Ta’weel of the Attributes of Allah

Question: We learned at school that the doctrine of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream) concerning the Names and Attributes of Allaah is to believe in them without Tahreef (distortion of the meaning), Ta‘teel (denial of Allaah’s Attributes), Takyeef (descriptive designation of the Attribute), or Tamthil (likening Allaah’s Attributes to those of His creatures). We knew that we must not allegorically interpret the texts that contain these Attributes. But we have come to meet some people who told us that there are two schools of thought in the creed of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah. 

The first school is that of Ibn Taymiyyah and his students (may Allaah be merciful to them). The second school is that of Al-Ashaa`irah. What we learned at school was the views held by Ibn Taymiyyah and his students.

The rest of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah; Al-Ashaa`irah, Al-Matrudiyyah and others had no objection as to giving Ta’weel (allegorical interpretation) to the Names and Attributes of Allaah as long as this will not lead to contradiction with decisive Shar‘ee (Islaamic legal) texts. They based their argument on some views attributed to Ibn Al-Jawzee (may Allaah be merciful to him) and some other scholars in this regard.

Even Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Imaam of Ahl-ul-Sunnah (adherents to the Sunnah), had allegorically interpreted some Attributes of Allaah such as those mentioned in sayings attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) such as: The hearts of the children of Aadam are between two Fingers of The Most Merciful… And: The Black Stone is Allaah’s Right Hand on earth. And those Attributes are mentioned by Allaah (Exalted be He) in His saying: And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And so on.

The question that arises here is: Is it Islaamically correct to divide Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa‘ah into two schools in such a way, Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah into two sects this way?What is your opinion concerning the Ta’weel of the Attributes of Allaah when there is no contradiction with decisive Shar‘y texts? What would be the position of the scholars who allegorically interpreted the Attributes, like Ibn Hajar, Al-Nawawee Ibn Al-Jawzee and others?

Should we still consider them to be from among the A’immah of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah? Or should we regard that they were mistaken in their interpretation, or they deliberately deviated?

It is well-known that Al-Ashaa`irah allegorically interpreted all the Attributes of Allaah except the seven Attributes of Al-Ma`aanee (meanings). But, if one of the scholars allegorically interprets two or three of these Attributes, should we consider him to belong to Al-Ash‘aariah?

Answer: Firstly, The claim that Imaam Ahmad had allegorically interpreted some of the Attributes of Allaah as those mentioned in the Hadeeth: The hearts of the Servants (of Allah) are between two Fingers of The Most Merciful… And the Hadeeth: The Black Stone is Allaah’s Right Hand on earth etc., is not true. Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah said: “What is transmitted through Aboo Haamid Al-Ghazalee from a Hanbalee scholar who stated that Ahmad made Ta’weel only in three texts… read more here.

Alleging that Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah is an Anthropomorphist

Question: I am almost 16 years old, everybody is impressed with my personality, because of my profuse knowledge of religion and sciences. I was very religious, until I joined a Sufi group led by a shaykh called, Muhammad `Eed Al-Husaynee. In few months, I was one of his students, I would rather say one of his servants for I used to wipe my face with his hands, kiss them, and help him wear his shoes. I even used to race with others to help the shaykh wear his shoes.

At the same time, I read books written by Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, for I used to hear the shaykh insulting him, declaring him as a Kaafir (disbeliever), and one of Al-Mushabihah (anthropomorphist: those who liken Allaah’s Attributes to those of His creation). When reading his books I found the contradiction between what is mentioned in them and what the shaykh was saying.

However, I tried to convince myself that these books were fabricated as the shaykh says. He also says that Wahhabism is a dissident Islaamic group just like Al-Mushabbihah Al-Khawarij and Al-Mu`tazilah. 

I also used to debate with a Salafee group (those following the way of the righteous predecessors) and support my views with the Ahaadeeth which the shaykh narrates to us, but then I would discover that they are Hadeeth Mawdoo`(fabricated).

They used to tell me that I would soon abandon this shaykh, if Allaah guides me to the truth.I stayed with this shaykh for about six months leading a Sufi life replete with acts of Shirk (associating others with Allaah in His Divinity or worship). Every lesson, the Shaykh narrates to us the miracles of his masters, the ‘Awliya’ (pious people) and his own such as the knowledge of Al Ghayb (the unseen) which he speaks of indirectly but a word to a wise man is enough.

