THE LAST ENCOUNTER

BETWEEN ISLAM AND
IDOLATRY

Being an article on
TRANSCENDENCE AND ITS
ANTITHESIS:
ANTHROPOMOPHISM

By Muh hh hammad William Charles



~-=;-' .-=;-' =' ~~-
.-·-=' ^-=~: ^-' _--: ~-;--' ^-:~; _-- ~>~-': ->~-': .---'·-' ~; = --=-':

Hallowed is He, Who created the worlds−from cells to galaxies−out of naught in order
to declare the infinite majesty of His transcendence. I seek peace and blessings on the
guide of mankind, Muhammad, the illustrious scion of Abraham, the pride of Adam,
the last of the prophets, the destroyer of unbelief, idolatry and illusion, the proclaimer
of the final word and message from the Lord of Creation, the revealer of miraculous
wisdom, the describer of things that have been and things that will come, the warner to
mankind of a judgement hard on the mongers of falsehood. There is no power and no
ability except in Allah, and I ask His help to expound with lucidity the meaning of His
transcendence.

Introduction Introduction Introduction Introduction

The learned shaikh. Ibrähïm al-Bäjürï. may Alläh Ilood his grave with oceans oI light. wrote the
preceding treatise some one hundred and IiIty years ago. II he had known what aberration was
to Iill the earth aIter him. he would not have contented himselI when mentioning the incompara-
bility oI Alläh with merely saying: 'He. exalted is He. is utterly incomparable: He has not hand.
nor eye. nor ear. nor any other originated quality.¨ In a normal Islamic environment that much
may have been suIIicient. or at least Ior beginners. but we have entered times which are ex-
tremely abnormal-there is a dire need Ior elaboration.
Everywhere ignorant sectarians. who set themselves up sanctimoniously as the true and
learned representatives oI the Orthodox Community; that is. Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah. are
beguiling the IaithIul and persuading them that in order to be believers they have to Iollow the
outward and literal meaning oI allegorical texts (al-mutashäbihät / -'+-'~-~¹'). They maintain that
Alläh is physically sitting on the Throne. or hovering somewhere above it. which means oI ne-
cessity that He is located in the sky literally. and that He is describable by direction. and has a
limit in the direction oI the Throne. and that He moves about in the heavens. Not only are these
consequences things which they admit. but things which they insist upon. Indeed. with them it
has become the test oI belieI is the question: 'Where is ask where is Alläh?¨ Those who answer
that He is in the sky are believers; whereas. those who answer otherwise are unbelievers. But
High and Holy is He. the Ialse things that they ascribe to Him do not impair His incomparable
majesty. Eurthermore. they insist that He has two hands which He extends and clasps. and two
eyes with which He sees. The blasphemous implication oI their assertions is that He. exalted is
He. is compounded and has parts. Similarly. they insist that He physically laughs and literally
speaks. and so on. In short. they are calling the people oI Isläm to the anthropomorphism oI the
Christians and the Jews; beguiling the Muslims to renounce their pristine transcendent perspec-
tive and stoop to compare the Incomparable. Indeed. it would seem that the last oI the Iive great
trials (Iitan) which the Prophet promised this nation (ummah)
1
has descended on it-the trial

1
I am reIerrring to a hadïth |a report ascribed to the Prophet with an authentic chain oI narration
(sanad)| which Shaikh al-Isläm Ibn Hajr (d. 852 / 1449; Cairo) mentioned in his Eath al-Bärï (Beirut. Där
al-Eikr. n.d.). p. 49; vol. 13. saying that it was transmitted by the Iamous compiler oI hadïth (muhaddith)
Ibn Abï Shaibah (d. 235 / 849 ): 'Alläh has prepared Iive trials Ior this nation (ummah).¨ The hadïth
mentioned Iour oI them then it said: 'Then will come a trial which will toss about |literally. make waves
Arabic: tamüj / -·~-| like the tossing oI the sea.¨ Ibn Hajr supposes that what this hadïth reIers to is what
prompted the Prince oI the Muhaddithün. Imäm al-Bukhärï (d. 256 / 870; Khartank. Samarkand) to name
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
3
which he said 'would toss about like the tossing oI the sea.¨
2
Ior it has rocked the very Cita-
del oI Transcendence on Earth. Shaikh al-Isläm Ibn Hajr stated that in this last trial the people
will be mindless like animals. and he adduced to this eIIect the hadïth (a report oI the saying oI
the Prophet ) oI the Companion Abü Müsä that that trial 'will take away the minds oI most oI
the people oI that time.¨ Then he reIerred to the hadïth reported by an early compiler oI hadïth
(muhaddith) Abü Bakr Ibn Abi Shaibah (d. 235 / 849 ): 'Trial |which is in the Iorm oI punishment
or pogrom| can not harm you as long as you know your religion; the real trial is that wherein you
can not distinguish between truth and Ialsehood (al-bätil).¨ REEER TO THE REEER TO THE REEER TO THE REEER TO THE HADÏTH HADÏTH HADÏTH HADÏTH OE THE OE THE OE THE OE THE
TRIAL TRIAL TRIAL TRIAL WHICH IS DEAE AND BLIND WHICH IS DEAE AND BLIND WHICH IS DEAE AND BLIND WHICH IS DEAE AND BLIND The heresy oI anthropomophism is such a trial. Any-
body that imagines. or that can be persuaded that God has two eyes with which He sees and that
He physically sits on the Throne or hovers above it is certainly mindless; rather. he is godless.
The devious hustle oI the apostles oI antropomorphism recalls the words oI the Prophet
: '|There will come Iorth| preachers (du'ät) |who stand| at the doors oI Hell. Whoever heeds
them. they will cast them into it.¨
3
When HudhaiIah . who reported the hadïth. asked the
Prophet to describe those preachers. he said: 'They are people oI our skin. and they speak our
tongue.¨ Shaikh al-Isläm Ibn Hajr remarked that this is an indication that those preachers will be
Irom the Arabs.
4
while he quoted |Abü `l-Hasan| al-Qäbisï (d. 403 / 1012; Qairawän) as saying
that since a thing`s skin is its outer surIace. it means that outwardly they belong to our religion.
but inwardly they belong to a diIIerent one. The danger oI Ialse preachers cannot be overempha-
sized. Imäm Ahmad reported that the Prophet said: 'More than the Antichrist (al-Dajjäl). I
Iear Ior you other than the Antichrist.¨ Somebody asked: 'What is that?¨ He replied: 'Leaders
(a`immah) who misguide.¨
5


a section in his chapter on the great trials (Kitäb al-Eitan): 'The Trial Which Will Toss Like the Tossing
oI the Sea¨ (Bäb al-Eitnah Alltï Tamüj ka Mauj al-Bahr / =-¹' -·~´ -·~- .-¹' ²---¹' -'-).
2
Imäm al-Bukhärï introduced a section in his chapter (kitäb) al-Eitan which he called Bäb al-Eitnah Alltï
Tamüj ka Mauj al-Bahr / =-¹' -·~´ -·~- .-¹' ²---¹' -'- . See Ibn Hajr. Eath al-Bärï. p. 47; vol. 13.
3
The hadïth was reported by al-Bukhärï in Kitäb al-Eitan in the section titled: KaiIa al-Amr Idh Lam
Yakun al-Jamä'ah. and by Imäm Muslim (d. 261 / 875; Samarkand) in Kitäb al-Imäräh in the section
titled: Wujüb Muläzamah Jamä'at al-Muslimïn 'inda Zuhür al-Eitan. See Ibn Hajr. Eath al-Bärï. (Beirut.
Där al-Eikr. n.d.). p. 35; vol. 13; and al-Nawawï. Sharh Sahïh Muslim (Beirut. Där al-Eikr. n.d.). p. 236;
vol. 12; respectively.Imäm SharaI al-Dïn al-Nawawï (d. 676 / 1277; Nawä. Syria). who wrote a
voluminous and much-celebrated commentary on Sahïh Muslim. said that the 'ulamä` (Muslim scholars
oI the religious sciences) interpret those 'preachers at the doors oI Hell¨ to be those leaders who invite to
deviation (bid'ah) or misguidance (daläl) like the Khawärij |an early Islamic sect the Iirst oI whom
revolted against the Caliph 'Alï; or a continuous phenomena oI rejection oI authority and orthodoxysee
ahead Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence| and the Qarämatah |an ultra-Ianatic sect oI Shi'a who perpetrated much atrocity
and sacriledge including the stealing oI the black stone Irom the Holy Ka'bah and the wanton slaughter oI
pilgrims in Makkah in the month oI Hajj in the year 317 hegira / January 930| and the perpetrators oI the
Mihnah |an inquisition-like era at the beginning oI the second century oI hegira in which the sect oI
al-Mu'tazilah Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence aIter bringing the Caliphs to their persuasion set about punishing and
killing any who denied their sectarian views|. Imäm al-Nawawï stated that the hadïth indicates the
obligation to Iollow the main body oI Muslims and their imam |iI they have one|. See his Sharh Sahïh
Muslim. p. 237; vol. 12.
4
Ibn Hajr supported his opinion by observing that the skin oI the Arabs is distinctively brown (sumarah).
5
The muhaddith Murtudä al-Zabïdï (d. 1205 / 1790; Cairo) mentioned in his commentary on Ihyä` 'Ulüm
al-Dïn that this hadïth was reported by Imäm Ahmad (d. 241 h. / 855; Baghdäd) in his al-Musnad with a
chain oI narration in which comes Ibn Luhai'ah. whom al-'Iräqï said is a Iigure oI controversy (mukhtaliI
Iïhï). Al-Zabïdï mentioned several corroborating hadïth (shawähid) among them a long hadïth oI the
Companion Jubair ibn NuIair concerning the Antichrist. which was reported by Imäm Muslim and the
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
4
ThereIore. you should be steadIast in maintaining the transcendent uniqueness (al-tauhïd) oI
Alläh. the Incomparable Lord oI Power and Glory. recognizing that His transcendence re-quires
that He is neither a body. nor deIinable by limits. nor describable by direction. nor com-pounded
oI parts. nor divisible. nor does He share with bodies any physical characteristic. He. the Creator
oI time and space; does not occupy space. and time does not aIIect Him. He is beyond all
change. and all comprehension. He has not Iorm. nor appearance; whatever we imagine Him.
the Inscrutable Lord oI Majesty. to be. He is other than that.

Iour imams oI theSunans. in which the Prophet said: 'Other than the Antichrist has made me aIraid Ior
you.¨ He said that Imäm Ahmad reported |presumably also in his al-Musnad| that 'Umar asked the
Companion Ka'b : 'What is it that you Iear most Ior the nation (ummah) oI Muhammad?¨ He replied:
'Leaders (a`immah) who misguide.¨ 'Umar conIirmed: 'You are saying the truth. The Messenger oI
Alläh taught me that.¨ See IthäI Sädat al-Muttaqïn bï Sharh Ihyä` 'Ulüm al-Dïn (Beirut. Där Ihyä`
al-Turäth al-'Arabï). pp.350-351; vol. 1.



The DeIinition oI Transcendence The DeIinition oI Transcendence The DeIinition oI Transcendence The DeIinition oI Transcendence

This utter incomparability oI which we spoke above is reIerred to as the divine transcendence
6
;
in Arabic it is called tanzïh / ·-´-- . Transcendence (tanzïh) is the essence oI the Islamic principle
oI the divine uniqueness (al-tauhïd / ~-=·-¹'). which the celebrated authority oI Islamic belieI.
Imäm al-Tahäwï (d. 321 / 923; Cairo). described at the opening oI his Iamous tract on belieI
known popularly as al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah:

The Imäm |Abü HanïIah (d. 150 / 767; Baghdad)| said. as did the two above-mentioned
imams |Abü YüsaI (d. 182 / 798; Baghdad) and Muhammad (d. 189 / 804; Ray). the two
Ioremost disciples oI Abü HanïIah|. may Alläh show them mercy: 'Concerning the
uniqueness (tauhïd / ~·-=·-¹') oI Alläh. exalted is He. we say and believe by enabling-
ability Irom Alläh. exalted is He. that Alläh is one; He has no partner and nothing is like
Him. and nothing is too diIIicult Ior Him |to do|. There is no god other than He. He is
eternal (qadïm / »-~··) without beginning. and everlasting (dä`im / »·-'~) without end. He
does not cease to be. nor does He perish. Nothing can be. except what He wills. No one
can imagine Him. nor understand Him. Man does not resemble Him. He lives and does
not die. He sustains |all things|. and does not sleep. He is the Creator who is beyond all
need. He is the Provider who HimselI has no need Ior provision. He puts to death
without any Iear |oI reprisal|. He is the Resurrector. |and He resurrects| without any
eIIort. His attributes were eternal (qadïm) |that is. unoriginated and without any
beginning| beIore He created |the universe|. AIter the existence oI things. His attributes
did not increase |or change| beyond what they were beIore the existence oI those things.
As He was with His attributes in pre-eternity. so He will not cease to be Iorevermore
(Kamä käna bï siIätihï azalïyan. ka dhälika lä yazälu abadïyan. / ` =¹~·´ '·-¹´' ·-'--·- .'·´ '·~´
'-~-' .'´-).
7


The term tauhïd / ~-=·- is a vital term in the vocabulary oI Isläm. Let us consider the
deIinition oI tauhïd advanced by a high and scrupulous authority oI the Sharï'ah (the code oI
Isläm). Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï (d. 852 hegira / 1449; Cairo)
8
:

6
Transcendence comes Irom a Latin root which means to rise beyond. In relation to the Divinity it reIers
to the principle that He is beyond all materiality. beyond comparison. beyond change. beyond imagina-
tion. It does not imply that He is beyond in the physical sense oI being beyond the universe in a way
which requires Him to physically surround it. or to be contiguous with it. or even separate Irom it since
that necessarily implies that He has a limit and thereIore a body as will be discussed in more detail a little
later. in the section: 'Ibn al-Jauzï the Hanbali Denounces Those Hanbalis Who Insist That Alläh is Sepa-
rate Irom His Creation.¨ page 17. What beyondness means was lucidly explained by Imäm Abü Hämid
al-Ghazälï (d. 505 h. / 1111; Tüs. Iran) in a Iormula which has become proverbial: 'Neither is He in this
world. nor outside it; neither is He contiguous with the world nor separate Irom it.¨ The statement oI
Imäm al-Ghazälï is quoted Irom his al-Iqisäd Iï `l-I'tiqäd (Cairo. Maktabah al-Subai'ï. 1390 h.). p. 28.
6
Quoted Irom 'Abd al-Ghanï al-Ghunaimï . Sharh al-'Aqïdah al-Tähawïyah (Damascus: Där al-Eikr. 2
nd

ed.. 1992). pp. 47-56.
8
Shaikh al-Isläm Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï was a supreme authority in the sciences oI hadïth transmission.
criticism. and interpretation; the science oI biography oI hadïth narrators. and the appraisal and criticism
oI those narrators. His erudition in those sciences was so great. his opinion so astute. and his discussions
so thoroughly veriIied that he earned the epithet Prince oI the Believers in Hadïth (Amïr al-Mu`minïn Ii
`l-Hadïth) as the muhaddith and historian Muhammad ibn 'Alän (d. 1057 / 1647) mentioned in the intro-
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
6

The orthodox
9
'ulamä` (Muslim religious scholars) explained tauhïd / ~··-=·- (the
uniqueness oI God). to be the repudiation oI the notion that Alläh has any attribute which
resembles the attributes oI created things |which notion in Arabic is called tashbïh / ·--~·-|.
and oI the notion that He does not possess those transcendent attributes which His
perIection and majesty require |which notion in Arabic is called ta'tïl / .·-=·-
10
|. That is
why al-Junaid |d. 297 / 91 ; Baghdad| in a report transmitted by |Abü `l-Qäsim| al-
Qushairï |d. 465 / 1072; Nisäbür| |in his al-Risälah| said: 'Al-Tauhïd consists in
maintaining the uniqueness oI the Unoriginated |that is. the Eternal. or more speciIically
the Pre-Eternal−Arabic: qadïm| with respect to the originated |hädith / -~'·=|.¨ Abü
Qäsim al-Taimï (d. 535 / 1141; Baghdäd)
11
said in his book al-Hujjah |Iï Bayän al-
Mahajjah|:

Al-Tauhïd is the verbal noun |Arabic−masdar| Irom which the past verb wahhada /
~·=· . and the present verb yuwahhidu / ~·=·- are derived. The meaning oI the
sentence: Wahhattu Alläh / -~·=· -' ; is: I'taqattu Alläh munIaridan / -·--=' -'
'~·--~ |that is. I declared (or maintained) categorically that Alläh is unique| in His
essence (dhät / -'~). and that in respect oI His attributes (siIät / -'-·-). He has no

duction to his commentary on al-Adhkär oI al-Nawawï ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) . and as did Muhammad Habïb
al-Shinqïtï (d. 1363 / 1944; Cairo). the author oI Kauthar al-Ma'änï al-Darärï Iï KashI Khabäyä Sahïh
al-Bukhärï. a commentary oI al-Bukhärï in Iourteen volumes .( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) Indeed. the later muhad-
dithün oIten reIer to him simply as the HäIiz (al-HäIiz). Although the term häIiz is a usual epithet Ior a
consummate muhaddith. and many ulamä` are reIerred to by that title. when the ulamä` say the HäIiz.
everybody knows that Ibn Hajr is meant. As Ibn Hajr himselI indicated in his al-Majma' al-Mu`assas lï
`l-Mu'jam al-MuIahhris. he studied 1498 books with more 730 shaikhs. His student Shams al-Dïn
al-Sakhäwï (d. 902 / 1497; Medina) stated in his work oI biography oI the 'ulamä`. al-Dau al-Lämi'. the
greatest 'ulamä` oI the times agreed that they had not seen the likes oI Ibn Hajr on account oI his vast
erudition. his astuteness. and accuracy. He has a reputation Ior being thoroughgoing and scrupulous in
his researches and that is why the 'ulamä` oIten reIer to him as al-Muhaqqiq. The word reIers to a re-
searcher who establishes everything he says with thorough documentation and prooI; Ior Ibn Hajr. it be-
came a proper name. Al-Sakhäwï. who is himselI a high-ranking muhaddith. said that Ibn Hajr mastered
all the sciences oI the Sharï'ah (the entire code oI Isläm); indeed. the mere names oI some IiIteen oI the
sciences that he knew were not even known to the generality oI 'ulamä`. Keep in mind that he lived in a
period in which learning Ilourished. Al-Sakhäwï says that aIter his long years oI study and travel Ior the
sake oI study. he gave himselI mostly to the hadïth sciences both teaching and writing. and most oI the
one hundred and IiIty books which he authored are restricted to that Iield. In his liIetime his books were
sought by kings Irom the ends oI the earth. and they paid huge sums oI money to obtain them in order to
satisIy the exigent requests oI their own 'ulamä`. To this day. his books in the hadïth sciences are texts oI
the highest authority. and his commentary on the Sahïh oI al-Bukhärï is perhaps the most Iamous com-
mentary on the Sahïh which exists.
9
Orthodoxy in Isläm is usually reIerred to by the epithet: Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah. which means the
People oI the Sunnah and the Community. The Prophet greatly emphasised adherence to the main
body oI Muslims (al-jamä'ah). Because orthodoxy reIers to the mainstream oI a religion it is an appro-
priate translation Ior Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah iI we wish to avoid using the original Arabic term.
Orthodoxy stands in contradistinction to heresy and sectarianism. See ahead Iootnote 16 Ior more detail.
10
An example oI ta'tïl is the heretical idea espoused by the sect called Mu'tazilah that Alläh does not
have knowledge oI particulars. or that He is not qualiIied by liIe. will and so on although they admit that
He is knowledgeable. alive. and willing.
11
He is Qiwäm al-Sunnah. Ismä`ïl ibn Muhammad ibn al-Eadl. the author oI numerous works including a
commentary oI the Sahïh oI al-Bukhärï. a commentary oI the Sahïh oI Muslim. and six works oI com-
mentary on the Qur'än. the largest being a work oI thirty large volumes.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
7
likeness. nor resemblance. However. it has also been said that it means: 'I
acknowledge that He is one¨. and likewise. that it means: 'I deny Him all quality
and quantity; Ior He is one in His essence. indivisible; and one in His attributes;
there is nothing which is like Him. He has no associate in His divinity. dominion.
and providence. There is no other Lord than He. and no other Creator.

Ibn Battäl |d. 449 / 1057|
12
said: 'The title that al-Bukhärï (d. 256 / 870; Khartank.
Samarkand) has given this chapter |in his Iamous hadïth collection called al-Sahïh;
namely. the chapter: Kitäb al-Radd 'alä al-Jahmïyah| implies that Alläh is not a body
because bodies are compounded oI parts put together.¨
13


It seems that the reason Ibn Hajr mentioned the remark oI Ibn Battäl is to bring testimony
that; Iirstly. such anthropomorphic notions as that Alläh is a body. or compounded oI parts are
diametrically opposed to the notion oI al-tauhïd (the divine uniqueness); and. secondly. that al-
Bukhärï intended to reIute the anthropomorphists by including this chapter; that is. the chapter he
called al-Tauhïd.
Consider that al-Tahäwi says in the passage we quoted a little while ago:

His attributes were eternal (qadïm) |that is. unoriginated and without any beginning|
beIore He created |the universe|. AIter the existence oI things. His attributes did not
increase |or change| beyond what they were beIore the existence oI those things. As He
was with His attributes in pre-eternity. so He will not cease to be Iorevermore.

He continued by giving some speciIic examples to illustrate the point his has made about the di-
vine attributes:

He did not acquire the name the Creator (al-Khäliq) aIter He created the creation. just as
He did not acquire the name the Originator (al-Bäri`) by originating the creatures. He
possessed the attribute oI lordship (al-rubübïyah) beIore there existed anything Ior Him
to be lord
14
oI. just as He possessed the attribute oI creating beIore there existed any
creation.
15


It is imperative that we always keep in mind when we talk about the divine attributes that
they are a pre-eternal; that is. they always existed as attributes oI the Divine Reality without hav-
ing any beginning in time. He was knowing beIore the things which can be known existed; He
was seeing beIore anything existed which can be seen; He was hearing beIore there existed any-
thing which can be heard. and so on. With this in mind one can better appreciate the absurdity.
the blasphemy oI the notion that God created the Throne then sat on it. or hovered somewhere
above it. and created the creatures then looked at them with two eyes. and spoke to them with
words and sounds.
God existed beIore He created time and space. and beIore the Throne or the universe ex-
isted. BeIore the physical order existed. He existed without any physical attribute. How could

12
He lived in Cordoba and wrote a commentary on the hadith collection oI Imäm al-Bukhärï (d. 256 /
870; Khartank. Samarkand) which collection is called Sahïh al-Bukhärï.
13
Eath al-Bärï . pp. 344-345; vol. 13. Ibn Hajr mentioned that Ibn Battäl and Ibn al-Tïn transmitted the
chapter title diIIerently than most transmitters who transmitted the chapter by the title Kitäb al-Tauhïd.
14
Al-Räghib mentioned in his MuIradat al-Qur'än that the original meaning oI the word rabb is to raise.
or care Ior (al-tarbïyah) something which means to nurture something Irom stage to stage until it reaches
its completeness.
15
Al-Ghunaimï. p. 56

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
8
He exist in location when space did not exist? How could any limits or Iorm deIine him when
space did not exist? How was it conceivable that He move or change when neither time nor
space existed? How could He be described by direction when neither bodies nor directions ex-
isted? When He originated the physical order. its origination did not cause any change in Him.
nor did He get any new attributes. He existed without location beIore He created space. and so
He will exist Iorevermore. He existed without limit and direction beIore He created bodies. and
so He will exist Iorevermore. He is absolutely beyond change because every change implies a
beginning. and every beginning requires a maker; whatever requires a maker could not itselI be
the maker oI the universe.
The people oI truth
16
insist that the existence oI Alläh is necessary. Ior the world needs a
maker. It means to say that Alläh can not not be; whereas. every created thing. logically speak-
ing. may exist and may not existthat is. it is contingent. As certain as we are about the exis-
tence oI the universe. we are certain about the existence oI its God. However. that does not
mean that we can imagine the nature oI the existence oI God. Indeed. we can not as al-Tahäwï
declares: 'No one can imagine Him. nor understand Him.¨ That is because the Necessary Exis-
tent (wäjib al-wujüd / ~·=·¹' -='·) diIIers in every way Irom the things whose existence is contin-
gent.
17
. That is why the Qur'än declares: 'Is He who creates like he who does not create?¨
18

Since He is incomparable He utterly transcends their comprehension; this is reIerred to as the
inscrutability oI the Creator. Whatever we imagine Him to be. He is other than that. That is why
the Koran
19
declares: 'Subhana rabbika rabbi l-izzati amma yasiIun / .·--- '´ ~= -´ ´·¹' - =´ - .'=-~¨;

16
I am using the term used by Sa'd al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï (d. 793 / 1390; Samarkand) in the opening oI his
classic work on BelieI. al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. I mean to reIer. as did he. to the main and orthodox
community oI Muslims whom the Prophet proclaimed will never agree all together on error. He
reIerred to the main community as Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah (that is. the People oI the Sunnah and the
Community) which he described in numerous reports as sawäd al-a'zam which literally means the great
blackness. but was used idiomatically by the Arabs to reIer to a great mass oI mankind which because oI
its denseness appears in the distance especially in the environment oI the Arabs as a blackness. Thus the
term sawäd al-a'zam means the main community oI Muslims as was explained in Misbah al-Munïr. and
Majma' Bihär al-Anwär. The Prophet ordered as to stick to the main community. and he meant the
community oI the majority oI Muslims. The number oI hadïths reported to this eIIect is easily one hun-
dred hadïth. and as such it is a categorical injunction. and a basic Islamic principle. There are many con-
Ilicting sects all claiming to be the true representatives oI the Sunnah. However. there is only one main
community. When all is said and done. numbers is what counts. Those who are bewildered by the num-
ber oI conIlicting sects all claiming to be the People oI the Sunnah should take this clue and be guided by
it through the pounding reeIs oI dissension.
1
Contingency: (Lat. Contingere. to touch on all sides) In its broadest philosophical usage. a state oI aI-
Iairs is said to be contingent iI. it may and also may not be. A certain event. Ior example. is contingent iI.
and only iI. it may come to pass and also may not come to pass. Eor this reason contingency is not quite
the equivalent in meaning to possibility. Ior while a possible state oI aIIairs is one which may be. it may
at the same time be necessary. and hence it would be Ialse to say that it may not be. See Dictionary oI
Philosophy. ed. Dagobert Runes et al.. (Totowa. New Jersey. LittleIield. Adams & Co.. 1967)
18
Surah al-Nahl. 16:17
2
The Koran (Arabic: Qur`an) is the proper name oI the Iinal revelation; that is. communication Irom the
Author oI the universe to mankind and jinn (genies). It was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (the
peace and blessings oI Allah be upon him) bit by bit over a period oI twenty-three years by the Archangel
Gabriel (on whom be peace). The Koran is preserved by Allah Irom adulteration; it itselI declares that it
can not be corrupted. That declaration was made some 1400 years ago. Anyone who cares to compare
copies oI the Koran around the world today antique and modern will indeed Iind t ha t the Koran has not
changed in the least. Eurthermore. the Koran is inimitable in point oI view oI its pure and loIty style
which kaleidoscope-like changes Irom section to section; in point oI view oI its eerie beauty. its rapturous
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
9
which we can translate as Iollows: 'Hallow your Lord. the Lord oI Glory |by holding Him
above all deIect and imperIection| and what they ascribe to Him |oI meanings which do not beIit
Him.|
20
¨ −al-SaIIat: 180.
21
In the above translation. I have employed the word hallow in its
older. original sense that. according to The Shorter OxIord Dictionary. 1933. means: 'to honour
as holy (esp. God or His name).¨ An instance oI this us age is provided in The Lord`s Prayer oI
the Christians: 'Our Eather. hallowed be Thy name.¨ Hallow and holy are both derived Irom a
common Old English root. the underlying idea being that which is pure and Iree oI all imperIec-
tion and Iailing. We could equally well have translated hallow as declare or acknowledge the
transcendence oI.

rhythm. its proIundity. its matchless conciseness. its historical accuracy. its miraculous predictions. its
Iormidable logic. its incontrovertible argumentation. and its Ilawless detail. The Arabs. who were a na-
tion oI orators. were challenged to produce three verses the likes oI it iI it were Iorged. Although in the
beginning they wanted at all costs to disprove the Koran and the prophethood oI Muhammad (the peace
and blessings oI Allah be upon him). they were unable to meet the challenge. nor has anyone been able to
do so since. The recitation oI the Koran is worship. and Muslims recite Irom it in their Iive daily prayers.
Hundreds oI thousands oI them in every generation have memorised it completely. It is so well preserved
in their collective memory. that were anyone to make a mistake in its exact wording. someone or other
would invariably correct him on the spot. Misquoting the Koran is thus a mark oI considerable embar-
rassment Ior a writer or speaker in a typical Muslim community even in the decadence oI today.
3
Concerning the way I have translated subhana rabbika/ ´ - .'=-~ = in the above verse. a Iew remarks may
be in order. In the abridgement oI al-Sihah/-'=-¹'. which Imam al-Suyuti declared to own the place
amongst the books oI lexicology that al-Bukhari owns among the books oI hadith. Imam Abu Bakr al-
Razi (d. 660 hegira) mentions that the meaning oI tasbih ----- / (Irom which subhana is derived) is tan-
zih/·-´--; that is. to declare Iree oI deIect and imperIection. Then he explains that the meaning oI subhana
Allah is tanzih Allah; that is. the transcendence oI Allah. In the phrase subhana Allah. subhana is the ob-
ject oI a verb that is omitted but understood. this object being derived Irom that verb. It is a well-known
structure oI Arabic grammar called nasb ala al-masdar. As Ior ellipsis (hadhI). or word-omission. it is a
mark oI good Arabic style when done discreetly. In the construction here at hand. we may suppose the
omitted verb to be either imperative or aIIirmative. Thus the meaning oI subhana Allah might be ren-
dered by something like I absolve Allah Irom all oIIence with complete absolving. Complete is under-
stood in view oI the Iact that this construction aIIords emphasis as the specialists in the Arabic rhetorical
sciences (al-balagha) have ascertained.
Al-Zamakhshari. who is universally regarded to be a supreme imam oI lexicology. explained in his
commentary on the Koran that the word tasbih when applied to Him. the Glorious and Exalted. reIers to
purging Him oI every meaning which is oIIensive to His majesty. such as compulsion or anthropomor-
phism and the likes. Eor example. tasbih requires that one should interpret the divine name al-A`la (the
Highest) to mean highness in the sense oI overpowering or sublime not in the physical sense oI place.
and likewise. al-istiwa ala al-`arsh is not to be interpreted literally as God`s physical ascension on the
Throne. Compulsion in the sentence above (Arabic−jabr) reIers to the heretical notion that God compels
His creatures to act and deprives them oI Iree will; whereas. anthropomorphism (Arabic-tashbih) reIers to
the literal attribution oI human qualities and character to God. and in a broader sense. the attribution oI
any contingent or created quality to Him−it is an idolatrous notion obviously.
In another place. al-Zamakhshari mentioned that the past verb sabbaha (which is derived Irom tasbih)
when it has a pronominal object oI the third person singular means: he removed him Irom evil. It is de-
rived in a predictable and organic manner Irom the root verb sabaha (to swim) which implies the act oI
going away and getting distant. All the above inIormation Irom al-Zamakhshari was reiterated and cor-
roborated by al-NasaIi in his celebrated commentary on the Koran: Mudarik al-Tanzil.
21
When reIerring to Koranic verses I will transliterate the Arabic name oI the chapter. which is properly
reIerred to by its Arabic technical name. surah. and then give its verse number. The verses oI the Koran
are properly reIerred to by their Arabic technical name. ayah .

