The Sunni Belief – Al-Taftaazaaniyy

August 6, 2013

I thought some of you might appreciate the below. I have inserted some comments of my own for clarification purposes in [brackets like these]:

The way of the Sunnis is to believe that:

  • The world has a beginning.

وطريقة أهل السنة أن العالم حادث

  • The Creator is beginningless and is attributed with attributes that are beginningless.
  • The attributes of the Creator are not Him Himself [i.e. Aļļaah is not merely an attribute, e.g. we do not believe that Aļļaah is power, but that He is attributed with power], nor other than Him [i.e. His attributes are not divisible or parts].

والصانع قديم متصف بصفات قديمة ليست عينه ولا غيره

  • The Creator is One, He does not have a like [so He is not something with size nor something that has bodily characteristics], or an opposite, or a partner [i.e. there is only one Creator]

وواحد لا شبه له ولا ضد ولا ند

  • He does not have an end [to His existence or to that of His attributes] or a shape, or a limit. [Thus, He is not a body, or a plane or a particle or dot.]

ولا نهاية له ولا صورة ولا حد

  • He does not exist in something else [because He does not need anything]

ولا يحل في شيء

  • Events do not occur in Him, and [hence,] He is not attributed with movement or changing position [or stillness, since He is not a body] or ignorance, or lying, or imperfection.

ولا يقوم به حادث ولا يصح عليه الحركة والانتقال ولا الجهل ولا الكذب ولا النقص

  • He is seen [by Muslims] in the Hereafter without being in a location or direction. [I.e. seeing Him is not like seeing a creation.]

وأنه يرى في الآخرة وليس في حيز ولا جهة

  • Whatever He has willed will be, and whatever He has not willed will not be.

ما شاء كان ومالم يشأ لم يكن

  • He does not need anything.

لا يحتاج إلى شيء

  • Nothing is incumbent upon Him.

ولا يجب عليه شيء

  • Everything created [i.e. everything that has a beginning, including bodies and what occurs in them of movement, color, shape, ideas, intentions, etc.] is according to His predestination, specification, and will.

كل المخلوقات بقضائه وقدره وإرادته ومشيئته

  • [All acts of creation are created by Aļļaah,] however, acts of creation that are said to be ugly due to their sinfulness [by Aļļaah’s legal prescription] are not said to be liked, ordered or accepted by Him.

[Note: Aļļaah is not attributed with emotions, since emotions imply needs as well as change in state of being, and Aļļaah does not change. Hence, words like mahabbah (literal translation: love) are ascribed to Aļļaah in Arabic with reference to certain acts of creation to mean that these acts are rewardable in the Hereafter].

لكن القبايخ منها ليست برضاه وأمره ومحبته

  • bodily resurrection [not just in soul];
  • the torture of the grave; the accounting of the deeds [in the Hereafter];
  • the Bridge [that crosses from the plain over Hell to Paradise];
  • the scale [with pans and a fulcrum on which deeds are weighed]
  • that non-Muslims will stay in Hell without an end, but not sinful Muslims. [i.e. Muslims sent to Hell will eventually come out of Hell and go to Paradise];
  • that Aļļaah forgives [without punishment in Hell] some sinful Muslims [whose bad deeds are more weighty than their good deeds] ;
  • there is intercession.

وأن المعاد الجسماني وسائر ما ورد به السمع من عذاب القبر والحساب والصراط والميزان وغير ذلك حق وأن الكفار مخلدون في النار دون الفساق وأن العفو والشفاعة حق

  • The signs of the day of judgment are true, such as the coming of Dajjaal, as well as Ya’juuj and Ma’juuj; the descent of Jesus, the sun rising in the west, the coming of the beast [that will tell everyone whether he is a Muslim or a Blasphemer].

وأن أشراط الساعة من خروج الدجال ويأجوج ومأجوج ونزول عيسى وطلوع الشمس من مغربها وخروج دابة الأرض حق

  • The first of the prophets is Adam and the very last is Muhammad.

وأول الأنبياء آدم وآخرهم محمد

  • The first Khaliifah was Abu Bakr followed by Umar, Uthman and Ali, may Aļļaah please them.

وأول الخلفاء أبو بكر ثم عمر ثم عثمان ثم علي رضي الله عنهم

  • The status of these four is in the same order, except for some [strange and unusual] hesitation regarding the order between Uthman and Ali.

والأفضلية بهذا الترتيب مع تردد فيها بين عثمان وعلي رضي الله تعالى عنهما

  • The famous scholars of Sunni beliefs in the areas of Khurasan, Iraq, Levant, and most areas in general, are the Ashˆaris, the companions of Abu Al-Hasan Ali son of Ismaaˆiil son of Ishaaq son of Saalim son of Ismaaˆiil son of Abdullaah son of Bilaal son of Abu Burdah son of Abu Muusaa Al-AshˆAriyy, the companion of the Prophet. He was the first [student of Al-Jubbaa’iyy] to disagree with Abu Ali Al-Jubbaa’iyy [the Muˆtazilite] and reject his school of thought in order to embrace the way of the Sunnah, i.e. the way of the Prophet (may Aļļaah raise his rank further) and the jamaaˆah, i.e. the way of the companions.

والمشهور من أهل السنة في ديار خرسان والعراق والشام وأكثر الأقطار هم الأشاعرة أصحاب أبي الحسن علي بن إسماعيل بن إسحق بن سالم بن إسماعيل بن عبدالله بن بلال بن أبي بردة بن أبي موسى الأشعري صاحب رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وسلم) أول من خالف أبا علي الجبائي ورجع عن مذهبه إلى السنة أي طريقة النبي e والجماعة أي طريقة الصحابة

  • [The famous scholars of Sunni beliefs] in the lands behind the river [i.e. Amu Darya] are the companions of Al-Maaturiidiyy, who was the student of Abu Nasr Al-ˆiiaađ, the student of Abu Bakr Al-Jurjaaniyy, the companion of Abu Sulaymaan Al-Jurjaaniyy, the student of Muĥammad ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybaaniyy, may Aļļaah have mercy upon him. Maaturiid is a village in Samarkand [in today’s Uzbekistan].

وفي ديار ما وراء النهر الماتريدية أصحاب أبي منصور الماتريدي تلميذ أبي نصر العياض تلميذ أبي بكر الجرجاني صاحب أبي سليمان الجرجاني تلميذ محمد بن الحسن الشيباني رحمه الله وماتريد من قرى سمرقند

  • Some disagreement has appeared among these two groups with regard to belief and methodology issues like that of takwiin, exemption in belief [i.e. does the one who says “I am a believer – in shaa’ Aļļaah” imply doubt or not? All agree that doubt is kufr], the belief status of the imitator [but all agree that the imitator that thinks he might leave Islam if the one he imitates leaves is a kaafir, because ones commitment to the belief must be unconditional), and some other issues.

وقد دخل الآن فيها بين الطائفتين اختلاف في بعض الأصول كمسئلة التكوين ومسئلة الاستثناء في الإيمان ومسألة إيمان المقلد وغير ذلك

  • The great authenticators from the two groups of scholars do not accuse one another of bad innovation or heresy. This is unlike bigots that may even base heresy accusation on disagreements regarding detailed legal issues like animals slaughtered without mentioning the name of Aļļaah when it was not due to forgetting, or the wuđuu’ not breaking due to najis coming out of other than the private organs, or the validity of marriage without a waliyy, or prayer without reciting Fatihah.

والمحققون من الفريقين لا ينسبون أحدهما إلى البدعة والضلالة خلافا للمبطلين المتعصبين حتى ربما جعلوا الاختلاف في الفروع أيضا بدعة وضلالة كالقول بحل متروك التسمية عمدا وعدم نقض الوضوء بالخارج النجس من غير السبيلين وكجواز النكاح بدون الولي والصلاة بدون الفاتحة

  • The bigots do not recognize that bad innovations are the new matters in religion that either:
  1. were not existent [i.e. accepted] in the time of the companions or those who met the companions [and died as Muslims], or
  2. do not have a legal Islamic proof as a basis.

ولا يعرفون أن البدعة المذمومة هو المحدث في الدين من غير أن يكون في عهد الصحابة والتابعين ولا دل عليه الدليل الشرعي

  • Some ignorant people claim that all things that were not present at the time of the companions are bad innovations, even if there is no legal Islamic proof for it being bad. They base this on the saying of the Prophet (may Aļļaah raise his rank even further) [literal translation:] “Beware of new matters…” They do not know that what is meant by this is making a matter part of the religion when it is not a part of it.

ومن الجهلة من يجعل كل أمر لم يكن في زمن الصحابة بدعة مذمومة وإن لم يقم دليل على قبحه تمسكا بقوله عليه الصلاة والسلام إياكم ومحدثات الأمور ولا يعلمون أن المراد بذلك هو أن يجعل في الدين ما ليس منه

May Aļļaah protect us from following deviant whims and make us firm in following the guidance of the Prophet and His followers.

عصمنا الله من اتباع الهوى وثبتنا على اقتفاء الهدى بالنبي وآله

 

Source: Sharĥ Al-Maqaaşid, SaˆdudDiin Al-Taftaazaaniyy (712-793 H.), ˆAalam Al-Kutub, 1998, p. 231-232


Al-ˆAqiidatu-l-Mursħidah

November 19, 2009

Ibn ˆAsaakir used to teach it. Ibn Tumart is said to be the author. As-Subkiyy narrated it in Ţabaqaat Asħ-Sħaafiˆiyyah Al-Kubraa, and said, “there is nothing in it that a Sunniyy would refute.” The following is a translation of that narration:

Know, may Aļļaah guide us and you, that it is obligatory upon every accountable person to know that Aļļaah is the only God of His dominion (i.e. the worlds which are everything other than Aļļaah).

اعلم أرشدنا الله وإياك أنه يجب على كل مكلفٍ أن يعلم أن الله عز وجل واحدٌ في مُلكِه

   

He created the entire world (everything other than Him), the upper and lower, the ˆArsħ and the Kursiyy, the heavens and earth, and what is in them and what is between them.

خلق العالم بأسرِه العُلوي والسُّفلي والعرش والكرسي والسموات والأرض وما فيهما وما بينهما

   

All creation is (in reality completely powerless and) subjugated by His Power. No particle moves except by His will (i.e. by His specification – and this includes all particles in a human being).

جميع الخلائق مقهورون بقدرته لا تتحرَّك ذرّة

   

There is no one and nothing that arranges or controls the affairs of the creation other than Him, and He does not have a partner in His absolute ownership (and control) of the worlds.

إلا بإذنه ليس معه مدبِّرٌ في الخلق ولا شريكٌ في الملك

   

He is attributed with beginningless and endless life (that does not involve a body or a soul or change or development. Rather we say He is alive because He is attributed with Will, Power and Knowledge, and His life is not like our life.) and self-existent (so He has no needs).

حيٌّ قيوم

   

Meaning: It is impossible that He should get sleepy or sleep.

{لا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلا نَوْمٌ -البقرة/255}

   

Meaning: He knows absolutely everything that is hidden (to His creation) and what is apparent.

{ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ – الأنعام/73 }

   

Meaning: Nothing is hidden from Him in the Earth or in the Sky.

{ لا يَخْفَى عَلَيْهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ – آل عمران/5 }

   

Meaning: He knows what is on land and what is in the sea. Not a leaf falls but by His knowledge. There is no seed in the earth and nothing moist, like water and greenery, and nothing dry, like stones and clay, except that He knows it and everything about it in all of its states, past, present and future, and it is written in a clear book.

{ يَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَمَا تَسْقُطُ مِنْ وَرَقَةٍ إِلاّ يَعْلَمُهَا وَلا حَبَّةٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْأَرْضِ وَلا رَطْبٍ وَلا يَابِسٍ إِلاّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ – الأنعام/59 }

 

His Knowledge encompasses everything absolutely.

{ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا [الطلاق/12 }

   

He knows the count of all things.

{ وَأَحْصَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدًا – الجن/28}

   

He does whatever He wills.

{ فَعَّالٌ لِمَا يُرِيدُ – هود/107 }

   

He has the power to do whatever He wills.

قادرٌ على ما يشاءُ

   

He is the absolute owner of all the worlds (and everything in them) and He does not need anything (and everything needs Him).

له الملك والغناء

   

He is the possessor of absolute glory, (as He has the power to create anything, everything is subdued by Him without resistance and everything is known to Him) and He is attributed with everlastingness.

وله العز والبقاء

   

Rules and judgment belong to Him alone as does the decree for how things are to be.

وله الحكمُ والقضاء

   

He has the most beautiful namings (which are any meanings ascribed to Him).

وله الأسماءُ الحسنى

   

Nothing prevents what He has predestined, and nothing hinders what He gives.

لا دافِعَ لما قضى ولا مانع لما أعطى

   

He does in His kingdom whatever He wills. He rules His creation with whatever He wills.

يفعل في ملكه ما يريد ويحكم في خلقه بما يشاء

   

He does not hope for reward and does not fear punishment.

لا يرجو ثوابا ولا يخاف عقابا

   

There is no right on Him that is binding, and no one exercises rule over Him.

ليس عليه حقٌّ ولا عليه حكم

   

Every endowment from Him is due to His Generosity and every punishment from Him is just.

وكل نعمة منه فضلٌ وكل نقمة منه عدلٌ

   

He is not questioned about what He does, but they are questioned.

{ لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ – الأنبياء/23}

   

He existed before the creation. He does not have a before or an after. He does not have an above or a below, a right or a left, an in front of or a behind, a whole or a part.

موجودٌ قبل الخلق ليس له قبلٌ ولا بعدٌ ولا فوق ولا تحتٌ ولا يمينٌ ولا شِمالٌ ولا أمامٌ ولا خَلفٌ ولا كلٌّ ولا بعضٌ

   

It must not be said: When was He? Or where was He (in place)? Or how is He? He existed without a place. He created the universe and willed for the existence of time. He is not bound to time and is not designated with place.

ولا يقال متى كان ولا أين كان ولا كيف كان ولا مكان كوَّن الأكوان ودبَّر الزمان لا يتقيد بالزمان ولا يتخصص بالمكان

   

His management of one matter does not distract Him from another.

ولا يشغله شأنٌ عن شأن

   

Delusions do not apply to Him, and He is not encompassed by the mind.

ولا يلحقه وهم

   

He is not grasped by the mind, and not known in particulars.

ولا يكتنفه عقل ولا يتخصص بالذهن

   

He is not represented in one’s self.

ولا يتمثل في النفس

   

He is not pictured in the imagination.

ولا يُتصوَّر في الوهم

   

He is not modulated in the mind.

ولا يتكيف في العقل

   

Imagination and thought do not reach Him.

لا تلحقه الأوهام والأفكار

   

Meaning: Absolutely nothing resembles Him, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

{ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ – الشورى/11 }


For children: “How can we know that all other religions than Islam are incorrect when there are so many?”

October 31, 2009

(Note that unless the child asks a question, or is likely to be exposed to a question soon, you don’t have to attract his attention to something that hasn’t come to his mind. You only need to teach him the basic belief, like in the rhyme recently posted. Moreover, when addressing a child you don’t have to be complete all the time, but cover the issues that suit his mind and circumstances. In other words, you don’t have to cover all potential objections of deviants. I have put some extra things in footnotes that some children might need. That being said, the following is the answer:)

We have to look at what they believe and group them, then we can decide what is wrong with these groups.

First let us look at what they believe about God.

If we take all the people in the world, they will either believe that God exists or not.

Some believe that God does not exist. Those people are called atheists. They are the silliest people, because this world needs someone to give it the color and shape it has.

If you showed a drawing to him of a donkey, an atheist would say that someone drew that donkey. He would be sure that someone drew the shape of that donkey, and put color on it. He would laugh at you if you told him that no one drew it, or that the pen and paper got together by themselves and made the drawing. But if the color and shape of a simple drawing cannot happen without someone drawing it, how can they then believe that all the different things around us, with colors and shapes just like the donkey, gave themselves the color and shape they have? This is even more crazy than saying that a drawing was not drawn by anyone, because many of the things around us are much more amazing than a simple drawing. A baby in the mother’s stomach, for example, starts as a simple drop of liquid. Then that liquid becomes a peace of blood, then a piece of meat, and then it starts to get the shape of a human, with skin on the meat, arms, legs, stomach, intestine, blood vessels, a heart that beats to pump blood to all the parts of the body, blood that has in it all the ingredients in its mix that the different parts need, and more. Now if a simple donkey drawing must have a drawer to give it simple shape and color, how can they claim that this human does not need a creator to give it all of these things. This is really silly[1].

So the Creator definitely exists.

Now we are left with the group of people that believe that the Creator exists. We now need to group these to see who is right and who is wrong.

Those people who believe there is a creator, either say that there is only one creator, or that there are more.

There cannot be more than one, because if there were two that wanted to create a human, then they would need to agree on the shape. If they could not agree then this means that the one that did not get what he wanted is weak. This means that he is not god, because god cannot be weak. If they always agreed, then this means that both would be weak, because they would need to agree, and needing is weakness.

So the Creator is definitely One, and not more.

Now we are left with the group of people that say that the Creator exists, and is only One. We now need to group these to see who is right and who is wrong. Those are the Muslims, Christans, Jews, and some liars that claim to be Muslims called wahabis.

Those people who say there is only One Creator, either say that He is something with a shape or not.

Those who say He has a shape are very silly. I think you can understand why. Just remember what we said about the donkey drawing. We said that the donkey needs a drawer to draw its shape. So anything with a shape needs someone to give it shape. When they say that God has a shape, they are saying that He needs a creator. This means that He would be a creation, and not the Creator.

Christians and Jews believe that the creator has a shape, because it says in their book: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created man; male and female he created them.” As you know, image means shape. Another word they use for shape is limit, which is the word wahabis use – don’t let them fool you. What they are saying then, even if they do not admit it, is that God needs a creator. By saying no to this, they become just like the atheist with the donkey drawing. They will be saying that some simple shape must have someone give it its shape, but that the human shape does not. This is because they believe that god has a human shape, but was not given it.

So the Creator definitely does not have a shape.

Muslims do not believe that Aļļaah has a shape, so He does not need a creator. As you can see, Muslims have the only logical belief about Aļļaah.

You should also understand that the human that draws donkeys is not creating the drawing. This is because the human is weak. He was created by Aļļaah, and after being created, all the movements of his body is a different shape. Even when his little finger moves, this is a different shape from before moving it. He could not have moved it if Aļļaah did not create that new shape. This means that the drawing he did was created by Aļļaah, because Aļļaah created the drawer’s movements. This means it was Aļļaah that created the drawing, and that the drawer was only moving by movements created by Aļļaah. Yes, it is true that you can usually move your finger when you want, but that does not mean you created the movement. If you think about it, you do not know how you made your finger move. You do not know what muscle is working, or how you get your muscles to work. There are many things that happen in the body when you move your finger you do not control, such as millions of little parts of each muscle contracting, electricity coming from your brain to make them move, and many other things. This tells you clearly that it is Aļļaah that controls those things, and not you, so it is Aļļaah that creates your movement, and not you[2].


[1] For kids that have been exposed to atheist arguments, or you fear will be soon, you might add something like this: Sometimes they will say, “but we saw that the donkey has a drawer, and we did not see any creator of humans.” This is a lie, because they did not see the drawer of all donkey drawings. This means they believe that the shape and color of the drawing must have a drawer, even if they did not see him. This means that they should admit that more amazing things, like a human being, must have a creator also.

[2] This paragraph is for kids that need this clarification. It is an important one, if they are ready to understand. Word of note: don’t underestimate your children’s intelligence. I have personally taught children at 3-4 years of age that Aļļaah exists without being in a place. 

For kids with even more mature mind’s, you can further add to the last paragraph: You can understand this, because you know that all shapes need a creator. When a muscle contracts, it means it becomes shorter, so it is a different shape. Even electricity from the brain is like that, because it flows in a path from the brain to the muscle, and a path is a shape. All of these shapes are created by Aļļaah, so it is Aļļaah that creates your movements.


Children’s Tawhiid Rhyme Part 3

October 14, 2009

Now, the atheists, they have Allah’s worst curse,

Because reason witnesses there is a Creator for this universe.

All the creation stands as proof manifest.

That there is One God for all in existence.

Allah’s existence is confirmed by the sound mind,

But the sound mind knows that in it God’s not confined,

For God was before the colors, light, or darkness,

And God’s not a reflection or image grasped by the senses.

Allah is Unique—that is, completely Incomparable.

Totally different from all else–Allah’s Reality is unfathomable.

Allah is not a picture or form to imagine or conceive.

And this is an essential concept every Muslim has to believe.


Children’s Tawhiid Rhyme Part 2

October 14, 2009

Allah is One—but not like a number.

Allah is God alone, and there is no other.

Allah is without peers, partners, or parts.

Allah is free of time and has no start.

Allah was before any of the creations were.

Allah is not subject to time—like all the things that occur.

For time: it comes and it has to pass.

The present is now—but it can’t last.

The past has come and gone; the future’s yet to be.

Being defined by time is a fact of our reality.

