Saturday, 8 August 2015

20 rules with regards to the Attributes of Allah by Abu Yahya Noorpuri

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A quick Introduction for those Muslims who don't know what does Name and Attribute in the Islamic context mean

The General rules with regards to the Attributes (Sifaat) of Allah that should be observed and implemented are : 


Rule # 1 : To Affirm his attributes without distortion, denial , howness and  similarity

Rule # 2 : To Deny that which is denied and to affirm it's perfect opposite

Rule # 3: To affirm only that which is affirmed by Allah and his Messenger and Deny that which was denied likewise

Rule # 4 : To refrain from using comprehensive or ambiguous terms in describing his attributes 

Rule # 5: To Affirm that every attribute is in accordance to rationality

Rule # 6: To abstain from delving into the Howness of Allah's attributes

Rule # 7: To explain the attributes in detail but negate in a comprehensive manner

Rule # 8: To affirm that every name of Allah expounds on an attribute but not every attribute expounds or gives a name 

Rule # 9 : To affirm that all the attributes of Allah are free from any flaw whatsoever and perfect

Rule #10 : Allah's attributes that exhibit his actions or deeds are unlimited 

Rule # 11 : Three ways from which an Attribute is known

Rule # 12 : Seeking refuge and Oath with the Attributes 

Rule # 13 : Speech regarding the attributes of Allah is like the speech regarding his Essence or His self 

Rule # 14 : Affirming all of his attributes 

Rule # 15 : Attributing something to him may not necessarily be his sifat

Rule # 16 : Allah's attributes are proven from an authentic single or ahad narration as well

Rule # 17 : Allah's attributes are taken on its apparent and not metaphorically

Rule # 18 : A believer is to believe in the attributes even if he doesn't understand its meaning 

Rule # 19 : Not every statement of knowledge about allah is to be restricted upon divine texts 

Rule # 20 : Allah's attributes are not analogized 

A quick Introduction for those Muslims who don't know what does Name and Attribute in the Islamic context mean


Attribute (Plural Sifaat in Arabic) in the English language is defined as: a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.


 E.g of an Attribute :  " Merciful (Rahman)" 


Name (Ism or plural Asmaa in Arabic) in the English language is defined as : a word or set of words by which a person or thing is known, addressed, or referred to. 


E.g of a Name :  "Allah" 



Allah's names may be divided into three types: 



(i) Those by which he called Himself and taught them to whomever He willed of His Angels or others, but He did not reveal them in His Book.
(ii)  Those that He revealed in His Book and taught them to His slaves.
(iii)  Those that He kept to Himself in the knowledge of the unseen, so none of His creation knows them. Hence the du‘aa’ says: “You have preserved” i.e., only You know them; it does not mean that He is the only one who is called by them, because the names that are proven to be only for Him include names that Allah revealed in His Book. 
Badaa’i‘ al-Fawaa’id, 1/174-176 



Attributes of Allah are of three types: 
1 – Attributes of perfection – in which there is no shortcoming whatsoever. These attributes apply to Allaah in absolute terms and are not limited or restricted in any way. Examples of that include His knowledge, power, hearing, seeing, mercy, etc. 
2 – Attributes which imply imperfection and shortcomings. These can never be ascribed to Allaah, such as sleeping, being unable, doing wrong or oppressing, betraying, etc. 
3 – Attributes which may be perfect or imperfect, depending on the context. These cannot be ascribed to Allaah in absolute terms, and they cannot be denied in the case of Allaah in absolute terms. If the context implies perfection then they can be ascribed to Allaah; if it implies imperfection then they cannot be ascribed to Allaah. Examples include: plotting, deceiving and mocking. 
Plotting against, betraying and mocking the enemy are attributes of perfection, because that is indicative of complete knowledge, power and might, and so on. 
But plotting against the sincere believers is an attribute of imperfection. 

