Q & A: If Allah is not above then why did Prophet go up to meet his Lord?

August 18, 2008

Question: We Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah negate (like the Salaf) negate direction for Allah (SWT) but what is the answer to the following question put forth by the Salafis that, “If Allah is not above then why did Prophet go up to meet his Lord?”

Answer: This is a nonsensical question. It is like asking, “why did Aļļaah will for the Prophet to have his first revelation by Makkah, and not in China?” You might ask them “why not?”

Aļļaah had willed for the Prophet to see Aļļaah when the Prophet was in the skies. That does not mean that it was a physical meeting. No, Aļļaah is not in a place or direction, and the seeing of Him is without Him being in a place or direction. This seeing could occur anywhere, as Aļļaah is not in a place, but Aļļaah willed for the Prophet to receive the ability to see Aļļaah while in the Sky.

Question: Please also provide an explaination to the negation of direction for Allah from Quraan, Sunnah & Aqeedah Tahawiyyah. In the past you have answered questions about alleged physical ascension and descent of Allah if you can shed some light on the above question, I would be grateful.

Answer: You should read “How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Wahabies say that Aļļaah’s speech is created, but do not know it.

August 16, 2008

Wahabi said: As for your question regarding the speech of Allah being composed of letters and words, one after the other, how can it be then eternal; if you understand our argument about infinite regress of events in the past, you will understand how Allah’s words are eternal. In fact, to claim otherwise as the Mu’tazilas do is clear cut Kufr. The Quran that we have is the uncreated speech of Allah, which is composed of Suras, verses, words and letters. This has been the creed of Imam Ahmad, and the rest of Ahl al-Sunnah, and this is one of the strongest proof for the Sunni doctrine in support of infinite regress of events in past and future.

Comment:

Infinite past events is impossible

This is contrary to your claim, because saying that past events are infinite is to say that the events prior to this moment in time have not finished. This is self-contradictory.

Words and letters is the kind of speech that creatures have

Speech consisting of words and letters is the speech of creation. For this reason one cannot say that Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of Speech is letters and sounds, because Aļļaah said:

“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ”

Meaning: “Absolutely nothing resembles Him.” (Al-Sħuuraa, 11)


Words and letters must be creations

Why? Because words and letters have a beginning. So in “bismillaah”, for example “i” comes after “b”, so when you say bismillaah, the sound “i” only becomes existent after “b” ‘s non-existence. This means “i” has become existent after non existence, which means that it needs a creator to exist. Nothing can come into existence without a creator, all Muslims must believe that.

In other words, speech that consists of words and letters is created, and since you say that Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of Speech is words and letters, then you are saying that it is created, even if you say it is “uncreated.” In other words, you made takfiir for yourself when you said: “Allah’s words are eternal. In fact, to claim otherwise, as the Mu’tazilas do, is clear cut Kufr.”

The Muˆtazilah said, like you, that Aļļaah’s speech is letters and sounds. They said it is created because it is letters and sounds, and letters and sounds have a beginning, so they must be created. You take this one step further in deviation by denying the obvious, which is that anything with a beginning, such as letters, is a creation. It is a creation because it came into existence, which means it was brought into existence. To be brought into existence is the very definition of being created.

Besides, do you not know that the Arabic language was created by Aļļaah? So if Arabic is a creation, how can Arabic speech be anything but a creation?

The meaning of the phrase “Qu’aan is not created”
When Ahlu-s-Sunnah, the AsħˆAriyys and the Ĥanafiyys, say that the “Qu’aan is not created” they are referring to Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of speech that is not sound or letters. In other words, the Speech that the book of the Qur’aan refers to.

The saying of Ahlu-s-Sunnah is that the words and letters in the printed copies of the Qu’raan refer to Aļļaah’s eternal kalaam, and tell us in Arabic what He said eternally without letters, sounds or words. It is therefore correct to say that “the Qur’aan is not created,” because the word “qur’aan” actually refers to what Aļļaah tells us, and His speech is not created. It is not correct, however, to say that the words, letters, and sounds associated with the book are not created, because words and letters need a creator, and because the Arabic language, the language of the book, is a creation.

