The difference between wahabi creed and Islaam III: what the scholars said about their belief

September 29, 2010

An important reply has been posted at this link regarding takfiir of anthropomorphists.

Refuting Yaser Qadi’s opposition to proving Allaah’s existence

August 2, 2009

Islam is a great religion, it does not need to attack reason or logic to hold. It has nothing to hide. It is not based on blind imitation, or blind acceptance. The argument for its correctness agrees with reason from beginning to end, as has been shown in the article “Foundations of the Religion“. There is no argument based on valid premises and sound structure that can put a dent in it. This is what we Sunnis believe, and any religion that does not meet this criteria is not the religion of Aļļaah.

Yaser Qadi is out to show otherwise in his The Theological Implications of the Story of Ibrahim & the Stars (Ibn Taymiyyah vs. the Mutakallimun). He now opposes the proof of the Creator’s existence, not by showing that the premises do not hold or that the argument is false, but by saying in essence: “it is not mentioned in the Qur’aan, is complicated, was not used by the companions and there is no need, because everybody knows by the fiţrah.” Thus he implies that it is prohibited. Of course, it is all based on the talk of arch-anthropomorphist, Ibn Taymiyyah.

To continue reading you may download the article Rational Quranic Islam vs Wahabism in PDF formats. The table of contents is:

Introduction…. p. 3
Circular reasoning is Quranic?!…. p. 3
Different times and different people need different types of proofs…. p. 4
The Imam ˆAbdulQaahir on the Sunni scholars of the science of belief…. p. 5
Kalam scholars used terminology like those of the Aristotelians to show them wrong…. p. 10
The principles of the proofs for the creators existence…. p. 10
About the so called proof of the existence of God through the proof of the createdness of “accidents”…. p. 11
The proof of the creators existence is in compliance with the Qur’aan…. p. 12
Implications of the proof of Allaah’s existence for denying Allaah’s resemblance to creation…. p. 12
A more detailed way of showing that bodies must be created for one to prove that the world is created…. p. 14
Ibn Taymiyyah’ arguments against the proof stating that bodies must have a creator…. p. 15
The anthropomorphist dilemma; the motivation of Ibn Taymiyyah for attacking the proof of Allaah’s existence based on the fact that the world consists of bodies and attributes…. p. 19
Conclusion….   p. 19

Q&A: hand versus hearing and tafweed

February 24, 2009

Someone wrote saying: There is a lot I learned from your site. Before asking the question I quote here the next from Al-Aqeedah Al-Tahawiyyah; {Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.}

Question 1. Now Allah is Al-Sam’ but the meaning is All-Hearing that He Hears unlike our Hearing right? But we still use the same word ‘Hearing’ unlike our hearing so why not ‘Hand’ just only the word but unlike our hands ? Both meanings apply to humans ? Why don’t we do tafweed of all Allah’s Attributes ?

Answer: The problem with saying “hand unlike our hands” is that it gives the impression that it is a limb, just an unfamiliar one. The word hearing, on the other hand, does not have such a problem. Those who make tafwiid for the meaning of “yad”, do it because the meaning (other than limb-which is not befitting) is not well known, so to specify a meaning that is befitting involves some amount of uncertainty. This is not allowed when one is ascribing something to Allaah, and that is why most scholars did not assign a particular meaning to the word “yad” when referring to Allaah. Some did, however, as they felt sure enough about their interpretation.

Question 2: Why is saying Allah has Hand unlike the creation tashbeeh and why isn’t not when saying Allah Hears unlike the creation ? Salafi’s then say the way you apply that Allah’s attributes are unlike the creation then apply this rule to all attributes like Hand etc.