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
10
How can we creatures who dwell in time and space comprehend the creator oI time and space?
There is no hope oI that. Ior there is nothing common between the creature and the Creator. The
Qur'än declares:
U Laysa kamithlihi shayan wa huwa al-sami al-basir. ---¹' ·-~~¹' ·-· '-~ ·¹`~´ .-¹
(Nothing is like Him. and He is the Seeing. the Hearing.)−al-Shura: 11.
U Eala tadribu lahu al-amthal. .'`~`¹' ·¹ --- `· (So do not coin examples oI
Him.−al-Nahl: 74.
Our inability to understand the nature oI the existence oI Alläh does not impair our cer-
tainty about His existence. This is a crucial point. Anthropomorphists object saying that iI we
deny that God exists in space and time. or that direction does not encompass Him. and so on. we
deny His existence. However. the Iact is we deny the possibility oI comprehending the nature oI
His existence while maintaining absolutely the necessity oI His existence. The Iundamental mis-
take oI the anthropomorphists is to apply the logic oI bodies to the creator oI bodies.

Some Some Some Some Words oI the Words oI the Words oI the Words oI the Messenger oI Alläh Messenger oI Alläh Messenger oI Alläh Messenger oI Alläh Concerning the Transcendence oI Concerning the Transcendence oI Concerning the Transcendence oI Concerning the Transcendence oI
Alläh Alläh Alläh Alläh and His Omnipotence and His Omnipotence and His Omnipotence and His Omnipotence

The Messenger oI Alläh reIerred to the transcendence oI Alläh and His omnipotence in a
heart-rending prayer which Mulla Ali al-Qari (d. 1014 / 1606).
22
a specialist in hadïth.
23
recorded
in his Hizb al-A`zam:

O You Whom eyes can not see. Whom thoughts can not Iathom. and desribers can not
describe. and in Whom happenings bring no change. Who Iears not the vicissitudes oI
time. Who knows the weight oI the mountains and the volume oI the seas. the number oI
the raindrops and the leaves oI the trees; Who knows oI everything over which the night
casts its shadow and over which the day casts its light; Irom Whom no sky can conceal
any other sky. and Irom Whom no earth can conceal any other earth; Irom Whom no
mountain can hide what lies in its crags. nor any sea what rests in its depths. You I ask to
make the last part oI my liIe the best part. and the best oI my deeds the concluding ones.

22
In giving dates oI decease. I will Iirst give the date according to the Islamic era. and then Iollow it with
the corresponding date in the Christian era. The Islamic era begins with the emigration (hegira) oI Mu-
hammad (on whom be peace) Irom the oppression oI his tribes-men at Mecca to Medina. the city which
oIIered him love and protection. and which became the centre Irom which he propagated Islam. The Iirst
year oI hegira corresponds with the year . Since the Muslims Iollow the lunar calendar the Muslim
calendar advances one year on the Christian calendar every..years.
23
Prophetic tradition (hadith) reIers to the reports oI the speech or deed oI the Prophet oI Islam (the
peace and blessings oI Allah be upon him) which have been transmitted to us by a continuous relay. or
chain oI narrators. going back to the companion oI the Prophet who was the eyewitness. The mention oI
this chain oI narrators was called sanad by the early ulama. Not only did a hadith have to have a sanad in
order to be accepted by the ulama. but the narrators in the sanad had to be oI great integrity. and men oI
sound memory and acumen. Eurthermore. the sanad had to be continuous. that is. every narrator had to
men-tion the person Irom whom he was directly narrating. The early ulama studied the narrators: when
they were born. when they died. where they lived. where they travelled. under whom they studied. whom
they taught. They endeavoured to learn what was their reputation; whether or not they were they truthIul;
whether or not they had strong memories; whether or not they were accurate; whether or not they were
alert; whether or not they mixed up hadiths or conIused their narrators. Their eIIorts were prodigious;
they compiled biographical dictionaries oI some one million narrators! Thus. by the institution oI sanad.
and by the prodigious eIIorts oI the ulama. the teachings oI the Prophet were preserved Irom corruption.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
11
and the best oI my days. the day I meet You. O Guardian oI Islam and those who proIess
it. keep me steadIast in it till I meet you!

In another prayer. which was reported by Imam
24
Muslim in his supremely authentic collection
oI prophetic tradition (hadith) known as Sahih Muslim. the Messenger oI Alläh again re-
Ierred to the divine transcendence:

O Allah. You are the Iirst: there is nothing beIore You; and You are the last: there is
nothing aIter You. You are the ManiIest (al-Zahir): there is nothing above You. You are
the Hidden (al-Batin): there is nothing below You.
25


Al-Raghib al-IsIahani (d. 425 hegira)
26
in his MuIradat al-Qur'än explained that Allah is the
ManiIest because His existence is intuitively evident to us through everything we see in the crea-
tion. while He is the Hidden because we can not comprehend the nature oI His existence.
27
Al-
Baihaqi remarked in his al-Asma wa al-SiIat: 'Some oI our companions |that is. ulama oI the
ShaIi
28
School| inIerred Irom this hadith |above| that Allah. the Exalted. transcends place since.
iI there is neither anything above Him. nor anything below Him. He must be beyond place.¨
29


A Declamation oI the Caliph 'Ali to a Company oI Jews Concerning the A Declamation oI the Caliph 'Ali to a Company oI Jews Concerning the A Declamation oI the Caliph 'Ali to a Company oI Jews Concerning the A Declamation oI the Caliph 'Ali to a Company oI Jews Concerning the
Uniqueness and the Transcendence oI Allah. Uniqueness and the Transcendence oI Allah. Uniqueness and the Transcendence oI Allah. Uniqueness and the Transcendence oI Allah. . Great and Gl . Great and Gl . Great and Gl . Great and Glo oo orious is He rious is He rious is He rious is He


24
Imam in Arabic reIers to any leader. but in the technical jargon oI the ulama. that is. the learned. it re-
Iers to anyone who mastered one oI the religious sciences to the degree that later. ulama. who were spe-
cialists in that science. regarded him such a supreme authority that they would resolve their diIIerences oI
opinion by deIerring to his opinion. Thus it was a status that depended on merit. and it was the consensus
oI posterity which determined it. A man`s status as an imam in a particular Iield did not make him an
imam in another Iield. Eor example. Imam Muslim is an imam in the science oI hadith but not in the sci-
ence oI Iiqh (the detailed rules oI the holy law) although he was no doubt learned in that science too. yet
not to the degree that posterity accorded him the rank oI imam.
25
Al-Nawawi. Sharh Sahih Muslim (Egypt. Dar al-Rayan. 1987). vol. 17. p.36.
26
Al-Raghib al-IsIahani is especially Iamous Ior his authoritative glossary oI the Koran.
27
Al-Raghib al-IsIahani. MuIradat al-Qur`an. (Damascus. Dar al-Qalam; and Beirut. Dar al-Shamiyyah.
1992). p.131.
28
There are Iour schools oI law (Iiqh) in Islam. Just as the Companions oI the Prophet (the peace and
blessings oI Allah be upon him) diIIered in what rules were to be inIerred Irom the text oI the Koran and
the sunnah (the speech and practice oI the Prophet). so did the generation aIter them. and the generation
aIter them. These three generations were called the best generations by the Prophet himselI (the peace
and blessings oI Allah be upon him). They are reIerred to as al-SalaI (the Predecessors). The Iounders oI
the Iour existing schools oI law (Iiqh) inherited the diIIerences oI opinion Irom the generation beIore
them. These diIIerences oI opinions are due to known Iactors. like the ambiguity oI language. Ior exam-
ple. the exposition oI which is not appropriate here since it is a topic in itselI. One important point to un-
derstand is that these diIIerences oI opinion involved contingent issues (al-Iuru) like the details oI the
ritual prayer. or the rules oI commerce. not the essentials oI belieI (usul al-din) that comprise the cate-
gorical precepts (al-dururiyyat) Ior the Muslims are necessarily united in that. The other important point
to appreciate is that in the estimation oI those whose opinion counts in Islam; namely the imams. this diI-
Ierence oI opinion is a mercy Ior the people oI Islam.
Imam Abu HaniIah Iounded the HanaIi School. Imam ShaIi Iounded the ShaIi School. Imam
Malik Iounded the Maliki School. and Imam Ahmad Iounded the Hanbali School
29
al-Baihaqi. al-Asma wa al-SiIat. (Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi). p. 400.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
12
Muhammad Zähid al-Kautharï (d. 1371 h. / 1952; Cairo). the Iormer Deputy-Grand MuIti just be-
Iore the dissolution oI the Ottoman Empire. and the greatest deIender oI the Islamic principle oI
the divine uniqueness (al-tauhïd) in the past century. presented as an article in the serial maga-
zine oI al-Azhar University
30
a speech which was given by the Caliph 'Alï to a company oI Jews
who asked him to describe Ior them his Lord. This speech. which is a monument oI eloquence
and lucidity. embodies the crucial essence oI Islamic belieI: the uniqueness (tauhïd) and tran-
scendence (tanzïh) oI Alläh . It was originally reported with its chain oI narration (sanad) by
the hadïth expert (al-muhaddith). Abü Nu'aim al-Isbahänï (d. 430 h. / 1038; IsIahan). in his Ia-
mous work oI biography and hadïth: Hilyat al-Auliyä` wa Tabaqat al-AsIiyä`
31
. What Iollows is
a translation oI the report:

Abü Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Härith reported to us: al-Eadl ibn al-Habäb al-Jumhï re-
ported to us: Musaddad reported to us: 'Abd al-Wärith ibn Sa'ïd reported to us a report Irom
Muhammad ibn Ishäq that Nu'män ibn Sa'd said: I was in KuIah in the House oI Government.
which was the house oI 'Alï ibn Abï Tälib. when NauI ibn 'Abd Alläh came in and said: 'O Prince
oI the Believers. there are Iorty Jews at the door.¨ 'Alï told him: 'Let me see them.¨ When they
came beIore him. they said: 'O 'Alï. describe Ior us your Lord who is in heaven. How is He? How
was He? When was He? On what is He?¨ 'Alï sat up and said:
O assembly oI Jews listen to what I say; aIter that it does not matter iI you do not ask
anybody else. My Lord mighty and majestic is He. is the Eirst: He did not appear Irom
anything. He is not mixed with anything. nor could anybody ever imagine Him. He is not
an apparition which |appears and| disappears. nor is He concealed that He could be
encompassed. He did not come to be aIter He was not that it could be said He is
originated. By no means. how He was is beyond the deIinition oI those who deIine the
nature oI things. By no means. He does cease. nor does He end with the passing oI time.
or with the changing oI the state |oI the universe|. Indeed. how can He be described by
Iorm. and how can He be portrayed by articulate tongues who did not exist in things that
it could be said He is separate. who did not separate Irom things that it could be said that
He is located. Not at all. Ior He is beyond property |that is. qualityArabic: kaiIïyah|.
Yet. He is closer |through His knowledge oI us| than the jugular vein. while being Iurther
away Irom comparison than all distance.
Nothing escapes Him: not a glance oI one oI His creatures. not the order oI a
word |which they utter|. not the stealing oI a sand dune. not a step they take on a pitch-
dark night. not |the progress oI travelers who| travel at night. Neither the light oI the
bright moon. nor the spreading light oI the sun are ever hidden Irom Him in their cycles.
Not hidden Irom Him is the descending oI the night. or the retreating oI the day. Ior He
encompasses all that He wishes to create. He knows every place. every time. every
moment. every limit. every period; whereas. period is inseparable Irom every created
thing. and limit is ascribed to all that is other than He. He did not create things Irom
primary elements. nor Irom any primitive substance which existed previously; rather. He
created what He created. and brought it into existence |out oI nought|. He Iormed what
He Iormed. and perIected its Iorm. He is unique in His transcendence ('ulüwhï /
32
-´ ··¹= );
nothing can reIuse Him |His will|. nor is He beneIited by the obedience oI His creatures.
He is quick in answering those who supplicate Him. The angels in the heavens and the

30
It was republished under the title: ²~¹´ ·-´-- -' ·-'=-~ · .¹'·- .¹·¹ .- .-' -¹'= in Maqälät al-Kautharï
(Karachi. Där Shamsï. n.d.). pp. 350-351
31
(Beirut. Där al-Kutub al-'Arabï. 4
th
ed.. 1405 h.). pp. 72-73; vol. 1
32
Or. alternately. His exaltedness. Ior it is a question oI degree. not physical height. even though the root
meaning is physical. I have preIerred to translate the phrase by His transcendence since it more clearly
conveys the idea that He is above and beyond all and every comparison to created things

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
13
earths are obedient to Him. His knowledge about the dead who passed away is like |that
is. is just as perIect| as His knowledge oI the living who go about. His knowledge oI
what is in the high heavens is like his knowledge about what is in the earth below. Ior He
has knowledge oI all things. |Many| voices |speaking at once| do not conIound Him; nor
do |diIIerent| languages distract him. He hears the conIlicting voices without any
compounded organs. He manages |the aIIairs oI His creatures|; He sees |all that can be
seen|. He knows about all matters; He is living. sustaining |all that exists|.
I declare that He is Iree oI all deIect and imperIection (subhänahü / ·-'=-·~); He
spoke to Moses without organs. or instruments. without lips. or uvula. He is beyond
all Iault and shortcoming. so exalted that His attributes can not be qualiIied |as can be the
attributes oI created things|.
33
Whoever imagined that our God has limits (mahdüd /
~·~·=~) is ignorant oI the Creator. ignorant oI that which should be worshipped (al-ma'büd
/ ~···-·~¹'). Whoever says that space contains Him is doomed to bewilderment and
conIusion. Rather. He encompasses space |with His attributes oI power. will. and
knowledgenot with His being (dhät)
34
|. II you |O anthropomorphist| are telling the truth
in describing the MerciIul
35
in terms which conIlict with the revelation (al-tanzïl) and
rational prooI (al-burhän). then describe Ior me Gabriel. Michael. and IsraIiel.
36
No. you
could never do it! There you are! You can not even describe another creature |that is.
the archangels| like yourselves. yet you aspire to describe the Creator. the God oI
Worship (al-Ma'büd / ~··-·~¹'). Indeed. you could comprehend a lord who had appearance
and organs |that is. an anthropomorphic god such as the god which the Jews conceive|.
but how can you comprehend Him whom neither rest. nor slumber overtakes
37
. He to
whom belongs the |seven| earths and the heavens. the Lord oI the Mighty Throne?¨

Abü Nu'aim said aIter reporting this hadïth: 'This hadïth is gharïb Irom al-Nu'män |that
is. it is reported Irom 'Alï by al-Nu'män only|. Ibn Ishäq reported it Irom him in mursal Iorm
|that is. he omitted to mention the name oI the narrator who reported the hadïth to him Irom

33
This and what Iollows seem to be in answer to the question oI the Jews: 'On what was He?¨ Presuma-
bly they imagined that He. exalted is He. is physically sitting on His Throne. Such a belieI necessarily
implies that He has a limit. and whatever has a limit must be a body. However. the God which the Mus-
lims worship is not a body; rather. He is the Creator oI bodies. and oI time and space. He does not have
any oI the characteristics oI bodies such as limit. location. direction; nor is He compounded. nor divisible;
nor does He move; neither is He still; nor does He undergo any change; holy.all holy. and exalted is He!
Whoever ascribes such physical attributes to God is ignorant oI Him. Indeed. such a person is an an-
thropomorphist (mujassim / »~=~). not a unitarian (muwahhid / ~=·~). not a Muslim.

34
Eor He is neither separate nor contiguous with His creation. otherwise He would have to have a limit.
and a Creator to deIine that limit Ior Him which is impossible.
35
The mention here oI the MerciIul (al-Rahmän) alludes to the verses oI the Qur'än in which it is men-
tioned that the MerciIul overpowered or controlled the Throne. The Arabic phrase is istawä` / .·-~'
which extreme literalists interpret impermissibly as ascended or sat on. The term has numerous literal
and metaphorical meanings; Ibn al-Jauzï mentioned eight oI them. while Abü Bakr ibn al-'Arabï men-
tioned IiIteen! To insist on the physical. literal meaning is sheer anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh).
May Alläh rescue us Irom the night oI schism.
36
These are three oI the Iour archangels. There Arabic names are respectively: Gibrïl or Gibrä`ïl.
Mikä`ïl. and IsräIïl. These angels are awesomely magniIicent. The Prophet described something oI
their unspeakable majesty in hadïth. Many oI those hadïth have been mentioned by Abü Shaikh in his
Kitäb al-'Azamah. and al-Suyütï in his Kitäb al-Malä`ikah (The Book oI the Angels). to give two exam-
ples. The Prophet saw Gabriel in his true Iorm on two occasions which have been mentioned in
the Qur'än in Surah al-Najm. Normally he appeared in an assumed Iorm which resembled a human be-
ing. A human being other than a prophet would be destroyed instantly by the sight oI an ordinary angel
in its true Iorm. let alone the archangels whose magnitude exceeds the magnitude oI the very heavens.
37
These words allude to the Qur'änic verse oI the Throne upon which the Jews and the Hashawïyah. an
anthropomorphic Islamic sect. imagine to be the locus (location) oI the transcendent God.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
14
al-Nu'män|.¨ Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï mentioned in his Tahdhïb al-Tahdhïb that Abü Hätim
claimed that the only person who narrated hadïth Irom al-Nu'män was his nephew. `Abd al-
Rahmän ibn Ishäq. While Ibn Hibbän mentioned that al-Nu'män is utterly reliable (thiqah). Ibn
Hajr insisted that his nephew is weak (da'ïI ). Given the discontinuity in the chain oI narration
(sanad). the weakness oI the `Abd al-Rahmän who narrated Irom al-Nu'män. and the absence oI
any corroborating reports (tawabi' ) Irom 'Alï. the hadïth must be graded as weak (da'ïI ).
Imäm al-Kautharï certainly did not intend to demonstrate the correctness oI the notion oI
Alläh`s transcendence by publishing this report. The notion oI transcendence is established by
conclusive prooIs Irom the Book and the Sunnah and the established principles oI the Sharï'ah.
Thus the report oI 'Alï is supplemental to the issue. Its beneIit lies in the clarity and beauty
oI its exposition and the incisiveness oI the arguments directed against the anthropomorphic
views oI the company oI Jews.



Anthropomorphism is UnbelieI Anthropomorphism is UnbelieI Anthropomorphism is UnbelieI Anthropomorphism is UnbelieI

As we continue to quote Irom al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah. keep in mind that al-Tahäwi is transmit-
ting the belieIs ('aqïdah) oI Imäm Abü HanïIah and his two disciples. rather than initiating any-
thing himselI; no doubt. he is ratiIying whatever he transmits Irom them. Al-Tahäwï proclaimed
in another place in the treatise:

Whoever describes Alläh. the Exalted. by any human characteristic has disbelieved. so
whoever realises this takes heed. and reIrains Irom saying |about God| what the
unbelievers say. recognising that His attributes do not resemble those oI human beings.
38


Al-Tahwäwi here proclaims that anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh) is unbelieI (kuIr / -´).
Indeed. anthropomorphism is the antithesis oI transcendence (tanzïh). which is the Ioundation oI
correct belieI. Whoever Iails to comprehend the transcendence oI God has no real knowledge oI
God.

R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EQ QQ Q Q QQ QU UU U U UU UI II I I II IR RR R R RR RE EE E E EE ED DD D D DD D: al-Nawawi`s statement that the Christians and Jews don`t know God

In this connection; that is. the unbelieI (kuIr) oI anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh).
Muhammad Zähid al-Kautharï (d. 1371 h. / 1952; Cairo). the Iormer Deputy-Grand MuIti just
beIore the dissolution oI the Ottoman Empire. and the greatest deIender oI the Islamic principle
oI the divine uniqueness (al-tauhïd) in the past century. quoted in his article 'Aqïdah al-Tanzïh
'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï (d. 429 h. / 1037; AsIarä`yïn). one oI Isläm`s great authorities on Be-
lieI. and a renowned specialist in heresiology (al-Iiraq) |that is. the study oI the heretical sects oI
Isläm. their history. their belieIs. their polemics. their Iounders and their important spokesmen|:

The Imäm Abü Mansür 'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï said in his book Usül al-Dïn
which is generally known among the learned as al-Tabsirah al-Baghdädïyah (p. 337 ) aIter
proclaiming 'those who liken any attribute oI God to something in His creation
(al-mushabbihah / ²+-~~¹') to be idolaters ('ibäd al-authän. ~'-= .'`·`' )¨:

As Ior the anthropomorphists (mujassimah / ²~~·=~) oI Khuräsän Irom among the
Karrämïyah.
39
declaring them to be unbelievers is obligatory |Ior every Muslim|
because they hold that Alläh has a limit. and an extremity beneath Him by which
He contacts His Throne. and because they hold that Alläh is the site oI occurrences.
and that He sees things by an act oI vision which occurs in Him. and likewise.
|because they claim that| He perceives what He hears by a perception which occurs
to Him. and were it not Ior the occurrence oI those perceptions. He would not
perceive sound or sight. Indeed. they deny themselves the prooI oI the unitarians
40

|al-muwahhidün / .·~·=·~¹'| that bodies are originated; namely. |the prooI oI that
is| the Iact that occurrences take place in bodies. According to their Iundamentals
(usül). it can not be shown that the world is originated. and so they are leIt with no

38
Sharh al-'Aqïdah al-Tähawïyah. p. 68

39
They are the Iollowers oI Muhammad ibn Karräm (d. 255 / 869; Jerusalem). who is generally held to be
the Iirst to advocate outright anthropomorphism in Isläm.
40
Unitarians in the context oI Isläm reIers to those who uphold the uniqueness oI Alläh`s essence. attrib-
utes. and acts.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
16
way to recognize the Maker oI the world. Consequently. they remain ignorant oI
Him.

|'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï| mentioned in his book al-Asmä` wa `l-SiIät:

Indeed. Abü al-Hasan al-Ash'arï |(d. 324 / 936; Baghdad) the supreme imäm oI orthodox
Muslims in the Iield oI belieIs and al-tauhïd|. and most experts in orthodox belieI and its
prooI and deIence (al-mutakallimün) insisted on the unbelieI (kuIr) oI every sectarian
(mubtadi') whose heresy was in itselI outright unbelieI. or directly implied unbelieI as.
Ior example. whoever held that what he worshipped had an image (sürah). or a limit
(hadd). or extremity (nihäyah). or that |what he worshipped| might move or be still.
There is no diIIiculty Ior anybody who has a mind to comprehend the unbelieI oI the
Karrämïyah. the anthropomorphists (al-mujassimah) oI Khuräsän. Ior claiming that He.
the Transcendent. is a body. and has a limit. and an extremity underneath Him. and that
He contacts His throne. and that He is the site oI occurrences. and that speech and will
reccur to Him again and again. |whereas the truth oI the matter is that His speech and His
will are pre-eternal (azalï / .¹´')|.
41


Al-Kautharï remarked in'Aqïdah al-Tanzïh aIter quoting'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï:

The learned appreciate the exalted rank oI Abü Mansür |'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï| in
the science oI belieI (usül al-dïn). Indeed. he was a student oI Abü Ishäq al-IsIaräyïnï (d.
418 / 1027; AsIarä`yïn). the student oI Abü al-Hasan al-Bähilï . the disciple oI Abü
`l-Hasan al-Ash'arï |the universally acclaimed imäm in the Iield oI belieIs|.
42


Eollowing the citation oI 'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï which we quoted previously. al-Kautharï
continued:

Similar denunciations |oI such anthropomorphic heresies (tajsïm. or tashbïh)| are
Irequently met with in al-Irshäd and al-Shämil by Imäm al-Haramain |al-Juwainï|.
al-Tamhïd by |Qädï Abü Bakr| al-Bäqillänï. al-Qawäsim wa `l-'Awäsim by Abü Bakr ibn
al-'Arabï. DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh by |Abü al-Earaj| ibn al-Jauzï. and works by other
luminaries oI Isläm.
43
I have had occasion to mention their statements |in condemnation
oI anthropomorphism| in my writings. All oI the above literature is in circulation.
44


Eatwä Eatwä Eatwä Eatwä oI Abü HanïIah in Regards to the UnbelieI oI Those Who Maintain That oI Abü HanïIah in Regards to the UnbelieI oI Those Who Maintain That oI Abü HanïIah in Regards to the UnbelieI oI Those Who Maintain That oI Abü HanïIah in Regards to the UnbelieI oI Those Who Maintain That
Alläh is on the Throne Alläh is on the Throne Alläh is on the Throne Alläh is on the Throne

In another article called Khutürah al-Qaul bï `l-Jihati Eadlan 'an al-Qaul bï `l-Tajsïm al-Sarïh.
Imäm al-Kautharï quoted al-Baiyädï (d. 1098 / 1687; Istanbül) in his Ishärät al-Maräm
45
:

41
'Aqïdah al-Tanzïh in Maqälät al-Kautharï (Riyadh. Saudi Arabia. Där al-AhnäI. reprint. 1992.). p. 378
42
Maqälät al-Kautharï. p. 327
43
Worthy oI note in this connection is a work oI Ibn Hazm (d. 456 /1064; Andalusia) called al-Easl bain
al-Eiraq.
44
Maqälät al-Kautharï. p. 378
45
Khair al-Dïn al-Ziriklï (1396 / 1976; Cairo). who is the author oI the biographical dictionary al-A'läm
mentioned that al-Baiyädï. who was a HanaIi Qädï under the Ottoman Sultanate. wrote several books
among them Ishärät al-Maräm 'an Ibärät al-Imäm. a work in HanaIi Iiqh. Al-Ziriklï mentioned that a
manuscript copy oI the work exists in the al-Azharïyah Library in Cairo under the name Irshäd al-Maräm.
Judging Irom the title oI the work which al-Ziriklï mentioned in the Iirst instance. it is a work dealing
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
17

Abü HanïIah said: Whoever says: 'I do not know iI my Lord is in the sky or on the
earth;¨ he is an unbeliever; likewise. whoever said: 'He is on the Throne. but I do not
know iI the Throne is in the sky or on the earth.¨
46


Then al-Baiyädï explained the reason Ior holding him to be an unbeliever (käIir):

That is because he holds that the Originator. hallowed is He. is qualiIied by location and
direction; whereas. whatever is predicated by direction or location necessarily requires an
originator |to originate Ior it that characteristic which it did not have previously|. Then
to maintain that He requires an originator is to maintain outright that He is deIicient.
hallowed is He beyond what they ascribe to Him! Moreover. whoever maintains the
materiality (jismïyah) oI the Divinity. or predicates direction to Him. he denies the
existence oI everything except what one can point to physically; thus he denies the divine
reality which transcends all materiality. and that denial necessarily signiIies unbelieI.
47


Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al- -- -Mutawallï and Imäm al Mutawallï and Imäm al Mutawallï and Imäm al Mutawallï and Imäm al- -- -Nawawï Concerning the UnbelieI oI Nawawï Concerning the UnbelieI oI Nawawï Concerning the UnbelieI oI Nawawï Concerning the UnbelieI oI
Those Who Maintain that Al Those Who Maintain that Al Those Who Maintain that Al Those Who Maintain that Alläh is Contiguous With His Creation or Separate Erom läh is Contiguous With His Creation or Separate Erom läh is Contiguous With His Creation or Separate Erom läh is Contiguous With His Creation or Separate Erom
It It It It

Imäm al-Nawawï (d. 676 / 1277; Nawä. Syria) and Imäm al-Mutawallï (d. 478 / 1087; Baghdad)
both condemned anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh) as unbelieI (kuIr). Al-Nawawï in his
book Raudah al-Tälibïn quotes a Iatwä |that is. a decision oI law pronounced by a muIti| oI
al-Mutawallï:

Whoever believes that the world is eternal. or that the Maker is originated. or |that He|
has an originated attribute (hudüth al-Säni' / ·-'-·¹' -·~·=). or denies any attribute oI the
Eternal God about which attribute the ulamä` are agreed |that is. on which there is
consensusijmä' / -'·~='|. or believes that He is contiguous with. or separate Irom His
creation. or anything in it (al-ittisäl wa `l-inIisäl / -`'· .'-·-`' .'-·- ). he is an unbeliever
(käIir).
48


It should be clear to the reader that the notion that God has an originated attribute. or that He is
contiguous with. or separate Irom His creation which is condemned as unbelieI in the Iatwä
above is typical oI anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh). Thus the judgement that that doctrine
is unbelieI necessarily implies that anthropomorphism is unbelieI. The reason that the doctrine
oI contiguity or separation is unbelieI is that iI we maintain that Alläh is contiguous with His
creation. or separate Irom it. we necessarily imply that He has a limit and thereIore a body. Both
limit and body require a creator and someone to give it its particularity.

