Deviant objections to the fact that Allaah has no obligations

Some deviants say: Yes, it is rationally possible for Allah to do wrong, or Ţħulm, because the Prophet said of Allah in Hadeeth Qudsi, ‘I have forbidden oppression on myself’. He could only forbid oppression if it was possible for Him to commit.

Answer: The ĥadiitħ qudsiyy saying they are referring to was narrated by Muslim, and is as follows:

إِنِّي حَرَّمْت الظُّلْم عَلَى نَفْسِي

If translated literally, it would be: ‘I have forbidden injustice upon myself’

The literal translation implies that injustice would in principle be possible, because otherwise there would be nothing to forbid. However, this literal meaning is impossible, because of the meaning of injustice. It either means:

  1. to cross the rules that have been imposed upon one, or
  2. to deal in someone else’s property without a right.

These meanings cannot be true of Aļļaah to begin with, they have no relevance to Him Himself, so how could they become forbidden?! In other words, those who claim that it is rationally possible are going to have to say that He has someone that can impose rules upon Him, or that there is a property that is not His! We ask Aļļaah for protection against such heresy.

That is why An-Nawawiyy commented on this ĥadiitħ saying:

The meaning is ‘Aļļaah is clear of and above the imperfection of injustice,’ because injustice is impossible with regards to Him. How could he cross any rule imposed upon him, and there is no one above Him that He would have to obey?! How could He deal in the property of someone else, when all of the world is His property and under His might?! The origin of the world ĥarrama (translated above as forbid) is “to be prevented,” so the meaning of “being clear of the imperfection” was expressed with the word “forbidden,” because one aspect of its meaning is similar to “being clear of”, namely the meaning of non-existence. (I.e. what is prevented does not exist, just as what one is clear of does not exist.)[1]

A similar issue is raised when the deviants say that Aļļaah could have obligations. To show this, they mention aayahs like the following:

كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ

Meaning if literally translated: “He has written upon Himself mercy.” (Al-‘Anˆaam, 12)

كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ

Meaning if literally translated: “Your Lord has written upon Himself mercy.” (Al-‘Anˆaam, 54)

An-Nasafiyy said in his tafsiir regarding these Aayahs:

The original meaning of write (kataba) is obligate, but it is not allowed to take it literally, because nothing is obligatory upon Aļļaah to do for created beings. The meaning then, is that He promised an ascertained promise that He will definitely hold. The mention of “Himself” is for the purpose of linguistic specification of Him and that it was not through means.[2]

Aţ-Ţabariyy said:

He decreed (i.e. for it to be, not obligated) that He will give mercy to His created beings. He does not punish them hastily, and accepts from them their repentance. This mention from Aļļaah is for the purpose of inclining those who have turned away from Him towards Him through repentance.[3]

The same was mentioned by Al-Bagħawiyy in his tafsiir.[4]

The important linguist and commentator on the Qur’aan Abuu Ĥayyaan said:

When Aļļaah mentioned that the creator of the word does what He wills with what is in it, and this indicates that His Power is effective, He followed this with a mention of His mercy and favors to creation. The apparent meaning of kataba (has written) is that of the sense of rows and strokes. This is what a number of people said is the meaning in this context, and that what is meant is actual writing, and that the meaning is that He ordered it to be written in Al-Lawĥ Al-Maĥfuuţħ (the Preserved Tablet). (Note: This is the same meaning as when Aţ-Ţabariyy said it mean that “He decreed.”)

It has been said that the meaning of “kataba” is that He promised as a grace and benevolence from Him. It has also been said that it means “He informed.” It has also been said that He made it necessary, in the sense as a grace and benevolence,  not in the sense of obligation. It has also been said that it means, “decreed and executed.”[5]

[1] Al-Nawawiyy, Sharĥ Saĥiiĥ Muslim Li-l-Nawawiyy (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ihyaa’ Al-Turath Al-Arabi, 1392), Vo. 16, P. 132.

[2] Abuu Barakaat Al-Nasafiy, Madaariku-t-Tanziil wa Ĥaqaa’iqu-t-Ta’wiil, ed. Maĥmuud Muĥammad Asħ-Sħaˆˆaar, 1st ed. (Beirut, Lebanon: Daar An-Nafaa’is, 2005), Vol. 2, P. 7.

[3] Abuu Jaˆfar Aţ-Ţabariy, Jaamiˆu-l-Bayaan Fiy Ta’wiili-l-Qur’aan (Beirut, Lebanon: Mu’assasah Al-Risaalah, 1420), Vol 11, P. 273.

[4] NaşirudDiin Al-Bayđaawiyy (685 AH/ 1286 AD), Tafsiir Al-Bayđaawiyy (Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Fikr, n.d.), Vol. 3, P. 130.

[5] Abuu Ĥayyaan Al-Andalusiyy, Al-Baĥru-l-Muĥiiţ (Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Fikr, n.d.), Vol. 4, P. 81.


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