09-11-2005, 10:06 PM
The speech of Allah Part 1Reply
Call to Islam Research
The detailed discussions of the Qur`aan as the Speech (kalaam) of Allaah are typically not found in the books of 'uloom al-Qur`aan, but rather in the books of 'aqeedah (faith). However, it was felt that this topic deserved greater attention in this work for a number of reasons: Firstly, due to the importance of this topic, since it deals with some of the Characteristics (sifaat) of Allaah, and of the Qur`aan; secondly, this topic has been the subject of great controversy during the history of Islaam, and great scholars have been persecuted because of it, therefore it deserves some discussion and elaboration; thirdly, there still exist incorrect concepts and ideas concerning the meaning of the kalaam of Allaah, primarily amongst innovated sects which claim to be in the fold of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa'ah ; and, lastly, there does not exist any discussion of this topic in English.
Before discussing the Qur`aan in particular as the kalaam of Allaah, it is necessary to understand the concept of the kalaam of Allaah.
I. THE CONCEPT OF THE KALAAM OF ALLAAH
The topic of the kalaam of Allaah deals with one of the Attributes that Allaah has described Himself with, namely, that of Speech (kalaam). When dealing with the topic of the Names and Attributes of Allaah, two basic principles must be understood.
The first principle is that Allaah has described Himself with the Best and Most Perfect Names and Attributes; Names and Attributes of Beauty, Majesty, Grandeur, Perfection and Excellence; in other words, all Names and Attributes that befit Him. Allaah says in the Qur`aan, "And to Allaah belongs (all) the Most Beautiful Names, so call on Him with them" (7:180). In addition to affirming these Names and Attributes, Allaah has also negated all attributes of imperfection from Himself, such as sleep and tiredness (2:255), forgetfulness and error (20:52) and other attributes that do not befit His Glory.
The second principle is that Allaah's Names and Attributes are Unique, and do not resemble the attributes of His creation. Allaah says, "There is nothing that is similar to Him, and He is the All-Hearer, All-Seer" (42:11). Therefore, since Allaah's Attributes are unique, it is not possible for mankind to understand the exact nature of Allaah's Names and Attributes, even though it is possible to understand the concept that any Name or Attribute refers to. For example, Allaah has described Himself in the Qur`aan as al-Hayy, which means, 'The Ever-Living.' Mankind understands that Allaah is Ever-Living; that He was always with life, and will always be with life. He also understands that, even though he himself is 'alive' (hayy), the life that he has is very different from the one that Allaah describes Himself as having, for man's life was given to him, and it shall be taken away from him, in contrast to the characteristic of life that Allaah describes Himself with. In addition, man does not have the power to create life, unlike Allaah. So man has the characteristic of life, and Allaah describes Himself as having the characteristic of Life, but the actuality of the two characteristics differ as much as man differs from the Creator. Therefore, mankind understands the concept of Allaah's name al-Hayy, but can never understand the actuality of it. The same analogy applies for the other Names and Attributes of Allaah.
It is essential, therefore, when dealing with the Names and Attributes of Allaah, not to deny or distort the meanings of these Names and Attributes, since Allaah has described Himself with these Names and Attributes. Likewise, it is not allowed to try to make these attributes similar to those of the Creation, nor try to delve into the 'how-ness' of His Attributes, since the attributes of the creation are imperfect, whereas the Attributes of Allaah are Perfect and Unique. With these two basic principles in mind, we now proceed to the concept of the kalaam of Allaah.
Allaah, all Praise and Glory be to Him, has described Himself as having the Characteristic of kalaam in over two dozen verses in the Qur`aan. Amongst these verses are the following: "And Allaah spoke directly (kallama) to Moosaa" (4:164); "And the Word (kalaam) of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and justice" (6:115); "Say, 'If the oceans were ink wherewith to write the kalaam of my Lord, the oceans would be exhausted before the kalaam of my Lord would finish, even if We brought (another ocean) like it for its aid,'" (16:109) "And the Word of Allaah (kalima) is the uppermost" (9:40), and, "(It will be said to the people in the Heavens) 'Peace be on you,' a Word from a Lord who is Most Merciful" (36:58).
Therefore, we affirm what Allaah has affirmed for Himself, namely, that He Speaks when He wishes, and to whomever He wishes. As Allaah says, "These are the prophets, some of them We have honoured and blessed over others, (and) some of them Allaah spoke to" (2:253).
In addition, the kalaam of Allaah is heard by His creation, and consists of words and letters. The fact that the kalaam of Allaah can be heard is clearly proven in the Qur`aan and sunnah. For example, in the story of Moosaa, the Qur`aan mentions that Allaah spoke to Moosaa and addressed him: "And when he (Moosaa) came (to the fire), he was called, 'O Moosaa, Verily, I am your Lord...and I have chosen you, therefore listen to that which is inspired to you'"(20:12). In another verse, the Qur`aan says, "Have you heard the story of Moosaa? When his Lord called him in the sacred valley of Toowa"(79:15-16). These verses are clear that Allaah spoke to Moosaa and Moosaa heard this speech. The Prophet (e) also described a meeting between Adam and Moosaa, in which Adam asked Moosaa, "Are you the one whom Allaah spoke to, from behind a veil, and there was no interpreter between you, nor was their any messenger?" Moosaa answered, "Yes." The hadeeth is explicit in that Allaah's kalaam to Moosaa was without any intermediary. In another authentic hadeeth, the Prophet (e) clearly stated that Allaah's kalaam is with sound, for he said, "When Allaah decrees a matter in the skies, the angels move their wings in humility for His speech, which sounds like a chain over a rock..." In this hadeeth, the Prophet (e) gave a description of the sound of the kalaam of Allaah, which clearly proves that Allaah's kalaam is with sound.