An example to clarify is that the word “Aļļaah” refers to Aļļaah. I do not worship these letters, or the sounds of uttering this word. Rather, I worship the one they refer to. In the same sense, the words, letters and Arabic in the book are not themselves Aļļaah’s attribute of Speech, but refer to that attribute. They tell us what Aļļaah said.

Even in our daily lives, we speak of speech in this way. So for example, if I have a transcript in Arabic of something the U.N. Secretary General said, I will refer to it as “the U.N. Secretary General‘s speech”, although his actual, real speech is something in the president Himself, meanings inside of him that he wanted to express (like when you say, “I have something to say in mind) – his internal speech. Alternatively, his real speech is his speech of letters and sounds, that he expressed in another language at a particular point in time, the speech that was originally just meanings that he had in mind. The paper with the transcript, however, just tells me what he said. So if I handed the Arabic transcript to someone saying, “This is the U.N. Secretary General‘s speech,” no one would understand from this that his real speech was in Arabic. No one would tell me, “liar, it was not in Arabic.” No one would tell me, “Liar, the speech of the president occurred days ago from his mouth. It was sounds, not written words.”

The reason is that such transcripts and other forms of narration, that refer to the speaker’s real speech are customarily called “so and so’s speech.” This is why the letter’s and sounds we find in the books of the Qur’aan are called Aļļaah’s Kalaam/Speech, even though His eternal speech is not created, and therefore not words, letters or sounds.

From this we know that the word “Qur’aan” has two meanings. The first is the book, the organized and sequential Arabic words and letters of the muşĥaf. The second it the eternal Speech of Aļļaah that the words and letters of the muşĥaf refer to, and that is not itself words, letters, language or sequence.

Lately some of the wahabis think themselves clever and ask: “Who said alif laam miim?” Let me respond to that with a question: “Who created the Arabic language which alif and laam and miim are part of?”


Q&A: medicine and cause/ reg. if someone calls Allah “cause.”

August 13, 2008

Question:

My first question is about “causes of normalcy”, and arose after reading this article.  When ‘ulama give fatawa about e.g. the use of ta’wiz, almost every single one of the fatawa mentions that one must not believe the words have any affect in themselves, but are empowered to do so by Allah ta’ala. Am I right in being concerned about the Muslims’ belief regarding the use of medication, since the whole issue of Allah being the original creator of shifa’ seems to be forgotten by the awam (especially among medical doctors here in the West)?

Every new event in the universe is only a possibility. That is, if A happens, then what happens next is as specified by Aļļaah only. “A” itself has no actual influence on what will happen next. So there is no cause in the sense of one event actually influencing another in the next moment of time. What we call causes are really just events that Aļļaah have willed to be correlated. Using medicine is fine, as long as one believes that the cure is actually from Aļļaah, not from the medicine. This is what is called “to act according to causes,” and it consists of looking at how things correlate in the world, and then act accordingly to achieve one’s objectives. One must believe that there is no actual power to influence in the causes, even a created one. It is in reality only correlation, because every new event is an event specified and created by Aļļaah, and Aļļaah is not influenced by anything or anyone.

Question:

Also, as far as I know, these “causes of normalcy” are called asbab in Arabic, but what is the other one called in Arabic, the one if one calls Allah it, according to hanafis one is commiting kufr?

It is kufr to call Aļļaah “cause” (in Arabic “sabab” or ” ˆillah”, ) because it is disrespectful. Aļļaah Himself is not a cause, He creates, and His act of creating results in things to come into existence and change. When someone calls Aļļaah Himself “cause” he is implying that Aļļaah has no choice but to bring things into existence. Muslims must believe that Aļļaah creates with a will. That being said, keep in mind that it is not allowed to name Aļļaah anything without His permission.


