Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Censure of Ta'weel


A brief article containing statements from the Salaf about the Attributes of Allaah and their consensus concerning the futility of ta‘weel (figurative interpretation), and a refutation of the ridiculous scandal that the way of the Salaf was one of tafweedh (affirming the wording of the Attributes, without the meaning).


[1]: Imaam al-Awzaa’ee (d.157H) - rahimahullaah - 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.’’ [1]

[2]: al-Waleed Ibn Muslim (d.194H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘I asked Maalik, al-Awzaa’ee, Layth Ibn Sa’d and Sufyaan ath-Thawree - rahimahumullaah - concerning the reports related about the Attributes, so they all said: Leave them as they are, without asking how.’’ [2]

[3]: Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d.241H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘These ahaadeeth should be left as they are…We affirm them and we do not make any similitude for them. This is what has been agreed upon by the Scholars.’’ [3]

[4]: Nu’aym Ibn Hammaad (d.228H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Whosoever makes tashbeeh (resemblance) of Allaah to His creation has committed kufr (disbelief), and whosoever denies what Allaah has described Himself with has also committed kufr. Indeed, all that Allaah has described Himself with, and what His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) has described Him with, then there is no tashbeeh in it at all.’’ [4]

[5]: Imaam at-Tirmidhee (d.279H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘It has been stated by more than one person from amongst the People of Knowledge about such ahaadeeth, that there is no tashbeeh (resemblance) to the Attributes of Allaah, and our Lord - the Blessed, the Most High - descends to the lowest heavens every night. So they say: Affirm these narrations, have faith (eemaan) in them, do not deny them, nor ask how. The likes of this has been narrated from Maalik Ibn Anas, Sufyaan ath-Thawree, Ibn ’Uyaynah and ’Abdullaah Ibnul-Mubaarak, who all said about such ahaadeeth, ‘‘Leave them as they are, without asking how.’’ Such is the statement of the People of Knowledge from Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah. However, the Jahmiyyah oppose these narrations and say: This is tashbeeh! However, Allaah - the Most High - has mentioned in various places in His Book, the Attributes of al-Yad (Hand), as-Sama’ (Hearing) and al-Basr (Sight) - but the Jahmiyyah make ta‘weel of these aayaat, explaining them in a way, other than how it is explained by the People of Knowledge. They say: Indeed, Allaah did not create Aadam with His own Hand - they say that ‘Hand’ means that Power of Allaah.’’ [5]

[6]: al-Khattaabee (d.388H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘The madhhab (way) of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) with regards to the Sifaat (Attributes of Allaah) is to affirm them as they are ’alaa dhaahir (with their apparent meaning), negating any tashbeeh (resemblance) to them, nor takyeef (asking how they are).’’ [6]

[7]: Imaam as-Saaboonee (d.448H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Indeed, the Ashaabul-Hadeeth (the Scholars of Hadeeth), [those who held fast to the Book and the Sunnah] - may Allaah protect their lives and shower mercy upon those that have died - bear witness to the Tawheed of Allaah and to the Messengership and Prophethood of His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam). They know their Lord - the Mighty and Majestic - by the Attributes which He has spoken of in His Revelation, and by what He has sent down, or testified to, by His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam)…They affirm for Allaah - the Mighty and Magnificent - what He affirm for Himself in His Book, or upon the tongue of His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). They do not believe in tashbeeh (resemblance) to His Attributes from the attributes of the creation. They say: Indeed, He created Aadam with His own Hands, as He - the Most Perfect - textually stated,

‘‘O Iblees! What prevents you from prostrating to one whom I have created with My own Hands?’’ [Soorah Saad 38:75]

So they do not distort the words from their context, by carrying the meaning of Yadayn (the two Hands of Allaah) to mean ni’matayn (two bounties) or quwwatayn (two powers) - which is the tahreef (distortion) of the Mu’tazilah and the Jahmiyyah - may Allaah destroy them. They do not ask how the Attributes are, nor do they resemble them to their creation…Allaah - the Most High - protected Ahlus-Sunnah from such tahreef, takyeef and tashbeeh and favoured them with knowledge and understanding.’’ [7]

