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On Eemaan, Ibaadah and Tawheed : Their Link and Interrelation.
  Lesson 2: How to Believe in the Attributes of Allaah
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Article ID : SCL010002  [22138]  
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That we DO NOT hold or say that the Attributes of Allaah are like the attributes of the creation. i.e. we should not make resemblances between lets say the Hand of Allaah, and the hands of the creation. i.e. we should not say Allaah's Hand is like my Hand. And it is likewise will all the other attributes that have come in the texts of the Book and the Sunnah such as laughter, amazement, fingers, face etc...To do this would make one guilty of having done 'tamtheel' It is also known as 'tasbheeh' which has the same meaning, make resemblances between two things.

This is because Allaah has already told us that there is nothing like Him at all:

There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing (as-Samee'), All-Seeing (al-Baseer) [42:11]

Do you know of an equal to Him? [19:65]

And there is none equal or comparable to Him [112:4]

So these verses show that nothing resembles Him.

And from this we know automatically, that if Allaah has described himself with Hand, Face, Eyes, Shin etc... then He indeed does have these Attributes, but they are in no way similar to those of the creation because as Allaah has already told us (in the above three verses) that there is nothing equal to Him or like Him.

One of the heads of misguidance who was called Al-Qaadee Abdul-Jabbaar was one of the founders of the Mu'tazilah (those who use their intellects and put it above the Book of Allaah) and he was the one who claimed that whenever these attributes are mentioned in the Qur'aan they automatically must mean tashbeeh (i.e. resemble the creation) and therefore we must use our intellects to give them other meanings: Read his own words:

"When there are verses in the Qur'aan whose apparent meaning necessitates tashbeeh (resemblance to the creation) it is obligatory to interpret them (ta'weel) because words can carry [many] meanings whereas the proof [derived] by the intellect is far from carrying other possible [meanings]."[11]

So it as if he actually does not believe Allaah when He says:

There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing (as-Samee'), All-Seeing (al-Baseer) [42:11]

If Allaah has already told us that nothing is like Him, then how can anything which Allaah has described Himself be similar to the creation and how can that be tashbeeh??

Look instead to what the Imaams from the Salaf say:

Nu'aym bin Hammaad (d. 228H) (one of the teachers of Imaam Bukhaaree) said: Indeed, all that Allaah has described Himself with, or what His Messenger has described Him with, then there is no tashbeeh in it at all."[12]

This means that we believe in everything Allaah has described Himself and we do not deny it and just because we believe in it, it does not mean that we have now claimed that these Attributes of Allaah are like our attributes. This is because we also have faith in the speech of Allaah, when He says:

There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearing (as-Samee'), All-Seeing (al-Baseer) [42:11]

And when He says:

Do you know of an equal to Him? [19:65]

And when He says:

And there is none equal or comparable to Him [112:4]

And therefore we automatically know that anything with which Allaah has described Himself, then it does not resemble the creation at all.

The man who actually claimed that Allaah's Attributes are like those of the creation (He was called Maqaatil bin Sulaimaan d. 150H) only did so because he saw that other people were denying Allaah's Attributes (like the Mu'tazilah as we mentioned above). So to refute them, he actually went to the other extreme and claimed that Allaah's attributes are like those of the creation - and in doing this he was totally wrong.

So we inshaa'allah are in the middle path - we do not deny these Attributes, since Allaah has in fact mentioned them about Himself - we do not start changing their meanings either - and nor do we believe that they are similar to the attributes of the creation - and this is because Allaah has already told us that this is an impossibility.

The Fourth Principle:

That we DO NOT start asking 'How' are these attributes. This is known as Takyeef. That you enquire about how exactly something is.

So we are not allowed to do this - We are not allowed to say: "How is Allaah's Hand, how is His Face etc...."

It is enough for us to know that Allaah has a Face and Hand but we do not know exactly how it is. We already know that it is not like those of the creation - so we cant make comparisons, but then after this we cant try to find out exactly how it is. This is not allowed.

A very famous narration which illustrates this is from Imaam Maalik. It is to do with Istiwaa (that is Allaah's ascending His Throne):

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