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Dr. Hatem al-Haj on the term "Salafi"

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  • Dr. Hatem al-Haj on the term "Salafi"

    Dr. Hatem al-Haj on the term "Salafi"

    All praise be to Allah, and may His blessings and peace be on the final messenger, Muhammad,

    Firstly, there is a difference between salaf (predecessor/forbear) and salafi/salafiyy. The long vowel “yâ’” at the end is a masculine suffixation (the feminine of which is “iyyah”) to form an adjective of the first indicating a nisbah (relation). Therefore, if the Prophet r and the Companions are salaf for us, then for someone to call himself salafi (which I don’t recommend as I explain below), would simply mean that he follows the path of the predecessors, of which the first is the Prophet r.

    The concept itself is based on uncontestable facts, including the completeness of the guidance left for us by the Prophet r and the lack of need, and the prohibition, of alteration thereof by adding or deleting. Allah said,

    ” الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا.”

    “This day I have perfected your religion for you; completed my favor upon you; and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Mā’idah 5:3]

    Al-Bukhari & Muslim Reported from ‘Aisha that the Prophet r said,

    “مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌّ.”

    “Whosoever invents in our affair something not of it, then it shall certainly be rejected.”

    The other fact is the superiority of the earlier generations:

    Al-Bukhari reported from Abdullah ibn Masaood that the Prophet r said,

    “خَيْرُ النَّاسِ قَرْنِي، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ، ثُمَّ يَجِيءُ أَقْوَامٌ تَسْبِقُ شَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ يَمِينَهُ، وَيَمِينُهُ شَهَادَتَهُ.”

    “The best people are my generation, and then those who will follow them, and then those who will follow. Then there will come a people whose witness will precede their oaths, and their oaths precede their witness.”

    Islam was not a theory transmitted to us by the ancients, but a complete way of life that was in fact lived and enacted by the earlier generations of Muslims, who should serve for us as beacons on the path to Allah’s pleasure.

    Secondly, to distinguish oneself from the deviant sects is not blameworthy. We are all called Ahl al-Sunnah. This is a name crafted by the companions and their followers, because they wanted to distinguish themselves from those who took innovated and deviant paths. However, this name, unlike others, takes its authority from those who first coined it.

    Thirdly, one who claims to be Salafi may or may not be true to that claim, and the same applies to one who claims to be Sunni or even Muslim. Some of the claimers may be devastating to the cause of “salafism” (inviting people to the way of the first community) by their excessive literalism, skewed priorities, misgivings, rigidity and offensive conduct. As I indicate below, I don’t endorse the use of the term as a title for an individual or a group, but it could be used to denote the concept of favoring the ways of the salaf.

    Fourthly, many times the difference between the salaf (forbears) and the khalaf (followers) is not one of contradiction, but natural progression. For example, the use of certain terminologies or classifications or development of certain sciences, etc., all that is not a departure from the principles and ways of the salaf. Also, proper application of rulings to different realities with due consideration of the variables, is not a departure from their ways either. However, when there is a recognizable departure from their ways, that should be pointed out, and the verifying scholars should always call the people to returning to the way of the salaf (forbears), because it is the lighthouse, anchorage, and reference point for every generation of Muslims to calibrate their beliefs and practices against.