I used to believe everything he said. My friends used to bring Saheeh Ahaadeeth (a Hadeeth that has been transmitted by people known for their uprightness and exactitude; free from eccentricity and blemish) that contradict his views. However, I used to tell them that the shaykh must be more knowledgeable than them.

On the 15 Sha`ban, 1401, the shaykh said that everyone who trusted him should imitate him without objection. He said that the Sahaabah (Companions of the Prophet) used to obey the orders of Allaah and His Messenger and used to say, “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).” When he said this, I felt relieved even though I was sweating badly that night from heat. Since then, I started doubting him. After two days I traveled to Al-Madinah and then to Makkah Al-Mukarramah to perform `Umrah.

There, I met a Saudi man called `Abdul-`Azeez Al-Saalih Al-Tawiyan from Buraydah. I informed him about my story. He brought me books refuting Sufism in addition to books written by Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah.

My doubts increased, therefore I left him after he had made me deviate from the Straight Path, may Allaah keep him in misguidance – May Allah forgive him. Taking into consideration that whenI talked to some of his followers, they accused me of being mad. Now, a debate is taking place between me and one of the shaykh’s followers without his knowledge. I want to refute the claims of a dear friend who is at the same time a follower of the shaykh, which are as follows:

1- Please, explain the Prophet’s saying, Whenever someone greets me, Allaah returns the soul to my body (in the grave) and I return his greeting.

2- The follower of the shaykh accused Ibn Taymiyyah of being an anthropomorphist. Please, clarify this point.

3- The last point is regarding the Awliyaa’. Thanks to Allaah, I have knowledge regarding these matters but it is limited in comparison to yours. May Allaah keep you to protect Islaam and Muslims!

Answer: The claims of this person that Shaykh Al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allaah be merciful to him) was an anthropomorphist is false. The shaykh believed in Allaah, His Names, and Attributes which is the same `Aqeedah (creed) of the Salaf (Righteous Predecessors)… read more here.

Al-Asha`iree school

Question: If people adhering to Al-Asha`iree school die before Tawheed-ul-Asmaa’ wal-Sifaat (Oneness of Allaah’s Names and Attributes) reaches them, for they had never heard of or understood this Tawheed and no one warned them of Al-Asha`iree school so that they can deny it. They admit Tawheed-ul-Ruboobiyyah (Oneness of Allaah’s Lordship) and Tawheed-ul-Uloohiyyah (Oneness of Worship). What is the ruling on them and are they excused or not?

Answer: The followers of Al-Asha`iree school are not disbelievers, rather they erred in Ta’weel (allegorical interpretation) of some Allaah’s attributes. Therefore, their affair rests with Allaah (Glorified and Exalted be He)… read more here.

Refuting the allegation of “Hulool” of Allaah

Question: What is the meaning of the following Speech of Allaah mentioned in Hadeeth Qudsee (Revelation from Allaah in the Prophet’s words): If I love him, I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, his sense of sight with which he sees, his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks. ?

Answer: If Muslims fulfill what is prescribed for them, do their best in drawing nearer to Allaah (Exalted be He) by performing and maintaining Nawaafil (supererogatory acts of worship), Allaah will love and support them in all that they do… read more here.

Saying: “Exalted is He Whose Eyes do not sleep”

Question: There are young men here who swear by the words: “Exalted is He whose Eyes do not sleep”. Is this a permissible oath? These young men link the Attribute of not being liable to sleep with the Eye of the Creator (Glorified and Exalted be He). Allaah did not tell us that. All that is mentioned in the Qur’aan is His saying: Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him.

Answer: Saying: “Exalted is He Whose Eyes do not sleep” or “By Allaah Whose Eyes do not sleep” is permissible. It is an Attribute of perfection. Allaah says in the Qur’an: …in order that you may be brought up under My Eye. According to the Qur’aan, Allaah is neither overtaken by drowsiness nor sleep… read more here.

The Qur’aan is the Words of Allaah

Question: I recently heard an Imaam (the one who leads congregational Prayer) in a Masjid (mosque) mentioning the merits of the Qur’aan. He said that the Qur’aan was created by Allaah. That is what he said. However, during my study of Tawhid (monotheism), I learned that Al-Mu`tazilah were those who claimed that the Qur’an is created; whereas Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream) refuted their claims, as they believe that the Qur’aan is not created, but is the actual Speech of Allaah which was revealed by Him to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). I do not know whether the shaykh had another intention when he made this statement. What is your opinion regarding this statement of the Imaam of the Masjid? Please advise.

