’s attributes, and they do not compare Allah to accidents and bodies, they deny that He is like them. They deny that His attributes should be quantitative or limited. That is something very different. This does not involve comparison, but knowing the characteristics of creation that makes them need a creator. This is something obvious to even common people, because it simply means that Allah is not limited, not by time and not by place. Rather, He created time and space, and He existed without them before they existed, and He is now as He was before they existed.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: ‘Proof from Accidents’ is not Quranic

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The Quran itself does not advocate any ‘Proof from Accidents’) And the greatest proof for this is that the earliest generations of Islam (and even the Prophet (saw) himself) did not derive such complex theological premises from the Quran. Now, the claim that a certain proof or theory does not contradict the Quran is not the same as saying it is Quranic.

Sunni Response: If the proof is valid, complies with the Qur’aan, and proves something stated in it, then why is it not Quranic? Different times and different people are affected by different types of proofs. The encouragement to think of proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes are very many in the Quran, and they are not restricted to what is verbatim mentioned in the scriptures. An example of such encouragement is in this ayah:

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

In light of the ayah, if you want me to restrict how I consider the camel, then you need to show me an explicit text prohibiting me from considering the “how” of the camel. It does not matter if the consideration is simple or not, lucid or not. This is because the encouragement to consider is absolute in the ayah, and cannot be restricted without a scriptural text as proof.

What you call “accidents,” which would be better translated as incidents, refers simply to the different events and attributes bodies have, that is, anything with a size. The Quran states that Allah created everything. Does this not include what happens to bodies? This claim of yours is truly puzzling. An example of an ayah from the Quran that encourages thinking about bodies (things with size) and accidents (attributes and actions of things with size) is:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aal Imraan, 190)

The Skies and the Earth are both bodies, because they both have size, and the changes of night and day are “accidents”. Clearly then, seeking proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes in bodies and events is something Quranic of the highest order.

Anyway, using the proofs mentioned in the Quran will lead to the same conclusions as proofs based on the indivisible element, namely that Allah is not like creation. This is because all creation as we know it is either something with size (a body), or an attribute of it (”accident”). If you prove that Allah exists based on them, then you are implicitly saying that Allah is not like that, because you are already arguing that these bodies and their attributes need a creator.

For example, based on the aayah, if you say that night and day are timed orderly, and that this shows that someone orders them, then you must also hold that Allah is not something “timed”. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Moreover, if you say that the skies and the earth are highly ordered structures, and that someone must have ordered them, then you must also hold that Allah is not a structure. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: ‘Proof from Accidents’ and ‘Atomism’ are not Quranic

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: Neither the ‘Proof from Accidents’ nor the Ashari belief in atomism are ‘Quranic’ proofs.

Sunni Response: First of all, if an argument is valid, then it is a proof, and it does not matter if you feel it is “Quranic” or not, whatever that means. A valid argument is a valid argument and a proof. If you start rejecting some valid arguments for no reason, then you have destroyed the bases for human knowledge beyond what the senses provide. You have sunk to the level of dumb animals. You have taken the view of the Baraahimah, the philosophers of ancient India and Persia. They rejected the idea that knowledge can be achieved beyond what is strictly sensory. This is the heritage of your cow-worshiping neighbors back home.

The belief that there is an indivisible element is clearly stated in the Quran, because it unequivocally implies that created things are not infinitely divisible. Rather, they are finite in size:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden to creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75)

As you know, the book is not infinite in size, therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3)

This aayah tells you very clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded, this means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Allah knows the number of all things.” [Al-Jinn, 28]

Another aayah:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29)

At-Tabari said: “It means that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, its total number, amount, and value.” Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity.

Denying that creation has an indivisible element is also against ijma, for Abdul Qahir al Baghdadi stated in his “Usul al Din” regarding it : “This is the saying of most Muslims, except An-Nattaam (a Mutazili leader.)” And the disagreement of someone like An-Nattaam is certainly not considered for ijma.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: Asharis do not refute Shirk

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The threat of worshipping other than the True God (i.e., shirk) is actually much more real and pronounced, and it is for this reason that literally thousands of verses in the Quran deal with the problem of shirk, whereas only a handful deal with atheism. We only wish the Asharis took on refuting shirk with the same passion and zeal that they do in determining what God ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be characterized with.

