Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad Chapter. 1 – Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdasi – Sifaat Allah

Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad – The Luminance of the [Hanbali] Creed: The Creed of the Ahl us-Sunnah vol. 1

 

1.1 Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) Cannot Be Captured By Imagination

In the Name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate. All praise belongs to AllahHe is the praised in every language [2] and worshipped in every generation throughout time. There is no place devoid from His knowledge [what He does not know about]. He is never preoccupied over one affair from another [encompassing every affair in His Knowledge]. He is far exalted from having any resemblance, equals, or partners. He is free from having a wife and children. His rule has been passed regarding all of His servants [whether they belief or disbelief]. He cannot be represented by the use of the intellectual mind through reflection, nor can He be imagined with the use any self thought illustration. [3] Allah (سبحانه وتعالىsays in the Qur’an:

“There is nothing like Him, yet He is the all-Hearing, all-Seeing” [4]

1.2 The Istiwaa of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)

To Him belong the most beautiful Names, and the Highest Attributes [5]

“The Extremely Merciful is absolutely transcendent [6] over the Throne. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between, and whatever is under the soil, and whether you speak aloud; He knows the secret and what is more hidden” [7]

1.3 The Knowledge of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)

He encompasses everything with His Knowledge, and subdues all of His creation with His Power and Law, encompassing everything with His Infinite Mercy and Knowledge. [The evidence of this is as follows]:

“He knows what is before them and what is after them, [8] and they [the creation of Allah cannot encompass anything of His Knowledge]” [9]

1.4 The Ahl us-Sunnah & the Affirmation of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has described Himself with the descriptions contained within the Qur’an, and by what has been spoken upon the tongue of His Noble Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). It is incumbent [waajib] to believe in the Attributes of the All Merciful (سبحانه وتعالى) that are mentioned in the Qur’an and the authentic traditions of the chosen Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafaa (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

These [Attributes] are to be accepted whole heartedly with full submission, abandoning the acts of opposing them by rejection [rad], interpretation [taweel], deducing similarities [tashbeeh], or claiming that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is identical to His creation [tamtheel]. As for what appears to be ambiguous, we are obliged [being waajib] to make affirmation [of such Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)] leaving off any rejection to their meaning. [10] We are to consign its knowledge to its narrator, committing its authority to the transmitter, thereby following the path of those who are firmly grounded in knowledge. Those whom Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) speaks of in His clear book [in the following verse]:

“Those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say ‘We believe in it, all of it is with our Lord” [11]

 

On the other hand, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has said concerning those who seek to interpret the verses belonging to the unclear verses [Mutashaabihah] found within the tanzeel [revelation]:

“As for those that have deviation in their hearts, they seek the Mutashaabihah from it [the Qur’an] seeking to cause mischief [fitnah] by seeking to explain their interpretation and none knows their interpretation except for Allah”

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has made the practice of seeking the meaning of the Mutashaabihah amongst the signs of deviation [12]and has associated this practice with seeking to cause fitnah. Therefore, for this very reason, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has made this practice blameworthy. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has veiled such people from what they hope to obtain, and has cut them off from what they attempt to pursue. This can be seen from His saying:

“None knows their interpretation except Allah” [13]

1.5 The Creed of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (رحمه الله)

Imaam [of the Ahl us-Sunnah] Abu Abdullah Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal (رحمه الله) said regarding the sayings of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم):

“Indeed Allah (سبحانه وتعالىdescends to the lowest heaven” [14] and: “Indeed Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will be seen on the day of resurrection”:

“Whatever is similar from the Ahaadeeth, we are to believe in them and to give confirmation of them, without giving modality [saying how], and without giving a meaning to them, [15] and we do not say anything [we should not say] about them. [16] We know that which has been related to us by the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as being true. We do not make refutations upon what the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has said. Nor do we describe Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) with more than what He has described for Himself without limits and without going to extremities for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has said in the Qur’an:

“There is nothing like Him, yet He is the all-Hearing, all-Seeing”  [17]

We only say the likeness of what He has said, and we describe Him only with what He has described Himself with, and we do not overstep, nor do we exaggerate regarding the description of His Attributes. We believe in the Qur’an, and all of itsMuhkamaat and Mutashaabihaat. We do not abandon any Attribute amongst His Attributes, even if somebody was to associate a negative connotation with any of His Attributes.[18] We do not overstep whatever is revealed in the Qur’an or through the Ahaadeeth, and we do not know the modality of any of these Attributes. We do affirmation believing in the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and whatever has been revealed to us by the Qur’an”

1.6 The Creed of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ (رحمه الله)

Imaam Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idrees ash-Shaafi’ (رحمه الله) said:

“I believe in Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and what has come to us from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) however Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) intends them, and I believe in the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and what has come to us from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) however the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) intended their meaning” [19]

This is the way of the Salaf, and the Imaams of the Khalaf (رضي الله عنهم). All of them unanimously agree upon the confirmation of these evidences belonging to what is found regarding the Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) with the book of Allah [the Qur’an], and the Sunnah of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) without opposing them with doing ta’weel. Verily, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) commanded us to follow authority [being the transmissions from himself, passed down to us by his blessed companions (رضي الله عنهم)] closely adhering to their light and guidance.