[8]: Qaadee Aboo Ya’laa (d.458H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘The proof for the futility of ta‘weel is that the Companions and those who followed them from the Taabi’een, understood them (the Attributes) ’alaa dhaahir (upon their literal meaning) - and they did not take recourse to ta‘weel, nor did they move away from the dhaahir meaning. If ta‘weel were permissible, then they would have preceded us in it…’’ [8]

[9]: Ibn ’Abdul-Barr (d.463H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Ahlus-Sunnah are agreed in affirming all the Sifaat (Attributes) which are related in the Qur‘aan and the Sunnah, having eemaan (faith) in them and understanding them ’alal-haqeeqah (in a real sense), not ’alal-majaaz (metaphorically). How they are is not to be asked. However, the Jahmiyyah, the Mu’tazilah and the Khawaarij all deny them and do not carry them ’alal-haqeeqah; claiming that whosoever affirms them has made tashbeeh (resemblance) and they claim that whosoever recites them (as they are) is a mushabbih (a person doing tashbeeh).’’[9]

[10]: Ibn Qudaamah (d.620H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘The way of the Salaf is to have eemaan (faith) in the Names and Attributes of Allaah that He has described Himself with in His Revelation, or upon the tongue of His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) - without increasing, nor decreasing upon it, nor exceeding the limits, nor explaining them (i.e. like the Mu’tazilah), nor making a ta‘weel of them in a way that opposes the dhaahir meaning.’’ [10]

[11]: Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘From eemaan (faith) in Allaah is: Eemaan in what He described Himself with and with what His Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) described Himself; without tahreef and ta‘weel, and without takyeef and tamtheel…’’ [11]


[1]: Rabee’atur-Ra’ee (d.136H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Al-Istiwaa (Allaah’s Ascension) is not unknown, and how (it occurs) is not comprehendible, and from Allaah is the Message, upon the Messenger is to convey, and upon us is to affirm.’’[13]

[2]: Imaam Maalik Ibn Anas (d.179H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Al-Istiwaa is known, and how is unknown, and to have eemaan (faith) 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. [14]

[3]: Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d.256H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Mujaahid (d.104H) said about istiwaa: Rising over the throne.’’ [15]

[4]: Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree (d.310H) said concerning the statement of Allaah - the Most High: ‘‘The Most Merciful made Istiwaa over the Throne.’’ Meaning, Rising above and ascending.’’ [16]

[5]: Imaam Abul-Hasan al-Ash’aree (d.324H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘If it is said: Why do you deny His statement,

‘‘Do you not see that We have created for them what our Own Hands have created.’’ [Soorah Yaa Seen 36:71]

And His statement:

‘‘Whom I have created with My Own Hands.’’ [Soorah Saad 38:75]

are majaaz (methaphorical)? To him it is said: The ruling concerning the Speech of Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - is that it is taken upon its dhaahir (apparent) and haqeeqah (real) meaning. Nothing is moved from its dhaahir meaning to a majaaz (metaphorical) one, except with a proof…Likewise, the statement of Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic, ‘‘Whom I have created with My Own Hands,’’ its dhaahir and haqeeqah meaning is affirming the Yadayn (two Hands of Allaah). So it is not permissible to alter it from the dhaahir meaning of Yadayn to that which our opponents claim, except with a proof…Consequently, about His statement, ‘‘Whom I have created with My Own Hands.’’ It is obligatory to affirm two hands for Allaah - the Most High - in its haqeeqah (real) meaning, not with the meaning of ni’matayn (two bounties of Allaah).’’ [17]

[6]: al-Khattaabee (d.388H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘The madhhab (way) of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) with regards to the Sifaat (Attributes of Allaah) is to affirm them as they are ’alaa dhaahir (with their apparent meaning), negating any tashbeeh (resemblance) to them, nor takyeef (asking how they are).’’ [18]

