Ibn Taymiyyah’s Bucket theology

September 9, 2009

Ibn Taymiyyah’s Bucket theology

Background

We have shown earlier irrefutable proofs that Ibn Taymiyyah was an extreme anthropomorphist. This was done in the following articles:

Ibn Taymiyyah says Aļļaah needs, is divisible, settles in a place, has 6 limits, has a size, and must be creating (though He can choose what to create – but not whether to create or not.)

Ibn Taymiyyah says Allaah needs, is divisible, and settles in a place

Ibn Taymiyyah says Allaah is divisible into quantities and areas

In the following excerpt from one of Ibn Taymiyyah’s books, this anthropomorphistطs belief is clarified further in his understanding of a ĥadiitħ narrated by At-Tirmidħiyy. This ĥadiitħ if literally translated states: “If one of you lowered a bucket by a rope, then it would fall on Aļļaah.” Muslim scholars did not take this ĥadiitħ literally, because Aļļaah is not a body for something to bump into. They said it means that it would fall by Aļļaah’s knowledge. This is after hypothesizing its authenticity. In the below Ibn Taymiyyah’s understanding, based on hypothesized authenticity, is clarified. It is a literal and anthropomorphic understanding.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s understanding of the ĥadiith of lowering a bucket

Ibn Taymiyyah says in Majmuuˆu-l-Fataawaa1:

فَإِنَّ قَوْلَهُ : { لَوْ أُدْلِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ بِحَبْلِ لَهَبَطَ عَلَى اللَّهِ } إنَّمَا هُوَ تَقْدِيرٌ مَفْرُوضٌ ؛ أَيْ لَوْ وَقَعَ الْإِدْلَاءُ لَوَقَعَ عَلَيْهِ لَكِنَّهُ لَا يُمْكِنُ أَنْ يُدْلِيَ أَحَدٌ عَلَى اللَّهِ شَيْئًا ؛ لِأَنَّهُ عَالٍ بِالذَّاتِ وَإِذَا أُهْبِطَ شَيْءٌ إلَى جِهَةِ الْأَرْضِ وَقَفَ فِي الْمَرْكَزِ وَلَمْ يَصْعَدْ إلَى الْجِهَةِ الْأُخْرَى لَكِنْ بِتَقْدِيرِ فَرْضِ الْإِدْلَاءِ يَكُونُ مَا ذَكَرَ مِنْ الْجَزَاءِ .(مجموع الفتاوى – (6 / 571)

Verily his (the Prophet’s) statement: “If one of you lowered a bucket by a rope, then it would fall on Aļļaah.” This is a hypothetical consideration, that is, if the lowering happened, then it would fall on Him. It is not possible for anyone to lower anything on Aļļaah, however, because His self is high, and if anything was lowered in the direction of the Earth, then it would stop at the center, and would not go up in the opposite direction (from there). However, if there was a hypothesized lowering, then what he said would happen. (6/571)

He explains more about his problem with the concept of “lowering”, which is that it would in reality be rising, saying:

فَكَذَلِكَ مَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ أَعْلَى الْأَرْضِ إلَى أَسْفَلِهَا – وَهُوَ الْمَرْكَزُ – لَا يَصْعَدُ مِنْ هُنَاكَ إلَى ذَلِكَ الْوَجْهِ إلَّا بِرَافِعِ يَرْفَعُهُ يُدَافِعُ بِهِ مَا فِي قُوَّتِهِ مِنْ الْهُبُوطِ إلَى الْمَرْكَزِ فَإِنْ قُدِّرَ أَنَّ الدَّافِعَ أَقْوَى كَانَ صَاعِدًا بِهِ إلَى الْفَلَكِ مِنْ تِلْكَ النَّاحِيَةِ وَصَعِدَ بِهِ إلَى اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا يُسَمَّى هُبُوطًا بِاعْتِبَارِ مَا فِي أَذْهَانِ الْمُخَاطَبِينَ أَنَّ مَا يُحَاذِي أَرْجُلَهُمْ يَكُونُ هَابِطًا وَيُسَمَّى هُبُوطًا…. وَهُوَ إنَّمَا يَكُونُ إدْلَاءً حَقِيقِيًّا إلَى الْمَرْكَزِ وَمِنْ هُنَاكَ إنَّمَا يَكُونُ مَدًّا لِلْحَبْلِ وَالدَّلْوِ لَا إدْلَاءَ لَهُ…. وَلَكِنَّ فَائِدَتَهُ بَيَانُ الْإِحَاطَةِ وَالْعُلُوِّ …. وَالْمَقْصُودُ بِهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَةِ الْخَالِقِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى كَمَا بَيَّنَ أَنَّهُ يَقْبِضُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَيَطْوِي الْأَرْضَ وَنَحْوَ ذَلِكَ مِمَّا فِيهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَتِهِ بِالْمَخْلُوقَاتِ. (مجموع الفتاوى – 6 / 572-573)