1.7 The Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) Caution Against Innovation

The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also cautioned us against new invented matters and he has informed us that they lead to misguidance. This can be seen from the following hadeeth of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in which he said:

“Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided [20] Khalifahs (رضي الله عنهم) that come after me. Bite upon it with your molar teeth [nawaakhidh] and beware of newly invented matters [in creed, and actions] for certainly every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a misguidance” [21]

1.8 Ibn Mas’ud’s (رضي الله عنه) Caution Against Innovations

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه) said:

“Adhere [to the Sunnah] and do not innovate, indeed you have already been sufficed” [22]

1.9 ‘Umar ibn Abd ul-Aziz’s Advice Concerning Bidah

Umar ibn Abd ul-Aziz (رضي الله عنه) [23] said [to the nearest meaning]:

“Stop where the people [24] have stopped for they stopped out of knowledge, knowing full well that they could never penetrate such knowledge. Had they any such authority, then such knowledge would have been disclosed and unveiled for them, solely because  they are the strongest by favour [with their Lord] and indeed they are the most reliable and authentic in their creed. Anything new in creedal matters that was recorded after them is simply concocted by those who are in direct opposition to the guidance of the early scholars of the Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. They have desired another way other than the traditional path of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah[25]. Indeed, the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah has perfectly described the creed and has spoken about it sufficiently.  [26] Whatever exceeds them not from theAhl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, and whatever falls short is nothing but negligence, and as a result they have fallen short of the Ahl us-Sunnah.  Likewise, those who overstepped them and went to the extreme have also exited the Ahl us-Sunnah. Whereas, the early generations, The Companions, the Tabi’een and the Tabi’ Tabi’een (رضي الله عنهم) kept to the straight path, the path of guidance, the middle path which is between those who have fallen short and those who overstepped” [27]

1.10 Imaam Abu Umar al-Awzaa’i (رحمه الله) & Sincerity towards the Truth of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)

Imaam Abu Umar al-Awzaa(رحمه الله) said:

“It is obligatory upon you to stick with the Athaari narrations from the Salaf even if mankind reject you, and beware of the opinions of men even if they decorate their speech [with a fine display of articulate words] in order to impress you”[28]

1.11 Muhammad bin Abdur-Rahmaan al-Adrami’s (رحمه الله) Refutation of a Mutazilite [29]

Muhammad bin Abdur-Rahmaan al-Adrami (رحمه الله) said to a man[30]:

“You have addressed the people with an innovation and have called them towards it, thereby promoting it, however, did the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan and Ali (رضي الله عنهم) know of this affair, or did they not know of this affair?

The man then said in reply:

“They did not know of this affair”.

Muhammad bin Abdur-Rahmaan (رحمه الله) further asked:

“So you know something that they did not know?”

The man replied saying:

“Indeed I only say they must have known it” [31]

‘Abdur-Rahmaan (رحمه اللهresponded:

“So it sufficed them yet they did not speak about it? Nor did they invite the people to believe in it, or were they not sufficed?”

The innovator then said:

“No, but rather they was sufficed”

Muhammad ‘Abdur-Rahmaan (رحمه الله) concluded:

“So this matter that sufficed the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his rightly guided Khalifahs (رضي الله عنهم) and yet it did not suffice you?”

The man was silenced by the reply of ‘Abdur-Rahmaan (رحمه الله). Upon hearing this, the Khalifah (رحمه الله) said:

“May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) not suffice whoever is not sufficed with what the Salaf was sufficed. Whoever is not sufficed with what sufficed the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions, the Tabi’een, the righteous Imaams that came after them (رضي الله عنهم), those who are firmly grounded in knowledge, and who followed in their way with true perfection, who recites the ayaat that give mention to Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Mutashaabihah Attributes, who read their information, and then pass them as they came, then may Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) suffice these people.”