Now time and change are both related.

Time measures change and is initiated.

God doesn’t change—for a change must begin.

It has to commence and it comes to an end.

Start and change apply to all the created

And that’s what Imam Al-Junayd clearly stated.


Children’s Tawhiid Rhyme

October 14, 2009

Someone anonymous send me this, maybe some of you would like to use it, or part of it to teach kids:

Allah is AlGhaniyy and Al-Qayyum.

Allah has no need for anything–including space or room.

Allah has no consort, daughter, or son,

And Allah’s not a body out of which things come.

Allah wasn’t born—nor did Allah bear or sire.

Allah doesn’t sit or descend, and Allah doesn’t tire.

No size, image, or limits—God’s not in a dimension.

Allah exists without a place—it’s a sign of His Perfection.

Allah knows what was, is, and all futurity.

Nothing is hidden from Allah or held in obscurity.

Allah has the Absolute Power and Immutable Will

Allah gives life and death and makes one well or ill.

Good and bad both happen by God’s Decree

So, whatever God wills, it will certainly be.

All occurs by Allah’s Knowledge, Will, and Might

Allah’s the Creator of all and has the Perfect Hearing and Sight.

Allah has Life without organs, flesh, or soul

Allah is Eternal and doesn’t age, rest, or get old.

Allah is An-Nur—to the light of Faith God Guides,

But Allah’s not an illumination that fills up the earth and skies.

God is One—totally beyond compare or need.

This is the Message of all the Prophets—and the essence of Tawheed.


Darwinism in the eye of the mind

October 6, 2009

I have received many requests for writing something about Darwinism since starting Sunnianswers. I never felt I should need to do that, because it should not be that difficult. I always felt no threat from a theory that is so weak that, in my view, it can be ignored from the outset. I did feel, however, that a lot of what is written, from occasional browsing on the internet, misses the point. This is not strange, perhaps, because most of what is there is written by anthropomorphists, that is, the so called creationists, and they cannot go to a level where they will be shooting themselves in the foot. It is just one kaafir arguing with another kaafir about what kind of kufr they should be doing.

The following is a brief synopsis of why Darwinism does not deserve a Muslim’s second look. It is not the usual yada yada about bones in strange places in Africa and who it belonged to, or when, or if when. It is about the approach to evidences and how to get to the truth. It is not new either, it is just the answer that the scholars of Islam would have answered, the Sunnis, if they were still around in significant numbers.

Subĥaana Aļļaah, the closest I have seen to what I am about to do was the last Mufti of the Ottoman empire, Sħaykħ Al-Islam, Muşţafaa Şabriyy. A brilliant scholar, as he had to be to get to where he was, he saw through Muhammad Abduh, and the wahabi movements, and their attacks on kalaam science. They were nothing but, knowingly or unknowingly, servants of imperialist interests. They were there to crush the fortresses of Islam: the Asħˆariyy/ Maaturiidiyy school, and the four schools of Islamic Law that kept Sunnism on top, and the Muslims gathered. A very well studied plan based on decades of orientalist studies for the age old strategy of split and rule. Reason was replaced by idiotic anthropomorphism, literalism and nationalism. This is why we have today all sects raising their banners, and an enormous mess on our hands, not to mention ignorance about basics of Islam itself in Muslim communities, but this is what Aļļaah has willed. This is all, as they say, history, and every man is responsible for himself alone in the end. No use crying over spilled milk.

To begin with I want to make it abundantly clear that the idea of one species developing into another is not problematic in Islam. This has nothing to do with religion. There is only one point that is problematic: the idea that human kind descends from other species, in the Darwinist case, from apes. This is the only issue I am addressing. I don’t care what they said about other species. I will also not raise the issue of atheism in this article, in order to keep things focused.

Empiricism

Empiricism, the idea that one learns general principles, or universals, from scrupulous study of particulars, is a brilliant idea. It is so brilliant and so simple, that one wonders, why did I not think of that, or rather, why did it take so long for anyone to realize its power. There had been scholarship and philosophy and medicine for centuries, and it is not like they had no idea about it. In medicine they did use case studies and they were systematic, but they just did not develop and stick to the methodology in a highly systematic manner.

Then comes Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who was one of the leading figures to develop the philosophy of modern scientific methodology. Bacon gives preference to Democritus’ natural philosophy in contrast to the scholastic. He attacks Aristotle’s treatment of the syllogism[1] and says that there is “no finding without proof and no proof without finding.” This is modern science, and it is exactly what the Sunni scholars meant by their term “ordinary judgment.” That is, “ordinary judgment” is achieved by studying the relations between things in nature, and judging according to repetition, the relation assumed.

Bacon speaks of four idols that are productions of the human imagination that are nothing more than “untested generalities” (Malherbe, 1996, 80). The tribal are imaginary concepts about different perceived phenomena, such as the stars. Those of the cave are doctrines cherished without proof. Those of the market place are errors in communication due to lack of attention to the true meaning of those words, such as a word like “proof.” Those of the theater are those of dogmatic ideas and methodology defended by leaders and scholars and accepted without question.

Regarding his position on cosmology, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says:

In De Principiis atque Originibus,…. (Bacon says:) “the force implanted by God in these first particles (i.e. the smallest), form the multiplication thereof of all the variety of things proceeds and is made up” (Bacon, V [1889], 463). Similarly, in De Sapientia Veterum he attributes to this force (implanted by God in the atom as) an “appetite or instinct of primal matter; or to speak more plainly, the natural motion of the atom; which is indeed the original and unique force that constitutes and fashions all things out of matter” (Bacon, VI [1890], 729).[2]

Here Bacon loses his grip and accepts as an axiom what is just another of his idols. He makes this mistake, because he does not know the difference between necessary existence, possible existence and the impossible. It is strange that after 400 years the Darwinists are still making this very same mistake. This mistake was rejected by the Muslims, because they understood the difference between these three rational judgments. It is worthy of note that it was their religion that made the Muslims more open minded than these worldly philosophers of science.

Bacon fell in his own trap so to speak and worshiped the Idols of his own “Cave” by cherishing this doctrine, without possessing any evidence of its truth. Yet this mistake has no practical worldly consequence, and perhaps this is why he did not pay attention to it. For him it was perhaps like an overall working hypothesis. Wa laa quwwata illaa billaah.

Evidence in empiricism

Evidence is of different kinds. It can be of the kind that provides certain knowledge, such as the evidence that the world must have beginning and therefore a Creator. At the next level we have those that provide likelihood to the extent that you have no doubt, such as a famous ĥadiitħ that is widely known and accepted throughout history by the scholars, that has no anomalies in meaning or chain of narration. In science one deals, at the very best of times, at this level. That is why Hawkins states in his book “A brief History of Time”:

Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory. As philosopher of science Karl Popper has emphasized, a good theory is characterized by the fact that it makes a number of predictions that could in principle be disproved or falsified by observation. Each time new experiments are observed to agree with the predictions the theory survives, and our confidence in it is increased; but if ever a new observation is found to disagree, we have to abandon or modify the theory. At least that is what is supposed to happen, but you can always question the competence of the person who carried out the observation. In practice, what often happens is that a new theory is devised that is really an extension of the previous theory. For example, very accurate observations of the planet Mercury revealed a small difference between its motion and the predictions of Newton’s theory of gravity. Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted a slightly different motion from Newton’s theory. The fact that Einstein’s predictions matched what was seen, while Newton’s did not, was one of the crucial confirmations of the new theory. However, we still use Newton’s theory for all practical purposes because the difference between its predictions and those of general relativity is very small in the situations that we normally deal with. (Stephen Hawking, 1988, P. 8)

In general, the harder the science, the stronger the proofs can be, and the hardest of all is physics, followed by chemistry. At the other end of the bargain, we have areas of study that are merely trying to be sciences, in my opinion, such as economics.

These proofs study causal relations and the propositions they prove are causal, such as, “the heavier the object, the harder it falls.” The reason why the proofs are best in physics, is the fact that it is easier to repeat experiments in an identical and controlled manner to test a theory in physics. So by dropping objects of different weights over and over, we can verify that indeed, “the heavier it is, the harder it falls,” to the point at which we no longer doubt what to expect about the hardness of the fall of a particular object.

The weakness that is always present, however, is that this methodology, the methodology of the experimental sciences, is essentially fallacious. Why? Because it assumes that the future will be like the past, or the other item of a group of similar things will necessarily behave in the same manner. There are a lot of maybes left in that, such as, maybe we are missing something, maybe what we are observing is affected by something we are not observing, how can we assume that objects will behave according to the same rules tomorrow? …. and so on.

This problem is less in physics, because the objects studied are highly specified and isolated. In economics, on the other hand, it is hard to be specific or isolate anything at all, and one underlying factor is the notorious unpredictability of human behavior. Another not-so-scientific science is psychology, where one tries to study human behavior, but the results are meager, as any reasonable psychologist will admit – despite the efforts of B.F. Skinner. A human is far too complex to be observed in a satisfactory manner. For example, the human mind itself is completely unobservable, and yet it is a major factor of our behavior, perhaps the most important. Any experiment will lack in observability, isolatability and repeatability for testing a theory. Not the least because humans differ so much from person to person, to the extent that they react very differently even to chemicals they consume as medicine, let alone their social and natural environment. If it is something we can know, it is probably pointless, such as: fire on hand → ouch.

Proof and evidence in Islaam

Certitude: The proofs of pure rational judgment

Let us take a more complete look at what evidence is. We mentioned earlier that proofs provide different levels of certainty. The Islamic scholars already observed this long ago. As-Sanuusiyy said: “Know that the judgments of the intellect are limited to 3 categories:

1. what absolutely must be true,

2. what absolutely cannot be true, and

3. what may be true.}”

That is, if we propose something to be true, then our minds will judge that this is either absolutely necessary, absolutely impossible, or possibly true. For example, if someone said, “ˆUmar exists,” a listener would immediately consider this proposition as possible, without knowing more about this ˆUmar.

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 related ways.

Certitude: The proofs of sensory observation and true information

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. In the case of the proposition “ˆUmar exists,” if we see this ˆUmar, he will be sure that indeed, ˆUmar exists.

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 certain knowledge for creations are three: sound senses, true information and the mind.

Likelihood: Normal possibility, impossibility and necessity

Now, science does not deal with certainties. It deals with what could possibly be true. Scientists do not care about whether ˆUmar exists. They are not interested in merely observing something obvious with their senses, which’s denial would be madness. They are interested in knowing what is not obvious. Perception is one thing, the conception of it is another, then the understanding of how it relates to other perceived and conventionalized phenomena is again quite another. For this reason, they study how different things correlate with one another, such as heaviness and hardness of fall.

If the correlation is 100% in many experiments, then we have the best scientific proof we could ever hope for, and yet, as Hawkins said, “No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory.” This is the meaning of likelihood.

The scholars of Islam, such as Al-Bayđaawiyy[3] (died 685 AH/ 1286 AD), recognized the weakness of correlation as a proof, and said:

“والدوران ضعيف” “correlation is weak (as a proof)[4].”

The reason is, as mentioned above, it is essentially fallacious as an argument, and therefore useless in belief related issues. Correlation then, is only used for practical matters from an Islamic viewpoint. For example, if the Prophet was observed doing or saying something in several similar situations, we would consider this as evidence for what we should do, but it is not a matter of belief.

Correlation can tell us something about likelihood, such as the likelihood of something heavier will fall harder than something lighter. The likelihood is a function of the correlation found in the causal relation studied, of the observability of the phenomena studied, and the isolatability and controllability of the phenomena under study from potentially influencing variables not being observed or measured. On top of that we need to be able to repeat identical experiments to verify further, and have a conviction that it is reasonable to look at the correlation being driven by a causal relation, and not something else. This involves subjective judgment of the scientist, and we will not get into the notion of “cause” in this article in any significant detail. In fact, observability, isolatability, controllability and repeatability all involve subjective judgment.

The strongest scientific proofs would be those that show normal impossibility, or normal necessity. Between those we have proofs for theories that make them range between likely true, maybe true, and not likely true. Pigs flying would be normally impossible, because it contradicts with the norms of gravity and aerodynamics. Likewise, fire normally necessitates heat. However, they are not impossible or necessary in the mind’s eye, because there is no logical contradiction in the idea of pigs flying or fire not giving heat. We just don’t expect anything else, because this is always, time and time again the norm. That is why Hawkins said what he said. As-Sanuusiyy (died 895 AH/1490 AD) stated with regard to what is normally necessary or normally impossible:

حقيقة الحكم العادي: هو إثبات الربط بين أمر وأمر، وجوداً وعدماً، بواسطة التكرر، مع صحة التخلف، وعدم تأثير أحدهما في الأمر ألبته[5].

“The meaning of ordinary judgment (as opposed the judgment of the mind’s eye alone): is to affirm true a link between something and something else in terms of existence and non-existence (such as if this then that, or if this then not that, and vice versa, e.g. if the weight is heavier then if falls harder) by means of repetition, with the remaining cognitive possibility of anomaly (i.e. deviance from that normal link), and without one of them affecting the other in actual reality.”[6]

His last statement, “without one of them affecting the other in actual reality” is a reference to the Muslim belief that nothing occurs other than by having been specified and created by Aļļaah. Arguably this statement does not need to be part of the definition, since it already said, “with the possibility of anomaly,” but As-Sanuusiyy mentioned it to protect people from misunderstanding him. This judgment differs from that of the mind in that it involves judgments on objects we observe, and from religious judgment, which involves those concerning prohibitions, obligations and the like, based on religious texts narrated to us.

Darwinist ape to human proposition in light of the judgment of the mind’s eye

Now, the science part of the theory of Darwinists that Islam has a problem with is their idea that Adam was a descendent from apes. Let us first take a look at how this idea fits into the judgment of the mind. Clearly, one cannot say it is impossible in the mind’s eye alone, the way 2+2=5 is impossible. One cannot say either that it must be true, and that there is no other alternative in the mind’s eye, like 2+2=4. Rather, without looking at religious evidences, one cannot but admit other than that it is rationally possible that humans descended from apes, that descended again from other species, and so on.

Darwinist ape to human proposition in light of the judgment of what is normal

We are dealing then, with a proposition that is possible, and is neither a necessity, nor an impossibility in the mind’s eye. This is verified by the fact that Aļļaah created monkeys out of some humans, which tells us that He certainly has the power to create humans from monkeys as well:

وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ [المائدة : 60]

Meaning: “and He made from them (a cursed group of people) apes and pigs.”

Again, this possibility is only without considering religious evidences. Indeed, the religious sources tell us that mankind was not created from apes, as we shall show later in this article.

Now, we have stated earlier that there are two other ways than pure reason to provide certainty of something being true or not. The first is sensory observation. The second is mass narration. Darwinists do not have sensory observation for how humans descended in history, nor do they have a mass narration from observers.

This means that they do not have, nor will they ever have proof for the theory that provides certainty of knowledge for their theory being true.

What they are left with is scientific proof. We have already observed that such proof is strongest in the hardest sciences, which achieve a high level of correlation, observability, isolatability, controllability and repeatability. The best of these proofs tell us that something is normally necessary, such as Gravity on Earth, or normally impossible, such as flying pigs. Yet, as we have repeatedly stated, the best of such proofs do no more than provide a high level of likelihood, and this is when there is extremely high correlation, and there was extremely high observability (i.e measurability), isolatability, controllability and repeatability, to bring reliable and valid results.

There is no hope for proving the ape proposition from a scientific viewpoint

Even at this level, in the ability to provide this sort of high quality scientific evidence, the Darwinist monkey hypothesis fails miserably. They always will. Why? Because if we were to use our imagination, then the best evidence they could ever hope to provide it to have a monkey give birth to a human in a lab.

I do not think anyone believes this will ever happen, but IF they did, they would have themselves a field day and probably consider it case closed. The problem, however, that this high-imagination lab result does not in fact prove their theory. Namely, that humans actually and historically descended from apes. Why? Because all it would show is that a human could possibly, according to the norms of the universe, or as they say: “scientific law,” descend from a monkey, not that human kind, as is, actually descended from apes. This is a matter of what actually happened in history, not what could have happened in history, and we already knew about this possibility in the mind’s eye already, so what would we have gained?

In short, the Darwinist theory is impossible to actually prove scientifically in the sense that medicine and engineering related sciences prove their theories.

Now, Darwinists are far away from even showing a possibility in light of the norms of the universe – how things normally correlate. The evidences they provide are circumstantial findings of dated ape and human bones, and we have all watched enough court case movies to know what the status of circumstantial evidence is as a proof: it does not even remove reasonable doubt. That is why there are still scientists around that do not buy into it. It is more a matter of group psychological dynamics and fashion that makes people buy into it than anything else. Scientific theories are in fashion, and religious explanations are out, driven by the remarkable success of science in engineering and medicine. Due to its success, everybody wants to be called a scientist, even economists and psychologists. Few are willing to sit back and take a hard look at what is a proof, what does it tell us and what makes science successful and why, and what are the requirements?

The problem is of course, that the success of science in technology is the success of experimental science, not of everything called science. So by merely being labeled a science, or scientific, does not mean it should be looked at with the level of respect that we have for physics and chemistry, or biochemistry. Darwinists are an example of even historians making a claim to the title of “scientist”, in an attempt to be associated with the modern understanding of the word – namely that of experimental science. That just does not work at all. I am being kind when I say that.

A look at the evidences that Darwinists show will lack severely in terms of high observability (i.e measurability), isolatability, controllability and repeatability. E.g. you will find sample size=1, repeatability=0, controllability =0, repeatability = 0.

An Islamic look at the ape proposition

So why do we as Muslims reject the possibility of Darwinists being right about humans descending from apes? The proof is complex, and comes back to proving correct the Muslim belief in Aļļaah, the belief in prophethood, the prophethood of Muĥammad (صل الله عليه وسلم) in particular, and the belief in the Qur’aan as an unperverted and revealed book[7], and that it is impossible that Aļļaah should lie, i.e. what He tells us must be true[8]. Why? Because our rejection of this part of Darwinism is based on the Quranic rejection, and the Qur’aan must be shown as a source of true information. As mentioned earlier, one of the sources of certain knowledge is true information, so we need to verify the Qur’aan as a source of true information, and that depends on all these premises. This, however, is beyond the scope of this article, but there are references in footnote 7 and 8 for those interested..

With regard to the Quranic rejection of the monkey theory, Aļļaah said:

فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ مُضْغَةٍ [الحج : 5]

Meaning: “For verily I created you (O Humans) from soil, then from a drop (of semen), then a blodcloth, then a lump of flesh.” This tells us that human kind is created from soil. Further to this, Aļļaah also said:

إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَى عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ [آل عمران : 59]

Meaning: “Verily the case of Jesus, to Aļļaah, is like that of Adam. He created him from soil.” This further verifies that humans are from soil, not apes, because Adam is the first human and the father of mankind, and it is stated that he was created from soil, not an ape. Aļļaah also said, removing all chances for any figurative interpretation:

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُمْ مِنْ طِينٍ لَازِبٍ [الصافات : 11]

Meaning: “Verily I created you from firm[9] clay.”[10] Clearly, no one can reasonably claim that what is meant by firm clay is a monkey.

Further to this, as mentioned earlier, Aļļaah did make some humans into monkeys after their transgression against His orders:

وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ [المائدة : 60]

Meaning: “and He made from them (a cursed group of people) apes and pigs.”

Being related to pigs and monkeys then, is a curse and a humiliation. This also tells us that Adam is not a descendant of an ape, because Aļļaah said:

وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا [الإسراء : 70]

Meaning: “I have honored the sons of Adam (i.e human kind); provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors above a great part of creation.”

Then we have the ĥadiitħ of the Prophet, narrated by Abuu Dawuud and At-Tirmidħiyy:

الناس كلُّهم بنو آدَمَ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب[11]

“All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created from soil.”[12]

The Islamic textual sources are verily clear on the origin of humans then, and that it is not apes, and this proof is much, much stronger than the circumstantial evidences claimed by Darwinists to show otherwise.


[1]An argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion. A typical form is “All A is C; all B is A; therefore all B is C.” (Random House, Inc. 2009.)

[2]“Francis Bacon (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy),” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francis-bacon/.

[3]Az-Zirikliyy, Al-‘Aˆlaam (2002) (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar El-Ilm Lil-Malayeen, 1423), 4/110.

[4]ˆAliyy ibn ˆAbdulKaafii As-Subkiyy (1404 AH/ 1355 AD), Al-Ibhaaj Fii Sħarĥi-l-Minhaaj (Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1404), 1/146.

[5]قال السنوسيّ :حقيقة الحكم العادي: هو إثبات الربط بين أمر وأمر، وجوداً وعدماً، بواسطة التكرر، مع صحة التخلف، وعدم تأثير أحدهما في الأمر ألبته.( شرح المقدمات للسنوسيّ, مكتبة المعارف, 2009, ص. 68)

[6]Muĥammad ibn Yuusuf As-Sanuusiyy (896 AH), Sħarĥu-l-Muqaddimaat, 1st ed. (Maktabatu-l-Maˆaarif, 1420), 68.