Via Islamqa.com 


The General rules with regards to the Attributes (Sifaat) of Allah that should be observed and implemented are : 




Note: These rules are translated from the article of Shaykh al-Allamah Abu Yahya Noorpuri hafidhahullah titled " Asmaa o Sifaat ke Qawaid " or " Rules of the names and attributes of Allah" 


I have translated them into English by ensuring the passage is in accordance to the `Arabic text and have tried to use simple and sometimes when needed ; then extended words to explain to the readers. However the original meaning is kept intact. I have kept the addition of any extra footnotes or verses and ahadeeth for explanation to its minimal so as to not lengthen the article more than what it already has become .  And Allah is the source of strength and help 




Rule # 1 : To Affirm his attributes without distortion, denial , howness and  similarity



To affirm whatever Attributes Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has affirmed for himself in the Qur`an; and that which the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) has affirmed for Allah (subhanahu wa ta`la) without


1) tahreef (changing/distorting a Name and/or Attribute of Allaah to other than its true meaning, i.e. from Allaah to al-Laat, and al-'Azeez to al-'Uzzah);


2) ta'teel (denying some or all of Allaah's Names and Attributes);


3) takayif (questioning as to "how" (Allaah's Name or Attribute is), i.e. How does Allaah descend, etc.?);



4) tamtheel OR TASBEEH (to imply a similarity or likeness between Allaah's Names and Attributes and that of His creation).


[Ref: Aqeedatus salaf wa ashaabil Hadeeth of Imam Abu Uthman as-Sabooni (page 4); Majmoo` al-Fataawa of Ibn Taymiyyah 3/3; 4/182; 5/26; 6/38; 6/515] 

TN: This is very very important. Until and Unless you don't understand the above rule you will always have confusion in understanding the rest. So memorize this and understand the rules to remember when reading about the attributes of Allah. So when we say Allah has hands, we accept this without changing what Allah said , such as changing Hand to mean "power" . We accept this without denying (ta'teel) such as saying he does not have hands. We accept this without takayyif i.e asking how does he have hand or how does it function because this is beyound what human mind can comprehend. And finally we accept this attribute without tamtheel, i.e without even thinking or equating or making his (subhanahu wa ta`la's) hands similar to his creations hands (such as humans or etc) 



Rule # 2 : To Deny that which is denied and to affirm it's perfect opposite


To Deny, whatever Allaah has denied from Himself in His Book or upon the tongue of His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) along with affirming its perfect opposite for Allaah"



[Ref: العقيدة التدمرية لابن تيمية Page 58; Al-Jawab al-Saheeh Liman Baddala Deen al-Maseeh 3/139] 



For example Allaah has denied Dhulm from Himself so it means we not only deny it from Allaah but also affirm its perfect opposite attribute which `Adl (Justice). 

Likewise allah has denied the attribute of death for himself, so it is obligatory upon us to deny death for Allah but also compulsory to affirm it's perfect complete opposite attribute i.e " the eternal"  for Allah 


Rule # 3: To affirm only that which is affirmed by Allah and his Messenger and Deny that which was denied likewise


To believe that the attributes of Allah are tawqeefi (i.e a matter dependent on revealed texts and not derived opinions) and thus only those attributes will be affirmed for Allah which Allah affirmed for himself or which his Messenger (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) affirmed for Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala . 

Likewise only those attributes will be negated from Allah which Allah negated for himself or which the Messenger of Allah sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam negated for Allah 

[Ref: Majmoo` al-Fataawa 5/26] 


Rule # 4 : To refrain from using comprehensive or ambiguous terms in describing his attributes 


التوقف في الألفاظ المجملة التي لم يرد إثباتها ولا نفيها، أما معناها؛ فَيُسْتفصل عنه، فإن أريد به باطل يُنَزَّه الله عنه؛ رُدَّ، وإن أريد به حق لا يمتنع على الله؛ قُبِلَ، مع بيان ما يدلُّ على المعنى الصواب من الألفاظ الشرعية، والدعوة إلى استعماله مكان هذا اللفظ المجمل الحادث)


To refrain from using ambiguous (vague or general comprehensive terms without specification called Mujmal) words that cannot be (in itself) affirmed or negated in or for a meaning . As for their meaning, then clarification should be sought from the one who uses these words. If their intended meaning is something false - from which Allah is free - then they should be refuted/rejected but if their intended meaning is something which is the truth (as affirmed from Allah and his Messenger) then it should be accepted and along with this they should be advised about the legal terms designated in Islam that explain the attribute in an appropriate manner and should be encouraged to use these shari`i (legal) terms instead of the ambiguous or comprehensive (Mujmal) ones 