[7]: Imaam at-Talamankee (d.429H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘There is ijmaa’ (consensus) from Ahlus-Sunnah that Allaah ascended over His Throne bi-Dhaatihi (by His Self)… There is ijmaa’ (consensus) from Ahlus-Sunnah that Allaah ascended over His Throne ’alaa haqeeqah (in a real sense), not ’alal-majaaz (metaphorically).’’ [19]

[8]: al-Qaadee Aboo Ya’laa (d.458H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘It is not permissible to repel these narrations - as is the way of a group from amongst the Mu’tazilah. Nor to become pre-occupied with ta‘weel - as is the way of the Ash’ariyyah. It is obligatory to carry them upon their dhaahir meaning; and that the Attributes of Allaah do not resemble anyone from His creation, nor do we have an ’aqeedah (belief) that there is any tashbeeh (resemblance) to them. Rather, [we believe] in what has been reported from our Shaykh and our Imaam, Aboo ’Abdullaah Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Hanbal, and other Scholars of Ashaabul-Hadeeth.’’ [20]

[9]: al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d.463H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘As for Speech about the Attributes, that which is authentically related about them in the Sunnah, then the Salaf - may Allaah be pleased with them all - was to affirm them all as they are, ’alaa dhaahir (upon their apparent meaning); negating any tashbeeh (resemblance) to Allaah, and not asking how they are. We do not say that al-Yad (the Hand of Allaah) means His Power, nor that as-Sama’ (Allaah’s Hearing) and al-Basr (Allaah’s Sight) meaning His Knowledge, nor do we say that He has jawaarih (limbs).’’ [21]

[10]: Ibn ’Ábdul-Barr (d.463H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘Ahlus-Sunnah are agreed in affirming all the Sifaat (Attributes) which are related in the Qur‘aan amd the Sunnah, having eemaan (faith) in them and understanding them ’alal-haqeeqah (upon their real meaning), not ’alal-majaaz (metaphorically).’’ [22]

[11]: Shaykh ’Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee (d.561H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘It is essential to carry the Attribute of al-Istiwaa (Allaah’s Ascending) by His Dhaat (Essence) over the Throne. Istiwaa does not mean sitting and touching - as the Mujassimah and Karraamiyyah say; nor does it mean ’uluww (grandeur and highness) - as the Ash’ariyyah say; nor does it mean isteelaa (conquering or dominating over) - as the Mu’tazilah say. None of this is related in the Sharee’ah. Neither has this been related from any of the Salafus-Saalih, from the Companions and the Taabi’een, nor from the Ashaabul-Hadeeth (Scholars of Hadeeth). Rather, it is related from them that they carried al-Istiwaa with its apparent meaning.’’ [23]

[12]: Imaam al-Qurtubee (d.671H) - rahimahullaah said: ‘‘Not a single person from the Salafus-Saalih denied Istiwaa (Allaah’s Ascending) over the Throne to be haqeeqah (in a real sense)…The reality of its kayfiyyah (how He ascends) is not known. Imaam Maalik said that al-Istiwaa is known, how is not known, and to ask questions concerning it is an innovation.’’ [24]

[13]: Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) - rahimahullaah - said: ‘‘The Sifaat (Attributes) are just like His Dhaat (Self). Thus, just as the Dhaat of Allaah is established haqeeqah (in a real sense) - without considering it to be like that of His creation, then likewise His Sifaat are also established haqeeqah - without considering them to be like that of the creation.’’ [25]


Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen - hafidhahullaah - said: ‘‘So - for example -the Ash’arees and the Maatureedees are not considered from Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in this particular matter (i.e. concerning the Names and Attributes of Allaah). Rather, they oppose what the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions were upon with regards to accepting the Attributes of Allaah - the Most Perfect - upon their haqeeqah (real meaning). This is why, whoever says that Ahlus-Sunnah are three groups: the Salafees, the Ash’arees and the Maatureedees - then such a person is indeed mistaken. Rather we say: How can all three be considered Ahlus-Sunnah and they differ with each other? What is there after Truth, except misguidance. How can they all be Ahlus-Sunnah, whilst each one of them refutes the other - this is not possible - except if it is possible to reconcile the opposites. There is no doubt however, that one of them is truly Ahlus-Sunnah - but which one? Is it the Ash’arees, the Maatureedees or the Salafees? Whichever of them agrees with the Sunnah is considered to be Ahlus-Sunnah, whilst whichever of them opposes it is not. So we say: The Salaf are Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, and this description cannot be true for anyone else other than them. So how can those who oppose the Sunnah be called Ahlus-Sunnah - this is not possible. How is it possible to say Ahlus-Sunnah are of three differing groups, but we say that they are in agreement? So where is the agreement and consensus? Rather, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah are those who hold on to what the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions were upon, and to the ’aqeedah (creed) of the Salaf - until the Day of Judgement - and they are the Salafees.’’ [26]