Question: what is Khulf al-Wa`d and Khulf al-Wa`id

August 11, 2008

Question: what is Khulf al-Wa`d and Khulf al-Wa`id and what is the difference between Imkan al-Kadhib, Khulf al-Wa`d, and Khulf al-Wa`id?

Answer: There is no big difference, just different words for the same thing. Imkan al-Kadhib, means “possibility of saying something untrue,” “Khulf al-Wa`d” means to promise something, and then not do it. “Khulf al-Wa`id,” means to threaten something, and then not do it. When Aļļaah says that the blasphemers will be in Hell forever, for example, then this is a threat that must come true, because Aļļaah does not lie, and nothing can prevent what He wills. When Aļļaah tells us this, it is because He knows what will happen in the future.


Q & A: Explaining the “Mustahil” or “Rationally Impossible”

August 7, 2008

Question: I am a novice in regards to hard `aqida and `ilm al-kalam. Could you explain to me the issue of Imkan al-Kidhb in a very simple manner (and could you also tell me what Muhal, mumkin, jayiz-`aqli , jayiz-dhati, and Mustahil means)?

Answer: You should learn the following from my commentary on what Al Sanusi said (Arabic followed by translation bolded in brackets):

اعلم أن الحكم العقلي ينحصر في ثلاثة أقسام الوجوب والاستحالة والجواز

{Know that the judgments of the intellect are limited to 3 categories:
1)    what absolutely must be,
2)    what absolutely cannot be, and
3)    what may be.}

That is, if we propose something to exist in itself, or in relation to something else, then our minds will judge that this existence is absolutely necessary, absolutely impossible, or possible. For example, if someone said, “`Umar exists,” a listener would immediately consider this proposition as possible, without knowing more about this `Umar.

The judgment of the mind may be immediately obvious, or it may require some thinking. Note that these categories refer to purely intellectual judgments, regardless of any physical evidences or other information. These intellectual judgments are not the only sources of certitude of knowledge. There are two other ways.

First, we may gain certainty of knowledge through sound sensory organs by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching. For example, we become certain of our own existence and that of our families through our senses.

Second, we may gain certitude about a fact by hearing about something from other people in a way that precludes the possibility of a mistake. For example, we are certain about the historical occurrence of World War II and the existence of Hitler, because we have received consistent information from masses of people about these facts. The way we received this information eliminates the  possibility that they could all be mistaken, or have conspired to lie.

In short, the causes of knowledge for creations are three: sound senses, true information and the mind. What Al Sanusi is concerned with here, however, are the pure judgments of the mind, regardless of sensory input or information from others. This is because the pure judgments of the mind are essential to proving the Islamic creed regarding Allah to be correct. After all, Allah is not something one captures with one’s senses, as He is not something physical.

فالواجب ما لا يتصور في العقل عدمه

1)    {What absolutely must be is what the mind absolutely does not accept the non-existence of.} That is, to propose its non-existence would be irrational. It is thus labeled as necessarily existing, required to exist, impossible not to exist, or the like. In Arabic the expression for this is wajib.

That which must be does not need anything for its existence. This is because if it did, then it would depend on that other thing to exist. Thereby its existence would be a possibility, not a must. Allah’s existence, and His attributes, absolutely must be.

There is another type of must be, which is not absolute, but dependent on the existence of something else that is not a must. For example, when a body exists, we know it must be in a location. The body itself, however, is only possible in existence to begin with.

والمستحيل ما لا يتصور في العقل وجوده
2)    {What absolutely cannot be is what the mind does not accept the potential existence of under any circumstance.} That is, the proposition of its possible existence is absolutely irrational and logically incongruent. The impossible is expressed as “necessarily non-existing,” or “required not to exist,” “rationally impossible” or “impossible to exist.” In Arabic the expression for impossibleis muhaal or mustahil.