Answer: It is not necessarily tashbiih to say, “Allah has a Hand unlike the creation.” It is only tashbiih if the one who says that means that it is a limb. This is a translation of the equivalent Arabic expression, which is used by Ahlu-s-Sunnah, and that is why I wouldn’t consider it tashbiih. The mistake is to translate “yad” as “hand” and then say “unlike the creation.” What he should have said was “yad unlike the creation.” The reason is that when one translates “yad” then one has already engaged in ta’wiil,because the range of plausible meanings for “yad” in Arabic is different from those of “hand” in English. It is haraam to say “Allah has a Hand unlike the creation,” because in English the word “hand” in such a context is understood usually as “limb.” This translation is therefore misleading, and therefore sinful. In fact, it sounds almost as if it is saying “a limb unlike the creation,” which would definitely be tashbiih and kufr.

Q&A on interpreting “Yad” and tafwiiđ

February 15, 2009

> 1) what does it mean that the mutazilah and the jahmiyyah negated allahs attributes?

Answer: It means that they denied that Aļļaah has the attributes of knowledge, power, etc. They say that He knows without knowledge, creates without power, etc. By the way, the Jahmiyyah is, as far as I know, eradicated as a sect. However, Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers refer to Sunnis as Jahmiyyah, because Sunnis deny that Aļļaah is something with physical dimensions. Ibn Taymiyyah’s followers say that this is to deny Aļļaah’s attributes, and for this reason, that the Sunnis are Jahmiyyah, and that they, the anthropomorphists, are the true Sunnis. This is in an attempt to scandalize the Sunnis, and scare people away from them. Ibn Taymiyyah himself, however, adopted the belief of the Jahmiyyah that the torture of the Hellfire is not eternal, but will eventually end. This is a blasphemous belief by scholarly consensus. As the Imam Asħ-Sĥaafiˆiyy said, “wa-l-junuun funuun,” perhaps best translated as, “madness is of multiple kinds.”

> 2) did the ashari’s and maturdi’s a sign a single metaphorical meaning to the attributes ie hand = power/authority or did they say any metaphorical meaning consistent with Arabic language and not going against the ijma is acceptable?

Answer: You can find both approaches among them. For example, according to Al-Aamidi, in Abkaar Al-Afkaar, the fact that creating Adam is done with Yad as the aayah states, rules out possibilities of Yad meaning here anything other than an attribute of Allah. He says that there is no undisputable proof, however, to show that it does not simply mean the attribute of power. He adds that the fact that the word is in dual form doesn’t matter, since Arabs do use such this word both in singular and dual forms to mean power. He also gives an answer to those who object to this interpretation, and argue that saying that it means power makes the statement applicable to all the other creations, and doesn’t give Adam any special rank. He says that Adam’s rank is signified as special by having this statement referring to him in the Quran, even if it holds true for other creations as well.

Bodies have limits but not Allaah

January 18, 2009

Wahabi contention: “But whatever has no limit is not separate and distinct from the creation and cannot be above the world because all of this is necessitated by the meaning of al-hadd [i.e. limit]”

Comment: Note that they mean by this “whatever has no [physical] limit is not [physically] separate and distinct from the creation and cannot be [physically] above the world.” This statement is based on drawing analogy between creation and the Creator. It assumes that Aļļaah is a body (something with a size), and must therefore, as they say, have a physical boundary. This assumption is made, because they think of Aļļaah in terms of what is true for creation.

The Sunni belief on the one who says Allaah has a limit is that He is a kaafir

Just to remind ourselves of the Sunni belief in this matter, Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy stated {in brackets}: {This is a detailed remembrance of the belief of the People of the Sunnah and following {the Jamaaˆah}. Later he stated, as part of this remembrance,{Aļļaah 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}. He also agreed that believing that anything else is an insult to Islam, for he said in the same remembrance: {Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.} Note that he said this after having already pointed out that the six directions apply to all created things, which includes humans. In other words, the Sunni belief is that attributing a limit to Aļļaah makes one a non-Muslim.

