The Names and Attributes of Allaah
By Shaikh Abdul Azeez Ibn Abdullah Bin Baaz
From Eemaan(faith) in Allaah is to have eemaan in those of His Asmaa'ul-Husnaa (Beautiful names) and Sifaatul-Ulyaa (Lofty Attributes) that occur in His Great Book and that have been affirmed by His trustworthy Messenger (saw)-without tahreef (distorting the wording or the meaning), tateel (divesting or denying the Attributes), takyeef(asking how) or tamthteel (resembling Allaah to any of His creation). Rather,it is obligatory to leave them as they came, without takyeef (asking how) or tamthteel (resembling Allaah to any of His creation). Along with this, it is also obligatory to have eemaan in the meaning that Allaah-the Mighty and Majestic-has been described with, in a way which befits Him: without resembling Him to His creation in any of His attributes.
Allaah-the Most High -says:
"There is nothing like unto Him,and He is the All-Hearing,the All-seeing"(*2)
Allaah -the Mighty and Majestic -also says:
"And do not put forward any similitudes for Allaah.Indeed,Allaah knows and you do not know"(*3)
So this is the 'aqeedah (belief) of Ahlu-Sunah wal-Jammaaah from the Companions of the Messenger (saw) and those who followed them in goodness. This is what has been recordeed also by Imaam Abul-Hasan al-Asharee (d.324H)(rah) in his book:"Al-Maqaalat 'an Ashaabul-Hadeeth wa Ahlus-Sunnah". This has also been stated by many others from the people of knowledge and eemaan.
Imaam al-Awzaee(*4) (rah) said:
'I asked az-Zuhree and Makhool about the aayaat pertaining to the sifaat (Attributes of Allaah), so they said:Leave them as they are"(*5)
Al-Waleed ibn Muslim (rah) said:
"I asked Maalik,al-Awzaee,Layth ibn Sad and Sufyaan ath-Thawree -(rah) about the reports related about the Attributes, so they all said: "Leave them as they are, without asking how" (*6)
Al-Awzaeee (rah) said:
"We - whilst the Tabioon were many - would say: Indeed Allaah -the Most perfect-is above His throne,and we have eemaan in what is related to the Sunnah about the Attributes"(*7)
Rabee'ah ibn Abee 'Abdur-Rahmaan (*8) (rah) said:
"Al-Istiwaa (Allaah ascending) is not unknown , and how is not comprehendable, and from Allaah is the Message, upon the Messenger is to clearly convey it, and upon us is to affirm it" (*9)
"Al-Istiwaa is known,and how is unknwon,to have eemaan in it is obligatory and to question it is an innovation ". Then he said to the questioner: "I do not think except that you are an evil man". So he ordered him to be expelled (*11)
This has also been related about Ummul-Mumineen Umm Salamah (raa)(*12)
'Abdulaah ibn al-Mubaarak (*13)(rah) said:
"We know that our Lord-the Most Perfect - is above the heavens, above his Arsh (throne), seperate from His creation"(*14)
The words of the Scholars about this matter are very numerous indeed,and it is not possible to relate them all in such a short space. However, whosover further desires to be acquanted with this topic, then let him turn to the books by the Scholars of Sunnah about this subject,such as the book: Kitaabus-Sunnah by 'Abdullaah the son of Imaam Ahmad (d.290H), Kitaabut-Tawheed by the great Imaam, Muhammad ibn Khuzaymah(d.311H), Kitaabus-Sunnah by Abdul-Qaasim al-Laalikaaee at-Tabaree(d.418H),a nd Kitaabus-Sunnah by Abu Bakr Ibn Abee -'Aasim (d.287H)
Refer also the reply given by Shakykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah(d.728H) to the people of Hamah (entitled al-'Aqeedatul-Hamawiyyah), as it is a great reply, full of benefit. In it he(rah)- has made clear the aqeedah of Ahlus-Sunnah, and has recorded many of the sayings of the scholars, as well as giving proofs from both the Sharee'ah and sound reasoning about the correctness of what Ahlus-Sunnah say,s howing also the futility of those who oppose them.
Likewise,his book entitled al-'Aqeedatut-Tadmurriyah in which he established and explained the aqeedah of Ahlus-Sunnah with both textual proofs and proofs from sound reasoning. In this treatise he has-for all those of understanding ,intending righteousness and desiring to realise the truth - thoroughly refuted all opposition, by clarifying the truth and refuting the falsehood.
All those who oppose Ahlus-Sunnah in their aqeedah concerning Allahs names and attributes, have indeed fallen into opposing the textual evidences and sound reasoning along with clearly contradicting all that Allah has affirmed or negated for Himself.
So, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah affirm for Allah -The Most Perfect -what He has affirmed for Himself in His Noble Book, or what has been affirmed for Him by His Messenger Muhammad (saw) in the authentic Sunnah. Affirming without tamtheel (resemblance) and freeing Allaah - the Most Perfect - from any resemblance to His creation, whilst also rejecting and being free from ta'teel. So whosoever holds fast to the truth which Allaah sent, humbling and accepting it, whilst being sincere to Allaah in the quest for it, then it is the way of Allah - the Most perfect - that He will grant such a person harmony with the truth and show them His clear evidences, as Allaah - the Most High - mentions:
"Nay! We hurl truth against falsehood, so it destroys it: and behold, falsehood is vanquished.."(*15)
And Allaah-the Most High -said:
"And no example or similitude do they bring, except We reveal to you the truth and the best explanation thereof..."(*16)
Al-Haafidh Ib Katheer(d.774H) (rah) explained in his famous tafseer - whilst commenting upon the saying of Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic:
"Indeed your Lord is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then He ascended (istiwaa) over the throne"(*17)
He explained this issue in a most beautiful manner, which I have quoted here in its entirety,due to its great benefit.
Ibn Katheer(rah) said:
"The sayings of the people in this issue are very many. However,this is not the place to enter into a detailed discussion about it.Indeed,the path we travers in this issue is to follow the way of the Salafus-Saalih( pious predecessors) such as: Maalik,al-Awzaee, ath-Thawree, Layth ibn Sad, ash-Shafiee, Ahmad, Ishaaqibn Raahaawaih, and other from the scholars of the Muslims - both past and present. And their way is: to recite them as they are, without takyeef, tashbeeh, nor tateel. Indeed,Allaah does not resemble anything of His creation in any way:
"There is nothing like Him, He is all-Hearing, all-Seeing"(*18)
Rather,the matter is as the scholars-such as Nuaym ib Hammad al-Khuzaee(d.228H), the Shaykh of al-Bukharee -said: "Whosoever makes tashbeeh (resemblance) of Allaah to His creation, has committed kufr (disbelief), and whosoever denies what Allah has described himself with,has also commited kufr. Indeed, all that Allah has described Himself with, or what His Messenger has described Him with, then there is no tashbeeh in it at all"(*19) So whosoever affirms for Allaah - the Most High - what is related in the clear Aayaat and the authentic narrations - in a way which befits. Allaah's Greatness and Majesty - whilst also denying and negating from Allaah - the Most High - any defects and imperfection, then such a person has truly traversed the path of guidance"(*20)
The Shaykh (ha)-also said:(*21)
"Tahreef (distortion) means: changing the wordings of the Names and attributes, or changing their meanings. Like the saying of the Jahmiyyah that istiwaa(ascending above) is istawlaa (conquering and having dominion over); and like the saying of some of the Innovators that al-Ghadab (Anger) when refering to Allaah means 'intending to send blessings'. And all of this is tahreef. And their saying about istiwaa that it is istawlaa is tahreef of the wording, and their saying that ar-Rahmah is intending to send to send blessings and al-Ghadab is intending to punish is tahreef of the meaning.The true saying,howvere is that istiwaa means ascending and being above- as is clear in the Arabic language. And the QURAN came to show that its meaning is ascending and being above the arsh (Throne) in a manner which befits Allaahs Majesty and Greatness. Likewise,al-Ghadab and ar-Rahmanhare two real Attributes befitting Allahs Majesty and Greatness-just as is the case with the rest of the Attributes reported in the Book and the Sunnah.
Tateel (divesting) means; removal of the attributes and to deny them for allaah -the Most high. It is taken from their saying: 'A graceful neck without adornment (muattal) .So the Jahmiyyah and their like divest Allaah of His attributes and are thus called the Muaattilah. And this saying of theirs is totally futile, since it is not posible for there to be anything in existence without attributes - and the Quran and the Sunnah repeatedly affirm Attributes (for Allaah) in a manner befitting Allaah's Majesty and Greatness.
Takyeef means: Explaining how the Attributes are. So it is not said :"How did he ascend?" Since, speaking about the Attributes of Allaah follows the same principle, and is treated the same, as speaking about the Dhaat (Essence/Self) of Allah. So just as He has a Dhaat and we do not not know how it is,t hen likewise, He has Siffat (Attributes) and we do not know how they are either, no one knows that except Him. But we believe in the reality of their meaning.
As regards to tamtheel, then it means: tashbeeh (making resemblance). So it is not said: Allaah has a Dhaat (Essence) like ours,or resembling ours,etc. Thus, it is not said about the Attributes of Allaah that they are like --or resembling -- our Attributes. Rather,the Believer must stick to His - the Most High's --saying: "There is nothing like Him". And the meaning is that there is none who resembles Him.
Note: Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) mentioned:If it is said to you: We interpret the meaning of Anger to be 'desiring' to punish ' and Mercy to be desiring to send blessings'then say: Does this desiring resemble that of the creation, or is ita desiring befitting His majesty and Greatness? So if he says the first --then he has done tashbeeh ! And if he says the second,then say: Then why do you not say, 'Mercy and Anger befitting His Majesty and Greatness? And this put will put and end to his argument".