[7]See “Foundations of the Religion” for this discussion at https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/05/19/the-foundations-of-the-religion/ or https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2009/08/02/foundations-of-the-religion-pdf/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/05/24/is-there-a-flaw-in-the-proof-for-the-existence-of-Allah/

[8]See https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/refuting-the-accusation-that-asharis-consider-it-rationally-possible-for-allah-to-lie/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-allaah-has-obligations-and-it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-he-could-lie/ and https://sunnianswers.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-allaah-has-obligations-and-it-is-intrinsically-impossible-that-he-could-lie/

[9]مفردات ألفاظ القرآن ـ نسخة محققة – (2 / 337): اللازب: الثابت الشديد الثبوت. قال تعالى: {من طين لازب} [الصافات/ 11]

[10]Ar-Raagħib Al-‘Aşfahaaniyy, Mufradaatu-l-Qur’aan (Damascus, Syria: Daar Al-Qalam), 2/337.

[11]جامع الأصول – دار الفكر الخ – (10 / 617): 8215 – ( ت د ) أبو هريرة – رضي الله عنه – : أنَّ رسولَ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «لَيَنْتَهِيَنَّ أقّوَام يفتخرون بآبائهم الذين ماتوا ، إنما هم فَحْمُ جهنم ، أو لَيَكُونُنَّ أَهّوَنَ على الله من الجِعْلان الذي يُدَهِدِهُ الخراءَ بأنفه ، إن الله تعالى قد أذَهب عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية ، وفخرها بالآباء ، إنما هُوَ مؤمِن تقي ، أو فاجِر شقي ، الناس كلُّهم بنو آدَمَ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب». أخرجه الترمذي ، وهو آخر حديث في كتابه ، وأخرجه أيضا مختصرا : أنَّ رسولَ الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال : «قد أذهب الله عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية ، وفخرها بالآباء ، مؤمن تقي وفاجر شقي الناس بنو آدمَ ، وآدمُ خُلِقَ من تراب».-[618]- وفي رواية أبي داود : «إنَّ الله قد أذهب عنكم عُبيَّةَ الجاهلية»… وذكر الرواية الأولى إلى قوله : «من تراب» ثم قال : «ليَدَعنَّ رجال فَخّرهم بأقوام»… وذكره ، وقال في آخره : «من الجعلان التي تدفع بأنفها النَّتَنَ».

[12]Ibn ‘Atħiir (606 AH), Jaamiˆi-l-‘Uşuul, ed. ˆAbdulQaadir Al-Arna’uuţ (Vol. 1-11) and Basħiir ˆUyuun (Vol. 12), 1st ed. (Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Fikr, Maktabah Al-Hulawaaniyy, Maţbaˆah Al-Mallaaĥ, Maktabah Daar Al-Bayaan, 1969), 10/617.


Allaah is not in time

May 23, 2009

Wahabi argues: If tensed facts exist, then it necessarily follows that truth or falsehood is changing over time. For example, the tensed statement “It is now 1:27 pm” is only true at 1:27 pm and false at all other times. So if Allah knows this tensed fact, His knowledge must be changing constantly as He knows when certain statements become true and false. However, if Allah is absolutely changeless, that would mean that Allah cannot know tensed facts, hence compromising His attribute of omniscience.

Comment: This pseudo-argument that this wahabi enemy of himself, and of Aļļaah, feels so happy about, originates from likening the Creator to the created. Again and again they come back to their basic belief in the Creator, which is that He is something limited to a place (i.e. a body) with changes in it over time. They thought they could know the reality of Aļļaah’s knowledge by imagination and drawing inferences from their own existence. That is why, for example, they believe that His Will is a series of different wills over time, just like ours. Now even the belief in His perfect Knowledge is subject to their blasphemous attacks. They argue as above, because they cannot imagine perfect knowledge not in time, and think that reality is limited to what they can imagine. It is because they base their arguments upon imagination that they make so many mistakes.

Not being able to imagine something does not mean it cannot be true

It is not enough to say, “I can’t imagine it, so it cannot be true,” or even “I can’t understand it, so it can’t be true.” Even in sciences studying creation, especially physics, the facts and concepts they speak of are so counter intuitive and unfamiliar to our minds and knowledge that they cannot be imagined. That is why they rely on complex mathematics to express their theories instead. So if concepts in physics cannot be conceptualized in the mind, what would be the case for the Creator and His attributes?

For example, they say that if lightning hit the back of a moving train and at the same time its front, then to an outsider they happen simultaneously, but to someone inside the front is hit before the back, because he is moving towards the event. Accordingly, there could be points in time that are separate according to one frame of reference and simultaneous to another. None of these frames are special, and it is as equally true to say that it occurred simultaneously as it is to say that one occurred first.

The belief that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation and how it is applied here for average Muslims

Every aspect of a created thing or being has a beginning, since no aspect of it is eternal. Likewise, everything that has a beginning must be a creation, as it must have been brought into existence. This means that Aļļaah is not something you can imagine, not Him and not His attributes, because your imagination is based on what you are familiar with, namely things that have a beginning, things that last moments of time despite their possible non-existence.

Based on this, the scholars taught people the rule that “whatever you can imagine in your mind, Aļļaah does not resemble it.” Similarly, the cousin of the Prophet Muĥammad, and famous companion, Ibn ˆAbbaas said, “Ponder about everything, but do not ponder about the Self of Aļļaah.” (Fatĥu-l-Baariy 13/383 ) He said this because such dwelling leads one to draw analogies between the Creator and the created, which is blasphemy. It contradicts the belief in Aļļaah’s Oneness, as it involves the heretical belief that Aļļaah has an equal in some aspect. It also contradicts the Quranic “Absolutely nothing resembles Him.”

Accordingly, Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy stated in his creed: “Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.” Note the categorical sense of “a meaning,” which tells us that this is true for any meaning that applies to humans, not just some. For example, having a direction, a body, changing or the like. Note also that he states “meaning”, and not “word,” because the important thing is the meaning of the word, not the word itself. Consequently, if someone said “Aļļaah is not a body,” yet believed that Aļļaah is something in a place, then he is not a Muslim. This is because he believes Aļļaah to be attributed with the bodily meaning of occupying place.

Had the Wahhabis held onto this advice from the scholars, they would have rejected the argument they presented above at face value, and remained firmly within the fold of Islam. This is what average Muslims have done, because they know that they cannot imagine Aļļaah or His attributes. There would be no need for complex answers. Instead, the Wahhabis, out of their inclination towards deviance and hatred for the People of the Truth, the Sunnis, they decided to present an argument based on the idea that “what is true of creation must be true of the Creator.”

As for us, the People of the Truth, the Sunnis, we do not liken Aļļaah to His creation, and we do not draw analogies between the Creator and His creation. We firmly believe that Aļļaah is not in the frameworks of time and place, unlike Wahhabis. Consequently, Aļļaah’s Knowledge is not our kind of knowledge, created knowledge, so it is not restricted by time. No creation can fully know the reality of Aļļaah, or His attributes. It is One Knowledge by which He knows everything, unlike our knowledge. As for time, it is something we are stuck passing through, a function of our reality of being under constant change and renewal relative to all other things in space. Aļļaah is neither in a state of change nor renewal, nor is He in a place, so it is nonsensical to draw analogies between ourselves or our knowledge and Aļļaah and His Knowledge.

A look at “Tensed Facts”

What confused the wahabi is that at 1:27 pm he is in one situation of time and place, and at 1:28 pm at another, as estimated by the position of the Sun with respect to the Earth, as is the custom of humans (see footnote[1].) He thought that since he is changing situations with respect to the rest of creation, that Aļļaah also was in a situation at 1:27 pm and then another at 1:28 pm. This is not the case, because Aļļaah is not in a “situation,” as He is not in a place, and is not in time, so the question, “when was He?” does not apply to Him. Missing this point, he thought that knowledge of “tensed facts” has to be in time. This cannot be true, because it is impossible that Aļļaah should be in time, as we shall prove below under the next heading.

The past tense, for example, is an expression referring to the relative situation of created things to each other. So when someone says “12:00 noon already passed,” he means that he already passed through that state relative to space and the change and renewal of other creations. Aļļaah, on the other hand, does not pass through relative situations, since He is not in a place and does not change and does not renew.

As for the present tense, it is true for me, at 1:27, that it is 1:27, but this is only a name for my relative position to other things that change with me at different places. Aļļaah is not in a place and does not change, or renew, so His knowledge is not relative to time. Aļļaah knows everything about all times, without Himself being in time. His knowledge of time is without a beginning, end, change or renewal.

Aļļaah knows all these relations, because He created them. He knows them with one indivisible knowledge, that is neither a whole nor a part, because it is not composed lest it need a composer, and that is beginningless and without end, because it is not brought into existence, lest it need a creator.

In fact, Aļļaah created our knowledge and perception of “tensed facts,” so He knows the “now is 1:27”, for a created being which is a matter of time, space and relative change or renewal for that being. He knows it without His knowledge having a future, past or present, because He created it. He knows it perfectly, because He created every aspect of it, unlike the creations that exist in the uncountable when situations/times that each and every creation pass through during the time they last. In fact, created beings only have the knowledge of the “now” they are in according to the limited perceptions He created in them.

We believe then, that Aļļaah knows “tensed facts” without needing to be in the creation of time. We believe His knowledge is eternal and some information created, just as we believe that Aļļaah’s action of creating is eternal while the created has a beginning.

It is impossible that Aļļaah should be in time

The arguer thinks Aļļaah’s knowledge is something that can be divided over moments of time, so that the concepts of past, present and future applies to it. That cannot be true, however, because Aļļaah’s existence is not a possibility, but an existence that is intrinsically necessary (Waajibu-l-Wujuud). To clarify: something that exists is either intrinsically (i.e. with respect to itself alone) possible in its existence, or intrinsically necessary. There is no third judgment for what exists. The possible in existence accepts non-existence, while the necessary does not. Aļļaah is necessarily existent, but everything else is possible, because what is possible in existence needs something other than itself to exist. If it did not, then it would be intrinsically necessary.

If Aļļaah’s existence was divisible into time periods, then His necessary existence would be in a state of renewal, moment by moment, and what is renewed is not necessary in existence, rather it is only possible in the next moment, i.e. possible after having existed. In other words, renewal of existence does not apply to what is necessary in existence, because it does not need renewal. After all, if it needed renewal, it would not be necessary in existence. Consequently, it does not have moments of existence.

Another way to say this is that if Aļļaah’s existence had been divisible into moments of time, then this would either be with Him having a beginning, which none of us believe, or with Him having no beginning. However, if his existence was divisible into moments of time, without a beginning, then this would mean that an infinite number of moments passed before the world came into existence. An infinite number of moments cannot pass, however, because infinity cannot be completed. Therefore, since an infinite amount of moments cannot pass, it must be true that Aļļaah’s existence is not divisible into moments of time. Accordingly, His knowledge is not either, because it is an eternal, necessary, and thus non-renewing, attribute of Aļļaah. We know He has this attribute, because He specified and brought everything into existence, and since He specified it, He must definitely know it also.

Our knowledge, on the other hand, is a knowledge that is renewed over time, so our knowledge existing at 1:27 differs from our knowledge at 1:28. This is because it is changing, and because it is not necessary in existence, and is therefore divisible into moments of existence.

Beginningless Eternity is not a time

One important point needs to be stressed: Beginningless Eternity is not a past time. Rather, it is an expression by which we mean the existence of Aļļaah with the non-existence of time, place and all creation. The mind wants to know what this precedence of the Creator with respect to His creation is. It is not in time, however, because time is possible in existence, as it is parts (moments) following each other in sequence, and these parts are definitely not eternal. The whole of time then, is dependent on possible parts, and what depends on the possible is surely only possible in existence. Accordingly, the precedence of its Creator cannot be in time, not the least because that would make Him both in time and not in time, which is self-contradictory.

The reality of this, however, is not something the mind can grasp, because anything that enters the mind is in a situation of time. That is why Aļļaah being precedent is known by us in general, but not in detail or comprehensively.

For example, Aļļaah’s precedence of beginninglessness indicates a distinction between His beginninglessness and His endlessness. Beginningless eternity, however, is not something other than Aļļaah (but not Him Himself either.) Moreover, distinction between the two meanings would require a beginning for endlessness, but this is impossible, because any hypothesized beginning would have endlessness before it, as there is no beginning before that. That is, distinction between beginninglessness and endlessness would require the completion of beginninglessness, and that is impossible, because what does not begin cannot finish. This means that our minds are incapable of distinguishing between the concepts of beginninglessness, endlessness and eternity. The reason is that the mind only knows what the mind encompasses. So what is apparent is that Aļļaah is first in that everything that has a beginning depends on Him for their existence. If one tries to understand the reality of that firstness, however, one is completely unable, because the mind cannot encompass what has no limit.

Now we are back to the point that the reality of Aļļaah’s existence is not comprehensible to humans, but at an even deeper level than previously. A further indication of this fact, is that a human being does not conceptualize something except if he perceives in his mind inner feelings, such as pain and pleasure, or input from his senses, such as light, color, shape, sound, voice, taste, smell, temperature and softness. Anything beyond that is difficult for a human to conceptualize. Since Aļļaah’s reality is not like what we perceive through our senses, we are not able to conceptualize Him.

Yet another indication of this incomprehensibility, is that what we know about Him, is either in the sense of negation, like in the sense that He is neither a body, nor a particle, or in terms of meanings that pertain to Him, such as, “He is the one that has all rights to judge.” In fact the most apparent fact we know about Him is: “He is the Creator of the world,” and that therefore He precedes it. Yet we cannot know the reality of this precedence, because it is not one of time.

We are compelled, nevertheless, to speak about this meaning in a figurative way, because language has been established to speak about things that are in time and place, and we do not have special vocabulary to express exactly what we want to say. For this reason, the feeble minded will think that we are saying something other than what we intend, such as when we say “before Aļļaah created the worlds.” We not mean by this to say that Aļļaah was in time.

In this regard, the Imam of Guidance, Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy says: “A fundamental belief principle is that whenever Aļļaah is ascribed an attribute, then this attribute is eternal. One says that He is attributed with knowledge, power and providing eternally without a beginning and without an end. If He is mentioned with regard to His management of creation and orders to it, then time is stated, but this time is for creation, not for Him. For example, it is said, “Aļļaah knows eternally that you are sitting here,” or “(sitting here) at this time.” I.e. Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or an end that the person is sitting now…. This is all to prevent people from thinking “How were the created things in eternity? (Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah 9/473)”

Having said that, what the arguer is describing, is a change of information over time for something in time. Time is something relative to one’s frame of reference, as one relates to all other things in space. Even in modern, generally accepted physics, they teach that the order of things is a matter of one’s reference point in space, and now the trend is that the phenomena of time is related to mass. Strange, but since Aļļaah is not in a place, unlike what Wahhabis believe, this helps us to accept also that time is not something He passes through as He does not have a reference point in space nor does He have mass, because He is not a body. Rather, all places at all times pertain to Him with no difference between them, because He is not in a place and does not change. It is what His Power to create pertains to that is in time and place with respect to each other, not that He Himself is in time.

Accordingly, Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or end, or change or renewal, the fact that “the time is 1:28 when the time is 1:28” and He knows the relation of that particular time to all other times. For example, He knows the time at which this time is present in itself, and when it is passed, and when it is future, just as He knows that time’s relation to the beginning of time, and so on. In other words, He knows everything that has to do with that time, both what we know, and what we do not know. So if that time comes, in relation to us, as we pass through time, and He is not, then Aļļaah did not increase His knowledge, because He knows eternally everything that has to do with it.

Further explanation

The ambiguity of what the wahabi said is made clearer if we hypothesized that a prophet asked his Lord, “what time is it now?” and Aļļaah revealed to him that the time is so and so. Is this revelation that was revealed to Him something that happened to Aļļaah’s knowledge, or something that He knows without beginning or end? The answer is without doubt that it is something that Aļļaah knows eternally, because the word “now” is a word of relativity (relative to what passes through time) that Aļļaah (who is not in time) knows by His beginningless and endless knowledge. In other words, it is true that the time, at that particular point in time, is called “now” relative to things that are renewed or that change (i.e. things that could intrinsically, with respect to themselves, in the mind’s eye, be non-existent after existence.) So it is true that it is “now” with respect to that prophet when he asks. Based on this we can rephrase the hypothesized request as follows: “What is the time now, relative to myself?” or, “What is the time now, relative to what passes through time?”

As for the Eternal, the relation of all different places is one to Him, in the sense that no place is closer or further from Him than another, because He is not in place, neither in one place, nor in all places. Likewise, all different times have one relation to Him, in the sense that one time is not nearer to Him than another. This is indicated in the aayah:

هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ [الحديد : 3]

Literally translated: “He is the First and the Last.” Since Aļļaah does not have a beginning, it is true, based on the aayah, that He is First and Last without a beginning, i.e. without a past time, i.e. without being last after having been first. So the meaning of being last is not after being first and being first is not before being last. We consequently know that He is not bound by time, and that all different times have one relation to Him, because created things (i.e. what passes through time) cannot be last unless they have a past time. There is no question, however, that comprehending this is utterly beyond the capability of our minds.

The origin of this doubt-spreading point brought forward by the wahabi is his thinking that Aļļaah passes through time, just as creation does. So he thought that the relation of “now” to Aļļaah is the same as the relation of “now” to us, His creation. This thinking stems from his failure to define time properly, and failure to differentiate between the Creator and the created. If he was really trying to get to the truth, he would have solved this problem by defining time properly. Alternatively, he could have believed Aļļaah’s saying about Himself:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ [الأنعام : 101]

Meaning: “He created everything, and He knows everything.” After all, time is definitely other than Aļļaah, so He is its Creator, and He is not passing through it.


[1]This is because measuring time is estimating renewal or change by renewal or change in something else. For example, days are measured in terms of changes in the sun or moon’s positions. If a sunrise is followed by a sunset, we say that a day has passed, and if this happens seven times, then we say that a week has passed and so on. Elements and bodies are in a constant state of renewal, because their existence in every new moment is only a possibility; you do not know with absolute certainty whether they will exist in the next moment or not. They are therefore in a continuous state of renewal of existence. That is why the concept of time always applies to them; they cannot break free of it. They are in a state of continuous state of existence after existence instead of non-existence, as long as they exist. This is what it means to pass through time. This is not so with Aļļaah, because Aļļaah’s existence is a must, and it is therefore impossible that He should cease to exist. In other words, His existence is not in time, because His existence is not in a state of renewal. It is also clear then that He is not measurable in terms of time, because time is a measure of relative change or renewal between two things, and Aļļaah is not attributed with change or renewal. He is, after all, the Creator of time, because time is other than Aļļaah, and He said in His Book that He created everything.


The Islamic Belief in God: an explanation to fresh converts and non-Muslims

June 27, 2008

The utterance “Allah” in Arabic means “the one who is attributed with Godhood,” which is the power to create. To create means to bring something into existence. Everything that has a beginning, whether a physical object, an action, a thought, or anything else must be brought into existence and is therefore a creation. No one and nothing has the power to create except Allah, and everything else is His creation. He alone exists without a beginning or end, and everything else is created and sustained by Him. Therefore, only He deserves to be worshiped. He does not need anything, but everything in existence needs Him

With this understanding, it is perfectly acceptable to use the word “God” in English referring to Allah. However, it is important to understand that when Muslims refer to “God” as “He,” they do not mean that He has gender. God is not male, female or neuter, as He is not a creature or an object. He is attributed only with complete perfection, and is clear of created attributes, such as having children, a partner, a rival or a wife. 

The attributes of the Creator do not resemble the attributes of the created, because His attributes are without a beginning or an end. He is not limited by time or space; He is their Creator and all that exist in them including light, darkness, cold, heat, nature, atoms, color, good and evil. Our imaginations are limited, so we cannot imagine Him. That is why Muslims say: “God is different from whatever you imagine in your mind.” 

Muslims believe that Allah has the attribute of absolute oneness; he does not have a partner, equal or part. No one has an attribute that resembles any of His attributes. Idol worshipers believe God has a partner or a counterpart. This cannot be true because if one wants one thing and the other something else, then the one that did not get what he wanted cannot be God since he was defeated. 

As for those who believe that God has parts, such as the Christians who believe in the trinity, they must also be wrong, because parts need each other to form a united whole, and whatever needs cannot be God. In addition, one of the obvious proofs of the Creator’s existence is the existence of this universe. Whenever we see something composed from parts, we say: “someone has put it there.” For example, when you see a car, you know that this car has a beginning; someone put it where it is now. If this is true for a simple car, then what about the entire universe? If one accepts this argument, then one must also accept that God is free of the attributes that makes one say “someone must have put it there”, such as weight, volume, length, width, shapes, limits, boundaries, composition, physical movement, physical distance and physical direction. In other words, you must accept that God does not resemble His creation. This is what Muslims mean when they say, “He has no equal,” i.e. nothing resembles Him

Muslims believe that God is attributed with perfect and limitless life, sight, hearing, speech and knowing, because death, blindness, deafness, dumbness, and ignorance are weaknesses. However, His life, sight, hearing, speech and knowing do not resemble ours; the words are the same, but the meanings are completely different. For example, God’s attributes have nothing to do with instruments, such as a body, a soul, an eye, an ear, a mouth, a language or a brain. Rather, they are perfect attributes of God that have no beginning, no end, no sequence and do not change. 