Likewise, what descends from a high point on Earth to its lowest point, which is it’s center, does not rise from there in that direction, except by someone lifting it, resisting its downwards pull down towards the center (i.e. the gravity pull.) If it was hypothesized that the lifter was stronger (than the gravity pull), then it would be rising towards the celestial sphere from there, and would rise to Aļļaah. It was only called lowering from the viewpoint of what is in the minds of the listeners in that what faces their feet is called falling…. even if it was actually lowering only to the point of the (Earth’s) center, and from there one would only be giving rope to the bucket, and there would be no actual lowering….. However, the beneficial point is to clarify the surrounding and highness from all directions (of the Earth)…. The purpose (of the ĥadiith) is to clarify the meaning of the Creator’s surrounding (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) just as He said that He grabs the Skies and folds the Earth and the like, which all explains His surrounding of created things. (6/572-573)

In other words, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, this surrounding is the physical surrounding of something with physical boundaries, size and shape.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s view on the ĥadiith from a viewpoint of belief

In the final analysis of this ĥadiith Ibn Taymiyyah says:

وَكَذَلِكَ تَأْوِيلُهُ بِالْعِلْمِ تَأْوِيلٌ ظَاهِرُ الْفَسَادِ مَنْ جِنْسِ تَأْوِيلَاتِ الْجَهْمِيَّة ؛ بَلْ بِتَقْدِيرِ ثُبُوتِهِ يَكُونُ دَالًّا عَلَى الْإِحَاطَةِ . وَالْإِحَاطَةُ قَدْ عُلِمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَيْهَا وَعُلِمَ أَنَّهَا تَكُونُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِالْكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّة وَلَيْسَ فِي إثْبَاتِهَا فِي الْجُمْلَةِ مَا يُخَالِفُ الْعَقْلَ وَلَا الشَّرْعَ .

Likewise, interpreting this ĥadiitħ in term of knowledge (I.e falling by Aļļaah’s knowledge it clearly false, and of the Jahmiyy kind of interpretation. Rather, based on the assumption that the ĥadiitħ is authentic, then it explains (Aļļaah’s) surrounding, and it is known that Aļļaah is able to surround and that it is going to be on the Day of Judgment as stated in the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. There is nothing, in general, in affirming this ĥadiith, that is in conflict with reason or Islamic Law. (6/574)

Conclusion

The above, along with the other articles referred to, shows that Ibn Taymiyyah did not just have anthropomorphist tendencies. He was as extreme as they come. He believed that Aļļaah is a body with a shape that surrounds things. He saw no problem in claiming that the world could be inside the Creator and one could hypothetically bump into His claimed border.

Let us again remind ourselves of what the Sunni creed is regarding these beliefs of Ibn Taymiyyah. 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.

