Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen

Source: Fathu Rabbal-Bariyyah bi Talkheesil-Hamawiyyah

Obligation upon the Worshippers

The obligation upon the servant with respect to the Deen is to follow what Allaah said and what His Messenger Muhammad sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said, and then the Rightly-Guided Khaleefahs (Successors) after him; from the Sahaabah (Companions) and those who followed them in goodness. And it is that Allaah sent Muhammad sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam with clear signs and the Guidance and obligated upon the whole of mankind to believe in him and follow him, both outwardly and inwardly, as Allaah - the Most High - said:

“O Mankind! Indeed, I am a Messenger of Allaah sent to you all. He to whom belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and of the earth. None has the right to be worshipped except Him, who grams lie and death So believe in Him and in His Messenger - the unlettered Prophet. It is those that believe in Allaah and His Word and follow it, they will be rightly-guided.” [Soorah al-A’raaf 7:158]

The Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said:

“Hold fast to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Khaleefahs after me, cling to it stubbornly. And beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is in the Fire.” [1]

The Rightly-Guided Khaleefahs are those who succeeded the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam in both beneficial knowledge and righteous and correct actions; and the most deserving of mankind to be described with this description are the Companions - radi-Allaahu 'anhum. Indeed, Allaah chose them to keep companionship with His Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, and to establish His Deen and Allaah - the Most High - did not choose for His Prophet’s companionship - and He is the Most-Knowledgeable, the Most Wise - except those who were the most perfect in eemaan (faith), the most intelligent, the strongest in action, the firmest in resolve and the most rightly guided in their way. So they are the most deserving of mankind to be followed after their Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, as are the Scholars of the Deen who followed them - those known for their guidance and correctness.

Explaining the Truth Concerning the Fundamentals of the Deen and its Details
The Message of the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam comprises of two things, and they are:- beneficial knowledge and righteous actions, as Allaah - the Most High - said:

“It is He who has sent His Messenger with the Guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may make it prevail over all other religions, even if the mushriks detest it.” [Soorah as-Saff 61:9]

So the Guidance is beneficial knowledge; and the Religion of Truth is righteous actions which comprises of purity and sincerity for Allaah and the following of His Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam. This beneficial knowledge includes every type of knowledge which contains good and benefit for this Ummah, both in its worldly affairs and its Hereafter. The first matter that enters into this is knowledge of Allaah’s Asmaa (Names), Sifaat (Attributes) and Af'aal (Actions). Indeed, knowledge of this is the most beneficial knowledge, and it is the choicest part of the Divine Message, and it is the summation of the Prophetic call, through which the Deen - whether sayings, actions or i’tiqaad (beliefs) - is established.

Because of this, it is impossible that the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam would have neglected it or not clearly explained it in such a way as to remove all doubts and misconceptions. The impossibility of this can be shown from a number of angles:-

Firstly: That the message of the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam comprises of light and guidance. Indeed, Allaah sent him as a bearer of good-tidings and a warner; and a caller to Allaah by His permission, and a shining lamp - so that he left his Ummah:

“ ... upon clear evidence whose night is like its day. No one deviates from it except that he is destroyed.” [2]

And the greatest of light and the most far-reaching and deeply-penetrating is that which comes about in the heart due to knowledge of Allaah, His Names, His Attributes and His Actions. So it must be the case that the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam explained this matter thoroughly and completely.

Secondly: That the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam taught his Ummah all that which they needed, from the affairs of the Deen and the worldly-life. He even taught them the manners of eating, drinking, sitting, sleeping and other than that. Thus, Aboo Dharr - radi-Allaahu 'anhu - said:

“The Messenger was taken in death, and there was not a bird which spread its wings, except that he mentioned to us some knowledge about it.” [3]

Thus, there is no doubt that knowledge concerning Allaah, His Names, Attributes and Actions enter into this general statement. Rather, it is the first matter which enters into it, due to the great need for it.

Thirdly: That eemaan in Allaah - and in His Names, Attributes and Actions is the foundation of the Deen and the summation of the da’wah (call) of the Messengers. It is the most obligatory and the most excellent matter which the heart can acquire and the intellect can reach. So how could it be possible for the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam to neglect teaching it and explaining it - despite the fact that he used to teach those things which were lesser than it in importance and excellence?!

Fourthly: That the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam is the most knowledgeable of the people about his Lord and he is the most sincere to the creation, and the most eloquent and clearest in explaining. So it is not possible - when the dire need for this knowledge existed - that he should abandon teaching the matters of eemaan in Allaah, His Names and Attributes, or to leave it unclear and open to doubt.

Fifthly: That the Sahaabah - radi-Allaahu 'anhum - must have spoken out with the truth in this regard, otherwise it would mean that either they remained silent, or they said that which was false; and neither of the two is possible with regards to them. With regards to the impossibility of them remaining silent, then that is because their remaining silent could only be either due to them being ignorant of those Names and Attributes of Allaah - the Most High - which are obligatory, permissible or allowed for Him; or that this was done upon knowledge of this matter, but they hid this - and both of these are impossibilities.

With regards to the impossibility of ignorance, then it is impossible for any heart containing life and alertness, seeking knowledge and desirous of worship, except that its greatest desire should be to seek eemaan in Allaah - the Most High - and knowledge of His Names and Attributes - realising this in both knowledge and i’tiqaad. Indeed, there is no doubt that the most preferred generation - the best of them being the Sahaabah - are those who reached the highest pinnacle in life of the heart, in love of good and in attaining beneficial knowledge - as the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said:

“The best of mankind is my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them.” [4]

This excellence includes excellence in all that draws one closer to Allaah, whether from sayings, actions or i’tiqaad (beliefs).

Then if we could accept that they were ignorant with regards this matter, then the ignorance of those coming after them would be even more certain; because knowledge of the Names and Attributes that should be affirmed for Allaah - the Most High - and that which is to be denied for Him, can only be learnt by way of Messengership, and they (i.e. the Sahaabah) are the link between the Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam and the Ummah. Thus, if this premise were to be accepted, then it would necessitate that there was no knowledge about this matter with anyone - and this is an impossibility.

With regards to the impossibility of their hiding the truth, then it is because every just person with intellect knows the condition of the Sahaabah - radi-Allaahu 'anhum - and their eagerness in spreading beneficial knowledge and conveying it to the Ummah. So it is not possible to attribute the hiding of the truth to them - especially with regards to the most obligatory matter, which is knowledge of Allaah, His Names and His Attributes. Then there are also a great deal of truthful words about this matter reported from them - which are well-known to those who seek and search after them.

With regards to the impossibility of their speaking falsely, then that is understood from two angles:-

[i] That it is not possible for false speech to be supported by an authentic proof, and it is well-known that the Sahaabah - radi-Allaahu 'anhum - were the furthest of people from saying things not supported by an authentic proof - particularly with regards to eemaan in Allaah - the Most High - and matters relating to the Hidden Unseen. So they are the people who are most fitting to follow the saying of Allaah - the Most High:

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge.” [Soorah al-Israa 17:36]

And His saying:

“Say: Indeed what my Lord has forbidden me are shameful deeds, whether open or secret, and sin and transgression without right, and associating partners with Allaah in that which He has sent down no authority, and to speak about Allaah without knowledge.” [Soorah al-A’raaf 7:33]

[ii] That false sayings have as their origin either ignorance of the truth, or wishing to misguide the creation; and both of these are impossible with regards the Sahaabah - radi-Allaahu 'anhum ...

So when it is clear that the Sahaabah - radi-Allaahu 'anhum - must have been speaking the truth, then they must have been speaking it either from their own intellect, or through the Revelation. The first, however, is impossible, since the intellect cannot reach the details of those perfect Attributes which must be affirmed for Allaah. Therefore, the second has to be the case, which is: that they learnt this knowledge through the Messengership of the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, which then means that the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam had explained the truth with regards to the Names and the Attributes of Allaah - and this is what we were seeking to affirm.

The Path of Ahlus-Sunnah with regards to Allaah’s Names and Attributes
Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah: they are those who unite upon accepting the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam and acting by it outwardly and inwardly - whether in their sayings, actions or i’tiqaad (beliefs). Their way with regards to the Names and Attributes of Allaah is as follows:

Firstly: Ithbaat (affirmation): It is to affirm for Allaah what He affirms for Himself in His Book, or upon the tongue of His Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, without tahreef (distorting the text), without ta’teel (denying those Names and Attributes affirmed in the Revelation), without takyeef (asking how the Attributes are) and without tamtheel (resembling Allaah to His creation).

Secondly: Nafee (negation): So their way is to negate from Allaah what Allaah has negated from Himself in His Book, or upon the tongue of His Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, whilst firmly believing that its fully-perfect opposite is confirmed for Allaah - Most High.

Thirdly: With regards to that where there is neither negation nor affirmation reported, and about which the people disagree - such as jism (body), heiz (extent), jihah (direction), and the like - then their way in regards to this is to withhold with respect to its wording, they neither affirm it nor negate it, since nothing is reported about that. With regards to the meaning, then they seek further clarification about what is meant. So if what is intended by such wording is something false, something Allaah is to be declared free from, then they reject it. However, if something true is intended by it; something which is not incorrect for Allaah, then they accept it [and the correct Sharee’ah terminology, which is to be found in the text, is to be made clear; and one should call for its usage in place of the vague and newly-introduced wording].

This way is the obligatory way, and it is the middle saying between the people of ta’teel ( those who deny the Attributes of Allaah) and the people of tamtheel ( those who resemble Allaah’s Attributes to that of the creation). This obligation is proven both by al-‘aql (the intellect) and as-sam’a (the text):

With regards to the intellect, then this is proven by the fact that speaking in detail about what is obligatory, what is permissible and what is not correct for Allaah - the Most High - then this cannot be known except by the text. Thus it is obligatory to follow the text in this regard: affirming what it affirms, negating what it negates and remaining silent when it is silent.

As regards to the textual evidences: then from its proof are the sayings of Allaah - the Most High:

“To Allaah belong all the Most Beautiful Names. So call upon Him with them, and leave the company of those who deny them. They will be requited for what they used to do.” [Soorah A’raaf 7:180]

“There is nothing like Him, and He is the all-Hearing, all-Seeing.” [Soorah Shooraa 42:11]

“Do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge.” [Soorah al-Israa 17:36]

So the first Aayah shows the obligation of affirming, without tahreef (manipulative distortion) and without ta’teel (denial) - since both of these are from ilhaad (deviation).

The second Aayah shows the obligation of denying any tamtheel (likeness and resemblance).

The third Aayah shows the obligation of denying takyeef ( asking how), and also the obligation of remaining silent and halting with regard to where there is neither a&nation nor negation reported. And all the Attributes which are affirmed for Allaah, then they are Attributes of perfection - for which He is to be praised and extolled - containing no deficiencies in any form or way. Thus, all the most perfect Attributes are confirmed for Allaah - the Most High - in the most perfect way.

Thus, Attributes which are deficient and which negate Allaah’s essential perfection are denied by Allaah for Himself. Indeed, all attributes of imperfection are inapplicable to Allaah - the Most High - due to His necessary perfection. And that which Allaah denies for Himself, then what is intended is a denial of that particular attribute which has been negated, whilst affirming its perfect opposite. This is because denial alone does not indicate perfection, unless it includes affirming a praiseworthy attribute. Indeed, mere denial may be due to reasons of weakness, which is a deficiency - as the poet said:

“His tribe, due to weakness, do not breach any covenant;
Nor do they oppress the people in the slightest.”

Or the reason could be incapacity, and that would not necessitate praise, just as if someone were to say: the wall does not commit oppression.

So when this is clear we say: From that which Allaah has denied for Himself is oppression. What is meant by this is a denial that Allaah oppresses, whilst also affirming the perfect opposite, which is Allaah’s perfect justice. Likewise, He denied for Himself weariness. So what is intended is a denial of fatigue, whilst also affirming its prefect opposite - which is perfect strength and full ability. Similar is the case with all that Allaah has denied for Himself - and Allaah knows best.


[1] Saheeh: Related by Ahmad in his Mumad(4/126) and Aboo Daawood in his Sunan (no.4607), from al-‘Irbaad ibn Saariyah radi-Allaahu ’anhu. It was authenticated by al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr in Takhreej Ahaadeeth Mukhtasar Ibnul-Haajib (1/137).

[2] Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (4/126), Ibn Maajah (no.43) and others, from al-‘Irbaad radi-Allaahu ’anhu. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.937).

[3] Related by Ahmad(5/153), at-Tiyaalasee (no.479) and at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer (no.1647) and its isnaad is saheeh.

[4] Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.2652) and Muslim (no.2533), from Ibn Mas’ood radi-Allaahu ’anhu.