Ibn al Ibn al Ibn al Ibn al- -- -Jauzï the Hanbali Denounces Those Hanbalis Who Insist That Allä Jauzï the Hanbali Denounces Those Hanbalis Who Insist That Allä Jauzï the Hanbali Denounces Those Hanbalis Who Insist That Allä Jauzï the Hanbali Denounces Those Hanbalis Who Insist That Alläh is h is h is h is
Separate Erom His Creation Separate Erom His Creation Separate Erom His Creation Separate Erom His Creation


speciIically with the sayings oI Abü HanïIah. He mentioned that the name oI al-Baiyädï is Ahmad ibn
Hasan ibn Sinän al-Dïn. and that he studied under the ulamä` oI Istanbul. and served as a qädi in Aleppo.
then Brüsah. then Makkah. then Istanbul.
46
Maqälät al-Kautharï. p. 322
47
Maqälät al-Kautharï. Karachi ed.. p. 291

48
Al-Nawawï. Raudah al-Tälibïn (Damascus. al-Maktab al-Islämï. n.d.). p. 64. vol. 10

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
18
The Iact that the notion that Alläh is contiguous with His creation or separate Irom it necessarily
and essentially implies the notion that He is possessed oI body and substance was emphasised by
Abü `l-Earaj ibn al-Jauzï (d. 597 /1201; Baghdad). a Hanbali Imäm in his book DaI' Shubah al-
Tashbïh when he remonstrated with Ibn al-Zäghünï (d. 520 / 1126). one oI the teachers oI Ibn al-
Jauzï and one oI the anthropomorphist Hanbali`s. Ior insisting that Alläh 'has to be separate¨ and
Ior insisting that Alläh physically ascended the Throne:

I declare |Ibn al-Jauzï says|: This talk is nonsense and sheer anthropomorphism
(tashbïh)! This man doesn`t know what is necessary oI the Creator. and what is
impossible oI Him. Indeed. His existence is not like the existence oI atoms (jawähir) and
bodies which must have a location. 'Below¨ and 'above¨ only apply to what can be
Iaced and gotten opposite to. Now. what is gotten opposite to has oI necessity to be
bigger. smaller. or equal to what is opposite itbut this is what applies to bodies.
Whatever Iaces bodies may be contacted. and whatever can be in contact with bodies. or
be separate Irom them is originated since it is known |in science oI Kaläm| that the prooI
that atoms (jawähir) are originated is their capacity to be contacted or separate. Thus.
whoever permits |contact and separation| Ior God makes Him originated. II they
maintain that He may not be originated in spite oI His being susceptible to contact and
separation. we will not be leIt with any means to demonstrate that atoms are originated.
Eurthermore. iI we conceive oI a thing transcending space and location |namely.
God|. and another requiring space and location |namely. bodies|. then we may neither
declare the two to be contiguous nor separate since contiguity and separateness are
among the consequences oI occupying space.
It has already been established that coming together and becoming separate are
among the inseparable attributes oI whatever occupies space. However. the Real
(al-Haqq). high and exalted is He. may not be described by the occupation oI space
because. iI He did occupy space. He would either have to be at rest in the space He
occupied. or moving Irom it; whereas. He may neither be described by movement nor
stillness; nor union nor separation |since these are the attributes oI things which are
contingent and originated. not oI that which is necessary and eternal|. Whatever is
contiguous or separate must have a Iinite existence. Then. what is Iinite has to have
dimensions. and what has dimensions needs that which particularises its dimensions |and
whatever has a need can not be the God and Originator oI the cosmos|.
Eurthermore. Irom another point oI view. it can be pointed out that He is neither
in this world or outside it because entering and exiting are inseparable attributes oI things
which occupy space. Entering and exiting are just like movement and stillness and all
other accidents which apply to bodies only.
Notice that Ibn al-Zaghünï claims above |Ibn al-Jauzï had quoted Irom one oI his
books| that He did not create things in His Essence (dhät); thereIore. he presumes it is
established that they are separate Irom Him. |In reIutation oI this claim| we declare |that
is. Ibn al-Jauzï| that the Essence oI the Transcendent God (dhätuhü al-muqaddasah) is
beyond having things created in it. or that things should occur in it.
49
Now. material
separation in relation to Him requires oI Him what it requires oI substances |namely. that
He be deIined by Iinite limits|. Indeed. the deIinition oI location (haiz) is that what
occupies it prevents a similar thing Irom being Iound there; |whereas. nothing is similar
to God in any way|.
It is apparent that what |these anthropomorphists| presume is based on sensory
analogy. Their inability to conceive oI a reality beyond material experience led them into

49
As I mentioned previously Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence . God acts in other than HimselI; whereas. all creatures act
in themselves. This point was stressed by Ibn al-'Arabï (d. 543 / 1148; Eez) in his al-'Äridah
( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
19
bewilderment. and to liken the attributes oI the Transcendent God to the attributes oI
originated things |that is. to commit tashbïh|. Indeed. the bewilderment oI some oI them
reached such a degree that they declared: 'The reason God mentioned His ascension
(istiwä`) on the Throne is that it is the nearest thing to him.¨ Obviously. this is
preposterous because nearness in terms oI distance can only be conceived oI in relation to
bodies |whereas. in relation to the Transcendent God who is not a body. it is
inconceivable|. Others declared that the Throne is opposite what conIronts it oI the
Divine Essence (dhät). but not opposite the entire dhät. This. oI course. is explicit in
saying that God is like a body (tajsïm). and that He is susceptible to division. I am at a
loss to understand how a person |who believes such heretical nonsense| has the audacity
to ascribe to our school oI law |that is. the Hanbali madhhab|!
50


Sa'd al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï (d. 793 / 1390; Samarkand). in his Sharh al-'Aqä`id
al-NasaIïyah made the same point as Ibn al-Jauzï:

The adversaries cling to the outward sense oI the |ambiguous texts| in order to predicate
direction. corporeality. Iorm. and limbs oI the divinity. Moreover. they argued that
whenever we suppose two things to be present. it is inevitable that either one oI them is
in contact with the other touching it. or that it is separate Irom it away Irom it in some
direction. Now. |they argue| since Alläh is neither in the world. nor is the world in Him.
it stands that He is separate Irom it and away Irom it in some direction. located in some
place (mutahayyiz). Thus. He has to be a body
51
. or part oI a body. having a Iorm. and an
extreme limit.
The answer to them is that what they say is sheer delusion: the judging oI what is
supersensible according to the criteria oI what is sensible. Conclusive prooIs (al-adillat
al-qat'ïyah) are established which determine the absolute and imperative necessity oI
maintaining the pure transcendence oI God. ThereIore. it is necessary that either we
leave the knowledge oI the meaning oI the ambiguous texts to Alläh. exalted is He. as
was the custom oI the SalaI |the Iirst three generations oI Isläm| preIerring the saIer way
(al-tarïq al-aslam); or we interpret them in a correct way as is the custom oI the later
'ulamä` in order to reIute the propaganda oI the ignorant |an allusion to the Hashawïyah|
and take simpleminded souls by the arm in a way which is saIer (al-tarïq al-ahkam) |Ior
the simpleminded|.
52



50
Ibn al-Jauzï. DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh (Cairo. Maktabah Kullïyat al-Azharïyah. 1991). pp. 21-22
51
( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) an explanation is required to show that the anthropomorphists oI today decline to use the
word body but they assert all the requirements oI body. Ibn Taimïyah declined to use the word because
as he says it was not used in the Qur'än and Sunnah which implies that that is the only reason he reIrained
Irom using the term. Ibn 'Adb al-Saläm explained that the Hashawïyah are oI two types: one that comes
right out with it and the other which is circumspect. The Hashawïyah have become cautious aIter centu-
ries oI dispute with the Ashä'irah. Nowadays they do not dare to use the term body Ior hear oI the anath-
ema that they will bring upon themselves Irom sane quarters oI this nation.
52
Quoted in the supercommentary oI Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah by Ramadän EIendï known as
Häshiyah Ramadän EIendï (Multan. Pakistan; Maktabah Imdädïyah. n.d.). pp.112-113. See also Sa'd
al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï. Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. (Syrian edition with no name oI publisher or date ed-
ited by Muhammad 'Adnän Darwïsh. and checked by ProIessor Adïb al-Kalläs oI Aleppo). pp. 96-97.
Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah is a required text oI study in the religious schools (madäris) oI Pakistan.
AIghanistan. India. and Turkey. and also in Azhär University. Cairo. An English translation oI Sharh
al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah exists. See Earl Edgar Elder. A Commentary on the Creed oI Isläm. (Books Ior
Libraries. reprint ed.. 1980).

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
20
Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al Eatwä oI Imäm al- -- -Qurtubï to the EIIect That Anthropomorph|ists are Idol Qurtubï to the EIIect That Anthropomorph|ists are Idol Qurtubï to the EIIect That Anthropomorph|ists are Idol Qurtubï to the EIIect That Anthropomorph|ists are Idol- -- -
Worshippers Worshippers Worshippers Worshippers

Imäm al-Qurtubï (d. 671 / 1273; Egypt). the Iamous commentator oI the Qur'än. stated in his
al-Tadhkirah
53
concerning the anthropomorphists (al-mujassimah): 'The correct opinion is that
they are unbelievers since there is no diIIerence between them. and between the worshippers oI
idols and pictures.¨ Once I mentioned to one oI my teachers that some people insist that we
must believe that Alläh ascends His Throne in person (bï dhätihï). He replied with utmost dis-
gust: 'They worship an idol in the sky!¨

The Meaning oI UnbelieI (KuIr) and Heresy (Zandaqah) The Meaning oI UnbelieI (KuIr) and Heresy (Zandaqah) The Meaning oI UnbelieI (KuIr) and Heresy (Zandaqah) The Meaning oI UnbelieI (KuIr) and Heresy (Zandaqah)

There are many naive souls who insist that it is not permissible to declare anybody who claims to
be a Muslim and believes in the Prophet and the Qur'än. Indeed. people who have this notion
Irequently quote the dictum: 'We do not condemn any oI the People oI the Qiblah as unbeliev-
ers.¨ Their view is quite Iallacious and its prevalence has generated a climate oI permissiveness
which has permitted belieIs which contradict the explicit texts oI the Qur'än. the established
Sunnah. and the Concensus oI the Nation oI Isläm to proliIerate like a plague oI rats which chew
away at the Ioundation oI the Citadel oI Isläm-already sections oI it have Iallen away-not to
the ground but into the abyss oI perdition.
Every Muslim is agreed that the basis oI Isläm is the sacred Iormula: 'There is no God
but Alläh and Muhammad is the Messenger oI Alläh.¨ Obviously. it is not enough to merely ut-
ter these words without believing them. We have to believe that Muhammad is the Mes-
senger oI Alläh which means that we believe that the message which he delivered is Irom Alläh.
and thereIore utterly true. II we deny a single word oI what is established beyond any doubt to
be part oI the revealed message. whether it is the Qur'än. or the established Sunnah. we have in
eIIect disbelieved in the message. and denied the truthIulness oI the Messenger. and disbelieved
in the Lord oI the Worlds. AIter that it does not matter iI one utters the Iormula or not. Alläh
will have written his name in the Book oI UnbelieI
What is the deIinition oI unbelieI? The renown muhaddith Anwär Shäh Kashmïrï
( (( ( ( (( (T TT T T TT TA AA A A AA AR RR R R RR RJ JJ J J JJ JU UU U U UU UM MM M M MM MA AA A A AA AH HH H H HH H) )) ) ) )) ) oI India concisely deIined unbelieI in his invaluable and authoritative treatise on
the subject IkIär al-Mulhidïn wa `l-Muta`awwalïn bï Juhüd Shai`an Min Durüriyät al-Dïn (De-
termining the UnbelieI oI the Heretics and Those Who Make Unwarranted Interpretations in De-
nying Anything Which Pertains to the Certain Precepts oI Religion). He said the essence oI
unbelieI is to deny the Sharï'ah. which he qualiIied as that which both the ordinary Muslim as
well as the elite know to pertain to the religion oI Isläm with certainty. That which pertains to
religion with certainty is called al-durürah; we might call it a deIinitive. categorical precept. The
deIinitive. categorical precepts are established by the criteria called tawätur. which as Anwär
Shäh Kashmïrï describes is oI Iour types. The explicit verses oI the Qur'än all are qualiIied by
tawätur. and so are the hadïth the subject matter oI which is reported by a large number oI
sources and numerous chains oI transmission. Rational axioms are also a Iorm oI discussion oI
the matter will take us Iar aIield. suIIice it to say at this point that the. Eor example. the Iact that
the whole is greater than the part. and the inability oI a thing to be described at one time by two
mutually-contradictory propositions like absent and present. Those precepts which each genera-
tion has received en masse Irom the previous generation are also a Iorm oI tawätur; Ior example.
the knowledge that keeping a beard and wearing a turban is the sunnah oI the Prophet . A
more detailed discussion oI these principles will take us Iar aIield. suIIice it to mention a Iew


53
(p. 208) ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
21
examples. II a Muslim denies the Iinality oI the prophet-hood oI the Prophet . or the permis-
sibility to marry Iour wives. or the prohibition to drink wine. or that the world is originated in
time. or the eternity oI Heaven and Hell. or he becomes at once an unbeliever. II he repents and
admits the truth oI what he denied. he becomes a believer again.

Imäm al Imäm al Imäm al Imäm al- -- -Tahtäwï Denounces the Anthropomorphists and Declares That They Tahtäwï Denounces the Anthropomorphists and Declares That They Tahtäwï Denounces the Anthropomorphists and Declares That They Tahtäwï Denounces the Anthropomorphists and Declares That They Are Are Are Are
Ignorant oI al Ignorant oI al Ignorant oI al Ignorant oI al- -- -Tauhïd Tauhïd Tauhïd Tauhïd

Imäm al-Tahäwi in yet another place in his al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah remonstrated with the an-
thropomorphists (al-mujassimah) and repudiated some anthropomorphic notions that many peo-
ple wrongly hold about God. In the translation that Iollows. we have introduced Irequent
explanatory interpolations in the text oI al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah indicating all such interpola-
tions by square brackets. These interpolations have been taken Irom the commentary oI al-
'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah written by 'Abd al-Ghanï al-Maidänï al-Ghunaimï
54
(d. 1298 / 1881; Da-
mascus):

|Know that| whoever does not reIrain Irom denying the transcendent attributes oI Alläh
(ta'tïl / .·-=·-). and does not reIrain Irom ascribing to Him attributes which resemble the
attributes oI created things (tashbïh / ·--~·-)|as do the anthropomorphists (al-mujassimah)|
deviates. and Iails to comprehend the meaning oI transcendence (tanzïh). Verily. our
Lord. who is great and exalted |that is. surpasses all that does not beIit Him|. is
characterised by the attributes oI uniqueness (al-wahdänïyah / ²·--'~=·¹'). and described by
the traits oI singularity (al-Iardänïyah / ²·--'~-¹'). Nothing He has created resembles Him.
He is Iar above |and untouched by all originated characteristics including| limits (al-
hudüd / ~·~·=¹'). bounds (al-ghäyät / -'·-'·¹'). props (al-arkän / .'·´`'). and instruments
(al-adawät / -'·~`'). The six directions do not encompass Him (Lä tahwïhï al-jihatu al-
sittu / -~·¹' ²·+=¹' ··-·=- `). nor do any other originated qualities (al-mubtada'at / -'=~·--~¹')
apply to Him.
55


54
He is the author oI al-Lubäb Sharh al-Kitäb. a Iamous commentary on Mukhtasar al-Qudürï. a classic
text oI HanaIi Iiqh. Al-Ghunaimï was the student oI the illustrious HanaIi Iaqïh Ibn 'Äbidïn (d. 1252 /
1836; Damascus).
55
Quoted in al-Ghunaimï. pp. 72-75


The Question oI the Ambiguous Texts oI the Qur'än and Su The Question oI the Ambiguous Texts oI the Qur'än and Su The Question oI the Ambiguous Texts oI the Qur'än and Su The Question oI the Ambiguous Texts oI the Qur'än and Sun nn nnah nah nah nah

Al-Ghunaimï in his commentary on the passage Irom al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah which we just
quoted above explained at length what is implied by the precept that Alläh is above the need Ior
instruments (al-adawät / -'·~`') mentioning a point that is oI paramount importance in under-
standing the ambiguous texts oI Isläm (al-mutashäbihät / -'+-'~-~¹'):

Instruments. or tools. reIer to limbs equipped with devices. Texts that imply that Alläh is
seemingly qualiIied by instruments that are limbs. or organs abound in the Qur'än and
hadith; Ior example. the mention oI the hand. Iinger. Ioot. soul. and Iace. Consider the
Iollowing phrases Irom the speech oI Alläh. the Exalted. in the Qur'än:

U Alläh`s 'hand¨ is above their hands. (al-Eath. 48:10)
U What prevented you Irom prostrating to what I created with 'my two hands¨?
(Sa'd. 38:75)
U There is the 'Iace¨ oI Alläh. (al-Baqarah. 2:115)
U ...and the 'Iace¨ oI your Lord abides. (al-Rahmän. 55:27)
U You know what is in my soul. but I don`t know what is in Your 'soul¨
56

(al-Mä`idah. 5:115)
Eurther. consider the Iollowing phrases Irom the speech oI the Prophet :

U You are as you described Your 'soul¨.
U The hearts oI the children oI Adam are all between 'the two Iingers¨ oI the
MerciIul as a single heart. He turns them however he wishes.
U Verily. Alläh stretches Iorth His 'hand¨ at night that those who have committed
oIIences in the day might repent. and He stretches Iorth His 'hand¨ in the day
that those who have committed oIIences during the night might repent. So He
shall do till the sun rises Irom the west.
U Hell does not stop saying. 'Is there any more?¨ until the Lord oI Glory puts
down His 'Ioot.¨
It is incumbent on us to convey these texts as they are. consigning the meaning oI them to
their respective speaker |that is. Alläh or His Prophet|. while maintaining that the
Originator is Iar above having limbs or organs. or being qualiIied by any originated
quality (al-siIät al-muhdathah / ²·`~=~¹' -'--·¹'). Imäm Eakhr al-Isläm al-Bazdawï (d. 482 /
1089; Samarkand) remarked in his work on the Principles oI Eiqh. known popularly as
Usül al-Bazdawï: 'We |the HanaIi ulamä`| recognise that the 'hand¨ and the 'Iace¨ are
established texts |oI the sharï'ah|. but we recognise that their signiIication is obscure.
57


56
Abü `l-Barakät al-NasaIï (d. 710 / 1310; Baghdad). explained these words in his commentary on the
Qur'än. Mudärik al-Tanzïl. He said that the word naIs. which I translated literally above. means being
since it reIers to a things essence. He says that the sentence means that You know what I know. but I do
not know what You know. We creatures are a compound oI spirit. soul. and body; whereas. Alläh is One
and indivisible. not compounded.
57
Eakhr al-Isläm here enunciates the typical position oI the Mäturïdïyah |the adherents to the Mäturïdï
School oI Kaläm| in respect to the allegorical texts (al-mutashäbihät). which position is called taIwïd /
.-·--. and reIers to consigning the meaning oI the texts to Alläh. while recognising that the literal mean-
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
23
Nonetheless. it is not permissible to reject these texts on account oI our inability to
understand their signiIication. Rejection (ta'tïl / .·-=·-) is what caused the Mu'tazilah to
deviate.
Ramadän EIendï ( (( ( ( (( (T TT T T TT TA AA A A AA AR RR R R RR RJ JJ J J JJ JU UU U U UU UM MM M M MM MA AA A A AA AH HH H H HH H) )) ) ) )) ) summarized this whole issue in a Iormula which is as suc-
cinct as it is perspicacious: 'The complete answer |to those who cling to the outward sense oI the
ambiguous texts (al-mutahshäbihät) is to say to them that those prooIs which are transmitted |in
either the Qur'än or Sunnah| which are susceptible to more than one interpretation
(al-muhtamilah) may not prejudice those prooIs which are transmitted and are not susceptible to
more than one interpretation (al-muhkamah). Rather. we have to construe those texts which are
susceptible to more than one interpretation (al-muhtamilah) in the light oI those texts which are
not susceptible to more than one interpretation (al-muhkamah) since the latter are the basis |and
the Ioundation| oI the Qur'än.¨
58


Imäm Abü HanïIah Declares Alläh Eree Irom Physically Sitting on the Throne Imäm Abü HanïIah Declares Alläh Eree Irom Physically Sitting on the Throne Imäm Abü HanïIah Declares Alläh Eree Irom Physically Sitting on the Throne Imäm Abü HanïIah Declares Alläh Eree Irom Physically Sitting on the Throne

Al-Ghunaimï continued to illustrate the principle taIwïd; that is. consigning the meaning oI the
ambiguous texts (al-mutashäbihät) to Alläh while disregarding all literal. anthropomorphic im-
plications by quoting Irom the al-Wasïyah. an extant treatise oI Abü HanïIah:
We declare |Abü HanïIah says| that Alläh made istawä / .·-·~' |literally it means to sit
down. or mount. or ascend. but idiomatically it has numerous meaningsto take control.
Ior example|
59
without having any need oI it. He not only maintains the Throne. but all
other things as well. Indeed. iI He had experienced any need. He would have been
incapable oI originating the world and managing it. sharing such incapability with all
originated things. II He was in need oI sitting down (julüs / .··¹=). or oI a resting-place.
or oI Iixity (qarär / '··). then where was He. exalted is He. beIore He originated the
Throne? Indeed. He transcends all that. and is Iar. Iar beyond it |that is. beyond
physically sitting on the Throne. and all such anthropomorphic absurdities|.
60

Al-Ghunaimï commented on the above passage oI Abü HanïIah saying:
Observe how Abü HanïIah conveys the express text oI the revelation (zähir al-tanzïl /
-'·= .·-´--¹' ) without interpreting it. while at the same time maintaining the requirement oI
transcendence (tanzïh / ··-´--). and repudiating all attribution to Him oI what does not beIit
His MagniIicent Essence. This is the way oI the early predecessors (al-salaI / -¹~·¹'). and
it is a saIer (aslam / »¹·~') way; whereas. the way oI the later ulamä` (al-khalaI / -·¹=¹') is to
interpret (ta`wïl / .-·'-¹')-some say that the way oI interpretation is wiser (ahkam / »´=').
61


ings are not implied. Observe that Eakhr al-Isläm prohibits the rejection oI the allegorical texts. That is
because the Mäturïdïyah recognised that it is impossible that what Alläh or his Messenger oI Alläh
say not be true. However. they appreciated that iI the outward meaning oI ambiguous texts clashed with
unambiguous. deIinitive texts or with the established principles oI the sharï'ah derived Irom explicit. un-
equivocal. and recurrent (mutawätir) texts. then there was a compelling need to consign (taIwïd / .-·--)
the meaning to Alläh while repudiating the literal meaning. The point to appreciate in all that we have
discussed is that neither consigning (taIwïd) nor interpreting (ta`wïl) implies the rejection oI those texts in
spite oI the harangues oI the Hashawïyah that it is otherwise.
58
Ramadän EIendï. Häshïyah Ramadän EIendï. (Multan. Pakistan; Maktabah Imdädïyah. n.d.). p.113
59
Abü HanïIah is using the word here without committing himselI to indicating its meaning since he con-
signs its meaning to Alläh (taIwïd). that is why we preIer to leave it untranslated since translation requires
the translator to commit himselI to one oI the meanings oI the word.
60
Al-Ghunaimï. p. 74
61
Al-Ghunaimï. p. 74

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
24
Recall that al-Tahtäwï said in his al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah (see top oI p. 6). which we
quoted previously: 'The six directions do not encompass Him (La tahwïhï al-jihatu al-sittu / `
·-·=- ²+=¹' -~¹' ). nor do any other originated qualities (al-mubtada'at / -'=~--~¹') apply to Him.¨
Al-Ghunaimï explained that statement saying: '|The six directions do not encompass Him| since
He existed beIore He created the six directions. and He exists now as He existed then. in contra-
distinction with all that is other than Him. |Ior direction encompasses that|¨
62


62
Al-Ghunaimï. p. 75



The Asharites: Elag Bearers oI Orthodox Islam The Asharites: Elag Bearers oI Orthodox Islam The Asharites: Elag Bearers oI Orthodox Islam The Asharites: Elag Bearers oI Orthodox Islam

We saw above that al-Ghunaimï aIter mentioning a number oI examples oI ambiguous texts
(al-mutashäbihät) proceeded in the passage that Iollowed to exempliIy the position oI entrusting
the meaning oI those texts to Alläh while maintaining the divine transcendence. stating that this
position is called taIwïd / .-·--. This position is typical oI HanaIi scholars who Iollow in that the
Imäm Abü Mansür al-Mäturïdï (d. 333 / 944; Samarqand) who Iollowed Abü HanïIah (d. 150 /
767; Baghdad). This predilection is one oI the points which distinguishes the HanaIi ulamä`
Irom the rest oI the Ash'arïyah (the Asharite School) whose predilection is interpretation (ta`wïl
/ .-·'-). With respect to these diIIerences. the HanaIis may be called Mäturïdïyah (²-~--'~¹'. that is.
the Maturidites to use the Orientalists term). However. it is a mistake to consider them a sepa-
rate sect because the diIIerences they have with the Ash'arïyah are minor and reconciliable;
moreover. neither school condemns the other oI deviation. Rather. they are united in their eIIorts
to deIend orthodox belieI Irom the Ialse claims oI sectarians. Indeed. as 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Earhäri
(d.) mentioned in his al-Nabräs
63
a Iamous supercommentary on Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah.
the term Ash'arïyah is a technical term reIerring to both the schools.
64