This does not meant that it is impossible to propose the idea of its existence. This is because the proposal only requires putting words together to form a descriptive sentence, such as: “the spherical ball is perfectly cubical.” It is just that when one analyzes the meaning behind the words, one ends up with an absurdity. For example, the expression: “The round circle is a perfect square” is a grammatically sound sentence. It does not, however, have a sound meaning. Its proposition is impossible, because it expresses a contradiction of terms.

Note that what absolutely cannot be does not refer to what is merely practically or normally impossible, such as rivers flowing up a mountain, replacing the Atlantic Ocean with orange juice, walking to the moon, or awaking the dead.

والجائز ما يصح في العقل وجوده وعدمه
3)    {What may be is that which the mind alone can accept the existence or non-existence of.} All created things fall into this category. Note that we are only speaking of the mind’s judgment, without reference to any other information or evidence. In Arabic the expression for this is jaa’iz (`aqliyy or dhaati).

The Arabic expression Imkan al-Kidhb means “possibility of lying”. Some ignorant non-Muslims (that claim to be Muslims) say that it is possible that Aļļaah could lie, i.e. that it belongs in category 3 above. To lie is to say something that is not true. This is a flaw, and it is impossible that Aļļaah should have flaws. This is the simple answer. There are longer answers on this website under “Refutations” if you feel you want more details.

Question: Also, one of my non-Muslim friends asked me this question: Is it possible for Allah (Subhan wa Ta`ala) to create a stone so large that he (Subhan wa Ta`ala) can not lift it? Could you answer that rationally and Islamically (according to the books of `aqeeda) ?
This is the typical Satanic question, where a kaafir asks “Can Allah <insert impossible proposition>?” The answer to this particular question is that Allah is not a body, so the idea of lifting in the sense that Christians would think of it does not befit Allah, because He is not a body, unlike what those idiots think. The question then is non-sensical, because Allah does not need a body to move something from a low place to a higher place. If the Christian means by lifting simply having something moved from one place to another, then the answer is that the inability to move something is a weakness, and since what is weak cannot be god, the question he asked is actually “Is it possible for Allah, who is not Aļļaah, to create a stone so large that he can not lift it?” This is because whatever is weak is not god, and whatever is not god is not Allah, so it is a meaningless question.

Q & A: Figures of Speech

August 5, 2008

Someone asked, after reading “The Foundations of the Religion“:

Dear Shaikh, The proof was conclusive and it has surely increased my iman but how does one explain statements like Allah descends to the lowest heaven at night time and that on the Day of Reckoning He along with the angels would arrive on the earth. They apparently don’t fit with the belief that Allah is where he has always been and does not move as He is independent of space.

Answer: First of all, you must not say that He is where He has always been, say instead, “He is as He has always been.” Second, I am not aware of any scripture that states, as you say, “Allah will arrive on Earth.” Perhaps you are referring to the Quranic “wa jaa’a Rabbuka”. Abul Faraj Ibn Al-Jawziyy, a famous Hanbali of the 6th century, said about this, and other scripture texts that apparently, but not actually, ascribe physical attributes to Allah:

<<…. 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 Allah, and what is impossible to be and attribute of His. Among the things that it is impossible that Allah 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 Allah. The Imam Ahmad said “wa jaa’ Rabbuka” means: “His orders came”. (If literally translated it would state: wa (and) jaa’ (He came) Rabbuka (your Lord).(Kashf Al Mushkil 3/3791)>>

As for the nuzul, translated by some as “descending,” mentioned for the last third of the night, the scholars that assigned a meaning said that it refers to the angel of Allah that comes to the Sky at that time to announce the acceptability of supplications at that time. I.e. it means “the Angel of Allah descends.” Others said that it is a figure of speech to emphasize the acceptability of supplications at that time. Even in English you could say something like “Bush came to Iraq,” even if it was only his army that came, so that the actual meaning is “Bush’s army came to Iraq.”

None of what you mentioned is problematic in Arabic. It is very confusing, however, when these scriptures are translated to English literally, because these translations would not work well, or work at all, as figures of speech in English. Such translations makes the claim of Sunnis that these aren’t literally meant seem weak, when it is actually not.