A brief synopsis of the fallacy contained in the argument for a limit

The concepts of physical separation and connection relate to bodies, not to Aļļaah. If they said a body cannot be separate and extinct from another body unless it has a limit, then this is true. It is not true, however, that Aļļaah is a body, so it is not true that He must have a limit. Therefore, it is also not true that Aļļaah is either physically outside or inside the world. This is a fallacy called “false dichotomy,” which is when someone argues and gives you a choice between two things, none of which are true, like if someone said, “the stone is either blind or seeing, which is it?” The problem with this is that a stone is neither said to be blind nor seeing. That is, you neither say, “the stone is blind” nor “the stone is seeing.” So when they say, “Aļļaah is either inside or outside, which is it?” they are using a false dichotomy to trick you into thinking that there is no other alternative. This is not correct, because the two choices a person has about something existent is first, “Is it in a place or not?” If the answer to that choice is “in a place,” then one may ask, “it is inside or outside area so and so?” If the answer is, “not in a place,” however, then the question, “is it inside or outside area so and so?” is pure nonsense. To illustrate in terms of the example of the stone, there was another question before “is the stone seeing or blind?” which was, “does the stone have sight?” Since the answer is “no,” it makes not sense to ask, “is it seeing or blind?”

The stated wahabi contention that “what is not limited cannot be above,” assumes that Aļļaah’s aboveness is physical, but no Muslim says that He is. Muslims believe that Aļļaah is above us in status and power, not in physical location. Being physically above something else can only be for something physical, and there is no greatness in being physically above something anyway. If there was, then Tibet would be better than Makkah. By saying that Aļļaah’s aboveness is one of status and power, we have chosen the most beautiful meaning of “aboveness” and we have avoided attributing a limit to the Creator.

A detailed explanation of why the wahabi argument is invalid

To recap, the wahabi argument in formal terms is that they say:

1) Everything that exists is in a place.

2) Everything that occupies space has a limit.

3) Allaah exists.

4) Therefore (they say) Allaah has a limit, and claiming otherwise is sophistry

While we accept premises 2) and 3), we do not accept premise 1). The reason why we do not accept premise 1), namely that everything that exists is in a place, is:

First, there is no evidence that could be claimed for premise 1) except observation of what we have perceived with our senses in our daily lives. Essentially what they are saying is that “everything I have perceived in my life is physical, therefore everything that exists is physical.” This is clearly not a logical argument, but it is the core of their argument. The underlying trick in this claim is that our imagination is limited to what our five senses have experienced in this life. Our minds record these experiences, and in our minds we are able to manipulate these recordings in different ways as concepts. Our ability to conceptualize is limited to these recordings, and any fact that does not agree with these recordings is difficult to deal with in our minds, and will even often be rejected based on it. It is this limit of our minds that the devil uses to trick people into anthropomorphist belief. He makes them think that what one cannot imagine cannot exist, and makes them ignore the fact that our imagination is based on a limited set of sensory experiences, and it does not cover all that exists in creation, let alone what could have existed, and what must exist.

Second, since there is no actual proof of premise 1) being valid by logic alone, we take guidance from the Quranic fact that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation,

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

Meaning: “Absolutely nothing resembles Him, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” (Al-Sħuuraa, 11) Accordingly, what is necessarily true regarding creation’s existence is not true of His. (For a more complete discussion of the meaning of this aayah, you should read this very important article: Wahhabi Contention: How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?)

In light of this we observe that all creation around us are things that occupy space (dead matter and live beings) and attributes of those things that occupy space (like color or love). This is the kind of existence that all creation as we know it has. Based on this, we conclude that Aļļaah is not in a place nor is He an attribute of something in a place, otherwise His existence would be of created kind, and that is contrary to the aayah.

We also take guidance from the Quranic fact that Aļļaah is attributed with absolute pre-existence to everything else:

هُوَ الأَوَّلُ

Meaning: “He is the one that is attributed with absolute precedence.” (Al-Ĥadiid, 03).” We understand from this that He existed before everything else, and that He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else. He existed, and there was nothing with Him and nothing prior to Him. Al-Bukħaariy narrated that the Prophet Muĥammad said:

كان الله ولم يَكُنْ شَيْءٌ غَيْرُهُ

“Aļļaah existed and there was nothing else” (Bukħaariy No. 3019) Aļļaah’s existence then, does not resemble the existence of created things. It is a beginning-less and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything.

