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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  

All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds and prayers and peace upon His Messenger, Muhammad.

In this lesson we wil learn some of the principles which are linked to having the correct belief in Allaah's Names and Attributes.

Why is this subject important? Quite obviously since it is a part of Tawheed and it is also a part of Eemaan. (Remember the last lesson in which we mentioned that 'the speech of the heart' and 'the speech of the tongue' were related to knowledge). If the knowledge of Allaah is not correct then the actions of the believer will not be correct either (meaning that what his heart feels, how he uses his tongue and what he does with his limbs - all of this will not be correct).

It is also important because a lot of people have gone astray in this subject, and we shall also mention some things about them.

To proceed: Just like in the previous lesson on eemaan where we took a statement which the Salaf used to say (i.e. Eemaan consists of speech and action, it increases with acts of obedience and decreases with acts of disobedience) then, similarly we will take the statement of Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah for this lesson and expand upon it. He - may Allaah have mercy upon him said, in his 'Aqeedataul-Waasitiyyah': "

"And it is from having faith (eemaan) in Allaah, to have eemaan in whatever He has described Himself with in His Book and in whatever His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Him with - WITHOUT falling into any of the following:

i) denying such attributes for Allaah (ta'teel)

ii) changing the original meaning of these descriptions/attributes (tahreef)

iii) likening these attributes to those of the creation (tamtheel)

iv) enquiring into their true nature (takyeef)"

[Note: in the translation above the order of the four things that it is necessary for us to avoid has been changed, for the purposes of this lesson - to make the discussion follow...]

So this is the statement we will analyse and explain for this lesson because it summarises everything we need to know. We will now take his statement step by step and look into it:

"And it is from having faith in Allaah to have eemaan in whatever He has described Himself with in His Book ..."

Here the Shaikh explains that to have faith/belief in Allaah (properly) then one also needs to have faith/belief in certain things that He has said about Himself in His Book. One cannot be believing in Allaah properly without knowing Him through what He has said about Himself.

When we look in the Qur'aan we find that Allaah has mentioned lots of different things about Himself. To summarise them, they can be put into three categories.

a) His Names

b) His Attributes

c) His Actions

Examples of the Names by which He is known include, ar-Rahmaan, al-Malik, as-Salaam, ar-Razzaaq. However we are not concerned with His Names in this lesson.

Examples of His Actions: for example, He punishes and He forgives, He sends down the rain and He splits the seed which is under the soil, He makes the clouds gather together in a heap and then causes rain or hail to fall, he gives honours someone and He humiliates someone or He guides someone and misguides someone... so these are 'actions' which he mentions about himself. But we are not concerned about this in this lesson.

Examples of His Attributes include, hands[1], shin[2], eyes[3], istiwaa[4] face, anger, pleasure, (ascending) etc. This is what we will discuss.

"...and in whatever His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Him with..."

We also find that in the Sunnah, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Allaah with certain attributes. Examples include, laughter, amazement, descending, etc...

Now this is what we are concerned with and we want to make sure that we are believing in these things in such a way that we do not commit Shirk and other great sins.

You can easily see how people can be mislead just by looking at what type of attributes we have mentioned above. When someone reads them He might think 'No this cannot be true how can these things befit Allaah?' so he will deny them. Another person will think, 'Allaah has a hand like we do' and so he will make a resemblance between Allaah and His creation. Another person will think, 'No, it can't be the real meanings of these words, they must have different, hidden meanings'. And in fact, in Islamic History this is exactly what happened. Many individuals and groups were led astray because they did not submit to the texts of the Book and the Sunnah in the proper way.

We want to follow in the way of the Companions and the Taabi'een and the Salaf - the way they had in understanding these Attributes. So we will now look at the principles we need to understand:

The First Principle:

That we DO NOT deny them (i.e. do not do ta'teel - which means to deny them)

Why is this. This is because Allaah knows what He revealed and He knows the language better than anyone else. If we deny that He has said such things, then it is like denying the whole of the Book. Denial can be simple and plain, someone just denies them. But denial can also occur by changing and distorting the meanings (which is the next principle)

The Second Principle:

That we DO NOT change the meanings of these things (i.e. do not give them other meanings) This is tahreef (which means 'to change/distort something).

An example of this is like when someone says "Well when Allaah says 'Hand', it really means 'power' or 'favour'. Or when Allaah says 'istiwaa' (i.e. Allaah ascends the Throne), that is really means 'to conquer/control'.

This is something that a group called the Mu'tazilah used to do (and they are the very naughty people which we mentioned earlier - but there are others as well and we will mention them later). Can you see why this is wrong? This is because they are trying to give meanings to these descriptions that Allaah has given Himself based upon their own intellects and understandings. They do not really know whether that is what Allaah meant or not? They have no way of verifying it either. Revelation has stopped and no one after the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) can receive revelation. So how can they know whether the meaning they are trying to give, is what Allaah actually intended or not?

There is actually a word which describes this action of giving other meanings. It is called Ta'weel. This means to give a figurative explanation to a word, or to give an allegorical meaning. i.e. to give it a meaning which is not its obvious meaning in the language. For example if I was to say to you that 'I sat on a table' - its obvious and clear meaning is that I sat on something with four legs and also a flat top - it doesn't mean that I have a table consisting of 3 rows and 5 columns drawn on a piece of paper and that I sat on top of that? This is an unclear meaning - it is not obvious in the language and if I said 'I sat on a table' no sensible person would think other than what it obvioulsy and clearly means. Another group of very naughty people called the 'Asharees' are well known for doing lots of 'ta'weel'(They must really enjoy it since they neverseem to get sick of doing it). And this was never the way of the Salaf

Read the following two quotations:

1. Ibn Attaar, the student of an-Nawawi said in 'al-'Itiqaad al-Khaalis': "…And he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said, 'Allaah created Firdaus with His Hand, and the Gardens of Paradise with His Hand, and wrote the Taurah with His Hand.' And narrations other than this, it is obligatory upon us to believe that this is the truth. And it is forbidden upon us that we say: that Allaah has addressed us with what we understand, and we do not understand 'hand' except that which possesses a palm and fingers and therefore liken it to the creation and hence arrive at tajseem. Allaah is Exalted above what the unjust say. Or that we say: the meaning is favour and power, because it is unfeasible to take it to mean the 'hand' we understand, so therefore it necessitates taking it to mean this fearing tashbeeh! And this is tahreef (distortion) containing ta'teel, how is this possible when the consensus is that the Attributes are to be stopped at (tawqeefiyyah - i.e. in terms of nature and not likened to creation). And the meaning of what they make ta'weel of is not established, and this is the way of the Mu'tazila and Jahmiyyah, we seek refuge with Allaah from that. And so it is necessary to absolve the Creator, Azza wa Jall, from tashbeeh and ta'teel by distancing from tahreef and takyeef and tamtheel (likening), and taking to His saying, 'there is nothing like Him, and He is the Hearing and Seeing' May Allaah favour us with understanding and cognisance upon the road of tawheed and eliminating anthropomorphism. And this is the saying on all that is affirmed from the Attributes. And Allaah knows that corrupt from those that purify……( pp. 24-26)

….So when the Book and authentic narrations speak with affirming (the Attributes of) Hearing, Seeing, Eye, Face, Knowledge, Power, Strength, Greatness, Will, Desire, Words, Speech, Pleasure, Displeasure, Love, Hatred, Delight, Laughing - it is obligatory to believe in them literally without tashbeeh to the creation. And stopping at what Allaah said (about Himself), without adding or increasing or takyeef or tahreef or tabdeel (changing) or tagyeer, or removing the meaning from the word that the Arab understands from it…. (pp. 26-27)

And some of them negated Nuzool (the descent of Allaah to the lowest heaven at the last third of the night), and weakened the ahaadeeth or made ta'weel of them fearing confinement (tahayyuz - i.e. of Allaah) or movement or transmission which would necessitate a body. And the researching scholars affirmed them and obligated faith in them as Allaah wills….(p.19)…

….And all of the verses and ahaadeeth affirming Coming and Nuzool, and affirming face and other than that from the Attributes, the scholars obligated faith in them, and leaving contemplation of them and or depicting a form for them…..(pg. 19)"

2. Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaanee said, " the one who takes the path of the khalaf (i.e. the later generations after the Salaf who deviated from the way of the Salaf in these issues) cannot be sure that that which he makes ta'weel of is the intended meaning, and it is not possible to be certain of the correctness of the ta'weel." ['Fath al-Baaree' of ibn Hajr (13/436)]

So see how these two scholars are confirming what we mentioned earlier. That whoever does this, how does he know that the meaning he has invented is correct or not?? He cannot know and for this reason, whoever does this is in a way, lying against Allaah, saying about Him that which He doesn't know.

The way of the Salaf however was to take these attributes literally, in accordance with their clear and obvious meanings in the language.

Read the following quotations:

1. Ibn Abdul Barr (d. 463H) said: "Ahl us-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)."[5]

2. Shaikh Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee (d. 561H) said: "It is essential to carry the attribute of Allaah al-Istiwaa (Allaah's Ascending) upon its apparent sense - without ta'weel, and that He ascended by His Dhaat (Self) over the Throne. Istiwaa does not mean sitting or 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 and dominating over) - as the Mu'tazilah say. None of this is related in the Sharee'ah. Neither has this been related by any one of the Salaf us-Saalih (Pious Predecessors) from the Sahaabah and the Taabi'een, nor from the Ashaabul-Hadeeth (Scholars of Hadeeth). Rather, it is related from them that they carried the meaning of Istiwaa with its apparent meaning."[6]

3. Qaadee Abu Ya'laa (d. 458H) said: "It is not permissible to repel these narrations - as is the way of the group from the Mu'tazilah. Nor to become preoccupied with ta'weel - as is the way of the Ash'ariyyah. It is obligatory to carry them upon their dhaahir (apparent) meaning; and that the Attributes of Allaah do not resemble any one of 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 Shaikh and our Imaam, Abu Abdullaah, Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal, and others from the Scholars of Ashaabul-Hadeeth."[7]

4. Al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (d. 463H) said: "As for speech about the Attributes of Allaah, that which is authentically related about them in the Sunnah, then the way of the Salaf - may Allaah be pleased with them all - was to affirm them 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 Seeing) means His Knowledge, nor do we say that He has jawaarih (limbs)"[8]

5. Al-Khattaabee (d. 388H) said: "The madhhab of the Salaf (the Pious Predecessors) with regard 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)."[9]

6. Imaam at-Tirmidhee (d. 279H) said: "It has been stated by more than one person from the People of Knowledge about such ahaadeeth, that there is no tashbeeh (resemblance) to the Attributes of Allaah, and our Lord - the Blessed and Most High - descends to the lowest heaven every night. So they say: "Affirm these narrations, have eemaan (faith) in them, do not deny them, nor ask how." The likes of this has been related from Maalik ibn Anas, Sufyaan ath-Thawree, Ibn Uyainah and Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, who all said about such ahaadeeth: "Leave them as they are, without asking how." Such is the saying of the People of Knowledge from the Ahl us-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 Attribute of al-Yad (Hand), as-Sama' (Hearing), and al-Basr (Seeing) - but the Jahmiyyah make ta'weel of these aayaat, explaining them in a way, other than how they are explained by the People of Knowledge. They say: Indeed, Allaah did not create Aadam with His own Hand - they say that Hand means the Power of Allaah."[10]

7. Abu Hasan al-Ash'aree (d. 324H) said: "If it is said: Why do you deny that His saying: Do they not see that We have created for them what Our Own Hands have created." [Soorah Yaa Seen 36:71] And His saying: Whom I have created with My Own (Two) Hands [Soorah Sa'd 38:75] are majaaz (metaphorical)? 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 removed from its dhaahir (apparent) meaning to majaaz (metaphorical) one, except with a proof ... [Al-Ibaanah an
Usool id-Diyaanah (p.133)]

So all of these narrations prove that the way of the Salaf was to affirm whatever Allaah has mentioned about Himself without fooling and playing around, and without giving them meanings which are unclear.

And if you think about it a bit more , you will realise how this constitutes a big lie and mockery of Allaah. The one who does 'ta'weel' - it is as if he is saying, "well Allaah's words were unclear so I am making them clear by giving them meanings based upon what I think". He is also accusing the Prophet of not having sufficiently fulfilled his task. So he is placing himself at a level higher than Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)

So this is the second principle, that we do not change the meanings and this is known as Tahreef and it can also be called Ta'weel, because someone who gives words other than their obvious meanings and says that they have other unclear meanings - then he is in reality changing and distorting them. Note also that the one who does tahreef, he is also guilty of ta'teel, because the fact that he changes the original meaning of the word means that the actually denies it.

The Third Principle:

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):

Imaam Maalik (d. 179H) said: "Al-Istiwaa is known, and how is unknown, to have eemaan in it is obligatory and to question it is an innovation." Reported by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa 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." Ad-Daarimee also reported it in ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah (p.55).

Imaam Malik said these words to one of the people of innovation, who came to him and said: "We know that Allaah ascends His Throne, but How does He do that", so Imaam Malik replied with these words and he also had him thrown out for daring to ask these words.

In the words of Imaam Malik there occurrs "how is unknown". So we do not know how exactly this attribute of Allaah is and we should not enquire into it either. It is the same for all the other attributes. We believe in them, affirm them for Allaah, do not deny them or twist and distort their meanings, or resemble them to the creation, or start asking how they are.

So these are four principles that we understand in order to be on the path of truth and guidance with respect to how to believe in Allaah's Names and Attributes.

Be Careful of this Trick:

Before we finish, we will just mention another trick of the people of innovation and desires. For this we need to discuss another thing which is known as 'Tafweedh'.

What does 'tafweedh' mean? It means 'to submit something to someone'. For example I can say 'I submitted my report to my teacher.' Etc...

What does this have to do with Allaah's Attributes? Another group of very naughty people say the following:

"OK, OK, we accept that Allaah has mentioned Hand and Face and Laughter and other attributes in His Book and in the Messenger's Sunnah, BUT WE DO NOT KNOW THEIR MEANINGS and we leave the knowledge of this to Allaah"

So this is 'tafweedh' which would mean here "to submit the knowledge of the meanings of these attributes to Allaah". See how they are trying to play smarty-pants? So they are saying that the words that Allaah used for His Attributes, that they have no meanings to them, and that we cannot know them either. Only Allaah knows them.

If you think about this a little more, you will realise how dangerous this is. This is because, if this was true, then Allaah would be nothing. i.e. we have nothing by which we know Him, because everything He has used to describe Himself with, then it has no meaning!! This leads to atheism and disbelief in Allaah, because then Allaah, does not even exist - because He has no Attributes and cannot be known.

You might think now, OK well what is the difference between us and those who do tafweedh, because what they are saying sounds very like what we are saying, which is 'that we should submit knowledge of exactly how the attributes are to Allaah - that there is no way that we can know exactly how they are."

The answer is that there is a difference between us and those who are trying to be clever and play smarty-pants.

We AFFIRM the Attributes, with THEIR OBVIOUS AND CLEAR MEANINGS but we submit KNOWLEDGE OF EXACTLY HOW they are to Allaah.

So we are submitting only the knowledge of 'how' they are to Allaah, NOT the meanings.

As for those who do 'tafweedh' they submit the knowledge of THE MEANINGS - whereas we do not.

This is the difference between us. We submit the knowledge of exactly how the attributes are to Allaah and they submit the knowledge of the meanings of the attributes to Allaah - which in reality is exactly the same as denying them!

Look at the following two narrations and see how the Salaf used to affirm the meanings of the Attributes:

1. Imaam Maalik (d. 179H) said: "Al-Istiwaa is known, and how is unknown, to have eemaan in it is obligatory and to question it is an innovation."

i.e. the meaning of istiwaa is known, but exactly how it is is unknown.

2. Muhammad bin al-Hasan ash-Shaybaanee (d. 189H) said: "Hammaad bin Abu Haneefah said: "We said to them: Do you consider the saying of Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic: And your Lord comes accompanied by the Angels, ranks upon ranks" [Soorah Fajr 89:22] They said: "As for the Angels then they come, ranks upon ranks. But as for the Lord - the Most High - then we do not know what is meant by that and we do not know the kaifiyyah (how) of His coming." So I said to them: "We do not oblige you to know how He comes but we oblige you to have faith in His coming. Do you not consider that the one who rejects that the Angels come, ranks upon ranks, what is he to you?" They said: A Kaafir (disbeliever) a Mukadhdhib (rejector)." I said: "Then likewise, the one who denies that Allaah - the Most Perfect - comes then he is a Kaafir, a Mukadhdhib." Aqeedatus-Salaf wa Ashaabil-Hadeeth (p.49) of Abu Uthmaan as-Saaboonee.

See how in this narration those people claimed that they did not know:

i) the meaning of when Allaah says that ''He will come on the Day of Judgement'

ii) the exact nature of how He will come.

So they were told, that no one is asking them to know how He will come (i.e. principle number 4 that we have just been through) However they must believe in the fact that He will come (and to do this they have to affirm the meaning, obviously)

So this narration from one of the Salaf very nicely illustrates the difference between the innovators, those who do 'tafweedh' and and between those upon the way of the Salaf.

And about this tafweedh, Ibn Taymiyyah[13] has said - that it is amongst the most evil of the sayings of the Ahl ul-Bid'ah wal-Ilhaad. This is because, firstly it sounds like it is correct so a lot of people get mislead by it, and secondly it basically means that Allaah is described with nothingness. Also to a lot of people it sounds like it is the 'middle way' in between those who affirm the attributes and those who deny them and those who make resemblances for the from the creation. Therefore it is very dangerous and it merely leads to ta'teel (denial of the attributes). This is why it is very dangerous.

We will finish by listing individuals in our times who have erred in this topic.

1. Hasan al-Bannaa - in his book al-Aqaa'id he claims and tries to argue that the way of the Salaf was to do tafweedh and this is incorrect as you can clearly see. It is surprising that people should fall into these kind of errors considering that the way of the Salaf is well known, especially through the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim.

2. Sayyid Qutb, he denied the Attributes of Allaah and claimed that they were merely imaginations, he also denied that Allaah ascends the Throne (Arsh) claiming that this is metaphorical and is not real. Again it is surprising that he should deny these things, especially after he has read the books of the Salaf such as Tafseer Ibn Katheer and others.

3. Nuh Ha Meem Keller - A truly lowly and despicable person who pretends to be really intelligent and knowledgeable. What he is teaching and propagating is that we should do 'Ta'weel' and also 'Tafweedh' and he tries to claim that this was the way of the Salaf, and in saying this he is a filthy despicable liar. You will see many people thinking that this idiot is guided and that he is upon something. In reality, he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Whoever does not know the condition of this innovator, is himself ignorant. So you should be careful of this man and you should warn others of him, because he knows what the way of the Salaf is and he is deliberately opposing it and teaching others to oppose it. But most people will not be aware of this - due to their neglect of and lack of concern with knowledge. He was a lowly and despised person during the days in wich he was at the Islamic University of Medinah, and he will always remain so, so long as his heart is filled with hatred for the Salaf and those upon their way.

4. Hamza Yoosuf - His way is exactly the same as that of Nuh Ha Meem Keller. People think he is very knowledgeable and he has great mastery of the Arabic language and so on… which is a most ridiculous assertion and which anyone with basic knowledge of Arabic can verify for himself. His way basically, is to call to 'ta'weel' and 'tafweedh' and also to the innovations of sufism and tasawwaf. He is also very clear in his hatred of the Salaf and his belittlement and mockery of aqeedah and tawheed etc. But someone who doesn't follow his condition up will not be aware of this... they will not know what he is all about and think that he is a great speaker etc.

5. Dr. Sa'eed Ramadaan al-Bootee. You will probably not have heard of this one, but he is quite popular in Syria. He is basically soofee orientated and is also teaching the same ideas about Allaah's Attributes, that we should do 'ta'weel' and 'tafweedh'. If you read the works of this individual you will realise what a clever little deceiver he is. The way he tries to argue is really deceptive and cunning, but Alhamdulillaah, Allaah always sends scholars to uncover the pretenders and falsifiers. Shaikh Saalih al-Fawzaan has written a beautiful refutation of the book that Bootee wrote in which he attacks the Salafee way and claims that the way of the Salaf never existed?!

6. More broadly, the Asharees are a group who do 'ta'weel' and 'tafweedh'. Similar to them are a group called the Habashees. There are also the Maatureediyyah, who are not as well known as the Asharees. Basically they all share with each other in distorting the Attributes of Allaah, doing lots of ta'weel, tafweedh and other naughty things. If you look at some of the Muslim groups today, such as Ikhwaan ul-Muslimoon and Tablighi Jamaa'at you will find that they are full of people who have these deviated beliefs, such as Asharees, Maatureedees, etc... This is because such groups have no concern WHATSOEVER for aqeedah and tawheed, in fact they attack and destroy Tawheed. Shaikh al-Albaanee said: "It is not to be said that the Ikhwaan are from Ahl us-Sunnah because they wage war against Ahl us-Sunnah", he also said "The ikhwaan wage war against Tawheed". Also about Tablighi Jamaat he said: "They are the soofees of this era." Likewise Abu A’laa Mawdoodi was Ash’ari in his belief and denied some of the Attributes of Allaah. A person can only realise and appreciate this when they have the right belief themselves and good sound knowledge. Then when he looks at such groups and their call, what it consists of and what they are propagating and holding on to, then he will realise the truth of what we have mentioned. Only someone who knows their condition well and is well acquainted with the knowledge will perceive this.

Inshaa'allaah, this should be sufficient for todays lesson.

Before the questions - the following statement should help us to understand our position in this topic. You should repeat it to yourself:

"Allaah has mentioned in His Noble Book Attributes such as Hand, Face, Eyes and His Messenger has mentioned others such as Laughter, Fingers, Amazement, Feet, in authentic and reliable hadeeth. I know that Allaah certainly revealed these in His Book and to His Messenger and therefore I am obliged to believe in them. So I affirm them for Allaah and I do not deny them, since the Salaf never denied them and I am upon their way inshaa'allaah. I do not change their meanings either, by saying such things as Hand means 'power' and so on because none of the Salaf did this, and if I did this I would be uttering a lie against Allaah, saying something about Him which I do not know whether it is correct or not. And also this would negate the fact that Allaah revealed the Qur'aan in a clear Arabic tongue. I also do not say that these attributes are like those of the creation. And I know that it is impossible for there to be any resemblance between the Attributes of Allaah and those of the creation because Allaah has already told me so in His book, in Surah Shooraa verse 11 and in Surah Maryam verse 65 and also in Surah Ikhlaas. So I affirm them for Him and there is no likeness between His Attributes and those of the creation. And I will not ask about His Attributes, 'how exactly are they? How is his Hand? How is his Laughter?' There is no way of knowing this for me and I will stop at simply affirming these attributes for Allaaah with their meanings, as did the Salaf, and not setting up likenesses for them with the creation and not aking about them, as did that innovator in the presence of Imaam Malik concerning the issue of Istiwaa. This inshaa'allaah is my way, the balanced way and this was the way the Salaf took, and I shall guide myself by their way, even if the innovators dislike it."

If this is your position, then you will be rightly guided inshaa'allaah.

Try to answer the following questions to make sure you have understood the lesson

1. Explain what we must believe in, in order to have correct eemaan in Allaah.

2. Give a quotation from one of the Salaf which mentions the principles to do with todays lesson.

3. Explain what is ta'teel

4. Explain what is tahreef

5. Explain what is ta'weel

6. Explain what is tamtheel and tashbeeh

7. Explain what is takyeef

8. Explain what is tafweedh.

9. Of all the ones listed above, which is the most evil of them all and explain why.

10. Give an example of how someone would be guilty of ta'weel

11. Give an example of how someone would be guilty of tamtheel or tashbeeh.

12. Quote three verses of the Qur'aan which show that there is nothing like Allaah.

13. Quote two narrations from the Salaf to show that they used to affirm the Attributes with their apparent (dhaahir) meanings from the language.

14. Quote two narrations from the Salaf to show that they did not used to do ta'weel.

15. List some people who have strayed in these issues, despite the fact that the way of the Salaf is manifestly clear.

Definition of other terms:

  • Mu'attilah (those who do ta'teel)
  • Muharrifah (those who distort the meanings/words)
  • Mushabbihah (the group who do tashbeeh)
  • Mukayyifah (those who takyeef')
  • Mufawwidah (those who are guilty of tafweedh)
  • Jahmee (anyone who follows in the way of Jahm ibn Safwaan, who was executed around 130H, and he was one of the first to deny the Names and Attributes of Allaah. Those who sharein this quality are called Jahmees or Jahmiyyah)
  • Mu'tazilah (those who put intellect over the Qur'an and the Sunnah and say it is more decisive)

If you have any questions you can ask them next time inshaa'allaah.

All praise is due to Allaah, prayers and peace upon His Messenger, his companions and his family.

5th November 1997


1 Refer to Surah Sad 38:75

2 Refer to Surah Qalam 68:42

3 Refer to Surah Qamar 54:14

4 Refer to Surah Taa Haa 20:5

5 At-Tamheed of Ibn Abdul-Barr (7/145)

6 Al-Ghuniyat ut-Taalibeen (1/50) of Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelaanee.

7 Ibtaal ut-Ta'weelaat (p.4)

8 Al-Kalaam alas-Sifaat of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee (p.19-20)

9 Al-Ghuniyah an Kalaam wa Ahlihi - as quoted in Mukhtasir al-Uluww (no.137).

10 Sunan at-Tirmidhee (3/24)

11 Al-Muheet bit-Takhleef (p.200)

12 Reported by Imaam adh-Dhahabee in al-Uluww (no.217)

Muhammad bin al-Hasan ash-Shaybaanee (d. 189H), the companion of Abu Haneefah said: "All the Fuqahaa , from the east to the west are agreed upon: [The obligation of] having faith in the Qur'aan and the ahaadeeth which the reliable and trustworthy narrators have come with from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) - in describing the Lord, the Mighty and the Majestic - without explaining them (tafseer) or likening them to the creation (tashbeeh). So whoever explains anything from them today, then he has departed from that which the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions were upon for verily, they did not explain them but they gave verdicts with whatever is in the Book and the Sunnah and then they remained quiet. So whoever speaks with the saying of Jahm [bin Safwaan] then he has separated from the Jamaa'ah since he [Jahm] describes Him [Allah] with nothingness." Reported by al-Laalikaa'ee in Sharh Usool il-I'tiqaad (3/432).

13 In 'Dar ut-Ta'aarudh al-Aql wan-Naql' (1/121)

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