63
Al-Earhärï. al-Nabräs Sharh Sharh al-'Aqä`id (Multan. Pakistan. Maktabah Haqqänïyah. n.d.). p. 353
64
When Imäm Ahmad was asked about those hadïth which |seemingly| mention that Alläh comes down
to the lowest heaven. and the vision oI Alläh in the hereaIter. and His pushing His Ioot |into Hell|. and
the likes oI that. he said: 'We believe in it and we attest to it without saying how (lä kaiI) and without
explaining the meaning (lä ma'nä).¨ He also said one day when they asked him about al-istiwä` (literally.
the ascension; but as an idiom it has numerous meanings. among them: to take control. to turn one`s at-
tention to. to overpower). He said: 'He ascended on the Throne however He wished. and as He wished
without having any limit and without having any attribute by which anyone could describe Him.¨ This
was reported by |Abü Bakr| al-Khalläl |d. 311 / 923|in his al-Sunnah with a chain oI narration (sanad) to
|ibn Ishäq (d. 273 / 886)| Irom his uncle |and teacher| Imäm Ahmad. Now that is taIwïd |see page25|
and tanzïh (transcendent uniqueness. see page 4. and note 6) according to the |usual| madhhab oI the
SalaI (that is. the Early Muslims. and more precisely the Iirst three generations oI Isläm). However.
sometimes they interpreted the texts according to their Iigurative meanings as Hanbal also reported Irom
Imäm Ahmad that he heard him say: 'The day oI the debate |presumably one oI the debates with the
Mu'tazilah which he was Iorced to enter in the presence oI the Caliph Mu`tasim| they brought as an ar-
gument |Ior the heretical doctrine oI the creation oI the Qur'än| the Iact that Surah al-Baqarah will come
on the Day oI Judgement and so will Surah Tabärak |as was reported in authentic hadïth|. I said to them:
'It means their reward |Ior reading them| will come. Just as when Alläh. exalted is His mention. says:
'.and your Lord comes and the angels come in ranks;` He means that His power comes.¨ Ibn Hazm al-
Zähirï (d. 456 /1064; Andalusia) mentioned in his al-Easl |bain al-Eiraq|: We have narrated |with a com-
plete chain oI narration| Irom Ahmad ibn Hanbal. may Alläh show him mercy. that he said: The meaning
oI the words '.and your Lord comes¨ is 'the command oI your Lord comes.¨ Now this is ta`wïl (see
Iootnote 57. and 75) and tanzïh according to the madhhab oI the later ulamä` (al-khalaI) |that is. with the
exclusion oI the Mäturïdïyah|. As Ior what is reported Irom Imäm Ahmad contrary to that. it is all the
Ialse accusations oI ignorant would-be-Iriends oI the Imäm and lack oI understanding oI the Imäm`s
|real| madhhab. |See Ibn al-Jauzï`s conIirmation oI that ahead page 56|. The preceding note has been
quoted Irom Imäm Muhammad Zähid al-Kautharï`s Iootnote no. 5 in DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. Ibn Kathïr
(774 /1373; Damascus) reported in his al-Bidäyah wa `l-Nihäyah. p. 327; vol 10. an interpretation oI
Ahmad similar to the what Ibn Hazm reported Irom him. Ibn Kathïr mentioned there with complete
chain oI narration (sanad): Al-Baihaqï reported Irom al-Häkim Irom Abï 'Amr ibn al-Simmäk Irom Han-
bal that Ahmad ibn Hanbal interpreted the words oI Alläh. exalted is He. '.and your Lord comes.¨ to
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
26
Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï (d. 771 / 1370; Damascus). a ShaIi Iaqïh (an expert in the Sharï'ah).
an usülï (an expert in the Principles oI Eiqh). a muhaddith (an expert in the Science oI Hadïth) oI
high standing. and an expert in history and biography (tarjumah) oI the ulamä`. and the author oI
the authoritative encyclopaedia oI biography (taräjim)
65
. Tabaqät al-ShäIi'ïyah al-Kubrä. men-
tioned that his Iather Taqï al-Dïn al-Subkï (d. 756 / 1355; Cairo)
66
. stated: 'What al-'Aqïdah al-
Tahäwïyah contains |oI articles oI belieI| is what |the Imäm Abü `l-Hasan| al-Ash'arï main-
tained. It does not diIIer with him except on three issues.¨ AIter citing his Iather`s opinion. Täj
al-Dïn al-Subkï proclaimed:

I know that:

1. The Malikis
67
are all Ashä'irah |an alternate Arabic plural Ior Ash'arïyah. which
means the Iollowers oI the creed oI Imäm Abü `l-Hasan al-Ash'arï| without any
exception
2. The ShaIis are all Ashä'irah with the exception oI those who advocated
anthropomorphism (tajsïm). or I'tizäl |that is the heresy which distinguished the
Mu'tazilah
68
|; however. they are oI no consequence

mean 'His recompense comes.¨ Then he mentioned that al-Baihaqï stated that this chain oI narration
(sanad) is Iaultless (lä ghubär 'alaihï). Abü `l-Barakät al-NasaIï (d. 710 / 1310; Baghdad). reported in his
commentary on the Qur'än. Mudärik al-Tanzïl. that it is reported Irom Ibn 'Abbäs that he said it means
that His command and His judgement come. We will enumerate examples oI the interpretations oI the
Companions and Eollowers and the SalaI (the early Muslims) in a special section later in this treatise (see
ahead page Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence ).
65
The 'ulamä` are the transmittors oI the Sharï'ah. ThereIore. it is vital to know who the 'ulamä` and
what is there status and relative merit. This can be known by knowing the opinion oI other 'ulamä` about
them. The Prophet is reported to have said: 'This knowledge is religion. so let a man see Irom whom
he is taking his religion.¨ There emerged at a very early period in Isläm a special class oI literature called
tärikh. or taräjim which we have translated above as encyclopaedia oI biography. and elsewhere as bio-
graphical dictionary. However. the term should be qualiIied because tärikh. or taräjim are concerned with
speciIic biographical details oI the 'ulamä`: the dates oI their birth and death. their domiciles. the jour-
neys especially Ior study. or teaching. their teachers. their students. what they studied. what they mas-
tered. what they wrote. what their contempories said about them. what posterity said about them. and so
on. This type oI inIormation they called tarjumah. which is the singular oI taräjim. Some works like are
concise; al-Ziriklï. Ior example. in his al-A'läm usually conIines himselI to presenting the tarjumah oI an
'alim in considerably less than a page; whereas. al-Dhahabi in his Siyar al-A'läm al-Nubala` oIten gives
an 'älim`s tarjumah in ten or twenty pages. or even more. While tärikh literally means history many oI
the works which are classed as tärikh contain more inIormation about the 'ulamä` than they do about
events. Khatïb al-Baghdädï`s Tärikh Baghdäd. Ior example. deals almost exculsively with the taräjim oI
'ulamä` and the hadïth that they transmitted; likewise. Tärikh al-Bukhärï written by Imäm al-Bukhärï.
66
Taqï al-Dïn al-Subkï was one oI the very great ulamä` oI Isläm. one oI the Iew men who really mas-
tered both the intellectual sciences oI the sharï'ah (al-ma'qülät) like the principles oI Iiqh. and the science
oI belieI (Kaläm); as well as the sciences which are transmitted and memorized (al-manqülät) like the
science oI hadïth and the science oI the biography and criticism oI narrators.
67
That is. the Iollowers oI the Mälikï Madhhab which means to say those who Iollow the school oI Is-
lamic law which was Iounded by Imäm Mälik. The term Maliki. and its plural Malikis. is in regular use
with English-speaking Muslims around the world. so I consider it somewhat pedantic to insist on the
Arabic term al-Mälikïyah which many oI my readers could probably not pronounce anyways. In the
same way I will use and have used the terms: HanaIi and HanaIis; ShaIi and ShaIis; and Hanbali and
Hanbalis to reIer to the Iollowers oI the other Iour legitimate madhhabs which term I will also use instead
oI the true Arabic term: madhähib. the plural oI madhhab. which means school oI Islamic law.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
27
3. Most oI the HanaIis are Ashä'irah; that is. they believe what al-Ash'arï proIessed.
except those oI them who ascribed to I'tizäl
69

4. Most oI the great men oI the Hanbalis are Ashä'irah; they do not depart Irom
what al-Ash'ari proIessed except those who advocated anthropomorphism
(tajsïm). There are more advocates oI anthropomorphism in the Hanbali madhhab
than any other madhhab.
70


Now I |al-Subkï continues| have studied al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah oI Abü Ja'Iar al-
Tahäwï and I have Iound the matter to be as the shaikh. the imäm |he reIers to his
illustrious Iather. Taqï al-Dïn al-Subkï| has said.
71
Presumably |the belieIs| al-'Aqïdah
al-Tahäwïyah |expounds| represents the belieIs oI Abü HanïIah. Abü YüsaI. and
Muhammad |the two are the senior most disciples oI Abü HanïIah|. Indeed. al-Tahäwï
has produced a masterly work. AIter that I went through the books oI the HanaIis and
Iound the number oI issues on which we |that is. the Ashä'irah in contradistinction with
the Mäturïdïyah; or the ShaIis| diIIer with the HanaIis are a mere thirteen issues: six are
real diIIerences. and the rest are semantic. However. the diIIerence oI opinion that we
have with them on those six issues. and which they have with us does not require us to

68
More will be said about them presently. See ahead page 35.
69
Their numbers are very Iew.
70
The Iact that the proponents oI anthropomorphism plagued the Hanbali Madhhab is Iamous. Imäm
Abü `l-Hasan al-Ash 'arï opposed Abü Muhammad al-Barbahärï (d. 329 / 941). the leader oI the Hanbalis
in Baghdad in his day. because oI al-Barbahärï`s extreme anthropomorphic views. He and his Iollowers
persecuted those Muslims who did not proIess that Alläh would sit Muhammad beside Him on the
Throne on the Day oI Judgement. In the year 317 they unsheathed their swords against all who denied
the supposed seating oI Muhammad on the Throne. The historians chronicled that ugly event as Eitnah
al-Hanäbalah. See. Ior example. Ibn Athïr`s al-Kämil Iï `l-Tärï kh ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) Their inIluence became
so widespread that al-Ash 'arï was compelled to write his al-Radd 'alä al-Mujassimah in their reIutation.
Ibn al-Jauzï (d. 597 /1201; Baghdad) wrote in the introduction oI his DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. aI-
ter remonstrating Ior some two pages (see ahead page 52) with his Iellow Hanbalis Ior corrupting the
madhhab oI Imäm Ahmad by introducing an anthropomorphic creed: 'So do not introduce in the
madhhab oI that righteous soul Irom the predecessors |that is. Imäm Ahmad| what does not belong to it.
Indeed. you have clothed this madhhab with loathsome shame. The matter has reached such a point that
there is hardly a Hanbali who is not an anthropomorphist! (Hattä lä yuqälu 'an hanbalï yin illä mujassim /
»~=~ `' .¹--= .= .'-- ` .-=)
Abü Muhammad al-Tamïmï |Rizq Alläh ibn 'Abd al-Wahhäb ibn 'Abd al-'Azïz (d. 488 / 1095;
Baghdad). whom Ibn Rajab said was the imäm oI 'Iräq in his day| said about one oI your imams |he
means Qädï Abü Ya'lä (d. 458 / 1066) who was explicitly mentioned in other reports|: 'He has clothed
the madhhab with loathsome shame which can not be washed away until the Day oI Resurrection!` ¨
(Quoted Irom DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. p. 10.)
In the eighth century oI Isläm. Ibn Taimïyah and his disciple Ibn Qayyim al-Jauzïyah caused
much consternation in Damascus and Cairo over their preaching oI anthropomorphism. The ulamä` com-
plained to the Sultän Ibn Qalawün with the result that Ibn Taimïyah was imprisoned and the Hanbalis
were sternly warned to stop preaching the heretical his ideas. The ulamä` wrote numerous works in reIu-
tation oI his views. Cross-reIerence.
71
Namely. that al-Tahäwï (d. 321 / 923; Cairo) does not diIIer with al-Ash'arï (d. 324 / 936; Baghdad)
except on a negligible number oI issues. Keep in mind that al-Tahäwï and al-Ash'arï were contemporar-
ies. except that al-Tahäwï was in Cairo while al-Ash'arï was in Baghdad. Imäm Abü Mansür al-Mäturïdï.
(d. 333 / 944; Samarqand) was also their contemporary. It was these three men and their Iollowers who
opposed in a powerIul way the heresy oI the Mu'tazilah when it was at its zenith with the result that Ahl
al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä`ah continued to gain ascendancy until the Mu'tazilah virtually disappeared.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
28
hold them to be unbelievers. or deviated |mubtadi'ah|; just as it does not require them to
hold us to be unbelievers. or misguided. Ustädh
72
Abü Mansür |'Abd al-Qähir|
al-Baghdädï (d. 429 h. / 1037; AsIarä`ïn)|. and other imams oI ours and theirs
emphasised that. In Iact. the matter ¦that is. this mutual tolerance and acceptance| is so
obvious it. that it should not even need to be mentioned. HäIiz |Ibn 'Asäkir (d. 571 /
1210; Damascus)| said:

Although the adherents |oI the two schools: the school oI the Ashä'irah and the
Mäturïdïyah| diIIer on some issues. they are all agreed that they have to reIrain
Irom holding one another unbelievers. contrary to the position oI other sects and
cults. Ior when the ungodly heresies (mutashanni'ät) which they maintained Ior the
sake oI their desires and Ior the sake oI their adherence to their particular sect
clashed. they took to declaring one another unbelievers. and considered it a
religious obligation to spurn whoever opposed them.
73. 74


Although al-Ghunaimï Iollows the Mäturïdïyah. he certainly does not condemn interpre-
tation (ta`wïl / .-·'-); rather he points out without any disapproval that many ulamä` resorted to it.
Eurthermore. he points out that some HanaIi imams. like Ibn al-Humäm (d. 861 / 1457; Cairo).
permit or even preIer interpretation 'when there is a necessity to compensate Ior inability oI the
common people to understand taIwïd and consequently were in the danger oI Ialling into anthro-
pomorphism (tashbïh / ·--~-).¨
Ibn al-Humäm also advocated a middle course wherein he permitted ta`wïl
(interpretation) when there was any necessity to compensate Ior the inability oI the
common people to understand taIwïd (entrusting the meaning to Alläh while maintaining
divine transcendence) and consequently were in the danger oI Ialling into
anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh). However. he discouraged ta`wïl (interpretation)
when there was no such need Ior it explaining that by knowing the temperament and
intellectual level oI the common people one could assess that.
75.76
We had occasion to reIer previously to the statement oI Sa'd al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï (d. 793 /
1390; Samarqand). a universally acclaimed expert in belieIs and all the intellectual sciences.
77


72
Ustädh in the technical jargon oI the ulamä` is a title oI high respect generally reserved Ior those who
mastered the intellectual sciences (al-ma'qülät) such as Kaläm. the science oI the principles oI Iiqh. Is-
lamic logic. the rhetorical sciences ('ulüm al-baläghah). and so on.
73
The statemenat oI Ibn 'Asäkir which Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï has quoted here is to be Iound in Ibn
'Asäkir`s book Tibyïn Kidhb al-MuItarï Iïmä Nusiba ilä al-Ash'arï. p. ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )
74
Al-Ghunaimï. pp. 42-43. The original statement oI Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï is to be Iound in his Tabaqät
al-ShaIi'ïyah al-Kubrä. (Cairo. Eaisal'Isä al-Bäbï al-Halabï. 1336 h.). p. 377; vol. 3.
75
Al-Ghunaimï. pp. 74-75
76
Ibn al-Humäm mentioned that in his book on belieI al-Musäyarah. When he says 'by knowing the
temperament and intellectual level oI the common people one could assess that.¨ he means iI the ulamä`
consign the meanings (taIwïd / .-·--) oI the allegorical texts to Alläh the people do not become conIused
or Iall into antthropomorphism. then consigning is better; whereas. iI they Iall into conIusion and anthro-
pomorphism. then interpretation (ta`wïl / .-·'-¹') is better.
77
'Abd al-Hayy al-Laknawï mentioned in his al-Eawä`id al-Bahïyah (Beirut. Där al-Ma'riIah. n.d.).
p. 135. the soaring praise oI al-KaIawï al-Rümï (d. about 990 / 1583; Istanbul) Ior al-TaItäzänï in al-
KaIawï`s encyclopaedia oI the biography oI HanaIi 'ulamä`. Katä`ib al-A'läm al-Akhyär min Euqahä`
Madhhab al-Nu'män al-Mukhtär:
Al-TaItäzänï was one oI the great ShaIi 'ulamä`. yet he produced some outstanding works
in the Iield oI HanaIi principles oI Iiqh. He was one oI the excellence men oI his times.
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
29
and a Iollower oI both the HanaIi and Maturïdï madhhabs.
78
which statement he mentioned in his
commentary al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. an authoritative text on belieIs according to the Maturïdï
madhhab:

Eyes had not seen any personage the likes oI him. He was absolutely the Master (al-
Ustadh). the man oI undisputed esteem. His Iame swept beyond the horizons; his name is
repeated in the pages oI books. His books were celebrated throughout the earth. They con-
tain such proIundity and erudition that even |an intellectual giant like| al-Sayyid al-SharïI
|al-Jurjänï (d. 816 / 1412; Shïräz)| at the outset oI his writing career used to dive into the
ocean oI his thoroughly substantiated researches and expositions retrieving pearls oI re-
search so thouroughly documented that even the prooIs Ior his issues were documented
with prooIs. It used to astonish him and he used to admit his loIty status and greatness.
Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï (d. 852 / 1449; Cairo) also praised him highly in his al-Durar al-Käminah Iï A'yän
al-Mi`at al-Thäminah (Beirut. Där Ihyä` al-Turäth al-'Arabï. n.d.). p. 350; vol. 4:
.and he has other works besides that |which I mentioned| in diIIerent Iields Ior which the
imäms vie with another to obtain. The knowledge oI the rhetorical sciences ('ulüm al-
baläghat) devolved on him as did the knowledge oI the intellectual sciences (al-ma'qül)
|that is. Kaläm. Islamic logic. the principles oI Iiqh. Iiqh. Qur'änic commentary. grammar.
and so on| in the east; rather. in all the world. He had no peer in his mastery oI these sci-
ences. He died in the month oI SaIar in the year 792 |hegira| leaving no one his equal to
replace him.
78
The question oI which madhhab al-TaItäzänï actually Iollowed has long been a subject oI controversy.
As we saw in the previous note al-KaIawï al-Rümï held him to be ShaIi. However. the Iact that he under-
took to comment on al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. which is one oI the most important summaries (mutün) oI
the Maturïdï madhhab. and the Iact that he wrote Sharh Talkhïs al-Jämi' al-Saghïr. and al-Eatäwä
al-HanaIïyah. which are works on HanaIi Iiqh. and the Iact he wrote a supercommentary on al-Talwïh. a
work oI HanaIi principles oI Iiqh. and a commentary on a Iamous HanaIi text oI inheritance law called al-
Siräjïyah. are Iacts which strongly support his being HanaIi and Maturïdï. 'Abd al-Hayy al-Laknawï
( (( ( ( (( (T TT T T TT TA AA A A AA AR RR R R RR RJ JJ J J JJ JU UU U U UU UM MM M M MM MA AA A A AA AH HH H H HH H) )) ) ) )) ) quoted al-Tahtäwï who quoted the HanaIi imäm Ibn Nujaim to the eIIect that al-TaItäzänï
assumed the leadership oI the HanaIi madhhab in his day and served as a HanaIi qädï. In addition to the
above-mentioned works. he mentioned that he completed the unIinished commentary on al-Hidäyah by
al-Sarüjï. Al-Laknawï Iurther mentioned that Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï (d. 1014 h. / 1606; Makkah) included a
biography oI al-TaItäzänï in his dictionary oI the biography oI HanaIi 'ulamä`: al-Tabaqät al-HanaIïyah.
(See al-Laknawï. al-Eawä`id al-Bahïyah. p. 135.) Al-TaItäzänï`s books. Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah.
and al-Talwïh have been required texts in religious schools (madäris) in the lands oI the HanaIis Ior cen-
turies. His major work on Kaläm. his book al-Maqäsid is still an authoritative reIerence book Ior
Mäturïdï 'ulamä`. Until today teachers depend on these texts to teach their students the principles oI be-
lieI and the principles oI Iiqh. which are called the two Ioundations (al-aslain) since they are the essence
oI the Sharï'ah. Is it reasonable to presume that they could have depended on his works Ior so long with-
out him being a HanaIi? One oI the leading contemporary Islamic research scholars. and a specialist in
the biography oI HanaIi 'ulamä`. Although al-Laknawï himselI considered al-TaItäzänï to be ShaIi the
evidence is against him. 'Abd al-Eattah Abü Ghuddah mentioned in a note to the work Iqämat al-Hujjah.
( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) p. 16: 'What is clear is that he |al-TaItäzänï| had masterly proIiciency in both madhhabs.
Neither was he a ShaIi in the usual way oI ShaIi`s. nor was he HanaIi in the usual way oI the HanaIi`s.
However. aIter making |extensive| researches in most oI the sources |oI biography| and aIter reIerring to
his own works it seems that he was HanaIi. However. Alläh knows best.¨
Having said all that. we can add that iI the Iact oI the matter were that al-TaItäzänï were actually
a ShaIi. his case serves to prove our point even more because then we have an example oI a ShaIi who not
only respected HanaIi and Mäturïdï scholarship. but mastered it and wrote highly regared texts in the
Iield. That shows that the two madhhabs were sister-madhhabs. existing together in complete harmony.
and tolerating a large degree oI give and take.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
30

Conclusive prooIs (al-adillat al-qat'ïyah) are established which determine the absolute
and imperative necessity oI maintaining the pure transcendence oI God. ThereIore. it is
necessary that either we leave the knowledge oI the meaning oI the ambiguous texts to
Alläh. exalted is He. as was the custom oI the SalaI |the Iirst three generations oI Isläm|
preIerring the saIer way (al-tarïq al-aslam); or we interpret them in a correct way as is the
custom oI the later `'ulamä` in order to reIute the propaganda oI the ignorant |an allusion
to the Hashawïyah| and take simpleminded souls by the arm in a way which is saIer (al-
tarïq al-ahkam) |Ior the simpleminded|.
79


Just as the HanaIi 'ulamä` oIten advocated ta`wïl. some oI the ShaIi 'ulamä` preIerred to restrict
themselves to taIwïd iI an interpretation was not Iorthcoming or was Iorced. Al-Ghunaimï
quoted to that eIIect a statement oI Ibn Daqïq al-'Ïd (d. 702 / 1302; Cairo) |a ShaIi imäm|:

Ibn Daqïq al-'Ïd took a middle course. Ior he said: 'We accept interpretation (ta`wïl) iI
the interpretation is Ieasible and compatible with the usage oI the Arabs; whereas. we
reIrain Irom interpretation (ta`wïl) iI the interpretation is Iar-Ietched.¨
80


The principle Iormulated by Ibn Daqïq al-'Ïd was illustrated by HäIiz Abü Bakr
al-Baihaqi (d. 458 h. / 1066; Nisäpur) long beIore the time oI Ibn Daqïq al-'Ïd. Abü Bakr
al-Baihaqi was one oI the most eminent 'ulamä` oI the ShaIi Madhhab. and a muhaddith oI the
highest rank. Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï mentioned that al-Baihaqï was the most outstanding student oI
HäIiz Abü 'Abd Alläh al-Häkim (d.405 h. / 1014). the latter who al-Subkï said heard hadïth Irom
two thousand shaikhs.
81
Imäm al-Haramain al-Juwainï (d. 478 / 1085; Nishapur) said: 'There is
not a Iollower oI the ShaIi Madhhab who does not owe a debt oI obligation to Imäm ShäIi'ï. ex-
cept al-Baihaqï. Ior in his case al-ShäIi'ï owes a debt oI obligation to him because oI the books
al-Baihaqï wrote in support oI al-ShäIi'ï`s madhhab and opinions.¨
82
Al-Baihaqï wrote a spe-
cial work on the ambiguous hadïth (al-mutashäbihät) in which he mentioned most oI what has
been reported oI them. mentioning as well the ambiguous verses oI the Qur'än which outwardly
imply that Alläh has human or created attributes. His primary purpose in compiling the work.
which he called Kitäb al-Asmä` wa `l-SiIät. was to illustrate that none oI these hadïth are to be
construed literally. He showed that when such hadïth are established to be hadïth in Iact (be-
cause some the ambiguous hadïth are clearly Iorged). then we are bound to either interpret them
iI that is possible or to consign their meaning to Alläh iI no interpretation is Iorthcoming or iI
what has been suggested is IarIetched or problematic. He cited in numerous instances cases oI
interpretation reported with authentic chains oI narration Irom the Companions. and the Eollow-
ers. and the SalaI. and he gave innumerable examples oI idiomatic usage oI such terms in Arabic
poetry and literature. and he adduced the statements oI the great authorities oI Arabic language.

79
Quoted in the supercommentary oI Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah by Ramadän EIendï known as
Häshiyah Ramadän EIendï (Multan. Pakistan; Maktabah Imdädïyah. n.d.). p.113. See also Sa'd al-Dïn
al-TaItäzänï. Sharh al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. (Syrian edition with no name oI publisher or date edited by
Muhammad 'Adnän Darwïsh. and checked by ProIessor Adïb al-Kalläs oI Aleppo). p.97. Sharh
al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah is a required text oI study in the religious schools (madäris) oI Pakistan. AIghani-
stan. India. and Turkey. and also in Azhär University. Cairo.
80
Al-Ghunaimï. p. 74
81
Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï. Tabaqät al-ShäIi'ïyah. (Cairo. Eaisal 'Ïsä al-Bäbï al-Halabï. reprint oI 1336 publi-
cation. n.d.). p. 156; vol. 4.
82
al-Subkï. Tabaqät al-ShäIi'ïyah. pp. 10-11; vol. 4

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
31
Täj al-Dïn al-Subkï said that he did not know oI any other book which can compare with Kitäb
al-Asmä` wa `l-SiIät.
83

In his al-Asmä` wa `l-SiIät. al-Baihaqï introduced a chapter to which he gave the title:
Mä Jä` Iï Ithbät al-Yadain ('What Has Come Concerning the Ascription oI Two Hands |to
Alläh|¨). He opened the chapter with these words: 'They are two attributes which Iact is estab-
lished by |authentic| hadïth; however. they are not |corporeal| limbs.¨ Then he enumerated more
than a dozen hadïth. in which it is mentioned that Alläh created Adam with His Own two
hands. and He wrote the Torah with His Own hand. and planted the trees oI Paradise with His
Own hand. and he cited several verses oI the Qur'än which mention that He created Adam with
His Own two hands. Al-Baihaqï argued that each one oI these texts implies a special case. II we
interpret hand to mean power. or Iavour. and so on then there is nothing special about Adam
. and Paradise. and the Torah because Alläh`s every creature is subject to Alläh`s power and
Iavour. In this context hand is an example oI an ambiguous text which does not easily admit oI
interpretation. and Ior that reason he insists that what is incumbent on us is to believe in it with-
out construing it in the literal sense. and to leave its meaning up to Alläh. However. he men-
tioned numerous examples oI other contexts in which the interpretation oI hand is Iorthcoming:

Some oI the people oI qualiIied opinion |ahl al-nazr; in this context he means the experts
oI language and the mutakallimün| that in other contexts |that is. contexts other than the
creation oI Adam. and the planting oI the trees oI Paradise. and the writing oI the Torah
with His Own hand| hand can sometimes mean strength as. Ior instance. in the words oI
Alläh: 'And remember Our slave. David. the possessor oI hands |literally translated; Ior
the sake oI the illustration. otherwise those who are proIicient in Arabic immediately
understand strength|.¨ (39:18) Here it means strength. Then sometimes it has the
meaning oI possession
84
and power as. Ior instance. in the words oI Alläh : 'Say:
Bounty is in the hand oI Alläh. He gives it to whomsoever He pleases.¨ (3:73) Then
sometimes it has the meaning oI Iavour as Ior instance when the Arabs say: 'How much
hand I have shown so and so.¨ They mean to say: 'How much Iavour I have shown
him.¨ Then sometimes it has the meaning oI a |deIinite or relative| pronoun (al-silah /
²¹-·¹') as. Ior instance. in the words oI Alläh. exalted is He: '|Do they not see that We
have created Ior them Irom what We have worked with Our hands animals oI pasture
|especially camels|.¨ (36:71) It simply means 'which We have worked Ourselves.¨
Similarly. He. glorious and exalted is He. says: '.unless they should absolve him. or the
one in whose hand is the covenant oI marriage should absolve him |oI the duty oI paying
the dowry|.¨ (2:237) It simply means the one Ior whom is the covenant oI marriage.
85

Then sometimes hand is used in the sense oI the limb as in the verse: 'Take with your
hand a bunch oI grass |or herbs. or reeds. or anything like that even iI they are dry and
stiII| and strike |your wiIe| with them |in order to expiate your oath to beat her|. and do
not break your oath.¨ (38:44) However. in the words oI Alläh : 'O Iblïs |Satan|. what
prevented you Irom prostrating to what I created with my two hands?¨ it is not permitted
to construe the phrase as a limb because the Originator is one; it is impossible that he
be subject to division |since He does not have parts|. Eurthermore. it is not permitted to

83
al-Subkï. p. 9; vol. 4
84
Al-Baihaqï did not give an example oI the usage oI hand in the meaning oI possession. ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )
85
Abü `l-Barakät al-NasaIï mentioned in his commentary on the Qur'än that the Companion 'Alï held
that 'the one in whose hand is the covenant oI marriage¨ reIers to the husband; and that is the opinion oI
Abü HanïIah and the later opinion oI al-ShäIi'ï. The husband is bound to pay the wiIe halI oI the dowry
iI he divorces her beIore consummating the marriage. unless he should Iorgo his right to withhold halI the
promised dowry and pay it all to her as an act oI goodwill. That would be the interpretation oI the verse
according to the interpretation oI 'Älï .