1.12 Evidences from the Qur’an Concerning the Mutashaabihah Attributes

From what has been revealed to us in the passages containing Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes is His saying:

“Only the Face of your Lord, possessor of Might and Glory shall remain” [32]

“Rather His Hands are outstretched” [33]

And regarding His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying in which He informed us of the future statement of Jesus (عليه السلام):

“You know what is in me, where as I do not know what is in You” [34]

Regarding Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) word in which He said:

“And your Lord shall come” [35]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying:

“Do they not wait until Allah comes to them?” [36]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying:

“Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him” [37]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying:

“He loves them and they love Him” [38]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying about the disbelievers:

“Allah is angry with them” [39]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying:

“They follow what annoys Allah” [40]

His (سبحانه وتعالى) saying:

“Allah dislikes their marching forth” [41]

1.13 Evidences from the Ahaadith Concerning the Mutashaabihah Attributes

The evidences from the Sunnah are as follows:

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Our Lord descends every night to the skies of this world” [42]

In another narration the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid:

“Your Lord admires about a young man that he is devoid of any childishness or foolishness” [43]

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also said:

“Allah laughs at two men who killed one another and thereafter enters the Paradise” [44]

1.14 The Ahl us-Sunnah & Affirmation of Mutashaabihah Qur’an & Ahaadeeth

We believe in any matching narrations and we do not deny them. Nor do we negate them. Nor do we interpret them with any interpretation that differs from its prima facie[45]. We do not draw any similarity between the Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and the attributes of the created. Nor do we strike any resemblance using hand movements, facial expressions when explaining these hadeeth. And we know that nothing resembles Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has said in the Qur’an:

“There is nothing like Him, yet He is the all-Hearing, all-Seeing”  [46]

Anything and everything what you can imagine or will imagine in the mind, or whatever one has thought, then Allah(سبحانه وتعالى) is different from it. [47]

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) also said in the Qur’an:

“The Merciful is absolutely transcendent over the Arsh” [48]

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) also said in the Qur’an:

“Do you feel secure from He who is absolutely transcendent over the heavens?” [49]

The Prophet of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“Our Lord is Allah Who is absolutely transcendent over the heavens, holy is Your Name” [50]

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to a servant girl belonging to his neighbour: “Where is Allah?” [51] She replied:  “absolutely transcendent above  the heavens [fi as-Samaa’a]” Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to her owner:“Set her free, for indeed she is a true Muslim believer” [52] [also see footnote[53]]

The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid to Hussain:[54] “How many deities do you worship?” He replied: “Seven! Six in the earth and one above the heavens” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then asked him another question: “Which one do you turn to when you feel frightened or terrified or have a need to be fulfilled?” The man said:  “He who is above the heavens” So the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Abandon the six and worship He who is absolutely transcendent above the heavens and I will teach you two supplications” Upon hearing this from the Messenger of Allah the man then embraced Islam and learnt from the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) the following supplication:

“O Allah inspire me and guide me and protect me from the evilness of my soul” [55]

In respect to what is said about the signs of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions (رضي الله عنهم) in the previous scriptures:

“Indeed they are those who prostrate in the earth and they say their deity is above the heavens” [56]

Abu Dawud (رحمه اللهnarrated in his Sunan that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid:

“Indeed what is between the heaven and another heaven is the distance of so and so…”

Then he mentioned the following:

“And over that is the Arsh and Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is absolutely transcendent above that” [57]

These and other similar reports have been accepted and unanimously agreed upon by the Salaf upon their conveyance [how they have come]. They did not reject them nor refute them. Nor did they seek to explain them. Nor did they anthropomorphise them. Nor did they give them any likeness.

Imaam Maalik bin Anas (رضي الله عنه) was asked:

“O Abdullah, the Qur’an says that the Merciful did Istiwaa over the Arsh. My question is how exactly did Allah do Istiwaa?”

In reply to this, Imaam Maalik (رضي الله عنهsaid:

“[the term] al-Istiwaa is [linguistically] known, yet the modality [al-kayf] is not understood. To believe in it is obligatory and asking questions concerning it is innovation”.[58]

The Imaam (رضي الله عنهthen ordered for the man to be escorted out.


[1] All praise belongs to Allah (سبحانه وتعالىknowing that we cannot praise Him enough. Even if we did a million years worth of perfect worship, it would never weigh out justly upon the scales justly against His infinite bounties and kindness He continuously displays to His creation.

[2] Lisaan has been translated as language instead of tongue as it is used as a synonym in the ‘Arabic language. For example the ‘Arabs would say that they speak the “tongue of ‘Arabic”.

[3] This statement from the very beginning negates any type of anthropomorphic or metaphorical thinking, as our created minds can never give a just estimation to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) with our thoughts, speech, or even our actions. Allah(سبحانه وتعالى) is above our limited imaginations.

[4] Ash-Shura (42), ayah No. 11.