Sunni Response: The Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah are concerned with the problem of shirk. We want everyone to believe that Allah is not a body. There is no difference between someone who believes that Allah is a body, and says “but I don’t know how,” and a Hindu that only worships one idol that he has not seen yet, and says “I don’t know how.” Both are worshiping something physical that they don’t know the shape of, but that has a shape; they are two things of the same kind. Al-Qurtubi in his commentary in the Quran narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-Arabi, the famous hadith scholar of Andalus, regarding those who say Allah has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed” (4/14).

What it comes down to is that it is of extreme importance that you actually worship Allah, not just something that you call Allah. You don’t become a believer in Allah by calling an idol “Allah.” This is the main concern of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah, and it is a concern about shirk.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahhabi Contention: Asharis consider proving the existence of God their utmost priority

May 3, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: The people of kalaam, of all stripes, considered proving the existence of God to be their utmost priority.

Sunni Response: As if this is something bad. This is because this is the basis for knowing Allah; knowing that His existence is a must. In any case, we are not interested in your opinion, we are interested only in verdicts. Are you saying it is haram? If it isn’t haram, then by what right are you blaming us?

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Responding to Sheikh Yasir

May 1, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

There were several responses to Sheikh Yasir’s article, and things took quite a turn when the dear Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji began responding. Needless to say as a result, Sheikh Yasir decided to lock the comments, and not allow anyone to respond henceforth. He did so with another short article. All this is observable in the comments section, here.

Needless to say, Sheikh Yasir’s baseless conclusions could not be replied to there. Shaykh Abu Adam had composed a lengthy reply to some of the points made by Sheikh Yasir, which he could not publish in the comments section. In this post, I’ll be putting up that reply. What follows after my closing greetings is Shaykh Abu Adam’s response.

wa billahil tawfeeq

wal hamdu lillahi rabbil `alamin

wa `alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Ibn Mazhar

Shaykh Abu Adam’s response:

Yasir said: The people of kalaam, of all stripes, considered proving the existence of God to be their utmost priority.

As if this is something bad. This is because this is the basis for knowing Allah; knowing that His existence is a must. In any case, we are not interested in your opinion, we are interested only in verdicts. Are you saying it is haram? If it isn’t haram, then by what right are you blaming us?

Yasir said: Rather, the threat of worshipping other than the True God (i.e., shirk) is actually much more real and pronounced, and it is for this reason that literally thousands of verses in the Quran deal with the problem of shirk, whereas only a handful deal with atheism. I only wish the Ash`arites took on refuting shirk with the same passion and zeal that they do in determining what God ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be characterized with.

The Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah are concerned with the problem of shirk. We want everyone to believe that Allah is not a body. There is no difference between someone who believes that Allah is a body, and says “but I don’t know how,” and a Hindu that only worships one idol that he has not seen yet, and says “I don’t know how.” Both are worshiping something physical that they don’t know the shape of, but that has a shape; they are two things of the same kind. Al-Qurtubi in his commentary in the Quran narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-Arabi, the famous hadith scholar of Andalus, regarding those who say Allah has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed” (4/14).

What it comes down to is that it is of extreme importance that you actually worship Allah, not just something that you call Allah. You don’t become a believer in Allah by calling an idol “Allah.” This is the main concern of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah, and it is a concern about shirk.

Yasir said: Neither the ‘Proof from Accidents’ nor the Ash`arite belief in atomism are ‘Quranic’ proofs.

First of all, if an argument is valid, then it is a proof, and it does not matter if you feel it is “Quranic” or not, whatever that means. A valid argument is a valid argument and a proof. If you start rejecting some valid arguments for no reason, then you have destroyed the bases for human knowledge beyond what the senses provide. You have sunk to the level of dumb animals. You have taken the view of the Baraahimah, the philosophers of ancient India and Persia. They rejected the idea that knowledge can be achieved beyond what is strictly sensory. This is the heritage of your cow-worshiping neighbors back home.