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
32
construe the idiom |in this particular context| as strength. possession. Iavour. or as a
pronoun because these meanings apply just as much to His enemy Iblïs as they do to His
Iriend Adam ; whereas. the context requires that Alläh showed special attention to
Adam . II it also applies to Iblïs. then what is special about Adam? Such an
interpretation prejudices the meaning oI the verse. thereIore there is no recourse but to
consider that the term reIers to two attributes which are related to the creation oI Adam
with special honour. but not to the creation oI Iblïs; related in the manner that power
is related to the things on which it acts (al-maqdür).
86
not in a direct way. nor in a way
which requires touching. The same is the case oI those reports which we related
concerning |Alläh`s| writing the Torah |with His Own hand|. and the preparing a
welcome
87
in Paradise Ior its people |with His Own hand|. and other hadïths.

The The The The Maturïdïyah Maturïdïyah Maturïdïyah Maturïdïyah and and and and Ashä'irah Ashä'irah Ashä'irah Ashä'irah are in Essential Agreement are in Essential Agreement are in Essential Agreement are in Essential Agreement

The Iact oI the matter is that the 'ulamä` oI both the madhhabs; that is. the Ashä'irah and the
Maturïdï yah. respected one another`s point oI view. They studied one another`s works and
quoted Irom the 'ulamä` oI the other madhhab as a matter oI routine. Indeed. they even ex-
pounded and commented on one another`s works. Al-Sayyid al-SharïI al-Jurjänï (d. 816 / 1412;
Shïräz). a HanaIi. wrote a Iamous commentary on al-MuwäqiI. Al-MuwäqiI is an important
work in Kaläm according to the Ash'arï madhhab by 'Adud al-Dïn al'Ïjï (d. 756 / 1355; Ïj.
Shïräz). a ShaIi mutakallim. Sa'd al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï (d. 793 / 1390; Samarqand) wrote Sharh
al-'Aqä`id al-NasaIïyah. a commentary one oI the most important epitomes on HanaIi belieI.
al-Aqïdah al-NasaIïyah. Without having any background about al-TaItäzänï. one who studies
the book can hardly determine whether he is an Ash'arï (Asharite) or a Maturïdï (Maturidite)
since whenever the two madhhabs diIIer on an issue. he explains both positions with perIect objec-
tivity sometimes without giving any indication oI what position he preIers. sometimes inclining
to one side. sometimes to the other. but always respecting both. Murtudä al-Zabïdï (d. 1205 /
1790; Cairo). a HanaIi 'älim (scholar) comented on Qawä`id al-'Aqä`id. a short work oI belieI
which the Ash'arï imam al-Ghazälï wrote as a separate treatise and then later included in his
Ihyä` `Ulüm al-Dïn. Al-Zabïdï discussed both madhhabs showing the same equanimity and im-
partiality that al-TaItäzänï showed.
Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï (d. 1014 h. / 1606; Makkah). who wrote a highly acclaimed commen-
tary on Abü HanïIah`s epitome on belieI which epitome is known as al-Eiqh al-Akbär. was a Ia-
mous muhaddith. a HanaIi älim . and a spokesman oI the Maturïdïyah. Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï also
wrote a ten-volume commentary oI the hadïth collection Mishkät al-Masäbïh. While comment-
ing on the hadïth known as Hadïth al-Nuzül whose outward wording seems to suggest that Alläh
descends to the lowest heaven at the end oI the night. he quoted some remarks oI al-Nawawï
concerning the implications oI this hadïth which al-Nawawï wrote in his opus commentary on
Sahïh Muslim. Al-Nawawï mentioned that there are two madhhabs in relation to the ambiguous
texts and he brieIly explained them. Then he mentioned two interpretations which the 'ulamä`
suggested Ior this particular hadïth. AIter mentioning that and elaborating on it brieIly. Mulla
'Alï al-Qärï points out that both madhhabs are essentially agreed that interpretation; that is. con-
struing the text in other than its literal meaning. is necessary. He explained that on the one hand.
those who opt Ior taIwïd aIter disallowing the literal sense decline to deIine what the meaning

86
This is a reIerence to the doctrine oI the Ashä'irah which maintains that while the divine attributes are
pre-eternal (azalï); that is. without any beginning and not subject to extinction or change. yet
87
Al-Baihaqï reported a hadïth Irom Muslim in which it is mentioned that Alläh prepared the welcome
Ior the people oI Paradise with His Own hand. In other hadïth which he reported what is mentioned is
that Alläh planted the trees oI Paradise with His Own hand.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
33
actually is; rather they consign the determination oI that to Alläh. while declaring their belieI in
whatever Alläh intends by it. On the other hand. those who opt Ior ta'wïl disallow the literal
meaning and themselves deIine another meaning rather than consigning the determination oI that
to Alläh. So in eIIect both madhhabs interpret since both repudiate the literal meaning; however.
the interpretation oI the Iirst school. which was the preIerred school oI the generality oI the SalaI
(the early Muslims). is in principle but without speciIication (ijmälï) |oI what words should be
used in the interpretation|. while the interpretation oI the second school. which includes many oI
the later 'ulamä` (al-khalaI). is speciIic (taIsïlï). AIter explaining this. Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï ob-
serves that the later 'ulamä` did not mean to oppose or contradict the SalaI; rather. they Ielt that
the escalation oI anthropomorphism and other heresies posed a grave danger to the common
people. and they Ieared that the traditional method oI leaving the interpretation undeIined would
not be a satisIactory deterrent to sectarian propaganda. and so they started to deIine the meaning
oI the texts hoping to provide the common people with interpretations acceptable to the orthodox
'ulamä` rather than leave them to be lured into accepting the deviant and blasphemous interpreta-
tions oI the sectarians.
Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï`s reconciliation oI the two schools and his elucidation oI their essen-
tial agreement is a most precious insight into a matter which is generally poorly understood. or
completely misunderstood. Recognizing its preciousness Muhammad Zähid al-Kautharï quoted
it at length with the discussion oI al-Nawawï in a Iootnote to his edition oI DaI' Shubah
al-Tashbïh by Ibn al-Jauzï.
88
We will Iollow suit and also quote Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï at length:

Al-Nawawï said in his Sharh al-Muslim: 'This hadïth and what resembles it are among
those hadïth and verses which pertain to the attributes oI Alläh.
89
There are two Iamous
madhhabs in treating such texts..The madhhab oI the generality oI the SalaI (early
Muslims) and some oI the mutakallimün |he means the Maturïdïyah| is to believe in the
reality oI such texts and that it is a reality which beIits Him. hallowed is He; while
maintaining that the outward. ordinary meaning oI such texts is not intended. and while
declining to speak in their interpretation. yet maintaining the transcendence oI Alläh.
declaring Him to be Iree oI all created attributes. and oI changing position and
movement. and all qualities oI created things. The second madhhab is the madhhab oI
most |oI the later| mutakallimün and a good number oI the SalaI; indeed. it is reported
that |Imäm| Mälik |d. 179 / 795; Medina|. and |Imäm| al-Auzä'ï |d. 157 / 774; Beirut|
90

maintained that this particular hadïth |Hadïth al-Nuzül| should be interpreted in a way
appropriate to the context. Accordingly. the 'ulamä` interpreted this hadïth in two ways.
One is the interpretation oI |Imäm| Mälik ibn Anis and others; namely. that His mercy.
and command. and angels descend. Ior when it is said that the Sultan did such and such a
thing. it means that his attendants did it according to his order. The second interpretation

88
See DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. p. 52.
89
One might wonder why al-Nawawï and other 'ulamä` call such hadïth. hadïth oI the divine attributes
when they insist in disallowing their literal signiIicance. It would seem that they do so in view oI what is
outwardly attributed to Alläh. We saw that Ibn al-Jauzï denounced his Iellow Hanbali`s Ior calling such
texts hadïth and verses oI the attributes Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence. In any case what al-Nawawï means is the am-
biguous texts (al-mutashäbihät). II he had lived to see the perversion and blasphemy with which the
Hashawïyah have Iilled the earth in our times. he may have declined to use such a term Ior Iear oI being
misunderstood. or Ior Iear oI being misrepresented by the anthropomorphists.
90
Al-Auzä'ï was one oI the great mujtahid imams. and the imam oI the people oI the Levant |Shäm| in
his time. His madhhab was Iollowed Ior some time in the Levant and also in Andalusia. However. it did
not survive Ior long.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
34
is that the phrase is metaphorical and means that He shows solicitude to the supplicants
by answering their supplications and showing them grace. But Alläh knows best.¨
91

One can understand Irom what al-Nawawï says. and Irom what says the godly
shaikh. Abï Ishäq al-Shiräzï al-Shïrazï (d. 472 / 1079; Baghdad). and Irom what say
Imäm al-Haramain |al-Juwainï (d. 478 / 1085; Nishapur)|. and |Imäm| al-Ghazälï |d. 505
h. / 1111; Tüs. Iran|. and other imams oI ours |that is. the Maturïdïyah| and theirs that
both the madhhabs are agreed on disallowing the outward meanings oI such |ambiguous|
texts as mention coming. image. person. leg. Ioot. hand. Iace. anger. mercy. ascending on
the Throne. being in the sky. and other such texts whose outward sense implies what is
absolutely impossible Ior Alläh. and what is axiomatically absurd in relation to Him. and
what iI one believed that. it would require him to be considered an unbeliever by the
consensus oI the 'ulamä`. ThereIore. the SalaI (early 'ulamä`) and the khalaI (later
'ulamä`) had no choice but to construe such texts in other than their literal meanings.
The thing they diIIered on was whether. while construing that |ambiguous| text to means
other than what it literally implies. they should maintain that He. hallowed is He. is
qualiIied by what beIits His majesty and greatness without interpreting it in any other
words. Such was the madhhab oI the majority oI the SalaI; it involves interpretation in
principle but without speciIication (ta`wïl ijmälï). Or whether they should interpret it in
other wordsthat is the madhhab oI the khalaI (the later 'ulamä`); it represents a speciIic
interpretation. In doing that the khalaI did not want to oppose the righteous SalaI. Alläh
Iorbid that we should think that! Rather. the circumstances oI their times called Ior that
|that is. the measures which the khalaI adopted|. what with the proliIeration oI the
anthropomorphists (al-mujassimah) and the Jahmïyah |a sect oI heretics who condemned
the attribution to Alläh oI the attributes oI perIection like liIe. knowledge and so on|.
92

and other deviant sects; and with their perverting the minds oI the common people. They
intended to contain those heretics and to reIute their claims. That is why many oI them
excused themselves saying that iI we enjoyed the circumstances which the salaI enjoyed;
namely. the prevalence oI pure belieIs in their times and the absence oI pretenders. we
would not have meddled in interpretation at all.
93
You have already seen |in what al-
Nawawï mentioned above| that Mälik and al-Auzä'ï. who are among the most eminent oI
the SalaI. interpreted the hadïth |we are presently concerned with; that is. Hadïth al-
Nuzül| in a speciIic manner.
94



91
I have translated this citation Irom the original text oI Sharh Sahïh Muslim since the citation which
Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï presented has some minor variation Irom what appears in the original. See Sharh
Sahïh Muslim. (Damascus. Där al-Khair. 4
th
ed.. 1418). p. 376; vol. 6.
92
Presumably. Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï is reIerring to the Mu'tazilah because historically. the deviation oI Jah-
mïyah never spread widely and did not last long. No doubt some oI the other sects may have adopted
some oI their heresies. Since the Mu'tazilah agreed with the Jahmïyah in denying the attributes oI perIec-
tion. they are sometimes called Jahmïyah. The deviation oI the Mu'tazilah and the Jahmïyah is diametri-
cally opposed to the deviation oI the anthropomorphists. REWRITE THIS NOTE WI EWRITE THIS NOTE WI EWRITE THIS NOTE WI EWRITE THIS NOTE WITH TH TH TH R RR REEERENCE TO EEERENCE TO EEERENCE TO EEERENCE TO
ANOTHER NOTE WHICH S ANOTHER NOTE WHICH S ANOTHER NOTE WHICH S ANOTHER NOTE WHICH SHOULD PRECEED IT DIS HOULD PRECEED IT DIS HOULD PRECEED IT DIS HOULD PRECEED IT DISCUSSING THE CUSSING THE CUSSING THE CUSSING THE J JJ JAHMIYAH WITH REEEREN AHMIYAH WITH REEEREN AHMIYAH WITH REEEREN AHMIYAH WITH REEERENCE TO CE TO CE TO CE TO E EE EATH AL ATH AL ATH AL ATH AL- -- -
B BB BARI ARI ARI ARI. .. . K KK KITAB AL ITAB AL ITAB AL ITAB AL- -- -T TT TAUHID AUHID AUHID AUHID. .. .
93
Imäm al-Ghazälï said: 'Kaläm is like medicine; when the body is sick its use is beneIicial. but when the
body is healthy its use is harmIul.¨ He meant to say that in normal times; that is to say normal according
to the criteria oI Isläm. the study oI Kaläm can provoke doubts and conIusion; whereas in abnormal times
when doubt and conIusion is the order oI the day. Kaläm can deIine and protect true belieIs.
94
The interpretation which al-Nawawï ascribed to Imäm Mälik was also attributed to him by HäIiz Ibn
'Abd al-Barr (d. 463 / 1071; Shätibah. Andalusia) in his monumental commentary on al-Muwatta` oI
Mälik. p. 143; vol. 7; and by HäIiz al-Dhahabï (d.748 / 1348; Damascus) in his encyclopaedia oI histori-
cal biography. Siyar A'läm al-Nubalä. p. 105; vol. 8.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
35
However. the present day sect oI anthropomorphists. who typiIy a sect which has tradi-
tionally been reIerred to by the ulamä` as the sect oI the Hashawïyah. misrepresent interpretation
(ta`wïl / .-·'-) by pretending that it constitutes the rejection oI the sacred texts. This emphatically
is not the case. The charge oI rejecting the sacred texts was a charge which Ahl al-Sunnah (Is-
lamic Orthodoxy) levelled against the Mu'tazilah. Historically. it was that sect which rejected
hadith which were authentic because those hadith conIlicted with the Ialse precepts they had es-
tablished by philosophical arguments. It was Abü `l-Hasan al-Ash'arï (d. 324 / 936; Baghdad)
who Iirst made highly damaging criticism oI the Mu`tazilah. Sa'd al-Dïn al-TaItäzänï (d. 793 /
1390; Samarqand) wrote in his commentary on the classic work oI belieI. al-'Aqä`id
al-NasaIïyah:

Such was the Kaläm (dialectic theology) oI the early Iounders oI the science |that is. the
science oI the exposition and deIence oI Islamic belieIs derived Irom rational and textual
prooIs without any admixture oI Greek Philosophyinterpolated Irom the commentary
al-Nabräs|. Most oI their controversies were with the Islamic sects |rather than with the
unbelievers. or the Greek Philosophers since that philosophy was practically unknown
until the Greek texts were translated and disseminated during the reign oI the Caliph
Ma'mün (198-218 h.)|. especially the Mu'tazilah since that was the Iirst sect to establish
principles which opposed the belieIs (al-aqä`id / ~·-'-·¹') that had been transmitted in the
express Sunnah. and the belieIs proIessed unanimously by the Companions..
The principles which engendered schism |sectarian controversy| were Iirst
expounded by their Iounder Wäsil ibn 'Atä` (d. 131 h. / 748) who seceded Irom the
assembly oI al-Hasan al-Basrï (d. 110 h. / 728; Basra) |over a diIIerence oI opinion with
him concerning the status oI those who committed major sins| insisting that whoever
committed a major sin was neither a believer nor an unbeliever but assumed a status
between the two. Al-Hasan replied: 'He has seceded Irom us |that is. Irom Ahl
al-Sunnah|.¨ That is why they are called the Mu`tazilah / ²·¹´-·~ (the Secessionists).
|I'tazala / .´·-=' means to secede Irom. or separate. Mu`tazilah. thereIore. reIers to those
who seceded Irom mainstream orthodoxy just as their Iounder seceded Irom the circle oI
al-Hasan al-Basrï. the Ilag-bearer oI orthodoxy in the era oI the Eollowers.| They |that is.
the Mu`tazilah|. however. called themselves Ashäb al-'Adl wa `l-Tauhïd / .~··¹' -'=·-'
.'~·-=`'· (the Partisans oI Justice and Uniqueness) because they held that Alläh. exalted is
He. was compelled to reward the obedient and punish the disobedient |in order that He be
just|. and because they insisted that Alläh did not have pre-eternal attributes (siIät / -'-·-)
|insisting that His uniqueness required that nothing be pre-eternal but His MagniIicent
Essence|. Apart Irom that. they played havoc with theology by clinging in the area oI
belieIs to many |oI the illegitimate| philosophical precepts |oI the Greeks|.
Their school spread amongst the people until Abü `l-Hasan al-Ash 'arï (d. 324 /
936; Baghdad) conIuted his teacher. |the leader oI the Mu'tazilah in his day.| Abü 'Ali
al-Jubbä`ï (d. 303 / 916; Basra). That circumstance arose when Abü `l-Hasan asked his
teacher. 'What do you say concerning three brothers. one oI whom died in obedience.
one oI whom died in disobedience. and the third who died in his inIancy.¨ Al-Jubbä`ï
replied. 'The Iirst will be rewarded in Paradise; the second will be punished in Hell; the
third will neither be rewarded nor punished.¨ Abü `l-Hasan asked him. 'Suppose the third
said. 'O my Lord. why did you cause me to die young. rather than leave me till I had
grown that I might believe in You. and obey You. and enter Paradise?`¨ Al-Jubbä`ï
replied. 'The Lord would say. 'I knew that iI you were to grow up. you would disobey
Me. and so enter Hell. Thus. it was to your beneIit that I cause you to die young.`¨ Abü
`l-Hasan said. 'Suppose the second said. 'O my Lord. why did You not cause me to die
in inIancy so that I did not disobey You and enter Hell?` What will the Lord reply?¨
Al-Jubbä`ï was conIounded.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
36
ThereaIter. Abü `l-Hasan leIt the school oI al-Jubbä`ï. and he and his Iollowers
dedicated themselves to the reIutation oI the Mu'tazilah School and the deIence oI the
precepts which were established according to the Sunnah and unanimous practice oI the
Companions. They called themselves Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah / ²·='~=¹'· ²-~·¹' .·-'
(The People oI the Sunnah and the Main Community). Later. when Greek Philosophy
was translated into Arabic and Muslims took great interest in it. the Ashä'irah (the
Asharites) attempted to reIute the philosophers in those matters in which they
contradicted the sharï'ah (Islamic law). In the process oI reIuting the philosophers. the
Ashä'irah mixed al-Kaläm (the science oI belieI) with Philosophy in order to achieve
their purpose the reIutation oI philosophy |or at least to the extent that it was at
variance with sharï'ah|. Consequently. they mixed al-Kaläm with philosophical notions
oI theology. physics and mathematics to such an extent that. were it not that they
continued to depend on sam'iyät |that is. what they learned Irom the transmission oI the
Book oI Alläh and the Sunnah oI His Prophet|. one would not have been able to
distinguish al-Kaläm Irom Philosophy. This is true oI the Kalam oI later ulamä`. at least.
In summary. it |al-Kaläm| is the noblest oI all sciences because it is the Ioundation oI the
sharï'ah. and the head oI the religious sciences. and because its content matter is the stuII
oI Islamic belieIs.

What al-TaItäzänï has proclaimed is well known to the ulamä`; namely. that it was the
scholars oI the Ashä'irah who contended with the Mu'tazilah. and contained them until their
school virtually disappeared. One oI the major points oI contention between the Ashä'irah and
the Mu'tazilah was the question oI the divine attributes. The Ashä'irah aIIirmed the necessary
attributes oI Alläh: power. will. knowledge. liIe. hearing. sight. and speech
95
; whereas. the
Mu'tazilah. in eIIect denied them. Ior they aIIirmed that while the Divine Reality is powerIul.
willing. knowing. living. hearing. seeing. and speaking; yet. they maintained that He does not
have power. will. knowledge. liIe. and so on. They claimed that they were deIending the tran-
scendence (qidam / »~·) oI the Divine Reality. and they argued that the attributes which the
Ashä'irah ascribed to Him were originated. They rightly insisted that it is not possible that the
eternal have any originated attribute. Ior then it would need to be originated itselI. However. the
Ashä'irah answered that the necessary attributes oI the Alläh were eternal and unique; they did
not resemble the attributes oI created things in any way. They established that their position was
not contrary to reason. and. moreover it was in conIormity with the deIinitive unequivocal texts
oI the Qur'än and Sunnah. The exposition oI this matter is a lengthy topic and would take us Iar
aIield. SuIIice it to say here that the Ashä'irah did what Sr. Augustine and the Scholastic Theo-
logians oI Christianity Iailed to do. They resolved the conIlict oI Iaith and reason; Ior they suc-
cessIully showed that nothing which the Qur'än and Sunnah declares is repugnant to reason.
The answer to modern skepticism and the philosophy oI Descartes. Hume. and Kant and the rest
is the rational dialectic which the Ashä'irah perIected. It only needs that the seemingly new phi-
losophical polemic be restated in its old Iorm. Ior once that is done. one will Iind the answer oI
the Ashä'irah ready like a polished sword. It is a most ironic state oI aIIairs. that the true guardi-
ans oI Islamic belieI. the IaithIul shepherds oI orthodoxy have Iound themselves accused oI per-
Iidy. Eor the wolves are all about. and the night is dark. and the sheep have no reIuge except in
the shepherd`s Ilock.

95
The Mäturïdïyah insisted on the additional attribute oI creation (al-takwïn) which the rest oI the
Ashä'irah considered to be the Iunction oI the dual attributes oI power and will.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
37
The Ashä'irah. contrary to the Mu'tazilah. accepted all texts which were established con-
clusively to be Irom the Lawgiver (al-Shäri')
96
. However. they insisted that the Lawgiver did not
intend the literal meanings oI those texts because their literal meanings conIlict with categorical
texts and precepts which the Lawgiver HimselI has revealed. Eurthermore. they argued that the
literal meanings oI those text which conIlict with reason which compelled us to believe in the
Lawgiver and heed His revelation in the Iirst place. Moreover. since the texts are ambiguous
Irom the point oI view oI language in that their words or idioms have more than one meaning. as
Iar as language is concerned it is possible that other than their literal meanings are implied. In-
deed. some oI the ambiguous texts have more than one literal meaning as well. ThereIore. in
order to reconcile the ambiguous texts (al-mutashäbihät)
110
with the unequivocal. conclusive
texts (al-qäti'ah). and with the dictates oI reason. it is absolutely incumbent on us to reject the
literal meanings. not the texts themselves. AIter that whether we consign the determination oI
what Iigurative meaning is intended to Alläh and His Prophet . or whether we choose tenta-
tively one oI the Iigurative meanings which is in harmony with the usage oI the Arabs. and with
the transcendent majesty oI Alläh. that is. relatively speaking. a minor issue. Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence. reIerence. reIerence. reIerence.
The Iirst oI the two was the usual method oI the Companions oI the Prophet . and the Eollow-
ers. and the SalaI (the early Muslims) while the second was a way which they sometimes had
recourse to even iI less Irequently Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence. On the other hand. insisting on the literal
meanings even iI that necessarily implies that the Creator has a created attribute. that was the
way oI the Christians and Jews. The Iirst heard the term spirit oI God. so they presumed that
God has a spirit which He caused to enter the Virgin. Alläh save us Irom such ungodly talk. The
second imagine that their God moves about in the sky. and descends to the earth to wreak havoc
when He becomes angry or jealous. Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence. reIerence. reIerence. reIerence.

What is the Source oI the StiIe between the What is the Source oI the StiIe between the What is the Source oI the StiIe between the What is the Source oI the StiIe between the Ashä Ashä Ashä Ashä' '' 'irah irah irah irah and their Calumniators? and their Calumniators? and their Calumniators? and their Calumniators?

While the Mu'tazilah denied Alläh the necessary attributes oI perIection. the Hashawïyah attrib-
uted to Him attributes oI imperIection. On the other hand. the Ashä'irah attributed to Him the
necessary attributes oI perIection. but denied that He had any attributes which implied imperIec-
tion. So it is preposterous to pretend. as do the Hashawïyah oI the IiIteenth century oI Islam. that
the Ashä'irah are reviving the classic deviation oI the Mu'tazilah by insinuating that their insist-
ing on other than the literal meanings oI sacred texts(ta`wïl / .-·'-). or their consigning their
meanings to Alläh (taIwïd) means the rejection (ta'tïl / .-=·-) oI those texts. What is even more
preposterous is to insinuate. as do the Hashawïyah. that the Ashä'irah are synonymous with
al-Jahmïyah. who deny that Alläh could be described as a thing. or that He could be described as
alive. or knowing. or willing. or by anything with which one could describe other things;
whereas. they permitted Him to be described by terms like powerIul. creating. doing. destroying
because these are attributes which are particular to Him.
97
The truth oI the matter is that the
Ashä'irah insist that Alläh can be called a thing. and that He exists. and is alive. knowing. and
willing. However. they insisted that His existence was not like the existence oI other things and
that His attributes were not like the attributes oI other things. They declare that His existence is
necessary-that is. He can not not exist. yet they maintained that He does not occupy space. and
time has not meaning Ior Him because He. hallowed is He. does not change. They Iormulated
this precept in the dictum: 'He is neither in the world nor outside it.¨ Since the opaque mind oI

96
The term al-Shäri'. which I have had to translate as Lawgiver with a capital 'L¨ in recognition oI the
primacy oI the Divinity. is a term which the ulamä` use in order to reIer at once to either Alläh or his the
Prophet .
97
See 'Abd al`Qähir al-Baghdädï. al-Earq bain al-Eiraq (Beirut. Där al-Ma'riIah. n.d.). pp. 211-212.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
38
the Hashawïyah can not conceive anything that transcends the gross material order. they con-
ceive their God in material terms. and so they presume that the Ashä'irah deny the existence oI
God. However. nothing could be Iarther Irom the truth. since Ashä'irah not only maintain the
existence oI God. but maintain that His existence is logically necessary. or as we have explained
elsewhere. that He can not not be. Since the Ashä'irah insist that the existence oI Alläh is neces-
sary. they maintain that He always was. and deny that He may have any beginning. and thereIore
maintain that He is beyond change because every change implies oI necessity the beginning oI a
new state. and ever state requires a creator. and whatever requires a creator can not itselI be the
Creator. ThereIore. they deny that Alläh. exalted is He. speaks through organs and sounds. that
He moves about. that He sits or stands. that He becomes angry aIter being calm. that He sees
through the organ oI the eye. or that there occur in Him any occurrence or accident. The Qur'än
proclaims; 'Nothing is like Him; He is the one who hears. the one who sees.¨
98
Imäm al-Tahäwï
stated in al-'Aqïdah al-Tahäwïyah: 'He is pre-eternal (qadïm /»-~·). without any beginning; ever-
lasting. without any end. He does not disappear nor come to an end. Nothing may be except
what He wills. Nobody can imagine Him; nobody can understand Him-created things do not
resemble Him.¨ II He sees with the organ oI the eye. or hears with the organ oI the ear all crea-
tures that see and hear are like Him. Because the Ashä'irah maintain this. the Hashawïyah pre-
tend that they have denied the divine attributes as did the Jahmïyah. and so they brand the
Ashä'irah as Jahmïyah.
99 1

One oI the Hashawïyah. Ibn Qayyim al-Jauzïyah (d. 751 /1350; Damascus). the disciple
oI Ibn Taimïyah. attempted in his al-Sawä`iq al-Mursalah 'alä `l-Jahmïyah wa `l-Mu'attilah to
reIute the Ashä'irah. with whom he and his shaikh Ibn Taimïyah were in open conIrontation with
all their lives. Indeed. on account oI their heterodox opinions the 'ulamä` oI Damascus and
Cairo had them both imprisoned on several occasions. While the title oI Ibn Qayyim`s work
seemingly indicates that it is a reIutation oI the Jahmïyah and the Mu'tazilah. yet the Jahmïyah
as a sect disappeared centuries beIore the time oI Ibn Qayyim.
100
and the Mu'tazilah iI they ex-
isted at all in his time were not any threat to orthodoxy. Clearly. he intends the reIutation oI the
Ashä'irah; indeed. the book is one long diatribe against those who reIuse to construe the am-
biguous texts in an anthropomorphic way. While Ibn Qayyim and the latter-day Hashawïyah
hold the Ashä'irah to be heretics. they hold a person like 'Uthmän ibn Sa'ïd al-Därimï (d. 280 /
894; Herat) to be an imam in the Iield oI belieIs and praise him highly and urge the Muslims to
read his book known popularly as Naqd al-Därimï which they have published and republished
and circulated all over the earth. Who is al-Därimï? One needs only to have a quick glance at
his book to discover the likes oI the Iollowing statements oI his:

The Living. the Sustainer does whatever He wills. He moves whenever He wills. and He
descends and ascends whenever He wills. He clasps His Hand and holds it Iorth and
stands up and sits down whenever He wills. Eor that which indicates whether a thing is
living or dead is movement: every live thing has to move. while every dead thing has to
be still.
101


98
See above page Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence. reIerence. reIerence. reIerence.
99
'Abd al-Qähir al-Baghdädï mentioned in his al-Earq bain al-Eiraq. the Jahmïyah proIessed that there is
no act except the act oI Alläh. and that man acts without Iree will. and that there is no unbelieI aIter belieI
in Alläh. and that heaven and hell pass away. Their belieIs were so extreme that every one oI the seventy
three sects which ascribe to Isläm declared them to be unbelievers. The Iounder oI the sect. Jahm ibn
SaIwän (d. 128 / 745) was put to death Ior his heresy in Khuräsän in 128 h.
100
Cross-reIerence
101
Al-Därimï. Radd al-Imäm al-Därimï 'Uthmän ibn Sa'ïd 'alä Bishr al-Murïsï al'Anïd (Lahore. Hadïth
Academy. reprint. 1402). p. 20

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
39

The adversary |Bishr al-Murïsï
102
| claims that Alläh does not have a limit. nor a
boundary. nor an end. This precept is the basis oI his whole deviation-it is the source oI
all his mistakes. I do not know oI anyone who preceded Jahm |ibn SaIwän (d. 128 /
745)|
103
to maintain such a view. |ThereaIter. al-Därimï proceeded to argue Ior the
attribution to all oI all the previously mention attributes.|
104


II He wanted He could alight on the back oI a mosquito and it would bear Him by His
power and the subtleness oI His Lordship. So what do you think about the Throne?
105


|Bishr al-Murïsï| said: 'Do you not see that whoever went up a mountain. you do not say
that he is closer to Alläh.¨ This adversary who claims what he has no knowledge about
should be asked: 'Who inIormed you that the peak oI the mountain is not nearer to Alläh
than its base?¨ Indeed. anyone who proIesses that Alläh is above His Throne and above
His heavens knows Ior certain that the peak oI the mountain is nearer to the sky than its
bottom. and that the seventh heaven is closer to the Throne oI Alläh than the sixth and the
sixth is nearer to it than the IiIth and so on to the earth. Similarly. Ibrähïm ibn Ishäq
al-Hanzalï reported Irom Ibn al-Mubärak that he said: 'The top oI the minaret is nearer to
Alläh than its bottom.¨ Ibn al-Mubärak told the truth because the more one gets nearer to
the sky. the more he gets nearer to Alläh.
106


The book is Iull oI such crass anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or tashbïh). yet Ibn Qayyim says:

Al-Naqd 'alä Bishr al-Murïsï |the book Irom which I have just quoted| and al-Radd 'alä
al-Jahmïyah |another book which al-Därimï wrote| are among the greatest and most
beneIicial books that have have ever been written about orthodox belieI |al-sunnah
107
|.
Every student oI the Sunnah who wants to learn what the Companions and the Eollowers
and the Imams proIessed has to read these two books. Shaikh al-Isläm Ibn Taimïyah
used to commend the people strongly to read them both. and he used to give great
importance to them. Indeed. they contain the exposition oI the divine unity (al-tauhïd)
and the conIirmation oI the divine attributes and names by rational and textual evidence
which one can not Iind in other books.
108



102
Bishr ibn Ghiyäth al-Murïsï (d. 218 / 833) was one oI the Mu'tazilah. Although the Ashä'irah de-
nounced him. his position on this issue is the position oI the Ashä'irah. Al-Därimï wrote his above-
mentioned book in reIutation oI Bishr al-Murïsï. Both oI them had heretical views: Al-Därimï ascribed to
Alläh physical attributes. while Bishr al-Murïsï denied that Alläh had the necessary and eternal attributes
oI perIection. like liIe and knowledge. which both revelation and reason aIIirm positively.
103
Jahm ibn SaIwän was an arch-heretic. He was put to death Ior his heresy in Khuräsän. ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )
his madhhab was explained in Eath al-Bari.
104
Al-Därimï. p. 23
105
Al-Därimï. p. 85

106
Al-Därimï. p. 100
107
The Hashawïyah call the books they write in deIence oI anthropomorphism the books oI Sunnah. It is
part oI their age old propaganda. Numerous works oI theirs bear the title Kitäb al-Sunnah.

Alläh willing.
we will present Ior you some other samples oI what is in their so-called books oI the Sunnah.

Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -
reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence

108
Ibn Qayyim. Ijtimä' al-Juyüsh al-Islämiyah. p.( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ). The passage was quoted by Muhammad
ibn Hämid al-Eaqï. the editor oI the original edition oI Naqd al-Därimï. blazed on a page all by itselI in-
side the Iront cover oI the book.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
40
Muhammad ibn Hämid al-Eaqï. who originally published this book in Egypt. cited Ibn
Qayyim`s commendation oI the book inside the title page oI the book. Muhammad ibn Hamid
al-Eaqï. the Iormer leader oI the pseudo-SalaIi movement in Egypt. which called itselI. Ansär
al-Sunnah al-Muhammadïyah. mentioned in his introduction to the book that the manuscript had
been sent to him by the Imäm oI the Haram oI Makkah. `Abd al-Zähhir Abü al-Samh. He men-
tioned that the ulamä` oI Najd were extremely insistent to get the book published. Since then the
book has been published and republished and disseminated all over the earth. Just this year the
University in Riyadh edited the book with copious Iootnotes in a two-volume edition.
The anthropomorphism oI al-Därimï is quite obvious. whereas. those who admire him Ior
what he believed learned aIter centuries oI clashes with the Ashä'irah to be more circumspect in
proclaiming their literalist creed. However. their praise and admiration is clear indication that
they believe and maintain everything that al-Därimï did. We have conIined ourselves at this
juncture to citing Irom al-Därimï because his examples oI anthropomorphism are particularly
bareIaced and blatant. Later on Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence we will devote a special section in which we will
cite. iI Alläh wills. numerous examples oI clear-cut anthropomorphism Irom other Hashawïyah.
including some contemporary examples.



Concerning the Concerning the Concerning the Concerning the H HH Hadïth adïth adïth adïth: :: : 'Where is 'Where is 'Where is 'Where is Alläh Alläh Alläh Alläh?¨ ?¨ ?¨ ?¨

The latter-day sect oI the Hashawïyah. who call themselves presumptuously SalaIi`s (salaIïyah).
are ever haranguing about the hadïth which is called Hadïth al-Järiyah (the Hadïth oI the Slave
Girl). Ior according to their perverted understanding it is a clear prooI that Alläh. who inIinitely
transcends the unholy things they ascribe to Him. is physically located in the sky and describable
by direction. The hadïth was reported by the Companion Mu'äwiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Sulamï
and transmitted by Imäm Muslim and many other muhaddithün (authoritative transmitters oI
hadïth) with variant wording. In the version which was reported by Muslim. Mu'äwiyah ibn
al-Hakam mentioned that he had a slave girl whom he became angry with and slapped on the
Iace. When he told that to the Messenger oI Alläh . he took it very seriously; whereupon.
Mu'äwiyah ibn al-Hakam suggested that he Iree the girl. The Prophet told him to bring him
the girl. Ior as can be judged by the context oI the hadïth. he wanted to see iI she was a believer
or not. When she appeared beIore the Prophet . he asked her: 'Where is Alläh?¨ She replied:
'In the sky.¨ He asked her: 'Who am I?¨ She replied: 'You are the Messenger oI Alläh .¨
He said: 'Eree her Ior she is a believer.¨
109
The orthodox ulamä`; that is. the ulamä` oI Ahl al-
Sunnah wa l-Jamä'ah. insisted unanimously that the literal meaning oI this hadïth is deIinitely
not implied. Some oI them consigned the meaning oI it to Alläh. while denying the literal. mate-
rial meaning (that is. they adopted taIwïd). Others resorted to legitimate interpretations (ta`wïl);
whereas; only the Hashawïyah insisted on the literal meaning.
In his commentary on Sahïh Muslim. the ShaIi imam. SharaI al-Dïn al-Nawawï (d. 676 /
1277; Nawä. Syria) discussed the implications oI the above hadïth:

This is one oI the hadïth which concerns the attributes |oI Alläh|. There are two schools
oI thought (madhhab) in regards to such hadïth
110
both oI which I have discussed

109
Muslim reported it in Kitäb al-Masäjid wa Mawädi' al-Saläh. See Sharh Sahïh Muslim (Damascus.
Där al-Khair. 1
st
ed.. 1418). pp.190-194; vol. 5.
110
That is. the ambiguous. or allegorical texts which are called al-muhashäbihät / -'+-'~-~¹' in Arabic.
They are ambiguous because as Iar as language is concerned there are two or more possible meanings to
an ambi-guous text. and at the outset it is not known which meaning is implied; Ior example. the text oI
the verse in Surah Eath; 'Alläh`s 'Hand` is above their hands.¨ The word has a literal meaning. which is
a physical limb. and it has several Iigurative meanings. Muhammad ibn Abü Bakr al-Räzï (d. aIter 666 /
1268). a specialist in language and commentary (taIsïr). mentioned in his authoritative dictionary oI Ara-
bic Mukhtär al-Sihäh that among the Iiguratice meanings oI yad / ~- (hand) are strength. blessing. kind-
ness. Abü `l'Abbäs al-Eaiyümï (d. 770 / 1368; Hamäh) mentioned in his dictionary al-Misbah al-Munïr
that yad / ~- (hand) sometimes means power. and sometimes possession. or authority. He said that some-
times it is an idiom which means that a thing is in somebody`s disposal. and in the construction 'an yadin
/ ~- .= it means in subjection and submission. So the question arises: 'Is the literal meaning implied or a
Iigurative one?¨ That is why such texts are called ambiguous (al-muhashäbihät). However. any person
who has proIiciency in Arabic and its modes oI speech. and is imbued with the light oI the divine unique-
ness (al-tauhïd / ~-=·-¹') immediately understands that the literal meaning. which is the limb oI a body. is
categorically not implied Ior Alläh does not have limbs. nor is He compounded. nor does He have a body
nor any oI the attributes oI bodies which are originated phenomena. That is known both by reason and by
the deIinitive texts oI the Qur'än and the Sunnah like Alläh`s word: 'Nothing is like Him and He is the
One Who hears |all things that can be heard without any ear al-NasaIï|. the One Who sees |all things
that can be seen without any eye al-NasaIï|.¨ Since the literal meaning is precluded by reason and the
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
42
repeatedly in the chapter Kitäb al-Ïmän. The Iirst madhhab is to believe in it without
concerning oneselI with its meaning. while maintaining categorically that Alläh.
hallowed is He. does not resemble anything. and maintaining that He transcends the
attributes oI created things |which madhhab is called taIwïd |. The second madhhab is to
interpret (ta`wïl) the hadïth in a way which is commensurate with His greatness. Those
who preIer to interpret said that in the present hadïth the Prophet meant to examine
her to see whether or not she was one oI those who worships idols on the earth. or one oI
those who maintain the uniqueness oI Alläh (muwahhidün) and believe that the creator.
the disposer. and the one who eIIects |all things| is Alläh. no one else. Eor when |those
who maintain the uniqueness oI Alläh (muwahhidün)| supplicate |the Transcendent
God|. they turn |their attention. or their hands
111
| to the sky just as when they pray |the
ritual prayer| they Iace the Ka'bah; yet. that does not mean that Alläh is located in the
sky just as it does not mean that He is located in the direction oI the Ka'bah. Rather. they
turn |their attention. or their hands| to the sky because the sky is the prescribed direction
oI orientation (al-Qiblah / ²··¹--¹'). just as the Ka'bah is the prescribed direction oI
orientation (al-Qiblah) Ior the ritual prayer (al-saläh). So when she said that He is in the
sky. it was known that she was one oI those who maintain the uniqueness oI Alläh
(muwahhid). and not a worshipper oI idols.

AIter saying this al-Nawawï quoted another great authority oI Isläm. the Maliki muhaddith and
imam al-Qädï 'Iyäd (544 / 1149; Maräkish). the author oI many important works in the science
oI hadïth. including a commentary on Sahïh Muslim:

There is no disagreement whatsoever among any oI the Muslimstheir Iuqahä` (experts
on the rules oI the Sharï'ah). their muhaddithün (experts in the science oI hadïth
transmission. and criticism). their mutakallimün (ulamä` oI Kaläm; that is. dialectic

Sharï'ah. we are compelled to under-stand an idiomatic meaning (majäz / ´'=~) which we either commend
to Alläh. or determine according to the rules oI language and with the transcendent majesty oI Alläh in
view. In Iact. there is a basic rule oI in the science oI commentary that those verses which are ambiguous
(al-muhashäbihät) in that they permit more than one interpretation. have to be reIerred to those verses
which are conclusive and unequivocal (al-muhkamah) in that they only have one meaning. II we do not
do this. we will be Iaced with all kinds oI glaring contradictions. The words 'Alläh`s 'Hand` is above
their hands¨ belong to the class oI ambiguous verses. while the words 'nothing is like Him.¨ and 'your
Lord. the Lord oI Glory. transcends all that they ascribe to Him.¨ and the words 'Is He who creates like
Him who does not create?¨ belong to the class oI conclusive. unequivocal verses (al-muhkamah). The
Iirst has to be interpreted in a way which is consonant with the second; otherwise. we have a contradic-
tion Ior so many oI Allähs creatures have hands. In this context when we say interpret. we do not usually
mean giving the word or phrase a new meaning; rather. it is usually only a question oI choosing another
meaning oI the word or phrase. Al-NasaIï says that it means that those who took oath Irom Prophet by
taking his hand. it was as iI they took oath Irom Allah HimselI. Al-Suyütï says it means that Alläh was
cognizant oI their oath. and that He will redeem them Ior taking it. Ibn Juzai al-Kilbï says it is an imagi-
nary picture (takhyïl wa tamthïl / .-`~- · .--=-) the implication oI which is that the hand oI the Prophet
which is over the hands oI those who took oath Irom him is the Hand oI Alläh in meaning. not literally.
and what that means is that by taking oath Irom the Prophet it were as iI they were taking oath Irom
Alläh
111
The literal wording here is they turn to the sky. or they Iace the sky. However. since it is reported that
the Prophet Iorbade the Muslims to look at the sky. and taught them to raise the palm oI their hands
towards the sky. the phrase should be interpreted accordingly.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
43
theology). their polemicists (nazzär / '·=-)
112
and their ordinary Iollowers (muqallid)that
the outward meaning oI those texts |Irom either the Sunnah or the Qur'än| in which it is
mentioned that Alläh is in the sky is not meant |literally|; Ior example. the words oI the
Exalted: 'Are you assured that He who is in the sky will not cause the earth to swallow
you up?¨
113
These and similar texts |which mention that Alläh is in the sky or seem to
imply that| are not to be taken literally ('alä zähirihï / '·= .·¹= -- ); rather. according to
them all |that is. all the Muslims and the experts oI every Iield oI the Sharï'ah as
mentioned above|. they are to be taken idiomatically (mu`awwalan / ²·¹··~). So whoever

112
Nazzär / '=- literally means polemicists. or debators. in the technical usage oI the ulamä` it reIers to
those who are specialists at deIending Isläm Irom the attacks oI heretics and unbelievers whether they do
that in writing or in public debate.
113
Surah al-Mulk. 67:16. Imäm al-Suyüti (d. 911 / 1505; Cairo) in his celebrated commentary on the
Qur'än interpreted the words He who is in the sky to mean He whose sovereignty and power is in the sky.
Abü `l-Barakät al-NasaIï (d. 710 / 1310; Baghdad). the HanaIi imam mentioned in his commentary on the
Qur'än. Mudärik al-Tanzïl that the words He who is in the sky means He whose sovereignty is in the sky
because the sky in the dwelling place oI the angels. and Irom the sky His decrees descend. and His |re-
vealed| books. and His commands. and His prohibitions. Al-NasaIï continued: 'It were as iI Alläh said:
'Do you Ieel secure Irom the Creator oI the sky and His sovereignty?` It is also possible that it |means
He whose sovereignty is in the sky| because the mercy and punishment |oI Alläh| descends Irom the sky.
or because those |whom Alläh is addressing in this verse; namely. the polytheists and unbelievers| had an
anthropomorphic perspective (tashbïh) and believed that He was in the sky. so Alläh spoke to them ac-
cording to their belieI: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom Him whom you imagine is in the sky. whereas. He Iar
transcends all place.¨ Ibn Hayyän mentioned in his commentary al-Bahr al-Muhït that the words He
who is in the sky are Iigurative (majäz / ´'=~) since rational prooI demonstrates that Alläh is not located in
any place (laisa bimutahayyiz / ´-+-~- .-¹). or direction. He said the Iigurative meaning is that His sover-
eignty is in the sky. The actual wording is: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom Him whose sovereignty is in the
sky?¨ However. the words 'whose sovereignty¨ were omitted leaving: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom Him
who is in the sky?¨ He admitted that indeed His sovereignty is in all things. but His sovereignty in the
sky was especially mentioned because it is the home oI the angels; Iurthermore. His Throne is there. and
so is His Chair (al-kursï ). and the Tablet (al-lauh) |on which the provision and Iate oI all His creatures is
written|. He mentioned that Irom the sky the decrees oI Alläh descend. and His books. and his com-
mands and prohibitions. He mentioned the other possibility which al-NasaIï mentioned; namely. that
since they were anthropomorphists (ya'taqidüna al-tashbïh). Alläh asked them: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom
Him whom you imagine is in the sky. whereas. He Iar transcends all place.¨ He mentioned that some
have also suggested that the actual wording is: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom the Creator oI what is in the
sky?¨ Then the words 'the Creator¨ were omitted leaving: 'Do you Ieel secure Irom Him who is in the
sky?¨
The omission oI words is known in English rhetoric and is called ellipsis. However. whereas in
English an apostrophe or three dots indicates the omission oI a word. or words; there is nothing but the
context or meaning to indicate that words have been leIt out in Arabic. Moreover. whereas ellipsis is not
common in English and serves a limited number oI purposes. in Arabic ellipsis (hadhI / -~=). is quite
common and serves numerous purposesbrevity is only one oI them. When used discreetly. ellipsis
(hadhI) is a mark oI eloquence in Arabic. 'Omission and mention¨ (al-hadhI wa `l-dhikr). is an important
Iield oI study in the science called 'ilm al-ma'änï. One learns Irom this science when it is permissible to
omit the diIIerent parts oI a sentence and when it is not permissible. The diIIerent purposes Ior omitting
the diIIerent parts oI sentences is delineated with abundant examples Irom the Qur'än. the Sunnah. and
the ancient poetry oI the Arabs. Eamiliarity with this subject is vital Ior those who wish to understand the
Arabic language. or the Shar'ïah. As Eakhr al-Dïn al-Räzï (606 / 1210; Herat) pointed out. the mistaken
perspective oI the anthropomorphists is all due to their ignorance oI the modes and manners oI speech in
Arabic. Since the subject oI'ilm al-ma'änï is virtually unknown as a science in English. there is no way to
translate it; rhetoric is a dud.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
44
Irom among the muhaddithün. and the Iuqahä`. and the mutakallimün permitted using the
term oI the direction up (jihat al-Iauq / ···-¹' ²·+=) |in relation to Alläh| without presuming
any limit. or without conceiving how |He might be in the direction up| interpreted in the
sky to mean over the sky |that is. He whose authority. or power is over the sky|.
Whereas. whoever Irom among the great majority oI polemicists (nazzär). and
mutakallimün. and the people oI transcendence (ashäb al-tanzïh / ··-´--¹' -'=·-') denied
that He had any limit. and maintained the impossibility oI ascribing any direction to Him.
hallowed is He. they interpreted the texts in a variety oI ways according to the
requirement oI the context. They mentioned interpretations similar to what we
mentioned previously |that is. in his commentary which. however. al-Nawawï did not
cite|. I wish I knew what exactly it is that has united the People oI the Sunnah and the
Truth. all oI them. on the necessity oI reIraining Irom thinking about the reality (al-dhät)
|oI Alläh|. as they were ordered |by the Lawgiver|. and the necessity to keep silent about
what perplexes their intelligences (al-'aql / .·-·¹'). and to prohibit explaining how (al-
takyïI) |is the divine reality|. and in what Iorm (al-tashkïl) |is it|. They kept silent and
reIrained Irom |thinking or speaking about the divine reality (al-dhät)| not because they
had any doubt about the Existent. or about His existence |but because they recognized
that His reality is beyond comprehension|. Their silence does not impair their belieI in
His uniqueness (al-tauhïd); rather. it is the essence oI al-tauhïd |Ior the recognition that
He is other than whatever we imagine Him to be is a requirement oI the transcendent
perspective oI al-tauhïd|. Some oI the ulamä` overlooked |some oI the strict
requirements oI the divine transcendence| and indulged in using the term direction (al-
jihah) |in relation to Alläh| Iearing to take unwarranted liberties |in interpreting the
revealed texts oI the Sharï'ah|. But it raises the question oI whether or not there is any
diIIerence between explaining how (al-takyïI) |is the divine reality| and between
ascribing directions to Him.
114
No doubt. the course which oIIers salvation Irom

114
The point here seems to be that there is no warrant Ior attributing direction to Alläh because the texts
oI the Sharï'ah are silent about that. Although the literal wording oI some oI the texts seems to imply that
He is on the Throne. or over the Throne. or in the sky. there are no texts which state expressly that He has
such and such direction. There is a world oI diIIerence between the words oI the Qur'än 'and He en-
Iorces His will over (Iauqa) His slaves.¨ or the words 'then He subdued |or took control; istawä| oI the
Throne¨ and the claims oI some ulamä` that He has an attribute called 'aboveness / 'ulüw.¨ or 'direction /
al-jihah.¨ or an attribute called 'ascension / istiwä`.¨ since the Iirst are the express terms in which Alläh
has described himselI. while the second are derivative terms which men have taken out oI context and
changed the Iorm according to their understanding oI the terms oI the Lawgiver. The Qur'än declares
that Alläh enIorces His will Iauqa 'ibädihï (over His slaves); this is an idiomatic construction. It does not
declare that Alläh has an attribute called 'direction / al-jihah.¨ or 'aboveness / 'ulüw.¨ Similarly. it de-
clares thumma istawä 'alä `l-'arsh. it does not declare that He has an attribute called istawä (ascension).
nor does it describe Alläh as mustawwin (ascended). Ibn al-Jauzï (d. 597 /1201; Baghdad) emphasised
this point in the introduction to his DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. He mentioned that the likes oI the idioms we
mentioned above are called idäIät (idiomatic constructions) which are true in the context oI the speech oI
the Lawgiver. but untrue when taken out oI that context. He deplored the habit oI many Hanbalis oI tak-
ing these idäIät (idiomatic constructions) and calling them attributes (siIät). Indeed. he denounced that
practice as heresy (bid'ah). See DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. pp. 8-9. Al-Qädï 'Iyäd seems to be making the
same point because he mentions next that saIety is to be Iound in believing in the exact words oI the am-
biguous texts some examples oI which he mentions.
Eurthermore. his rhetorical question suggests that those who take these idioms out oI context and
ascribe derivative terms to Alläh like 'aboveness.¨ and 'direction.¨ and 'ascension.¨ and 'ascended.¨
have actually indulged in explaining how (al-takyïI). This much indulgence is something al-Qädï 'Iyäd
questions. yet it is understood that in spite oI ascribing such terms to Alläh those ulamä` do not outwardly
insist on ascribing physical. originated attributes to Alläh. That is clear-cut anthropomorphism which al-
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
45
deviation Ior those Ior whom Alläh has ordained success is to restrict oneselI to using
such terms as the Law (al-Shar' / -~·¹') itselI has used like 'and He enIorces His will
over (Iauqa) His slaves.¨ or the words 'then He subdued |or took control; istawä| oI the
Throne.¨ while understanding such terms with reIerence to the verse which comprehends
the universal principle oI transcendence (tanzïh); namely. His word: 'Nothing is like
Him.¨ Eor reason can not accept anything which contravenes this universal principle oI
the Law.

Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï (d. 1014 h. / 1606; Makkah) was a HanaIi Iaqïh. a muhaddith . an ex-
pert in language. a mutakallim. and a proliIic author oI important Islamic texts including the
commentary on Abü HanïIah`s al-Eiqh al-Akbar. which is a work on belieI. and a ten-volume
commentary on the hadïth compilation Mishkät al-Masäbïh. Commenting on the words reported
Irom the Prophet 'Where is Alläh?¨ in the Hadïth al-Järiyah. (see page41 above). he wrote:

In another version oI the same hadïth there is the wording: 'Where is your Lord?¨ It
means that where is His place oI decision. and His order. and the place where His
dominion and power are maniIested. ¦She said: 'In the sky.¨} Al-Qädï |'Iyäd| said:
'The meaning is that His command and His prohibition comes Irom the direction oI the
sky. The Prophet did not mean to ask her about the whereabouts oI Alläh. since He
transcends such an attribute as place. just as He transcends the attribute oI time. Rather.
the Prophet intended to Iind out by his question to her whether she was a monotheist
declaring the uniqueness oI Alläh (muwahhidah). or whether she was a polytheist
(mushrikah) because the Arabs were worshipping idols. Each clan amongst them had its
special idol. which it worshipped and revered. Perhaps some oI their ignorant and stupid
people did not recognize any god whatsoever; thereIore. the Prophet wanted to
ascertain what she worshipped. So when she said 'in the sky.¨ or. as in another version.
she pointed to the sky. he understood that she was a monotheist declaring the
uniqueness oI Alläh. In other words . he wanted to preclude the gods on earth; that is. the
idols. He did not mean to imply that He occupies a place in the sky. Iar-removed is Alläh
Irom what the transgressors ascribe to Him in their insolence. Moreover. the Prophet
had been ordered to speak to the people according to the extent oI their intelligence. and
to guide them to the truth in way which was appropriate to their understanding. So when
the Prophet Iound that she believed that the one who deserves to be worshipped is the
God who implements His purpose Irom the sky to the earth. not the gods which the
pagans worshipped. he was satisIied with that much Irom her. and he did not charge
her with sheer unity (sirI al-tauhïd / ~·-=·-¹' -·-)the principle oI transcendence (haqïqat
al-tanzïh / ··-´--¹' ²·---=). Some |oI the ulamä`| have said that the meaning is that His order
and prohibition. His mercy and revelation comes Irom the sky. In that case. this hadïth is
similar |in its implications| to His word : 'Do you Ieel secure Irom Him who is in the
sky.?¨
115
Eurthermore. in some other |authentic| versions oI this hadïth it comes that
this girl was dumb. and Ior that reason |Imäm| al-ShaIi'ï |d. 204 / 820; Cairo| permitted
the Ireeing oI a slave even iI he is dumb.
116
In such case. the words in the hadïth 'She

Qädï 'Iyäd has already dismissed at the outset oI the citation we presented above by declaring that all
Muslims are agreed that the literal meaning oI the ambiguous texts are not to be taken literally.