[5] English readers may see the act of giving the nouns names, and attributes in this sentence as being grammatically wrong. However, we are discussing beliefs in which it is the belief of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah to believe that the Names and Attributes are uncreated and are of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالىessence and actions, thus, when speaking of Allah’s(سبحانه وتعالى) Names and Attributes we respectfully capitalize them.

[6] The Istiwaa has been mentioned approximately eight times in the Qur’an. See 2:29; 7:54; 10:3; 13:2; 20:5; 25:59; 32:4; 57:4.

The first and foremost Mufasir [exegete] and cousin of the Prophet, Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنهsaid about the verses mentioning the Istiwaa of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى): “It is from the Mutashaabihah, which cannot nor will not be explained”Tanweer ul-Miqbaas, 20:5 

The blessed wife of the Prophet, Umm Salmah (رضي الله عنهاsaid regarding the Istiwaa, “The modality [al-kayf] cannot be comprehended, and the Istiwaa is not unknown. To accept it is obligatory [waajib], and to totally deny it is blasphmemy [kufr]. – This hadeeth has a Saheeh isnaad and has also been mentioned by Imaam Maalik (رحمه الله) in reply to somebody who asked about the nature of Istiwaa which can be located in Shaykh Abdul Qaadir al-Jilaani’s Aqaa’id ul-Firq ul-Islamiyah, al-Ghunyaa, vol.1, p. 124; Ibn Hajar’s, Fath al-bari 13:406-407Lisaan ul-Arabi, Vol. 3, p. 446; al-Bayhaqi’s al-Asma was-Sifaat, p. 408 and has been classified as Saheeh by Imaam adh-Dhahabi in his Mukhtasar al’-‘Uluw, p. 141, Hadeeth no. 131

Imaam Abu Hanifah (رحمه الله) said, “Had He been in a place and in need to sit and rest before creating the Throne, then the question “Where was Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)” would have applied to Him, which is impossible…We [the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah] confirm that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is established over His Throne without His need [haja] nor settlement [Istiqrar] upon it, for it is He who preserves the Throne and His creation [the heavens, the sky, etc] without needing any of them” –al-Wasiyyah

Imaam Shaafi’ (رحمه اللهsaid regarding the Istiwaa, “This passage [from the Qur’an] is from the Mutashaabihah concerning which one is perplexed to give an answer, and the same can be said regarding similar passages” – Imaam Shaafi’s al-Fiqh ul-Akbar, p. 17

Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (رحمه اللهsaid just before he passed away, “The information of the Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is to be accepted just as they came without any anthropomorphism, and without any denial” – Mentioned in ShaykhAbdul Qaadir al-Jilaani’s Aqaa’id ul-Firq ul-Islamiyah, al-Ghunyaa, vol.1, p. 124.

Shaykh Abdul Qaadir al-Jilaani (رحمه الله) says about the Istiwaa, “The Attribute of the Istiwaa should be expressed without any interpretation. For indeed it is the absolute transcendence  over the Arsh. Not upon the meaning of sitting nor physical contact as the Mujassimah and Karaamiyah [the anthropomorphists] have said, nor is it upon the meaning of highness and exaltation as the Ashariyah have suggested, nor is it upon the meaning of control and domination as the Mu’tazilahhave said. This is simply because the Shariah has not told us of such nor has these interpretations come from anybody from the Sahaabah, the Tabi’een, from the righteous Salaf, nor from the people of hadeeth…” Ibid

Imaam Ibn Katheer (رحمه الله) says in his tafseer regarding the Istiwaa “The safest way is the path of the Salaf which was to pass by whatever is narrated in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, without enquiring into their modality, without distorting [the meaning], without anthropomorphizing [any of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes] by striking a similarity, or without rejecting them, or giving any likeness to them. Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 7:54 & 20:5

The word Istiwaa has many meanings. It can refer to the act of settling, power, establishment, exaltedness, and can even be used in day to day Arabic to say that food is cooked and ready.

We may know the meaning of al-Istiwaa in the Arabic language, however to say that we know the reality of the meaning when the word Istiwaa applied to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) would be to say that we can understand the modality [the how] which is impossible. As explained further in many places in this text, we are to accept the Istiwaa as Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) intended it. Our human intellect cannot reach or grasp this knowledge, thus the position of the Hanbalis is to consign the knowledge to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) [this is absolute tafweed]

[7] Surah Taahaa (20), ayahs 5-7

[8] If any translator was to translate this ayah literally, it would read “He knows what is between their hands and what is after them” and would have been rendered unintelligible to the English reader. Therefore it has been purposely mistranslated as such to preserve the meaning of how the Arabs would have understood it, owing to the fact this sentence regarding the mention of “their hands” is idiomatic.