1قال ابن تيمية: فَإِنَّ قَوْلَهُ : { لَوْ أُدْلِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ بِحَبْلِ لَهَبَطَ عَلَى اللَّهِ } إنَّمَا هُوَ تَقْدِيرٌ مَفْرُوضٌ ؛ أَيْ لَوْ وَقَعَ الْإِدْلَاءُ لَوَقَعَ عَلَيْهِ لَكِنَّهُ لَا يُمْكِنُ أَنْ يُدْلِيَ أَحَدٌ عَلَى اللَّهِ شَيْئًا ؛ لِأَنَّهُ عَالٍ بِالذَّاتِ وَإِذَا أُهْبِطَ شَيْءٌ إلَى جِهَةِ الْأَرْضِ وَقَفَ فِي الْمَرْكَزِ وَلَمْ يَصْعَدْ إلَى الْجِهَةِ الْأُخْرَى لَكِنْ بِتَقْدِيرِ فَرْضِ الْإِدْلَاءِ يَكُونُ مَا ذَكَرَ مِنْ الْجَزَاءِ . فَهَكَذَا مَا ذَكَرَهُ السَّائِلُ : إذَا قُدِّرَ أَنَّ الْعَبْدَ يَقْصِدُهُ مِنْ تِلْكَ الْجِهَةِ كَانَ هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ يَسْمَعُ كَلَامَهُ وَكَانَ مُتَوَجِّهًا إلَيْهِ بِقَلْبِهِ لَكِنَّ هَذَا مِمَّا تَمْنَعُ مِنْهُ الْفِطْرَةُ ؛ لِأَنَّ قَصْدَ الشَّيْءِ الْقَصْدَ التَّامَّ يُنَافِي قَصْدَ ضِدِّهِ ؛ فَكَمَا أَنَّ الْجِهَةَ الْعُلْيَا بِالذَّاتِ تُنَافِي (مجموع الفتاوى – 6 / 571) الْجِهَةَ السُّفْلَى فَكَذَلِكَ قَصْدُ الْأَعْلَى بِالذَّاتِ يُنَافِي قَصْدَهُ مِنْ أَسْفَلَ وَكَمَا أَنَّ مَا يَهْبِطُ إلَى جَوْفِ الْأَرْضِ يَمْتَنِعُ صُعُودُهُ إلَى تِلْكَ النَّاحِيَةِ – لِأَنَّهَا عَالِيَةٌ – فَتَرُدُّ الْهَابِطَ بِعُلُوِّهَا كَمَا أَنَّ الْجِهَةَ الْعُلْيَا مِنْ عِنْدِنَا تَرُدُّ مَا يَصْعَدُ إلَيْهَا مِنْ الثَّقِيلِ فَلَا يَصْعَدُ الثَّقِيلُ إلَّا بِرَافِعِ يَرْفَعُهُ يُدَافِعُ بِهِ مَا فِي قُوَّتِهِ مِنْ الْهُبُوطِ فَكَذَلِكَ مَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ أَعْلَى الْأَرْضِ إلَى أَسْفَلِهَا – وَهُوَ الْمَرْكَزُ – لَا يَصْعَدُ مِنْ هُنَاكَ إلَى ذَلِكَ الْوَجْهِ إلَّا بِرَافِعِ يَرْفَعُهُ يُدَافِعُ بِهِ مَا فِي قُوَّتِهِ مِنْ الْهُبُوطِ إلَى الْمَرْكَزِ فَإِنْ قُدِّرَ أَنَّ الدَّافِعَ أَقْوَى كَانَ صَاعِدًا بِهِ إلَى الْفَلَكِ مِنْ تِلْكَ النَّاحِيَةِ وَصَعِدَ بِهِ إلَى اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا يُسَمَّى هُبُوطًا بِاعْتِبَارِ مَا فِي أَذْهَانِ الْمُخَاطَبِينَ أَنَّ مَا يُحَاذِي أَرْجُلَهُمْ يَكُونُ هَابِطًا وَيُسَمَّى هُبُوطًا مَعَ تَسْمِيَةِ إهْبَاطِهِ إدْلَاءً وَهُوَ إنَّمَا يَكُونُ إدْلَاءً حَقِيقِيًّا إلَى الْمَرْكَزِ وَمِنْ هُنَاكَ إنَّمَا يَكُونُ مَدًّا لِلْحَبْلِ وَالدَّلْوِ لَا إدْلَاءَ لَهُ لَكِنَّ الْجَزَاءَ وَالشَّرْطَ مُقَدَّرَانِ لَا مُحَقَّقَانِ . فَإِنَّهُ قَالَ : لَوْ أَدْلَى لَهَبَطَ ؛ أَيْ لَوْ فُرِضَ أَنَّ هُنَاكَ إدْلَاءً لَفُرِضَ أَنَّ هُنَاكَ هُبُوطًا وَهُوَ يَكُونُ إدْلَاءً وَهُبُوطًا إذَا قُدِّرَ أَنَّ السَّمَوَاتِ تَحْتَ الْأَرْضِ وَهَذَا التَّقْدِيرُ مُنْتَفٍ ؛ وَلَكِنَّ فَائِدَتَهُ بَيَانُ الْإِحَاطَةِ وَالْعُلُوِّ مِنْ كُلِّ جَانِبٍ وَهَذَا الْمَفْرُوضُ مُمْتَنِعٌ فِي حَقِّنَا لَا نَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ فَلَا يُتَصَوَّرُ أَنْ يُدْلِيَ وَلَا يُتَصَوَّرُ أَنْ يَهْبِطَ عَلَى اللَّهِ شَيْءٌ لَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْرُقَ مِنْ هُنَا إلَى هُنَاكَ بِحَبْلِ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَكُونُ فِي حَقِّهِ إدْلَاءً فَلَا يَكُونُ فِي حَقِّهِ هُبُوطًا عَلَيْهِ . كَمَا لَوْ خَرَقَ بِحَبْلِ مِنْ الْقُطْبِ إلَى الْقُطْبِ أَوْ مِنْ مَشْرِقِ الشَّمْسِ إلَى مَغْرِبِهَا (مجموع الفتاوى – 6 / 572) وَقَدَّرْنَا أَنَّ الْحَبْلَ مَرَّ فِي وَسَطِ الْأَرْضِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى ذَلِكَ كُلِّهِ وَلَا فَرْقَ بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْهِ عَلَى هَذَا التَّقْدِيرِ مِنْ أَنْ يَخْرُقَ مِنْ جَانِبِ الْيَمِينِ مِنَّا إلَى جَانِبِ الْيَسَارِ أَوْ مِنْ جِهَةِ أَمَامِنَا إلَى جِهَةِ خَلْفِنَا أَوْ مِنْ جِهَةِ رُءُوسِنَا إلَى جِهَةِ أَرْجُلِنَا إذَا مَرَّ الْحَبْلُ بِالْأَرْضِ فَعَلَى كُلِّ تَقْدِيرٍ قَدْ خَرَقَ بِالْحَبْلِ مِنْ جَانِبِ الْمُحِيطِ إلَى جَانِبِهِ الْآخَرِ مَعَ خَرْقِ الْمَرْكَزِ وَبِتَقْدِيرِ إحَاطَةِ قَبْضَتِهِ بِالسَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَالْحَبْلُ الَّذِي قُدِّرَ أَنَّهُ خَرَقَ بِهِ الْعَالَمَ وَصَلَ إلَيْهِ وَلَا يُسَمَّى شَيْءٌ مِنْ ذَلِكَ بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْهِ إدْلَاءً وَلَا هُبُوطًا . وَأَمَّا بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْنَا فَإِنَّ مَا تَحْتَ أَرْجُلِنَا تَحْتٌ لَنَا وَمَا فَوْقَ رُءُوسِنَا فَوْقٌ لَنَا وَمَا نُدْلِيهِ مِنْ نَاحِيَةِ رُءُوسِنَا إلَى نَاحِيَةِ أَرْجُلِنَا نَتَخَيَّلُ أَنَّهُ هَابِطٌ فَإِذَا قُدِّرَ أَنَّ أَحَدَنَا أَدْلَى بِحَبْلِ كَانَ هَابِطًا عَلَى مَا هُنَاكَ لَكِنَّ هَذَا تَقْدِيرٌ مُمْتَنِعٌ فِي حَقِّنَا وَالْمَقْصُودُ بِهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَةِ الْخَالِقِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى كَمَا بَيَّنَ أَنَّهُ يَقْبِضُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَيَطْوِي الْأَرْضَ وَنَحْوَ ذَلِكَ مِمَّا فِيهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَتِهِ بِالْمَخْلُوقَاتِ . وَلِهَذَا قَرَأَ فِي تَمَامِ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ { هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ } . وَهَذَا كُلُّهُ عَلَى تَقْدِيرِ صِحَّتِهِ فَإِنَّ التِّرْمِذِيَّ لَمَّا رَوَاهُ قَالَ : وَفَسَّرَهُ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْحَدِيثِ بِأَنَّهُ هَبَطَ عَلَى عِلْمِ اللَّهِ وَبَعْضُ الْحُلُولِيَّةِ والاتحادية يَظُنُّ أَنَّ فِي هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ مَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى قَوْلِهِمْ الْبَاطِلِ ؛ وَهُوَ أَنَّهُ حَالٌّ بِذَاتِهِ فِي كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَأَنَّ وُجُودَهُ وُجُودُ الْأَمْكِنَةِ وَنَحْوُ ذَلِكَ . وَالتَّحْقِيقُ : أَنَّ الْحَدِيثَ لَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِنْ ذَلِكَ إنْ كَانَ ثَابِتًا فَإِنَّ قَوْلَهُ : (مجموع الفتاوى – 6 / 573) { لَوْ أَدْلَى بِحَبْلِ لَهَبَطَ } يَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ فِي الْمُدْلِي وَلَا فِي الْحَبْلِ وَلَا فِي الدَّلْوِ وَلَا فِي غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ وَأَنَّهَا تَقْتَضِي أَنَّهُ مِنْ تِلْكَ النَّاحِيَةِ ؛ وَكَذَلِكَ تَأْوِيلُهُ بِالْعِلْمِ تَأْوِيلٌ ظَاهِرُ الْفَسَادِ مَنْ جِنْسِ تَأْوِيلَاتِ الْجَهْمِيَّة ؛ بَلْ بِتَقْدِيرِ ثُبُوتِهِ يَكُونُ دَالًّا عَلَى الْإِحَاطَةِ . وَالْإِحَاطَةُ قَدْ عُلِمَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَيْهَا وَعُلِمَ أَنَّهَا تَكُونُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِالْكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّة وَلَيْسَ فِي إثْبَاتِهَا فِي الْجُمْلَةِ مَا يُخَالِفُ الْعَقْلَ وَلَا الشَّرْعَ ؛ لَكِنْ لَا نَتَكَلَّمُ إلَّا بِمَا نَعْلَمُ وَمَا لَا نَعْلَمُهُ أَمْسَكْنَا عَنْهُ وَمَا كَانَ مُقَدِّمَةُ دَلِيلِهِ مَشْكُوكًا فِيهَا عِنْدَ بَعْضِ النَّاسِ كَانَ حَقُّهُ أَنْ يَشُكَّ فِيهِ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُ الْحَقُّ وَإِلَّا فَلْيَسْكُتْ عَمَّا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ . (مجموع الفتاوى – 6 / 574)