This was also the belief of the salaf. Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) was asked by his son Abdullaah (d. 290 A.H.), "When Allaah spoke to Moosa, did He speak with a sound (that was heard by Moosaa)?" Imaam Ahmad answered, "Yes, indeed! Your Lord speaks with sound, and all of these hadeeth (of the kalaam of Allaah), we narrate them as we heard them." Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d. 256 A.H.) narrated in his book al-Adab al-Mufrad the hadeeth of the Prophet (e) referring to the Day of Judgement, and the reckoning that will occur, and in it is: "...and their Lord will call them with a voice, the one who is close can hear it just as the one who is far can, and He will say, 'I am the King...'". After narrating the entire hadeeth, which is also explicit in the fact that Allaah speaks in a kalaam that can be heard, Imaam al-Bukhaaree said, "Allaah, all Praise and Glory be to Him, speaks with sound. Those who are close can hear it just as those who are far can, and this is only so for Allaah. And in this is proof that the sound of Allaah does not resemble the sound of mankind."
It is, of course, essential to keep in mind that the Speech of Allaah does not resemble that of His creation, and therefore it is impermissible to ask how Allaah speaks, for Allaah says, "There is nothing similar to Him, and He is the All-Hearer, All-Seer"(42:11).
The fact that the kalaam of Allaah consists of words and letters is something that does not require proof, and can be seen even by the most ignorant person. The Qur`aan (and it is part of the kalaam of Allaah, as shall be proven in the next section) consist of words and letters. For example, every Muslim knows that the verse, "Qul hoowa Allaahu ahad" (112:1) consists of four words, each word of which consists of a number of letters. It therefore follows that the kalaam of Allaah consists of words and letters. The Prophet (e) himself mentioned that the Qur`aan is composed of words and letters, for he (e) stated, "Whoever recites one word from the Book of Allaah will have ten rewards. And I do not say the Alif Laam Meem is (counted as) a word, but rather Alif is a word, and Laam is a word, and Meem is a word." Therefore, the Prophet (e) divided the Qur`aan into words and letters.
The kalaam of Allaah is not limited to the Arabic language. Allaah revealed the Torah and the Injeel, in Hebrew, and this was also a part of His kalaam. As Imaam ad-Daarimee (d. 288 A.H.) wrote, concerning those who deny this concept, "Woe to you! Verily...Allaah is knowledgeable of all languages, and He speaks in whichever language He wishes. If He wishes, He speaks in Arabic, and if He wishes, in Hebrew, and if He wishes, in Syriac, so He has made the Qur`aan His kalaam in Arabic, and the Torah and `Injeel in His kalaam in Hebrew, since He has sent the prophets with the language of their peoples." In other words, just as Allaah has sent every prophet to preach in the language of his nation, the kalaam of Allaah to any nation (when Allaah revealed a Book to that nations) was also in its language.
Another characteristic of the kalaam of Allaah is that it is uncreated. There are clear proofs from the Qur`aan, the sunnah, the statements of the salaf, and clear logic for this belief.
The Qur`aan says, "Verily to Him (Allaah) belongs the Creation and the Command" (7:54). In this verse, Allaah differentiates between the creation, which includes the world and all that is in it, and between the Command, which is His Speech. The Speech is in fact the cause of the creation, as Allaah says, "Verily, Our Word unto a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: 'Be!'- and it is" (16:40). Therefore the Speech of Allaah, by the Will of Allaah, is the cause of the creation, so it cannot be created, for if it were created, it would mean that a created characteristic has itself created another object, and this is not possible! In other words, a created object does not have the ability to create another object; only the Creator has this ability. Sufyaan ibn 'Uyaynah (d. 198 A.H.) said, "He has lied (who says that the Qur'aan is created)! Allaah has stated, "To Him belongs the Creation and the Command," so the creation is the creation of Allaah, and His Command is the Qur`aan." Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) also used this verse to prove that the kalaam of Allaah is not created.
The Prophet (e) said, "Whoever dismounts at any place, and says, 'I seek refuge in the kalimaat of Allaah from the evil that is created,' nothing will harm him until he moves from his stop." This hadeeth also proves that the kalaam of Allaah is not created, since the Prophet (e) commanded the believers to seek refuge in the kalaam of Allaah from all types of evil. Refuge can only be sought from the Creator (and His Attributes), and not from the creation. Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d. 256 A.H.) stated, "In this hadeeth is proof that the kalaam of Allaah is not created," and his teacher, Nu'aym ibn Hammaad (d. 228 A.H.), stated, "It is not permissible to seek refuge in the created, nor in the speech of men, jinn or angels."
In other words, the very fact that a person seeks refuge in the kalaam of Allaah proves that it is an uncreated Attribute of Allaah, for it is not allowed to seek refuge in a created object.
A simple logical proof that the kalaam of Allaah is not created is as follows: If the kalaam of Allaah were created, it would mean that one of Allaah's attributes (that of speech) had a beginning, yet Allaah's attributes do not change with time, for the Qur'aan says, "He is the First (i.e., there is nothing before Him), and He is the Last (i.e., there is nothing after Him)..."(57:3), and His attributes are a part of Him. The kalaam of Allaah is an Attribute of Allaah, and all of Allaah's attributes are eternal and uncreated.
09-11-2005, 10:07 PM
The Speech of Allah Part 2Reply
Call to Islam Research
In the last section, certain characteristics of the kalaam of Allaah were discussed. In this section, it shall be proven that the Qur`aan is a part of the kalaam of Allaah. It therefore has the same characteristics that the kalaam of Allaah has. Some narrations of the earlier scholars have already been mentioned concerning the fact that the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah. However, in this section, this topic will be discussed in greater detail, along with a brief history of the deviations that have occurred with regards to this belief.