In addition to the above, it is clear that God specifies the things that exist and their characteristics, and that He brings them into existence. We must conclude then, that He is attributed with will and power. His attributes of will and power do not have a beginning or an end and they do not change, as is true for all God’s attributes. 

In the above, we have mentioned some of what Muslims must know and believe in regarding the Creator. However, God’s attributes are not limited, because God cannot be limited, bounded or deficient in any way.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Final Part

June 19, 2008

After this generation came the Shaykh of Insight, the Imam of the Horizons in debating and verification: Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Ismail Al-Ash`ari.

Ali ibn Ismail ibn Ishaq, Abu Al Hasan, was among the descendants of the famous companion Abu Musa Al Ash`ari. He is the founder of the Ash`ari school in beliefs and a Mujtahid scholar. He authored some 300 books. (Source: Al A`laam). He outlined the Sunni belief system in detail with explanations and proofs more than anyone else before him. For this reason, the Sunni scholars call themselves followers of the Ash`ari school.

He is the one that became a cut in the throats of the Qadariyyah, the Najjaariyyah, the Jahmiyyah, the anthropomorphists, the Shi’ites and the Khawarij. He filled the world with his books. No Kalam scholar has ever been bestowed with a following like the one he was endowed with. The reason is that all the People of Hadith follow his way, as do all the People of Insight

The people of insight are the followers of the Hanafi school today. Their belief are identical to that of the Ash`ari school, although they are usually called Maturidis as opposed to Ash`aris. The differences between these two schools basically come down to semantics. For this reason, the label as an “Ash`ari” follower is applied to followers of both schools.

that do not have Mu`tazilite inclinations.

Among his famous students are: Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili

Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili Al Basri was a direct student of Al Ash`ari. The Hafidh Ibn Asakir narrated from Abu Bakr Al Baqillani that he, Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini and Ibn Furak would have a lesson with Al Baahili once every week. Abu Bakr said that he was so preoccupied with worship of Allah that we had to remind him of the length of the lessons. He would also sit behind a curtain so that neither the three of them, nor the commoners that would attend could see him. When asked about this he answered, “You can see the commoners with your eyes, and they are people that tend to be negligent of religious concerns, and this way you will also look at me with the same eyes.  Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini used to say, “I was like a drop in the ocean beside Abu Al Hasan Al Baahili.” On the other hand, Al Baahili used to say, “Beside Abu Al Hasan Al Ash`ari  I was a like a drop beside the ocean.” This was all mentioned by Ibn Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al Muftari under the biography of Al Baahili in the chapter listing the students of Al Ash`ari.

and Abu Abdullah ibn Mujahid,

Muhammd ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammd ibn Yaqub ibn Mujaahid (? – 370 h.) was a scholar of the Maliki school  a student of Al Ash`ari, and the teacher of Abu Bakr Al Baqillani. (Source: Al A`laam).

and these two are the ones that are the shining suns of their time and the masters of their generations, such as:

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al Tayyib (Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani)

Muhammd ibn Al Tayyib ibn Muhammd ibn Ja`far, Abu Bakr Al Baqillani, Al Qadi Al Baqillani (338 h. – 403 h.) was the head of the Ash`aris of his time. He wrote many books, some of which are in print. (Source: Al A`laam). Al Dhahabi in his “Tarikh al Islam” V. 28, P. 89 relates that Al Baqillani was once sent by the Muslim ruler to debate the Christian scribes of the Roman Emperor. When he arrived to the emperors hall they had made the entrance to the emperor very low, to the extent that one had to bow down in order to enter. Al Baqillani realized that it was a trick to make him bow to the emperor, so he turned and entered back end first. Once there, he turned to one of the monks and said, “How are the wife and kids?” Astonished, the emperor replied, “Do you not know that the monk elevates himself having a wife or kids?” Al Baqillani closed his trap by quickly replying: “You consider him above this, but you do not consider Allah to be clear of and above having a female companion and child?” He was also mockingly asked, “What happened to `Aisha?” They were referring to the time that she, the Prophet’s wife, was accused by the hypocrites of having been unfaithful. They wanted to make him lose his temper by their insinuations. Al Baqillani answered: “As what happened to Maryam. (They were both accused of adultery), then they were both declared innocent by Allah, and Maryam brought a baby, while `Aisha did not.” They could find no response to this, because he had shown them that permitting  the slander of `Aisha would imply permitting ugly and heretical slander of Maryam even more.

the head of the judges of Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Faris (Southwest Iran), Karmaan (Southeast Iran) and all the border areas belong to these lands,

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Al-Husayn ibn Furak (Ibn Furak),

Muhammd ibn Al Hasan ibn Furak Al Ansaari Al Asbahani (? – 406 h.) was among the greatest scholars of belief methodology, as well as Shafi`i fiqh (jurisprudence).

and Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Mihrani (Abu Ishaaq Al Isfaraini).

Ibrahim ibn Muhammd ibn Ibrahim ibn Mihraan,  Abu Ishaq Al Isfaraini (? – 418 h.) was a great scholar of beliefs, methodology and fiqh. He used to be nicknamed “the pillar of the religion.” He was also a reliable narrator of Hadith.(Source: Al A`laam).

Before these there was Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Mahdi Al Ţabari,

Abu Al Hasan Ali ibn Muhammd ibn Mahdi Al Tabari was a student of Al Ash`ari in Al Basrah. The meaning of one of his poems is: He is not lost who has a companion able to mend his ways. For the world is merely by its inhabitants and a person is by his companions.

the master of jurisprudence, Kalam, methodology, literature, grammar and Hadith. Among his heritage is a student like Abu Abdullah Al Husayn ibn Muhammad Al Bazzaazi,

I was unable to find anyone of this name that is of Abu Mansur’s generation or earlier. The Al Husayn ibn Muhammd Al Bazzaazi mentioned in Al Waafi bi-l-Wafayaat died in 495 h., which seems too late for being meant here.

the master debater and author of books on all aspects of Kalam.

Also before this generation was the Shaykh of the Sciences, Abu Ali Al Taqafi.

Muhammd ibn Abdul Wahhaab ibn Abdul Rahmaan ibn Abdul Wahhaab, Abu Ali Al Thaqafi (244 h. – 328 h.) was among the greatest scholars of all time in fiqh, methodology and belief. He stayed in Naysabur. Ibn Khuzaymah told him one time: “It is not allowed for any of us to give fatwa as long as you are alive.” (Source: Siyar A`laam al Nubalaa’).

In his time the Imam of the Sunnis was Abu Al Abbas Al Qalanisi,

Ahmad ibn Abdul Rahmaan ibn Khaalid Al Qalanisi Al Razii, was among the Sunni scholars that lived in the time of Al Ash`ari and fought deviants. His appearance as a defender of the faith was earlier that that of Al Ash`ari, and he was not among his students. (Source: Ibn Asakir in Tabyin Kadhib al Muftarii P. 293.)

who authored more than one hundred and fifty books in Kalam. The books and critiques authored by Al Thaqafi against deviant groups are more than one hundred.

In our time we have reached  Abu Abdullah ibn Mujahid and Muhammad ibn Al Tayyib (Abu Bakr Al Baqillani) the head of the judges,  Muhammad ibn Al Husayn ibn Fuurak, Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Mihrani (Abu Ishaq Al-Isfaraini) and  Al Husayn ibn Muhammad Al Bazzaazi. Our own teachers follow the same path of these that we have reached, which is to enliven the truth and put its enemies in chains.”

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part V

June 18, 2008

As for Dawud, the leader of the literalists, he wrote a lot on belief along with his many writings on jurisprudence. His son, Abu Bakr,

Muhammd ibn Dawud ibn Ali ibn Khalaf Al  Dhahiri (255 h. – 297 h.) was an Imam and son of the Imam Dawud Al Dhahiri. He took over his fathers position as a Mufti and teacher after his father. (Source: Al A`laam).

was a scholar of jurisprudence, Kalam <belief>, methodology, literature and poetry.

Abu Al`Abbaas Ibn Surayj

In the manuscript it is written “Ibn Shurayh”, but it is likely a typographical error, and should be Ibn Surayj, because he was the head of the Sunnis at that time and wrote very many books, as indicated by Abu Mansur: Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Surayj Al Baghdadi, Abu Al Abbas (249 h. – 306 h.) the head of the Shafi`is of his time who wrote some 400 books and was a Judge in Shiraz (in today’s Iran). He fought deviant sects and had debates with Dawud Al Dhahiri. (Source: Al A`laam).

the best of this group in these sciences, and he has a critique on the book of Al-Jaruf

Al Jaruf was a philosopher of the school of equality of proofs.

against those who claim equality of proofs

The claim of equality of proofs is when someone looks at the evidences presented by two opponents and then declares himself unable to decide who is right. The book of Al Jaruf, which defended the idea of equality of proofs, was written by a philosopher against Al Jubba`i, who was a Mu`tazilite. This belief of equality of proofs is basically agnosticism, in the sense that they neither affirm nor deny, but its followers fall into three groups: First, those who question the existence of the Creator. Second, those who believe in the Creator, but doubt prophethood. Third, those who believe in the Creator and the prophethood of Muhammd, but have doubts about other beliefs. (See Al Fisal fi-l-Milal by Ibn Hazm).

and it is more complete than the critique of Ibn Al-Rawandi

He seems to mean Abu Al Husayn Ibn Al Rawandi (? h.- 298 h.), who was a philosopher accused of numerous heresies. (Source: Al A`laam).

against them. As for his writings on jurisprudence – Allah knows their number.

Another of the Kalam scholars in the time of Al Ma`mun is Abdullah ibn Sa`eed Al Tamimi,

Abdullah ibn Sa`eed ibn Kullaab, Abu Muhammd Al Qattaan (? – 245), was one of the greatest Kalam scholars of his time. (Source: Al A`laam). He is also mentioned with the last name Al Tamimi by Al Subki in  Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah Al Kubraa. In Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah it is stated in the biography of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed ibn Kullaab that Abu Hasan Al Ash`ari was heavily influenced by him and by Harith ibn Asad Al Muhasibi

who crushed the Mu`tazilah in the assembly of Al Ma`mun, and scandalized them with his eloquent exposure and clarification of their faults. The remains of his clarifications are in his books. He is the brother of Yahya ibn Sa`eed Al-Qattaan,

Yahya ibn Sa`eed Al Qattaan Al Tamimi, Abu Sa`eed (120 h. – 198) one of the Imams of Hadith science. He gave the Fatwas of Abu Hanifah and is regarded as a highly trustworthy Hafidh. (Source: Al A`laam).

the inheritor of the knowledge of hadith and the master of narrator criticism.

Among the students of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed is Abdul Aziz Al Makki Al Kattaani,

Abdul Aziz ibn Yahya ibn Abdul Aziz Al Kinani Al Makki (? h. – 240) was among the students of Al Shafi`i and debated Bishr Al Marisi. (Source: Al A`laam).

who scandalized the Mu`tazilah in Al Ma`mun’s assembly. Yet another Kalam scholar was, his student, Al Husayn ibn Al Fadl Al Bajali,

Al Husayn ibn Al Fadl ibn Umayr Al Bajali (178 h. – 282 h.) was one of the leaders of the knowledge of the meanings in the Quran. He was originally from Al Kufa, but the governor Abdul Aziz ibn Tahir brought him to Naysabur where he bought a house for him. He stayed there teaching until he died.

the master of Kalam, methodology, Quranic commentary and interpretation. Later scholars relied upon his notes and pointers in interpreting the Quran. He is the one that Abdul Aziz ibn Tahir, the governor of Khurasan <in North East Iran> brought with him to Khurasan, and as a result people said, “He took with him all the knowledge of Iraq to Khurasan.”

Among the students of Abdullah ibn Sa`eed is also Al-Junayd,

Al Junayd ibn Muhammd ibn Al Junayd Al Baghdadi, Abu Al Qaasim, Al Khazzaz (? – 297) was one of the greatest scholars of all time. One of his contemporaries said, “I have not laid my eyes on anyone like Al Junayd. The scribes come to his lessons to learn from his words, the poets for his eloquence, and the Kalam scholars for the meaning of what he says. The great scholars and historian Ibn Al Athir said about Al Junayd: “The top scholar in the world in his time.” He is considered as one of the great imams of Sufism for his compliance to the sciences of Hadith and Quran along with leadership in Sufi knowledge. He said, “Our way is controlled by the Quran and Hadith.” (Source: Al A`laam).

the Shaykh of the Sufis and the Imam of the monotheists. He has an article that is written according to the requirements of the Kalam scholars, but with Sufi expressions.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part IV

June 17, 2008

After Al-Shafi`i came his students that mastered the sciences of both jurisprudence and Kalam. Examples are Al-Harith ibn Asad Al-Muhasibi,

Harith ibn Asad Al Muhasibi, the great Sufi and encyclopedic scholar of Islam. He is the Shaykh of the famous Sufi, encyclopedic scholar and judge: Al Junayd. It is said that people named him “Al Muhasibi,” which in Arabic means “the one who calls to account,” because he was constantly calling himself to account for his own deeds in light of the teachings of Islam. (Source: Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah Al Kubraa).

Abu `Ali Al-Karaabisi,

Al Husayn ibn Ali Yazid Al Karabisi, Abu Ali, was one of the students of Al Shafi`i. He was  a great scholar of Fiqh, Hadith and Kalam. He narrated the old sayings of Al Shafi`i from Baghdad, and it is said that Al Karabisi was that greatest of Al Shafi`i’s students there. Al Bukhari used to narrated the saying of Al Shafi`i through him, as mentioned in Tabaqaat Al Shafi`iah.

Harmalah,

Harmalah ibn Yahya Al Tujibi, (166 h.-243 h.) was a great Hafidh (master savant of Hadith) and Faqih (master savant of Fiqh) from Egypt. (Source: Al A`laam).

Yusuf Al-Buwaiti,

Yusuf ibn Yahya Al Buwaiti, Abu Yaqub (?- 231 h.) from Buwait in the Sa`eed area of Egypt. Al Shafi`i said about him: “None of my companions are as knowledgeable as he.” He is the one that narrated the famous book of Al Shafi`i called Al Umm. (Source: Al A`laam).

and Dawuud Al-Asbahaani.

The later scholars of Kalam relied on Al-Karabisi for knowing the various sub-sects of the Khawariji as well as all other sects. The jurisprudent and hadith scholars relied on him for knowing the conditions for authentication (acceptance as authentic) of hadith along with the types of flaws, and evaluating narrators.

The books of Al Harith ibn Asad Al-Muhasibi became the primary source for the Kalam scholars of our associates,

By “our associates,” he means the scholars of the Shafi`i, Maliki and Hanbali schools of Fiqh (Islamic laws and practices) and the scholars that have similar methodology. They are referred to as “the People of Hadith”. People of Hadith” as opposed to the “People of Insight” are terms used by the scholars to refer respectively to the fiqh scholars that have a strong apparent focus on Hadith, and those with a strong focus on deeper issues of meaning. It does not mean that the latter group ignores authentic Hadiths, both groups agree that authentic Hadith without any flaws must be applied. It also does not mean that the former lack deep insight. It is rather a matter of how the two groups apparently differ in their ways. One finds the former speaking much like Hadith specialists, while the latter focuses on long and intense debates on finer points of the meaning of Hadiths and the Quran. The latter will often refuse to go by the apparent meaning of Hadith due to a weakness related to its meaning, while the former will largely (but certainly not always) override such flaws based on the strength of the chain of narration. To fully understand the differences needs a lengthy study of Usul al Fiqh – the scholarly methodology for drawing judgments regarding Islamic laws and practices directly from the four sources: The Quran, Hadith, ijma` and Analogy. An important note also is that the “People of Hadith” in scholarly terminology of old has a different meaning than those that call themselves by this name today.

both the jurists and the Sufis.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part III

June 16, 2008

The first Kalam scholars among the jurists and the heads of the schools of jurisprudence were Abu Hanifah,

Abu Hanifah, Al Nu`man ibn Thabit (80 h. – 150 h.) is one of the four great Imams of Islam that founded the four schools of fiqh. He was the earliest of the four, and lived in Kufa in Iraq. He was the head of the scholars there and also a rich textile trader. He died in prison for refusing his appointment as judge in Baghdad by the ruler at the time. He is known for his brilliance in proving his views to be the strongest, to the extent that Malik, second of the four imams said about him, “If he claimed that this pillar you would have no choice but to agree with him.” Al Shafi`i, the third of the imams said: “All people are dependent on the fiqh of Abu Hanifah.” (Source: Al A`laam).

and Al-Shafi`i. Abu Hanifah wrote a book against the Qadariyyah called “Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar,” and he has an article that he dictated to champion the saying of the Sunnis that ability comes at the point of action. He said, however, that the ability applies to two opposites, and this is the saying of a number of our companions. The companion of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf,

Yaqub ibn Ibrahim ibn Habib Al Ansari (113 h. -182 h.) was the companion of Abu Hanifah and his student. He was also the first to spread the teachings of the school of Abu Hanifah. He was a great Faqih, encyclopedic scholar, and a Hafidh Hadith scholar. He was the Judge of the Abbasi empire and the first to be called “the Judge of Judges in this world.” (Source: Al A`laam). As an anecdote, it was narrated by Ibrahim Al Jarrah that he visited Abu Yusuf while the latter was sick in bed with the sickness he died from. Ibrahim told what happened as follows: “Abu Yusuf opened his eyes and said, “Is throwing the pebbles (in Hajj pilgrimage) while riding better or while walking?” I said, ‘Walking.” He said, “You are wrong.” Then I said, “Riding.” He said, “You are wrong.” Then he said, “It is better to walk for all throwing that has standing <to supplicate> after it, while it is better to ride for throwing that does not have standing after it.” After that I stood up and left, and I had not reached the gate of the building before I heard the cry that he had died. I was astonished by his craving for knowledge even in such a situation. <Al Mabsut>.

said: “the Qadariyyah are apostates.”

Al Shafi`i has two books in Kalam science. One of them to prove and authenticate the existence of prophethood, against the claims of the Brahmins (the Hindus). The second was a refutation of deviant sects. He also mentioned some Kalam issues in the book “Kitaab Al-Qiyaas”. In it he pointed to having gone back on the saying of accepting the testimony of deviant sects.

As for Bishr Al-Marisi,

A well known Mu`tazilite deviant, known for following the school of Abu Hanifah in fiqh, but had some Mu`tazilite beliefs.

who was among the Hanafis, he only agreed with the Mu`tazilite stance on the creation of the Quran,

The statement “Quran” has two meanings. One is the book of the Quran, the other is the eternal and everlasting speech of Allah that is not letters, not sound, not sequential and does not change. If someone declares that the “Quran is created,” then it is not blasphemy if he meant the book. However, if he meant Allah’s attribute, then it is blasphemy. Some of the Mu`tazilites meant the first meaning, but others meant the other.

but declared them blasphemers for saying that humans create their own actions.

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part II

June 15, 2008

The first Sunni of the generation following the companions to engage in Kalaam debates was Umar ibn Abdul Aziz,

The Khalifah and great scholar. He is counted as the fifth righteous Khalifah after the first four. He was born in 61 h. and died in 101 h. – may Allah reward him. He became Khalifah in 99 h., and during his short rule peace and justice quickly spread. He forbade cussing Ali ibn Abi Talib, which had become a habit of speakers in the Masjids of the day. It is said that he died from being poisoned. (Source: Al A`laam.)

he wrote an eloquent letter against the ideas of the Qadariyyah sect. After him came Zayd ibn Ali ibn Al Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Zayd ibn Ali ibn Al Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son of Zayn al Abideen. One of the greatest scholars of all time and grandson of Al Husayn, the Prophet’s grandson. He rebelled against the Umawi king Hisham ibn Abdul Malik, was killed, crucified, beheaded and burned. He was the one that named those Shi’ites that reject Abu Bakr and Umar as “Al Raafidah” – The Rejectors. They came to him offering their support in his rebellion if he would disavow Abu Bakr and Umar, but he said, “Rather I ally myself with them and disavow those who disavow them.” They responded, “Then we refuse you.” From this came the name of the sect. (Source: Al Waafi bi-l-Wafayaat.)

He wrote a book rejecting the Qadariyyah sect based on proofs from the Quran. Then came Al Hasan Al Basri,

Al Hasan Al Basri is one of the greatest of the Taabiˆiin, the students of the Prophet’s companions. He was the leader of the scholars in Basrah. He was eloquent, brave, ascetic and a master of fiqh. (Source: Al A`laam.)

whom the Qadariyyah claimed as one of them. How can that be right, however, when in fact he wrote a letter to Umar ibn Abdul Aziz showing their faults, and chased their leader Wasil away from his teaching sessions when he showed his deviations?