    Fifthly, the salaf disagreed over many issues. Their disagreements were not limited to the practical rulings of fiqh either. However, their approach to the deen had certain characteristics that we should all strive to learn and implement to the best of our understanding and ability. There are three core areas where we can learn a lot from the first community: ‘Aqidah (creed), ‘Amal (actions), and Suluk (spirituality or taawwuf).
    • In matters of creed, we must establish our beliefs as conveyed in the revelation (the supreme teller of the Truth), within the linguistic conventions and intellectual framework of the first audience, for they were meant to have the purest understanding of these beliefs – and they did. We can’t infer something about the unseen (ghayb), particularly God, on the basis of our empirical experience of the seen (shahadah). There is nothing like Him. Some of the most distinguished philosophers, like Kant, also recognize the mind’s incapacity to apprehend metaphysical realities through innatist independent inquiry. We believe it is capable (by being equipped by God) of realizing His existence and some of His essential attributes, but completely dependent on the revelation for a more detailed and robust recognition of Him (exalted is He) and the unseen in general. After priming our understanding with His transcendence and incomparability, we allow the revelation to form our conception of God, unimpeded by the objections of abstract reasoning, which has no place in metaphysics. Conceding to the philosophers will make us inconsistent or drag us all the way to a belief in the apophatic god of negative theology, a god of which nothing can be predicated, a god that has been effectively silenced, and that is not only unperceivable by the mind, but also unapproachable by the heart.
    • In practice (fiqh), they favored the Sunnah over opinion, regardless of their schools, and privileged the understanding of the Companions. This prompted them to be vigilant about what they attribute to the Prophet and Companions and would ascertain its genuineness first. They were simple and not mutakallif (hyper-technical). They rejected zealotry and encouraged free discourse. This does not mean that everyone of us will be a mujtahid directly deducing rulings from the Quran and Sunnah or that we will do away with our greatest intellectual wonders, the four madhâhib, but we will have a reasoned following of them, allowing the qualified scholars of every madhhab to exercise ijtihad to ensure alignment with the Sunnah and adaptability to current realities. Also, we must allow the public to do tanaqqul (transfer) between the mujtahid imams when warranted, either because of a conviction (since the public are not all of the same degree and some of them may even be a few steps away from ijtihad) or a hardship that made the position of another mujtahid suit them more or other reasons that I address in this article. The greatest followers of the imams such as Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hassan, Abu Haneefa’s greatest students (may Allah bestow mercy on all of them), frequently chose positions different from the imam, because they took heed of his emphatic advice to seek the truth in the revelation. While the agreement of the four imams should have an enormous weight, we can’t limit the truth to it, as I discuss in this article. Aside from that, encouraging the students of knowledge to be primarily trained in one of the four madhâhib is what the vast majority of scholars advise, and protecting the place of the four madhâhib in the collective conscience of the ummah should be a priority for every lover of the way of the salaf.
    • In suluk (spirituality/ tazkiyyah/ taawwuf), our emulation of the first community will ensure our adherence to the sunnah and rejection of bid’ah (innovation) in matters of the deen, particularly spirituality, both in conceptions and practices. While we benefit from the mentorship of the mashayekh and we may try their anecdotal advice, we ascribe no value to any worship, modality, time, place, number of repetitions except that which we learn from the only infallible medium between us and God: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The way of the Prophet r and his companions in purifying the soul was the most perfect way. They subsisted by Allah, for Allah, with Allah. They favored clarity over mysticism and symbolism. They were always sober, even during their most intense spiritual experiences, and that is because of their establishment (tamakkun) in their maqâmât (spiritual stations). They were not nihilistic determinists, but they exceled in engaging the causes while having perfect reliance on Allah. They resisted qadar by qadar. They were monks during the night and knights during the day. They never created dichotomous contradictions or any tension between the text of revelation or sharia on one side and the realizations of the heart or haqiqah on the other. They were deepest in knowledge, purest at heart, and least pretentious; they were not ceremonial or stuck to formalities, but most devoted to the Creator and kindest to the creation. The greatest of the salikeen (travelers on the path to God) and masters of Sunni Tasawwuf, such as Ibrahim ibn al-Adham, Ma’ruf al-Karkhi, Sari as-Saqati, Abi Sulayman ad-Darani, al-Junayd, Abdul Qadir Jilani, and many others followed the first community on this path, which is steep, but clear and balanced, and to which no one has exclusive keys.

    Finally, the preferred position is that we don’t call ourselves Salafis as a title of a group or individual, but we should follow the ways of the salaf (predecessors). This is more conducive to unity and farther removed from partisanship, and more inviting to the way of the righteous predecessors. This is because one is likely to induce feelings of partisanship in others if he calls himself or his group some particular title, which should, in fact, be claimed by all Muslims, for all Muslims should be Salafi in the sense of following our spiritual forbears. Salafism is bigger than being a title for a group. Once we make it such, the concept itself will bear the faults of that group instead of permeating through the body of this goodly ummah like oil in olives and water in roses.

    Inviting people to the ways of the first community should be a priority for any da‘ee because, as Imam Malik (may Allah bestow mercy on him) said, “The latter generations of this Ummah will not be rectified except by that which rectified its first generation.”

    Allah knows best.

    http://www.drhatemalhaj.com/qa/index...imself-salafi/

  • #2
    Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post
    [*]In matters of creed, we must establish our beliefs as conveyed in the revelation (the supreme teller of the Truth), within the linguistic conventions and intellectual framework of the first audience, for they were meant to have the purest understanding of these beliefs – and they did. We can’t infer something about the unseen (ghayb), particularly God, on the basis of our empirical experience of the seen (shahadah). There is nothing like Him. Some of the most distinguished philosophers, like Kant, also recognize the mind’s incapacity to apprehend metaphysical realities through innatist independent inquiry. We believe it is capable (by being equipped by God) of realizing His existence and some of His essential attributes, but completely dependent on the revelation for a more detailed and robust recognition of Him (exalted is He) and the unseen in general. After priming our understanding with His transcendence and incomparability, we allow the revelation to form our conception of God, unimpeded by the objections of abstract reasoning, which has no place in metaphysics. Conceding to the philosophers will make us inconsistent or drag us all the way to a belief in the apophatic god of negative theology, a god of which nothing can be predicated, a god that has been effectively silenced, and that is not only unperceivable by the mind, but also unapproachable by the heart.
    The apparent clash between faith and rational thinking (i.e. rationalism):


    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post
      [*]In practice (fiqh), they favored the Sunnah over opinion, regardless of their schools, and privileged the understanding of the Companions. This prompted them to be vigilant about what they attribute to the Prophet and Companions and would ascertain its genuineness first. They were simple and not mutakallif (hyper-technical). They rejected zealotry and encouraged free discourse. This does not mean that everyone of us will be a mujtahid directly deducing rulings from the Quran and Sunnah or that we will do away with our greatest intellectual wonders, the four madhâhib, but we will have a reasoned following of them, allowing the qualified scholars of every madhhab to exercise ijtihad to ensure alignment with the Sunnah and adaptability to current realities. Also, we must allow the public to do tanaqqul (transfer) between the mujtahid imams when warranted, either because of a conviction (since the public are not all of the same degree and some of them may even be a few steps away from ijtihad) or a hardship that made the position of another mujtahid suit them more or other reasons that I address in this article. The greatest followers of the imams such as Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn al-Hassan, Abu Haneefa’s greatest students (may Allah bestow mercy on all of them), frequently chose positions different from the imam, because they took heed of his emphatic advice to seek the truth in the revelation. While the agreement of the four imams should have an enormous weight, we can’t limit the truth to it, as I discuss in this article. Aside from that, encouraging the students of knowledge to be primarily trained in one of the four madhâhib is what the vast majority of scholars advise, and protecting the place of the four madhâhib in the collective conscience of the ummah should be a priority for every lover of the way of the salaf.
      Introduction to the Hanbali Madhhab:



      YouTube playlists:

      https://m.youtube.com/c/DrHatemalHaj...9YIKHR0rB1k%3D

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post
        [*]In suluk (spirituality/ tazkiyyah/ taawwuf), our emulation of the first community will ensure our adherence to the sunnah and rejection of bid’ah (innovation) in matters of the deen, particularly spirituality, both in conceptions and practices. While we benefit from the mentorship of the mashayekh and we may try their anecdotal advice, we ascribe no value to any worship, modality, time, place, number of repetitions except that which we learn from the only infallible medium between us and God: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The way of the Prophet r and his companions in purifying the soul was the most perfect way. They subsisted by Allah, for Allah, with Allah. They favored clarity over mysticism and symbolism. They were always sober, even during their most intense spiritual experiences, and that is because of their establishment (tamakkun) in their maqâmât (spiritual stations). They were not nihilistic determinists, but they exceled in engaging the causes while having perfect reliance on Allah. They resisted qadar by qadar. They were monks during the night and knights during the day. They never created dichotomous contradictions or any tension between the text of revelation or sharia on one side and the realizations of the heart or haqiqah on the other. They were deepest in knowledge, purest at heart, and least pretentious; they were not ceremonial or stuck to formalities, but most devoted to the Creator and kindest to the creation. The greatest of the salikeen (travelers on the path to God) and masters of Sunni Tasawwuf, such as Ibrahim ibn al-Adham, Ma’ruf al-Karkhi, Sari as-Saqati, Abi Sulayman ad-Darani, al-Junayd, Abdul Qadir Jilani, and many others followed the first community on this path, which is steep, but clear and balanced, and to which no one has exclusive keys.
        Reclaiming the Sufi Sunni discourse:




        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post

          Reclaiming the Sufi Sunni discourse:



          Correction: The original title is "Reclaiming the Sunni Sufi Discourse" and I believe they did that on purpose.

          Yasir Qadhi's balanced lecture on the variant conceptions of Bid'ah in Islam:



          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post

            The apparent clash between faith and rational thinking (i.e. rationalism):

            So looking at this talk isolated from anything this speaker may have otherwise said at other times, I would say it is a good talk and in line with Sunni Ilm al-Kalam.

            My only small issues would be his quoting of non-Muslim philosophers and praising of them, his quoting of heretical/disbeliving "Muslim" philosophers (such as al-Farabi), and his supposition that reason is according to what the majority of people think is rational.

            Reason is according to the principles of non-contradiction etc.

            Reason is according to base principles that he himself defined - such as the law of non-contradiction, identity etc.

            I will give you an example of something the majority of people today would consider irrational: Magic (Sihr). The people say this is 'irrational' for how can things seemingly go against and break the observed 'law' of causation one witnesses in nature?

            Another example. The vast majority of people when questioned without being educated on it would say that 0.9 recurring is not the exact same number as the number 1 as dictated by "reason", because clearly they are different and there is like a really, really small difference between them. (In reality of couse we know 0.9 recurring is 1).

            Really for the vast majority of people "reason" is nothing less than what one feels to be intuitively true. I would say that Dr Hatem himself has given a much better example of what we actually term reason when he discussed the law of non-contradiction etc.

            Assuming the other side are wrong because you do not listen to them

            Although I think it is unfortunate that the later Ash'ari adopted the earlier methodology of Imam al-Razi and repeated his incorrect views (that the early generations would call heretical) such as the Qanan al-Kulli and Tawil of Sifat, and I think it is unfortunate that people from Ahlus Sunnah will not think to read the works of Ibn Taymiyyah which contain legitimate and rational criticisms against Imam al-Razi, I think it is more unfortunate that the other side will not go and learn from the Sunni Mutakallimun as they would realise they are saying much of the same thing, except that some of the adherants of Ibn Taymiyyah's thoughts are making logical contradictions in the beliefs they hold.

            If you do not allow us to be heard or speak to you or debate you on rational grounds you will never get why we objected to some of the things he said, besides his relevent/good criticisms.

            I will leave you with this. Can I say that Sin2X + Cos2X = -1?

            Does that contradict reason? But not everyone would agree and it isn't obvious just from looking at it.

            So how would we go about disproving it to the layperson who says that?
            Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
            "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
            Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

            Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
            1/116

            Comment


            • #7
              * When I say Tawil of Sifat I mean Tawil Tafsili i.e. Ta'til e.g. "His Yad is his Power". This is what he (Imam al-Razi) initially did and the later ones followed him in this and this is wrong, and the early generations would be harsh upon this.

              There is a thin but important line between this and Tawil Ijmali:

              e.g. "Everything shall suffer annihilitation except his Wajh" this means except his Dominion all things will suffer annihilitation but we do not say his attribute of Wajh is Majesty.