The belief that there is an indivisible element is clearly stated in the Quran, because it unequivocally implies that created things are not infinitely divisible. Rather, they are finite in size:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden to creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75)

As you know, the book is not infinite in size, therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3)

This aayah tells you very clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded, this means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Allah knows the number of all things.” [Al-Jinn, 28]

Another aayah:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29)

At-Tabari said: “It means that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, its total number, amount, and value.” Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity.

Denying that creation has an indivisible element is also against ijmaa, for Abdul Qahir Al-Baghdadi stated in his “Usul al Din” regarding it : “This is the saying of most Muslims, except An-Nattaam (a Mutazili leader),” and the disagreement of someone like An-Nataam is certainly not considered for ijmaa.

Yasir said: What I mean by this is that the Quran itself does not make such claims (I.e. ‘Proof from Accidents’). And the greatest proof for this is that the earliest generations of Islam (and even the Prophet (saw) himself) did not derive such complex theological premises from the Quran. Now, the claim that a certain proof or theory does not contradict the Quran is not the same as saying it is Quranic.

If the proof is valid, complies with the Quran, and proves something stated in it, then why is it not Quranic? Different times and different people are affected by different types of proofs. The encouragement to think of proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes are very many in the Quran, and they are not restricted to what is verbatim mentioned in the scriptures. An example of such encouragement is in this ayah:

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

In light of the ayah, if you want me to restrict how I consider the camel, then you need to show me an explicit text prohibiting me from considering the “how” of the camel. It does not matter if the consideration is simple or not, lucid or not. This is because the encouragement to consider is absolute in the ayah, and cannot be restricted without a scripture text as proof.

What you call “accidents,” which would be better translated as incidents, refers simply to the different events and attributes bodies have, that is, anything with a size. The Quran states that Allah created everything. Does this not include what happens to bodies? This claim of yours is truly puzzling. An example of an ayah from the Quran that encourages thinking about bodies (things with size) and accidents (attributes and actions of things with size) is:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aal Imraan, 190)

The Skies and the Earth are both bodies, because they both have size, and the changes of night and day are “accidents”. Clearly then, seeking proofs of Allah’s existence and attributes in bodies and events is something Quranic of the highest order.

Anyway, using the proofs mentioned in the Quran will lead to the same conclusions as proofs based on the indivisible element, namely that Allah is not like creation. This is because all creation as we know it is either something with size (a body), or an attribute of it (“accident”). If you prove that Allah exists based on them, then you are implicitly saying that Allah is not like that, because you are already arguing that these bodies and their attributes need a creator.

For example, based on the ayah, if you say that night and day are timed orderly, and that this shows that someone orders them, then you must also hold that Allah is not something “timed”. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Moreover, if you say that the skies and the earth are highly ordered structures, and that someone must have ordered them, then you must also hold that Allah is not a structure. Otherwise you would end up saying that Allah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Yasir said: The problem then comes that one takes a non-Quranic evidence as a certain fact, and then uses it to deny or distort what is clearly Quranic (in this case, the Attributes of God). Herein actually lies the main contention that the Ahl al-Hadith have with the Ash`arites. If there is nothing like Him, we should not compare Him to ‘accidents’ or ‘bodies’ but rather simply accept what He says about Himself.

Actually, if there is nothing like Him, then you must deny that what is mentioned in the Qur’aan about the attributes of Allah means Him having a like. Asharis do not deny Allah’s attributes, and they do not compare Allah to accidents and bodies, they deny that He is like them. They deny that His attributes should be quantitative or limited. That is something very different. This does not involve comparison, but knowing the characteristics of creation that makes them need a creator. This is something obvious to even common people, because it simply means that Allah is not limited, not by time and not by place. Rather, He created time and space, and He existed without them before they existed, and He is now as He was before they existed.

Yasir said: Rather, Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to…..Allah can prevent these natural causes from acting, but if He wills, the cause can have an effect. Hence, nothing happens except by the Will of Allah, and Allah is indeed the creator of all things, but this does not negate that Allah Himself has created substances with intrinsic properties.

