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Imam al-Qurtubi's Takfir upon those affirming the literal meaning of the Mutashabihat

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  • Imam al-Qurtubi's Takfir upon those affirming the literal meaning of the Mutashabihat

    Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says:

    { هُوَ ٱلَّذِيۤ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَابَ مِنْهُ آيَاتٌ مُّحْكَمَاتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ ٱلْكِتَابِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ في قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ٱبْتِغَاءَ ٱلْفِتْنَةِ وَٱبْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلاَّ ٱللَّهُ وَٱلرَّاسِخُونَ فِي ٱلْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلاَّ أُوْلُواْ ٱلأَلْبَابِ }

    { He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:" and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. }

    [3:7]

    Imam al-Qurtubi (d. 671 AH) stated in his Tafsir (explanation) regarding the above Aya (see also next page) the following (translation taken from here: "Followers of the Allegorical Verses"):

    قوله تعالى: { فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَابَهَ مِنْهُ ٱبْتِغَاءَ ٱلْفِتْنَةِ وَٱبْتِغَاءَ تَأْوِيلِهِ } قال شيخنا أبو العباس رحمة الله عليه: متبِعو المتشابه لا يخلو أن يتبعوه ويجمعوه طلباً للتشكيك في القرآن وإضلالِ العوامّ، كما فعلته الزنادقة والقرامِطة الطاعنون في القرآن؛ أو طلباً لاعتقاد ظواهر المتشابه، كما فعلته المجسِّمة الذِين جمعوا ما في الكتاب والسنة مما ظاهره الجِسمية حتى ٱعتقدوا أن البارىء تعالى جسم مجسم وصورة مصوّرة ذات وجه وعين ويد وجنب ورجل وأصبع، تعالى الله عن ذلكٰ؛ أو يتبعوه على جهة إبداء تأويلاتها وإيضاح معانيها، أو كما فعل صبِيغ حين أكثر على عمر فيه السؤال. فهذه أربعة أقسام:

    الأوّل: لا شك في كفرهم، وأن حكم الله فيهم القتل من غير ٱستتابة.
    الثاني: الصحيح القول بتكفيرهم، إذ لا فرق بينهم وبين عباد الأصنام والصور، ويستتابون فإن تابوا وإلا قتلوا كما يفعل بمن ٱرتدّ.
    الثالث: ٱختلفوا في جواز ذلك بناء على الخلاف في جواز تأويلها. وقد عرف أنّ مذهب السلف ترك التعرّض لتأويلها مع قطعهم بٱستحالة ظواهرها، فيقولون أمِرّوها كما جاءت. وذهب بعضهم إلى إبداء تأويلاتها وحملِها على ما يصح حمله في اللسان عليها من غير قطع بتعيين مجمل منها.
    الرابع: الحكم فيه الأدب البليغ، كما فعله عمر بصبيغ


    The Exalted said: [But those in whose hearts is perversity] follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings.

    Our Shaykh, Abu al-‘Abbās (rahmatullah ‘alayhi) said:

    Furthermore, the followers of the allegorical verses (mutashābih) are not free from:

    • Following it and collecting it, seeking to raise doubts in the Qur’ān and (seeking to) misguide the laymen as done by the Zanādiqah (deviants), the Qarāmiṭah, and the refuters of the Qur’ān.

    • Or, seeking to believe in the outward (ẓawāhir) meanings of the mutashābih as done by the anthropomorphists (deluded ones who give physical traits to Allah), those who collected from the Qur’ān and Sunnah whatever gave a physical meaning when taken literally (ẓāhir). To the extent that they believed that the Creator is a physical body and a fashioned form, possessing a face and other things: hand, eye, side and finger. Exalted is Allah from that, with the most Supreme Exaltation.

    • Or they sought out these (mutashābih) with a view to manifest its interpretations and clarify its meanings.

    • Or (they did) like Subaygh when he asked ‘Umar رضي الله عنه about them (the mutashābih) excessively.

    So these are four categories:

    • The First: there is no doubt about their disbelief (kufr) and that the judgment of Allah concerning them is execution without even asking them to repent.

    • The Second: The most sound (opinion) is to make takfīr on them (to consider them to be kāfirs), since there is no difference between them and worshippers of idols and images. And they should be asked to repent. Thereafter, either they’ll repent, or if not, they should be executed as is done to an apostate (murtad).

    • The Third: There is a difference of opinion concerning that (action) based upon the difference of opinion in the permissibility of (various) ta’wīls (interpretations) of the mutashābih. And it is known that the madhhab of the Salaf (pious predecessors) was to leave the undertaking of interpreting them while being certain that the literal meaning (ẓawāhir) was impossible. So they would say, “Let it pass as it came!” And some of them (the Salaf) took the madhhab of manifesting its interpretations by interpreting it with meanings consistent with the (Arabic) tongue without definitively confirming a specific possible meaning.

    • The Fourth: The judgment for him is to be taught a profound lesson as Amīr al-Mu’minīn ‘Umar ibn al Khaṭṭāb رضي الله عنه did to Subaygh.
    - end of quote -

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