Answer: If the case is as you have mentioned, that you believe that the Qur’aan is the actual Words of Allaah which were revealed by Him to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), your `Aqeedah (creed) concerning the Speech of Allaah is correct and is consistent with the opinion of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah … read more here.

The Attribute of Laughing

Question: What is the meaning of the Saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): Allaah laughs at two men, one of them kills the other and both will enter Paradise Narrated by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim?

Answer: The Hadeeth reads: Allaah laughs at two men; one of them kills the other but they both enter Paradise. One of them fights in the way of Allaah, and becomes a martyr. Then, Allaah guides the Killer who fights in the way of Allaah, the Almighty and Exalted, and becomes a martyr. … read more here.

The Attribute of Istiwaa’

Question: What is the ruling on offering Salaah (prayer) behind someone who says that Allaah is in the Heavens and on Earth as a means to free Allaah from the attribute of space and place?

Answer: According to the `Aqeedah (creed) of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream), Allaah (Glorified and Exalted be He) Himself is High above His creation. He makes Istiwaa’ (Allaah’s rising over the Throne in a manner that befits Him) above the Throne in a way that suits His sublimity and Majesty… read more here.

Describing Allaah as “the Mastermind”

Question: Does a person who describes Allaah (Glorified be He) as the Mastermind to get across to people commit an act of disbelief?

Answer: If the fact is as mentioned; describing Allaah (Glorified be He) as the Mastermind to make things easier for people to understand is wrong. That is because of the fact that the Names and Attributes of Allaah are divinely revealed… read more here.

The Attribute of Harwalah (hurried walking)

Question: Is “Harwalah (hurried walking)” an attribute ascribed to Allaah?

Answer: Yes, Harwalah is an attribute ascribed to Allaah in a manner that befits Him… read more here.

The Attribute of Al-Wujood

Question: I have not found the name “Al-Mawjood” (One that is given existence) among Allaah’s Names and Attributes, but I have found the Name “Al-Waajid” (One that gives existence to others). 

I know linguistically, in Arabic, that a Mawjood requires a Mujid (another derivative that also means a being that gives existence), as there has to be a being that performs every action. However, it is impossible that Allaah has a Mujid.

I also noticed that Al-Wajid has the same meaning as Al-Khaaliq (the Creator) and that Al-Mawjood has the same meaning as Al-Makhlooq (the creature). As there is a Mujid for every Mawjood and there is a Khaaliq for every Makhlooq, am I, therefore, permitted to describe Allaah with the Attribute of Al-Mawjood?

Answer: The Wujood (existence) of Allaah is a well-established religious matter by necessity, and it is one of Allaah’s Attributes according to the Muslim Ijmaa` (consensus). In fact, no rational person denies this; even the Mushrikoon (those who associate others with Allaah in worship) do not dispute this. Only a Thaahree atheist (one who believes all matter is eternal and denies the Day of Resurrection) would deny it… read more here.

The Attribute of Descent

Question: I had a discussion with a person educated in modern sciences. He was a teacher at the university of Abidjan, the Ivory Coast. 

He said: “Your Lord descends during the last part of every night to the lowest heaven.” 

I told him that there is no doubt about that and I completed the Hadeeth for him.

He said: “If this is true, then it means that your Lord does not rise over the throne as mentioned in the Qur’aan: The Most Gracious (Allaah) rose over (Istawaa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). 

The last part of the night exists continuously on the earth according to the rotation of the earth around itself with Allaah’s Might until the Day of Judgment.” Then I stopped talking.

Answer: There is no contradiction between the descent of Allaah (Exalted be He) to the first heaven in the last third of every night in different areas and His Istiwa’ (Allaah’s rising over the Throne in a manner that befits Him). He (Exalted be He) is not similar to His creation in any of His Attributes. He can descend as He wills in a way that suits His Majesty during the third part of the night to every country… read more here.

Will and Predestination

Question: We know that ‘Ibaadah (worship) is determined by the Will of Allaah; were it not for this Will, no one would have performed `Ibaadah. Sin is determined by the Will of Allaah as well; but for this Will, no one would have sinned. Although Allaah is never unjust, why does He reward those who worship Him, although they were destined to do so? Why does He torture sinners, although they were destined to do so?

Answer: The principle in this is that Allaah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is the Disposer of the affairs of His Creatures; He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned… read more here.