[9] Surat ul-Baqarah (2) ayah 255

[10] This in no way means that if one is to accept the meaning of some of the Mutashaabihah Attributes that he believes that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has a form, location or even body parts. To say this would be to believe that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is with a physical body and limbs. We Seek refuge in Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) from such a belief and we seek refuge in Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) from the fitnah and false accusations of others.

[11] Surah al-Imraan (3), ayah 7

[12] The blessed wife of the Prophet, Mother of the believers, ‘A’isha (رضي الله عنها) reports that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)recited this verse (Surat ul-Imraan, ayah 7) and then said, “When you see those people who pursue that which isMutashaabihah in the Qur’an, those are the people that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has named, so avoid them”. Collected in Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us-Sunnah, hadeeth no. 4598

 

[14] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), hadeeth no. 9592, Saheeh al-Bukhaari, vol. 3,Kitaab ut-Tahhajud, hadeeth no. 1145 and also in Saheeh al-Muslim, vol. 3, Kitaab Salaat us-Musafirren, hadeeth no. 758 and is classified as Saheeh [authentic].

[15] Wa la manaa– without meaning – not to give them a meaning other than it its prima facie, nor to delve further into the prima facie to the point it implies anthropomorphism. We affirm Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Mutashaabihah Attributes, such as Hands, Face, etc, and we pass them by leaving them as they are.  We do not give meaning to them in that we say Allah’s(سبحانه وتعالى) Hand means power, or Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Face means His pleasure. The fact of the matter is only Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) knows their true meaning and modality. To enter the realm of speculative theology on such issues could possibly lead to loss of faith and one can either become a anthropomorphist or one can deny one of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes altogether. Both positions are very dangerous for ones salvation. The way of the Ahl ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaaah is the middle way, the safe way, the way that is secure, and that is to accept the Attributes mentioned ayaat from the Qur’an and the Sunnah and to attribute all knowledge to Allah.

[16] We are just to repeat what is mentioned in the Qur’an and Ahaadeeth and leave of any commentary, interpretations, arguments, questions, etc.

[17] Ash-Shura (42), ayah No. 11

[18] Like the people of argumentation do. They will set up false arguments in attempt to suggest that the Creed of Imaam Ahmad Bin Hanbal (رحمه الله) is anthropomorphic due to the negative connotations concocted by some pseudo Hanbalis. It is true that the Hanbali School of Creed affirms Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes such as His Hands, but to argue that believing that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has hands is to say that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) has limbs, or physical body parts is highly fallacious. There was no such thing as a limb before creation existed, and Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is the Eternal and always has been. All of His Attributes are Eternal always been. It is a horrendous charge to be accused of such an Attribution to Allah(سبحانه وتعالى). True Hanbalis say no such thing. It is indeed the people of argumentation that have concocted such dangerous arguments.

[19] This statement of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ (رحمه الله) serves as a proof that we do not know the modality and meaning of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes. We may know the linguistic meaning of the word hand, face and accept them upon their prima facie [zaahir], however we do not know how and what Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) means by His Mutashaabihah, nor do we ask, for Allah (سبحانه وتعالىsays:

“Indeed Allah is not shy to strike a parable of something as small as a mosquito. Those who believe know that it is the Truth from their Lord. However, those who disbelieve, they say: “What does Allah mean by such a parable? With this He misleads many, and many He guides thereby.  He misleads thereby Only those who are al-faasiqun, i.e. rebellious trouble makers”. Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 26.

Had anybody been privy to such information concerning Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes, it would have been the Companions of the Messenger (رضي الله عنهم). However, if there are no narrations from them that explain certain Attributes, then this leaves us with no choice to accept them as they are, and consign all knowledge to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and His Messenger and however they intended them. Moreover, the mentioned passage and it’s context from Surat ul-Baqarah is speaking about something as little a fruit, so imagine the severity in regards to bickering over Allah’s Divine Attributes. If Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) misguides a person who seeks the meaning of Mutashaabihah fruits then what about a person seeking the meaning of Allah’s Mutashaabihah Attributes? With this said, the safest position is to accept the Attributes as they came and refrain from seeking its meaning, consigning all knowledge to Allah.

[20] Rightly guided has been used but not with the intent of past tense as the mentioned Khulaafah (رضي الله عنهم) are always guided and passed away upon nothing but guidance. Those who took the right way would be a more respectful and suitable translation, however I have left it for easy comprehension.

[21] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad narrated by al-‘Irbaad Bin Saariyah, hadeeth no. 17145, Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us-Sunnah, hadeeth no. 4607 Imaam Nawawi’s Forty Hadeeth, hadeeth no. 28; and is classified as a Saheeh hadeeth.

