Q & A: Someone asked, “Is it kufr to say that Allah sees and hears literally?”

Question: I’ve a Question after reflecting on that Article and my question is concerning the Tahawiyyah Phrase. “Wa man wasafa Allaha bima’nan min ma’ani al bashar faqad kafar” – “And whoever attributes Allah with an attribute that has a meaning that applies to humans has committed kufr.” Would it be kufr to say Allah literally has a hand but not kufr to say Allah literally sees and hears and if so then why, because the Ma’ana of seeing also applies to Human?

Answer: We must believe that the meaning of the words hearing and seeing are different in meaning when they refer to Allah. This is true about all words referring to Allah’s attributes. In my commentary on the Sanuusiyyah I said regarding the attributes of seeing, hearing and kalam:

Allah is attributed with:

_____________________________________

11)     {Hearing (Al-Samˆ/السمع),

12)     and Sight (Al-Başar/البصر), both of which pertain to all that exists,} Allah said in the Quran:

“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ”
Meaning: “Nothing resembles Him, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.”(Ash-Shuraa, 11)

From this we understand that His Hearing and Seeing is not like our hearing or seeing. They are not by an instrument, such an ear or an eye. They are not dependent on vibrations, light or distance. This is because Allah is One, and does not need anything. His hearing and seeing is also not sequential, because Allah does not change. Things that are seen or heard are sequential, but His hearing
and seeing of them are not.

13)     {Speech (Al-Kalaam/الكلام), without letter or sound, which pertains to whatever His Knowledge pertains to.}

Allah said in the Qur’aan:

“وَكَلَّمَ اللَّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيمًا”
Meaning: “And Allah spoke to Moses.” (An-Nisaa’, 164) That is, with His Speech that is not letters or sounds.

Allah’s speech is not resonant, as our speech is, but it is possible that Allah remove our inability to hear His speech so we could hear it and understand from it what He has willed for us to understand.
Beyond this, we are not required to, and in fact cannot, know Allah’s attribute of Speech.

In the hereafter, Muslims will hear Allah’s speech, as Moses did. That is, without His speech being letters, sounds, words, sequential meanings or starting, stopping, or having any other senses of
beginning.

It must be true that Allah’s Speech is eternal and does not have any beginning, because otherwise it would need a creator to give it existence. It is irrational to say that Allah’s speech is letters or sounds, and then say that it is not created. This is because letters and sounds have a beginning, and anything with a beginning must be brought into existence, and being brought into existence is to be
created.

Muslims will also see Allah without Him being in a direction, place, at a distance or having a form. It was authentically narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari that the Prophet said:

ما مِنْكُمْ من أَحَدٍ إلا سَيُكَلِّمُهُ رَبُّهُ ليس بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُ تُرْجُمَانٌ ولا حِجَابٌ يَحْجُبُهُ

Every one of you will be spoken to by His Lord without an intermediary. There will also be no flaw in your sight preventing you from seeing Him <without Him having a shape, or being in a direction or place>.” (Al-Bukhari, 7005).

This is not like hearing or seeing a creation, because Allah said in the Quran that,

“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ”
Meaning: “Nothing resembles Him.” (Asħ-Sħuuraa,11)

It must be noted regarding Allah’s attributes of Hearing, Seeing and Speech that they absolutely must be true of Him, and are not something that may be. They are attributes of perfection and necessity, not abilities. It is therefore forbidden to say that Allah is able to hear, see or speak, because that implies that He may be hearing, seeing or speaking, which is a blasphemous belief. Thus we say that Allah hears, or Allah sees, or Allah speaks, but one must never say, “Allah can hear,” or “can see,” or “can speak.” In other words, Allah is attributed with hearing, sight, and speech that have neither beginning, nor end, nor are they composed of parts, nor do they have sequence, and have nothing in common with our attributes of hearing, sight, and speech.

_____________________________________

The difference between the word “hand” and the words “hearing” and “sight” is that the former tends to bring the idea of a bodypart, instrument or limb to mind immediately upon hearing it. Hearing and sight are not like that. That is why it would be kufr to say that Allah has a hand in the literal sense. In the case of someone saying that Allah “literally hears” or “literally sees” it is not immediately clear what he means. If he means that Allah has hears or eyes or that his hearing or seeing of things are sequential, then it is kufr. It is not kufr, however, if he simply wanted to emphasize that Allah really has those attributes, while believing that His hearing and seeing is not by instruments, and do not have a beginning or and end, and do not change.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam

7 Responses to Q & A: Someone asked, “Is it kufr to say that Allah sees and hears literally?”

  1. geylani says:

    As-Salamu Alaykum,

    Im asking very much questions, I know and Im very sorry. But I always have some doubts when I dont ask everything in detail.

    The Question is:

    Wahabiyya always say: “You say, we cant say that Allahs posseses the Attribute “Hand” and “Feet” and that we are not allowed to say that Allah is above the Throne, that he is moving, that he is coming etc. cause we are then comparing Allah with his creation. But we say, “He has a Hand unlike our Hands, He comes unlike our coming” etc.! And you make the same! You say: “He is seeing, unlike the seeing of his Creation! He is hearing, unlike the hearing of his creation! He is speeching unlike the Creation! So when we compare Allah to his creation, you are doing the same! So where now is the difference between you and us?”

    What can we answer?

    As-Salamu Alaikum

  2. What they translate as foot, namely qadam, is not an attribute of Aļļaah. The qadam is something that Aļļaah puts into the Hellfire, so how can it be an attribute of Aļļaah? It is lunacy to claim that. The word “yad,” which they translate as “hand,” refers to an attribute, but it is not a hand, because a hand is something with physical dimensions, so it needs a creator so specify those dimensions. So when one says “yad unlike our yad” it means that it is a yad that is not a hand. You can say “yad unlike our yad”, but to say “Hand unlike our Hands,” is a misleading translation at best. The difference between the Wahabis and us is that they believe Aļļaah has physical dimensions, such as parts, direction, limits and size. When they say “Hand unlike our Hands,” they only mean that it has a different color or shape, or something like that, while we mean that Aļļaah does not have parts, limits or physical dimensions or change. The difference is substantial, because they deny the Quranic “He does not resemble anything.”

  3. geylani says:

    May Allah bless you!

  4. Ibn Abu Talib says:

    Salam Alaikum

    I remember reading one of Yasir Qadhi’s article that, among many other things, dealt with the Asharites’ perception of Allah’s speech. In that article, after mentioning what you basically said (that Allah’s speech is without sound,etc. ), Qadhi presented hadiths which state, as far as I can recall, that when Allah speaks, the sound made resembles a chain dragged along a rock. What is your response to that?

  5. Ibn Abu Talib says:

    I found the hadith in this article refuting Asharite beliefshttp://www.gawaher.com/index.php?showtopic=9858.html&

    “When Allaah decrees a matter in the skies, the angels move their wings in humility for His speech, which sounds like a chain over a rock…” [5] In this hadeeth, the Prophet (sulAllahu أ¢â‚¬ثœalayhi wassalaam) gave a description of the sound of

  6. faqir says:

    and anyway, the sound is clearly in reference to the angels moving their wings!

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