The proof that the Qur`aan in particular is the kalaam of Allaah is that Allaah Himself has referred to it as His kalaam. For example, Allaah says, "And if any of the idolaters seeks your protection, then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word (kalaam) of Allaah..."(9:6), meaning until they hear the Qur`aan. The Prophet (e) also said, "Verily, the Quraysh have prevented me from spreading the Word (kalaam) of my Lord," meaning that they prevented him from spreading the Qur`aan. The Prophet (e) also said in reference to the Qur`aan, "The superiority of the kalaam of Allaah over all other kalaam is (like) the superiority of Allaah over His Creation."
The belief that the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah was the belief of all of the Companions, and the belief of the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa'ah after them. Hundreds of statements from the scholars of the first three generations exist concerning the fact that the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, and is characterised by the same characteristics as the kalaam of Allaah. In fact, no group amongst Muslims actually denied that the Qur`aan was the kalaam of Allaah; they only differed concerning the characteristics of this kalaam.
As was proven in the last section, the kalaam of Allaah is not created. This, of course, implies that the Qur`aan is not created either. Ibn Abbaas, in explaining the verse, "A Qur`aan without any crookedness" (39:27), said, "This means that the Qur`aan is not created." 'Amr ibn Deenar (d. 126 A.H.) stated, "I have met the Companions of the Prophet (e), and those that came after them for seventy years, all of them said, 'Allaah is the Creator, and everything besides Him is created, and the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, from Him it came, and to Him it will return." Imaam Aboo Haneefah (d. 150 A.H.) wrote in his Fiqh al-Akbar, "The Qur`aan is the speech (kalaam) of Allaah, written in the mushafs, preserved in the hearts, recited by the tongues, and revealed to the Prophet (e)," and in another place he mentions that, "...the Qur`aan is not created." Imaam Maalik (d. 179 A.H.) was asked concerning one who says that the Qur`aan is created, what should be done to him? He replied, "He should be forced to repent, and if he refuses, then his head should be cut off!" Imaam as-Shaafi'ee (d. 204 A.H.) stated, "Whoever states that the Qur`aan is created is a disbeliever." Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) stated, "It has been narrated from many of our salaf that they used to say, 'The Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, and it is not created.' This is also what I believe, and I am not a person of philosophy, nor do I think that philosophy plays a part in any (of our beliefs). The only (source) is the Qur`aan, or the hadeeth of the Prophet (e), or a statement of the Companions or Successors. As for anything besides these (sources), then all of it is not praiseworthy." Imaam at-Tahaawee, in his famous Aqeedah at-Tahaaweeyah, wrote:
The Qur`aan is the Speech (kalaam) of Allaah. It originated from Him as an articulated speech in a manner that is not questioned and was revealed to His Prophet (e) by inspiration. The Believers testify to its revelation. They are certain that it is the actual kalaam of Allaah, not created, unlike the speech of humans. Whoever hears it and thinks it is the speech of a man is a disbeliever whom Allaah has condemned and threatened with the Fire of Hell, for Allaah says, "I will burn him in the Hell-Fire" (74:26) to him who said, "This (the Qur`aan) is nothing but the words of a mortal" (74:25). (By these verses) we know and are certain that this (the Qur`aan) is the kalaam of the Creator of humans, and it does not resemble the speech of mankind.
The narrations from the salaf concerning the fact that the Qur`aan is not created has reached and far exceeded the level of muttawaatir, and this is a fact that no one can deny. To give one example alone, the great scholar of the sunnah, Aboo al-Qaasim Hibatullaah ibn Hassan al-Lalikaa`ee (d. 418 A.H.) transmitted reports from over five-hundred and fifty scholars of the salaf, all of whom stated the same fact: "The Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, not created, and whoever states that it is created is a disbeliever." After naming all of these scholars, Imaam al-Lalikaa`ee wrote,
So these are five-hundred and fifty scholars or more, from the Successors, and the generation after them, and the scholars whom the ummah has accepted and are well-pleased with, not including the Companions, from all different places and generations. And of these are over a hundred who were Imaams, those whom the people used to follow their opinions and madh-habs. And were I to busy myself with compiling the names of the modern scholars (on top of these names), then the number of names would have reached the thousands... instead, I restricted myself to transmissions from these (named scholars); from generation to generation, no one refuted or contradicted them, and whoever did so, they were forced to repent, or they were commanded to be killed or banished... The first person to claim that the Qur`aan was created was a person by the name of Ja'ad ibn Dirham (d. 124 A.H.). Ja'ad was one of the leaders of innovation of his time, denying most of the attributes of Allaah, including that of kalaam. He was executed by the governor of his time for holding this and other heretical beliefs. However, his student, Jahm ibn Safwaan (d. 128 A.H.), was able to spread his ideas to a much greater extent, and it is after him the group known as the Jahmiyyah emerged. This group was considered by the scholars of Islaam to be outside the fold of Islaam for their heretical beliefs. The Jahmiyyah claimed, amongst other things, that the kalaam of Allaah (and thus the Qur`aan) was created.
Less than a century later, Ahmad ibn Abee Du`aad (d. 240), one of the callers to the belief of the Jahmiyyah, succeeded in converting the Abbaasid Caliph Ma`moon (during the year 218 A.H.) to this ideology. Ma`moon then used his power as the Khaleefah to begin a relentless persecution of the scholars of his time, forcing many of them to renounce the belief of the salaf, and claim that the Qur`aan was created. The most prominent scholars from all over the Muslim lands were ordered to publicly proclaim this ideology. Those that refused were brutally tortured. Only a few brave scholars, led by Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.), managed to last through this torture without relenting. Imaam Ahmad was jailed for a number of years, and beaten and whipped so severely that doctors pronounced him on the verge of death. This was one of the greatest trials to ever inflict the Muslim ummah, and it was only during the Caliphate of Muttawakil ( during the year 247 A.H.) when orthodoxy was finally redeemed.