115
Eor the exegesis oI this verse see Iootnote 113.
116
Keep in mind that when an imam like al-ShäIi'ï acts on a particular hadïth. it means that the hadïth is
authentic as Iar as he is concerned. Since he is a mujtahid imam. which presupposes that he knows all the
diIIerent chains oI narration by which a hadïth might be transmitted. and knows the narrators and their
merits and weaknesses. and the rules and principles oI the science oI hadïth; rather. he establishes the
principles oI the science. or what is more important. he establishes himselI Irom the primary sources oI
the Sharï'ah the rules which govern when and when not a hadïth may be adduced in an issue oI law or
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
46
said. 'In the sky.`¨ mean that she pointed to the sky |since she could not speak.
obviously; and this is just what has come expressly in another version oI the hadïth: 'She
pointed to the sky.¨|
117


Notice that so Iar we have quoted a ShaIi imam. a Maliki imam. and a HanaIi imam all
who were renown muhaddithün. in addition to being high authorities oI the Sharï'ah and cele-
brated authors oI works which the ulamä` and the common people have poured over Ior centu-
ries. They all agree that it is not permissible to adopt the literal. outward meaning oI the
ambiguous texts iI the literal meaning prejudices the transcendence oI Alläh. or prejudices what
is established conclusively by deIinitive verses oI the Qur'än or the deIinitive (mutawätir) Sun-
nah. Keep in mind that what they have expressed are no maverick ideas; rather. they are quite
representative oI the unanimous opinion oI the ulamä` oI their madhhab. Recall that Täj al-Dïn
al-Subkï conIirmed what is not any secret to the ulamä`; namely. that the Iollowers oI these three
madhhabs are all Ash'arïyah (or Ashä'irah; that is. Asharites) with Iew exceptions. and that the
early. and great men oI the Hanbali madhhab are also Ash'arïyah.
118

Abü `l-Earaj Ibn al-Jauzï (d. 597 /1201; Baghdad) was both a Hanbali and Ash'arï (an
Asharite). He was a high authority oI the Hanbali madhhab. and a veritable polymath. a histo-
rian oI encyclopedic stature. a renown muhaddith. a commentator oI the Qur'än. and one oI the
most proliIic authors oI Islämaccording to the contemporary expert oI historical biography
Khair al-Dïn al-Ziriklï (1396 / 1976; Cairo). who is the author oI the biographical dictionary
al-A'läm. Ibn al-Jauzï wrote about three hundred books. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalï (795 / 1393; Da-
mascus) in his Dhail Tabaqät al-Hanäbalah. in which he documented the histories and assessed
the importance oI the Hanbali ulamä`. proclaimed Ibn al-Jauzï to be 'the master (shaikh) oI his
time. the imam oI his age.¨
119
Imäm Shams al-Dïn al-Dhahabï (d.748 / 1348; Damascus) lav-
ished praise on him in his encyclopaedia oI biography. Siyar A'läm al-Nubalä`declaring him '
the Shaikh. the Imam. the Scholar (al-'alämah). the HäIiz
120
. the Commentator oI the Qur'än
(al-muIassir). the Shaikh oI Isläm. the Pride oI Iraq.¨
121

Ibn al-Jauzï also interpreted the Hadïth al-Järiyah in an idiomatic way. In his DaI'
Shubah al-Tashbïh he wrote: 'The ulamä` have realised that the sky and the earth do not contain
Alläh. hallowed is He; nor does space reach Him. |As Ior the hadïth| the Prophet understood
Irom her sign that she revered the Creator.¨
122
Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ). Abü Bakr Ibn
al'Arabï. ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) ) and 'Alämah Muhammad Zähid al-Kautharï and others pointed out that
the question 'where¨ in Arabic can reIer to place in the sense oI position. rank or prestige
(makänah / ²-'´~) as it can reIer to physical place (makän / .'´~). They mentioned that the Arabs
say 'the place oI so and so is in the sky¨ meaning that he has great esteem. He quoted a verse oI

belieI. so it is rightly presumed that he knows all that better than anybody else or at least just as well as
anybody else. The opinion oI any other muhaddith about the status oI a hadïth and whether or not it is
admissible as a prooI on any given issue does not prejudice the opinion oI the mujtahid.
117
Mulla 'Alï al-Qärï. Mirqät al-MaIätïh (Beirut. ). p. 454; vol. 6
118
See above page 26.
119
Ibn Rajab. Dhail Tabaqät al-Hanäbalah. (Beirut. Där al-Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed.. 1417 h.). p. 337;
vol. 1
120
A title reserved Ior those elect scholars who memorised vast numbers oI hadïth. and had proIiciency in
the science oI hadïth whereby they knew the narrators and what the authorities said about them and could
distinguish the diIIerent grades oI hadïth and whether and by which chains oI narration a hadïth could be
established as a hadïth. See ZaIar Ahmad al-'Uthmänï. Qawä`id Ii 'Ulüm al-Hadïth (Riyadh.
Al-'Ubaikän. 5
th
ed.. 1404). p. 28.
121
Al-Dhahabï. Siyar A'läm al-Nubalä` (Beirut. Mu`assasah al-Risälah. 1
st
ed.. 1409 h.). p. 365; vol 21
122
DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. p. 43

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
47
the master poet. the Companion Näbighah al-Ja'dï
123
in attestation to that usage: 'We. our glory.
and our Iortune rose to the sky. but we desire a height |belvedere| (manzar) above even that.¨
124


123
Näbighah al-Ja'dï (d. about 50 / 670; IsIahan) attained Iame prior to Isläm on account oI his exqui-
site poetry. He did not use to recite poetry; then suddenly when he was about thirty years old. he started
to gush Iorth extemporaneously. poetry oI exquisite beautythat is why he was called Näbighah. the root
oI which means to emerge Irom obscurity as a poet. He lived to be over one hundred years old. and
Iought the Battle oI SiIIïn with the Caliph 'Alï . Prior to accepting Isläm. he used to shun idols and
prohibit wine. When he came with a deputation oI his tribe to visit the Prophet . he accepted Isläm. and
recited Ior him some poetry including the above-mentioned verse in which he said: '.but we desire a
height above even that.¨ When he recited it the Prophet asked him: 'Where will you go?¨ He replied:
'Paradise.¨ The Prophet aIIirmed: 'Yes. |you shall have paradise| iI Alläh wills.¨ Ibn Hajr al-
'Asqalänï reported it as a hadïth with its chain oI narration (sanad) in his al-Matälib al-'Äliyah. (Cairo.
Mu`assasah Qurtubah. 1
st
ed.. 1418). p. 322; vol. 9.
124
The original verse is: 'Alunä al-samä`a majdunä wa judüdunä; wa innä lanab`ghï Iauqa dhälika
mazharä / '-~·~=· '-~=~ -'~~¹' '-·¹= / '=-~ =¹~ ··· .·--¹ '-'· . Ther e are two acceptable ways to construe the
Iirst hemistich according to the rules oI analytical grammar (al-i`räb /-'=`'). II sky (al-samä`) is taken
to be the object oI the verb rose (`alaunä) making the verb transitive. then glory is in apposition (badl) to
the subject oI the verb rose; namely. the pronoun we. Thus it can be translated literally: ' We. our glory.
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
48
Keep in mind that one oI the important ways in which the ulamä` veriIied the precise
mean-ings oI the Arabic words and idioms used in the Qur'än and the Sunnah was through the
evidence oI ancient Arabic poetry. The Eollowers used to ask the Scholar oI the Arabs (hibr
al-'arab)
125
. Ibn 'Abbäs. the nephew oI the Prophet . about the meaning oI words and idioms in
the Qur'än. When he would answer. they would ask him Ior some prooI oI what he claimed. and
he would recite some verses oI ancient poetry in testimony. In Iact. he taught the Eollowers to
seek the meanings oI the words oI revelation in the legacy oI poetry. which was alive in the col-
lective memory oI the Arabs. Jaläl al-Dïn al-Suyütï (d. 911 / 1505; Cairo) devoted a whole chap-
ter in his al-Itqän Iï 'Ulüm al-Qur'än. a textbook on the sciences oI the Qur'än. to the importance
oI ancient poetry as a means to veriIy the meanings oI obscure phrases (al-gharä`ib) in the
Qur'än. He quoted Abü Bakr ibn al-Anbärï (328 / 940; Baghdad)
126
as saying that much has been
reported Irom the Companions and the Eollowers concerning their establishing the meanings oI
the diIIicult and obscure phrases oI the Qur'än through the evidence oI poetry. He quoted Ibn
'Abbäs: 'Poetry is the archives (dïwän) oI the Arabs. so iI some word in the Qur'än. which Alläh
revealed in the language oI the Arabs. is unknown to us. we should have recourse to those ar-
chives. and seek its meaning there.¨
127



and Iortune rose to the sky.¨ However. iI we take sky to be the subject (mubtada`) oI a new sentence.
then rose would be taken to be intransitive. and the verse may be translated: 'We rose; the sky is our
glory and Iortune.¨
125
This title was conIerred on him by the Prophet who also prayed that Alläh should give him the un-
derstanding oI religion and the knowledge oI the interpretation (ta`wïl) |oI the Qur'än|. In another report
he prayed: 'O Alläh. teach him wisdom. and the interpretation (ta`wïl) oI the Book.¨ Several similar re-
ports were mentioned by Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï in his al-Isäbah Iï Tamyïz al-Sahäbah. which an encyclo-
paedia oI the biographies oI all persons who are known to be Companions. See Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï.
al-Isäbah Iï Tamyïz al-Sahäbah (Beirut. Där al-Jïl. 1
st
ed.. 1412). pp. 133-134.
126
Khair al-Dïn al-Ziriklï mentioned in his al-A'läm (p. 334; vol. 6) said that Abü Bakr ibn al-Anbärï was
the most knowledgeable person oI his time in the Iield oI literature and language. He said that some say
he memorised three hundred thousand verses oI poetry which testiIy to the meanings oI the words and
idioms oI the Qur'än. He wrote a book on the obscure words in hadïth that contains Iorty-Iive thousand
pages.
127
Al-Suyütï. al-Itqän Iï 'Ulüm al-Qur'än. (Beirut. 'Älam al-Kutub. n.d.) p. 119; vol. 1

Ibn al Ibn al Ibn al Ibn al- -- -Jauzï Denounces the Jauzï Denounces the Jauzï Denounces the Jauzï Denounces the Hashawïyah Hashawïyah Hashawïyah Hashawïyah and Declares That They Have and Declares That They Have and Declares That They Have and Declares That They Have
Disgraced the Hanbali Disgraced the Hanbali Disgraced the Hanbali Disgraced the Hanbali Ma Ma Ma Madh dh dh dhhab hab hab hab

In another place in DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. Ibn al-Jauzï clariIied that in regards to the under-
standing oI the ambiguous texts oI the Sharï'ah. the people Iall into three diIIerent schools oI
thought (madhahib):

Know that the people in respect oI the reports which |apparently| describe Alläh. the
people adopted three schools:

1) The Iirst school teaches to leave the texts as they are without explaining them or
interpreting them |taIwïd
128
|. unless interpretation is unavoidable as. Ior instance. in the
words oI Alläh. exalted is He. 'and your Lord comes;¨ that is. 'His command comes.¨ This is
the madhhab (school) oI the SalaI (the early Muslims: al-salaI / -¹~¹').
129

2) The second school teaches interpretation (ta'wïl); it is a precarious aIIair.
3) The third school teaches that the texts should be understood in a way compatible
with sensible experience.

Having mentioned the three schools concerning the treatment oI the ambiguous texts Ibn
al-Jauzï proceeded to denounce the third school. which is the school oI the anthropomorphists
whom he calls the Hashawïyah. saying that since they were deprived oI the knowledge oI those
sciences by which one can understand the meaning oI those texts. or at least keep silent and re-
Irain Irom misinterpreting them. He intimates that the bane oI anthropomorphism particularly
plagued the Hanbali madhhab; indeed. he points out that many oI their imams maintained that
the basic principle is that the allegorical texts (al-mutashäbihät) must be interpreted literally. He
insists that they maintained that because their understanding did not rise beyond purely physical
considerations. He gives a particularly crass example oI their anthropomorphism and proclaims
his dissociation Irom them. Moreover. he declares that they have disgraced the Hanbali
madhhab:

|This third school| is the persuasion oI the generality oI ignorant transmitters |oI hadïth|
since they are deprived oI the intellectual sciences (al`ma`qülät)
130
by which one may

128
See the discussion oI the meaning oI taIwïd on page 25.
129
Al-salaI technically reIers to the Iirst three generations oI Isläm.
130
The intellectual sciences (al-ma'qülät / -`·-·~¹') is a term which stands in contradistinction to the term
transmitted sciences (al-manqülät / -`·--~¹'). The Iirst reIers to sciences which require to be understood.
while the second to sci-ences which have to be memorized. The Iirst includes sciences like the interpreta-
tion oI the Qur'än. the science oI the principles oI Iiqh. Kaläm. logic. the sciences oI rhetoric ('ilm al-
ma'änï wa `l-bayän). mathe-matics; the second the science oI reporting hadïth. the science oI biography
oI narrators and their criticism. the science oI the recitation oI the Qur'än and the various readings oI it
and so on.
In the introduction to his work on the principles oI the science oI hadïth. Tadrïb al-Räwï. Imäm
al-Suyütï deplored the mere memorizing oI hadïth without the learning oI the sciences which enable one
to understand the hadïth. Among the sciences that he mentioned that the muhaddith should master were
Arabic language. grammar. the sciences oI rhetoric ('ilm al-ma'änï wa `l-bayän). the science oI the prin-
ciples oI hadïth. and Iiqh. He satirized those who content themselves with memorization thinking that
they have thus become ulamä`. Ior he said that they are like donkeys which are loaded with books which
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
50
know what is possible in respect oI Alläh. exalted is He. and what is impossible. II one
knew the intellectual sciences. he would interpret the meaning oI those texts which
outwardly have anthropomorphic implications |in their Iigurative sense|. However. iI
one did not have any understanding oI these sciences. he is likely to construe the texts
according to the requirements oI sensory experience. That is precisely what al-Qädï Abü
Ya`lä the Hanbali (d. 458 / 1066; Baghdad) indicated when he wrote: 'It is not
impermissible according to our |the Hanbali| principles |oI belieI| to construe the step

they can not get any beneIit Irom. |See al-Suyütï. Tadrïb al-Räwï (Beirut. Där al-Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 2
nd

ed.. 1399 h.). pp. 38-39|
HäIiz al-Khatïb al-Baghdädï (d. 463 / 1072; Baghdad) wrote a treatise called Nasïhat Ahl `l-
Hadïth in which he advised those who memorized hadïth to acquire knowledge oI the other sciences too.
especially Iiqh and the knowledge oI narrators and their statuses. Later he included this treatise in his
book al-Eiqh wa `l-MutaIaqqih. He reported Irom 'Alï ibn Müsä al-Ridä al-'Alawï |oI the House oI the
the Prophet | Irom his IoreIathers |back to his illustrious Iorebear 'Alï | that the Prophet said: 'Be
those who understand |the hadïth| (durät / -'~). and do not be those who |merely| transmit hadïth (ruwät /
-'·). A single hadïth the Iiqh oI which one comprehends is better than one thousand hadïth which one
transmits |without understanding its implications|.¨ |See al-Khatïb. Nasïhat Ahl `l-Hadïth (Jordan. Mak-
tabah al-Manär. 1
st
ed.. 1408). p. 31 .| 'Abd al-Salän ibn Abï al-Salt (d. 236 / 850) reported the hadïth
Irom 'Alï ibn Müsä al-Ridä. Some have declared him weak. but Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï insisted that he is
reliable (sadüq) since the imam oI the science oI criticismYahyä ibn Mu'ïn declared him to be utterly re-
liable. (See his al-Taqrïb. 4070) He dismissed al-'Uqailï`s charge that he was a Iorger. In Iact.
al-'Uqailï`s charge is unsubstantiated and according to the rules oI the science oI the principles oI hadïth.
a charge which is unsubstantiated (ghair muIassar) is dismissed iI there are others who declare the narra-
tor to be reliable or utterly reliable (thiqah). Moreover. Ibn Mu'ïn heard the charges against him but di-
missed them. As Ior 'Alï ibn Müsä al-Ridä (d. 203 / 818). HäIiz Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalänï (Get opinion oI Get opinion oI Get opinion oI Get opinion oI
al al al al- -- -Dhahabi Dhahabi Dhahabi Dhahabi) proclaimed him to be reliable (sadüq). (See al-Taqrïb. 4804). Ibn Mäjah depended on both
oI them in his al-Sunan. It is a general rule in the science oI the principles oI hadïth that the hadïth oI a
narrator who is a subject oI controversy (some declaring him reliable and others unreliable) will be con-
sidered authentic (hasan) provided oI course that nobody in the chain oI narration (sanad) is weaker than
him. R RR R R RR Re ee e e ee eI II I I II Ie ee e e ee er rr r r rr re ee e e ee en nn n n nn nc cc c c cc ce ee e e ee e II we accept Ibn Hajr`s decision concerning the two narrators. the hadïth is authentic
(hasan). but Alläh knows best.
Al-Khatïb reported in the same treatise that HäIiz Abü al-'Abbäs ibn 'Uqdah (d. 332 / 944) said
one day when someone asked him about a hadïth: 'Take it easy with hadïth because they are not appro-
priate except Ior someone who knows how to interpret them. Indeed. Yahyä ibn Sulaimän reported Irom
|'Abd Alläh| ibn Wahb |the Iamous companion oI Imäm Mälik| (d. 197 / 813) that he said that he heard
Mälik (d. 179 / 795) say: 'Too much oI these hadïth is misguidance. Some hadïth have escaped Irom me
Ior which I wish I were whipped Ior every one oI them two lashes. Now I do not transmit them.¨ (See
Nasïhah Ahl `l-Hadïth. pp. 33-34.) The speech oI the Prophet could never be misguidance; Alläh Ior-
bid that any Muslim believe that. However. in actuality a hadïth may or may not represent the speech oI
the Prophet because the possibility exists that one oI the narrators reported the hadïth in his own words
according to his mistaken understanding. or make a mistake. or lied. Then there are hadïth which are ab-
rogated or which have special circumstances behind them which one has to know in order to understand
the implications oI the hadïth properly. Then the wording oI many oI the hadïth is idiomatic or contains
an ellipsis (purposive omission oI words). or ellipses which those who are not highly proIicient in the sci-
ences oI Arabic language. grammar. and the rhetorical sciences ('ilm al-ma'änï wa 'ilm al-bayän) are
likely to misunderstand. The outward meaning oI some hadïth contradicts categorical and deIinitive texts
oI the Qur'än or Iundamental Islamic principles establishes by the Qur'än and the Sunnah and the consen-
sus oI the Companions. It would seem that Imäm Mälik was reIerring to these Iactors. or some oI them.
There are numerous sayings Irom the imams oI the SalaI (the Iirst several generations oI Muslims) which
stress the precariousness oI deducing things Irom hadïth without the proper background. What we have
mentioned must suIIice Ior now.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
51
which the Truth. exalted is He. stomped |on the earth|
131
literally. and to consider that the
meaning applies to the Divine Reality (al-dhät) |rather than to His act|. He maintains that
their principles. or what he supposes are their principles.
132
are based on sensible
considerations. II they understood that Alläh. exalted is He. may not be described by
movement nor change. they would not have based their thinking on sensory
experience..

131
A reIerence to the hadïth which Ibn al-Jauzï discussed shortly beIore what he said above. The hadïth
was reported by Khaulah bint Hakïm that the Prophet said: 'The last step (al-wat` / -'=·¹') which the
MerciIul stomped |on earth| was at |the Valley oI| Wajj.¨. Al-wat` literally means stomping. or treading
down with the Ioot. Ibn al-Jauzï mentioned that Wajj is a wadi near TaiI; it was the site oI the last battle
which Alläh caused to be Iought against the pagans at the hand oI His Messenger |and that is what the
hadïth reIers to|. SuIyän ibn al-'Uyainah and Ibn Qutaibah interpreted it that way. Ibn al-Jauzï men-
tioned that the usage oI the idiom here is the same as the usage in the prayer oI the Prophet |which
al-Bukhärï and Muslim reported|: 'O Alläh. make your stomping (al-wat` / -'=·¹') on Mudar severe!¨
Imäm al-Nawawï said that |in the context oI the hadïth| al-wat` means violence. and al-Jauharï mentioned
in his dictionary oI Arabic Sihäh al-Lughah that al-wat` means to strike with the Ioot and also to press it.
II we render the prayer in a Iigurative sense it might be translated something like this: 'O Alläh. deal se-
verely |or drastically. or violently| with Mudar.¨ Mudar was an Arabic tribe inhabiting the Plateau oI
Najd.
Eurthermore. the hadïth oI Khaulah bint Hakïm is weak. It was reported by al-Tabaränï in his
al-Mu'jam al-Kabïr (pp. 241. 614. and 609; vol. 24) by way oI SuIyän ibn 'Uyainah Irom Ibrähïm ibn
Maisarah who said: I heard Ibn Abï Suwaid say: I heard 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Azïz say: the righteous lady
Khaulah bint Hakïm thinks she heard the Messenger oI Alläh say: 'The child makes one stingy as it
makes one ignorant as it makes one a coward. Verily. the last tread which Alläh treaded was at Wajj.¨
Imäm Ahmad reported it with the same chain oI narration in his al-Musnad (p. 409; vol. 6) and al-Baihaqï
in his al-Asmä` wa `l-SiIät (p. 461). One reason the hadïth has to be judged weak (da'ïI ) is that it is dis-
continuous (munqati') since Ibn Abï Suwaid. whose name is Muhammad. is unknown (majhül) as was
mentioned in al-Taqrïb oI Ibn Hajr. no. 5944. and al-Dhahabï in his al-Mïzän (Beirut. Där al-Kutub
al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed.. 1416). no. 7665. since only Ibrähïm ibn Maisarah has narrated Irom him. Eurther-
more. the Prince oI the Believers. 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Azïz (61-101 h. / 681-720). who was one oI the
most illustrious oI the Eollowers. reports indirectly Irom the Lady Companion Khaulah bint Hakïm since
he was not her contemporary as Ibn Hajr mentioned in al-Isäbah in his biography (tajumah) oI Khaulah
bint Hakïm. number 11.113. Thus. the narrator between him and. Khaulah bint Hakïm is unknown.
Even iI the hadïth was not weak. it certainly could never be a prooI that Alläh. hallowed is He.
came down to earth and stomped on the ground at Wajj! God Iorbid. that is like something out oI the Old
Testament. Even the verses oI the Qur'än. iI they implied that Alläh had some originated attribute. or that
He underwent some change must be interpreted in a way which does not contradict the categorical verses
oI the Qur'än. Moreover. the general precept is that nothing is admissible in the area oI belieIs unless it is
deIinitive (qat'ïy) in its meaning (dalälatan) and incontestably established in respect oI transmission
(thubütan). In other words. it has to aIIord certain knowledge ('ilm). not tentative knowledge (zann).
Even a rigorously authentic (sahïh) hadïth aIIords only tentative unless there are such a large number oI
chains oI transmission that there remains no possibility whatsoever that the narrators have made any mis-
takes or gotten together to Iorge something. Such a hadïth has a rank which is called mutawätir. There
are two types oI it: one reIers to the letter oI the hadïth and the other to its meaning. The kind in question
here is that oI meaning: al-tawätur al-ma'nawï. Imäm al-Nawawï mentioned in his Sharh Muslim (p.
131; vol. 1) that the unanimous opinion oI those ulamä` whose opinion counts is that any text which is not
mutawätir (that is. it is what is called khabr `l-wähid) obliges us in respect oI act but does not aIIord us
certain knowledge. Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence. reIerence. reIerence. reIerence.
132
The implication is that those principles are Iorged principles and not truly representative oI the Hanbali
madhhab or the principles which Imäm Ahmad endorsed.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
52
One oI the most astounding things that I have seen Irom |these Hashawïyah| is
what Abü `l-'Izz Ahmad ibn 'Ubaid Alläh ibn Kädish reported to us; he said: Abü Täbib
`l-'Ushärï reported to us: al-Bannä` reported to us: Abü `l-Eath ibn Abï `l-Eawäris
reported to us: Abü 'Alï ibn al-SawäI reported to us: Abü Ja'Iar
133
'Uthman ibn Abï
Shaibah |d. 239 / 853| reported to us that he said in his Kitäb al-'Arsh: 'Alläh. exalted is
He. has inIormed us that He went Irom the earth to the sky. Then He went Irom the sky
to His Throne and ascended His Throne.¨ I declare |says Ibn al-Jauzï in disgust|: We
thank Alläh that He has not been neglected to give me my share oI the transmitted
sciences (al-manqülät) nor my share oI the intellectual sciences. and we dissociate
ourselves Irom these people who have disgraced our |Hanbali| madhhab and caused the
people |the orthodox Muslims or Ahl al-Sunnah wa `l-Jamä'ah| to denounce us on
account oI what they |the Hashawïyah| say.
134


Ibn al-Jauzï. was outspoken in his denouncement oI those who insist on the outward. lit-
eral meaning oI texts when the outward meaning prejudices the transcendent dignity oI Alläh.
He wrote DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh Ior the speciIic purpose oI guiding the anthropomorphist Han-
balis back into the Iold oI orthodoxy. In the introduction to that book he expounded some gen-
eral principles which are oI vital importance. ThereaIter. one by one he dealt with the texts
which the Hashawïyah cling to in support oI their deviation. showing that in some cases the
chain oI transmission oI the text is weak. or Iorged. or that the idiom has a well-known Iigurative
meaning. or that the ulamä` interpreted the text in a way which is commensurate with the inIinite
majesty oI Alläh. and at once in harmony with the Arabic language. In the course oI the book he
treated twelve ambiguous verses oI the Qur'än and sixty ambiguous hadïth. Eollowing. we will
translate with the help oI Alläh. hallowed is He. the major portion oI his introduction.