              Tawil Ijmali is general interpretation of the verse without negating any attributes. Tawil Tafsili is interpretation of the attribute away from its apparent wording (negating it).
              Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
              "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
              Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

              Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
              1/116

              Comment


              • #8
                [*]In matters of creed, we must establish our beliefs as conveyed in the revelation (the supreme teller of the Truth), within the linguistic conventions and intellectual framework of the first audience, for they were meant to have the purest understanding of these beliefs – and they did. We can’t infer something about the unseen (ghayb), particularly God, on the basis of our empirical experience of the seen (shahadah). There is nothing like Him. Some of the most distinguished philosophers, like Kant, also recognize the mind’s incapacity to apprehend metaphysical realities through innatist independent inquiry. We believe it is capable (by being equipped by God) of realizing His existence and some of His essential attributes, but completely dependent on the revelation for a more detailed and robust recognition of Him (exalted is He) and the unseen in general. After priming our understanding with His transcendence and incomparability, we allow the revelation to form our conception of God, unimpeded by the objections of abstract reasoning, which has no place in metaphysics. Conceding to the philosophers will make us inconsistent or drag us all the way to a belief in the apophatic god of negative theology, a god of which nothing can be predicated, a god that has been effectively silenced, and that is not only unperceivable by the mind, but also unapproachable by the heart.
                Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post

                The apparent clash between faith and rational thinking (i.e. rationalism):


                Between the God of the Prophets and the God of the Philosophers: Reflections of an Athari on the Divine Attributes -- Dr. Hatem al-Haj:

                https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085KHLL6C...860&pldnSite=1

                Description:

                The apophatic god of negative theology is the areligious philosophers’ preferred god; a god which is remote, detached, and can hardly be an object of adoration or worship, even though it may be an object of wonderment. This is not God according to the Prophets. However, the depiction of God in the theistic traditions has been always charged with anthropomorphism. In this book, I attempt to respond to this charge and explain what Athari (scripturalist) Muslim theologians believe about the Divine attributes and why. Where Do We Get Our Belief From? Our Epistemological Position. The Role of Truthful Reports. The Role of Reason. The Place of Kalâm: Reason as a Tool of Understanding and Armor for Defense. A Typology of Islamic Positions on the Attributes of God. What Do We Believe In? Why Do We Believe in Amodal Affirmation and Why? Do We Believe It Is Important? What Are the Counter Arguments? Reports from the Salaf; Conflict with Reason; The Perfect Does Not Change; The Composite god and Divisibility; Anthropomorphism and Assimilation. Conclusion: Ontologically, no extant being lacks quiddity and attributes. Noumenally, the apophatic god is nonexistent, and phenomenally, it cannot be felt or related to, let alone loved and worshiped. In conclusion of this work, here are my recommendations: •To be deserving of Divine guidance, we need to purify our intentions by true devotion to Allah. We also need to constantly rehabilitate our fiṭrah and heal it from the ills of bias (hawa), ulterior motives (aghrâḍ), blind imitation (taqleed), habit (‘âdah), and conjecture (gharṣ). This can only be done through spiritual labor and immersion in the Revelation as understood and practiced by the first community. •We must not subject the Divine instruction to prevalent intellectual or social conventions or transplant xenografts and foreign discourses into our hermeneutical system. We must affirm our belief in the epistemic superiority and self-sufficiency of the Revelation as the ultimate source of truth about the unseen. This will never require us to impugn the office of reason or undercut its value in understanding the Revelation and defending its doctrines. •Our belief in Allah must be rooted in His exoneration from all deficiencies and His absolute incomparability (tanzeeh), and the amodal affirmation (ithbât) of His attributes by which He has described Himself and His Messenger described Him. In our affirmation of the Divine attributes, we should never accept the so-called “necessary concomitants.” Inferring from the world of shahâdah (seen) about the world of ghayb (unseen) is both irrational and perilous.•We must be respectful of the imams of this deen, regardless of our agreement or disagreement with them. When we have to disagree, we must continue to love those who spent their lives serving Allah and His cause, and show them the requisite respect. •The public should be spared the confusion of intra-Islamic polemics on creed and taught the basics of ‘aqeedah that will provide them with enough guardrails. People should then be uplifted spiritually to want to seek Allah and earn His pleasure. When it comes to the Divine attributes, teachers must prime their understanding with tanzeeh and let the rhetorical strength and richness of the Revelation flow to their hearts, unimpeded by intellectual objections.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AmantuBillahi View Post




                  Between the God of the Prophets and the God of the Philosophers: Reflections of an Athari on the Divine Attributes -- Dr. Hatem al-Haj:

                  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085KHLL6C...860&pldnSite=1

                  Description:

                  The apophatic god of negative theology is the areligious philosophers’ preferred god; a god which is remote, detached, and can hardly be an object of adoration or worship, even though it may be an object of wonderment. This is not God according to the Prophets. However, the depiction of God in the theistic traditions has been always charged with anthropomorphism. In this book, I attempt to respond to this charge and explain what Athari (scripturalist) Muslim theologians believe about the Divine attributes and why. Where Do We Get Our Belief From? Our Epistemological Position. The Role of Truthful Reports. The Role of Reason. The Place of Kalâm: Reason as a Tool of Understanding and Armor for Defense. A Typology of Islamic Positions on the Attributes of God. What Do We Believe In? Why Do We Believe in Amodal Affirmation and Why? Do We Believe It Is Important? What Are the Counter Arguments? Reports from the Salaf; Conflict with Reason; The Perfect Does Not Change; The Composite god and Divisibility; Anthropomorphism and Assimilation. Conclusion: Ontologically, no extant being lacks quiddity and attributes. Noumenally, the apophatic god is nonexistent, and phenomenally, it cannot be felt or related to, let alone loved and worshiped. In conclusion of this work, here are my recommendations: •To be deserving of Divine guidance, we need to purify our intentions by true devotion to Allah. We also need to constantly rehabilitate our fiṭrah and heal it from the ills of bias (hawa), ulterior motives (aghrâḍ), blind imitation (taqleed), habit (‘âdah), and conjecture (gharṣ). This can only be done through spiritual labor and immersion in the Revelation as understood and practiced by the first community. •We must not subject the Divine instruction to prevalent intellectual or social conventions or transplant xenografts and foreign discourses into our hermeneutical system. We must affirm our belief in the epistemic superiority and self-sufficiency of the Revelation as the ultimate source of truth about the unseen. This will never require us to impugn the office of reason or undercut its value in understanding the Revelation and defending its doctrines. •Our belief in Allah must be rooted in His exoneration from all deficiencies and His absolute incomparability (tanzeeh), and the amodal affirmation (ithbât) of His attributes by which He has described Himself and His Messenger described Him. In our affirmation of the Divine attributes, we should never accept the so-called “necessary concomitants.” Inferring from the world of shahâdah (seen) about the world of ghayb (unseen) is both irrational and perilous.•We must be respectful of the imams of this deen, regardless of our agreement or disagreement with them. When we have to disagree, we must continue to love those who spent their lives serving Allah and His cause, and show them the requisite respect. •The public should be spared the confusion of intra-Islamic polemics on creed and taught the basics of ‘aqeedah that will provide them with enough guardrails. People should then be uplifted spiritually to want to seek Allah and earn His pleasure. When it comes to the Divine attributes, teachers must prime their understanding with tanzeeh and let the rhetorical strength and richness of the Revelation flow to their hearts, unimpeded by intellectual objections.

                  I have no issue with any of this.

                  Again, I reiterate that we need to learn to actually listen to what the other side are actually saying and why instead of misrepresenting them.


                  Quoting from the book you have recommended to me which you assumed I have not read:

                  We do not use any of the terms used, including jihah (direction), ḥayyiz (spatial locatedness), jism (body), and the like, because they were not used in the Revelation, and terms that are foreign to it and can be given meanings ad hoc by different schools will create chaos if they were to dominate our theological discourse.

                  The word jism in the conventions of the Arabic language and the Quranic usage is totally inapplicable to God, as Ibn Taymiyyah stated. The problem is that they transfused the word with special technical definitions of the philosophers, who consider any entity of which attributes could be predicated and in which extant qualities may subsist, a body. If we reject God being a body in their sense of the word ‘body,’ we would be rejecting all His attributes. Most Muslims who used it (in error) did not ever mean that God is divisible, composed, or made of parts, but they meant that He subsists by Himself.

                  That is how Imam Ibn Taymiyyah attempted to clarify their position, despite his rejection of it, to the Christian critics. Directionality means corporealism to some of us, only because we cannot think beyond our stiff categories of understanding.

                  Imam Abu al-Hassan al-Ash‘ari says in refutation of this, It should be said to them,
                  “Why did you assert that if the hand is not a favor, then it must be a limb?” If [in their response] they refer us to our empirical experience or to that which we witness in the creations and they say, “If the hand in that is not a favor, then it is a limb,” it would be said to them, “If you infer from the empirical experience and judge Allah (the Exalted) on its basis, so likewise, we have not found a living being among the creations except that it is of flesh and blood, so affirm that for Allah (Exalted is He above that), otherwise, you would have abandoned your proposition and refuted your own argument. If you, instead, affirm (that God is) a living being not like any other living beings among us, then why do you deny that the two hands that Allah (the Exalted) has mentioned are neither favors nor limbs, and are unlike all other hands?”

                  In fact, Ibn Rushd (rA), the great jurist and most celebrated philosopher in Islamic history, denied that God’s aboveness (‘uluw), which is said to entail directionality (jihah), necessitates taḥayyuz and corporealism. Now, does he lack intellect? Whose intellect, then, is the measuring stick for which we will abandon the obvious meanings of the scriptures and the agreement of the first community?


                  - "Between the God of the Prophets and the God of the Philosophers: Reflections of an Athari on the Divine Attributes" by Hatem al-Hajj, pp. 82-83
                  Let's both go through this together to realise what the issue is here.

                  Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                  "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                  Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                  Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                  1/116

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Muhammad Hasan View Post


                    I have no issue with any of this.

                    Again, I reiterate that we need to learn to actually listen to what the other side are actually saying and why instead of misrepresenting them.


                    Quoting from the book you have recommended to me which you assumed I have not read:



                    Let's both go through this together to realise what the issue is here.
                    I haven't actually read the book myself. I'm expecting it to arrive in the mail on December 11. Perhaps we can discuss its content after I have finished reading it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We do not use any of the terms used, including jihah (direction), ḥayyiz (spatial locatedness), jism (body), and the like, because they were not used in the Revelation, and terms that are foreign to it and can be given meanings ad hoc by different schools will create chaos if they were to dominate our theological discourse.
                      All of these words have an intuitive meaning that comes to the mind. They are not found in the Qur'an and Sunnah and so are not attributes of Allah.