During this period, due to the great controversy that was generated over this issue, three different groups - besides the Ahl as-Sunnah - evolved with regards to the belief of the eternal nature of the Qur`aan.
The first group, comprised of the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah claimed that the Qur`aan was created. It was this group that temporarily gained popularity among the people, and due to the power of the Caliph Ma`moon, many scholars were forced to verbally agree with them.
The second group were known as the Waaqifiyyah. This group did not give an explicit opinion on this issue, and said, "We do not say it is created, nor do we say that it is not created." It should be pointed out that the Waaqifiyyah were not ignorant of the status of the Qur`aan, but rather had studied the evidences, and had come to the conclusion that it was unclear whether the Qur`aan was created or not. Since the proofs of the eternal nature of the kalaam of Allaah were so clear, and the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah united on this issue, the innovation of the Waaqifiyyah was a new innovation, and thus the scholars of their time were very severe in the refutation of this group. One of the salaf was asked concerning this group, and he replied, "The Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, and it is not created. And can it be other than this? Or can anyone say other than this? We can never have any doubts about it, ever!!" And Imaam Ahmad (d. 241 A.H.) said, "As for the Waaqifiyyah, then be in no doubt of their disbelief!"
The last group that formed during this time were the Lafdhiyyah. They claimed that the Qur`aan was the kalaam of Allaah, and that it was not created, but the recitation of the reciter of the Qur`aan was created. The scholars of Islaam declared that the investigation into this matter was not praiseworthy, since the statement, "My recitation of the Qur`aan is created," can have two meanings, one of which is correct, and the other incorrect. The incorrect meaning, which is what most of the Lafdhiyyah intended, is that the actual recitation, meaning the Qur`aan, is created, and thus the Lafdhiyyah agreed with the Jahmiyyah. However, if the person intended that the sound expelled by the reciter of the Qur`aan was created, then this is a correct meaning, since the voice is created, but the actual recitation (i.e., what is recited) is not. Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.) said, concerning the above three groups, "The Jahmiyyah are of three types: One group of them says that the Qur`aan is created; another says that it is the kalaam of Allaah, and stop at that; and the third say, 'Our recitation of the Qur`aan is created.' For me, these three groups have the same status (in another narration, he added:) and all of them are of the Jahmiyyah, disbelievers. They should be forced to repent, and if they do not do so, then they should be killed!"
After this period, different groups evolved, the most prominent amongst them that of the Ash'arees. Since this group is still present to this day, it will be discussed in greater detail than the other groups
09-11-2005, 10:09 PM
The Speech of Allah Part 3Reply
Call to Islam Research
The Ash'arees are a group that take their 'aqeedah, and their name, from the teachings of Aboo al-Hasan Alee ibn Isma'eel al-Ash'aree (d. 324 A.H.).
With regards to the kalaam of Allaah, the Ash'arees brought forth an 'aqeedah that was unknown to the salaf. They claimed that Allaah does posses the Attribute of Speech, and that the Qur`aan was the kalaam of Allaah, and in this they agreed with the Ahl as-Sunnah. However, they explained this attribute in a unique way, for they claimed that Allaah's kalaam was an 'internal' kalaam - a kalaam that could not be heard by anyone. They equated it with the concept of thinking, and stated that, just as the thoughts of men are a type of speech that cannot be heard, likewise the kalaam of Allaah is an internal speech that cannot be heard. Therefore, they claimed that Allaah does not speak with sound, and that his kalaam does not consist of words or letters. They further stated that Allaah's kalaam is not related to His Will; in other words, according to the Ash'arees, Allaah is continually speaking, and will always be speaking - He does not speak when He wishes. They further claimed that the kalaam of Allaah is in fact one meaning, and cannot be divided into parts. This led them to claim that the Torah, Injeel and Qur`aan are all in fact 'expressions' of the same kalaam, but the actual kalaam of Allaah is without any language, and is of the same meaning. Therefore, according to them, the essence of the Torah, the Injeel and the Qur`aan is the same. Since they claimed that Allaah's kalaam is an internal kalaam, they then followed up this principle by stating that the actual text of the Qur`aan is created, but the kalaam of Allaah is not. The Arabic Qur`aan, according to the Ash'arees, is not the actual kalaam of Allaah, but rather an 'expression' of the kalaam of Allaah.
Imam Aboo Haamid al-Ghazaalee (d. 505 A.H.), one of the leaders and expounders of this 'aqeedah, wrote, "Allaah speaks without words, sounds and letters...and His Speech is the Speech of the mind (i.e., internal speech). Just as the speech of the mind has no sound or words, so His Speech has no sound or words."
The primary principle that led the Ash'arees to distort many of Allaah's Names and Attributes is that they wished to remove all resemblance between Allaah's Names and Attributes, and between those of the creation. This principle, which in essence is correct, was taken by the Ash'arees to an extreme. They used their intellect and logic to decide which of Allaah's Names and Attributes gave some type of resemblance, or anthropomorphic qualities, and those Names and Attributes which did not. Based on this classification, they then interpreted those Names and Attributes which they felt gave anthropomorphic qualities contrary to their literal, understood meanings, thinking that by doing this they were removing any fear of resemblance between Allaah and His creation. In reality, their over-zealousness to free the Names and Attributes of Allaah from resembling those of His creation led them to deny and distort many of His Names and Attributes. They used their intellect as the criterion to understand Allaah's Names and Attributes. Whatever they felt was not befitting to Allaah, even if Allaah Himself had affirmed it, they interpreted until it satisfied their intellect.