This aayah and hadiith are another base then, and we say that while it is true that physical things are either inside or outside something, it is not true of Aļļaah, because He is the creator of all places, all insides and all outsides, as He existed before them.

Consequently, the correct belief is that Aļļaah created all places, and He existed before everything else, including place and time. Since He existed before them, it must be true that He existed without them. In other words, as the scholars say, “Aļļaah existed, and there was no place, and He is now as He was eternally – without a place.”

We also take guidance from other aayahs in the Quran to show that the anthropomorphist’s premise, “everything that exists is in a place,” is false, and that sound reason does not dictate what they claim. One way we can do this is by showing that not everything that exists must be limited, as follows:

First, note that whatever has a physical limit is a creation, because a limit must be specified in terms of size and shape etc. That is, it requires a Creator to exist. If one denies this, then one is no longer able to prove that physical limits require a Creator, such as the human body, or the celestial bodies. That is, the shape of the camel, or the skies would no longer be proofs for Aļļaah’s existence and Power, and this is in contradiction with the Quranic statements, such as:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aal ˆImraan, 190)

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?” (Al-Għasħiyah, 17)

Can anyone ponder these aayahs without pondering the physical boundaries of the skies, earth and camel? Of course not, without boundaries, there is no camel and there is no sky and no earth, because this is the reality of their existence. It is the limits of bodies that make us sure that they are created and enable us to ponder upon them as signs of Aļļaah. In fact, the aayahs are requesting us to ponder the boundaries of the skies, the earth and the camel. If someone claims that Aļļaah has a physical limit, then they are saying that physical limits do not necessarily need a creator, and have thereby invalidated these Quranic proofs.

This is true because a physical limit is a physical limit, and once you claim that one limit does not need a creator, then you cannot prove that another limit necessarily needs a creator. Why? Because a physical limit is conceptually just a connection of dots forming a line or surface. Each dot is connected to the next at one of its sides. The choice of placement of a connected dot to another is for any available space at any angle and from any angle. That’s it. The placement of connected dots form limits, and since the way the dots are placed next to each other needs specification in terms of ‘where,’ all limits need to be specified. This means they need a creator and cannot be eternal, because their existence depends on prior specification. So if someone claims that one such limit does not require a creator, then He can no longer logically prove that another limit does need a creator. This means that he can no longer logically prove that shapes need someone to give them a form. To be able to do that, rather, he must hold on to the premise that all limits need a creator. Since Aļļaah is neither specified, nor created, and is definitely eternal, it must be true that Aļļaah exists without limits and therefore without being in a place.

More simply put: anything that has a limit i.e. boundary has a shape because the limit has to have some shape. Anything that has a certain shape could have had any other shape, because any shape isn’t of higher priority than any other shape, so having a certain shape means that there must be someone who specified it and chose it among all other possibilities.

Similarly, the very state of being in a place needs a specifier. The proof that the state of being in a place needs to be specified, is that once something is in a place, it is conceivable that it could have been in another place, just like what was shown true above regarding connecting dots in a limit. Consequently, once we see something is in a place, we ask how it got there. We ask this, because we know that once something is in a place, then something prior to it has put it there. That is, something prior to it specified its place. So the concepts of being physically inside or outside cannot apply to Aļļaah, because if they did, it would necessitate Him being specified, or influenced or changed. Rather, we must believe that Aļļaah is only attributed with attributes that are eternal, and therefore do not necessitate specification. See also what Al-Qurţubiyy said in this regard at this link.

In conclusion, the first premise of the wahabis is not only unverifiable, but definitely wrong.

Q&A about the words “hand” and “face.”