[Ref: العقيدة التدمرية لابن تيمية Page 65; Majmoo` al-Fataawa ibn Taymiyyah 5/299; 6/36] 

مثاله: لفظة (الجهة): نتوقف في إثباتها ونفيها، ونسأل قائلها: ماذا تعني بالجهة؟ فإن قال: أعني أنه في مكان يحويه قلنا: هذا معنى باطل يُنَزَّه الله عنه، ورددناه وإن قال: أعني جهة العلو المطلق؛ قُلْنا: هذا حق لا يمتنع على الله وقبلنا منه المعنى، وقلنا له: لكن الأولى أن تقول: هو في السماء، أو في العلو؛ كما وردت به الأدلة الصحيحة، وأما لفظة (جهة)؛ فهي مجملة حادثة، الأولى تركها. 


An example of this scenario would be the word (الجهة) " Jihat or direction " . We will refrain from using this term to describe the attribute of Allah. And as for those who use this term for the same, we will ask them what do they mean/intend with this term? If they say that they intend to mean a place/location/direction attributed to Allah then we say this is falsehood and we refute this term . 

But if the intended meaning was explained to mean elevation then we will say this meaning is true as Allah is elevated however we will simultaneously inform that instead of this Mujmal term, it is better to address this attribute of Allah by saying " He is above the heavens " and this is the right term to describe this attribute designated from the authentic evidences and thus refraining from using this mujmal term is better 


RULE # 5: To Affirm that every attribute is in accordance to rationality


To affirm that

كل صفة ثبتت بالنقل الصحيح؛ وافقت العقل الصريح، ولابد

 Every attribute (of Allah) that is authentically proven from the Islamic texts is also in confirmation or in clear accordance with the human intellect (`aql and not contradictory as some claim. ) 

[Ref: Mukhtasar as-sawaaiq al-Mursalah `Alal Jahmiyyah by Ibn Qayyim 1/141; 253] 

For example , some say that the affirmation of Allah ascending the throne is logically incorrect and has to be metaphorical in meaning. However this allegation is false and has been proven so since centuries. 

Rule # 6: To abstain from delving into the Howness of Allah's attributes


To abide by the rule that one must abstain from delving into the howness of Allah's attributes (such as how he ascended , how he descends, etc) 

[Ref: Minhaj wa daraasat Li-Ayaatil Asmaa was-sifaat of ash-shanqiti (page 26)] 

Because Allah says in the Qur`an "but they do not encompass it in knowledge. " [Qur`an 20:110] 


Rule # 7: To explain the attributes in detail but negate in a comprehensive manner


To explain in detail whenever an attribute is affirmed towards Allah but when it comes to negating an attribute, then it should be done in a comprehensive manner 

[Ref: Majmoo` al-Fataawa Ibn Taymiyyah 6/37; 515] 


An e.g regarding the Attribute of Allah which are being affirmed and should be explained in detail is what has preceeded under Rule # 4. Such as describing the Uluw or elevation or aboveness of Allah one should be specific and detailed in explaining the attribute of allah's highness. However with regards to negating something one should be comprehensive such as how Allah himself negates any resemblance to him in a comprehensive manner as he said :  

" And there is none/nothing like him " [Qur`an 42:11 ] 


Rule # 8: To affirm that every name of Allah expounds on an attribute but not every attribute expounds or gives a name 


Every name that is authentically proven to be among the names of Allah has a mention of or expounds on some or the other attribute of Allah but the opposite is not true (meaning but this is not the case in Sifaat (attributes) as not every attribute expounds on some or the other name of Allah) 

[Ref: القواعد المثلى في صفات الله و أسمائه الحسنى  - Al-Qawaid ul-Muthla fis-sifaatillah wa Asmaaul-Husnaa by Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullah page 30 and Bada`i wal-Fawaid ibn Qayyim 1/162] 


An example of this rule can be explained by illustrating how in the Names of Allah such as Rahmaan (Merciful), we find the attribute of Mercy, Likewise in his name Al-Kareem (Generous) we have the attribute of Karam (Generosity). 