Take for example the statement in the Qur’aan: “وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّك” (Ar-Rahman). Many have translated this, stating something like: “But the Face of your Lord will remain.” Now, in English this sounds like they are saying that Allah has an actual face. It will also sound extremely weird, from a English linguistic viewpoint, to claim that “face” here means “self”, because their English phrase “the Face of your Lord” simply cannot mean “the self of your Lord” in English. It also could not mean in English “what is done for the sake of your Lord.” In Arabic, however, both “the self of your Lord (i.e. He Himself)” and “what is done for the sake of your Lord” are plausible understandings of “وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ”, which they translated as “But the Face of your Lord will remain.”

In fact, I cannot think of any acceptable figurative meaning of their English “the Face of your Lord.” The reason is that “face” simply does not have many meanings beyond, well, “face” in English. The word “wajh” in Arabic, however, has very many meanings, such as face, leader, something acceptable, surface, status, intention, direction, way, etc., etc. It is safe to say that such translations, even when done by people who don’t believe in the literal meaning, cause a great deal of confusion. It is as if one is saying, “face here does not mean face!”

Another issue is that even in Arabic, when several such scriptures are mentioned together, and not in the context that they were revealed, then it is also misleading. As an example in English, let us say that you came and asked a favour from me, like convincing the government not to make you pay taxes, and I replied, “this matter is not in my hands.” If I answered you like this, you would understand me as saying, “I have no influence,” and the thought of actual “hands” would not even enter your mind. However, if you heard me say, “this matter is not in my hands. It is in the hands of the government, but my hands are tied,” in this case you might start thinking of actual “hands,” even though these were 3 figures of speech put together, and the meanings have nothing to do with actual hands. The reason why the concept of a physical hand here starts to creep into your mind is that people do not usually use several figures of speech together. The basic principle of communication is to say things literally, and figures of speech are exceptions that make language more beautiful. Too much of it, however, quickly becomes awkward.

Those who believe Allah to be physical use this method, putting several figurative scriptures together, and out of context, to make people think of limbs, movement, sitting and the like. This is just like when I made you think of hands when I said “this matter is not in my hands, It is in the hands of the government, but my hands are tied,” even though actual hands have nothing to do with what I said.

The figures of speech in Arabic that some deviants interpret literally to mean that Allah is physical are not problematic to someone who knows Allah, and knows Arabic. Only someone who does not know Allah, and is ignorant in Arabic will get confused and think of physical attributes. This is what I was referring to at the end of “The Foundations of the Religion” when I said:

“Identifying literal meanings that are absurd is of particular importance in matters of belief, so it deserves a more detailed discussion. It should first be pointed out that rejecting absurd meanings and understanding expressions as figures of speech is something natural that we all do constantly. To illustrate: A few years ago the telephone company AT&T had an advertising slogan saying, “Reach out and touch someone.” What they meant here was not a physical touch, but simply pleasing another person by calling them. To interpret this slogan literally would be absurd and laughable. We know this through our knowledge of what a telephone is and what it is not.

In this same manner, among others, figurative speech is identified in the Quran and hadith; a learned Muslim knows what attributes are impossible for the Creator or a prophet to have. He knows thereby that expressions in the Quran whose literal meaning implies attributes that are physical, or have a beginning, or an end, or change, must not be taken literally. He knows that interpreting them literally would be absurd and an insult to the Creator, just like the sane person who heard the AT&T slogan knew its literal meaning to be absurd.”

You may also benefit from reading Wahhabi Contention: How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?