                      What the Ash'ari gets frustrated and disgusted at is the Taymiyyan's inability to meaningfully communicate on any level that he the Taymiyyan negates corporealism for Allah.

                      When I say Jiha, Makan and Jism I mean the standard meaning any normal person gets in their mind i.e. the anthropomorphic meaning. I could take a quiz on what people first think when they hear hand I can almost assure you the first thing they think of is a human hand or limb.

                      I nor any Ash'ari intend the meaning the greek heretics and their disbelieving followers give to them (for any Ash'ari reading, some of the aristotelians used Jism in the way we use Dhat and Shay, but confusingly some of them use it in the same way we use Jariha). None of the Ash'ari of Ahlus Sunnah intended the meanings of the heretics, if you followed what the Athari said you will realise we do not use the terminology of the heretics.

                      Think: How do I or any layperson know what you are teaching and whether you hold a corporealist conception of Allah? What words would you use to convey that?

                      There are no words you can use. Correct? So I would not know. So you can hold heretical beliefs that are Kufr and teach these to the masses and get away with it. And you will not negate specifics like RasulAllah Alayhis Salatu Was-Salam did, so the masses will interpret your doctrines anthropomorphically.

                      Why do I say this?

                      Because I was one of those masses. I watched a lecture of a person who held this view and I heard him say that "Allah has a hand but not like our hands" - so I thought he meant Allah had a limb (a physical protrusion) unlike our limbs. So I thought we can believe that Allah has limbs unlike us. If he simply negated Jariha (limbs) we would not have had this issue.

                      A Jism according to the Taymiyyan, Ash'ari and Aristotelian

                      A Jism according to an Ash'ari is that physical body that can be subdivided into further constituent parts. But on a basic level for the layperson we will say: The Jism is a physical body with length, width, height or any other measurable dimension. As an Ash'ari when I ask the Taymiyyan "do you think Allah has a Jism?" I mean does he think Allah is a 3 or n-dimensional corporeal creature.

                      I.e. I am asking you does Allah have size and is he measurable?

                      But according to many of the Aristotelians, a Jism is simply another word for what the Ash'ari refer to as Shay or Dhat (and this I believe stems from an incorrect theory Aristotle developed). Worse for some of them they use it for what the Ash'ari refer to as Jariha - and this is what I think Ibn Taymiyyah thinks Allah is. Some of them say "it is established by itself" - we ask what do they mean by this? Do they mean the concept known as Hypostasis? Or do they mean that something that necessarily exists and is eternal? Or do you say Allah did not exist then he did, establishing himself? What do they mean??

                      Now when the Taymiyyan refuses to reject the term, the Ash'ari gets suspicious and thinks he's an anthropomorphist, as why else would he constantly refuse to say anything? Moreover he does not negate anything the Ash'ari asks him to negate e.g. Allah being constricted to the physical dimensions or Allah being an endless void, or Allah being measured etc.
                      He rejects negating specifics entirely it seems. We cannot get any meaningful answer out of him.

                      What the Ash'ari says is the correct path - we negate that Allah has a Jism. If you want to ask what an Ash'ari means by this then ask him. He means the standard meaning that comes into a persons head. If you understand this concept and then fail to negate this when asked - that Allah is subject to the measurable dimensions - then you are a disbeliever. He absolutely rejects the term and any usage of the term.

                      Why?

                      Because if Jism is meant in the standard sense the Sunni Mutakallim is used to, then this is a contingency negated for Allah that is Kufr if you believe in it. If Jism is meant in any other sense (e.g. in what some followers of Ibn Taymiyyah think he is using it in) then it negated due to being the incorrect term and due to it being the term used by the innovators to mean something else (corporealist). We direct them to better terms.

                      Saying "Allah is a body unlike bodies" is either Kufr or Bid'ah giving the wrong impression to ordinary people and scholars alike. So say "Allah is a thing unlike things". The Ash'ari holds no Atheist doctrine as he is the one arguing that Allah is Wajib al-Wujub (the necessarily existant being).

                      Do we except the one who says "I believe in Monism"? No either he is an innovator or a disbeliever - a disbeliever if he intends to mean Allah and his creation are one, and an innovator if he is using it for Tawhid as the correct term is "Monotheism" or "Tawhid" not "Monism" which is used by the disbelievers and innovators. (We can understand in this light why the scholars like Ahmad al-Sirhindi rejected the monistic/pantheistic sounding term "wahdat al-wujud" and used "wahdat ash-shuhud" clarifying that the creation and the creator are seperate and not one).

                      "What about the common layperson who doesn't think about these things" We are not bothered about him. You only leave Sunni Islam (and Islam) if you show opposition to the beliefs of orthodoxy. Ignorance of the beliefs of orthodoxy is not showing opposition to them.

                      Question: Did Allah and his Messenger Alayhis Salam negate specifics or "general specifics"? Hmmm....

                      There is an excellent Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari that establishes that Surah Ikhlas is the Surah that especially teaches Tawhid:

                      Narrated `Aisha:

                      The Prophet (ﷺ) sent (an army unit) under the command of a man who used to lead his companions in the prayers and would finish his recitation with (the Sura 112): 'Say (O Muhammad): "He is Allah, the One." ' (112.1) When they returned (from the battle), they mentioned that to the Prophet. He said (to them), "Ask him why he does so." They asked him and he said, "I do so because it mentions the qualities of the Beneficent and I love to recite it (in my prayer)." The Prophet; said (to them), "Tell him that Allah loves him."