Translation Irom the Introduction to Translation Irom the Introduction to Translation Irom the Introduction to Translation Irom the Introduction to DaIu' Shubhat `l DaIu' Shubhat `l DaIu' Shubhat `l DaIu' Shubhat `l- -- -Tashbïh Tashbïh Tashbïh Tashbïh

I |Ibn al-Jauzï says| noticed that some oI our predecessors (ashäbunä) |in the Hanbali madhhab|
said things in the Iield oI belieI (al-usül) which are not proper. Three oI them undertook to write
in the area: Abü 'Abd Alläh ibn Hämid (d. 403 ./ 1012). and his disciple al-Qädï Abü Ya`lä (d.
458 / 1066; Baghdad). and Abü `l-Hasan ibn al-Zäghünï (d. 527 / 1132; Baghdad).
135
They wrote

133
He is mentioned as Abü `l-Hasan in al-Taqrïb oI Ibn Hajr and in al-A'läm. It would seem that Abü
JaIar is a slip.
134
Ibn al-Jauzï. DaIu' Shubhat `l-Tashbïh (Amman. Där al-Imäm al-Nawawï. 2
nd
ed. 1412). pp. 224-226.
I have quoted Irom the Amman edition oI DaIu' Shubhat because that edition gives the chain oI narration
oI the report Irom 'Uthman ibn Abï Shaibah.
135
The three men to whom Ibn al-Jauzï is reIerring; namely. Abü 'Abd Alläh ibn Hämid. al-Qädï Abü
Ya`lä. and Abü `l-Hasan ibn al-Zäghünï. are men oI high standing and great Iame in the Hanbali
madhhab. Al-Qädï Abü `l-Husain ibn Abï Ya'lä (d. 526 / 1131; Baghdad). author oI Tabaqät al-
Hanäbalah. which is an authoritative biographical dictionary oI the Hanbali ulamä` until the sixth century
oI hegiraa sort oI Who`s Who oI the madhhabgave great importance to all three oI these men. About
Abü 'Abd Alläh ibn Hämid (d. 403 /. 1012 ) he said: 'The imam oI the Hanbalis in his day. and their
teacher. and their muIti.¨ Almost six pages are devoted to his biography. |See Ibn Abï Ya'lä. Tabaqät
al-Hanäbalah (Beirut. Där al-Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed.. 1417 h.). pp. 145-151; vol 2| Ibn Hämid wrote a
book in the science oI belieI called Sharh Usül al-Dïn in which he proIessed a crude anthropomorphism.
Througout DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh Ibn al-Jauzï reIutes him.
About al-Qädï Abü Ya`lä (d. 458 / 1066; Baghdad) Ibn Abï Ya'lä said: 'the scholar oI his time.
the prodigy oI his age. He had mastery oI both the rules oI Sharï'ah (al-Iurü' / -·-¹'). and its principles
(al-usül / .·-`'). The Iollowers oI |Imäm| Ahmad Iollow Abü Ya`lä. and they study his works and teach
them. and according to his opinion they give Iatwä (explicit legal decision on speciIic issues oI the
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
53
books which have disgraced the madhhab. I realised |on perusing their works| that their level oI
understanding was that oI the common people. Ior they ascribed attributes |to Alläh| according
to requirements oI sensory experience. Thus when they heard that Alläh created Adam accord-
ing to his image. they ascribed to Alläh an image and a Iace which are distinct Irom his essence
(zä`id 'alä al-dhät) |that is.in their opinion they are attributes|. Likewise. they ascribed to Him
two eyes. a mouth. uvula. molar teeth. Ilashing lights on his Iace which they called al-subuhät /
-'=-~¹' |the term is mentioned in a hadïth
136
|. and two hands and Iingers. and a palm. and a little-
Iinger. and thumbs. and a chest. and a thigh. and two legs. and two Ieet! However. they said:
'We did not hear that He has a head.¨ They also said: 'He may touch and be touched. and His
slave may come near to His person (al-dhät).¨ One oI them said that He breathes. AIter all that.
they appease the common people |who presumably become unnerved when they hear such crass
anthropomorphism| by saying: 'But not as we can understand.¨
137


Sharï'ah). and they depend on him.¨ Thirty pages are devoted to his biography. |Tabaqät al-Hanäbalah.
pp. 166-196; vol. 2| Al-Qädï Abü Ya`lä wrote a book on belieI called al-Usül which he also Iilled with
anthropomorphism (tajsïm). Ibn al-Jauzï undertook to reIute him in DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. Al-Qädï
Abü Ya`lä should not be conIused with his namesake. Abü Ya'lä the muhaddith (307 h. / 919; Mosul).
the author oI al-Musnad; they are two diIIerent persons.
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalï (795 / 1393; Damascus) wrote a two-volume appendix to Tabaqät
al-Hanäbalah in which he treated Hanbali ulamä` who lived aIter Ibn Abï Ya'lä. author oI the original
work. Ibn Rajab quoted Ibn al-Sam'änï`s appraisal oI Abü `l-Hasan ibn al-Zäghünï (d. 527 / 1132; Bagh-
dad) as 'the Iaqïh. the muhaddith. the preacher. one oI the great men oI the madhhab.¨ He quoted Ibn
Näsir as saiying that he was 'the Iaqïh oI his age.¨ He quoted Ibn al-Jauzï as saying that he studied Iiqh
and hadïth Ior a long time with Ibn al-Zäghünï. |Ibn Rajab. Dhail Tabaqät al-Hanäbalah (Beirut. Där al-
Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed.. 1417 h.). pp. 150-153; vol. 1| Ibn al-Zäghünï wrote a book on belieI which he
also sullied with a crude literalism. Ibn al-Jauzï answers him in his DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh. Muhammad
Zähid al-Kautharï (d. 1371 / 1952; Cairo)in his annotation to this hadïth in DaI' Shubah al-Tashbïh.
which he edited. mentioned that Jär Alläh al-Zamakhsharï (d. 538 h. / 1144; Kharizm). the universally
recognised imam oI Arabic language. particularly its idiomatic expressions. said in his al-Eä`iq Ii Gharïb
al-Hadïth that the expression to put the Ioot on something is an expression oI remonstrance and suppres-
sion |or subjection|. Thus. he says it were as iI He says: 'The command oI Alläh comes to it. and pre-
vents it Irom seeking any more. Al-Kautharï said that al-Zamakhsharï mentioned in his Asäs al-
Baläghah. which is a dictionary oI Arabic with special emphasis on the idiomatic meanings oI words. that
the idiomatic meaning oI to put his Ioot on it means to calm something |that is. to make it be still| and
quell its violence just as a man puts his Ioot on an agitated thing to make it still. |DaI' Shubah al-
Tashbïh. p. 38|
136
. The author oI Majma' Bihär al-Anwär Ii Gharïb al-Tanzïl wa Latä`iI al-Akhbär quoted al-Tïbï as
saying that the word al-subuhät / -'=-~¹' in the hadïth: 'Alläh has seventy veils. II He removed any one
oI them the subuhät oI his Eace would burn us all up.¨ means His glory and majesty.
137
AIter declaring such ungodly things as were mentioned. this statement and the likes oI it does not clear
them oI anthropomorphism because their perspective is deIinitely and essentially anthropomorphic. One
may argue that he does not consider green to be like yellow; whereas. in actuality he considers green to be
like yellow in so many respects: both are colours. both have an appearance. both are accidents which sub-
sist in bodies. both have limits. and dimensions. and shades. the physics oI both are similar and so on. In
the same way once one declares that Alläh has two oI a certain limb or organ. or that He touches and can
be touched. or that He can sit on the Throne. one has ascribed to Him originated attributes and eIIectively
likened Him to His creation. What the Hashawïyah mean when they aIIirm that God is not like anything
is that He is not like so and so. They do not mean to deny Him all originated attributes. II aIter insisting
that Alläh has two hands. and two eyes with which he sees. and that He physically ascends on His throne.
and that He is located in the sky. then aIter that one denies that one is an anthropomorphist. his denial will
not avail him at all. II some believes the things we mentioned. what is there leIt in anthropomorphism?
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
54
They insisted on the outward. literal meaning oI those texts which concern the divine at-
tributes and names. They called those ambiguous expressions |that is. those idiomatic or Iigura-
tive expressions like the Iace and hand| attributes (siIät). Their calling them attributes is a
heretical deviation (bid'ah / ²=~-); they have no warrant Ior that Irom either what has been trans-
mitted |Irom the Lawgiveral-naql / .--¹'|. or even a rational argument |al-'aql / .-·¹'|. They did
not pay any attention to those texts |Irom the Qur'än and the Sunnah| which translate (al-nusüs
al-säriIah 'an al-zawähir / -'·=¹' .= ²·'-¹' .·--¹') the outward. literal meaning into meanings
which the transcendence oI Alläh requires; they did not pay attention to those texts which invali-
date the originated characteristics which the outward. literal sense oI the ambiguous texts
(al-mutashäbihät) necessarily imply.
138

They were not content to maintain that those ambiguous terms were the attributes oI His
act (siIät al-Ii'l / .·-¹' -'--). but insisted that they were the attributes oI the Divine Reality
(al-dhät). Eurthermore. they insisted that we do not construe these ambiguous texts idiomati-
cally; Ior example. to construe the mention oI hand |in respect oI the divinity| as beneIicence. or
power; or the mention oI coming |majï` or ityän; the terms are synonymous. both Iorms appear
in idiomatic expressions in the Qur'än and hadïth in relation to Alläh| as solicitude or kind-
ness
139
; or the mention oI the leg as severity
140
. Rather they say: 'We understand them |that is.
the ambiguous texts| according to their plain. literal meaning.¨ However. their plain. literal
meaning is what is ordinarily understoodhuman attributes. No doubt. a text is to be understood
in its literal context iI that is possible. but iI some Iactor precludes that. it must be understood in
a Iigurative manner.
They take oIIence iI they are accused oI anthropomorphism (al-tashbïh). insisting that
they belong to Ahlu `l-Sunnah (the orthodox community). yet what they say is outright anthro-
pomor-phism.
Many oI the common people have Iollowed them. I have remonstrated with both the
leaders and their Iollowers saying to them: 'O my Iellows |oI the Hanbali madhhab|. you are the
people who depend on transmission (ashäb al-naql)|rather. than those who depend on opinion
and rational inIerence|. Your imam. Ahmad ibn Hanbal proclaimed under scourge: 'How can I
say. what He did not say.¨
141
Beware oI bringing into his madhhab what does not belong to it.

Sultän al-Ulamä` 'Izz al-Dïn Ibn 'Abd al-Saläm explained TO BE COMPLETED
138
Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence to Ramadan EIendi`s statement.
139
Ibn Kathïr mentioned in his al-Bidäyah wa `lNihäyah. p.327; vol. 10: Al-Baihaqï reported Irom al-Hä
kim Irom Abï 'Amri ibn al-Simäk Irom Hanbal that Ahmad interpreted the words oI Alläh 'and your
Lord comes¨ to mean that His reward comes. Al-Baihaqï said that this chain oI narration (al-sanad) is
without any Iault.
140
Imäm al-Tabarï and others reported that Ibn 'Abbäs interpreted the words oI Alläh 'the day the leg is
bared¨ to mean the day the matter will become severe. Ior the Arabs say when war becomes severe: 'It
bared its leg to them. and sheer evil maniIested itselI¨ |The previous sentence is a verse oI ancient po-
etry.|
141
This is a reIerence to the epic persecution oI Imäm Ahmad (d. 241 h. / 855; Baghdäd) when he reIused
to proIess the Mu'tazilah creed by declaring the Qur'än to be created. The Caliph Ma`mün had him
whipped severely. While he was being whipped. he was called to declare that the Qur'än was created;
whereupon. he uttered his immortal dictum: 'How can I say what He did not say?¨ He meant that since
Alläh did not reveal any text which indicated that the Qur'än was created. it is not permitted to say that.
The reason Ibn al-Jauzï reminds them oI the dictum oI Ahmad is that they are contravening it. Ior they are
saying things about Alläh things which He did not say by speaking about Him in terms that Alläh did not
use and in meanings that He did not intend. Alläh did not say that He has a hand. although He did de-
scribe HimselI by idiomatic and Iigurative expressions in which the word hand is used. As Ibn al-Jauzï
and other ulamä` explained. there is a world oI diIIerence between the two.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
55
You |O Hashawïyah| say that the hadïth have to be understood according to their outward mean-
ings
142
. Now the outward meaning oI Ioot
143
is a limb oI a body. |You are doing just like the

142
The present-day Hashawïyah also insist on this. in Iact they deny that there are any Iigures oI speech
(majäz / ´'=~) in the Qur'än and the speech oI the Prophet whatsoever. In that they blindly Iollow Ibn
Taimïyah (d. 728 / 1328; Damascus). who stubbornly insisted on such a doctrine in the eighth century oI
hegira. It is a most untenable position; rather. it is absurd. Consider the words oI Alläh: 'Everyone on
|the earth| is perishing. but there abides the Iace oI Your Lord. Iull oI majesty and glory.¨ (55:27) II there
is no Iigures oI speech in the Qur'än. what the verse means is that everything is perishing including the
hand. and Ioot. and leg. and chest oI God so that only His Iace remains! Alläh. hallowed is He. declares:
'Whoever is blind in this world. he will be blind in the next and even more astray.¨ (17:72) II there is no
metaphorical expressions in the Qur'än. it means that all those who are physically blind in this world will
also be deprived oI sight in the next! Ibrähïm proclaims in the Qur'än: 'I am going to my Lord. He
will guide me.¨ (37:99) Since the literalists presume that Alläh is sitting on the Throne. or wandering
about in the sky. according to them it must mean that Ibrähïm was proposing a journey through space!
143
This is a reIerence to the hadïth oI Anis reported by al-Bukhärï and Muslim that the Prophet said:
'The damned will continue to be thrown into Hell. and it will continue to say: 'Is there any more?¨ Until
the Lord oI Glory shall put His Ioot into it so that it becomes pushed together and becomes Iull.¨ Imäm
al-Nawawï commented on this hadïth saying: This hadïth is one oI the Iamous hadïth which are |seem-
ingly| related to the divine attributes. I have mentioned on numerous occasions previously that the
ulamä` divided into two schools oI thought (madhhabs) |with respect to the ambiguous texts
(al-mutashäbihät)|. The Iirst madhhab. which is the position oI the great majority oI SalaI |the early
Muslims. which technically reIers to the Iirst three generations oI Isläm| and a section oI the mutakal-
limün (theologians). is to reIrain Irom interpreting them; rather. to believe that it is the truth in the way
that Alläh intended. Ior. although the outward. literal meaning is not intended. it has an appropriate mean-
ing |which beIits His inIinite transcendence|. The second madhhab. which is the position oI the great
majority oI the mutakallimün. is to interpret the texts in an appropriate way. Accordingly. the mutakal-
limün diIIered over the appropriate interpretation oI this hadïth. Some said that the meaning oI qadam /
»~· |translated literally above as Ioot| is al-mutaqaddam / »~--~¹' |that is. the vanguard|. Ior such use |oI
qadam| is quite common in Arabic. In that case. the meaning be-comes 'until Alläh puts in Hell the
vanguard oI the damned¨. Al-Mäzarï (d. 536 / 1141; al-Mahdïyah) |a Maliki muhaddith and Iaqïh. and
the author oI a commentary on Sahïh Muslim| and al-Qädï |'Iyäd (544 / 1149; Maräkish)| said that |the
above interpretation| belongs to al-Nadr ibn Shumail |d. 203 / 819; Merv; a linguistic prodigy and author
oI several books on Arabic language and grammar. and a book on the diIIicult vocabulary oI the Qur'än.
and a narrator oI the highest reliability: al-Bukhärï and Muslim and the rest oI the six Iamous imams oI
hadïth all transmitted his hadïth|. and they both said that a similar thing was reported Irom Ibn al-A'räbï
|d. 231 / 845; Sämurä`; a specialist oI Arabic. and the author oI many books on Arabic including a book
on the meaning oI Arabic sayings. and another on the meaning oI poetry; he is not to be conIused with
another Ibn al-A'räbï. the muhaddith and the companion oI Junaid al-Baghdädï; nor with Ibn 'Arabï. the
SuIi; nor Ibn al-'Arabï. the Malikï Iaqïh. and commentator oI the Qur'än|. The second interpretation is
that there may be among the creatures |oI God| some who are called by that apellation |namely. qadam|.
As Ior the version oI the hadïth in which it is mentioned that Alläh puts His Ioot with the word rijlahü /
·¹= |instead oI qadamahü|. Imäm Abü Bakr ibn Eauraq held that the version is not authentic as Iar as the
specialists oI hadïth transmission are concerned. However. Muslim and others have reported it. so it is in
Iact an authentic version. It may be interpreted in the way qadam was interpreted above. Moreover. it is
Ieasible that what is meant by rijl is a large number oI people. in the same way that they say a rijl oI lo-
custs meaning a swarm oI them. Al-Qädï |'Iyäd| said that the most likely interpretation is that it reIers to
people who deserve Hell and were created Ior it. The ulamä` said that the term must be understood in
other than its literal meaning on account oI the categorical rational |and textual| evidence which estab-
lishes the impossibility oI Alläh having any limbs. |Al-Nawawï. Sharh Sahïh Muslim (Damascus. Beirut.
Där al-Khair. 4
th
ed.. 1998). pp. 310. vol. 17| Ibn al-Jauzï devoted more than a page in DaI' Shubah al-
Tashbïh discussing the implications oI this hadïth and what the ulamä` said about it.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
56
Christians.| Ior when it was mentioned that Jesus was the spirit oI Alläh. the Christians believed
that Alläh had an attribute which is a spirit which entered Mary. Whoever supposed that God
ascended (istawä)|the Throne| in person (bidhätihï)
144
. imagined Him in the way He imagines
sensory phenomena.
In any respect. we should not neglect that which established the basis |oI the Sharï'ahthe
belieI in the existence oI Alläh and the prophethood oI Muhammad |; namely. reason; Ior by
it we recognised |the existence| oI Alläh. exalted is He. and we established that He is without
any beginning |that is. pre-eternal: qadïm / »-~·|.
II you were to say: 'We shall recite the hadïth and be quiet;¨ nobody would ever have
objected. What is objectionable is your interpreting the |ambiguous| hadïth in the literal sense
145

So do not impose on the madhhab oI that righteous soul. the |illustrious| predecessor (al-salaIï)
|that is. Imäm Ahmad| what does not belong to it. By Alläh. you have clad this madhhab with

144
This is the catchphrase oI the present-day Hashawïyah. In Iact. one oI their leaders in Cairo. Hamdï
al-Eiqhï. (DATE OE DECEASE) (DATE OE DECEASE) (DATE OE DECEASE) (DATE OE DECEASE) who edited a number oI books. used to sign by the name the Slave OI
The One Who Sits On His Throne In Person. ( (( ( ( (( (R RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE EE EE E E EE ER RR R R RR RE EE E E EE EN NN N N NN NC CC C C CC CE EE E E EE E) )) ) ) )) )
145
The reason it is objectionable is that the literal meanings involve the attribution oI imperIect attributes
and created. contingent characteristics to the Lord oI Transcendent Glory; whereas. the Qur'än and cate-
gorical Sunnah and the dictates oI pure reason exonerate Him oI all blemish oI createdness. The Inimita-
ble Qur'än proclaims: 'Subhäna rabbika rabbi l-izzati 'amma yasiIün / .·--- '´ ~= -´ ´·¹' - =´ - .'=-~.¨ We
can translate the verse as Iollows: 'Hallow your Lord. the Lord oI Glory |by holding Him above all de-
Iect and imperIection| and what they ascribe to Him |oI meanings which do not beIit Him.|¨ (al-SaIIät.
37:180) Concerning the way I have translated subhäna rabbika /=´ - .'=-~ in the above verse. a Iew re-
marks may be in order. In the abridgement oI al-Sihäh /-'=-¹'. which Imäm al-Suyütï declared to own
the place amongst the lexicons oI the Arabic language that Sahïh al-Bukhärï owns among the books oI
hadïth. Imäm Abü Bakr al-Räzï ( d. aIter 666 / 1268) mentions that the meaning oI tasbïh ---~- / (Irom
which subhäna is derived) is tanzïh /·-´--; that is. to declare Iree oI deIect and imperIection. Then he ex-
plains that the meaning oI subhana Allah is tanzïh Alläh; that is. the transcendence oI Alläh. In the
phrase subhäna Alläh. subhäna is the object oI a verb that is omitted but understood. this object being de-
rived Irom that verb. It is a well-known structure oI Arabic grammar called nasb 'alä `l-masdär. As Ior
ellipsis (hadhI). or word-omission. it is a mark oI good Arabic style when used discreetly. In the con-
struction here at hand. we may suppose the omitted verb to be either imperative or aIIirmative. Thus the
meaning oI subhäna Alläh might be rendered by something like: 'I exonerate Alläh Irom all oIIence with
a complete exoneration.¨ Complete is understood in view oI the Iact that this construction aIIords em-
phasis as the specialists in the Arabic rhetorical sciences (al-balägha) have ascertained.
Al-Zamakhsharï. who is universally regarded to be a supreme imam oI lexicology and rhetoric.
explained in his commentary on the Qur'än that the word tasbïh when applied to Him. the Glorious and
Exalted. reIers to purging Him oI every meaning which is oIIensive to His majesty. such as compulsion
or anthropomorphism and the likes. Eor example. tasbïh requires that one should interpret the divine
name al-A'lä (the Highest) to mean highness in the sense oI overpowering or sublime not in the physical
sense oI place. and likewise. al-istiwä 'alä al-'arsh is not to be interpreted literally as God`s physical as-
cension on the Throne. Compulsion in the sentence above (Arabic−jabr) reIers to the heretical notion that
God compels His creatures to act and deprives them oI Iree will; whereas. anthropomorphism (tajsïm. or
tashbïh) reIers to the literal attribution oI human qualities and character to God. and in a broader sense.
the attribution oI any contingent or created quality to Him−it is an idolatrous notion obviously
In another place. al-Zamakhsharï mentioned that the past verb sabbaha (which is derived Irom
tasbïh) when it has a pronominal object oI the third person singular means: 'He removed him Irom evil.¨
It is derived in a predictable and organic manner Irom the root verb sabaha (to swim) which implies the
act oI going away and getting distant. All the above inIormation Irom Al-Zamakhsharï was reiterated and
corroborated bythe HanaIï and Mäturïdï imam. Abü `l-Barakät al-NasaIï. in his celebrated commentary on
the Qur'än: Mudärik al-Tanzïl.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
57
rank disgrace. The matter has reached such a point that one can not mention a Hanbali except
the people think he must be an anthropomorphist (mujassim)..Abü Muhammad al-Tamïmï
146

(d. 488 / 1095) used to say about one oI your imams |he is reIerring to al-Qädï Abü Ya`lä (d. 458
/ 1066; Baghdad)|: 'He has disgraced the madhhab with rank disgrace-it can not be washed
away till the Day oI Resurrection.¨

The Seven Eundamental Errors oI the Literalist Hanbalis The Seven Eundamental Errors oI the Literalist Hanbalis The Seven Eundamental Errors oI the Literalist Hanbalis The Seven Eundamental Errors oI the Literalist Hanbalis

The three authors whom I mentioned previously have committed mistakes in seven diIIerent
ways:

1) They have called the |ambiguous reports| reports oI the attributes (akhbär al-siIät);
whereas. not every compound phrase |particularly those Iormed with the possessive prepo-
sition; Ior example. the hand oI Alläh| (idäIät). Consider that Alläh. exalted is He. says:
'He breathed into her oI His spirit.¨ (15:29) Yet. He does not have any attribute called
spirit. Those who call every compound phrase an attribute have innovated a deviation.
2) They maintain that the ambiguous hadïth pertain to those obscure things (al-
mutashäbihät) which only Alläh. exalted is He. knows about. Then |they turn around| and
say: 'We construe them in their outward sense ('alä zähirihä).¨ Amazing! What outward
sense is there Ior something which only Alläh. the Exalted. knows? Is there any outward
sense Ior al-istiwä`
147
except to sit. or any outward sense Ior al-nuzül
148
except to change
position?
3) They attribute to Alläh attributes |according to their whim and without suIIicient
warrant|; whereas. yet we may not attribute to Alläh any attributes oI Alläh unless we
have a prooI which is as certain and conclusive (qat'ïy / ²-·=·) as the prooIs by which we

146
He is Rizq Alläh ibn 'Abd al-Wahhäb ibn 'Abd al-'Azïz oI Baghdad. He is a high authority in the
Hanbali madhhab. The Hanbali historian. Iaqïh. and biographer Ibn Rajab mentioned in his dictionary oI
biography oI Hanbali ulamä` that Abü Muhammad al-Tamïmï was a reciter oI the Qur'än. a muhaddith. a
Iaqïh. a preacher. the Shaikh oI the People oI 'Iräq in his day. See Dhail Tabaqät al-Hanäbalah. (Beirut.
Där al-Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed.. 1417) p. 64; vol. 2.
147
The word occurs several times in the Qur'än with the phrase on the Throne. The Hashawïyah insist it
means that Alläh sits on the Throne and that He thereIore has a location and a direction and a limit.
However. orthodox Muslims either consign its meaning to Alläh while renouncing all material implica-
tions which prejudice the transcendence oI Alläh. or say it means that Alläh took control (al-istilä` /
-`-~`'). or turned his attention to. or something like that. Keep in mind that the acts oI Alläh exist in pre-
eternity; that is. they have no beginning. However. the eIIects (ta'alluqät) oI His beginningless acts ap-
pear in time. Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence
148
The word occurs in diIIerent versions oI a hadïth in some oI which the outward meaning is that Alläh
descends to the lowest heaven and asks that who is asking Me that I should give him what he asks and so
on. However. in other versions it has that Alläh sends an angel to ask who is asking and so on. In still
other versions a crier calls out who is asking and so on. Moreover. the idiom can also reIer to showing
leniency aIter being strict. in which case even there is no implication oI movement whatsoever. Be that
as it may. the thing which is imperative. as Iar as orthodoxy is concerned. is to renounce all material. an-
thropomorphic implications either deIining what the actual meaning is or leaving the deIining up to Alläh.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
58
establish the attributes oI the Divine Reality itselI |like beginninglessness and incompara-
bility
149
|.
150


149
See the beginning oI Risalah Ii `l-Tauhid. page Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence
150
Ibn al-Jauzï reIers to a basic precept oI immense importance. Namely. that the prooI oI a thing which
we are obliged to believe has to be a prooI which does not leave any room Ior doubt. The subject matter;
that is. the articles oI belieI are certainthat is why we have to believe them. and that is why there is no
excuse Ior disbelieving them. and that is why those who do disbelieve them must suIIer eternally the un-
speakable consequences oI their unbelieI. The unambiguous. explicit verses oI the Qur'än. and those
hadïth which have a large number oI sources and chain oI narration (mutawätir) |see Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence| and
(Eootnote continued on next page)

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
59

the axioms oI pure reason aIIord us certain knowledge. They establish the articles oI belieI. Hadïth
which are not multiple-chained aIIord us probable knowledge (zann). and while they are an obliging
prooI as Iar as practice ('amal) is concerned. they are not a compelling prooI in the matter oI belieI.
Hadïth which are not mutawätir are called khabr al-wähid. Khabr al`wähid prooIs were not accepted as
conclusive by the Prophet . nor the Companions. nor the Eollowers. The ulamä` oI the Nation oI Isläm
maintain unanimously that khabr al-wähid prooIs aIIord probable. but inconclusive knowledge. This sub-
ject is a crucial one. so we will discuss it mentioning its prooIs in a special section. See Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence.
We well remind you that we quoted earlier Ramadän EIendï`s lucid summarization oI the issue oI
the ambiguous texts in a concise Iormula which we would all do well to memorize: 'The complete an-
swer |to those who cling to the outward sense oI the ambiguous texts (al-mutahshäbihät) is to say to them
that those prooIs which are transmitted |in either the Qur'än or Sunnah| which are susceptible to more
than one interpretation (al-muhtamilah) may not prejudice those prooIs which are transmitted and are not
susceptible to more than one interpretation (al-muhkamah). Rather. we have to construe those texts
which are susceptible to more than one interpretation (al-muhtamilah) in the light oI those texts which are
not susceptible to more than one interpretation (al-muhkamah) since the latter are the basis |and the Ioun-
dation| oI the Qur'än.¨ See Häshïyah Ramadän EIendï. p. 113.

Tuesday. 07 November. 2006 8:34 AM
60
4) They assigning attributes to Alläh they did not distinguish between those reports
which have a large number oI chains oI transmission (al-mustaIïd)
151


151
Al-mustaIïd. which is also called Al-mustaIïd. is a technical term in the science oI the principles oI
Iiqh which reIers to a class oI multi-chained hadïth which not does qualiIy as mutawätir because those
who are a witness to the report in the Iirst generation do not reach the level oI mutawätir (that is. more
than can be counted). but they do reach its level in the second and subsequent generations. The ulamä`
insist that while it does not aIIord certain knowledge ('ilm durürï / ¸·- »¹=). it does aIIord satisIactory
knowledge ('ilm tuma`nïnah / ²---'~= »¹=) which is above the probable knowledge ('ilm zannï ) oI khabr `l-
wähid (Cross Cross Cross Cross- -- -reIerence reIerence reIerence reIerence). This subject is discussed in the books on the principles oI Iiqh in a section typi-
cally called 'The Classes oI Sunnah.¨ See Ior example Sharh Nür al-Anwär by the HanaIi Iaqih. Mulla
Jiyün. printed on the lower halI oI KahI al-Isrär oI al-NasaIï (Beirut. Där al-Kutub al-'Ilmïyah. 1
st
ed..
1406 h.). pp. 10-13. Mulla Jiyün explained that one who denies the subject matter oI mashür hadïth does
not become an unbeliever. but according to the correct opinion he is classiIied as aberrant (däll). He men-
tioned that according to Abü Bakr al-Jassäs. a HanaIi mujtahid imäm. the class oI multi-chained reports
called mashür is a sub-class oI the multi-chained reports called mutawätir. Al-Jassäs insisted that the
mashür hadïth aIIord certain knowledge and anyone who denies its subject matter becomes an unbeliever.
The muhaddithün also use the terms al-mustaIïd and al-mashür but not in exactly the same way as the
Iuqaha` (plural oI Iaqïh) and mutakallimün (ulamä` oI Kaläm).

T TA AB BL LE E O OF F C CO ON NT TE EN NT TS S
INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ...................................... ...... ...... ......2 22 2
THE DEEINITION OE TR THE DEEINITION OE TR THE DEEINITION OE TR THE DEEINITION OE TRANSCENDENCE ANSCENDENCE ANSCENDENCE ANSCENDENCE................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ............................................................ ............................ ............................ ............................5 55 5 3
ANTHROPOMORPHISM IS ANTHROPOMORPHISM IS ANTHROPOMORPHISM IS ANTHROPOMORPHISM IS UNBELIEE UNBELIEE UNBELIEE UNBELIEE................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ............................................................... ............................... ............................... ...............................15 15 15 15
THE QUESTION OE THE THE QUESTION OE THE THE QUESTION OE THE THE QUESTION OE THE AMBIGUOUS TEXTS OE T AMBIGUOUS TEXTS OE T AMBIGUOUS TEXTS OE T AMBIGUOUS TEXTS OE THE QUR'ÄN AND SUNNAH HE QUR'ÄN AND SUNNAH HE QUR'ÄN AND SUNNAH HE QUR'ÄN AND SUNNAH................................ ................................ ................................ ....................................................... ....................... ....................... .......................22 22 22 22
THE ASHARITES: ELAG THE ASHARITES: ELAG THE ASHARITES: ELAG THE ASHARITES: ELAG BEARERS OE ORTHODOX BEARERS OE ORTHODOX BEARERS OE ORTHODOX BEARERS OE ORTHODOX ISLAM ISLAM ISLAM ISLAM................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ .......................................................... .......................... .......................... ..........................25 25 25 25 6
CONCERNING THE CONCERNING THE CONCERNING THE CONCERNING THE H HH HADÏTH ADÏTH ADÏTH ADÏTH: :: : 'WHERE IS ALLÄH?¨ 'WHERE IS ALLÄH?¨ 'WHERE IS ALLÄH?¨ 'WHERE IS ALLÄH?¨ ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ....................................... ....... ....... .......41 41 41 41
IBN AL IBN AL IBN AL IBN AL- -- -JAUZÏ DENOUNCES THE JAUZÏ DENOUNCES THE JAUZÏ DENOUNCES THE JAUZÏ DENOUNCES THE HASHAWÏYAH HASHAWÏYAH HASHAWÏYAH HASHAWÏYAH AND DECLARES THAT TH AND DECLARES THAT TH AND DECLARES THAT TH AND DECLARES THAT THEY HAVE DISGRACED TH EY HAVE DISGRACED TH EY HAVE DISGRACED TH EY HAVE DISGRACED THE E E E
HANBALI HANBALI HANBALI HANBALI MA MA MA MADH DH DH DHHAB HAB HAB HAB................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ................................................................ ................................ ................................ ........................................................... ........................... ........................... ...........................49 49 49 49 9