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Asmaa was-Sifaat

The Names and Attributes of Allaah


Author: Shaikh `Abdul-`Aziz Bin Baz

As-salaamualaikum.

The Shaykh Hafidhahullaah said:1

From Eemaan (faith) in Allaah is to have Eemaan in those of His Asmaa'ul-


Husnaa (Beautiful Names) and Sifaatul-Ulyaa (Lofty Attributes) that occur
in His Great Book [Qur’an] and that have been affirmed by His trustworthy
Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) - without tah’reef
(distorting the wording or the meaning), ta’teel (divesting or denying the
Attributes), tak’yeef (asking how) or tam’theel (resembling Allaah to any of
His creation). Rather, it is obligatory to leave them as they came, without
tak’yeef (asking how) or tam’theel (resembling Allaah to any of His
creation). Along with this, it is also obligatory to have Eemaan in the
meaning that Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic -has been described with, in a
way which befits Him: without resembling Him to His creation in any of His
attributes.

Allaah - the Most High - says:

"There is nothing like unto Him,and He is the All-Hearing, the All-


seeing"2.

Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic also says:

"And do not put forward any similitudes for Allaah. Indeed,Allaah


knows and you do not know"3.

1
Al-Aqeedatus-Saheehah wa Ma Yudaadahaa (pp.9-13)

2
Soorah ash-Shooraa 42:11

3
Soorah an-Nahl 16:74

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So this is the 'Aqeedah (belief) of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah from the
Companions of the Messenger (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) and those who
followed them in goodness. This is what has been recorded also by Imaam
Abul-Hasan al-Asharee (d.324H)( radhi allahu anhu) in his book: "Al-
Maqaalat 'an Ashaabul-Hadeeth wa Ahlus-Sunnah". This has also been
stated by many others from the people of knowledge and Eemaan.

Imaam al-Awzaee 4 (radhi allahu anhu) said:

'I asked az-Zuhree and Makhool about the aayaat pertaining to the sifaat
(Attributes of Allaah), so they said: Leave them as they are"5.

Al-Waleed ibn Muslim (radhi allahu anhu) said:

"I asked Maalik,al-Awzaee,Layth ibn Sad and Sufyaan ath-Thawree - (radhi


allahu anhu) about the reports related about the Attributes, so they all said:
"Leave them as they are, without asking how."6

Al-Awzaeee (radhi allahu anhu) said:

"We - whilst the Tabioon were many - would say:

Indeed, Allaah - the Most perfect is above His throne, and we have Eemaan
in what is related to the Sunnah about the Attributes."7

Rabee'ah ibn Abee 'Abdur-Rahmaan8 (radhi allahu anhu) said:


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He is Abdur-Rahmaan ibn 'Amr al-Awzaee-the scholar, worshipper and mujaahid.Al-Haakim said: "Al-Awzaee was
the Imaam of the people of his time ingeneral ,and he was the Imaam of the people of Shaam in particular." He died in
Bayroot in the year 157H. Refer to at-Tadhkirah (1/178 and al-Hilyah (6/135) for his biography.

5
Related by al-Harawee in Dhammul-Kalaam (p.18)

6
Related by al-Aajuree in ash-Shareeah(p.314),al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (p.453) and also al-Itiqaad (p.118)
and the isnaad [chain of narrators] is Hasan.
7
Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (p.408).The isnaad is jayyid, as al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar said in Fathul-
Baree (13/406).

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He is Rabee'ah ibn Abee'Abdur Rahmaan - better known as Rabee'atur-Raaee-one of the Tabioon of al-Madeenah. Al-
Khateeb said:'He was a faqeeh,a scholar and Haafidh in Fiqh and Hadeeth. "He died in the year 136H. Refer to Taareekh
Baghdaad (8/420) and HilyatulAwliyaa (3/259) for his biography.

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"Al-Istiwaa (Allaah ascending) is known, and how is not comprehendable,
and from Allaah is the Message, and upon the Messenger is to clearly convey
it, and upon us is to affirm it."9

Imaam Maalik10 (radhi allahu anhu) - said:

"Al-Istiwaa is known, and how is unknwon, to have Eemaan in it is


obligatory and to question it is an innovation ".

Then he said to the questioner:

"I do not think except that you are an evil man".

So he ordered him to be expelled.11 This has also been related about Ummul-
Mumineen Umm Salamah (radhi allahu anha). 12

'Abdulaah ibn al-Mubaarak13 (radhi allahu anhu) said:

9
Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (no.516) and al-Laalikaaee in Sharh Usool Itiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-
Jamaah (no.665). Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmoo'al-Fatawaa(5/365):"It is established from Rabee'ah". He also said in al-
Hamawiyyah (p.80): "Al-Khallal narrated it with an isnaad all of whom are thiqaat (precise and reliable)"

10
He is Abu Abdullah Maalik ibn Anas--The Imaam from the Athaaut-Tabioon of al-Madeenah and one of the scholars
of Ahlus-Sunnah.Imaam ash-Shafiee said:"When the scholars are mentioned, then Maailik is a dazzling star." He died i
179H. Refer to Siyaar Alaamun-Nubaala (7/366) of adh-Dhabhabee for a complete biography.