November 23, 2008
On Wed, Jul 16, 2008 at 11:27 AM, a brother wrote:

Dear Shaykh,

As salaam o alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I read the following fatwa of an Indian Hanafi scholar. At the end of the fatwa the scholar takes the position of tafwid, consigning the meaning of “yad” etc to whatever Allah meant by it. He also states that tawil is valid to assign a meaning suitable to the word. But in the beginning he sort of corroborates the Salafi aqida saying as well. Could you please comment if the fatwa is correct, or if there are mistakes with it, what the mistakes are?

Is the following statement correct?
The belief of the Ahle-Sunnat is this that Allaah Ta`ala does have a Hand but it is unlike the hand of the creation. And Allaah Ta`ala has a Face, which is unlike the face of man or any other creation. These are unique to Allaah Ta`ala alone and their condition and comprehension are beyond the understanding of man. Only Allaah Ta`ala alone knows what these actually are.

Abu Adam’s comment:

This is not very precise. First of all, he translates “yad” as “hand”, and this is very misleading. Who said that the meaning of “yad”, when ascribed to Aļļaah is has the meaning of “hand” in English? What he should have said was “Aļļaah has a yad unlike the yad of the creation.” That would have been more careful. When he translates “yad” as “hand” then he has restricted the possible Arabic meanings of “yad” to the possible meanings of “hand” in English. In other words, he has already engaged in ta’weel, even though he seems to be attempting tafweeđ. Not only that, he has also translated an Arabic word that is ambiguous in meaning when ascribed to Aļļaah into another language. This is not allowed if the translation result is potentially misleading, as it clearly is in this case. The scholars agreed that words used to ascribe attributes to Aļļaah must be verbatim from scripture texts; either the Qur’aan or highly authentic ĥadiitħs. If they are not, such as when translating, then the words used must connotate glorification and not be misleading at all. These conditions are not met here.

Moreover, many sunni scholars said that “yad” refers to Aļļaah’s attribute of Power.

As for wajh, which he has a again translated into a misleading word, namely face, is not said to be an attribute by all sunnis. Many said that wajh means the deeds that are done for Aļļaah’s sake. Other’s said that it refers to Aļļaah Himself, and not an attribute of His. The translation of wajh as face is even worse than the translation of “yad” as “hand”. “Face” has no meaning in English I can think of that befits Aļļaah, whereas “hand” sometimes means “power” or “control” such as in “the decision is not in my hands.”

Add to all this that non-literal meanings of words are interpreted according to context. I.e. the linguistic tool for knowing whether a literal or figurative meaning is meant is to look at the context. So if I say “the guy is a lion,” you know I am speaking figuratively, because a “guy” is a human being, and thus the meaning of “lion” here is something like “fierce” or “brave.” On the other hand, if I said “lions are a type of cat,” you know I am speaking literally. So when one translates “yad” as “hand” then one has strongly implied that the literal meaning of “yad” is meant, by the contextual clue of this translation, and this adds to the danger of being misleading.

Answer (fatwa):
Yes, it is right. The Ahlus Sunnah wal-Jamaah scholars of Hadith and Ulama hold the same belief about the Hands etc. It implies that Allah does have Hands, Face etc but not like His creatures, He is above all these similarities. Allah says:
(لیس کمثلہ شئ (سورة الشوری، ۱۱
There is nothing whatever like unto him. (42/11)
Abu Adam’s comment:

This is very misleading, as I have explained immediately above. I think most people will think this to mean different shape, color, etc, whereas a Muslim must believe that these are words in Arabic (yad, wajh, etc.) that when refer to an attribute of Aļļaah are not limbs, instruments, physical or limited in any sense. They are attributes without modality, time or place.

But, what these words, like Hands and Face, mean? Allah knows best, we only believe in whatever Allah has meant by these words. The scholars of Kalam (Asharia and Maturidiah) are of the opinion that the exact meaning of these words is known only by Allah, but if anyone takes a meaning that is suitable for the high position of Allah (Suhanahu Wa-taala) then it may be allowed e.g. Hand means power and Face means He himself.

Abu Adam’s comment:

He should not have translated yad and wajh as hands and face, for the reasons mentioned earlier.