As Aboo Haamid al-Ghazaalee, wrote, "All that is found in the traditions (the Qur`aan and sunnah) (concerning the attributes of Allaah) is examined. Then, if the intellect can agree with it, it becomes obligatory to believe in it...But as for those (attributes) which are deemed by the intellect to be impossible, then it becomes obligatory to interpret what has been found in the traditions (the Qur`aan and sunnah), for it is not imaginable that the traditions will contain something that contradicts the intellect. As for the hadeeth which contain characteristics of resemblance (of Allaah between His creation), then most of them are not authentic, and those that are authentic are not explicit, but rather can be interpreted."
Therefore, they took their intellect to be their criterion to accept and understand the Attributes of Allaah, so whatever their intellect agreed with, they accepted, and whatever their intellect could not understand, they rejected or re-interpreted. And had they believed in them, without asking, "How?" or "Why?" it would have been better for them. However, they neglected a very crucial point, and that is that Allaah, all Glory be to Him, is more aware of His Names and Attributes than His creation is, and Allaah is more eloquent than any of His creation is. Therefore, it is not appropriate to re-interpret any Name or Attribute that Allaah (or the Prophet (e)) has described Himself with, merely because our minds cannot comprehend the actuality of an Attribute. They also neglected the fact that it is not possible to compare Allaah's Attributes and to try to understand them by making analogies with the attributes of the creation. Imaam al-Barbahaaree (d. 329), one of the scholars of the salaf, said: May Allaah have mercy upon you! Know that speculative speech about the Lord, the Most High, is a newly invented matter, and is an innovation and misguidance. Nothing is to be said about the Lord except what He has described Himself with in the Qur`aan, and what the Messenger of Allaah (e) explained to the Companions...No one says about the attributes of Allaah, "How?" or "Why?" except one who has doubts about Allaah. The Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, His Revelation and Light...
Yet, the Ash'arees delved into concepts that could not be understood by men, and tried to reason the actuality of the Attributes of Allaah.
To illustrate this example, with regards to the attribute of kalaam, the Ash'arees reasoned that the one who speaks must speak with sound and breath, and these are created. In addition, they argued that speech must come from a combination of organs, such as the tongue, throat and mouth, but Allaah is free of these. They also reasoned that words, composed of letters, can never be eternal, since one letter follows another, and has a specific place in each word. Therefore, since each letter is sequential, following the one before it, it cannot have existed from eternity. Therefore, according to them, it was not possible for Allaah's kalaam to be with sound, or for Allaah's kalaam to be composed of words and letters, for if it were, it would be created.
It can be seen, then, that the Ash'arees used their logic to distort clear, explicit concepts in the Qur`aan and sunnah, by first comparing the Attributes of Allaah to those of the creation, and then reasoning that, since Allaah is not like His creation, these Attributes must have a different meaning. Had they only understood that Allaah is Unique, and there is nothing similar to Him, and that it is not possible to understand Allaah's Attributes by comparing them to those of the creation, it would have saved them from falling into the error of denying these Attributes.
As for their belief that the kalaam of Allaah is without sound, this contradicts the proofs that were given in the previous section from the Qur`aan, sunnah and statements of the salaf. The presumption that sound must come from organs is a presumption based upon the characteristics of humans. Therefore, it is not necessarily true for all objects. Allaah, all Glory and Praise be to Him, has made the Heavens and the Earth speak, for they responded to His Command and "said, 'We come, willingly!'" (41:12), and Allaah, all Glory and Praise be to Him, will make the skins of the disbelievers speak on the Day of Judgement, "And they (the disbelievers) will say, 'Why did you (our skins) testify against us?' They will say, 'Allaah has caused us to speak, as He causes all things to speak...'" (41:21). Allaah caused these objects to speak, yet these objects do not have the organs that humans need to speak. Is not Allaah, the one who created all things, capable of speaking as He wishes? Imaam Ahmad (d. 241 A.H.) stated, "As for their claim (meaning the claim of the Jahmiyyah, which was later taken by the Ash'arees) that sound can only occur from a combination of the throat, and lips, and tongue, then did not Allaah say to the Heavens and Earth "'Come willingly or unwillingly!' They both said, 'We come, willingly!'" (41:12). And did not Allaah say, "And We subjected the mountains and the birds to glorify Our praises, along with (Prophet) Dawood" (21:79). Do these people presume that they (i.e., the mountains, the Heavens and the Earth) glorified with a throat, and lips, and tongues?! And how about when a disbeliever's limbs will testify against him... Do you think that they will testify with throats, lips and tongues?! Nay, rather Allaah will make them to speak, as He wishes, without any throat or lips or tongues!"
Therefore, to claim that if the kalaam of Allaah were with sound, it would entail giving these characteristics to the Creator, cannot be accepted, for it is an analogy of Allaah with man, and this is improper. Abdullaah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 290 A.H.) said, "My father (Imaam Ahmad) said, 'The hadeeth of Ibn Mas'ood states that when Allaah Speaks, a sound is heard which sounds like (the moving of) a chain over a rock. And this (hadeeth) is denied by the Jahmiyyah. These people are disbelievers, they wish to cause confusion and deceive the people. Whoever presumes that Allaah does not Speak is a disbeliever! Verily, we will continue to narrate these hadeeth as they came to us!" In this narration, Imaam Ahmad is stating that any person who denies the fact that Allaah speaks with a sound is of the Jahmiyyah. In another narration, Abdullaah said, "I asked my father: Some people are claiming that Allaah does not speak with a sound." Imaam Ahmad replied, "Nay! Allaah speaks with a sound, and the only people who deny this are the Jahmiyyah. They wish to confuse the people and deny (the Attributes of Allaah)."