Advertisements

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.


William Lane Craig’s Unreasonable Faith

April 9, 2009

Someone claiming to mend the unmendable is a cause for suspicion. Is he mad? A scoundrel? I do not think William Lane Craig is mad, but here is a man who claims to preach “reasonable faith,” and claims that this faith is actually christianity. A religion that even the priests themselves admit is not compatible with logical reasoning.

Someone sent me a link on Youtube where Craig presented a number of arguments for christianity and against Islam. After several minutes of insufferable boredom from him trying to convince the audience that the biblical version of Jesus is true etc., he ventured to say that he had two objections against Islam. The first was that the history of Jesus is not correct in the Qur’aan, which I am not going to bother with, because it is much quicker and efficient to expose christianity as a severely flawed belief system. By doing that, one has undermined the religion of the book and there is no longer a need to bicker about historical documents. After all, historical documentation alone (without some external support, such as miracles) hardly ever gets you to necessary and unequivocal conclusions.

This gets us to his second point, in which he stated, “Christians and Muslims agree that God is the greatest conceivable being, thus, necessarily, God is the greatest conceivable being.” So this is where we supposedly agree, but then he goes on to say: “So besides being All Powerful, All-Knowing,” which means that he believes that the Creator is All-Powerful and All-Knowing, in agreement with Muslims. Then, based on the idea of “greatest conceivable being,” he says in brief, “He must be All-Loving also because it is better to be loving than unloving, and God is a morally perfect being. The Bible says God is Love, thus sent His son to be the sacrifice for our sins. The Qur’aan says that He does not love sinners or unbelievers. This contradicts “All-Merciful.” It is partial and has to be merited.”