1.Al-Aqeedatus-Saheehah wa Ma Yudaadahaa(pp.9-13)
2.Soorah ash-Shooraa 42:11
3Soorah an-Nahl 16:74
4.He is Abdur-Rahmaan ibn 'Amr al-Awzaee-the scholar, worshipper and mujaahid.Al-Haakim said: "Al-Awzaee was the Imaam of the people of his time ingeneral ,and he was the Imaam of the people of Shaam in particular." He died in Bayroot,in the year 157H.Refer to at-Tadhkirah(1/178 and al-Hilyah(6/135) for his biography.
5.Related by al-Harawee in Dhammul-Kalaam (p.18)
6.Related by al-Aajuree in ash-Shareeah(p.314),al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat(p.453) and also al-Itiqaad(p.118) and the isnaad is Hasan.
7.Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat(p.408).The isnaad is jayyid,as al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar said in Fathul-Baree(13/406)
8.He is Rabee'ah ibn Abee'Abdur Rahmaan -better known as Rabee'atur-Raaee-one of the Tabioon of al-Madeenah. Al-Khateeb said:'He was a faqeeh,a scholar and Haafidh in Fiqh and Hadeeth. "He died in the year 136H.Refer to Taareekh Baghdaad(8/420)and HilyatulAwliyaa(3/259) for his biography.
9.Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat(no.516) and al-Laalikaaee in Sharh Usool Itiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaah(no.665).Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmoo'al-Fatawaa(5/365):"It is established from Rabee'ah". He also said in al-Hamawiyyah(p.80): "Al-Khallal narrated it with an isnaad all of whom are thiqaat(precise and reliable)"
10.He is Abu Abdullah Maalik ibn Anas--The Imaam from the Athaaut-Tabioon of al-Madeenah and one of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah.Imaam ash-Shafiee said:"When the scholars are mentioned ,then Maailik is a dazzling star".He died i 179H.Refer to Siyaar Alaamun-Nubaala(7/366) of adh-Dhabhabee for a complete biography.
11.Related by al-Bayhaqee in al-Ismaa 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".
Al-Bayhaqee also relates(p.516),as does ad-Daarimee in ar-Radd'alal-Jahmiyyah(p.55)-with a jayyid isnaad,as Ibn Hajr says in Fathul-Baaree(13/406)--that Imaam Maalik said: "The Most Merciful ascended as He Himself described,and it is not to be asked:How? Since how is unknown".
12.Related by al-Laalikaaee in Sharh Usool Itiqaad (no.663). Ibn Taymiyyah said in al-Fataawaa(5/365):"Its isnaad cannot be relied upon"Adh-Dhahabee said in al-'Uluww(p.82): "This saying has been preserved from a group,such as Rabi'atur-raee,maailik and Abu Jafarat -Tirmidhee. However,the narration from Umm Salamah is not authentic -since Abu Kinaanah is not reliable and Abu Ameer is not known." So the Shaykh was indeed correct in not definitely ascribing this saying to the Mother of the Believers, Umm Salamah-and all Praise is for Allaah.
13.He is Abu'Abdur-Rahmaan 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak al-Marwazee.The Imaam from the Atbaa'ut-Tabioon, the haafidh,the Shaykh of Islaam,example for the people of zuhd and a leader of the mujaahideen.He died in the year 181H.Refer to tareekh Baghdaad(1/152) and at-Tadkhirah(1/274) for his biography.
14.Related by ad-Daarimee in ar-Radd alaal-Jahmiyyah(np.23),Abdullaah ibn Ahmad in as-Sunnah(no.22) and al-Bukharee in Khalq Afaalul-Ibaad(no.8).It was declared Saheeh by Ibn Taymiyyah in al-Hamawiyyah(no.41).
15 Soorah al-Anbiyaa 21:18
16.Soorah al-Furqaan 25:33
17.Soorah al-Araaf 7:54
18.Soorah ash-Shhoraa 42:11.
19.Related by Imaam adh-Dhahabee with his isnaad in al-'Uluww(no.217),and the isnaad is Saheeh and the narrators are well known as al-Albaanee said in Mukhtasir al-Uluww(p.184)
20.Tafseer Quraanul-Adheen(2/230) of Ibn Katheer.
21.Added from the footnotes to at-Tanbeehaatul-Lateefah 'alaa mahtawat 'alayhil-'Aqeedatil-Waasitiyah (pp.15-16)
THE TESTIMONY OF IMAAM AT-TIRMIDHEE
Speaking about those ahaadeeth which mention the attributes of Allah, Imaam at-Tirmidhee(d.279H)- (rha) said in his Sunan(1/128-129)
"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."
Ishaaq ibn Ibraheem ar-Raahawaih said:
"Tashbeeh is if it is said:Hand like my hand,or similar to my hand,it is said:Hearing like my Hearing,or similar to my hearing ,then this is tashbeeh.But if what is being said is what Allah has said:Hand, Hearing Seeing ,and it is not asked how,nor is it said:like my hearing ,or similar to my hearing --then it is not tashbeeh. Allaah --the Most Blessed,Most High--said in His Book:"There is none like Unto Him,and he is the all-hearing,the all-Seeing"(Soorah ash-Shooraa 42:11) [End of his words]