Imaam as-Shahrastaanee (d. 548 A.H.), while discussing the historical development of the various sects related to the kalaam of Allaah, wrote, "Then (Aboo al-Hassan) al-Ash'aree came, and invented a third opinion, and claimed that all sound must be created. And with this (opinion), he contradicted the consensus (ijmaa') before him, for he claimed that what we recite is not the actual kalaam of Allaah. And this (belief) is the essence of innovation."
In addition, if the Ash'arees maintain that the kalaam of Allaah is without sound, then the following points must be answered:
1) If the kalaam of Allaah is without sound, then what did Moosa hear when Allaah spoke to Him? If they respond that Allaah created a sound, and caused Moosa to hear that created sound, then this means that this created object stated, "O Moosaa, Verily, I am your Lord...Verily, I am Allaah, there is not god save me, so worship Me..." (20:12-14). Therefore, if they state this, it implies that this created object claimed to be Allaah, and asked Moosa to worship it! However, if they state that it was the actual kalaam of Allaah, then it must be asked, "How then did Moosa hear it if you claim that Allaah's kalaam is without sound?" The scholars of the Ash'arees have not been able to provide a satisfactory response for this.
2) If the kalaam of Allaah is without sound, then what special status do those prophets whom Allaah spoke to gain? In other words, what is the superiority of Moosa over the other prophets if he did not hear the kalaam of Allaah? The Qur`aan mentions that one of the blessings that certain prophets have been given is that Allaah spoke to them directly: "These are the Messengers! Some of them We blessed (with a higher status) over others. Some of them Allaah spoke to..." (2:253). Also, if Allaah speaks to a prophet, but that prophet cannot hear him, then of what difference is this type of inspiration to the other types of inspiration? Allaah says, "It is not possible for any human being that Allaah should speak to him, unless it be by Inspiration, or from behind a veil, or (that) He sends a Messenger to reveal what He will by His Permission. Verily, He is the Most High, Most Wise" (42:51). This verse mentions different types of inspirations. If, according to the Ash'arees, the kalaam of Allaah cannot be heard, then when Allaah speaks from 'behind a veil,' how is this different from the other forms of inspiration?
3) If the kalaam of Allaah is an 'internal' kalaam, similar to the 'speech' of the mind, then what is the difference between the Knowledge ('ilm) of Allaah, and His Speech. Allaah has described Himself with both of these characteristics in the Qur`aan. If the Speech of Allaah cannot be heard, and is an internal Speech, then this implies that it is the same as the Attribute of Knowledge.
There is another point that the belief of the Ash'arees implies, and this is a very dangerous implication: Just as the attribute of speech is a noble attribute, its opposite, muteness, is a characteristic that is not desired, nor is it considered praiseworthy. It is well known that the one who is mute is not like the one who speaks. Therefore, to claim that Allaah does not possess the attribute of speech (or to interpret it away as the Ash'arees do) is in reality blasphemous, as this then implies that the Creator is mute, yet Allaah is free of all attributes of imperfection. In fact, this principle of faith was one of the most powerful arguments that the prophets used to deny the worship of other than Allaah! The stories of Ibraheem and Moosaa clearly show this.
The Story of Ibraheem
Ibraheem's story with the idols is well known: Ibraheem destroyed all of the idols of his people except the largest one. When his people discovered this, they questioned him as to whether he was the culprit. Ibraheem answered, as mentioned in the Qur`aan, "'Rather, this one, the largest of them, did it! (Why don't you) ask them, if they can speak!' So they turned to themselves, and said, 'Verily, you are the wrong-doers (since you left the idols unguarded).' Then they turned to themselves (again) and (responded), 'You know very well (O Ibraheem) that these (idols) do not speak' (Abraham) replied, 'Do you then worship besides Allaah objects that can neither profit you nor harm you? Fie to you, and upon that which you worship besides Allaah! Have you no sense?!'" (21:63-67). In these verses, Ibraheem showed his people that their idols were not worthy of worship, primarily because they could not speak. After they themselves acknowledged this, Ibraheem rebuked them, and asked them, "Have you no sense?!" meaning, "How can an object that cannot even speak be worthy of worship?" Notice that Ibraheem was referring to a speech that could be heard, for Ibraheem's people did not answer Ibraheem with the belief of the Ash'arees, "Our god speaks, but a speech that is not heard - an internal speech of the mind!" for they understood what Ibraheem meant!! This is why they turned to themselves, and realised the foolishness of their actions, and could only reply with the feeble response that everyone knew that their idols could not speak!
The Story of Moosa
Likewise, when the Children of Israa`eel took the calf that they had built as an object of worship, they were reprimanded in the Qur`aan. Allaah says, "Did they (those who worshipped the calf) not realise that it (the calf) could not respond to them with a (single) word, nor did it have any power to harm or benefit them?" (20:89). In another verse, Allaah says, "And the people of Moses made in his absence, out of their ornaments, the image of a calf that made a sound (like the mooing of a cow). Did they not realise that it could not speak to them, nor guide them to the (straight) path?" (7:148). In these two verses, Allaah reprimanded the Children of Israa`eel for worshipping the calf, since the calf was not a perfect object, and one of the clearest indications that it was not worthy of worship was that it could not speak! Even though the calf made noises, it was not capable of intelligent speech.
Therefore, these two stories show that muteness and incoherent speech are attributes that do not befit the Creator, and thus the people of Ibraheem and Moosaa were rebuked for taking gods that were mute. Yet, the Ash'arees, thinking that they were removing all negative attributes from Allaah, in reality equated the Creator with the attributes of these idols, and thus fell into the same error as the people of Moosa and Ibraheem did with regards to the attribute of speech! This is why Haaroon ibn Ma'roof (d. 231 A.H.), one of the scholars of the salaf, said, "Whoever presumes that Allaah does not speak, then in reality he is worshipping idols."