In other words, he is claiming that Aļļaah is not All-Merciful as stated in the Qur’aan, because it is also stated that He does not love sinners, unlike in christianity, where He is claimed to be “All-Loving.”

The answer to this is, first, the translation of Ar-Raĥmaan as “All-Merciful” is misleading, because it implies that Aļļaah will give mercy to all things always, which is clearly not the case. It would be better if it was translated simply as “merciful”, because then all it means is that Aļļaah does show mercy, and does not necessitate that this is always the case. Moreover, his claim that God is a morally perfect being is illogical, because morality requires standards, and no one sets standards for God, as that would imply subjugation and weakness, and this is not compatible with the idea of the greatest conceivable being.

Second, the idea that the “greatest conceivable being must be All-Loving,” is not acceptable. This is because love is an emotion of need, a need to please the beloved, a need to be accepted, and a being with needs is not the greatest conceivable being, but a being flawed by needs. Surely having no needs is greater than having needs.

Third, it is not possible that the Creator would be All-Knowing and All-Powerful as well as All-Loving, because that would mean there would be no suffering in the world. We clearly witness suffering, and since the Creator is All-Knowing He does know about this suffering before it happens, when it happens and after it happens. Moreover, since He is All-Powerful, He could surely prevent it based on the fact that He knows about it. Clearly then, you cannot believe in all of these attributes at the same time, as this contradicts observable reality. If one was to believe in all-lovingness, then this would only agree with the observable suffering of the world, if one denied the Creator’s knowledge or power or both.

Muslims choose to deny all-lovingness, because this is a flaw in the first place, and they affirm the Creator’s absolute knowledge and power.

Sorry William Lane
But your talk is vain

You’re a sitting duck
or a hen to pluck

Whichever you choose
you’re going to lose

Your claim to reason
is an open season

For a rational mind
of Muhammadan kind


Someone claimed: Allaah has to reward good deeds

April 1, 2009

Question: Someone was saying that if we do good deeds then we must be rewarded. I replied based on what I learnt from you that Allah is not obliged to do anything. We will go to Jannah by his mercy and not because Allah ‘has’ to do it. His response was Allah ‘has’ to do it based on the fact that He said so. He said there are abundant quotes regarding those who believe and do good deeds are rewarded with paradise. There is no quote in the Quran according to him that says whether you do good deeds or not all depends on God’s grace. So if Allah does not reward those with good deeds then there is a contra-diction and that cannot be so we have to be rewarded when we do good deeds.

Answer: The absolute rule of the religion is that Allaah is not obligated to do or leave out anything, because He has no needs. Scripture texts must be understood in light of one another. Yes, Aļļaah has promised those who do good deeds Paradise, but this is a truth with quite a few details attached. Below some of these details are mentioned, and at the end it is explained that all rewards from Allaah are a grace.

There are several conditions for reward of good deeds

First, one must be a Muslim to have one’s deeds accepted, as blasphemy invalidates all worship performed:

“وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِالإِيمَانِ فَقَدْ حَبِطَ عَمَلُهُ”

Meaning: “And whoever blasphemes against the correct belief – his deeds have been ruined.” (Al-Maa’idah, 5)

Blasphemy is to disbelieve in the Prophet Muĥammad’s teachings. Aļļaah says in the Qur’aan:

“وَمَنْ لَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا”

Meaning: “Whoever does not believe in Aļļaah and His messenger; verily Aļļaah has prepared for the blasphemers a fierce fire.” (Al-Fatĥ, 13)

We know from this statement that the blasphemer is anyone that does not believe in Aļļaah or His Messenger, and that this belief is an immediate obligation upon whomsoever does not have it. It is also stated in Al-Qur’aan:

“إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أُولَئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ”

Meaning: “Those who blaspheme, among the People of the Book (the jews and the christians) and the idol worshipers, will be in the Hell-Fire and dwell there endlessly. They are the worst of creation.” (Al-Bayyinah, 98)

Second, besides being a Muslim, to have one’s deeds accepted one must also have the intention of doing them for the sake of Aļļaah, as the Prophet (şalla Aļļaahu ˆalayhi-s-sallam) said, “deeds are according to their intentions,” i.e. the reward of deeds are according to their intentions.

Third, one must meet any other criteria for having one’s deeds accepted besides being Muslim and having a valid intention, such as having wuduu for prayer, etc.

Fourth, one must avoid things that abolishes previous good deeds, such as making people feel small because of what you have done for them.

Who goes to Paradise?

