As-Ghazaaliyy in his book “Iljam Al-Awam”: Those who believe Allaah is a body are idolaters

July 29, 2013

Al-Ghazaaliyy says in “Iljaam Al-ˆawaam” that denying bodily characteristics for Aļļaah is a primary duty of all Muslims, scholars and commoners alike. He makes it clear that believing that Allaah is a body (i.e. something that has size) is kufr and idolatry:

I mean by “body” something with length, width and depth that prevents something else to exist where it exists…. So if it came to someone’s mind that Aļļaah is a body composed of limbs, then this person is an idol worshiper. The reason is that all bodies are created, and to worship something created is kufr. After all, idol worship is kufr because the idol is created, and the idol is created because it is a body. Hence, the one who worships a body is a kaafir by the consensus of the Muslim Nation, both the salaf and those later.

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Wahabi claims Al-Ghazaaliyy was against Kalaam science

July 28, 2013

Wahabi claims:

“A glance at Iljaam al-‘Awwaam ‘an ‘Ilm al-Kalaam will prove to us that he had indeed changed in many ways: In this book he advocated the belief of the salaf… denounced ta’weel… and denounced the scholars of ‘ilm al-kalaam…“

Sunni response:

First, of course Al-Ghazaaliyy advocated the belief of the Salaf, no one would say otherwise. Deviants and Sunnis alike claim to be following the Salaf, who else would they claim to follow? The question is: what did he mean by the “way of the Salaf”?

Al-Ghazaaliyy explains the way of the Salaf as making 7 consecutive tasks incumbent on Muslim commoners when it comes to aayahs and hadiith narrations that may make someone think of Aļļaah in bodily or anthropomorphic terms. These are the tasks in sequence:

  1. The first is to deny thinking of Allaah in bodily terms, like limbs, sitting, moving, being in a direction or location, etc.
  2. The second is to believe that whatever is actually meant is true, even if one is capable of knowing the exact meaning.
  3. The third is to admit to oneself that one is incapable of knowing the exact meaning.
  4. The fourth is silence, i.e. not trying to explain the exact meaning (beyond what is NOT meant, as is done in the first task or principle.)
  5. The fifth is to refrain from translating such statements to another language or from adding or removing anything from them; they should be narrated exactly as is by the letter.
  6. The sixth is self-restraint by not thinking of the meaning and trying to figure it out.
  7. The seventh is to leave the detailed understanding of such aayahs and hadiiths to the expert scholars

Of course, the 7th task implies quite explicitly that there are scholars of Kalaam, and that the 7 tasks are for commoners, not for all Muslims. This is because Kalaam is needed to heal situations where deviants have managed to confuse people. Hence the way of the Salaf is to impose these 7 tasks upon commoners, not upon scholars that specialize in refuting deviants.

Hence, the wahabis have nothing to support them here, because Al-Ghazaaliyy’s proposed first task for commoners is to deny that Aļļaah resembles His creation (e.g. by being a body). This denying of bodily attributes is what wahabis are referring to when they accuse people of “denying Aļļaah’s attributes”. In contrast, Al-Ghazaaliyy says above that denying bodily characteristics for Aļļaah is a primary duty of all Muslims, scholars and commoners alike. He also says the following in the very same book:

I mean by “body” something with length, width and depth that prevents something else to exist where it exists…. So if it came to someone’s mind that Aļļaah is a body composed of limbs, then this person is an idol worshiper. The reason is that all bodies are created, and to worship something created is kufr. After all, idol worship is kufr because the idol is created, and the idol is created because it is a body. Hence, the one who worships a body is a kaafir by the consensus of the Muslim Nation, both the salaf and those later.

Here is something more explicit to what I said above. Al-Ghazaaliyy says in the very last subsection of “Iljaam” that if someone has deviance that needs advanced and detailed proofs of Kalaam in order to be treated, then this is done for him alone, and the issues raised are not raised in public. This is because he considers such proofs as medicine, and one does not give medicine to healthy people. He says that this is the way of the Salaf. I.e. not to get into advanced Kalaam issues with commoners, but only use it as needed.

In sum, Kalaam science is not forbidden in absolute terms according to Al-Ghazaaliyy. What he is against is getting into details of Kalaam that people don’t need to remain steadfast in their faith, because it may harm them by confusing them. However, he also insists that every Muslim must know that Aļļaah is not something with bodily attributes like sitting, being in a direction or location, having limbs or size, etc. It is the denial of such attributes that the wahabis call Kalaam and are against. This is because they are non-Muslim idol worshipers, as Al-Ghazaaliyy stated above.