The Ash'arees also claim that the kalaam of Allaah is not related to His will, which implies that Allaah does not speak when He wishes to, but rather He is continually speaking. The fact that Allaah's kalaam is related to His Will (in other words, Allaah Speaks when He wishes to Speak) is clearly shown in the Qur`aan. Allaah says, "Verily, His Command, whenever He intends a thing, is only that He says, 'Be!' - and it is" (37:82). In this verse, Allaah clearly shows that His kalaam is related to His Will, for whenever Allaah intends a thing, He says to it "Be!" which proves that Allaah Speaks when He wishes. Likewise, Allaah states, "And when Moosa came to Our appointed time and place, and his Lord spoke with him..." (7:143). This verse shows that Allaah spoke to Moosa after Moosa had arrived to the meeting point; not before it, nor after it - once again proving that Allaah speaks when He wishes. The Ash'arees also claim that the kalaam of Allaah is all the same meaning, and cannot be divided into parts. This principle then leads them to state that the Qur`aan, Torah and Injeel are in essence the same, and they only differ in their expressions and languages.
If this were the case in reality, then the Qur`aan, Torah and Injeel, when translated into one language, should be the same, since their essence is the same. However, it is well known that each of these three books differs from the other greatly.
In addition, if the kalaam of Allaah cannot be divided into parts, and is one whole concept, then this raises a problem that the Ash'arees must solve. The following conversation between one of the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah, Aboo Nasr as-Sijazee (d. 444 A.H.) and one of the scholars of the Ash'arees will prove interesting:
Aboo Nasr said to the Ash'aree, "What do you say when Allaah spoke to Moosa? Did he understand all of the kalaam of Allaah (i.e., if the kalaam of Allaah cannot be divided into parts, then did Moosa hear all of the kalaam of Allaah)?"
The Ash'aree hesitated a little, and questioned, "What do you intend by this question?"
Aboo Nasr responded, "Forget what I intend, and respond to my question!" but the Ash'aree refused to respond until Aboo Nasr told him what he meant by this question.
Aboo Nasr then responded, "What I intend is as follows: If you respond to my question by stating that Moosa understood all of the kalaam of Allaah, then this implies that there is not a single kalaam of Allaah except that Moosa comprehended it, and this is blasphemy and disbelief (for this would imply that Moosa had been given all of the knowledge of Allaah)... but if you do not say this, then you are forced to state that Allaah made Moosa comprehend some part of His kalaam, and by this statement you have caused yourself to fall into the same thing that you pretend to run away from, and that is the belief that Allaah's kalaam can be divided. You also claimed that one who says that the kalaam of Allaah can be divided is a disbeliever, yet you have been forced to say it yourself. Therefore, your opponent will be the victor over you, since he believed in what was stated in the Qur`aan and sunnah, (which came) from Allaah and His Messenger (e), but you refused to submit to them, and instead claimed that it was obligatory to turn to your intellect (to understand these concepts). Yet, your intellect has forced you to agree with the revelation (in that the kalaam of Allaah can be divided into parts), and in the process you have humiliated yourself!"
The Ash'aree responded, "This requires some time for me to think," and left the conversation.
In other words, if the kalaam of Allaah is one essence, and cannot be divided into parts, then when Allaah spoke to Moosa, did Moosa hear all of the kalaam of Allaah? If so, then this implies that Moosa gained all the knowledge of Allaah, and this is not possible. However, if this is not so, then this implies that Moosa understood a part of the kalaam of Allaah, which is what the Ahl as-Sunnah believe.
The final point that will be discussed is in fact the most dangerous consequence of the belief of the Ash'arees. Since the Ash'arees claimed that Allaah did not actually speak the Qur`aan with a voice that is heard, and that His kalaam is not in any language, and not composed of words and letters, they then had to answer a number of questions, including: "Where did the Qur`aan that is present amongst us originate from? And what, then, is the Arabic Qur`aan, with its words and letters?"
In other words, since the Ash'arees claimed that Allaah's kalaam could not be heard, then from where did the Qur`aan come from? And who was the first to recite it? And if, as the Ash'arees claim, the kalaam of Allaah is not in any language, and neither is it composed of words and letters, then what is the relationship of the Qur`aan, which is in Arabic and composed of words and letters, with the kalaam of Allaah?
Concerning this point, the Ash'arees were forced to admit that the Qur`aan is not the actual kalaam of Allaah (since it is in Arabic, and composed of words and letters), but instead an 'expression' (Ar. 'hikaayah', or ''ibaarah') of the kalaam of Allaah. As to who (or what) was the first to actually 'express' it, the Ash'arees differed amongst themselves into a number of opinions, all of which are equally blasphemous! Most of them stated that the Qur`aan was first created in the Lauh al-Mahfoodh (in other words, the Arabic words of the Qur`aan did not exist until they were created by Allaah in the Lauh al-Mahfoodh), thus explicitly claiming that the Qur`aan was created; others stated that Allaah made Jibreel understand the meaning of the Qur`aan, and Jibreel was the first to verbalize it, thus making the Qur`aan the speech of Jibreel; yet others stated that the Qur`aan was inspired in meaning and first spoken by the Prophet (e), thus making the Qur`aan the speech of the Prophet Muhammad (e).
In other words, the Ash'arees were forced to admit that the Arabic Qur`aan is not the actual kalaam of Allaah, and that it is created. This is due to the fact that they differentiated between what they called an 'internal kalaam' of Allaah, which is without language, sound and words, and between the actual Qur`aan, which is in Arabic, recited and heard, and composed of words. This 'internal kalaam' of Allaah, according to them, is not created, but the Qur`aan, since it is only an 'expression' of the 'internal kalaam', and not the actual kalaam of Allaah, must be created.