11
Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Ismaa was-Sifaat (p.516) with the wording: "Al-Istiwaa is not unknown and how is
unknown, to have Eemaan in it is obligatory and to question it is an innovation". Al-Bayhaqee also relates (p.516),as does
ad-Daarimee in ar-Radd'alal-Jahmiyyah(p.55)-with a jayyid isnaad, as Ibn Hajr says in Fathul-Baaree(13/406)--that
Imaam Maalik said: "The Most Merciful ascended as He Himself described, And it is not to be asked: How? Since how is
unknown".

12
Related by al-Laalikaaee in Sharh Usool Itiqaad (no.663). Ibn Taymiyyah said in al-Fataawaa(5/365):"Its isnaad
cannot be relied upon"Adh-Dhahabee said in al-'Uluww(p.82): "This saying has been preserved from a group,such as
Rabi'atur-raee,maailik and Abu Jafarat -Tirmidhee. However,the narration from Umm Salamah is not authentic -since
Abu Kinaanah is not reliable and Abu Ameer is not known." So the Shaykh was indeed correct in not definitely ascribing
this saying to the Mother of the Believers, Umm Salamah-and all Praise is for Allaah.

13
He is Abu'Abdur-Rahmaan 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak al-Marwazee.The Imaam from the Atbaa'ut-Tabioon, the
haafidh,the Shaykh of Islaam, example for the people of zuhd and a leader of the mujaahideen.He died in the year
181H.Refer to tareekh Baghdaad(1/152) and at-Tadkhirah(1/274) for his biography.

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"We know that our Lord - the Most Perfect - is above the heavens, above his
Arsh (Throne), separate from His creation."14

The words of the scholars about this matter are very numerous indeed, and it
is not possible to relate them all in such a short space. However, whosover
further desires to be acquainted with this topic, then let him turn to the books
by the scholars of Sunnah about this subject, such as the book: Kitaabus-
Sunnah by 'Abdullaah the son of Imaam Ahmad (d.290H), Kitaabut-Tawheed
by the great Imaam, Muhammad ibn Khuzaymah (d.311H), Kitaabus-Sunnah
by Abdul-Qaasim al-Laalikaaee at-Tabaree(d.418H), and Kitaabus-Sunnah
by Abu Bakr Ibn Abee -'Aasim (d.287H)

Refer also the reply given by Shakykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) to


the people of Hamah (entitled al-'Aqeedatul-Hamawiyyah), as it is a great
reply, full of benefit. In it he (radhi allahu anhu) - has made clear the aqeedah
of Ahlus-Sunnah, and has recorded many of the sayings of the scholars, as
well as giving proofs from both the Sharee'ah and sound reasoning about the
correctness of what Ahlus-Sunnah say, showing also the futility of those who
oppose them.

Likewise, his book entitled al-'Aqeedatut-Tadmurriyah in which he


established and explained the aqeedah of Ahlus-Sunnah with both textual
proofs and proofs from sound reasoning. In this treatise, he has for all those
of understanding, intending righteousness and desiring to realise the truth -
thoroughly refuted all opposition, by clarifying the truth and refuting the
falsehood.

All those who oppose Ahlus-Sunnah in their aqeedah concerning Allah’s


Names and Attributes, have indeed fallen into opposing the textual evidences
and sound reasoning along with clearly contradicting all that Allah has
affirmed or negated for Himself.

So, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah affirmed for Allah - The Most Perfect - what
He has affirmed for Himself in His Noble Book, or what has been affirmed
for Him by His Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu `alaihi wasallam) in the
14
Related by ad-Daarimee in ar-Raddalaal-Jahmiyyah(np.23),Abdullaah ibn Ahmad in as-Sunnah(no.22) and al-
Bukharee in Khalq Afaalul-Ibaad(no.8).It was declared Saheeh by Ibn Taymiyyah in al-Hamawiyyah(no.41).

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authentic Sunnah. Affirming without tam’theel (resemblance) and freeing
Allaah - the Most Perfect - from any resemblance to His creation, whilst also
rejecting and being free from ta'teel. So whosoever holds fast to the truth
which Allaah sent, humbling and accepting it, whilst being sincere to Allaah
in the quest for it, then it is the way of Allah - the Most perfect - that He will
grant such a person harmony with the truth and show them His clear
evidences, as Allaah - the Most High - mentions:

"Nay! We hurl truth against falsehood, so it destroys it: and behold,


falsehood is vanquished."15

And Allaah - the Most High said:

"And no example or similitude do they bring, except We reveal to you


the truth and the best explanation thereof..."16

Al-Haafidh Ib Katheer (d.774H) (radhi allahu anhu) explained in his famous


tafseer - whilst commenting upon the saying of Allaah - the Mighty and
Majestic:

"Indeed your Lord is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days,
then He ascended (istiwaa) over the throne."17 He explained this issue in a
most beautiful manner, which I have quoted here in its entirety due to its
great benefit.