Aļļaah has promised Muslims who do good deeds and avoid big sins Paradise, as He said in the Qur’aan:

“إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ”

Meaning: “if you, as a Muslim, avoid big sins you have been forbidden from, then Aļļaah will forgive the small sins.” (Al-Nisaa’ 4,31)

Some of those who commit big sins will be in Hell for some time, before entering Paradise, as Muslim narrated that the Prophet said:

“فَيَمُرُّ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ كَطَرْفِ الْعَيْنِ وَكَالْبَرْقِ وَكَالرِّيحِ وَكَالطَّيْرِ وَكَأَجَاوِيدِ الْخَيْلِ وَالرِّكَابِ فَنَاجٍ مُسَلَّمٌ وَمَخْدُوشٌ مُرْسَلٌ وَمَكْدُوسٌ في نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ حتى إذا خَلَصَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ من النَّارِ”

“The complete believer <i.e. complete in practice> passes like the blink of an eye, and like lightning, and like wind, and like birds, and like strong horses and camels. So there are those that are saved, and those that are injured and then let go and then there are those that are thrown into Hell until all believers are out of the fire.”

Eventually all Muslims will be in Paradise, however, because Aļļaah said in the Qur’aan:

“إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ”

Which means: “Verily Aļļaah does not forgive shirk (that one has not repented from by entering Islam), but forgives what is lesser than that for whoever He wills.” (Al-Nisaa’ 4,48)

Shirk means literally: “associating partners with Him,” but it has been mentioned earlier that all non-Muslims will be in Hell forever. We know then that what is meant here by “shirk” is any blasphemy.

All of the rewards are a grace from Him and the punishments a justice.

That being said, one must not say, “Aļļaah has to do it,” because this phrase implies obligation, and Aļļaah does not have obligations, as He has no creator, and no judge. Instead one says, “Aļļaah is not obligated to do anything. The things mentioned above regarding who will be rewarded or punished must come true however, because Aļļaah said that they will be so, and it is impossible that He should lie. In other words, reward for some good deeds is both a grace and a must. It is a must because the future is already predestined, not because it is an obligation upon Aļļaah. It is impossible that what is predestined should change, because then it would not be predestined.”

Further to the fact that rewards are a grace from Aļļaah, Al-Bukħaariyy narrated through Abuu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Your deeds will not put you in Paradise.” They asked: “Not even for you, O Messenger of Aļļaah?” He answered: “No, not even for me, except that Aļļaah will cover me with grace and mercy.” (Şaĥiiĥ Al-Bukħaariyy No 5349, 5/2147; ˆUmdatu-l-Qaarii 21/227)

What this means is that Aļļaah is not obliged to do anything, and that your deeds do not influence Aļļaah or anything else. It does not mean that you do not need to do anything. It means that if you do not, then this indicates that Aļļaah has not willed good for you, and this is a sign that you are heading for loss in the Hereafter. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy states: “the deeds of creation are created by Aļļaah and acquired (committed) by creation.” Aļļaah says in the Qur’aan:

“وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ قَدَرًا مَقْدُورًا”

Meaning: “All created beings are predestined by Aļļaah.” (Al-‘Aĥzaab, 38)

This means that all things, has been specified and created exactly how they are to be by Aļļaah:

“وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ”

Meaning: “Aļļaah created you and what you do.” (Aş-Şaaffaat. 96)


The ‘Simple’ Wahabi Belief II: Contradiction versus narration

February 9, 2009

Foreword

This post requires some effort from the reader, but I think most people can understand it. If something is not clear, please let me know. This post is extremely important. It points out the essential difference between Sunnism and today’s main anthropomorphist sect, the wahabis, with regards to the attributes of the Creator. This essential difference is yet another self-contradiction, which consists of considering evidences that provide likelihood to be stronger than those that provide certainty.

Introduction

Some time ago I put a short post called “the ‘simple wahabi belief” which stated as follows:

According to the Wahabies Allah is literally above the throne without ever leaving it, AND literally in the sky of the world in the last third of the night (i.e. always, because the Earth is round, so it is always the last third of the night somewhere.) Anyone see a problem here? Then they say it is blasphemy to say that Allah is inside His creation (even though the sky of the world is below the other six created skies above it)…. Then, seemingly just to add to this mess, some of them also say that He is literally in the seventh sky.

Not only that, they also say He is literally encompassing the world and yet they also say it is kufr to believe He is mixed with it. So in their belief, He is encompassing the world (thus a surface outside creation’s borders), and in the first Sky (deep inside creation, below 6 other skies), and yet it is kufr to say He is mixed with creation or enters it. Perhaps we could call this a “self defeating belief system?” It is certainly no different from the christian belief that 1=3.

On top of this they explain that this mess of contradictory statements represents the simple belief that human nature inclines towards, and is free of complications. Yet when you try to show the contradictions in what they are saying, they shout: “KALAM!! Why do you use your mind?? Why do you engage in Philosophy?! It is Bidˆah. If you do not find all this intuitive, then there is something wrong with your natural inclinations (Fitra)!”

What it boils down to then is that they are exactly like the christian priests who tell their followers, “do not mix faith with reason, follow your heart!” As the scholars say, “Blasphemy is one nation.”

One wahabi posted a comment engaging in a classic wahabi tactic for whenever they are put in the corner, as they were in this case; he tries to change the subject. In this case the main contention was that the Salaf went by the most obvious meaning of the scriptures, were against ta’wiil (interpretation beyond the most apparent meaning), and that is how the wahabis ended up accepting the abovementioned belief system. He did not address the contradictions themselves. This is my general response to that, and I’ll be addressing the wahabi as “you” and pointing out yet another contradiction:

The Wahabi contraction in their approach to proofs

We can discuss the sayings of the Salaf regarding figurative interpretation until we run out of ink, and turn blue ourselves, but we will not get anywhere. What I really want to know is, how is it that you accept to believe in self contradictory beliefs? And do not simply tell me, “because I follow the Salaf,” because if you accept to believe in self-contradictory beliefs, how can you claim to have knowledge of what the Salaf said?