[1] Related by Imaam al-Laalikaa‘ee in Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah (3/430) and also by Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee in Dhammut-Ta‘weel (p. 18) and the chain of narrators is hasan (good).

[2] Related by al-Aajurree in ash-Sharee’ah (p. 314), al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa‘ was-Sifaat (p. 453) and also in al-I’tiqaad (p. 118) and the chain of narrators is hasan.

[3] Related by Ibnul-Jawzee in Manaaqibul-Imaam Ahmad (p. 155-156)

[4] Related by Imaam adh-Dhahabee in al-’Uluww (no. 217)

[5] Sunanut-Tirmidhee (3/24)

[6] al-Ghuniyah ’an Kalaam wa Ahlihi - as quoted in Mukhtasarul-’Uluww (no. 137)

[7] ’Aqeedah Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah Ashaabul-Hadeeth wal-A‘immah (no. 3)

[8] Ibtaalut-Ta‘weelaat li-Akhbaaris-Sifaat (p. 21)

[9] at-Tamheed (1/145) of Ibn ’Abdul-Barr

[10] Dhammut-Ta‘weel (p. 11) of Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee

[11] al-’Aqeedatul-Waasitiyyah (p. 3-4)

[12] What is meant by tafweedh - according to Ahlul-Kalaam (the people of innovated speech and rhetoric) - is: Affirming the wording of the Attributes, but leaving knowledge of their meaning and how the Attribute is, to Allaah. However, the way of the Salaf was to affirm both the textual wording and the meaning of Allaah’s Attributes - in the way that befits Him - whilst refraining from asking questions concerning how the Attributes are; resigning knowledge of that to Allaah.

[13] Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa‘ was-Sifaat (no. 516) and al-Laalikaa‘ee in Sharh Usoolul-I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah (no. 665), Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (5/365), ‘‘It is established from Rabee’ah.’’ He also said in al-Hamawiyyah (p. 80), ‘‘Al-Khallaal narrated it with an isnaad (chain of narrators), all of whom are thiqaat (precise and reliable).’’

[17] al-Ibaanah ’an Usoolid-Diyaanah (p. 133). The ascription of this book to Abul-Hasan al-Ash’aree, and that it was his final book concerning ’aqeedah (creed) - has been testified to by a number of Scholars, and from them: al-Haafidh Ibn ’Asaakir in Tabyeenul-Kadhibul-Muftaree (p. 152), al-Bayhaqee in al-I’tiqaad (p. 31), Imaam adh-Dhahabee in al-’Uluww (no. 276) and Ibnul-’Imaad in Shadharaatudh-Dhahab (p. 303).

[18] al-Ghuniyah ’an Kalaam wa Ahlihi - as quoted in Mukhtasarul-’Uluww (no. 137)

[19] Related by adh-Dhahabee in Siyar A’laamun-Nubalaa‘ (17/566)

[20] Ibtaalut-Ta‘weelaat (p. 4)

[21] al-Kalaam ’alas-Sifaat (p. 19-20) of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee

[22] at-Tamheed (7/145) of Ibn ’Abdul-Barr

[23] al-Ghunyatut-Taalibeen (1/50) of ’Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee

[24] al-Jaami’ li-Ahkaamil-Qur‘aan (18/216)

[25] al-Fatwaa al-Hamawiyyatul-Kubraa (p. 66)

[26] Sharhul-’Aqeedatil-Waasitiyyah (1/123) of Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen

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