[22] This can be found in Imaam Bayhaqi’s al-Madkhal, no. 387-388. We have already been sufficed as Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)has already completed al-Islam, and has made it perfect. Therefore there is nothing that can be added to it to make it better as the Deen is already complete. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) said in the Qur’an in no uncertain terms:

“This Day have I perfected your Religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam As your religion” – Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah. 3

This verse is the ultimate proof that our system of beliefs [Itiqaad], and ways of worship have been fully explained and shown by the way of the Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the rightly guided Khulaafah (رضي الله عنهم). Therefore there is no new belief to be added within the creed, nor there any new way of performing the prayer, etc. However, social customs that do not violate the Shariah are allowed as long as they are not made into a religious practice that is then forced upon the people by violence, social boycotting, or emotional blackmail, or that it is used merely as an excuse to witch-hunt the “hypocrites” as some evil people do in this day of age. One this is done, the social custom then becomes abid’ah sayiat – an evil innovation on the part of that individual. This is not to say a social custom becomes and evil innovation in whole because of the misguidance of one person, but much caution should be taken, one should question his intention, etc. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will reward those according to their intention as seen in Surat ul-Hadeed, ayah 27 and the Sunnah of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) never changes. Also see the appendix regarding this subject at the back of the book.

[23] ‘Umar bin ‘Abd ul-’Aziz bin Marwan al-Qurayshi: Born and raised in Madinah and also Khalifah of Islam, givenKhilaafah in 99 AH

[24] Ibn Qudaamah (رحمه الله) is speaking of the Salaf (رضي الله عنهم) and their methodology.

[25] Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says  in the Qur’an about such people:

“Whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the Right Path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the way of the believers, then, We shall keep him in the Path He has chosen, and burn him in hell, and what an evil destination.” Surat un-Nisaa’a (4), ayah 115

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) save us all from this and keep us upon the Sunnah.

[26] Major parts of this paragraph has been purposely mistranslated as if it was translated literally we would find too many personal pronouns in which the “they” being spoken of in a negative light would too easily be confused with the “they” that are spoken of in a positive light, this would have rendered it unintelligible and confusing to the English reader. Therefore I have used the title Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah to denote the people of the right path whenever appropriate.

[27] Imaam Ibn Qudaamah (رحمه الله) also mentions this in his work “al-Burhaan fi Bayaan il-Qur’an”. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali(رحمه الله) also mentions this in his “Fadl ul-ilm us-Salaf”.

[28] Al-Bayhaqi’s al-Madkhal no. 228

[29] Mu’tazilte: Somebody who holds the belief that the Qur’an is created. The Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah is in consensus in saying that such a person has disbelieved in the Eternal Speech of Allah. More will be said of this in following chapters.

[30] His name was Ahmad bin Abu Dawud, who initiated the fitnah and one of the greatest, if not the greatest innovation in claiming the Qur’an was created.

[31] Speculative theology

[32] Surat ul-Rahmaan (55), ayah 27

[33] Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah 64

[34] Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah 116

[35] Surat ul-Fajr (89), ayah 22

[36] Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 210

[37] Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah 119

[38] Surat ul-Maa’idah (5), ayah 54

[39] Surat ul-Mujaadilah (58), ayah 14

[40] Surat ul-Muhammad (47), ayah 28

[41] Surat ul-Tawbah (9), ayah 46

[42] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), hadeeth no. 9592

[43] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, Narrated by ‘Uqbah Bin ‘Aamir al-Juhami (رضي الله عنه), hadeeth no. 17371

[44] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad, Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) Hadeeth no. 7326; Saheeh al-Bukhaari, vol. 6,Kitaab ul-Jihaad, hadeeth no. 2826, and its Isnaad is Saheeh.

[45] The meaning of Zaahir: The most suitable translation for “Zaahir” or it’s plural form “Zawaahir” in the context of creed and any discourse regarding Allah’s Mutashaabihah Attributes is “prima facie” which means that whenever there is a word that can have more than one meaning, it is to accept the to accept the word on its first appearance. However, with saying this, this also means that the word can have another possible application [mu’awwal], but it is not used and isZaahir by default due to the lack of evidence. The Salaf left of giving alternative interpretations to the Attributes of Allah(سبحانه وتعالىfor this very reason. This does not mean that the Attributes are literal.