Abu Adam

1كشف المشكل ج3/ص379: 1819 2257 – وفي الحديث التسعين ينزل ربنا كل ليلة إلى السماء الدنيا حين يبقى ثلث الليل الآخر وفي رواية إذا ذهب ثلث الليل الأول أصح الروايات عن أبي هريرة إذا بقي ثلث الليل الآخر كذلك قال الترمذي وحديث النزول قد رواه جماعة عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم منهم أبو بكر وعلي وابن مسعود وأبو الدرداء وابن عباس وأبو هريرة وجبير بن مطعم ورفاعة الجهني والنواس بن سمعان وأبو ثعلبة الخشني وعثمان بن أبي العاص وعائشة في آخرين وقد ذكرت فيما تقدم من مسند ابن عمر وأنس وغيرهما في مثل هذه الأشياء أنه يجب علينا أن نعرف ما يجوز على الله سبحانه وما يستحيل ومن المستحيل عليه الحركة والنقلة والتغير فيبقى ما ورد في هذا فالناس فيه قائلان أحدهما الساكت عن الكلام فيه وقد حكى أبو عيسى الترمذي عن مالك بن أنس وسفيان بن عيينة وعبد الله بن المبارك أنهم قالوا في هذه الأحاديث أمروها بلا كيف فهذه كانت طريقة عامة السلف والثاني المتأول فهو يحملها على ما توجبه سعة اللغة لعلمه بأن ما يتضمنه النزول من الحركة مستحيل على الله سبحانه وتعالى وقد قال الإمام أحمد “وجاء ربك” (الفجر 22 ) أي جاء أمره .

–Abul Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzi (508-597 AH/ 1114-1201 AD). Kashf Al-Mushkil. Riyadh: Dar Al Watan, 1997.


Fakhruddin Al Raazi makes takfir for the Mujassimah, the Hululiyyah and the Hurufiyyah

August 1, 2008

Proofs tell us that the who says that God is a body is a disbeliever in God (who is greatly above and clear of flaws). The reason is that the God of the World exists, and He is not a body, or stationed in a body. So if the one who believes that God is a body denies this non-bodily existence, then he has disbelieved in God Himself. This means that the disagreement between the one that believes that God is a body, and the monotheist (i.e. in the Islamic sense, namely that God does not have a partner, part or a like in His self of attributes), is not based on a disagreement regarding attributes, but regarding the self (i.e. the identity of the one attributed with godhood.) It is sound to say then, that the one who believes that God is a body does not believe in Allah….

As for the Hululiyyah (those who believe that Allah settles in created things, such as the sky or a human body) and Hurufiyyah (those who believe that Allah’s attribute of Kalam/Speech consists of letters and sounds) sects, we say that they are unequivocally disbelievers. This is because Allah declared the Christians blasphemers for believing that Allah’s speech entered into Jesus, whereas the Hurufiyyah believe that it settles in the tongue of all those who recite Quran, and in all physical things that the Quran was written on. Accordingly, if the belief in its settlement in one single body (Jesus) is blasphemy, then it is even more blasphemous to believe that it settles in all shapes and bodies (Fakhruddin Al Raazi. Mafaatiiĥ Al-Għayb[1])


[1] الدليل دل على أن من قال إن الإله جسم فهو منكر للإله تعالى، وذلك لأن إله العالم موجود ليس بجسم ولا حال في الجسم، فإذا أنكر المجسم هذا الموجود فقد أنكر ذات الإله تعالى، فالخلاف بين المجسم والموحد ليس في الصفة، بل في الذات، فصح في المجسم أنه لا يؤمن بالله أما المسائل التي حكيتموها فهي اختلافات في الصفة، فظهر الفرق. وأما إلزام مذهب الحلولية والحروفية، فنحن نكفرهم قطعاً، فإنه تعالى كفر النصارى بسبب أنهم اعتقدوا حلول كلمة { ٱللَّهِ } في عيسى وهؤلاء اعتقدوا حلول كلمة { ٱللَّهِ } في ألسنة جميع من قرأ القرآن، وفي جميع الأجسام التي كتب فيها القرآن، فإذا كان القول بالحلول في حق الذات الواحدة يوجب التكفير، فلأن يكون القول بالحلول في حق جميع الأشخاص والأجسام موجباً للقول بالتكفير كان أولى.