                      - Sahih al-Bukhari 7375; Chapter: The Prophet Salallahu Alayhi Wa Salam inviting his followers to Tawhid of Allah Tabaraka Wa Ta'ala
                      Now does Surah Ikhlas contain rejection of a specific trait/description for Allah?

                      He begot no one nor was He begotten,

                      (Fadil Solimani's interpretation of al-Qur'an, Surah Ikhlas, Ayah 3)
                      Does the Prophet Alayhis Salatu Was-Salam's Sunnah contain specific rejection?

                      Abu Hurairah (ra) said:

                      “The Messenger of Allah () used to order that when one of us went to sleep, he should say: ‘O Allah, Lord of the heavens and Lord of the earths, and our Lord, and the Lord of everything, splitter of the seed-grain and date-stone, and Revealer of the Tawrah and the Injil and the Qur’an. I seek refuge in You from the evil of every evil that You are holding by the forelock. You are the First, there is nothing before You, You are the Last, there is nothing after You, and Az-Zahir, there is nothing above you, and Al-Batin, there is nothing below You. Relieve me of my debt, and enrich me from poverty

                      (Allāhumma rabbas-samāwati wa rabbal-arḍīna wa rabbanā, wa rabba kulli shai’in, fāliqal-ḥabbi wan-nawā, wa munzilat-Tawrāti wal-Injīli wal-Qur’ān. A`ūdhu bika sharri kulli dhi sharrin anta ākhidhun bināṣiyatihi, antal-Awwalu falaisa qablaka shai’un, wa antal-Ākhiru falaisa ba`daka shai’un, waẓ-Ẓāhiru falaisa fauqaka shai'un wal-Bātinu falaisa dūnaka shai’un, iqḍi `annid-daina wa aghninī minal-faqr).’”

                      - Adab al-Mufrad of al-Bukhari Hadith 1212 and Sahih Muslim Hadith 2713a, Jami` at-Tirmidhi Hadith 3400 and 3481, Sunan Abi Dawud Hadith 5051 etc. Text/translation from at-Tirmidhi Hadith 3400 Darussalam. Imam at-Tirmidhi rates it Hasanun Sahih, and it is a hadith found in Sahih Muslim. Note that the Arabic is the same in all of these texts, with only slight difference in one of the Matn of Tirmidhi.
                      Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

                      Verily, Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, would say on the Day of Resurrection: O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me. He would say: O my Lord; how could I visit Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He would say: Didn't you know that such and such servant of Mine was sick but you did not visit him and were you not aware of this that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him? O son of Adam, I asked food from you but you did not feed Me. He would say: My Lord, how could I feed Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? He said: Didn't you know that such and such servant of Mine asked food from you but you did not feed him, and were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found him by My side? (The Lord would again say: ) O son of Adam, I asked drink from you but you did not provide Me. He would say: My Lord, how could I provide Thee whereas Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Thereupon He would say: Such and such of servant of Mine asked you for a drink but you did not provide him, and had you provided him drink you would have found him near Me.

                      - Sahih Muslim 2569
                      Yes I have quoted two Hadith that on purpose negate spatial place in particular, because the Taymiyyans are so unwilling to negate this and it really bothers the Ash'ari. The point is that RasulAllah Salallahu Alayhi Wa Salam was willing to negate specifics - it does not make you into a "philosopher who cannot affirm anything".

                      My lord man think of the Shahadah! Are we not negating other gods! Are we not negating multiplicity for Allah!

                      Tawhid is by both - negation and affirmation.

                      We negate the specific and the general that contradicts him. Allah is not a man and Allah does not have a physical form. I affirm the absolute aboveness (Fawqiyyah Mutlaq) of Allah and his Sifat of Uluww but I negate for him any likeness to the creation - his aboveness is not a physical aboveness in a spatial direction. The six spatial directions do not contain him. He has no limits and Ends.

                      Negate the falsehood and Affirm the Truth.

                      I agree, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah highlighted the folly of the later Asha'irah, as they got to the point where they were started to deny the attributes of Allah thinking they are contingencies. Good criticise them for that. But do not criticise them for negating contingencies in general! This is from the Sunnah! This is Islamic belief.

                      No we do not reject the laughter of Allah nor the love of Allah etc. Ibn Taymiyyah was right on that point. But we must negate contingencies as Imam Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi also said. We are negating the attributes of the creation. Then we affirm what he has described himself by without qualification or description.

                      Abandon Kalam if you want, I see no issue in it and think you should listen to what the Mutakallimun are saying as you are saying the same thing. But negate for Allah what is to be negated for someone like you who understands these things. And affirm for Allah what he the Most High is to be attributed with.

                      Islamic Theology is not negative or positive, it is both.

                      If you wish I can provide for you a proof from first principles that Allah is not a Jism/ in a spatial direction etc. I affirm his Sifat of Uluww and that he is al-Hayyul-Qayyum, that he necessarily exists and he is uncreated.

                      No Muslim is a Muslim until he utters his first negation La Ilaha, followed by the affirmation Il-Allah. That is Tawhid!