But if we take the attribute such as Istiwaa (ascension - used in the quranic verse he ascended or rose over his throne - istiwaa `alal arsh)  ; we cannot use this attribute to form a name of Allah such as Al-Mustawi (the one who ascends or ascended). This is not allowed and not permissible or possible.  [See rule # 3 above ] 


Rule # 9 : To affirm that all the attributes of Allah are free from any flaw whatsoever and perfect


All the attributes of Allah subhanahu wa ta`la are perfect and there is no flaw found in them whatsoever 


[Ref: Majmoo` al-Fataawa Li-Ibn Taymiyyah 5/206; Mukhtasar as-sawaaiq al-Mursalah 1/232 ; Bida`i al-Fawaid li-Ibn Qayyim (1/168)] 


Rule #10 : Allah's attributes that exhibit his actions or deeds are unlimited 


Allah's attributes are both in his essence and in His action ( Arabic fi`il). And those attributes which exhibit action or deed are to do with the action of Allah and we know that the action of Allah is unlimited (i.e cannot be contained or measured or restricted)


[Ref: Al-Qawaid ul-Muthla fis-sifaatillah wa Asmaaul-Husnaa by Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen rahimahullah page 30] 


For example Al-Hayy (the Ever-Living) and al-Qayyoom (the Self-Sustaining). 

Al Hayy shows that He is completely alive and  al-Qayyoom shows that He sustains Himself, and He sustains and cares for the people of heaven and earth. He controls their affairs and provides for them. Thus the name al-Hayy encompasses all the qualities of His essence and the name al-Qayyoom encompasses all the qualities of His deeds.

Qudrah (capacity) is another fi`li sifaat and Allah's capacity has no bounds 


Allah says " Allah does whatever he wishes [Qur`an 14:27] 




Rule # 11 : Three ways from which an Attribute is known


The ways from which the Attributes of Allah are proven (or known) from the Qur`an and sunnah are 

(i) One that it is clearly mentioned (or shown that such and such is the attribute of Allah)


Such as Mercy , Capacity, Hands, Fingers, etc these are clearly mentioned and Known in the Qur`an and sunnah to be the attributes of Allah 


(ii) Second - It is proven or known from one of the (known) names of Allah 


As stated in Rule # 8 above, The Names of Allah always expounds on some or the other attribute, and as an example in this case his Name " Al-Baseer (the all seeing)" . From this name we understand that "Seeing" is an attribute of Allah as well.  Likewise his Name "As-Samee (the All hearing)" shows that "Hearing" is an attribute of Allah as well. 


(iii) Third : It is known from one of his actions or a description 


Such as the verse : "Ar-Rahmaan rose (Istiwaa) over the Throne." shows that ascension/rising (Istiwaa) is an attribute . Likewise , We shall exact retribution (Intiqaam) from the Mujrimoon." (as-Sajdah 32:22) shows that Intiqaam(retribution) is as attribute too 


[Ref: Majmoo` al-Fatawa 6/143; 229; 35/273] 



Rule # 12 : Seeking refuge and Oath with the Attributes 



One may seek refuge with Allaah, the Might and Magnificent's, attributes and swear an oath by them


From this is his, (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallaam's), saying, "I seek refuge of Your Pleasure from Your Wrath, and from Your granting safety from Your punishment ..." reported by Muslim (no. 486), and therefore al-Bukhaaree named a chapter heading in the Book of Oaths and Vows, "Chapter: Swearing an Oath by the Might of Allaah and His Attributes and His Words."



Rule # 13 : Speech regarding the attributes of Allah is like the speech regarding his Essence or His self 



Speech regarding the attributes of Allah is like the speech regarding his Essence or His self 


[Ref: Al-Kalaam `alas-Sifaat of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee, p. 20, Al-Hujjah fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah of al-Asbahaanee, 1/173, At-Tadmuriyyah (p. 43) and Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/330 and 6/355.] 


