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
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
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
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
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