The Attribute of “Coming” of Allaah in the Hadeeth

Question: It is well known that Ta’weel (allegorical interpretation) is one of the controversial issues among the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and the Khalaf (successors). We advocate the view of the Salaf. I was asked about the Hadeeth mentioned by Shaykh Naasir Al-Deen Al-Albaanee when verifying the book entitled Al-Jaami` Al-Sagheer wa Ziyaadattuh written by Al-Suyootee. 

The Hadeeth reads, Last night, my Lord came to me in the most handsome shape and said to me: O Muhammad! Do you know about what Exalted Assembly differ? I said: No. He put His hand between my shoulders until I felt the coldness of His hand in my chest. Consequently, I had knowledge of everything on earth and heaven… 

It is related by Al-Tirmithee and Ahmad from Ibn `Abbaas. Now, what is the meaning of “coming”? Should it be interpreted literally as Allaah came in a manner that befits Him? Should we apply Ta’weel to it as is done by Al-Ashaa`irah school of thought in our country?

Answer: The action of “coming” narrated in this Hadeeth is literally interpreted. Allaah comes in a manner befitting His Majesty which is not similar to that of His creatures. We do not make Ta’weel of this action to be the coming of His mercy or an angel… read more here.

Kufr concerning the Attributes of Allaah

Question: What is meant by Kufr (disbelief) concerning the Attributes of Allaah and is there a difference between a hard-line scholar and an allegorical interpreter in this matter?

Answer: Firstly, Kufr concerning the Attributes of Allaah (Exalted be He) means either denying the established Attributes after being informed of the evidence or disbelieving in the Attributes by distorting their meanings without having excusable grounds for doubt… read more here.

The claim that there are only twenty (20) Attributes of Allaah

Question: I read in the book of Tawdeeh Al-`Aqeedah Al-Mufeedah Fee `Ilm Al-Tawheed Li Sharh Al-Mazeedah that was written by Ahmad Al-Dardir and was commented by Shaykh Husayn Abdul-Rahim. It is the second part of the course of the fourth year in the preparatory stage in Al-Azhar institutes. This fourth edition was verified by Musa Ahmad, V. 4, on 1363 A.H, 1963 A.D. In this book, I read that the Attributes of Allaah (Exalted be He) are twenty Attributes in the saying of a certain group as Al-Raaziyyah. In another saying Imaam Al-Ash`aree and those who adopted his views said that the Attributes of Allaah are thirteen Attributes.

What is agreed upon according to this book is seven Attributes that are the Attributes of Al-Ma’aanee (the meanings).

We would like to know what is incumbent upon us with regard to the Attributes of Allaah and their number if they are seven, thirteen or twenty. If they are twenty Attributes, what is the meaning of His being Potent and Living. Are these books proper for studying the sound creed? I doubt such books, because the author of Al-Mazeedah is Ash’aree.

I would like to follow the example of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream). I do not like to imitate Al-Ashaa`irah or others. Guide me to a book that talks about the Attributes of Allaah according to the creed of Ahl-ul-Sunnah (adherents to the Sunnah).

Answer: `Aqeedah of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah is that Allaah is described with the Attributes of Perfection… read more here.

Translation of the Names of Allaah

Question: I would like to ask you a question on which scholars have different opinions. We know from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that Allaah’s Attributes are Divinely revealed. Thus, we should stick to those He has proven for Himself, deny what He denied for Himself, and refrain from talking about what He did not mention in the Qur’aan or by His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Is it permissible to call Allaah in other Names such as “Khoda” in Persian, “Khodai” in Pashto, “God” in English, …Etc? Does whoever mentions Allaah with other Names not established in the Qur’an or Sunnah become an atheist for He (Exalted be He) says, …and leave the company of those who belie or deny (or utter impious speech against) His Names. Some scholars say that these Names are permissible, and support their view with the Name of Jibreel (Gabril). They also say that Allaah’s Name in Hebrew is “El” and since it is permissible to translate the Name in Hebrew, it is permissible to be translated to other languages. Is it permissible to translate the Names of Allaah from Arabic to other languages? Please, guide us, may Allaah reward you!

Answer: It is permissible to translate the Names of Allaah for those who do not know the Arabic language, if the translator has good knowledge of both languages. Likewise, it is permissible to translate the meanings of the Qur’aan and the Ahaadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) for others to learn about Islam… read more here.

