It is intrinsically impossible that Aļļaah has obligations, AND it is intrinsically impossible that He could lie.

I hope this title clarifies what some people have been asking. When Aļļaah promises or threatens, it means that He is telling us about what will happen in the future. This is not like human promises, which are mere words expressing commitment to do something in the future unseen. In other words, what He promises will happen, because His Speech is flawless and pertains to what He knows, not because He is obligated to fulfill promises.  For this reason, saying that it is intrinsically impossible that His promise will not be fulfilled, is based on the fact that He has told us what will be in the future. It is not based on asserting any obligation.

I hope that clarifies it.

This current issue first came up with the Muˆtazilah or philosophers, who wanted to prove that there are acts that are impossible because of their intrinsic ugliness, i.e. they are intrinsically impossible because of intrinsic ugliness. They said that if you do not accept this, then you will end up saying that it is intrinsically possible that Aļļaah should lie, i.e. say one thing and do another.

The Asħˆariyys, knowing that this would be to insult Aļļaah, needed to show that lying is impossible, but without submitting to the claim that some acts are intrinsically ugly. This is because saying that possible acts can be intrinsically ugly, and therefore impossible, is to say that the intrinsically possible becomes impossible, and that is nonsense. Since it is nonsense, the real meaning of the Muˆtazilite saying, i.e. what it actually leads to saying, is that Aļļaah is obligated not to do certain acts, and to do others. This implies that Aļļaah needs to fulfill obligations, and that would be a kufr assertion.

The Asħˆariyys then, showed instead that you can say that lying is impossible without submitting to the claim that there are intrinsically ugly acts, because Aļļaah’s Speech is not created, and therefore is not something that falls in the possible category of things. Rather, it is an eternal and unchanging attribute that pertains to what His knowledge pertains to, by which He informs what He knows. If one said that it pertains to lies also, then one has attributed a flaw to Aļļaah’s speech, saying something untrue, and that is impossible, because it is imperfection.

Accordingly, the Asħˆariyys said that it is impossible that Aļļaah should have obligations, because that would imply a need to fulfill them, yet it is also impossible that He would not do what He promised, because His eternal Speech is flawless. So one says that Aļļaah definitely fulfills His promises and threats, because His Speech must be true. It is kufr to say that Aļļaah could do otherwise, because this is to say that His Speech could be false. This has nothing to do with ability, because that Aļļaah should say something untrue is intrinsically impossible.

Yet another way to explain this is to remember that Aļļaah is not in time. He is not something that changes and goes through stages of being. It is therefore impossible that He should have obligations, because being obligated by a promise means that the saying comes before the actions. Since neither Aļļaah’s actions, nor His Speech are in time, this sort of sequence does not befit Aļļaah, because He is not in time.


8 Responses to It is intrinsically impossible that Aļļaah has obligations, AND it is intrinsically impossible that He could lie.

  1. al-Dihlawi says:

    Can you explain the the concept of khalf al-wa’id? I’ve only heard about it, a more detailed explanation would be helpful. Thanks.

  2. khalf al-wa’id means to not do what one threatened to do. In light of that, you can read the above article. To emphasize: when Aļļaah threatens, He is telling us what will be in the future. What He says must be true, because His Speech does not pertain to falsehood.

  3. al-Dihlawi says:

    Jazak Allah for your answer.

    In the kalam of the Arab, does khalf al-wa’id have a positive or negative connotation? And if it is positive or neither, why did the Ash’aris feel the need to equate it with karam rather than it being a flaw?

  4. I do not accept to say that “the AsħˆAriyys say that Al-kħulf Fi-l-Waˆiid is possible.”

    You can find many strange things in books. That is one reason why a novice is not allowed to read books alone. If there is something obviously wrong in a book then we reject it, because as Asħˆariyys we hold that imitation is not correct in beliefs. That is why the wahabi claim of Abu Hasan Al-Asħˆariyy rejecting Asħˆariyy doctrine and becoming an anthropomorphist in the end is unimportant to us, even if it was true (which it is not).

    So the issue then is al-kħulf fi-l-Waˆiid karam? It may be so at some cases for humans, at least from a position of power. It is not a praise to say this about Aļļaah, because it implies lying, and lying is a flaw. What is a praise for a human being may be kufr to say about Aļļaah. For example, it is a praise for a human to say to him that he has nice children.

    Many Asħˆariyys attacked those who said Al-kħulf fi-l-waˆiid is possible. Among them Az-Zaraksħiyy, Al-Qaraafiyy, Al-Għazaaliyy, Al-Raaziyy, and Al-Urmawiyy (who told Ibn Taymiyyah during a debate, “”You are a sparrow flying here and there,” ) and since this is the only possibly valid saying we ignore the rest, and affirm that al-kħulf fi-l-waˆiid is impossible.