After him came Ash-Sha`bi, who was among the toughest opponents of the Qadariyyah, and then Al Zuhri. The latter was the one that gave Abdul Malik ibn Marwan the fatwa that the blood of the Qadariyyah should be shed.

Following this generation came Ja`far ibn Muhammad Al Saadiq, who authored a book refuting the ideas of the Qadariyyah and another refuting those of the Khawarij. He also wrote an article against the extremists of the Shi’ites. He is the one that said, “The Mu`tazilites wanted to declare the Oneness of Allah, but committed apostasy. They also wanted to declare Allah just, but ended up attributing to Him stinginess.”

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Imam Abdul Qahir Al Baghdadi on the `Ulema of Kalam – Part I

June 14, 2008

Abdul Qahir ibn Tahir Al Baghdadi Al Tamimi, also known as Abu Mansur, (?-429 AH/ ?-1037 AD) was the head of the scholars of his time. The historian Al Dhahabi(673-748 AH/ 1274-1348 AD) described him in his book Siyar A`laam al Nubalaa’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar” …. “He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al Dhahabi said that he would have like to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abu Uthman Al Sabuni saying: Abu Mansur is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islam. Abu Uthman Al Sabuni, who said this, is one of the greatest scholars of Islam and among Sunnis he is known as “Shaykh Al Islam” – the Shaykh of Islam. Al Subki, in his “The Levels of the Shafi`i Scholars,” quotes a number of scholars praising Al Sabuni, among them Al Bayhaqi, who knew him and said, “Verily he is in reality the Imam of the Muslims and in truth the Shaykh of Islam. All the people of his time are humbled by his state of religion, leadership, sound beliefs, amount of knowledge, and his commitment to the way of the Salaf generation (the first three generations, or first three centuries of Muslims).”

What follows is a translation of a passage from his book Usul al din. This passage lists the scholars amongst the Salaf who had engaged in Kalam. A small commentary will also be presented, providing greater detail on the `ulema mentioned in this tract. The main text of the tract will be in quotations, and the commentary will be in regular typeset. Since the tract, together with its commentary, is long, it will be presented in parts. Hereunder is the first part:

The first Sunni scholar of Kalam among the companions was Ali ibn Abi Talib, as he debated the Khawarij on the issues of the promise and threat,

He is referring to the Khawarij claim that Allah does not forgive big sins, such as drinking wine, even if the person believes it is a sin (Usul al Din, Al Bazdawi, Al Maktabah Al Azhariah, P. 256.)

and the Qadariyyah on predestination, will, and ability.

The Qadariah claimed that humans create their own actions, while Sunnis say that Allah is the only creator, and that Humans only commit actions. The Sunni stance is unquestionably correct, because claiming that someone did something that Allah has not willed, is equivalent to saying that He either did not know it or was unable to prevent it. This is clearly impossible.

The issues of predestination, will, and ability are the issues related to the Qadariah’s blasphemous claim that humans create their own actions, because they ended up saying that humans are not predestined, that their will is independent of Allah’s, and that the human ability to act is an ability to create. The Muslims said that human will is by Allah’s will, because he knows everything and cannot be overpowered. They also said that human ability does not include creating. Rather, the ability to act is an ability created by Allah and it occurs at the moment of the act itself. The simplest proof of the truth of this, is that a human never knows with complete certainty that he is going to be able to do even a simple intended act, such as standing up after sitting. It could be, for example, that one suddenly fell ill.

Then came Abdullah ibn Umar

A great scholar and companion of the Prophet, the son of Umar ibn Al Khattab.

with his sayings against the Qadariyyah, and his declaration of wanting nothing to do with them or their leader known as Ma`bad Al-Juhani.

The Qadariyyah claimed that Ali was one of them, and that their leader Wasil ibn Ata’ Al Ghazzaal took his sayings from Muhammad

Muhammd ibn Al Hanafiyyah, the son of Ali, one of the greatest scholars of Islam and famous for great physical strength.

and Abdullah, the two sons of Ali – may Allah reward him. This is one of their scandalous lies. It is among the strangest of things how they claim that Ali’s two sons taught them the rejection of Ali’s and Talhah’s

Talhah is one of the greatest companions of the Prophet, and is one of the famous ten that were promised Paradise by the Prophet. See the Biography of the Prophet for more details.

testimonies and doubt in Ali’s trustworthiness. Do you see them teaching him that the testimonies of Talhah and the Prophet’s brother in law are invalid?

Translation and Commentary by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Foundations of the Religion

May 19, 2008

Introduction

If I am ever asked about what makes Islam different from any other religion, I will always answer that Islam is the religion of the sound mind; there is no contradiction between the Islamic faith and sound reasoning. This means that the core religious beliefs and methodology of knowing the religious judgment on human actions can be defended by reason alone, without referring to scriptures. It also means that there is nothing in the teachings in the religion that contradicts sound reasoning, although not everything in the religion can be known by reason alone (such as knowing how and when to pray).

In other words, Islam is not founded on mysticism, or on the “take it or leave it, this is faith, not logic” approach one finds in other religions. There is no separation of logic and faith in Islam.

When the scholars of Islam spoke of the knowledge of foundations (usul in Arabic) they meant either the foundations of the religion (the Islamic belief) or the foundations of fiqh (rules of the religion), or sometimes both. The foundations of the religion are the Islamic beliefs. The foundations differ from the branches (furu’), which are the detailed questions pertaining to the religion’s judgment on the actions of humans (i.e. fiqh).

Sound reason, the foundations of the religion, the foundations of fiqh and the branches of fiqh are connected as follows: First, it is by sound reason we know that God exists, is one, without a partner or an equal, and is attributed only with attributes of perfection. Second, it is by sound reason that a prophetic miracle becomes known as an irrefutable proof of prophethood. Third, it is by sound reason we can establish that Prophet Muhammad had miracles and other prophetic attributes. For these three reasons, the scholars all agreed that nothing in the scriptures is interpreted in a way that contradicts sound reasoning or sensory reality (such as square is different from a circle, 2 is different from 3). If this was not so, then it would be a denial of the faith itself. After all, if one denied certain knowledge of such facts, then one is denying certain knowledge of the Creator’s existence, prophethood and historical events. Fourth, it is by sound reason we can establish how to extract the judgments of the branches of fiqh from textual evidence; a scientific methodology for knowing these branches (i.e. what the judgment is on a particular human action). After all, it is by reason we can determine what a strong proof is and what is not. This article is dedicated to explaining these four points, but before that we need to explain the concept of sound reasoning.

Sound reasoning is the ability to know right from wrong, or to know what must be, can be and cannot be. No religious community is anywhere near as meticulous and fair minded as the Muslims with regards to the evidences of the correctness of their beliefs and practices. Muslims recognize different levels of probability regarding the validity of their texts, and other types of evidence. These can be viewed as:

1. Must be true

2. Most likely true

3. Likely true

4. Maybe true

5. Improbable

6. Impossible

This ranking is actually fundamental to any science, because these are the natural categories in which the sound mind views things. In the same manner, the acceptance of these categories is fundamental in Islamic scholarship, because denying the first and sixth leads to denying the human ability to achieve certainty at all and thereby the ability to believe.

The opposite of sound reasoning is sophistry, or extreme relativism, where a person claims to doubt everything, even sometimes his or her own existence. Since they thereby doubt the existence of proofs, arguing with them is a useless activity. Instead, they are handled by putting them in a situation where they are forced to admit the certain existence of sensory reality. An example of how this can be done, is saying to them, “I will not discuss anything with you until you admit that you are certain that we are speaking to one another.” A slightly harsher way is to throw some cold water in their face, and when they complain say, “you mean the water you are not certain exists thrown in the face you are not certain exists by a person you are not certain exists?”

How to categorize a claim as either certain or possible

Explaining what constitutes certainty is of fundamental importance, because this is the means by which belief and reason come together; a unique attribute of Islam. The fundamental beliefs of Muslims are all coupled with certainty in terms of their evidences, and from those the remaining beliefs and practices flow.

Certainty is of two kinds: (1) knowing by plain reason that a claim must be true or (2) that it is impossible. All other claims are considered possible, unless there is material evidence of otherwise. Here is an explanation of what is meant by “must be”, “impossible” and “possible”:

  • Must be: These are claims that sound reasoning cannot deny because their opposites are absurd. For example 1+1=2 must be true, because claiming otherwise would be absurd (in the case of natural numbers). It does not apply to scientific theories such as E=mc2, because it is conceivable that they could be proven wrong.
  • Impossible: These are claims that sound reasoning concludes to be absurd, such as the claim that 1+1=3, or that a part of a whole can be larger than the whole, or that there is a square circle. Another example of something impossible would be for a camel to enter through a needles eye, without a change in the size or shape of either party. Impossible claims refer to things that cannot ever be; they are mere verbal absurdities without a sound meaning. They are usually contradictions of terms (such as the idea of a perfectly round square) or meaning (such as the idea of 1+1=3 using natural numbers). Impossible things do not include claims that are naturally impossible, such as pigs flying or rivers flowing up a mountain. These are things that are known to be impossible only by knowing how the world works, and cannot be said to be impossible by reasoning alone.
  • Possible: possible means possible according to reason alone. It does not mean possible according to the normal course of events. This category includes all normal events, but also things that are naturally impossible, such as the examples of rivers flowing up mountains or pigs flying mentioned earlier. If something happens that is naturally impossible then this is an extraordinary event, such as feeding hundreds of people with one piece of bread, curing a leper by touching him, wakening the dead, walking on water, etc. i.e. events that are naturally impossible are possible, but completely extraordinary. This shows the highly open minded attitude learned Muslims have towards claims regarding worldly events, i.e. towards science.

Accepting these categories for sound reasoning is absolutely fundamental. Denying them implies denying the religion as a whole, because it means denying the possibility of knowing with certainty that Allah exists, that the Quran is an unperverted book and a miracle, and that Prophet Muhammad was Allah’s prophet and messenger. To claim that one only achieves knowledge through the revealed text is absurd, and a form of sophistry, because one must first establish that the text itself is reliable, and this can only be done through sound reasoning.

These categories are firmly established by the Quran, where the rhetorical question “`afalaa ta`qiluun” meaning, “Don’t you realize the truth?” or the like, is repeated throughout. This question is an appeal to be sound-minded.

Proving with certainty that God exists using common sense

Islam orders Muslims to believe in the fundamental creed of Islam without a fragment of doubt. At the same time, Allah (God, the Creator of this world) has stated in the Quran that He does not order someone to do something he is unable to do. Allah also named Himself Aţh-Ţhaahir, which means, “The One Who’s Existence is Obvious by Proofs.” It is clear then, that these fundamental beliefs can all be proven correct with certainty.

The basic Islamic belief belongs to the must be category of claims. This belief is that there is only one Creator and that he has no partner, part or equal in His attributes. A simple way to show this to be true is to first establish that this world needs a Creator to exist.

It is clear that this world is an incredibly organized place. Take for example the human cell and how it develops and is coordinated with the rest of the body, or the incredible precision of the solar system and the earth’s atmosphere. Sound reasoning tells us that these are not random events, and if they are not random, then they are organized, and organization requires someone’s specification and power to give specifications and realize them without exception.

To illustrate why this is true, let us say for example that you had left a room extremely messy, with clothes thrown on the floor, furniture upside down, and so on. Later you came back to the room and found it tidy and neat. Would you accept that this neatness came about without someone or something having done the work of tidying?

We conclude then that this world must have a Creator that is attributed with will and power. Don’t you see that if you leave a few trees standing by the riverside they will never become a raft if left alone? Or, that a ship will never sail straight to its destination in a hurricane without something steering it? If this is true for these simple events, then it is obviously true that someone controls the events of this universe, and that He is attributed with will, knowledge and power.

Proving with certainty that God is clear of imperfection, such as having a partner, using common sense.

The above argument is used by anyone that believes in the existence of a Creator, such as Christians and Jews. However, accepting this proof leads to other necessary conclusions as follows:

The one that has the power to create this incredible cosmos cannot be attributed with any weaknesses. This is clear, because the world we see around us shows us that His power, knowledge and will are absolutely unlimited. After all, He created all this from non-existence, i.e. the claim that He sleeps or gets sleepy is impossible. Such a claim is simply a failure to conceive existence beyond material existence, and drawing analogies between the Creator and the created. It is also a failure to realize the amazing detail and complexity of creation, which brings one to the natural conclusion that its Creator cannot be subject to any limits. This is what Muslims mean when they say “subhan-Allah”, i.e. Allah is clear of non-befitting attributes, i.e. flaws or weaknesses.

It must be true that the Creator does not have a partner. This is because having a partner indicates need; the need for help, the need to overpower or the need to make concessions. Having a need is a weakness, and the Creator must be free from that, i.e. it is impossible for Him to have a partner.

Since we said that this world must have a Creator (because it requires specification) then it must be true that the Creator does not have attributes that require specification, such as composition of parts, physical dimension or location, limits, boundaries, beginnings or ends, weaknesses, movement, gender, etc. In other words, He must be clear of temporal, physical or spatial attributes; attributes which the question “how?” apply to. This is because being in need of specification is a tremendous weakness in need of a Creator.

Only the Creator deserves to be worshiped. This is clear because He does not have a partner or a part, as established above, so everything else that exists must be merely a creation and completely submitted to the power of the Creator. Anyone that is fair minded will admit this. However, because of the atheist and agnostic propaganda people are exposed to, it is appropriate to present a more detailed proof as follows.

A mathematical proof that Allah exists and does not resemble His creation, supported by the reasoning of Prophet Ibrahim

Islam is greater than those religions that are taken on faith alone; as the scholars have shown in their answers to pagans and atheists throughout history. The proof of God’s existence is of a mathematical kind, however, rather than experimental. This is because Allah is not something one can observe. Rather, His existence and attributes are proven by the existence and attributes of created things. The atheist/materialist assertion that Allah does not exist, because He Himself is not directly/scientifically observable, is fallacious and silly. This is because anything scientifically observable cannot be the Creator, because He is not like His creation. It is as if they are saying, “if Allah exists, then He is something physical.”

One logical proof of Allah’s existence is:

Premise A: We exist here today.

Premise B: Before we existed there were a series of events, one after another leading up to our existence today. (The passing of such a series of events is what we call time, and measure in minutes, days, weeks and years.)

If one accepts Premise A, then one must also accept that the series of events in premise B must have a beginning. This must be, because if someone claims that an eternal amount of events had to be concluded before his existence, then he is saying that eternity came to an end, which is a contradiction in terms. It is like if someone said “this car will only get to its destination after its wheels have spun infinitely many times,” and then claimed that the car arrived at its destination. It is clear, however, that the car could never have gotten to its destination if an infinite number of spins was the condition for its arrival.

Those who claim that the world has no beginning are in fact saying that it is a prerequisite for tomorrow to arrive that an infinite number of events first take place. This is impossible, because infinity cannot end. Clearly then, the number of events that precedes our existence must have a limit.

In addition, since it is necessarily true that this series of events has a beginning, then it must also be that before this beginning there were no series of events (defined as anything with a beginning). If someone claimed otherwise, then they would end up with the same contradiction (saying that infinity came to an end). Accordingly, the claim that the world was created by random events is irrational.

Rather, there must be a Creator that gave the series of events existence, since it was nonexistent before it began. Moreover, since it is impossible for there to be any events before the existence of this series, then it must also be that the Creator is not attributed with events, i.e. with any attribute or action that has a beginning. This again means that the Creator does not resemble His creation, since all created attributes must have a beginning. Actually, having a beginning and being a creation is the same thing. This is because to create is to bring into existence, and everything with a beginning must have been brought into existence.

We know from the above, by mathematical precision and logical necessity, that the Creator exists and does not resemble His creation. From the fact that the world has a beginning, we have proven that it must have a creator. The name of this creator is Allah in Arabic. If someone asks, “Who created Allah?” we say Allah does not have a creator, and does not need one as He has no beginning. If someone then asks, “how can you accept that Allah has no beginning, while you do not accept that the world has no beginning?” The answer is that we have shown that the world has a beginning based on the fact that it changes (changes are events). We do not believe, however, that Allah changes. Rather, we believe He is One, and doesn’t change and has no beginning.

The fact that Allah does not resemble His creation can also be known by saying that since God’s existence must be (as shown above), then it cannot also be merely possible (since “must be” and “possible” are incompatible meanings – something cannot be both a must and a possibility at the same time). Therefore, He must be clear of any attribute that belongs to the possible category of things. For example, weakness, limits, boundaries and needs are attributes that may or may not have existence; their existence depends on them being created; their existence is a possibility, not a must. They need a Creator to specify their limits. We know that we need a Creator, because we know that our own attributes need specification. We know they need specification because they have limits, and limits must be specified. For example, if you pointed at a table in a room and said, “Who made it in that shape?” and someone answered, “No one, it is just there like that eternally!” Would you accept this? Of course not, because we know anything limited needs someone to specify it.

This is what Ibrahim (peace be upon him) meant when he said about the star in the sky “I don’t like those who go away.”(Surah 6, 76-78 ) Going away is an event and an obvious sign that the star is a creation; it needs someone to specify its time, and it makes blatantly obvious its possibility of non-existence. He also said about the sun, “This is bigger!” He was pointing out to his people that what is attributed with a limit (size needs a limit) is an event (something that has a beginning), because it needs someone to specify its size, like anything else with a size.

According to the proofs above, Allah is not attributed with limits, since He is not created. We can also safely conclude that Allah has a Will to specify events, and unlimited Power to create them. We can also conclude that He must have knowledge, because specification without knowledge is impossible. It is now easy to see also, that no event can take place without Him willing it. All of this is according to the teachings of Islam, and what all prophets taught, as is shown by the following statements in the Quran:

“هُوَ الأَوَّلُ”,

“He is Al-Awwal.” (Al-Hadid, 03).”

If translated literally, it would be “He is the First” i.e. He existed before everything else, and He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else. It is a beginningless and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything, since it is not preceded by anything.

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

“And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If someone asked: If an event can be defined as an action that has a beginning and giving a series of events existence is an action with a beginning (and if it’s not, then what is it?), then how can one rationally conclude, based on the logic presented above, that the Creator is not attributed with events?

The answer to this is that we did not define events as actions having a beginning, but as “anything that has a beginning.” Actions may have a beginning, namely the actions of creation – as they all share this resemblance, or they may not, namely the actions of Allah.

Allah does not resemble His creation, so He is not an event or attributed with events. This is because to “create” is to “bring into existence,” and all events are therefore by definition created. As Allah’s attributes are not creations, they are not events. As Aţ-Tahaawi, an authority on the Islamic belief said:

ما زال بصفاته قديما قبل خلقه

“He is now as He always was, eternally with His attributes, before His creation came into being.”

Note that the actions of Allah Himself are not describable, as they are actions not bounded by time.They are actions without a how (bilaa kayf). Our lack of understanding is not a problem for the argument presented, because we have already shown, and we can definitively understand, that no action of Allah has a beginning. Then we stop there, and do not delve on it, or say “how?” There are things in creation that are beyond our grasp, such as the pattern of quarks, so what about the Creator, who does not resemble anything?An example of something beyond our grasp, is what the following aayah tells us:

“وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ”

“Allah created darkness and light” (Al-‘Anˆaam, 1)

Yet the scholars mention other things as the first creation of Allah, such as water. Definitely water, or any other physical thing, without darkness or light is beyond our understanding, even beyond our imagination. That does not make it untrue, however, as verified in this aayah and the fact that they are events that thus need a Creator, as was established earlier.

Last but not least, in attempt to confuse, or out of confusion some may ask: “What if the world’s existence is cyclical?” Our answer to this is that cycles are still one cycle one after another, so they are events. Some may also ask, in an attempt to confuse: “Before Allah created this series of events, was He able to create another series or not?” Our answer to this is that this is a nonsensical question, because what we established was that there must be an event that is first, regardless of the number of series, or the number of worlds preceding the current one[1]. We also established that Allah’s actions are not events, so they are not described with a “before.” The Prophet said:

اللهم أنت الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ

“O Allah, You are the First, so there is nothing before you, and you are the Last so there is nothing after you. (Muslim, No. 2713)”

Now that we have shown with certainty that the Creator exists, is one without a partner, and that He is clear of created attributes, we will move on to the next fundamental part of the creed. Namely that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger.

Proving with certainty that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger

First, when we say that Muhammad is God’s Prophet and Messenger, we mean that he received a revelation from God ordering him to teach the true belief (Islam), and to bring changes in the rules and laws of previous messengers. Muslims believe that Jesus, Moses, John, Abraham and the other prophets were prophets of Islam. Their belief was the same, but the laws and rules they brought were sometimes different. This is because the needs of human kind have differed through the ages.

Second, nobody denies the historical existence of Prophet Muhammad, so there is no need to discuss this.

Third, as for the proof of his prophethood, this is done, like with all other prophets, by claiming prophethood while showing a miracle. By “miracle” Muslims mean an extraordinary event that nobody opposing the claim can imitate. If a person shows a clear miracle while claiming prophethood, and at the same time this person is known to never lie and to be of exceptional moral character and beauty, then the sound minded conclude that this person has God’s support in his claim. In other words, he must be a prophet.