                      All glory is to the transcendent God, there is no god but He.
                      Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                      "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                      Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                      Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                      1/116

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The word jism in the conventions of the Arabic language and the Quranic usage is totally inapplicable to God, as Ibn Taymiyyah stated. The problem is that they transfused the word with special technical definitions of the philosophers, who consider any entity of which attributes could be predicated and in which extant qualities may subsist, a body. If we reject God being a body in their sense of the word ‘body,’ we would be rejecting all His attributes. Most Muslims who used it (in error) did not ever mean that God is divisible, composed, or made of parts, but they meant that He subsists by Himself.
                        So we reject the term and say Allah does not have a Jism.

                        If they mean any meaning to suggest Jism in the manner of Shay or a Wujud that necessarily exists etc. then we also reject the term and say their are better terms. Call Allah al-Hayyul-Qayyum. Say he is a thing unlike things, but do not say he is a body unlike bodies!

                        Either it is Kufr or Bid'ah imitating the innovators/disbelievers. So follow them in neither and reject it for Allah.

                        Allah does not have a Jism. And he is al-Hayyul-Qayyum.
                        Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                        "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                        Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                        Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                        1/116

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          That is how Imam Ibn Taymiyyah attempted to clarify their position, despite his rejection of it, to the Christian critics. Directionality means corporealism to some of us, only because we cannot think beyond our stiff categories of understanding.
                          Would it not be better then to clarify to those who do not have understanding?

                          Why not say He is Above (Fawq) but not in a spatial/physical direction?

                          The layperson (and also the Mutakallimun who do not use the heretical terminology of the greeks) understands direction in the physical sense - this must be negated for Allah.

                          Why are you defending philosophical terms?

                          Do you notice that the Ash'ari hate and curse the likes of Avicenna, al-Farabi and Ibn Rushd (who I believe the accusation of disbelieve is upon due to his rejection of the world having a beginning), but the likes of many of these Taymiyyans defend them? Worse they defend the heathen philosophers like Kant. Have you read him thoroughly and understood what arguments he was making in ethics?

                          It is as if these people are a remnant of the very Falasifa the Ulama refuted and anathmatised. They defend there use of language... I just don't understand that.
                          Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                          "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                          Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                          Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                          1/116

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Imam Abu al-Hassan al-Ash‘ari says in refutation of this, It should be said to them,
                            “Why did you assert that if the hand is not a favor, then it must be a limb?” If [in their response] they refer us to our empirical experience or to that which we witness in the creations and they say, “If the hand in that is not a favor, then it is a limb,” it would be said to them, “If you infer from the empirical experience and judge Allah (the Exalted) on its basis, so likewise, we have not found a living being among the creations except that it is of flesh and blood, so affirm that for Allah (Exalted is He above that), otherwise, you would have abandoned your proposition and refuted your own argument. If you, instead, affirm (that God is) a living being not like any other living beings among us, then why do you deny that the two hands that Allah (the Exalted) has mentioned are neither favors nor limbs, and are unlike all other hands?”
                            No actually Imam Abu Hassan al-Ash'ari's point works against you, and as Imam Ibn Asakir and others state, he negated place etc. for Allah, which is our main problem with your group (you struggle to negate such a thing).

                            Imam al-Ash'ari is saying that in the mind of the innovators, Yad is either a limb or a favor. Rather Yad is his Attribute.

                            This is like a Taymiyyan refusing the idea that Allah is neither up, nor down, nor to the left, nor to the right, nor in front of us nor behind us. He says "But I can't imagine that! Surely Allah must be in one direction!" Imam al-Ash'ari would ask why are you judging by your empirical experience of things that exist? You assume something has to be in a place because all things you see are like that. Rather we affirm that Allah is above the creation unlike all other things!

                            Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                            "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                            Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                            Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                            1/116

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In fact, Ibn Rushd (rA), the great jurist and most celebrated philosopher in Islamic history, denied that God’s aboveness (‘uluw), which is said to entail directionality (jihah), necessitates taḥayyuz and corporealism. Now, does he lack intellect? Whose intellect, then, is the measuring stick for which we will abandon the obvious meanings of the scriptures and the agreement of the first community?
                              If Dr Hatem is asking for me to accept as a Sifat of Allah Uluww then I have no issue with that and I think all of the Sunni Ulama should be made to affirm that, the Ash'ari of today should be corrected there.

                              However if Dr Hatem in his attack on "negative theology" is saying that I cannot say "Allah is above but not in a spatial direction" just as the Salaf believed that he has a Yad that is his attribute that is not a limb, then we have serious issues. Which is it?

                              Is he asking I make Ithbat of something from the Qur'an and Sunnah or he wanting me not to negate contingencies?


                              Regarding Ibn Rushd, calling him the most celebrated philosopher is disgusting. The man defended the creation not having a beginning! He defended Aristotle!

                              I can't believe these people sometimes. Its as if they love the Falasifa and the Mu'tazila and even the Jahmiyyah more than they love the Ash'ari who worked tirelessly to defend Islam from such heresies and continue that work even today.

                              May Allah bless the Ash'ari.
                              Amir ul-Muminin Sayyiduna Ali KarramAllahu Wajhah said,
                              "Mahma tasawwarta bi-balik, fallahu bi-khilaf dhalik,"
                              Whatever comes into your mind, Allah is other than that,

                              Al-Aqeedah Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Riwayah Abu Bakr al-Khallal),
                              1/116

                              Comment

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