    It is impossible that Aļļaah should not do what He said He would, because He is informing us of what will happen in the future, and Aļļaah knows what is in the future. It is an obvious ijmaaˆ consensus in the Asħˆariyy creed that Aļļaah’s speech pertains to what His knowledge pertains to, and not to lies. Allaah’s kalaam does not belong to the possible category of things. As has been made abundantly clear already. The bottom line here is that in belief matters, imitation is not allowed, and the expressions used even by several individual authors, if proven used, are their own problem. Not the least when they contradict basic principles, such as knowing that Aļļaah being attributed with Speech is not a possibility, but a must. That is why quoting books is not very interesting if they contain contradictions to such basics. See also:

    Abu Adam

  5. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    Salam Alaikum

    I have asked a few other Maturidi people regarding “khulf al wa3eed”

    It seems that SOME Ash3aris (may be, if at all any) had mistakenly and wrongly termed the act of mercy (rahmah) described in this verse as “khulf al wa3eed”:

    إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُوْلَئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

    25:70 (Y. Ali) Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    Since the Quran EXPLICITLY mentions that some Muslims’ follies will be turned to good, it is NOT “khulf al wa3eed” or “going against warnings” to the sinners. The verse applies to some believers who will repent and they will have their bad deeds converted to good.

    In simple terms, certain people (those who repent), will not fall under the jurisdiction of the wa3eed (warning) for the sinners.

    So in reality there is no question of anything happening against the warnings of Allah.

    The verses of wa3eed and this one need to be seen in conjunction with each other.

    It was a dead wrong and very bad choice of semantics on the part of those minority Ash3aris (if any at all, from the looks of things it doesn’t look like they were any prominent and famous Ash3ari scholars) who chose to call this as “khulf al wa3eed” …

    …BECAUSE if it is explicitly stated in the Quran that some people’s bad deeds will be converted to good, then it really is not “khul al wa3eed” by any standards, what so ever- which is the 100% Maturidi opinion and overwhelming majority Ash3ari opinion.

    Leaving aside the intricacies of nasikh and mansookh, in regards to interpretation and understanding, it is kind of like looking at the verses regarding alcohol. There is a verse that says “Do not approach prayers when drunk” and another one that forbids alcohol all-together.

    W’Allahu waliyyut tawfeeq.

    • Naasikh and mansuukh do not apply in such matters, because Allaah’s Speech pertains to what His knowledge pertains to. There is no abbrogation of what Allaah knows! As for attributing the possibility of “khulf al wa3eed”, or falling back on promises to Allaah, this is to ascribe to Him the possibility of lying, and that is clearly kufr. As for semantics, word choice is important when speaking about Allaah. How does a rational person with an ounce of piety allow such words to come out of his mouth? Aļļaah said in the Qur’aan :
      “وَتَقُولُونَ بِأَفْوَاهِكُمْ مَا لَيْسَ لَكُمْ بِهِ عِلْمٌ وَتَحْسَبُونَهُ هَيِّنًا وَهُوَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمٌ “,
      Meaning: “And you say by your mouths what you have no certain knowledge of, and you think it is a simple matter, while it is in Aļļaah’s judgment gruesome.” (An-Nuur ,15)

      Ibn Katħiir commented on the meaning of “you think it is a simple matter, while it is in Aļļaah’s judgment gruesome,” and said : “In Muslim and Al-Bukħaariyy’s authentic ĥadiitħ collections something similar is stated: “Verily a man may say a word that brings Aļļaah’s punishment to an extent he does not know, and due to it he falls into the Hellfire further than the distance between the sky and the earth.” In another narration it is stated ‘a word he thinks nothing of’.”

      Similarly, it was narrated by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidħiyy and others that the Prophet said:
      “إن الرَّجُلَ لَيَتَكَلَّمُ بِالْكَلِمَةِ لاَ يَرَى بها بَأْساً يهوي بها سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفاً في النَّارِ”,
      “Verily a man may speak a word he thinks is not bad, but due to it he falls a fall that lasts seventy autumns into the Hellfire.” This ĥadiitħ was judged as good (ĥasan) by Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy.

      Al-Munaawiyy said about the expression “seventy autumns into the Hellfire” in his book Al-Taysiir bi Sħarĥu-l-Jaamiˆi-ş-Şagħiir: “It means that he will be forever rising and falling.” That is, the person became a non-Muslim for saying this, because only non-Muslims go there forever .

      Abu Adam

  6. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    Barak Allahu feekum for elaborating Sayyidi

    I should have worded my sentence:

    “So in reality there is no question of anything happening against the warnings of Allah.”

    better — to

    “So in reality khulf al wa3eed simply can’t be conceived of as His promise of mercy to one set of His creation is separate to His warning of punishment to another set of His creation. Every thing He has said will happen”


    This whole “khulf al wa3eed is rahmah” argument is equally self-contradictory, stupid and oxymoronic as the wahabi’s “literal, in a way that suits Him” argument in a lot of ways.

    Sadly some people claiming to be Ahlus Sunnah and Ahlut Tasawwuf are propagating such rubbish camouflaged in a whole bunch of verbiage and philosophy when the concept is really very simple.

  7. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    … when the concept is really very simple…

    … ie the concept of the distinction between “wa3eed” and “rahmah” and “khulf al wa3eed”. Those people seem to think in a flawed binary logic, that if something is not wa3eed, it is khulf al wa3eed by default.

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