Before becoming a Prophet, the Prophet Muhammad was known among his people as being sincere and trustworthy from the day he was born, as was admitted even by his adversaries. He was greatly loved for this. Never telling a lie is an essential characteristic of any prophet, before and after prophethood. That is why the king of Ethiopia at the time believed Prophet Muhammad. He heard from the Arabs that he was known never to have lied, and this king knew that if such a man claimed prophethood, then he could only be a prophet.

As for his miracles, they are many, but the most obvious is the Quran itself. The Quran has been preserved to the last letter, without any perversions or alterations for some 1400 years. This in itself is an extraordinary event, because no other book has been preserved in this way in human history. It is a miracle also, because the Prophet Muhammad affirmed by what was revealed to him that it would be preserved. Allah said in the Quran (Al-Hijr, 9)

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“Allah has revealed this remembrance that is the Quran, and He protects it.”

This is a miracle then, because this claim of future preservation associated with the Prophet, stated in the Quran, matches this already extraordinary preservation of 1400 years.

Added to this preservation is the fact that the Quran challenges anybody who opposes Prophet Muhammad’s claim to prophethood, to compose a Surah like any of its 114 Surahs. Allah said (Al-Baqarah, 23):

وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ

“If you are in doubt about what Allah has revealed to the Prophet, then bring a Surah like any of its Surahs in eloquence, if you can, but you will not be able.”

This challenge came despite the fact that the shortest Surah in the Qur’aan can be written on a single line on a piece of paper (Al-Kawtħar, 1-3):

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ ^ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ ^ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ “

Yet, nobody succeeded in meeting this challenge among the Arabs, despite the Arabs pride in eloquence at the time, and the widespread occurrence of poetry competitions between tribes and individuals. In fact, nobody during these 1400 years has met this challenge. Moreover, if the challenge had been met during his time, then Prophet Muhammad would have lost his support. Add to that the fact that Prophet Muhammad  was unlettered and never took part in composing any poetry. If you think about it, this miracle also proves that nothing happens except by Allah’s Will.

In addition, the Quran contains many statements about things the Prophet could not have known through ordinary means, such as the description of what would happen to the breathing of a person if lifted up into the atmosphere (Al-An`aam, 125):

فَمَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ أَنْ يَهدِيَهُ يَشْرَحْ صَدْرَهُ لِلإِسْلامِ وَمَنْ يُرِدْ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُ يَجْعَلْ صَدْرَهُ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَأَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِي السَّمَاءِ

“Whoever Allah has willed to guide, He will open his heart to accept Islam, and whoever He has willed misguidance for, He will make his chest tight and narrow, as if he is ascending up in the sky.”

Another example was that once when the Prophet and his army were stuck in the desert without water, he filled empty jars with water by putting his hands in them. The water was eventually enough for an army of 1500 people to drink and wash.

Remember that these events happened in broad daylight in front of masses of people, and that these things were related to the next generation without interruption until this day. These are not stories found in books with unknown authors, or tales of single individuals in the darkness of history. Rather, when the Prophet performed his last pilgrimage he had more than 100,000 people with him and was the established ruler of the Arabian Peninsula. He was there when the Islamic civilization was founded and it has only grown since.

Now that we have established the creed of Islam as correct with certainty, what about the various rules and stories in the Islamic religion?

The Rational Approach to Islamic Texts

Since we have already established that Muhammad was a Prophet and Messenger of Allah, then all we have to do regarding the other teachings of Islam is to show that something was actually taught by the Prophet. These teachings are of 4 main sources:

1. The Quran.

2. Collections of statements about what the Prophet said, did or did not do in different circumstances. This is called hadith.

3. Collections of the sayings of scholars to establish what they all agreed upon.

4. Analogy in the absence of clear proofs from the 3 above sources. This is in rules and laws of the religion only.

5. I will only discuss the first two sources, since the third and forth are beyond the scope of this article.

Before discussing the two sources it should be known that both Quran and hadith is related from person to person in chains of narrators that extend from the Prophet to those who relate them today. For example, if you go to a properly qualified scholar today, he can tell you what his chains of narrators are for the Quran or hadiths all the way to the Prophet. He would say I was taught this by so and so, who was taught by so and so, etc. These chains are called chains of narrators.

As for the Quran, it has already been established that the Quran has been completely preserved. Masses of people memorized Quran around the Prophet. These masses taught other masses and so on until today, and there is still only one Quran; whether you test someone who has memorized in Mecca or someone who lives in China or Argentina. It is naturally impossible that any of these masses in the various generations could have gotten together to agree to fabricate, insert or remove something. That is why a plain statement in the Quran is a plain proof.

As for hadiths, these are ranked according to the probability of correctness, as I indicated at the beginning of this article. The highest-ranking hadiths are the ones that have been related in the same manner as the Quran. Such hadiths are automatically established as correct, without looking at who related them, because it would normally be impossible for them to be lies. These hadiths would be comparable to the news we have received that there was a war in Iraq. There is no sound reason to doubt this because it has been related by so many different sources in a way that does not allow for a conspiracy to lie, or a mistake. This is unlike, for example, moon travel. This incident is entirely based on what NASA says as an organization, and there were military and political motives to lie, so a conspiracy is a real possibility. According to the Islamic manner of relating hadith, the story of traveling to the moon is no more than possibly true. This is to illustrate how strict the science of hadith is.

The next level for hadiths is for those that were not related in the manner above. Rather, they were related by one or more individuals, who then related it on to others. These hadiths may be related from masses to masses today, but at some stage they were not. These hadiths can range from highly likely true to certainly untrue. Several factors are taken into consideration when ranking these, including:

What was said about the people in the chain of narrators? The existence of people accused of lying would weaken the chain tremendously, as would the existence of people with inaccurate memories, or a person with a known bias in a particular issue (if the hadith is on that issue), or people who are not well known. Disqualified or weak narrators are also identified by analyzing what was related from a particular person, by comparing that to what else he related, or what others related in similar matters.

What was the level of understanding of the different narrators with regard to the religion in general and scholarship?

Is there evidence of interruption in the chain of narrators? That is, are there narrators missing or indications that two of them never met, or were unlikely to have met?

Are there weaknesses in the text of the hadith? For example, does it narrow down the absolute meaning of a statement in the Quran or a hadith that was related like the Quran? Is it in disagreement with well-known and established rules of the religion? How does the text agree with hadiths related for the same or similar events? It is in answering these questions the truly great scholars, such as Abu Hanifah and Al-Shafi`i, are separated from the crowd. It is also in dealing with these issues that is the main concern of the foundations of fiqh and that caused the scholars to disagree, namely the topic of conflicting evidences.

Is there a claim in the text that belongs to the impossible category of claims (i.e. it is absurd)? If so, the hadith is either interpreted as a figure of speech or rejected. This is because a hadith that has an authentic and strong chain of narrators (but was not related in the manner of the Quran) only establishes a high likelihood of it being true, and a proof that shows high likelihood is much weaker than a proof that shows certainty (i.e. that something belongs to the must be or impossible category of claims).

All of the above factors are taken into consideration to rank a particular hadith, and the work of ranking them is a highly scientific task. When establishing what the meaning of a hadith is, one takes into consideration all the considerations of ranking. Moreover, they must be interpreted according to the most obvious meaning in Arabic unless there are other hadiths or statements in the Quran that indicate otherwise. In other words, before claiming that a statement is figurative one must have a solid proof for why this is so. This is done by showing that the literal meaning is absurd or inconsistent with other related texts from the Quran or hadith. This must be so, otherwise anybody could make any interpretation they desire and there would be no meaning in having a Prophet sent.

In the end, and putting it simply, what is considered to be obligatory for Muslims to believe, are the things that are established with certainty. Moreover, if it is concluded that the Prophet most likely prescribed something, then one must follow this, because it is improbable that he did not, and God ordered us to follow him. To illustrate, if a person that you trust at work came to you and said that the boss wants you to do so and so, do you ignore it, or do you naturally accept the task? Would it be reasonable to reject the command on the basis that it is not impossible for this to be wrong? Of course not. These rhetorical questions illustrate that accepting hadith with strong chains of narrators and a meaning that is free of inconsistencies (in view of the text of the Quran or other hadiths, or established rules of scholarship) is only reasonable and rejecting it would be unreasonable, and there is no doubt that it is better to be reasonable than unreasonable.

Figures of speech identified by sound reasoning in the Quran and hadiths

To finalize this article, one particular issue needs to be discussed in more detail: when to identify literal meanings as absurd, and therefore interpreting them as figures of speech.

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.


[1] The worlds that exist now are the only ones, and there was no world before them, but this is known by narrations from the Prophet, and the Quran, and not by logic alone. This is beyond the scope of this article.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


The Indivisible Element

May 19, 2008

Ahl al Sunnah are currently under the accusation that they founded their belief on the existence of the indivisible elements of bodies (anything with a bulk – i.e. all physical things, material structures, organisms – anything that fills space). The accusers say that the Sunnis took this idea from Greek philosophy, and that the affirmation of such elements’ existence has been shown to be ridiculous by science. None of these claims have been backed by proof, and they are a poorly disguised attempt to baselessly attack the people of the truth. Widespread intoxication from the heavily financed wines of anthropomorphism and bigoted literalist sophistry, has made many engage in assaults on the people of tanzih[1], Ahl al Sunnah wa al-Jamaa`ah. No punches against sound reason are spared these days, regardless how low the blow, and all of this is done in the name of Allah’s religion. As has been narrated in a ḥadith about the last days before the coming of Al-Dajjal:

وَيَتَكَلَّمُ فِيهَا الرُّوَيْبِضَةُ

“And in those days the silly people speak about matters of public importance.”[2]

The basis for knowing that there is an indivisible element is from the Quran, not Greek Philosophy

It is important to hold that the elements of this world are finite, and not infinite in number. This is the case whether it be moments of time, bodies or their attributes (such as movement, stillness and colour), because the Quran unequivocally implies that created things are finite:

وَمَا مِنْ غَائِبَةٍ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ إِلا فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden of creation in the Skies or the Earth that is not in a clear book.” [3]

Clearly, the book is not infinite in size. Therefore, the created things in the Skies and the Earth are limited in number, and not infinitely many, otherwise there would be no room to record them all in a finite book.
Another ayah:

لا يَعْزُبُ عَنْهُ مِثْقَالُ ذَرَّةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلا أَصْغَرُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ وَلا أَكْبَرُ إِلاّ فِي كِتَابٍ مُبِينٍ

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” [4]

This ayah states clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded. If everything was infinitely divisible, then the elements that are smaller than the ant would not be a finite number. They would therefore not fit in a finite book. Further to this is another āyah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Allāh knows the number of all things.” [5]

This ayah states that things have a number. This means that they are not infinitely divisible, because that would make all the numbers infinity, and not different from one another.

Yet another ayah that affirms the finite existence of creation is:

وَكُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَاهُ كِتَابًا

Meaning: “the count of everything has been recorded in a book.” [6]

Al-Tabari stated regarding the meaning of this ayah that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, “its total number, amount, and value”[7]. Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity, and not real numbers.

The indivisible element of bodies is called ‘Al-Jawhar Al-Fard’ (lit. the unique essence) in Arabic jargon, but that is just a name. This ‘Jawhar’ is not the same as the atom (because it has electrons as parts,) or even necessarily the quark (as some scientists already suggest that it has parts.)

The existence of the indivisible element is affirmed by scholarly ijma’ consensus.

The existence of the indivisible element of bodies, call it a ‘Jawhar’ or whatever you like, is affirmed by scholarly ijma’ consensus. Abu Manṣur ‘AbdulQahir Al-Baghdadi (429 H) said in his book Usul al-Din[8]:

“Ahl al-Sunnah agreed by consensus that any jawhar is a part that is indivisible, and they declared as a blasphemer Al-Nazzam (a Mu’tazilite leader) and the philosophers who said that all parts are divisible into infinitely many parts. This is because it leads to saying that their parts are not known as a limited count by Allāh, and this contradicts the saying of Allāh:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “He knows the number of all things[9].

In his book Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firaq, Abu Mansur said:

“As for affirming the existence of the jawhar, the indivisible part (of anything with bulk): this is the saying of most (of those who claim to be) Muslims, except Al-Nazzam, for verily he claimed that there is no end to the parts of a single body, and this is the saying of most of the philosophers. If this was true, then the mountain would not be bigger than the mustard seed…. because what does not have a finite existence, is not larger than something else that does not have finite existence (i.e. infinity=infinity, note that we are speaking of real existence, not potential existence, such as what is to be in the future)….

…. As for Al-Nazzam, it is said to him: If you believe in the Quran, then there is the saying of Allah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

{Meaning:} He knows the number of all things.[10], so if the parts of all the kinds of creation were not limited (at all times), then they would not be known as a number.”[11]

This narration of ijma’ must be taken seriously, because its proof is clear, and the narrator, ‘AbdulQahir ibn Ṭahir Al-Baghdadi Al-Tamimi, Abu Mansur, (429 AH/ 1037 AD) was the head of the scholars of his time. The historian Al-Dhahabi (673-748 AH/ 1274-1348 AD) described him in his book Siyar ‘A’lam Al-Nubala’[12] as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar”…. “He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabi said that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him. He quoted Abū ‘Uthman Al-Ṣabuni[13] (373-449 AH/ 983-1057 AD) saying: “Abu Mansur is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islam.”
From the above we can safely assume that the idea of the indivisible element, the Jawhar, is from the Quran and is affirmed by ‘ijma’ consensus. Therefore, it is not taken from Greek Philosophy.

The importance of the indivisible element

As stated by Al-Taftazani and others, the knowledge about the indivisible part is important when fighting those who believe that there is something other than Allah that is without a beginning. He said:

“If someone asks: ‘Is there any particular benefit to this disagreement (proving the existence of the Jawhar, and refuting those who deny it)?’ Our answer: ‘in proving the existence of the Jawhar, there is salvation from a lot of the darkness of the philosophers, like the affirmation of their concepts of eternal matter, and of forms, which lead to the belief that the world is eternal and beginningless[14].'”

The real nature of the indivisible element is unknown to us

Note that what is mentioned in scholarly works about the nature of the indivisible element, is not essential with regards to the Islamic belief. In fact, its nature is unknown. Some scholars back in the middle ages, such as Fakhr al-Dīn Al-Rāzī, felt confident enough to talk about it, and did. Back in those times, even the hardcore science of physics was not yet a science, but merely a branch of philosophy and mathematics. This is in stark contrast from today, where even sociologists are attempting to upgrade their field to be labelled as “science,” due to the astonishing success of the hard core experimental sciences of physics, chemistry and biology.

Needless to say, the scholars of old differed widely in their views, with the limited mathematics and instruments they had. Many Ash’aris, such as Al-Zarakshi, contended that to speak of its nature is a mistake, because everything we observe is divisible. Others ventured to do it. Their purpose was to attack the philosophers on their own premises in geometry and other fields. It is from the “I ain’t givin’ you even an atom of my fingernail” approach; they wanted to attack every argument that the philosophers presented. They did not do this with the intention of making these arguments the core of the Islamic belief, they merely wanted to show that even based upon their own premises the philosophers were wrong. Many of these proofs are not of the unequivocal type, unlike the proofs for the jawhar’s existence, though they can be helpful in developing one’s imagination and finding out just how limited we are. Today, needless to say, many of these arguments are no longer needed, as they are no longer used by the opponent. In fact, trying to understand the indivisible element through the geometry of divisible things, is a bit like trying to understand satellites by watching a cockfight on the basis that movement is a shared characteristic; one thing has next to nothing to do with the other.
It is very important to understand then, that the weakness of some of the proofs based on geometry are not evidence for doubt in the indivisible element. This is because the proof of its existence, not its nature, is firmly established by the Quran, scholarly ijma’ consensus, and sound reasoning.

Conclusion

In conclusion, to say that the idea of the indivisible element is ridiculous is to contradict with what the āyahs mentioned above necessarily imply. It is also a claim that contradicts scholarly ijma’ consensus. Moreover, it is an opinion that is not backed by scientific findings. It is finally a failure to think logically, for how would a scientific experiment show with certainty that an element is infinitely divisible, when dividing it in such a case would never end? Clearly then, science has not shown the idea of the Jawhar to be ridiculous.

I hope that the attack on the belief in the indivisible element was not a sign for the coming of something far worse. I hope it is not a prelude to spreading the ancient kufr of believing that something other than Allah is eternal, while demagogically sloganising ‘Al-Kitab Wa al-Sunnah,’ and ‘Shaykh Al-Islam says’ to dupe the ignorant.


[1] Tanzīh is the Sunni belief that Allāh does not resemble His creation, that He is not in a place or in time, because He existed before He created them and He did not change. Al-Ṭaḥāwī stated (in {brackets}): {Allāh is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments.} {The six directions} up, down, front, back, left and right {do not contain Him} because that would make Him {like all created things}. The opposite of tanzīh is anthropomorphism, which is the belief that Allāh has attributes similar to that of creation. The most prominent of such beliefs today is the belief that Allāh is above the ‘Arsh (throne) in the literal sense. They promote this idea to the general public by adding “but we don’t know how.” This does not help, because having this belief entails believing that Allāh is something adjacent to the throne, and that He therefore has a limit. This belief is blasphemous by the consensus of the Salaf, and all reasonable human beings.

[2] Fatḥ al-Bārī, 13/84

[3] Sūrat al-Naml, 75

[4] Sūrat Saba’, 3

[5] Al-Jinn, 28

[6] Al-Naba’, 29

[7] Jāmi’ al-Bayān Fī Ta’wīl al-Qur’ān

[8] Uṣūl al-Dīn, 36

[9] Al-Naba’, 29

[10] Al-Naba’, 29

[11] Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firāq, 354

[12] 17/572

[13] Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Ṣābūnī, who said this, is one of the greatest scholars of Islām and among Sunnis he is known as ‘Shaykh Al-Islām’ – the Shaykh of Islām. Al-Subkī, in his “The Levels of the Shāfi’ī Scholars,” quotes a number of scholars praising Al-Ṣābūnī. He stated that Al-Bayhaqī said, “Verily Al-Ṣābūnī is in reality the Imām of the Muslims and in truth the Shaykh of Islām. All the people of his time are humbled by his state of religion, leadership, sound beliefs, amount of knowledge, and his commitment to the way of the Salaf generation (the first three generations, or first three centuries of Muslims) (1/223-224).”

[14] Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id Al-Nasafiyyah, 36


Fatwa of the scholars of al-Azhar regarding the one who believes that Allah settles in created things or that He has a direction

May 6, 2008

Fatwa by Shaykh Abū Muhammad Mahmūd Khattāb Al-Subkīy al-Azharīy

Translated by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

[Introduction]

The Imām and great scholar, the muhaddith, The Renewer of the Religion, Abū Muhammad, Mahmūd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khattāb, Al-Subkīy, Al-Azharī, the founder of the Association of Islamic Law in Egypt, the author of Al-Manhal Al-‘Athb Al-Mawrūd Sharh Sunan Abī Dāwūd, who died 1352 H, #RH#, said in his book “Ithaf Al-Kā’ināt bi-Bayān Mathhab Al-Salaf wa Al-Khalaf Fi Al-Mutashābihāt“, page 2:

Praise to the Lord of the Worlds, Who is clear of the attributes of creation, like direction and body and place and physical highness, and may God raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad #SAW#, who wiped out shirk and blasphemy and ordered us to believe that Allāh is clear of created attributes and revealed to him in the Qur’ān that Allāh is one, doesn’t have a partner or parts, that He does not need anything or anyone, does not beget and was not begotten and that He has no equal, and also revealed to him that Allāh does not resemble anything and that He hears and sees everything. May Allāh also raise the rank of the Prophet’s companions and all those who imitated his ways.

After that, Mahmūd Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khattāb, Al-Subkīy says:

[The question asked]

Some of those who desire knowledge about the beliefs of the religion and to stand firm in the school of the Salaf and Khalaf [1]with regard to the hadīths and āyāt that do not have a clear or well known meaning (mutashābihāt) asked the following:

What is the saying of the scholars, may Allāh protect them, regarding the one who believes that God has a physical direction, and that He sits on the throne in a special place and says, “this is the belief of the Salaf!” promotes this idea, and accuses those who deny this of blasphemy. All this while pointing to the 2 āyahs:

“Al-Rahmān ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawā”[2]

and

“‘a ‘amintum man fī Al-Samā'”[3]

Is this a valid or an invalid belief? If invalid, does the one who says so commit blasphemy so that all his previous works are annulled, such as prayer, fasting and other religious activities and is his marriage contract invalidated? If he dies in this state, before repenting, is he not washed and prayed for and buried in the graveyards of the Muslims? Is the one who believed that what this one is saying is true, also a non-muslim, like him? What is your saying about what some people say that denying that Allāh is attributed with the six directions (i.e. up, down, front, back and the two sides) is wrong, and that it entails denying His existence? Let us benefit from your showing of what the madh’hab of the salaf and the khalaf is in these two āyahs, and other āyahs, such as,

“‘ilayhi yas’ad Al-Kalim Al-Tayib”[4]

and the hadīth,

“yanzil Rabbunā ilā Al-Samā’ Al-Dunyā”[5]

with a complete and satisfactory explanation.