Their spiritual leader, Ibn Taymiyyah, was actually a devious demagogue taking advantage of people’s lack of thinking skills. He himself wrote huge volumes in Kalaam, so how can he claim to be against it and keep a straight face? He was a philosopher with many statements of opinion on philosophical matters, such as those outlined here. He was not against Kalaam, he was against anyone that did not accept his idea that Allaah is a body that moves around and is shrinkable in size, is compelled to act to remain perfect, (i.e. that Aļļaah could not have chosen not to create anything, i.e. according to him, Aļļaah has a need to create) and other terrible blasphemies he endorsed in devious ways.


Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 2

July 25, 2013

As for what is narrated from Al-Shafiˆiyy in blame of Kalaam, it is most likely, based on who he is and on his status, that he never said any of it. However, even if it is true, what he was referring to was some deviants in his time, because the science of Kalaam includes all of the different groups and sects. Indeed, Kalaam science began, was recorded in books, was studied and became part of the Sunni curriculum for the purpose of refuting the Muˆtazilites and other deviants….

Indeed, how would Al-Shafiˆiyy be against Kalaam as a science when he himself wrote the book “Kitab Al-Qiyas” in Kalaam science and wrote a book refuting the Brahmans (Indian philosophers)!? Likewise Abu Haniifah wrote books in Kalaam, such as “al-ˆAalim wa Al-Mutaˆallim” and “Al-Wasiyyah”. Further, Malik studied Kalaam for some 15 years … but he did not author books.

Moreover, Al-Shafiˆiyy founded the science of Foundations of Fiqh, which is strongly related Kalaam Science. After all, it needs to begin with abstract definition such as the meaning of “knowledge”, “will”, “speech”, details on the meaning of “order”, “forbidding”, etc. He would not object to Kalaam as a field of science when his own books are full of Kalaam topics!

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 26-27


Against those who speak ill of Kalaam – based on Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Part 1

July 24, 2013

There are three types of people that are against the honorable science of Kalaam:  complete heretics, some deviant innovators, and imitators of literalists that associate themselves with Islam:

As for the heretics, one would expect nothing less from them, since they have no one to expose their blemishes and blind imitation of habits other than the specialists in Kalaam. Indeed, it has been said:

كل العداوات قد ترجى مودتها … إلا عداوة من عاداك في الدين

All enmities are hoped to turn to affections

Except the enmity of religious inclinations

As for the innovators, especially the Muˆtazilah and those who deny predestination, they did not generally reject Kalaam as a scientific field, but engaged in it. They were only against Sunni Kalaam.

As for the literalists, they are of three kinds:

1-         Those who say Kalaam has no basis in the religion because neither the Prophet nor the companions engaged in it. They also argue based on misguided interpretations of certain statements in the Qur’aan or in hadith narrations. This group (of literalists) is the most harmful to the common people among all groups against Sunni Kalaam. This is because they appear to (but not actually) find justification in the religion itself for their objections and convince people of their misguided interpretations.

2-         Those that believe that the science of Kalaam is the foundation of the religious sciences, but do not admit it because unlike some others they did not try to learn it, or tried but were unable to master it. Hence, they become against it out of arrogance and envy.

3-         Foolish imitators who follow one of the groups mentioned.

With regard to the first type of literalists, it is in fact known that there are no authentic narrations from the great scholars that attack or speak against this knowledge or science. And how can someone who claims to be a Muslim object to a science which:

  • Establishes and proves that Allaah is One and has attributes of complete perfection and refutes that Allaah has any flaws and declares Him clear of the wrong ideas that the deviants and blasphemers ascribe to Him?
  • Proves and affirms Prophethood based on miracles and on the same bases shows the difference between a prophet and a liar?
  • Establishes what an accountable person is accountable for, and when and how?

What trace of belief is left in someone who objects to this science and encourages people to avoid it?

Source: Muqaddimaat al-Maraashid, Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sabtiyy (614/1217), Maktabah Al-Thaqaafah Al-Deeniyah, 2008, p. 25-26


Abuu Manşuur Al-Bagħdaadiy: those who say that Allaah has a body are the worst of all deviant sects

July 20, 2013

Abuu Manşuur Al-Bagħdaadiy states about those who say that Aļļaah has a body, or that events happen in Him or His attributes (such as hearing or seeing one thing after another as they happen to creation) : “All those who disagreed with them say that they are blasphemers, so in this respect they are the worst of all the deviant sects (‘Uşuulu-d-Diin, 338).” He also commented: “By claiming that Aļļaah has events happen to Him, they ruined for themselves the proof of the monotheists which holds that bodies are creations since they have events in them. Based on this principle of theirs, they cannot prove that the world has a beginning, and thus they have no way of knowing the Creator of the world. Consequently, they are like all others who do not know Him (‘Uşuulu-d-Diin, 337-338).” (Ed. That is, they are idolaters.)