Thus, the Ash'arees explicitly state and believe that the Qur`aan is created, even though they then follow up this statement with the phrase, "...but the kalaam of Allaah is not." As one of their most famous scholars, Ibraheem al-Baajooree (d. 1277 A.H.), wrote, "The belief of the Ahl as-Sunnah (intending the belief of the Ash'arees) is that the Qur`aan, meaning the internal kalaam (of Allaah) is not created, but the Qur`aan, meaning the one that we recite, is created."
Therefore, in essence, the Ash'arees agreed with the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah that the Qur`aan is created.
It must be asked: When all of the scholars of the salaf vehemently spoke against those who believed that the Qur`aan was created, and even accused them of disbelief, were they referring to this concept of 'internal kalaam' that the Ash'arees invented, or where they referring to the Qur`aan that is well known to all Muslims? And when Imaam al-Lalikaa`ee (d. 418 A.H.) quoted over five-hundred scholars of the salaf stating that the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, and not created, did any of these scholars differentiate between this 'internal kalaam' and the actual Qur`aan, and state that the Qur`aan is only an 'expression' of this 'internal kalaam'?
The answer is very clear: none of the salaf preached or believed the doctrines that the Ash'arees invented, and none of them differentiated between an 'internal kalaam of Allaah' and the Qur`aan. What the salaf were referring to when they said that the Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, and that the Qur`aan is not created, is the actual Qur`aan, and not an imaginary and invented 'internal kalaam'. None of them, not even a single scholar (before Aboo al-Hasan al-Ash'aree and his teacher Ibn Kullaab), mentioned this concept of an 'internal' kalaam, and differentiated between it and the actual Qur`aan! The salaf are all quoted as saying, "The Qur`aan is the kalaam of Allaah, not created," yet the Ash'arees state, "The Qur`aan is only an expression of the kalaam of Allaah, and is created"!! 'Are these two examples the same? Alhamdulillaah; but most of them do not know!" (39:29).
The beliefs of the Ash'arees were refuted by many early scholars. Ahmad ibn Seenan al-Waasitee (d. 256 A.H.), one of the teachers of Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d. 256 A.H.) and Imaam Muslim (d. 261 A.H.), said in refutation of the belief of Ibn Kullaab (which was later taken by Aboo al-Hasan al-Ash'aree), "Whoever presumes that the Qur`aan...is only an 'expression' (of the kalaam of Allaah) is a heretic who wishes to destroy Islaam. He is a disbeliever in Allaah. This Qur`aan is the Qur`aan that Allaah revealed through Jibreel to the Prophet (e)..." . The scholar Aboo al-Abbaas Ahmad ibn Umar ibn Surayj (d. 303 A.H.), whom Imaam ad-Dhahabi called the 'Renovator' (mujaddid) of the fourth century [ad-Dhahabi, Siyar, 14/201], and because of whom the fiqh of Imaam as-Shafi'ee (d. 204 A.H.) was popularised, wrote, "And it has been affirmed and agreed by all the people of this religion, of the sunnah and jamaa'ah, from the salaf that past, from the Companions, and the Successors, and the famous and rightly guided scholars to this time of ours, that all the verses pertaining to the Attributes of Allaah, and the authentic narrations coming from the Prophet (e) concerning the Attributes...that it is mandatory to believe in them, in each and every one of them, just as they came, and to leave the actuality of them to Allaah..." (and he mentioned some Attributes, then said) "...and to affirm the kalaam (of Allaah), with letters, and with sound, and in different languages, and in words, and soorahs.... and all of this, we accept it, and do not reject it, nor do we interpret them with the interpretations of the other (groups), or with the anthropomorphism of the anthropomorphists...Rather, we say what Allaah has said, and interpret it as the Prophet (e) interpreted it, and the Companions, and the Successors, and the scholars of the salaf, those who are well known for their religion and character. And we agree upon that which they agreed upon, and do not talk with what they did not talk about (i.e., we do not give interpretations that were not given by them), but rather we accept the apparent (meanings) of the narrations (of the hadeeth) and the verses (of the Qur`aan). And we do not give the interpretations of the Mu'tazilah, or of the Ash'arees, or of the Jahmiyyah...but rather we accept it (these Attributes) all without any interpretation (i.e., we accept the apparent meanings of it), and believe in it without comparing (them to the Creation). And we state, 'The belief in these (Attributes) is obligatory, and to speak of them is from the sunnah, but to try to interpret it (i.e., the way these groups have done) is an innovation!'" .
In addition, the beliefs of the Ash'arees are very similiar to the beliefs of the Lafdhiyyah (mentioned above), who believed that a person's recitation of the Qur`aan is created (whereas the Ash'arees believe that the actual text of the Qur`aan and the recitation of the Qur`aan is created). Imaam Ahmad (d. 241 A.H.) stated, "The Lafdhiyyah are in reality encircling the belief of Jahm (ibn Safwaan), for they believe that Jibreel came with something created (to the Prophet (e))." [ad-Dhahabi, al-Uluww, p. 191]. In another narration, Imaam Ahmad was asked, "What is your opinion concerning those who say, 'Our recitation of the Qur`aan is created''? Imaam Ahmad replied, "These people are worse than the Jahmiyyah. Whoever believes this, then he believes that Jibreel came with something created, and the Prophet (e) preached something created!" It is noted that the belief that Jibreel came with something created, and the Prophet (e) preached something created, is exactly the belief of the Ash'arees, for they believe that the Arabic Qur`aan is created.
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