Imaam Muwaffaq Ibn Qudaamah (رحمه الله) said:  “The Zaahir is what comes to the understanding upon its expression, with a given possibility of another meaning in which one of them is more obvious than the other” Rawdat un-Naazir 2/25. Imaam Muwaffaq Ibn Qudaamah (رحمه اللهfurther said, “The madh-hab of the Salaf is to have faith in the Names and Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالىin which He has described Himself with in His revelation, and upon the tongue of His blessed Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) without taking or adding to the creed nor taking anything away from it, nor exceeding the limits, nor giving an explanation of interpretation which differs from its zaahir. There is absolutely no likening the Attributes of Allah with the attributes of creation…the Muhaditheen [people of Ahaadeeth and their respective sciences] passed them by as they came…The Salaf knew that the Speaker is truthful without any doubt in His truthfulness. They believed in Him, and they did not know the reality of the meaning [haqeeqatan ma’nahaa]. Thus they kept quiet about what they did not know” –Dham ut-Ta’weel.

Al-Khattabi (رحمه اللهsaid “The madh-hab of the Salaf in regards to the Attributes of Allah is to affirm them as they are, upon their zaahir, whilst negating any anthropomorphism or any likeness to creation, and without asking how”  – Imaam Dhababi’s Mukhtasar al-Uluw, p. 257/no. 311; Imaam al-Bayhaqi’s al-Asmaa was-Sifaat, vol. 2, p.198

Al-Khaatib al-Baghdaadi (رحمه الله) said, “As for any speech regarding the Attributes of Allah and regarding that which is authentically related about them in the Sunnah, then the way of the Salaf was to accept them as they are upon theirzaahir”. – al-Kalaam  ala as-Sifat, pp.12-20

Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (رحمه الله) said, “The hadeeth, accordinng to our school, are to be accepted upon their Zaahirjust as they came from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and engaging in argumentation about them is innovation. Again, we are to believe in them just as they came upon their zaahir and we do not engage in debates with anybody”. Imaam AhmadUsul us-Sunnah, see Appendix I, p. 112. To reiterate these points:

  1. a. The Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) are to be accepted upon their zaahir, i.e. prima facie
  2. b. It is possible that the Attributes of Allah may have metaphorical meanings, but yet these are only known to Allah, and according to the school of Imaam Ahmad Bin Hanbal (رحمه اللهthere is no discussion or speculation about their possible meanings, they are simply left alone
  3. c. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never explained the Attributes of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), as they were not relevant to his mission, nor to the salvation of humanity as Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) will not question us about His Attributes
  4. d. Given the lack of evidence, it is zaahir by default, and not to suggest literalism which indeed would be anthropomorphism
  5. e. With the lack of evidence nobody can give a just interpretation
  6. f. We are to believe in them wholeheartedly without suggesting any anthropomorphism [tashbeeh]
  7. g. Nor can any of Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى) Attributes be likened to His creation [tamtheel]
  8. h. Even though the Salaf knew the meaning of the word in their language, they did not know the reality of the meaning, therefore they kept quiet
  9. i. The excellence of keeping quiet about such subjects
  10. j. We are not to ask how or argue or debate about such subjects as it is the greatest of innovations

One may find that many creedal texts of modern date renders anybody who takes Allah’s Attributes on their prima facie [zaahir] as an anthropomorphist, however this is not always the case and one must not be hasty in arriving at such conclusions. Imaam Ghazali (رحمه اللهsaid: “…Others have (…resorted to…) barring all figurative interpretation, among them Ahmad Ibn Hanbal who even forbade metaphorical interpretation of Allah’s words…one should believe of Ahmad bin Hanbal is that he knew that Allah’s ‘establishment on the Throne’ did not consist of being at rest, any more than His ‘coming down’ consisted of physical motion, but rather he forbade figurative interpretation in order to close the discussion in the interests of the people, for once the door is opened, the rift widens and the matter gets out of control, exceeding the bounds of moderation and since what is beyond the moderate is without limits, there is no harm in sternly warning against figurative interpretation, a position that is attested to by the behavior of the early Muslims [the Salaf], who used to say, “Accept such things as they have come.” [upon their prima facie [zaahir], consigning the knowledge of them to the back to Allah and His Messenger!]”. See Imaam Ghazali’s Ihyaa Ulum ud-Deen and Reliance of the Traveler, pgs 853-855.

[46] Surah ash-Shura (42), ayah No. 11

[47] Our imagination, thoughts, ideas are themselves created, so how can one even imagine the Creator who is uncreated?

[48] Surat ul-Taahaa (20), ayah 5

[49] Surat ul-Mulk (67), ayah 16

[50] Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab u-Tabba, hadeeth no. 3892

[51] The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) asked this question to determine the faith of the servant girl, and to demonstrate a point. This question should not be used by anybody else to determine the faith of those who are already Muslim! None of the Salaf i.e. the Sahaabah, the students of the Sahaabah, or the foundational scholars of creed or jurisprudence made this line of questioning a condition to determine a person’s faith, for who has already stated the shahaadah is to be considered a Muslim.