The only way you can claim to know what the Salaf said is by narrations from them. These narrations provide you with information about events and sayings in the past that you claim to be true. You base this claim on the narration being şaĥiiĥ, or authentic, in your evaluation. Being authentic, however, logically means that it is most likely true that the narrators made no mistake or lied. This is the assessment of sound reason, the assessment of the mind’s eye, of an authentic narration, as stated by the scholars of ĥadiitħ science. This assessment is based on the fact that narrators are fallible human beings, and fallible human beings, even if trustworthy, might make mistakes.

The mind’s assessment of a self-contradiction, on the other hand, is that it certainly cannot be true. So if you understand a self-contradictory meaning from a narration, based on it being authentically narrated, and refuse to consider alternative meanings, then you have considered a proof that tells you something is most likely true (authentic narration), to be weightier than a proof showing that this something certainly must be untrue. You have thereby made high likelihood weightier (more likely) than certainty. This means you have invalidated the undeniable order of proofs that we know naturally (by the fiţrah created in us.) After this you no longer have the right to say, “this is a strong proof” or “this is a stronger proof,” including the proof of authentic narration, as you have declared yourself irrational. This is the essence of it, but a more detailed discussion follows immediately below.

Ranking Proofs according to the mind’s eye

Proofs in general are naturally classified in the mind’s eye in four basic categories:

1. Proofs that provide certainty that something is true.
2. Proofs that provide likelihood that something is true.
3. Proofs that provide likelihood that something is untrue.
4. Proofs that provide certainty that something is untrue.

Lets us call the fact we want to prove x. The first and fourth categories of proofs for x are rare. One usually only has such proofs when there is overwhelming information from the senses, or when saying other than x would lead to self contradictions, such as claiming the part of a whole is larger than its whole, or that something inside a thing is outside of it, or the like.

The Ranks of Narrated Information (hadiitħs and scholarly sayings)

With narrated information you usually have some, even slight, possibility of mistake in wording, which means that we are at best dealing with category 2 proofs with regards to the wording being exactly as stated originally. This includes almost all narrations from the prophet as well as the Salaf, because they are rarely, if ever, mutawaatir. A mutawaatir narration is a narration with tawaatur, which means it has been narrated from masses to masses in a way that precludes mistakes, or lies, in the mind’s eye. This is the way the Qur’aan has been narrated, but very little else. This is the only type of narrated information which’s wording would be supported by a category 1 proof and thereby known to be certainly correct (i.e. it would be certainly true that the wording is intact as originally stated).

Even in mutawaatir narrations, however, you could have several possibilities of meanings, because words can often mean more than one thing. Not the least in Arabic, in which it is normal for a word to have 10 meanings or more. This is the nature of narrated information. This means that with mutawaatir narrations we often only have strong category 2 proofs for the meaning of the narration being so and so. We would also get proofs that the meaning is most likely not so and so. Moreover, we would have plenty of proofs that it is certainly not so and so, because all interpretations that do not agree with the scope of the Arabic language are definitely wrong.

In light of all the above, when narrated information reaches us we first analyze the chain of narration. If the chain of narration is acceptable, because the narrators are trustworthy and most likely actually met, we can say that most likely the source of the narration did in fact say the words the narration claims and classify it as authentic. Then we look at the meaning. First we identify the most apparent meaning, the meaning that first comes to mind when we see the phrase. This is the understanding we should have in general, unless there is reason to think otherwise, because the basic rule of speech is to speak in literal terms, not figuratively. The literal meaning is therefore the most likely meaning at the outset, and we cannot incline towards figurative meanings without a proof. That is, the possibility of the literal meaning outweighs the possibility of a figurative meaning at the outset. However, if there is a proof for why it is not literally meant, then this may result in the probability of the figurative meaning being meant outweighing the probability of the literal meaning being meant.

Logically, it follows from this that a figurative interpretation is required whenever a narrated text’s literal meaning contradicts with another text’s literal meaning, or implies something that is absolutely impossible by leading to the affirmation of two or more contradicting ideas. In such cases figurative meanings must be interpreted, otherwise we would end up insulting the scriptures, by claiming that they contradict each other or contain contradictory ideas. After all, if two self contradictions can be true at the same time, then what proof is left that is strong enough to make something certainly untrue?

Yet you wahabis take no heed of this, you take this narrated information you have, assign to it a meaning based on your methodology, and then claim that your understanding is certain truth, without doubt in the mind’s eye, even if it implies something that the mind’s eye rejects absolutely. That is, when your methodology of going by the apparent provides you with self contradictory conclusions in terms of your beliefs, one of which absolutely must be false (because two contradictory ideas cannot be true at the same time), you still decide to accept both ideas. So what you have done then is to consider “most likely true” to outweigh “certainly impossible.” This is the source of the problem, not simply your understanding of ta’wiil versus no ta’wiil; that is just a symptom.