As-Subkiyy: Those who believe Allaah is a body are idolaters

July 18, 2013

As-Subkiyy in his Tabaqaatu-sħ-Sħaafiˆiyyatu-l-Kubraa says regarding scripture texts that appear to be referring to bodily attributes: “the saying of the mujassimah (anthropomorphists), worshipers of the idol, makes them always focus on ambiguous aayahs.[1] (Ţabaqaat Asħ-Sħaafiˆiyyah Al-Kubraa, 5/192)“ This is a very strong takfiir, saying that they are in fact idolworshipers.


[1] طبقات الشافعية الكبرى : إنما المصيبة الكبرى والداهية الدهياء الإمرار على الظاهر والاعتقاد أنه المراد وأنه لا يستحيل على الباري فذلك قول المجسمة عباد الوثن الذين في قلوبهم زيغ يحملهم الزيغ على اتباع المتشابه ابتغاء الفتنة عليهم لعائن الله تترى واحدة بعد أخرى ما أجرأهم على الكذب وأقل فهمهم للحقائق طبقات الشافعية الكبرى  ج 5   ص 192


Knowledge is not from books alone

July 17, 2013

It was reported in ĥadiitħs[1] by Aĥmad[2], At-Tirmidħiyyy[3], Ad-Daarimiyy[4] and Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy[5] that the Prophet r was asked, after telling them that knowledge of the religion will disappear in the future, “O Prophet of Aļļaah, how can knowledge disappear when we have copies of the Qur’aan and we have learned what they contain, and we have taught our children and our wives and our servants?” He raised his head in anger and said, “These Jews and Christians have with them their scriptures, yet they did not learn from them what their prophets brought them.”[6] That is, books alone are not enough; there must also be scholars that transfer the knowledge from one generation to the next, and can explain what is found in books.


[1]     A ĥadiitħ is a statements about what the Prophet said, did or did not do in different circumstances.

[2]     Aĥmad ibn Muĥammad ibn Ĥanbal Asħ-Sħaybaaniyy Al-Waa’iliyy (164 h. – 241 h.) is the Imam of the fourth school of fiqh: the Ĥanbaliyy school of Islamic Jurisprudence. His father was a governor in Sarkħas, but Imaam Aĥmad grew up in Bagħdaad. He devoted his life to teaching and learning, and is said to have memorized some 1 million ĥadiitħs. He was imprisoned and beaten from some time by a ruler who was influenced by a deviant sect. Az-Zirikliyy, Al-‘Aˆlaam (2002), 1/203.

[3]     Muĥammad ibn ˆIisaa ibn Sawrah ibn Muusaa ibn Ađ-Đaĥĥaak As-Sulamiyy Al-Buugħiyy At-Tirmidħiyy, Abuu ˆIisaa (209-279 AH/ 824-892 AD).  He was a great scholar of ĥadiitħ and is the author of one of the six most reliable ĥadiitħ collections. He became blind towards the end of his life. Ibid., 6/322.

[4]     ˆAbduļļaah ibn ˆAbdurRaĥmaan ibn Al-Fađl ibn Bahraam At-Tamiimiyy Ad-Daarimiyy As-Samarqandiyy (181-255 AH/797-869 AD.) He was a great scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence (fiqh) and ĥadiitħ. He was one of the teachers of Muslim, the author of the ĥadiitħ collection “Şaĥiiĥ Muslim.” Ibid., 4/95-96.

[5]     Aĥmad ibn Muĥammad ibn Salaamah Al-‘Azdiyy Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy, Abuu Jaˆfar (239-321 AH/ 853-933 AD). The great jurisprudent and ĥadiitħ scholar. He was born in Şaˆiid in Egypt, and was the nephew of Al-Muzaniyy, a famous student of Asħ-Sħaafiˆiyy. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy first studied jurisprudence in the Sħaafiˆiyy school, but later became the head of the Ĥanafiyy school in Egypt at his time. Among his famous books is his manifesto of the creed of Sunni Islaam, known as the creed of Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy. Ibid., 1/206.

[6] ˆAliy Al-Qaariy, Mirqaatu-l-Mafaatiiĥ (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 2001), 1/484.