Are you telling me that substances can act without Allah having created that act? That they will act unless He prevents them? If you do, then you are a contradicting the Quran, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If this is not your opinion, then you don’t know what you are saying, because this is exactly the position of the Asharis. No one is saying that if you put a fire on your hand you won’t burn, what is being said is that the fire itself, the heat that it generates, and the burn that it makes are all separate creations. So whenever fire has heat it means that Allah has created that particular heat of that particular incident, and if it ever burns a hand it is because Allah created the burn in the hand for each and every incident. This is true even if the burning never fails to happen, because Allah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

This comes back to the belief of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah that Allah is the only creator. Only He can bring any event into existence, and no one and nothing else, ever, without exception. Every single movement, every single thought, every single change that occurs is created and predestined by Allah. If you believe this, then it is clear that no substance has actual and real power to affect things, it just appears that way.

So if water is followed by growth of the harvest, then this is because every incident of growth in every single plant has been created and predestined by Allah. If it did not grow, it was not because it was going to grow by itself and then Allah prevented it, but because Allah has not created growth in it. Rather, He created the next periods of its existence as a non-growing plant. The non-growing plant is not remaining this way independently either. Rather, every moment of its existence is created by Allah.

Your statements “Allah is indeed the creator of all things,” and “Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to” are contradict one another. Why? Because in the first you say that Allah creates all things, and in the second you are saying that properties might affect things. If something happens in this world, however minute, it is because Allah has created it. You cannot say that Allah willed something, anything at all, and did not create it, because:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)


Introducing the Shaykh

May 1, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

As promised, we will be introducing the Shaykh who will contributing to this project:

Shaykh Abū Ādam al-Narūjī converted from christianity to Islām while living in China. He has since studied and received Ijāzahs in various works of Hanafī fiqh and Ash’ari `Aqīdah from the mashāyikh of Damascus and Kuwait, including :

Al-Shaykh Muhammad Tāhir Al-Afghānī (Abu Al-Hasan)

Al-Shaykh Mustafā Chebaro (a student of Al-Shaykh `AbdurRazzāq Al-Halabī)

Al-Shaykh Imād Nahlāwī

Al-Shaykh Ahmad Al-Shāmī (Shihāb Al-Dīn Abu `Amr)

Al-Shaykh Ahmad Hajī Al-Kurdī

Shaykh Muhammad Jumu’ah (one of the prominent students of Mawlānā Al-Shaykh `AbdurRazzāq Al-Halabī).

This is all we have for now. When we do have a proper biography, we will post it, insha Allah.

wa billahil tawfeeq

wal hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin

wa `alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Ibn Mazhar


Salam

May 1, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Recently Sheikh Yasir Qadhi (of the Al Maghrib Institue) wrote an article entitled “The Role of Atomism in the Groups of Kalam” (click here to read). The purpose of this article, in the Sheikh’s own words, is to expound upon:

“… the reason why orthodox scholars of the past (viz., the Ahl al-Hadīth and those who followed them) disapproved of kalām. The obvious Hellenistic roots of kalām, the cosmological premises that it posited, and the theological positions that were derived from such roots and premises, do not have any basis in the Sacred Texts, and in fact in most instances contradict them.”

The rest of the article is nothing less than an attack on the Ashari school of aqidah and its scholars, who have, by and large, been the defenders of the Sunni tradition against heresy, in all its shapes and forms.

The purpose of this blog, insha Allah ta’ala, is not only to reply to Sheikh Yasir’s extremely reductive conclusions, as he presents them in his article, but also to clarify the status of the Ashari school and its creedal positions vis a vis the Quran and the Sunnah, as expounded upon by the vast majority of the scholars of Ahl al Sunnah wal Jama’ah.

An additional purpose of this blog may also be to show the extremely reductive and regressive nature of the so-called “Salafi Manhaj” and how it does not necessarily correspond to the orthodox tradition as it so claims.

Insha Allah the next post will be a short biography of the Shaykh who has agreed to contribute to this project. May Allah benefit us through his ‘ilm.

wa billahil tawfiq

wa `alaykum salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Ibn Mazhar