[52] Imaam Maalik’s al-Muwatta, vol. 2, hadeeth no.1511;  Saheeh al-Muslim, vol. 3, Kitaab ul-Masjid, hadeeth no.  537; Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us-Salaah, hadeeth no.  930

[53] The Hanbali position in regards to this hadeeth is to have faith in it, without any discussion that may lead to delving into its meaning. We affirm it, and leave it alone as it is and Allah and His Messenger certainly know best.

[54] He is Hussain, Ibn ‘Ubaid al-Jazaari (رضي الله عنه), he embraced Islam. Not to be confused with the Prophet’s blessed grandson (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Ibn Qudaamah also mentions this in his al-‘Uluuw section 19

[55] Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitaab ud-Da’awaah, hadeeth no.  3483.

[56] This is mentioned in a poetical supplication in the book of Psalms 57.

[57] Musnad of Imaam Ahmad narrated by al-Abbas Bin ‘Abdul Mutalib, hadeeth no.1770; Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitaab us-Sunnah, hadeeth nos. 4723; 4724; 4725; Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitaab ut-Tafseer ul-Qur’an, hadeeth no.3320; Sunan Ibn Maajah, Kitaab ul-Muqaddamah, hadeeth no. 193.

[58] The Istiwaa has already been discussed on p. 23.

Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad – The Luminance of the [Hanbali] Creed: The Creed of the Ahl us-Sunnah vol. 1

By Imaam Muwaffaq ud-Deen Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdasi/ rendered into English by Abu Muhammad Ibraheem

The Author of this text is Imaam Muwaffaq ud-Deen Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdasi, d.620 A profound scholar of the traditional Hanbali madh-hab, Direct student of Shaykh ‘Abdul Qaadir al-Jilaani, and Defender of Jerusalem under the leadership of Saladin al-Ayyubi.

The Holy Prophet [saw] said: “Adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khalifahs that come after me. Bite upon it with your molar teeth [nawaakhidh] and beware of newly invented matters, for certainly every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a misguidance”

Ibn Qudaamah highlights the creed of the Ahl us-Sunnah as refutes the innovations of those who have gone astray. This book “Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad” i.e. the Luminance of Creed, serves as a guiding light to the correct path, the path of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah.

This book has dedicated chapters regarding Allah’s Mutashaabihah Attrubutes and the approach of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah regarding them, The Qur’an being the Eternal uncreated Speech of Allah, The Believers vision of Allah on Yawm ul-Qiyaamah, Imaan and what it consists of, the rights of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wasallam, and the excellence of the Sahaabah radyAllah anhum.

This book also holds Imaam Ahmad Bin Hanbal’s treatise on creed Usul us-Sunnah which is along the very same lines of Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad.

As a extra bonus chapters there are four appendices:

1. Who are the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah

2. Regarding the Ash’aris and Maturidis

3. The Understanding Bid’ah According to Traditional Islam

4. Following a Madh-hab

This book is a valuable contribution deserving to be read by every Muslim [and non-Muslim] sincerely interested in traditional Muslim creed.

The book can be purchased here

2 Responses to Lum’at ul-I’tiqaad Chapter. 1 – Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdasi – Sifaat Allah

  1. Abdullah says:

    Salam, I know the hanbali’s don’t go into ta’weel, but some of the verses and Hadith you have quoted have been translated literally. But, when “coming”, “descending”, “laughing”, and others are attributed to Allah, they have no such acceptable definition in the English language (so it can’t be used to Allah), unlike the Arabic words for them – which the original Arabic words do (have other acceptable meanings). Imam Ahmad used to believe in the nuzool of Allah without any likeness, but when someone translates it to “descend”, and tries to say “Allah descends without any similarity”, it doesn’t make sense (or shows they don’t know what the word descend means), because descending, no matter what definition one chooses for it, it doesn’t apply to Allah. Likewise, with “coming”, “laughing”, and others.

    • Wa alaykum as-Salam, as you do in the Arabic language, you also do likewise with the English language. We also have a term that befits the Zaahir, and that is prima facie. The first meaning of the word does not necessarally take the meaning of the of the first application, with prima facie, there are other possible meanings. Eg. the time is coming, coming of age, he is coming out of the closet, he is coming to the truth, and many other figurative statements that inform us that just the word coming may have secondary and third meanings. Therefore the principle used in the Arabic is again used in the English, and there is not any rule to suggest the translation is wrong, nor any evidence whatsoever to say I have translated literally. This is something [without offence intended] that is in your own mind. Wa as-Salaam

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