(Please) include the sayings of the scholars of hadīth, Qur’ān-explanation, fiqh and tawhīd, and clarify completely, so that the tongues of those who speak thoughtlessly are silenced – those who liken Allāh to His creation and believe that what the khalaf scholars did in terms of ta’wīl (interpreting figuratively) is blasphemy, while claiming that this is the way of the Jahmīyah, the blasphemous sect, and spread this rumor among the common people. May Allāh reward you!

[The Answer of The Imām Abū Muhammad Mahmūd Khattāb Al-Subkīy]

So I answered, by Allāh’s help, and said: In the name of Allāh, the one who is merciful to Muslims and non-Muslims in this life, but only to Muslims in the next. Praise be to Allāh, the Creator of true guidance, and may Allāh raise the rank of the one who was given wisdom and clear speech, and of those who support him and his companions, whom Allāh guided and gave success and steadfastness. After saying that, the judgment is that this belief is invalid, and the one who believes it is a non-muslim by the consensus of those who count among the scholars. [6]

[The proof in terms of reasoning]

The proof of reasoning for this is that Allāh’s existence is eternal without a beginning, and therefore does not resemble anything that has a beginning[7].

[The proof in terms of Qur’an and Hadīth]

In terms of what has been related, the proof is:

“He does not resemble anything, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” [8]

[The consequence of these proofs for the one who believes something contradictory to them]

Accordingly, anyone that believes that Allāh settled in a place, or was in contact with it or anything else that has a beginning, such as the ‘Arsh[9] or the Kursīy[10], or the sky, or the earth, or anything else – he is a blasphemer absolutely and without a doubt. All his religious works are invalid, such as prayer, fasting and Hajj, and his wife is separated, and he must repent (by returning to Islam) immediately. If he dies with this belief, then he is not washed, not prayed for, and he is not buried in the graveyard of the Muslims. In addition, all those who believed that his belief is the truth take this same judgment. May Allāh protect us from the evils of our selves and the liability of our bad deeds.

As for such a person’s encouragement of others to have such blasphemous beliefs, and his telling them that the one who does not have it is a blasphemer; this (activity of his) is (another) blasphemy and an abhorrent lie with the intent to spread deviance. As for him taking as evidence, according to his invalid claim, the two āyahs mentioned, and their likes, to show that Allāh settles on the ‘arsh, or sits on it, or descends in the sky or the like, as this group of people claims… They do this despite the fact that Allāh’s attribute of speech[11] is not created, and it is one of the eternal attributes of Allāh that existed before the ‘Arsh or the sky. That is, Allāh is attributed with “‘ala al-‘arsh istawa” before the ‘Arsh existed[12]. Moreover, was He sitting, according to them, on the non existing ‘arsh before it existed???!! Was He (according to them) in the sky before it existed???!!

These (sorts of claims) are something a rational being does not even hesitate about. Does sound reason accept that something eternal settles in something that has a beginning[13]?

Verily we are Allāh’s creation and we will return to be judged by Him!

In summary, this careless person and his likes have claimed something that cannot be verified; neither by reason, nor by what has been related.[14] They have committed blasphemy, and they think they have done something good! And the greatest calamity that they are struck by is that they claim to be salafīys, while they are deviants from the true path, and disgracing the best among the Muslims.

Verily, there is no power or ability other than what Allāh creates!

[The Salaf’s way of dealing with mutashābihāt]

Concerning the way of the Salaf (the scholars of the first 3 centuries) and Khalaf (scholars after the salaf) in dealing with the āyahs and hadīths that do not have only one possible or well-known meaning: they all agreed that Allāh is clear of and above the attributes of whatever has a beginning. Therefore, He does not have a place for Him on the ‘Arsh or the sky or anywhere else. He is also not attributed with settling in or on anything that has a beginning, and not with transformation or movement or the like. Rather, He is as He was before the existence of the ‘Arsh or the Kursiy or the skies and other things that have a beginning. The Hāfith (ibn Hajar al-Asqalani) said in al-Fath[15]: “the Fuqahā’ (fiqh scholars) all agreed, from east to west, upon the belief in the Qur’ān and the hadiths that trustworthy people related from the Prophet #SAW# about the attributes of Allāh, without likening them to creation or explanation.”

They only disagreed on the matter of explaining the meaning of these āyahs, so the salaf (i.e. most of them) believe in them as they were related and that they are not literally meant, because of the saying of Allāh which means, “He does not resemble anything and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing”, and leave the meaning be, due to the saying of Allāh that means: “and no one knows their meaning except Allāh” [16]

Accordingly, they say regarding the Āyah “Al-Rahman ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawa” [17], that He “istawa” in a sense that befits Him, and only He knows it, and regarding the āyah “a ‘amintum man fī al-samā’[18] that we believe in it and the meaning that Allāh gave it, while clearing Him of the attributes of whatever has a beginning and of settling (in a place.) They also say about the Āyah yad-ullahi fawqa aydīyhim[19] that He has a “yad” not like our yad, and only Allāh knows it. This was their way in dealing with these āyahs that do not have only a single possible meaning or only one famous meaning.

[A saying of Ibn Kathīr and Nu’aym Ibn Hammād about mutashābihāt]

The great salafi[20] (i.e. that he was like the salaf in his ways, not that this is a mathhab) Imām Ibn Kathīr said: “As for the saying of Allāh thumma istawa ‘alā al-‘arsh [21], there are so very many sayings about this that this is not the place to mention them all, and we will rather take the way of the pious salaf, Malik, al-Awzā’īy, Al-Thawrīy, Al-Layth ibn Sa’d, Al-Shāfi’īy, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ishāq in Rāhwayh and other imāms, new and old, which is to pass by them without assigning to them a how, or a likeness, or deny them. As for the apparent literal meanings that come to the minds of those who liken Allāh to His creation; those are rejected, because He does not resemble anything, and there is nothing like Him, and He is All-Seeing, All-Hearing.

Rather, it is like what the imāms said, among them Nu’aym Ibn Hammād Al-Khuzā’īy, the Shaykh of Al-Bukhārīy: “The one who likens Allāh to His creation has committed blasphemy, and the one who denies what Allāh has attributed to Himself has also committed blasphemy. There is no (meaning of) likening (to the creation) in any of what Allāh has attributed to Himself or what the Prophet attributed to Him. So the one who affirms what has been related in plain āyahs and authentic hadiths in a way that is befitting with Allāh’s greatness, and denies that Allāh has any flaws; he has taken the path of guidance.” The like of the above is to be found in all tafseer books of the great imāms.

[Examples of how the Salaf dealt with mutashābihāt]

They say about the hadith “yanzil Rabbunā ilaā Al-Samā’ Al-Dunyā,” [22] that this has a meaning that befits Allāh, and that only Allāh knows it. Then there is another hadith, the Hadith of the Slave Girl related by Muslim and Abu Dāwūd where it is mentioned that the Prophet said to her: “aina Allāh?” and she said “fīy as-samā'”[23] and that he said “who am I?” and she answered “you are the Messenger of Allāh.” Then he said “free her, for she is a believer.”[24] This hadith is handled with the same approach as the āyah ‘a ‘amintum man fī as-samā’[25] and likewise all other such hadīths and āyahs. They took this approach because of the āyah that means:

“Aļļaah revealed to you (O Prophet) some Aayahs -called muĥkamaat (with a clear meaning[26]) and other aayahs – called mutasħaabihaat (that do not have a clear meaning[27]). Those with deviance in their hearts will emphasize the latter kind of aayahs in order to spread deviance (i.e. by contradicting the meaning of the muĥkamaat) and explain the meaning (in a way that agrees with their sick hearts.) Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And the steadfast in knowledge, they say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.” (and there is no contradiction between them). Only the sound minded take heed and ponder this.”

The salaf[28] said there is a full stop in the āyah after, “only Allāh knows their meaning.” As for the “steadfast in knowledge” mentioned after this in the Qur’ān; this is the beginning of a new sentence (i.e. they do not know the meaning) to show that the great scholars believe in these āyahs, (i.e. without assigning a particular meaning. Note, however, that the prophet and at least some of the companions definitely knew the exact meaning of all statements ascribing attributes to Allaah – it is just that some of them became ambiguous to later generations and thus became mutasħaabihaat.)

[The Khalaf’s way of dealing with mutashābihāt]

As for the Khalaf[29] ; they say[30] that these āyahs and hadiths have a known meaning, so the meaning of “istawā[31] is “control”, and the meaning of “man fī as-samā’[32] is that it is a figure of speech referring to His punishment, authority and orders, or it is simply a figurative way of praising Allāh by attributing to Him aboveness and greatness, and clearing him of lowliness or belowness, not that He settles in it. This is because settlement is an attribute of bodies and signifies having a beginning, and Allāh is clear of that. [33]

The meaning of nuzūl (literally translated “descending”) in the hadīth is that His Messenger or His Mercy descends.[34] As for the Prophet’s approval of the slave-girl’s hint towards the sky; this was a concise way from her of showing that she was not associating partners with Allāh, because it was thereby known that she did not worship the idols on earth. [35]

This is the way of the khalaf in all āyahs and hadiths of this kind, based on their saying that the full stop in the āyah about the āyahs that do not have a single possible, or well known, meaning comes after only Allāh knows their meaning and those steadfast in knowledge,” i.e. the steadfast in knowledge knows their meaning. [36] Their proof is that the Qur’ān is in Arabic, and this Arabic uses these expressions. However, the weightiest opinion is that of the salaf. [37]

The one who attributes to the salaf or khalaf other than this is a deviant and a deviator.

[The Jahmīyah are very different from the Khalaf]

The one who claims that the way of the khalaf is the way of the Jahmīyah is a transgressor and a liar, because the Jahmīyah are the followers of Jahm Ibn Safwān, who said that humans are forced to do what they do and denied all ability to humans, and claimed that Paradise and Hell will end. He also claimed that belief is only knowledge of Allāh, whereas blasphemy is not knowing Him.[38] He said that no one does anything except Allāh, and that humans are said to have actions only as a figure of speech, in the same way one says that “the sun passed its zenith” or the “mill turned,” without any actual real action or ability from them. He also claimed that Allāh’s knowledge has a beginning, and prevented people from saying that Allāh is attributed with life, knowledge or will. He said “I don’t attribute to Him an adjective that can be used for others, such as existing, alive, willing and such,” and accepted to say that He has power, brings into existence, acts, creates, gives life and death, because only He has these attributes. He also claimed that Allāh’s attribute of speech has a beginning, as the Qadarīyah sect did, and refused to say that Allāh speaks. Our companions said he was a blasphemer for all his deviances, and the Qadarīyah said he was an infidel for his claim that Allāh creates the acts of humans, so all those who claim to be following the call of Prophet Muĥammad said that he was a Kāfir. Here ends the quote (i.e. the above description of the Jahmīyah) from the book “Al-Farq Baina Al-Firāq“, written by the Imām Abū Mansūr ‘Abd-ul-Qādir Ibn Tāhir Al-Baghdādīy, page 199. From this you know that the scholars of the Khalaf are clear of any association with this sect and its claims.

[An answer to those that claim that denial of direction is denial of existence]

As for the idea that denying that Allāh is attributed with any of the six directions is a denial of His existence, this is obviously invalid since Allāh existed before they existed, namely up, down, front, back, left and right. Rather, He existed before the world as a whole by consensus of ancient and later scholars. How then does someone that has even a tiny mind picture that clearing Him of being attributed with these 6 directions is the same as denying His existence??!! How can it be imagined that the Eternal Allāh’s existence depends on some things that have a beginning, or all of those that He created??!!

You (Oh Allāh) are clear of all imperfection!

This is a great lie! How (could it not be a lie), when a number of the salaf and the khalaf have plainly stated that the one who believes that Allāh is in a direction (i.e. up) is a blasphemer, as was stated by Al-Baghdadīy. This was also the saying of Abu Hanifa, Malik, Al-Shāfi’īy, Abu Hasan Al-Ash’arīy and Al-Bāqillānīy, as mentioned by the great scholar Mullāh Alīy Qārīy in “Sharh al-Mishkāt” in the second volume on page 137.[39] Allāh said what means that “real blindness is not that of the eyes, but that of the heart” (al-Hajj, 46.) and that “if Allāh has not created the light of guidance in someone’s heart, then he will never be guided” (al-Nūr, 40).

We ask Allāh to guide us all on the straight path and block the misguidance of the cursed Satan, and to raise the rank of The Last Of The Prophets #SAW#, and whoever follows him in his works.

[Scholars that signed this fatwa]

After writing this, I have shown this answer to a number of honorable scholars of al-Azhar University, and they have agreed and signed it, and they are the following distinguished companions of ours:

Shaykh Muhammad Najdīy, the Shaykh of the Shāfi’iy followers.

Shaykh Muhammad Sabī’ Al-Dhahabiy, the Shaykh of the Hanbalīy followers.

Shaykh Muhammad Al-‘Izbiy Rizq, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Abdul-Hamīd ‘Ammār, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Ali Al-Nahrāwi, the lecturer in the higher section.

Shaykh Dusūqīy Abdullah Al-‘Arabi, from the Council of the Great Scholars.

Shaykh Ali Mahfūth, the lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Ibrahim ‘Ayārah Al-Daljamūni, lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Muhammad ‘Alyān, from great scholars of Azhar.

Shaykh Ahmad Makki, the lecturer in specialization section of Azhar.

Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Hamdān.


[1] The Salaf are the scholars of the first three centuries after the Hijrah, while the Khalaf are those after that.

[2] Surah Tāhā, 5; its pronunciation is: Al-Rahmān ‘alā al-‘Arsh istawā. If someone translated this statement literally, he would say: Al-Rahmān (The Merciful) ‘alā (on) Al-‘Arsh (The Throne) istawā (established Himself); “The Merciful established Himself on the throne”. This is not the meaning of the statement, however, and the Arabic Language is not limited to this meaning. Rather, the verb “istawā’” in the Arabic language has some 14 different meanings. Moreover, the word Al-‘Arsh does not necessarily mean “throne”, it could also mean “dominion”, and some of the Salaf said that. Abu Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy said in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, in summary: “Our colleagues differed regarding this āyah. Some said that it is among the āyahs that are Mutashābihāt whose meaning is not known by other than Allāh, and this is the saying of Mālik. Others said that istawā is something that Allāh did to the ‘Arsh that He called istawā, and this is the saying of Abu-l-Hasan Al-Ash’arīy. Others again said that istawa means that He is attributed with aboveness over the `Arsh without contact (i.e. in status, not physical aboveness.) The correct saying in our view, is that Al-‘Arsh in this Ayah means the Dominion and istawā is its action, meaning that the Dominion did not settle in equilibrium for anyone but Him.”

In case anyone is wondering who Abū Mansūr is, Al-Dhahabīy described him in his book Sīyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar…. He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabīy said further that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Sābūnīy saying: “Abū Mansūr is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islām.”

[3] Surah al-Mulk, 16; its pronunciation is: ‘a ‘amintum man fi-s-Samā’. If someone translated it literally, he would say: ‘a ‘amintum (Do you feel safe from) man (who) fīy (is in) Al-Samā’ (the sky); “Do you feel safe from who is in the sky?” This second Ayah can be dealt simply with by saying that the pronoun “who” refers to the angels. After all, the Sky is their abode, and they bring winds and other tribulations to Earth by Allāh’s orders. In other words, there is nothing which says that this āyah must be taken literally, or that it refers to Allāh.

[4] Its pronunciation is: ‘ilayhi yas’adu-l-Kalimu-N-Tayyib. If translated literally, it would say: ilayhi (to Him) yas’adu (ascends) Al-Kalim Al-Tayyib (the good words). Al-Imām Al-Nasafīy said in his tafsīr, explaining this āyah: “to Him” means “to the status of acceptance and reward”, not that Aļļaah is in the direction up. All things that are characterised by acceptance are described with highness and ascendancy. Source: Tafsīr Al-Nasafīy.

[5] Its pronunciation is: “yanzilu Rabbunā ila-s-Samā’i-d-Dunyā “. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yanzil (descends) Rabbunā (Our Lord) ilā (to) Al-Samā’ (the Sky) Al-Dunyā ((of) the World); “Our Lord descends to the sky of the world.” Ibn Al-Jawzīy said, in summary, regarding this hadīth: “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 Allāh, and what is impossible to be an attribute of His. Among the things that it is impossible that Allāh 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 Allāh. The Imām Ahmad said “wa jā’ Rabbuka” means: “His orders came”” (P. 3/379, Kashf Al-Mushkil).

Ed. This is what this great Hanbalīy scholar said. Note that “wa jā’ Rabbuka” if literally translated, would state: wa (and) jā’ (He came) Rabbuka (your Lord). In other words, Al-Imām Ahmad is one of those among the Salaf that sometimes would interpret figuratively to protect people from misunderstanding in dangerous ways. Source: P. 3/379, Abū Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzīy. Kashf Al-Mushkil. 4 vols. Riyadh: Dar Al-WaTan, 1997.

[6] Ibn Al-Mu’allim Al-Qurashīy, in his book Najmu-l-Muhtadīy on page 588 narrates from ‘Alīy ibn Abī Tālib, the fourth Khalīfah: “A people of this Nation (of the Prophet Muhammad #SAW#) shall return to being blasphemers when the Day of Judgment is near.” A man asked, “O Prince of the Believers! What is their blasphemy for? Is it for inventing something, or for denying something?” ‘Alīy #RA# replied: “It is for denial. They deny their Creator; they say that He is attributed with a body and limbs.” E.d. What we observe today testifies to the soundness of the meaning of this narration.

To understand why this is denial of Allāh’s existence, it is useful to mention what the great and encyclopedic scholar of the 6th century after the Hijrah, Al-Fakhr Al-Rāzīy said when explaining the statement “qātilu-lladhīna lā yu’minūna bi-llāh” in the Qur’ān (Al-Tawbah, 29): “The evidence shows that the one who says that Allāh is a body has denied Allāh’s existence. The reason is that the God of the World exists, and is not a body or positioned in a body. Therefore, if the one who says that Allāh is a body denies this existence (without a body) then he has denied Allāh’s existence. It is correct to say then, that the one who says that Allāh is a body does not believe in Allah.” (Mafātīh Al-Ghayb, Al-Rāzīy).

The famous Shāfi’īy scholar, Al-Suyūtīy, said in Al-Ashbāh wa-n-Nathā’ir P. 488: “Al-Shāfi’īy said: I do not say that the people that have somewhat deviant ideas (ahlu-l-ahwā’) are non-Muslims,” but he exempted those who say that Allāh has a body and those who say that Allāh does not know all details of things.” Ed. In other words, those who have deviance to the extent of blasphemy. Abū Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy, in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, states about those who say that Allāh 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.”(P. 338 ) He also commented: “By claiming that Allāh 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.” (P. 337-338 ). That is, they are idolaters.

Al-Qurtubīy in his commentary in the Qur’ān narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-‘Arabīy regarding the those who say Allāh has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed.” (4/14).

The encyclopedic scholar Abu Ja’far Al-Tahāwīy said in his famous text on the Islamic Belief: “This is a detailed remembrance of the belief of the People of (adherence to) the Sunnah (what was narrated of sayings, deeds and confirmations from the Prophet #SAW#) and (following) the Jamā’ah (the companions of the Prophet).”

That is: the belief of the Sunnis, and all the scholars agreed with him on this. Then later on, he mentions as one of the beliefs of the Sunnis that: “ًWhoever attributed to Allāh a meaning that is of the meanings that apply to human beings has committed blasphemy.”

Note, in light of the above, that what has been mentioned in some scholarly books in terms of not claiming Al-Mujassimah non-Muslims needs careful explanation. Its explanation is that the word Mujassim is used for the person that says Allāh is a jism. The word jism means body in English, but that does not mean that it understood in exactly the same way always, or that it has the same connotations. For this reason I have not translated Mujassim as “those that believe Allāh is a body” to explain this particular point; what applies to the use of the word jism in Arabic does not necessarily apply to using the word “body” in English. With this in mind; the scholars that mention a difference of opinion regarding saying that Allāh is a jism mean a particular group among these perpetrators, not all of them. They mean those among the foolish and uneducated commoners that say this, but do not understand from this the usual linguistic meaning of size, shape or direction. They simply mean by jism Allāh’s existence, and not any of the meanings that apply to human beings, such as direction or size. The remaining perpetration then, is the use of a this word regarding Allāh. In this there is a difference of opinion, but only regarding people who are uneducated who say this, not scholars. Those who said that this is blasphemy even so, argued that this person was willing to use this word about Allāh, without it having been narrated in any revealed text, and knowing what this word usually refers to. He has therefore shown disrespect to the Creator, like a person who said that Allāh has a son, but meant by it only that he is highly accepted by Allāh; he is still unquestionably a blasphemer by the explicit verdict of the Qur’ān regarding even uttering this word.