Permissibility of calling one by a name which Allaah has called Himself

Question: I am pleased to direct this humble letter to Your Eminence, as I am addressing one of the most prominent personalities in the Islaamic world. I hope that you will be patient enough to read my letter. May Allaah grant you the best of rewards.

Thul-Jalaali wal-Ikraam (The Possessor of Majesty and Honor) is one of the Most Beautiful Names of Allaah, which denotes honoring and glorifying Him above all things. I read a letter sent from Your Eminence to the Saudi King, wherein you began by saying, “Your Majesty The King”. Do you not agree with me that Majesty is particular to Allaah Alone, and that “Al-Maalik” (The King) is one of His Most Beautiful Names which is impermissible to name anyone else after, regardless of who that person is?” Please clarify this issue, so that Muslims do not commit a sin by glorifying people using the attributes which Allaah has reserved for Himself alone. The only exceptions are “Ra’oof” (Compassionate) and “Raheem” (Merciful), the two attributes of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

Coincidentally, while I was reading “The Arabic Magazine”, issue no. 89, I came across a letter of gratitude sent by Mr. Muhammad Al-Nuaysir, the Office Manager of the Saudi King’s bureau. It was addressed to those in charge of the magazine. He started his letter with, “His Majesty, the King, may Allaah protect him, received your letter which included issues of the magazine…)” Do you agree with me regarding the ruling on saying: His Majesty the King?

Answer: Many names are shared between Allaah and His creatures in structure and connotation. They are accorded to Allaah in a meaning particular to Him which befits His Majesty; and attributed to creatures in a manner befitting them… read more here.

Difference between the Names and Attributes of Allaah

Question: What is the difference between the Names and Attributes of Allaah (Exalted be He)?

Answer: The Names of Allaah (Exalted be He) are those names that refer to Allaah’s Thaat (Divine Essence) and also refer to one of His perfect Attributes; such as Al-Qaadir (the All-Powerful), Al-`Aalim (the All-Knowing), Al-Haakim (the Most Wise), As-Samee` (the All-Hearing), and Al-Baseer (the All-Seeing). These Names refer to Allaah Himself (Exalted be He) and to His qualities of knowledge, wisdom, hearing and sight… read more here.

Interpreting the Name Al-Rabb as the essence of Allaah

Question: Q 1: Blessed be the Name of your Lord (Allaah) That is, Allaah, the Great and Exalted, glorifies and praises His Divine Essence whose blessings are abundant. My question now is: The Name of the Lord is Allaah. The word “Allaah” itself is a proper Name representing the Divine Essence. Some exegetes say that Name of the Lord is itself the same as the Divine Essence. This is a fatal mistake and Kufr (disbelief). I hope you will explain things.

Q 2: Then glorify with praises the Name of your Lord, the Most Great. That is, O you Muhammad, glorify your Lord and raise Him far above all imperfect attributes that the polytheists ascribe to Him. My second question is the same as question No. 1.

Q 3: Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High, That is, O Muhammad (peace be upon him) glorify your Lord, Who is the Most High and Grand and raise Him far above all imperfect attributes and defects ascribed to Him by sinners and things befit Him not. The third question is the same as questions No. 1 and 2.

Q 4: Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). i.e. O Muhammad (peace be upon him) start reading the Qur’an in the Name of your Lord seeking His help, for He created all the creatures etc. The question here is, how can he start reading with or seek help from the Name of the Lord while it is a mere Name of Allaah’s Divine Essence? I hope you will explain things to me.

Q 5: In the sentence “Allaah said”, why does the word “Allaah” stand for the subject with the declensional ending of damma (the subject mark in Arabic) – as taught in schools – while the word “Allaah” is a mere reference to not an embodiment of the Divinely Sacred Essence?

Q 6: Victory is ascribed to the word “Allaah” which is a mere Name of the Divine Essence: And on that Day, the believers (i.e. Muslims) will rejoice (at the victory given by Allaah to the Romans against the Persians) — With the help of Allaah. What does the word “Allaah” stand for? Why do we append the word “Name” to the word “Allaah” and say “Allaah’s Name”? I hope you will explain things to me.

Answer: 1: The word “ism (اسم) (Name)” mentioned in the following Aayah (Qur’aanic verse): Blessed be the Name of your Lord (Allaah) refers to the Name of Allaah and His Most Beautiful Names. Allaah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) used these Names to refer to the Essence of Allaah. Lafth Al-Jalalh (Allaah) and Allaah’s other Names denote the Essence of Allaah Who has Exalted Attributes… read more here.