Q & A: Someone asked, “Were the Salaf literalists?”

Question: The Salafis argue that the Salaf were literalists. Were they?

Answer: Dawuud Al-Thaahiri (201-270 AH/ 816-884 AD) is generally regarded as the first literalist, as he denied analogical reasoning, but he was not a mushabbih, for the Shafi`i scholars generally respect him. They know him best as he is considered to have been a student of Al-Shafiˆi or his direct students in the beginning. The most famous representative of his school is Ibn Hazm of Spain, who was extreme in his literalist views to the extent that he saw a difference between urinating in water and urinating in a vessel and then pouring it into the water. Yet his extreme literalism did not carry him to the extent of believing that Allah is physical. He said, “…verily what is in a place will not be other than a body or an incidental characteristic in a body. Nothing else can be true, and neither the mind nor one’s imagination accepts anything else at all. So if Allah is not a body or an incidental characteristic of one, then it holds that He is not in a place at all. (Al-Fisal Fil-Milal 2/98)”

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

4 Responses to Q & A: Someone asked, “Were the Salaf literalists?”

  1. loveProphet says:

    I don’t get it, how could Imam Dawud reject qiyas and be a mujtahid and also a student of Imam Shafi’i?

  2. It is as Aļļaah has willed it…. Dawud was by no means ignorant, but he had this peculiar view. Because of this, the opinions of the Ţħaahiriyy school is not considered when verifying scholarly ijmaaˆ consensus, and many scholars reject his school rather strongly, such as Abu Bakr Al-Jaşşaaş. They considered Dawud to have breeched ijmaaˆ.

  3. Shareef Muhammad says:

    So are you saying the Salafi’s assertions are correct? I’m lost!

  4. Shareef Muhammad asks: So are you saying the Salafi’s assertions are correct? I’m lost!

    Answer: No, not at all. Dawud was relatively late, as you can see from his birthdate, and is considered controversial. Yet despite the controversy of his approach, he was not someone that believed Aļļaah to be in a place or direction, or having physical attributes. When the wahabis make their claim, they are trying to say that all aayahs in the Qur’an should be understood literally, even if it leads to saying that Aļļaah is something physical. Muslims, on the other hand, must believe that Allah does not resemble His creation, so He is not in a place, not an object or a body, and is not something that changes or has a limit.

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