Ibn Katheer (radhi allahu anhu) said:

"The sayings of the people in this issue are very many. However, this is not
the place to enter into a detailed discussion about it. Indeed, the path we
traverse in this issue is to follow the way of the Salafus-Saalih (pious
predecessors) such as:

15
Soorah al-Anbiyaa 21:18

16
Soorah al-Furqaan 25:33

17
Soorah al-Araaf 7:54

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Maalik,al-Awzaee, ath-Thawree, Layth ibn Sad, ash-Shafiee, Ahmad,
Ishaaqibn Raahaawaih, and other from the scholars of the Muslims - both
past and present. And their way is: to recite them as they are, without
tak’yeef, tash’beeh, nor ta’teel. Indeed, Allaah does not resemble anything
of His creation in any way:

"There is nothing like Him, He is all-Hearing, all-Seeing."18

Rather, the matter is as the scholars such as Nuaym ib Hammad al-Khuzaee


(d.228H), the Shaykh of al-Bukharee said:

"Whosoever makes tash’beeh (resemblance) of Allaah to His creation, has


committed kufr (disbelief), and whosoever denies what Allah has described
Himself with, has also commited kufr. Indeed, all that Allah has described
Himself with, or what His Messenger has described Him with, then there is
no tash’beeh in it at all."19 So whosoever affirms for Allaah - the Most High
- what is related in the clear Aayaat and the authentic narrations - in a way
which befits. Allaah's Greatness and Majesty - whilst also denying and
negating from Allaah - the Most High - any defects and imperfection, then
such a person has truly traversed the path of guidance."20

The Shaykh (radhi allahu anhu) also said:21

"Tah’reef (distortion) means: changing the wordings of the Names and


Attributes, or changing their meanings.

Like the saying of the Jahmiyyah that istiwaa (ascending above) is istawlaa
(conquering and having dominion over); and like the saying of some of the
Innovators that al-Ghadab (Anger) when refering to Allaah means 'intending
to send blessings'. And all of this is tah’reef. And their saying about istiwaa
that it is istawlaa is tah’reef of the wording, and their saying that ar-Rahmah
18
Soorah ash-Shhoraa 42:11.

19
Related by Imaam adh-Dhahabee with his isnaad in al-'Uluww (no.217), and the isnaad is Saheeh and the narrators are
well known as al-Albaanee said in Mukhtasir al-Uluww(p.184)

20
Tafseer Quraanul-Adheen(2/230) of Ibn Katheer.

21
Added from the footnotes to at-Tanbeehaatul-Lateefah 'alaa mahtawat 'alayhil-'Aqeedatil-Waasitiyah (pp.15-16)

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is intending to send to send blessings and al-Ghadab is intending to punish is
tahreef of the meaning.The true saying, however is that istiwaa means
ascending and being above as is clear in the Arabic language. And the Qur’an
came to show that its meaning is ascending and being above the Arsh
(Throne) in a manner which befits Allaah’s Majesty and Greatness. Likewise,
al-Ghadab and ar-Rahman are two real attributes befitting Allah’s Majesty
and Greatness just as is the case with the rest of the attributes reported in the
Book and the Sunnah.

Ta’teel (divesting) means removal of the attributes and to deny them for
Allaah - the Most High. It is taken from their saying: 'A graceful neck
without adornment (muattal). So the Jahmiyyah and their likes divest Allaah
of His attributes and are thus called the Muaattilah. And this saying of theirs
is totally futile, since it is not possible for there to be anything in existence
without attributes - and the Quran and the Sunnah repeatedly affirm
Attributes (for Allaah) in a manner befitting Allaah's Majesty and Greatness.

Tak’yeef means interpreting how the attributes are. So it is not said :"How
did he ascend?" Since, speaking about the attributes of Allaah follows the
same principle, and is treated the same, as speaking about the Dhaat
(Essence/Self) of Allah. So just as He has a Dhaat and we do not not know
how it is, then likewise, He has Siffat (Attributes) and we do not know how
they are either, no one knows that except Him. But we believe in the reality
of their meaning.

As regards to tam’theel , then it means: tash’beeh (making resemblance).


So it is not said: Allaah has a Dhaat (Essence) like ours or resembling ours
etc. Thus, it is not said about the attributes of Allaah that they are like or
resembling our own attributes.

Rather, the believer must stick to His - the Most High's --saying: "There is
nothing like Him". And the meaning is that there is none who resembles Him.

Note: Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) mentioned: If it is said to


you: We interpret the meaning of Anger to be 'desiring' to punish ' and Mercy
to be desiring to send blessings' then say: “Does this desiring resembles that
of the creation, or is it a desiring befitting His majesty and Greatness? So if

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he says the first -- then he has done tashbeeh! And if he says the second, then
say: Then why do you not say, 'Mercy and Anger befitting His Majesty and
Greatness? And this will put an end to his argument".