Refuting the Anthropomorphic Neo Hanabilah


by Imam Abd al-Rahman ibnal-Jawzi
Taken from the work Daf ush-Shubah al-Tashbeeh
The Attributes of God: Ibn al-Jawzi's Daf' Shubah al-Tashbih bi-Akaff al-Tanzih
KNOW —MAY Allah, the Exalted, help you— that when I pursued the madh-habof Imam Ahmad, may Allah the Exalted have mercy on him, I found him to be of great stature with respect to the sciences. He excelled in the study of the juridical sciences and the views of the predecessors (Salaf ) to the point that not a single matter arises that he does not have a scriptural reference for or some form of remark to make. However, because he adheres to the approach of the Salaf, he only wrote what they transmitted.Therefore [it was only natural that] I found his madh-hab void of the literary compositions whose kind was numerous amongst those [scholars] who follow a different approach [than him]. So, I wrote some detailed exegeses. Amongst them are: al-Mughni [that exists] in [several] volumes, Zad al-Masir, Tadhkirat al-Arib and others.
Concerning the sciences of hadith [I wrote a number of ] books, among them are: Jami‘ al-Masanid, al-Hada‘iq, Naqi al-Naql and many books regarding al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dil (the science of weighing positive and negative factors for evaluating the reliability of hadith narrators). I have not found the Hanbalis to have a single commentary in the topic of comparative fiqh except that al-Qadi AbuYa‘la said:“I used to say, ‘what is it with the advocates of the madhhabs that they mention the variance of those who have opposing views but they do not bother to mention the views of Ahmad.’ Then, I forgave them, since we [Hanbalis] do not have a single commentary on fiqh,so, I wrote a commentary for them.”
[In spite of Abu Ya‘la’s attempts] in his commentary, he neither clarified what was  sahih (rigorously authenticated) nor did he express contention with the rejected [sayings]. He also mentioned some irregular analogies, and I witnessed one of our companions delivering a lesson while taking recourse to the commentaries of Istilam, As‘ad, ‘Amili, and Sharif while borrowing things from them [in spite of being unreliable sources].So, I composed some commentaries for them such as: Kitab al-Insaf fi masa‘il alKhilaf (“Impartiality About Matters of Disagreement”); Jannat al-Nazar wa Junnat al-Fatr (“Garden of Contemplation and Armor Against Fissure”) and ‘Umda al-Dala‘il fi Mashhur al-Masa‘il (“Reliance of All Proofs Regardingthe Popular View of All Issues”).Then I deemed it appropriate to gather the hadiths of the commentary (of Qadi Abu Ya‘la) by which the advocates of the different madhhabs present as proof, and I clarified the basis for that which is sound and the point of contention in that which has been contested. I then composed a book about the [H anbali]  madh-hab that incorporated these  hadiths, calling it  al-Baz al-Ashhab al-Munqadd ‘ala Mukhalifi al-Madhhab (“The Flaming Falcon Swooping Down on the Dissenters of the [Hanbali] School”).

In the science of the branches of fiqh, I wrote  Kitab al-Mudhhib fi al-Madhhab (“The Gilder Regarding the Madhhab”), Masbuk al-Dhahab (“Moulded Gold”) and  al-Bulgha (“The Means of Subsistence”). In the fundamentals of the religion, I wrote Minhaj al-Wusul ila ‘ilm al-Usul (“The Way of Reaching Knowledge of the Religious Fundamentals”). In total, so far I have written some 250 works.I have observed that some of our companions have written about matters of creed in a way that is not proper.There are three in particular:Abu ‘Abd Allahibn Hamid,  his disciple, Qadi AbuYa‘la, 4 and Ibn al-Zaghuni  who composed books by which they have disgraced the madhhab.They held the attributes ofGod to be subject to human understanding and perception.

They heard that God, Glorified and Exalted be He, created Adam on his image, upon him be blessing and peace.On that basis, they acknowledged for Him an image and a physical form, a face attributable to His essence, two eyes, a mouth, uvulas,molar teeth, and lights for His face which represent His majestic splendor, two hands, fingers, a palm, a little [pinky] finger, a thumb, a chest, a thigh, two shins, and two feet.

[They even went so far as saying]:

“We have not heard any mention of the head.” They [then] said:“It is possible for Him to touch and to be touched, and to bring the slave close to His being.” One of them said: “[…] He breathes.”Then they calm the common people by saying:“[These attributes] are not taken as commonly understood.”

They adopted the literal meanings of the names and ascriptions and called them  attributes—an invented designation, of which they have no evidence, neither from transmitted knowledge of the text, nor reason.They did not carefully consider those texts that divert one’s attention from adopting the literal meanings [of such expressions] to adopting those meanings that must necessarily apply to God, just as [they did not carefully consider] to negate the meanings implied by those literal expressions that are characteristics of finite beings.

They were not satisfied with saying,“[It is] an attribute of action” until they said,“[It is] an attribute of the [Divine] essence [ofGod].” Once they determined those [words] to be attributes, they said,“We do not understand them according to the usages they imply according to language” like hand for ‘blessing’ and ‘power’ and coming/arriving to mean ‘goodness’ and ‘kindness,’ nor shin to mean ‘severity.’” “Rather,” they said, “We hold and understand them according to their well-acknowledged literal meanings,”while the apparent and literal meaning is what is familiar of human characteristics.
But any text [of the Qur’an and Sunna] is only held according to its literal meaning when it is possible and feasible. If something would redirect or negate this being done, it is understood and held according to its figurative understanding. They then become offended when they are accused of likening God to His creation and show harshness towards anyone who says this to them, while in the same breath, insisting,“We are Ahl al-Sunna,” (Upholders of the Prophetic Tradition) although in their statements they are clearly likening God to His creation.

There are some common people that have begun to follow them and I have advised them by saying,“Companions! Brothers! You are the People who adhere to the texts and follow them.This was the example of your Imam, the Greatest Imam,Ahmad ibnHanbal, may God, Exalted be He, have mercy on him, who under pain of torture, proclaimed, ‘How can I say what has not been said before?’” So, take care not to introduce into

his madhhab what does not belong in it.Then, you [three] said about the hadiths [of attributes] “We hold them and understand them according to their apparent meanings,” while the apparent meaning of [this word] ‘the foot’ would be the human limb. This is the same thing as what is said and believed by the Christians,may God, Exalted be He, distance them from His mercy [for saying such], about Jesus, upon him be blessing and peace.

They understand that he is “God’s spirit” and that God, Sanctified and Exalted in Highness, has an attribute known as a spirit that entered into Mary. Whoever says, “He became established with His Divine essence” has made Him, Sanctified and Exalted is He, subject to reality, as we under-stand it.

It should not be neglected by anyone that the principle by which the faith is established is reason,  and it is by way of this [reason] that we came to know and hold God to be Eternal without beginning. If only you had said,“We read the hadiths, and [then] keep silent,” then no one would have objected to [what] you [do]! [But you refuse to abstain from holding the texts and understanding them according to the apparent meaning]  and this behavior is absolutely disgusting and repugnant.

So, do not introduce in the madh-hab of this rightoeus Salafi man what does not belong to it. You have made the madh-hab such a shameful disgrace that when it is said “Hanbali”, it is understood that he is someone who likens Allah to His creation. You have then made your way to be that of bigotry and intolerance, showing fanitical support for Yazid ibn Mu’awiyyah, when you know very well the founder of this madh-hab permitted cursing him. And Abu Muhammad Tamimi used to say about one of your Imaams that “[He] disgraced the madh-hab in a terrible way and it will not be cleansed until the Day of Resurrection”.

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