The meaning of this statement can be explained by saying that just like how the essence of Allah is real yet his essence cannot be compared to that of his creations. Likewise even for attributes we say that his attributes are established and real but his attributes cannot be compared to the attributes of his creations 


Also just as establishing his essence is a proof establishing his existence and not a proof for "howness"  (as in How allah exists ) likewise while establishing his Attributes we do not establish howness (i.e how does allah have hands or how is his hand and etc)



Rule # 14 : Affirming all of his attributes 


The understanding regarding some attributes of Allah is  the same understanding concerning the rest of them (i.e the attributes)


[Ref: At-Tadmuriyyah, p. 31 and Majmoo` al-Fataawaa, 5/212.]


Meaning that If someone affirms the attributes such as Baseer (Seeing), Samee` (Hearing) , Iraada (Will) he SHOULD ALSO affirm the remaining attributes such as Allah's love , or Allah's Anger and Allah's displeasure and so on. 


He cannot affirm some and reject the others. And about this context, Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said: 


And whoever differentiates between one attribute and another, despite their being the same with regard to the reasons for their being haqeeqah (true, real, having a reality) or majaaz (metaphorical, figurative) - then he is contradicting himself, erroneous in his position, resembling those who believed in a part of the Book and disbelieved in other parts. [Taken from the translation of Dawood Burbank to facilitate a proper translation] 


[Ref: Majmoo` al-Fatawa 5/212] 



Rule # 15 : Attributing something to him may not necessarily be his sifat



Whatever is attributed towards Allah subhanahu wa ta`la and it is not separate from him (Allah) then it is his attribute (sifat) and not his makhlooq (creation) such as Allah's hearing is attributed to him as well as a part of him. Allah's seeing, Allah's being pleased with and Allah's anger. 

Whatever is attributed to Allah but is separate from him or not a part of himself then it is  his creation . For example Batiullah (the house of allah); the she camel of allah (as it comes in the qur'an). These are attributed towards Allah but are not a part of himself so these are his creations and not his attributes. 

Because it is not mandatory that everything that is attributed to Allah is also necessarily his sifat 

[Ref: Al-Jawaab as-saheeh (3/145); Majmoo` al-fatawa (9/209); Majmoo` al-fataawa wa rasail Ibn Uthaymeen (1/166)]




Rule # 16 : Allah's attributes are proven from an authentic single or ahad narration as well


The attributes of Allah `azza wa jall and the matters of doctrine (`Aqeedah) are established with what is (authentically) proven from the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) even if it was a single hadeeth or if it was an ahad hadeeth [1] 

[Ref: Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iqul-Mursalah, 2/332, 412 and 43.] 


[1] TN : The authority of khabarul wahid : http://fahmalhadeeth.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-authority-of-khabar-wahid-and.html



Rule # 17 : Allah's attributes are taken on its apparent and not metaphorically

The meanings of the attributes of Allah which are established from the Qur'an and sunnah are known. and it is explained in its apparent sense and metaphorically or figuratively explanations never are entered into it but as for its howness then it is unknown

[Ref: At-Tadmuriyyah, pp. 43-44, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/36-42, Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iqul-Mursalah, 1/238 and 2/106.] 


Rule # 18 : A believer is to believe in the attributes even if he doesn't understand its meaning 

"Whatever (of the attributes of Allah) comes in the Book and the Sunnah, then it is binding upon every Believer to hold what it entails as his saying and to believe in it, even if he does not understand its meaning."

[Ref: At-Tadmuriyyah, p. 65, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/295 and Daqaa'qut-Tafseer, 5/245.] 


Rule # 19 : Not every statement of knowledge about allah is to be restricted upon divine texts 


The source of knowledge about Allah (and his actions) is far more than merely the chapter of attributes and this (type of understanding about Allah) does not obligate the usage of tawqeefi (revealed) texts only (to describe it) such as (saying that Allah is) always existing (or that Allah is) a thing, or (that Allah) exists [1] 

[Ref: Badaa'I'ul-Fawaa'id if Ibnul-Qayyim, 1/162] 

[1] Meaning that some attributes of Allah such as he was always existing may be said without even depending on a tawqeefi or a divine revealed text as in the case of other issues such as saying Allah's hands or Allah's fingers. For these types of attributes we need to rely on tawqeefi texts . But for saying he " exists " we don't have to necessarily depend on a divine text


Rule # 20 : Allah's attributes are not analogized 

"No analogy is made regarding the attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent"

[Ref: Sha'nud-Du'aa of al-Khattaabee, p. 111.] 


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