The view that it is blasphemy to merely use the word jism , even if one only meant existence, was considered weightiest by Ibn Amīr Al-Hājj, the student of the great Hanafīy Imām Ibn Al-Humām and the Prince of Believers in Hadīth, Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalānīy in his book At-Taqrīr Wa-t-Tahbīr (3/319), narrating from Ibn Al-Humām’s book “Al-Musāyarah“. Along the same lines it is stated in Al-Fatāwā Al-Hindīyah, which is a reliable book for fatwā in the Hanafīy school: “If someone said: “Allāh fīy Al-Samā,” (literally “in the Sky”) then: if he intended simply to imitate what is mentioned in apparent scriptures, then he has not blasphemed; if he meant by it the (sky as a) place then he has blasphemed; and if (he said to the judge in court that) he did not intend any particular meaning, then he has blasphemed according to most, and this is the soundest opinion, and it is the chosen fatwā.” (2/259).

In summary, the difference of opinion is regarding what appears to be the case about someone else’s belief according to what he utters with his tongue, and not regarding someone who believes that Allāh has a limit, shape or size. This is because such a person believes that Allāh has attributes with the meaning of creation, and then the belief of the Sunnis applies, as stated by Al-Tahāwīy: “ًWhoever attributed to Allāh a meaning that is of the meanings that apply to human beings has committed blasphemy.”

Note finally the subtle eloquence of Al-Tahāwīy’s choice of the words ” a meaning that is of the meanings”, because this provides the general rule that the meaning is the main concern. So for example, the person who says that Allāh moves, or has a limit or a size, or a limb; he is a kāfir, even if says, “not like His creation”, because these are all meanings that apply to human beings. Saying: “not like His creation” will not help him, because the aspect of physical dimension remains in the meaning. One can further understand from this that if a person uses an expression about Allāh that has a single known meaning in his language, and this meaning applies to human beings, then he has committed kufr. If it has non-blasphemous meanings as well, then it needs to be established that he meant the blasphemous meaning before he is considered a blasphemer.

The difference of opinion can sometimes also refer to whether every member of a sect is considered a blasphemer for merely belonging to their group. So for example, those sects that went completely overboard and made it their basic distinguishing characteristic that they worship ‘Alīy, or something of that nature, all members of such sects are considered blasphemers without further inquiry. In other cases, like people associated with the Mu’tazilites or Khawārijites; in these cases it is not clear that a person actually accepts and believes all the beliefs associated with them. The scholars will thus sometimes disagree whether a person associated with a particular sect is automatically considered a blasphemer, or that he will only be considered a sinful Muslim as long as he has not made it clear that he has one of their blasphemous beliefs. For example, it may be the case that some of the uneducated members of the Wahhābīy sect do not believe that Allāh has attributes with physical dimensions, such as a place or a direction.

[7] All aspects of creation, be it physical things or their attributes, has a beginning. There is nothing about Aļļaah’s attributes, however, that has a beginning. It is therefore impossible that He should resemble anything created in any of its aspects, because whatever the aspect of creation might be, it is going to be something with a beginning. Having a beginning necessitates having a creator to bring it into existence. Likening Aļļaah to His creation then, is equivalent to saying that He has a creator or is partially created, and that is identical to the blasphemy of the Christians.

[8] The meaning of al-Shurā, 11; what Al-Subkīy has mentioned is enough for the sound minded, because Islam does not teach something contradictory – all its teachings are harmonious in meaning. However, in order to bring hadīths as well as Qur’ān and logical reasoning, he might have added that Al-Bayhaqīy, Muslim and others, related the hadīth of the Messenger of Allāh, #SAW#: “You are Al-Dhāhir, hence there is nothing above You, and You are Al- Bātin, hence there is nothing underneath You.” Al-Bayhaqīy said (in his book “Al-Asmā’ wa as-Sifāt”): “If there is nothing above Him and nothing underneath Him, then He is not in a place.”

[9] Sometimes translated as “throne” – it is a creation with 4 legs, and is like the Ka’bah for the Angels

[10] Sometimes translated as “chair”.

[11] The revealed book of the Qur’ān refers to Allāh’s attribute of speech (which does not have a beginning, or an end, and does not change – as is true for all of His attributes), just as the word “Allāh” refers to the Creator and is not Him Himself. Words, languages, letters and sounds are all obviously created things – if someone is in doubt, let them say “bismi-llāh-ir-Rahmān-ir-Rahīm” without a beginning or an end! The fact that uttering it necessitates a beginning means that it is created, because anything with a beginning must have been brought into existence, and this is the definition of creating; to bring into existence. That is, when someone utters a word, it means that Aļļaah has created in him/her this utterance, and that he/she committed it by His will. The word “Qur’ān” in Arabic may refer to Allāh’s eternal attribute of speech or to the book. It is blasphemy to say that the Qur’ān is created if one means Allāh’s attribute. It is a sin (but not blasphemy) to say so if one is referring to the book, because it is inappropriate and a bid’ah. Some said, however, that it may be said for teaching purposes, if one feels it is necessary in order to avoid misunderstandings.

[12] i.e. Because Allāh attributed to Himself eternally “‘ala al-‘Arsh istawā“, and since the ‘Arsh is a creation with a beginning, the meaning of istawā cannot be a physical relationship, such as establishment, sitting or hovering. After all, such a physical relationship would have to have a beginning.

[13] Something eternal cannot be changing, because change itself has a beginning. The thing that changes must therefore be something that has a beginning, because it is clear that its existence is not a necessity; not a must. This is clear because its changing from one state to another shows that none of its states are necessary; they are mere possibilities. That is, one cannot say that this thing in any of its state must exists. If the thing’s existence is not a necessity, then something must have brought it into existence, and therefore it must have a beginning.

[14] Subkīy’s saying that this belief “cannot be verified neither by reason, nor by what has been related” needs some explanation. In terms of reason it is clear, because Allāh is eternal, and directions are not, as Al- Subkīy has already pointed out. With regard to what has been related; the scholars all agreed that all hadīth and Qur’ān sayings must be understood by their apparent meaning, with two exceptions only:

The first exception is if taking it literally would lead to the absurd, i.e. it is self contradictory, such as saying “a square circle” or “the part is larger than the whole.” Saying that Allāh is actually in a geographical direction leads to saying either that directions are eternal or that Allāh changed from being without direction to having a direction. This cannot be, because direction is an attribute of space, and space is attributed with change, therefore it must be a creation. Moreover, it cannot be that Allāh changes, because that would mean He needs a creator.

The second exception is if there are other hadīths and Qur’ānic sayings that contradict the literal meaning. In this case there are many texts that contradicts the claim that Allāh is in a direction, among them: “He does not resemble anything,” as Al-Subkīy mentioned. This latter text is taken literally in the absolute sense, because sound reasoning tells us that this must be so, as explained in footnote #8.

[15] Fathu-ul-Bārīy – the explanation of Al-Bukhārīy.

[16] Sūrah 3, 5 – more details later.

[17] See footnote #…..

[18] See footnote #….

[19] Sūrah al-Fath, 10; its pronunciation is: “yadu-llāhi fawqa ‘aydīhim”. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yadu (the hand) Allāhi (of Allāh) fawqa (is above) ‘aydīhim (their hands). The word yad in Arabic can mean power, among other things. Ibn Al-Jawzīy in his commentary on the Qur’ān states regarding this āyah: “the fourth view (regarding its explanation) is : “His power and support is above theirs. This was stated by Ibn Jarīr and Ibn Kaysān.”

[20] i.e. that he was like the Salaf in his ways, not that this is a Madhhab. Ibn Katħiir was a Sħaafiˆiy scholar.

[21] See footnote #….

[22] Its pronunciation is: “yanzilu Rabbunā ila-s-Samā’i-d-Dunyā“. If someone translated it literally, he would say: yanzil (descends) Rabbunā (Our Lord) ilā (to) Al-Samā’ (the Sky) Al-Dunyā ((of) the World); “Our Lord descends to the sky of the world.” It is a figure of speech for acceptance, and does not mean movement, or it refers to the angel that descends at that time; i.e. His angel descends. See details in footnotes above.

[23] If someone translated it literally, he would say that “ayna Allāh?” means: “where is Allāh?” and that her saying “fiy Al-Samā’” (pronounced fi-s-Samā’) means: fiy (in) Al-Samā’ (the sky). The meaning is not literal, because it is impossible that Aļļaah should be in a place. Rather, it is a question about status, not place or direction, as shown in the below footnote.

[24] This hadīth, also called “the hadīth of the slave girl” cannot be taken literally and adopted as a belief for the following reasons:

First, because this hadīth is singularly transmitted so it does not give certainty and the obligation of believing something about Allah can only be established by proofs that provide certainty.

Second, this narration is weak according to some scholars, because there are other narrations which use different wording. For example, the authenticated and sound narration in the hadīth collection Musannaf ‘AbdurRazzāq, which reads, “Do you testify that ‘la ilāha ill-Allāh’ (there is none worthy of worship except Allah)?” In addition, although some narrations of this hadīth states that the Prophet called her a “believer”, not all of them state that.

Third, the apparent meaning that Allah is in a direction with regards to His creation is rejected by thesound intellect as absurd.

Fourth, the disputed text in the singular hadīth which literally states “Where is Allah?” does not fit with the well-known principles set forth to determine if someone is Muslim. The principle is that one asks them to testify that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His prophet and Messenger.

Fifth, it contradicts sound hadīths in the same collection (Muslim) that clearly show that Allah is neither above nor below any created thing, namely, “You are Al-dhāhir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Bātin, so there is nothing below you.”

Sixth, it contradicts the statement in the Qur’ān that means, “Absolutely nothing resembles Him in any way at all, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” This statement is what the Muslims have taken as their basic guide in their belief in absolute terms, and any other statements in hadīth or Qur’ān are understood accordingly.

Seventh, it contradicts the geographical reality that what is up in Saudi Arabia is down in the Fiji Islands. It also conflicts with the fact that the earth turns, so that what is up at one point in time is another direction at another time.

For these reasons, the hadīth of the slave girl is given an acceptable figurative interpretation. Such an interpretation is to say that the word “ayna” (where) in Arabic is commonly used as a question about status, not only about place, such as in, “‘Ayna anta wa ‘Uthmān”, literally: “Where are you and ‘Uthmān?” meaning: “Where is your status compared to ‘Uthmān?” Her answer, literally translated as “in the sky,” means “very high”, just as one in English might use the expression “sky high”, without this meaning place, direction or distance. In other words, what she meant to say was that Allāh’s status is very high, unlike those worshiped idols on the ground.

[25] See footnote #….

[26] Āyahs that have only one meaning according to the Arabic language or only one famous meaning, such as those prescribing halāl and Harām.

[27] The opposite of muhkamāt; they do not have a clear or well known meaning.

[28] i.e. the Salaf in general, not all of them. See footnote above regarding the meaning of the hadīth “yanzilu Rabbunā…etc.”.

[29] Scholars after the 3rd century.

[30] i.e. it is more prevalent among them to say, not that they all say that.

[31] See footnote #….

[32] See footnote #….

[33] Also, understanding it literally contradicts āyah 93 of the Sūrah Maryam, which means: “All those in the heavens and earth must come to Allāh as a slave.” It is possible also that the word “who” is referring to the angels, because the sky is their abode. Finally, the sky is below the ‘Arsh (Throne) …

[34] The original hadīth text attributes the “nuzūl” to the last 3rd of the night, and since it is always the last 3rd of the night somewhere on earth, we know that the meaning is not at all that Allāh is moving from one place to the sky at that time, because it is always that time somewhere.

[35] Also, some scholars said the hadīth has weaknesses in its text, because ‘AbdurRazzāq related it without any mention of the words “ayna?” or “fi-s-Samā’“.

[36] He is referring to the last part of the āyah rendered in interpretation earlier as: “Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And he steadfast in knowledge say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.”…” This rendering is according to the way of the Salaf in general; avoiding figurative interpretation of statements that do not have a clear or well known meaning. Note, however, that what is not clear or well known depends on the generation. There is no doubt that what some of the later salaf considered ambiguous was clear to at least some of their predecessors. Definitely the Prophet himself and companions like Ibn ˆAbbaas knew the meanings of all ayahs referring to the attributes of Allah, even if some of them were later considered ambiguous. The way of the Khalaf that Al-Subkīy is referring to is to render the interpretation differently through changing the place of the full stop as follows from: Only Aļļaah knows their meaning. And the steadfast in knowledge, they say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.” to: Only Aļļaah knows their meaning and the steadfast in knowledge. They say: “we believe in them, they are all from Our Lord.”

[37] Note: he means of course that the majority of the Salaf take this approach to this āyah, not absolutely all, since that would be consensus (ijmā’), and ‘ijmā’ cannot be contradicted once it has been established on an issue. It has already been mentioned in previous footnotes that the scholar of the Salaf Ahmad ibn Hanbal affirmed a figurative explanation of “wa jā’ Rabbuka” as meaning “His orders came”. I.e. There is no ‘ijmā’, except on a few mutashābihāt, like those that refer to the timing of the Day of Judgment. The mutashaabihaat that refer to the attributes of Allah were definitely known in meaning to the Prophet, and at least some of the companions.

[38] This is lunacy, because Iblīs definitely knows Allāh and is despite of that, a blasphemer.

[39] A number of scholarly sayings have already been mentioned in previous footnotes, but it is worth adding here that Ibn Hajar Al-Haytamīy said in Al-Minhāj Al-Qawīm Sharhu-l-Muqaddimah Al Hadramīyah: “Know that Al-Qarāfīy and others narrated from Al-Sħāfi’īy, Mālik, Ahmad and Abū Hanīfah #RH# that those who say that Allāh is in a direction, or has a body, have committed blasphemy — and they deserve this verdict.”


Allah Exists Without Place or Direction

May 6, 2008

Fatwa by Shaykh Ali Jumu’ah

Translated by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji

The Question:

“I am a student at the college of Sharī’ah and I have learned and studied in the Science of Belief that Allāh exists without being in a place, and that He is not placed in any direction. So please give me a fatwa on this, because there are some people that attack the belief of Al-Azhar.”

The Answer:

It is one of the established matters of the belief of the Muslims that Allāh (He is clear of and above all flaws) is not contained in a place and not limited by time, because place and time are both creations. Allāh is clear of and above being surrounded by any creation of His. Rather, He is the Creator of everything, and He (has complete knowledge and control of his creation, so in this sense, not the sense of place or direction, it is said in Arabic that He) “surrounds” His creation. This belief is agreed upon among the Muslims, no one denies this among them.

The scholars of the religion have expressed this by saying:

“Allāh existed and there was no place, and He is now as He was before the creation of place; He has not changed from what He was.”

Among the expressions of the Pious Salaf on this topic is the saying of Abū Ja’far Al- Sādiq radiallahu ta’ala anhu:

“Whoever claims that Allāh is in something, or from something, or on something has associated a partner with Allāh[1], because if He was in something, then He would be confined; and if He was on something, then He would be carried; and if He was from something, then He would be something that has a beginning.”

It was said to Yahyā ibn Mu’ādh Al- Rāziy rahmatullahi alayh: “Tell us about Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala!” He said:

“One god.” Then someone said: “How is He?” He said: “An absolute ruler with absolute power.” Then someone said: “Where is He?” He answered: “Seeing and Hearing[2].” The person who asked said: “I was not asking about that.” He replied: “Other than that would be an attribute of a creation. As for the attribute of Allāh; it is as I told you.”

Dhu-n-Nūn Al-Misriy rahmatullahi alayh was asked about the saying of Allāh: Al-Rahmān ‘alā Al-‘Arsh istawā[3]. He answered: “He affirmed His existence, and denied that He has a place. So He Himself exists independently, while other things exist by His Wisdom as He Wills.”

With regard to what has been narrated to us of texts from the Qur’ān and hadīths that indicate the Highness of Allāh subhanahu wa ta’ala; over His creation; it means highness in the sense of status and prestige; and of dominance and power. This is because He is clear of any resemblance to created things; His attributes are not like their attributes; there is nothing in an attribute of the Creator that is related to the limits of the attributes of created things.

Rather, He is Great and High in Status, He has the attributes of complete perfection and the names that are beautiful. Anything that might enter your mind; Allāh is different from it – He is clear of and above imperfection. The inability to reach understanding is understanding[4], and to search for the complete reality of what Allāh Himself is, is to commit blasphemy and associate partners with Him[5].

The belief of the Honorable Azhar University is the belief of the scholars of the Ash’ariy school, which is the belief of the Sunnis. The Ash’arīy Masters, may Allāh reward and please them, are the majority of the scholars of those who are associated with the call of the Prophet Muhammad subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are the ones that stopped the spreading of doubts done by the blasphemers and other deviants.

They are the ones that clung to Allāh’s book and the teachings and way of our master, the Messenger of Allāh #SWT# throughout history. Whoever said that they are blasphemers or sinners; his religion in in danger. The hadīth master Ibn ‘Asākir rahmatullahi alayh said in his book “Tabyīn Kadhib Al-Muftariy fiy mā nusiba ila-l-Imām Abiy Al-Hasan Al-Ash’ariy“:

“Know – may Allāh grant you and me success by His reward, and make us among those who truly fears Him – that the flesh of the scholars is poisonous, and it is the well known norm of Allāh in His creation to expose those who insult them; the one that slanders them will be afflicted by Allāh before he dies with the death of his heart.”

The Honorable University of Al-Azhar is the lighthouse of knowledge and religion throughout the Islamic history. This lofty castle made the greatest heartland of knowledge that the Islamic nation has known after the first and best centuries. By it, Allāh protected His religion from all the wrong headed and those who spread doubts. The one who is haphazard about his belief is in grave danger. It is feared that he is one among the Khawārijite[6] or Murjite[7] sects.

Allāh said concerning them what may be rendered in meaning as:

“If the hypocrites, and those who have disease in the heart, and the alarmists in al-Madīnah do not cease, then Allāh will put you (O Muhammad) in control of them and let you finish them off, after that you will find very few of them as neighbors to you there”[8]

…. and Allāh knows best.


[1] “Associated a partner with Allāh” is a translation of the Arabic word Shirk – i.e. Blasphemy.

[2] His answer in Arabic was “bi-l-Mirsād“, and it is a Quranic expression which means that Allāh sees and hears all that His creatures do and will hold them accountable. It could also mean “watch post” or “ambush”. In other words, this answer was an eloquent play on words in the sense that it fit the answer for “where?” without giving the meaning of place.

[3] Its pronunciation is: Ar-Rahmān ‘ala-l-‘Arshi-stawā. If someone translated this statement literally, he would say : Al-Rahmān (The Merciful) ‘alā (on) Al-‘Arsh (The Throne) istawā (established Himself); “The Merciful established Himself on the throne”. This is not the meaning of the statement, however, and the Arabic Language is not limited to this meaning. Rather, the verb “istawā” in the Arabic language has some 14 different meanings. Moreover, the word Al-‘Arsh does not necessarily mean “throne”, it could also mean “dominion”, and some of the Salaf said that.

Abu Mansūr Al-Baghdādīy said in his book Usūlu-d-Dīn, in summary: “Our colleagues differed regarding this āyah. Some said that it is among the āyahs that are Mutashābihāt and its meaning is not known by other than Allāh, and this is the saying of Mālik. Others said that istawā is something that Allāh did to the ‘Arsh that He called istawā, and this is the saying of Abu-l-Hasan Al-Ash’arīy. Others again said that istawa means that He is attributed with aboveness over the `Arsh without contact (i.e. in status, not physical aboveness.) The correct saying in our view, is that Al-‘Arsh in this Āyah means the Dominion and istawā is its action, meaning that the Dominion did not settle in equilibrium for anyone but Him.”

In case anyone is wondering who Abū Mansūr is, Al-Dhahabīy described him in his book Sīyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar…. He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dhahabīy said further that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abū ‘Uthmān Al-Sābūnīy saying: “Abū Mansūr is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islām.”

[4] i.e. Realizing that one cannot know Allāh as He knows Himself is to know Allāh.

[5] This is because such a search leads to draw analogies between Allāh and created things, and this is blasphemy.

[6] A sect of many branches that share the love for killing and plundering Muslims on the basis of claiming them idolaters, and for claiming that committing sins is blasphemy, even if one believes that its commitment is sinful.

[7] A sect that claimed that as long as one believes in Islam, then committing sins does not harm.

[8] Al-Ahzāb, 60


Shaykh Buti on Hikam: Foreordained Destiny and the Inefficacy of Material Causes-and-Effects by Shaykh G. F. Haddad

May 4, 2008

as salam `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

This article, translated by Shaykh G. F. Haddad, is a commentary on one of the Hikam of Sidi Ibn Ata’illah Iskandari, by Dr. Said Ramadan al Buti. It goes into very fine detail with respect to the issue of causes-and-effects and their efficacy in this world. Kudos to Sidi Faqir for having it brought to my attention. Read it and enjoy!

wa `alaykum as salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Ibn Mazhar