Q & A: Someone asked, “Were the Salaf literalists?”

June 22, 2008

Question: The Salafis argue that the Salaf were literalists. Were they?

Answer: Dawuud Al-Thaahiri (201-270 AH/ 816-884 AD) is generally regarded as the first literalist, as he denied analogical reasoning, but he was not a mushabbih, for the Shafi`i scholars generally respect him. They know him best as he is considered to have been a student of Al-Shafiˆi or his direct students in the beginning. The most famous representative of his school is Ibn Hazm of Spain, who was extreme in his literalist views to the extent that he saw a difference between urinating in water and urinating in a vessel and then pouring it into the water. Yet his extreme literalism did not carry him to the extent of believing that Allah is physical. He said, “…verily what is in a place will not be other than a body or an incidental characteristic in a body. Nothing else can be true, and neither the mind nor one’s imagination accepts anything else at all. So if Allah is not a body or an incidental characteristic of one, then it holds that He is not in a place at all. (Al-Fisal Fil-Milal 2/98)”

Author: Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji