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Hisham Kabbani
  Exposing Kabbani 12 : Kabbani and the Usage of the Term 'Bi Dhaatihi'
Author: Abu Hudhayfah
Article ID : NDV070012  


As for Kabbani’s objection to usage of the term ‘bi-Dhatihi’ in relation to the Istawaa of Allaah over the Throne (pp. 65, 108, 140, 142, 176), and particularly his conclusion that this term: "has no precedent in Qur’an and hadith, and is therefore rejected," then this conclusion is in itself rejected. There are a number of phrases and terminologies used within the various Islamic sciences, such as the science of hadeeth, fiqh, tajweed and their like, which are not to be found in either the Qur’aan or hadeeth. Should all these terms then be rejected? In the age of the Companions the Qur’aan was referred to as the ‘Speech of Allaah’, the addition ‘not created’ commonly used later was not employed by them due to an absence of the need to so do. When the fitnah of the Jahmiyyah raised its head concerning the status of the Qur’aan (created or uncreated) the scholars of the Salaf had no hesitation in then refering to the Qur’aan as the ‘Speech of Allaah, not created.’ But the term ‘not created’ is found neither in the Qur’aan nor in hadeeth. Just as Imaam Ahmad clarified on being asked about a persons who refrains from saying that the Qur’aan is uncreated or that it is created but merely affirming that it is the Speech of Allaah and remains silent beyond this, is there any leeway for such an indivual? He replied: "Why should he remain silent? If what the people had fallen into had not occured, silence would have been permissible, but since they have said what they have said, then why should they (Ahlus Sunnah) not speak?" (Abu Dawood in his al-Masaa’il pp.263-264). Accordingly, the term ‘bi dhatihi’, although not employed to begin with, came into use at the appropriate time when it was helpful for the People of Knowledge to clarify the false interpretations of the various sects.

Abu Ja’far ibn Abee Shaybah (d.297H) wrote:

"It is known through continuous narrations that Allaah created the Throne then made Istawaa over it with His Dhaat."

(Kitaab al-’Arsh p.51 of ibn Abee Shaybah, as cited in ‘Usool ad-Deen ‘inda Imaam Aboo Haneefah p.308, footnote, of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmaan al-Khamees)

Imaam at-Talamankee al-Maaleekee (d.429H) said: "There is a consensus from Ahlus-Sunnah that Allaah Ascended over His Throne bi-Dhatihi... There is a consensus from Ahlus-Sunnah that Allaah Ascended over His Throne in a real sense, not metaphorically."

(Related in Siyaar A’laamun-Nubalaa (17/566) of adh-Dhahabee)

Qaadee Abdul Wahhab (d.422) said: "The greatest of Ahlus Sunnah, may Allaah have mercy upon them, have made it clear that Allaah rose over His Throne in Person."

(Darr at-Ta’aarid al-Aqal wan Naql, pg. 203, of ibn Taymiyyah)

Adh-Dhahabee said:

"The likes of this phrase (bi Dhatihi) has preceded from Abu Ja’far ibn Abee Shaybah and Uthmaan bin Sa’eed ad-Daarimee. Likewise, Yahya bin ‘Ammaar, the preacher of Sijistaan, used it in his Risaalah, and al-Haafidh Abu Mansoor al-Waa’ilee as-Sijzee in al-Ibaanah where he said: ‘Our scholars, such as ath-Thawree, Maalik, the two Hamaads, ibn ‘Uyaynah, ibn al-Mubaarak, al-Fudayl, Ahmad and Ishaaq are agreed that Allaah is above His Throne by His Dhaat and His Knowledge is in every place.’"

(Mukhtasar al-’Uluww p.255)

Adh-Dhahabee goes on to explain: "These (narrations) that he (as-Sijzee) quotes from them are famous and preserved, except for the word ‘in Person’, for it is from himself which he attributes to them in meaning."

Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee (d.561H) - revered amongst Sufis - said: "It is essential to carry the Attribute of al-Istawaa (Allaah’s ascending) upon its apparent sense without ta’weel; and that He Ascended by His Dhaat (Self) over the Throne. Istawaa does not mean sitting and touching as the Mujassimah and Karraamiyyah say; nor does it mean grandeur and highness (‘uluww) as the Ashariyyah say; nor does it mean conquering (isteelaa) as the Mu’tazilah say. None of this is related in the Sharee’ah. Neither has this been related by any one of the Pious Predecessors from the Companions and their students, nor is it related from the Scholars of Hadeeth. Rather, it is related from them that they carried the meaning of Istawaa with its apparent meaning."

(Al-Ghuniyatut-Taalibeen (1/50) of ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee).


There is no doubt that Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee – irrespective of what the Sufis have falsely attributed to him - was upon the way of Imaam Ahmad not only in Fiqh but also belief. Yet despite Kabbani’s attempts to portray for the reader - via ibn al-Jawzee for the most part - the beliefs of the Hanbali scholars, we see from the preceding quote at least three marked differences between Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee and Kabbani:

i. That the Attribute of Istawaa is taken upon its apparent sense - vs - Kabbani’s criticism of those who uphold the Attributes on their apparent meaning as well as al-Zahawi’s attack on the Wahhabis for doing the same.

ii. Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee’s rejection of the view of the Ashariyyah that Istawaa means grandeur and highness (‘uluww).

According to al-Haytami and al-Qalyubi, as quoted by Kabbani (pp. 30-31), this would render Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir both an innovator and outside the fold of Ahlus-Sunnah for not following the way of the Ashariyyah or Maturidees.

iii. The rejection of interpreting Istawaa as Isteela (Istawla) - vs - Kabbani who mentions this as one of the interpretations given for this Attribute and indeed refers to it as: "Among the least injurious and most befitting meanings..." (pp. 106, 139, 184-185).

Imaam al-Juwaynee, in his retraction from the madhab of the Ash’arees, explains:

"Allaah expanded my chest about the state of those Shaykhs who made ta’weel of Istawaa to isteelaa... and it is my belief that they do not understand the Attributes of the Lord, the Most High, except with what befits the creation. Therefore, they do not understand Istawaa as truly befits Him... so this is why they distort the words from its proper context and deny what Allaah has described Himself with."

(Risaalah Ithbaatul-Istawaa wal-Fawqiyyah, pp.176-186, which is part of Majmoo’atur-Rasaa’il al-Muneeriyyah)

Ibn Qudaamah wrote:

"The one performing ta’weel combines the ascription to Allaah of an Attribute which He did not ascribe or adjoin to Himself, with the negation of an Attribute which Allaah did adjoin to Himself. When he says: ‘The meaning of Istawaa is istawlaa,’ he is ascribing to Allaah the attribute of isteelaa, but Allaah did not ascribe this attribute to Himself. He is also thereby negating the Attribute of Istawaa, despite the fact that Allaah has mentioned it in the Qur’aan in seven places."

(Tahreem an-Nazar fee Kitaab Ahl al-Kalaam, no.58; p.23 of the translation)

Kabbani adds (p.107): "To those who object to istawla on the grounds that it supposes prior opposition, Ibn Hajar remarked that that assumption is discarded by clinging to the verse: ‘Allah was ever Knower, Wise.’ (4:17), which the commentators, he says, have explained to mean ‘He is ever Knower and Wise.’"

Ibn Hajar, however, goes on to say: "But it is possible to refute some of these meanings for others as has preceded from ibn Battaal... and the Reviver of the Sunnah, al-Baghawee quoted in his tafseer from ibn Abbaas and the majority of the commentators that its meaning was to rise above, similar statements were said by Abu Ubaid and al-Faraa’…" (Fath al-Baaree 13/406)

Ibn Battaal’s declaration that Istawaa means to rise above and that this is the true position of Ahlus-Sunnah, as well as the similar meaning given by ibn Abbaas, are both mentioned by Kabbani (p.105). But needless to say he is unable to resist attempting to interpret away even this correct defintion and says (p.106): "‘To rise,’ ‘ascend,’ and ‘rise above’ must be understood in the sense of rank and lordship..." This, as we have seen, has already been replied to by Shaykh ‘Abdul-Qaadir al-Jeelaanee in his words: "It is essential to carry the Attribute of al-Istawaa (Allaah’s ascending) upon its apparent sense without ta’weel... nor does it mean grandeur and highness (‘uluww) as the Ashariyyah say..."

The language of the Arabs does not permit the meaning of Istawaa to be designated as isteelaa, and this definition is not quoted from any of the Imaams of the Language whose saying is depended upon. This is why ibn al-Jawzee says in Zaad al-Maseer (3/213): "This meaning is rejected according to the Linguists." And ibn Abdul Barr said in at-Tamheed (7/131): "Their saying in explanation of Istawaa that it means isteelaa is not correct according to the language."

On a quick side point, we have just seen al-Haafidh ibn Hajar refer to Imaam al-Baghawee as the ‘Reviver of the Sunnah’. So here is an example of the Sunnah which he revived:

"The Finger is an Attribute from amongst the Attributes of Allaah, and likewise everything of this nature that occurs in the Book and Sunnah, for example the Face (Wajh), Eye (Ayn), Hand (Yad), Leg (Rijl), Coming (Ityaan and Majee), and the Descent to the Lowest Heaven, His Rising over His Throne, Laughter (Dahk), Joy (Farh)… these and their likes are Attributes of Allaah in which it is obligatory to have faith, leaving them upon their literal meanings, turning away from ta’weel and keeping a distance from resemblance, along with the belief that none of the Attributes of the Creator resemble anything from the attributes of the creation, just as His Self does not resemble the selves of the creation. Allaah said: "There is nothing like Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing." It was upon this that the Salaf of this nation and the scholars of the Sunnah were upon, they accepted them all with faith and stayed away from likening Allaah to His creation and ta’weel. They relegated the knowledge of the ‘how’ (of the Attributes) to Allaah." (Sharh as-Sunnah, 1/170, of al-Baghawee)

This is the very revival of the Sunnah that Kabbani is seeking to stamp out!

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