In other words, you claim impossible the possibility of you being wrong based on mere likelihood, then turn around and affirm as certainly true something that is actually impossible, even though this impossibility is not a matter of likelihood, but based on contradictions of terms.

In fact, you go beyond that when you have, in your view, authentic narration from a scholar of the Salaf that you claim supports your understanding of the scriptures. All you have in such a case is a high likelihood that the person said what the narration claims, with the possibility of it being mistakes or lies among narrators in the mind’s eye, because this possibility, however slight, is always present when you have no tawaatur (i.e. a mutawaatir narration, as explained above.) Figurative speech is also a possibility, because this is the nature of language and human communication. Moreover, when you are not dealing with the speech of the prophet, you need to add the possibilities of slips of the tongue, badly phrased ideas, and even plain mistakes in ideas or understanding of the religion. It is only a scholarly saying, and not a revealed scripture. Then you use these narrations to arrive at a methodology of understanding scriptures, and thereby at a self contradictory belief system that in the mind’s eye must be wrong. So you have accepted what must be wrong, in the mind’s eye, based on affirming as true something that could be wrong due to fallible narrators and scholars. This is the essential difference between you and us.

Let’s look at an example:

Wahabi says: If He says He decends to the first heaven, then we believe He has the ability to do so without indwelling or mixing within His creation because we believe in a being called Allah, unlike you heretics ….

Comment: If you believe this descent to mean physically moving from one higher location to a lower location, as you apparently do, because you reject ignorance of the meaning of descent (tafwiiđ) in this scripture, then you have said that He is mixing. Being present in the lowest sky means being below the others in one form or another, which implies mixing; there is no escape from that. You cannot escape from that just by denying the obvious.

You seem to think that this is about ability, but this is not the case. When we speak about being able to do something, let us call it ‘x’, then that ‘x’ has to be something that could be. Something with a real meaning. Words are not important, it is the meaning meant by the words that are. When you define the ‘x’ as moving from higher point ‘a’ to lower point ‘b’ without being inside ‘c’, when ‘a’ is inside ‘c’, then you have not defined ‘x’ meaningfully. Why? Because you have partially defined ‘x’ as being inside ‘c’ without being inside it. The being inside cancels out the not being inside and you are left with no meaning. In other words, the ‘x’ you proposed is nonsense, and has no real meaning. It is like saying, “the baker is able to make perfectly round donuts that are square.” This might fool a wahabi, because it is a grammatically sound statement, but it is actually meaningless, because something cannot be both circular and square.

Likewise, when it is stated in an authentic ĥadiitħ that Aļļaah “yanzil,” which you have translated as “descends,” then we have to look at the meaning of this yanzil in a way that is compatible with the belief that Aļļaah is not inside of or mixed with creation. This precludes what you call the “obvious” meaning for the reasons stated above, and we are left with the option to simply believe that this apparent meaning is not meant and go no further (tafwiiđ), or assign a meaning that agrees with Arabic according to the evidences at hand (ta’wiil). This is to avoid saying that the impossible (the contradiction in ‘x’) has become possibly or necessarily true.

Other examples of how ta’wiil must be employed to avoid implying that the scriptures contradict each other in meaning, or imply other self contraditions, are mentioned in these two articles:

Bodies have limits but not Allaah

Wahhabi Contention: How are “Ar Rahmanu `alal `arsh istawa” and “Laysaka mithlihi shay`” different?)


Various Wahhabi Contentions About Allah’s Wisdom

May 5, 2008

Wahhabi Contention: If Allah’s wisdom must have a different meaning than human wisdom, why do the Asharis not apply this principle with all of His Attributes?

Sunni Response: Actually, we do apply this principle with all His attributes. Allah’s wisdom does not have the meaning of need, or achieving benefit, or avoiding harm, because He has no needs and nothing can harm or benefit Him. This is firmly based on the scriptures.

Wahhabi Contention: What is the need for saying “Allah has perfect knowledge, and perfect action” and thus rejecting the attribute of wisdom?

Sunni Response: How does having perfect knowledge and perfect action reject wisdom? Moreover, can there be perfect wisdom without perfect knowledge? Beware that Ibn Faaris states in Al-Mujmal: “Al-hukm comes from the idea of prevention. Al-hikmah (wisdom) also comes from this, because it prevents ignorance.” So in Arabic hikmah is related to knowledge.

Wahhabi Contention: If you affirm that Allah has Wisdom (yet not like our wisdom), then why can you not then affirm that He has a hand (but not like our hand)?

Sunni Response: We affirm that Allah is attributed with “yad”, but we deny “limb,” or any other physical meaning. Note that Abu Hanifah prohibited translating “yad” (which you translated as “hand”) to Persian, even if one added “without a how.” This is mentioned in “Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar”. The difference between wisdom and “yad” is that the former has a known meaning, while the latter does not. Another difference is that “yad” in its literal translation means “hand” and a hand is literally a body, except in expressions like “Its not in my hands.” That is why you find the scholars saying “yad without a how” and they will not usually find it necessary to add “without a how” after “wisdom,” because when a person hears the word wisdom he does not usually think of something physical.

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji