Are the Attributes of Allah Real or Figurative?
الثلاثاء 29 / ربيع الأول / 1433 هـ - الموافق 21 / فبراير / 2012 م

The Article in Arabic - عربي

Are Allah’s Attributes Real or Figurative?

Prepared by
Um Abdullah al-Misawi


Knowing Allaah the All-Mighty and Majestic is the most important and noblest form of knowledge. Knowing Him - Glorified be He – is by knowing His Beautiful Names and Sublime Attributes, which are derived from the texts of the revelation: the Qur’aan and Sunnah; thus, Allaah the Mighty and Majestic is not to be described except with what He has described Himself in His Book (The Quran) or upon the tongue of His Messenger -(sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam)- (Hadeeth). Whoever ponders on these great texts will find them explicit and clear in their signification of His Sublime Attribute.

In spite of their clarity, some of those who ascribe themselves to Islaam have distorted the meanings of these texts, thereby negating their reality, and alleging that they are figurative, thinking that it is the truth. The reason for that is that they made their intellects a judge therein and not the texts of revelation; hence, they believed that affirming those attributes to be real for Allaah necessitates tashbeeh [Tashbih; likening Allah to His creation], whereas it’s not like that.
Al-Hafidh Nu`aym bin Hammad (d. 228 H) said: «There is no tashbeeh in what Allaah has described Himself, and described by His Messenger.» (1)
Tashbeeh occurs when one believes or states that Allaah’s Attributes are like the attributes of His creation. Imam Ishaq bin Rahwaih (2) (d. 238 H.) said: «Tashbeeh takes place when one says (Allaah’s) Hand is like (someone’s or something’s) hand or similar to a hand; or (His) Hearing is like (someone’s or something’s) hearing or similar to a hearing. So if one says (Allaah’s) Hearing is like a hearing or similar to a hearing, this is likening Allaah to His creation [Tashbih]. However, if one says as Allaah the Most High stated: Hand [yad], Hearing [same’] and Sight [basar], and does not say “how”, nor say: like a hearing or similar to a hearing, such is not regarded as Tashbeeh, and it is as stated by Allaah the Most High in His Book: {There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.} [42: 11](3)

Had it been that these people reflected and pondered over Allaah’s verses and the hadeeths of His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) the way it ought to be pondered and studied the narrations of the Pious Predecessors regarding these texts, they would not have changed them from their apparent meanings to various forms of figurative/metaphorical meanings; because they are clear in their meaning, and do not necessitate tashbeeh, nor false meanings.

The text’s indication of the reality of Allaah’s Attributes is sometimes through the context of a verse or a hadeeth, other times from the action of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) himself, and sometimes through other ways as we shall explain in this article, Allaah willing.

The Qur’an and Sunnah’s indication of Allah’s Attributes being literal

The Noble Qur’an:

1. Allaah the Most High said: {As for 'Aad, they were arrogant in the land without right, and they said: “Who is mightier than us in strength [quwwah]?” See they not that Allaah, Who created them was mightier in strength [quwwah] than them. And they used to deny Our Signs!} [41: 15].

In the above verse, the people of ‘Aad asked: "Who is mightier than us in strength?" So Allaah the Mighty and Majestic replied by saying: {See they not that Allaah, Who created them was greater than them in strength?}. And it is not correct for the response except that it be in conformity with the question; Abu Ahmad al-Karaji al-Qassab (d. 360 H) stated regarding the above verse: “Allah’s saying … is a proof against the Mu’tazilah and the Jahmiyyah in regards to their claim that it is not permissible to describe the Creator with anything that the creation is described with, due to tashbeeh. This statement of the Qur’an disproved the people of ‘Aad’s claim of strength; and it informed that Allaah is Mightier in Strength than them; and a reply can only be with what is like it.”(4)

There is no doubt that the strength of the people of ‘Aad is literal; and so Allaah’s strength is also literal (by the indication of the verse), however it is greater; the strength of creation is of no weight in the face of Allaah’s Strength. In fact, He - Glorified be He – is the One Who gave us this strength that we have.

2. Allaah the Most High said: {And Allaah did take Ibraahim [Abraham] as a Khaleel.} [4: 125] The explanation of this verse is in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) as the Sunnah explains the Qur’aan. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ”I stand acquitted before Allaah that I take any one of you as a Khaleel (intimate friend), for Allaah the Most High has indeed taken me as a khaleel (intimate friend) as He has taken Ibraahim as a khaleel. And if I were to choose anyone of my Ummah as a khaleel, I would have taken Abu Bakr as my khaleel.“ [Saheeh Muslim]
The Prophet also said: ”Behold I am free from the dependence of all intimate friends and if I were to choose anyone as a khaleel (intimate friend) I would have taken Abu Bakr as my khaleel. Verily, your companion [i.e. himself] is the khaleel of Allaah.“ [Saheeh Muslim]
In another version, it reads: ”Indeed, I am free from the dependence of every intimate friend of his Khullah.“(5)

The word Al-Khaleel is from al-Khullah, (with dammah over the letter Khaa as is in the third narration) and al-Khullah is the utmost, complete, purest, and most sincere love. Az-Zajjaj (d. 311 H.) said: “Al-Khaleel refers to a lover in which there is no deficiency in his love.” (6)
Ibn Katheer (d. 774 H) said: “Al-Khullah is utmost form of love… thus this status was attained by the seal of the Prophets and leader of the Messengers; Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as established in the two Saheeh collections [Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim] and others.”(7)

The proof that Allaah’s khullah to Ibraheem (alayhis-salaam) and our Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) is real/literal is that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) avoided taking Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) as an intimate friend because he is Allaah’s intimate friend. Had it been that Allaah’s khullah to His Prophet was not real, there would not have been an obstacle to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) in taking Abu Bakr as an intimate friend (khaleel).

3. Allaah the Most High said: {…And to Musa [Moses] Allah spoke directly [Kallama Allahu Musa Takleeman].} [4: 164]. The verb "kallama" (spoke) in this verse is emphasized with the verbal noun "takleeman", which is a proof that Allaah spoke to Moosa literally.
Abu Ja’far An-Nahhas (d. 338 H) said: “The verse, {…And to Musa Allaah spoke takleeman} is an emphatic verbal noun, and the grammarians are unanimous that if you emphasize a verb with a verbal noun, it cannot be considered figurative.… Thus when He (Allaah) said: ‘Takleeman,’ it became necessary that the speech is real speech.”(8)

4. Allaah the Most High said: {Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.} [4: 58] This verse is interpreted by the action of our Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam). Abu Yunus, the freed slave of Abu Hurayrah, reported that he heard Abu Hurayrah reciting this verse: {Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due …} until Allaah’s saying {Indeed, Allah is ever Hearing and Seeing.} Then he placed his thumb on his ear and the one next to it on his eye and said: This is how I heard Allaah’s Messenger reciting it, and placing his two fingers”.(9)

The intent of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) with his action is to affirm that Allaah has real hearing and sight, as the ayah [verse] is in regards to the attributes of hearing and sight; it was not intended to liken Allaah’s Attributes to the attributes of the creation. Allaah forbid that the Messenger of Allaah should liken his Lord with His creation. Allaah the Mighty and Majestic said: {There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.} [42: 11]. So Allaah the Mighty and Majestic affirmed (the attributes of) hearing and seeing for Himself and negated similarity from them.

The Prophetic Sunnah

1. Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ”Allaah is more happy [ashaddu Farahan] with the repentance of His slave when he turns to Him in repentance than one of you who was upon his riding camel, which carries his food and drink in a barren desert; then it ran away from him. So he lost all hope (to get that) and approached a tree and lied down in its shade; he was disappointed about his camel. And when he was in that state, suddenly he finds that camel standing before him. He took hold of his nose string and then out of boundless happiness said: ‘O Lord, You are my servant and I am Your Lord’. He committed this mistake out of extreme happiness.“ [sahih Muslim]
In the version of the hadeeth reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari, it reads: ”Allaah is happier [Afrahu] with the repentance of one of you …“ etc.

The hadeeth is clear from its context, as it speaks about the happiness of his slave, which is a literal happiness, and that Allah’s happiness exceeds it when his slave repents. It is a proof that Allaah is attributed with happiness; however, His happiness is not like the happiness of creation in its kayfiyyah (i.e. how it is in reality). It is happiness that befits His Majesty, which none knows its reality except He - Glorified be He - and it is obligatory upon us to believe in it and submit to it, while relegating its kayfiyyah to Him –the Almighty-.
Al-Hafidh Adh-Dhahabi (d. 748 H.) said when making a remark on a scholar’s ta’wil [i.e. Interpreting the texts upon its non-apparent meaning] of Allah’s Attribute of happiness to mean “being pleased” [Rida] :
“Would that the author remained silent, as it is from the hadeeths of the attributes (of Allah) that should be passed on as it came, as is known from the creed of the Pious Predecessors. The ta’wil he mentioned is of no meaning, for if he was asked about the meaning of “being pleased” he would make ta’wil of it to mean “will”. The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) made the happiness of the Creator more than the happiness of the one who lost his riding camel, so ponder over this and restrain. Know that your Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) does not say except what is the truth; and he is the most knowledgeable of what is necessary for Allaah (i.e. life, ability ... etc.) and what is impossible for Him (i.e. weakness, ignorance, death ... etc.) than all of mankind.” (10)

2. 'Umar bin al-Khattab reported that some prisoners were brought to Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam); and a woman amongst the prisoners was searching (for someone). When she found a child amongst the prisoners, she took hold of him, pressed him against her chest and provided him suck. Thereupon, Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) asked us: ”Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?“ We said: ‘No, by Allaah; as far as it lies in her power, she would never throw the child in the Fire.’ Then Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ”Allaah is more merciful to His servants than this woman is to her child.“ [Saheeh Bukhari and Muslim].

It is clear from its context like the previous hadeeth. It contains affirmation of the attribute of Mercy for Allaah the Mighty and Majestic.

3. Ibn Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported: I heard Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) saying while on the pulpit, ”The Almighty will take hold of His heavens and earth with His Hand;“ and he (the Messenger of Allah) grasped his hand, and began to grasp it and outspread it, (then said): ”Then He (Allaah) will say: ‘I am the Almighty! Where are the haughty? Where are the arrogant ones?“ He (Ibn Umar, the narrator of the hadith) said: “Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) moved to his right and left so much, until I saw the pulpit shaking from below until I said, ‘Will it cause Allaah’s Messenger to fall?' [Saheeh Muslim, Sunan An-Nasa’i, and the wording is that of Ibn Majah]. (11)

The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) grasped his hand in order to clarify that Allaah’s grasping of the earth and the heavens with His Hand on the day of judgment is to be taken literally and not metaphorically. He did not intend by it to liken the reality (kayfiyyah) of Allaah’s grasping with his own grasping, innocent is He –peace be upon him- from that.

4. Abdullah Ibn Masud (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ”The last person to enter paradise will be a man who will alternately walk, stagger and be burnt by the Fire ...“ until his saying: ”Then a third tree will be raised up at the gate of paradise, and it will be better than the first two. The man will say, “O My Lord, bring me closer to this [tree] so that I may enjoy its shade and drink its water, and I will not ask for anything more.” Allaah will say, “O son of Adam, did you not promise Me that you would not ask Me for anything more?” He will say, “Yes, O Lord, I will not ask you for anything more.” And his Lord, may He be glorified, will excuse him because he is seeing something which he has no patience to resist, so He will bring him closer. When he is brought close, he will hear the voices of the people of Paradise, and will say, “O my Lord, admit me to it.” Allaah will say, “O son of Adam what will bring an end to your requests to Me? Will it please you if I give you the world and as much again?” He will say, “O Lord, are You making fun of me when You are the Lord of the Worlds?”“ Ibn Mas`ud laughed and said, “Why do you not ask me why I am laughing?” They asked, “Why are you laughing?” He said, “Because the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) laughed”, so they (the companions) asked, “Why are you laughing, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, ”Because of the Laugh of the Lord of the Worlds when he [i.e. desirer of Paradise] said, “Are You making fun of me when You are the Lord of the Worlds?” He will say, “I am not making fun of you, but I am able to do whatever I will”“. [Sahih Muslim] (12)

There is clear evidence in this that Allaah is attributed with laughter, and that his laugh is real; we know this through the action of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam), in which he laughed due to Allaah -the Mighty and Majestic- laughing. However, Allah’s laughter, though literal, is not like creation’s laughter in its reality, and none knows how it is in reality except Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic. What is obligatory upon us is to believe and submit.

Understanding of the Pious Predecessors (Salaf) regarding the texts of Attributes

There are sayings and actions established from a number of the Pious Salaf among the companions, tabi’een and their successors, which indicate that they understood these attributes to be real just as the apparent meaning of the text implies. So they affirm them for Allaah without making tashbeeh [likening Him to His creation], takyeef [subjecting His attributes to our limited intellect] or tahreef [distorting/misrepresenting its meaning] with figurative/metaphorical meanings. The following are collections of some of their sayings:

1. Mother of the Believers Aishah (d. 58 H.)Radiyallahu anha- said regarding Allaah’s Hearing:
«All praise is due to Allaah, Who hears all voices. Indeed the woman who disputed came to the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and argued with him while I was in another part of the room, unable to hear what she said, then Allaah the Mighty and Majestic revealed this ayah: {Certainly has Allah heard the speech of the one who argues with you (O Muhammad), concerning her husband} [58:1]» till the end of the ayah.(13)

2. The Sahabi Ibn Masud (d. 33 H.), may Allah be pleased with him, said: «One of the Jewish rabbis came and said: "On the Day of Resurrection, Allaah will put the heavens on one finger, the earth on one finger, the water and dust on one finger, and the rest of creation on one finger, then He will fold them and say: ‘I am the King, I am the King." I saw the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) smiling so broadly that his molars became visible out of amazement and confirmation to the rabbi’s statement. Then the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) recited: {They made not a just estimate of Allaah such as is due to Him. And on the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be grasped by His Hand and the heavens will be rolled up in His Right Hand. Glorified be He, and High is He above all that they associate as partners with Him.} [39: 67]. [Saheeh Bukhari]

So Ibn Mas’ud (may Allaah be pleased with him) understood that the smiling of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) was out of amazement and confirmation to the statement of the Jew that on the Day of Resurrection, the creation will literally be on Allaah’s fingers, but without likening its reality to the attributes of the creation; and the reality is unknown to anyone except Allaah. What is compulsory on us is to believe in it and submit.

3. Sulaiman al-Amash (d. 148 H) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi a sallam) said: ”The hearts (of the children of Adam) are between two of the fingers of the Most Merciful, and He turns them (in whatever way He wills).“ [sahih hadeeth] Then he (Imam al-Amash) gestured with two of his fingers.(14)
Comment: He means by that to inform that Allah’s Attributes are real and that the fingers of Allah are real and not metaphorical. He does not mean by it to liken Allah to His creation, innocent is he from that.

4. Hammad bin (son of) Abu Hanifah (d. 176 H) said during his debate with the innovators:
«We said to these people, ‘Have you not seen the word of Allaah the Mighty and Majestic:” {And your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank,} [89: 22] and Allaah’s saying: {Do they then wait for anything other than that Allaah should come to them in the shadows of the clouds and the angels?} [2: 210]. Will our Lord come as He stated? Will the angels come in rows?' They said: ‘As for the angels, they will come in rows. But in regards to the Lord the Most High, we do not know what He meant by that, and we do not know how He will come.' So we said to them: ‘We do not mandate you to know how He will come; but we mandate you to believe in His coming. What do you think of the one who denies that the angels will come? What is he in your opinion?' They said: ‘A disbeliever, a denier.’ We said: ‘Similarly, whoever denies that Allaah will come is a disbeliever, a denier.'»(15)

5. Hammad bin Zayd (16) (d. 179 H) said:
«The likeness of the Jahmiyyah is like a man who was asked: ‘Is there a date palm in your house?’ He said: ‘Yes.’
‘Does it have leaves?’ He said, ‘no.’
He was asked: ‘Does it have branches?’ He said, ‘No.’
He was asked: ‘Does it have stumps? He said, ‘No.’
He was asked, ‘Does it have a trunk? He said: ‘No.’
He was asked, ‘Does it have a root? He said: ‘No.’
It was said (to him) : ‘There is no date palm in your house.
This person is like the Jahmiyyah whom it was said to:
‘Do you have a Lord?’ They said, ‘Yes.’
It was said: ‘Does He speak?’ They said, ‘No.’
It was asked: ‘Does He have a hand(17)?’ They said: ‘No.’
It was asked: ‘Does He have a foot (18)?’ They said: ‘No.’
It was asked: ‘Does He have a finger? They said, ‘No.’
It was asked: ‘Does He get pleased and angry? They said: ‘No.’
It was said: ‘You do not have a Lord’.” (19) Its chain of narrators is authentic (sahih).

Explanation: As the branches, trunk, root and leaves are real attributes of a palm tree which negating them would be negating the palm tree; it is the case with the Hand, speech, finger, getting anger and pleased, which are real Attributes of Allah reported in the Quran and the Sunnah, negating them would be negating Allah Azza wa Jal.

6. Yahya bin Saeed Al-Qattan (d. 198 H) :
‘Abdullah, the son of Imam Ahmad, said: «I heard my father (Imam Ahmad) -may Allaah have mercy on him- narrating the hadeeth of Sufyaan that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ”Allaah will hold the heavens on a finger…“ My father (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: "Yahya (bin Qattan) began to gesture with his fingers; and my father showed me how he was gesturing with his finger. He placed one finger after another until the last one.»(20)

Comment: They meant by that to inform us that this Attribute of Allah is real, and that the hadeeth is literal and not a metaphor or a figure of speech, they did not intend by it to liken Allah to His creation, innocent are they from such a thing.

7. Abu Ma`mar al-Hudhali (d. 236 H) said: “Whoever claims that Allaah does not speak, nor hears, nor sees, nor gets angry, nor becomes pleased (and he mentioned some more Attributes) is a disbeliever in Allaah the Mighty and Majestic. If you see him standing by a well, cast him into it. I worship Allaah the Mighty and Majestic with this, because they are disbelievers in Allaah.” (21) Its chain of narrators is sound (sahih).

8. Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (d. 241 H) : Al-Khallal reported in his book “As-Sunnah” that Abu Bakr al-Marwazi reported the hadeeth: ”Allaah will hold the heavens on a finger…“ on the authority of Imam Ahmad, and said: «I saw Abu Abdullah (i.e. Imam Ahmad) gesturing with his fingers one after another.»(22)

9. Amr bin Uthman Al-Makki al-sufi (d. 297 H) said in his book, "Adaab al-Murideen wa at-Ta’arruf li Ahwaal al-‘Ubbaad" under the chapter: (What the devils come with to the repentant) :
«As for the third way, with which he comes to the people, when they restrain from him and seek protection with Allaah; he whispers to them concerning the Creator in order to corrupt the state of their tawheed …». He then mentioned a lengthy statement till he said: «One of the greatest of that which he whispers as regards to Tawheed is by creating doubts (in peoples’ hearts), and by (making them commit) Tashbeeh and Tamtheel in regards to the Attributes of the Lord, or through denial and negation of them [Ta`teel]. And introducing upon them the measuring of the Greatness of the Lord according to their intellect; then are they doomed if they accept it (his whispers), or weaken their basis; unless they resort to knowledge, and attain their knowledge of Allah Azza wa Jal through that which He informed about Himself, and what His Messenger described Him with. He -the Most High- is the One who said: {I am Allah} not the tree (23). The One coming is He (i.e. Allah) not His Amr (command), the One Who is ascended upon His throne with the greatness of His Majesty save all places; the One who spoke to Musa directly, and showed him of His great signs. And Musa heard the Speech of Allaah … the One Who Hears the voices (of His creation); the One who looks at their bodies with His Eye; His Hands are outstretched and they are not His blessing and power. And He created Adam with His Hand.» (24)

Sayings of the Imaams who came after them

1. Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 310 H) :
He mentioned some of the Attributes including: the hand, hearing, descending, seeing, laughter, and other attributes that have been affirmed in the Qur’aan and Sunnah; then he said:
“If someone says to us: ‘what is the correct view regarding the meaning of these attributes you have mentioned, which some of them have been reported by Allaah’s Book and Revelation, and while some have been stated by Allaah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam)?’
It will be said (to them) : ‘What is correct in our view is: to affirm their realities based on what we know from the perspective of affirmation; while negating tashbeeh just as He (Allah) negated such from Himself – exalted be His praise. He (Allah) said: {There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.} [42: 11]" (25)

2. Abul Abbas As-Sarraj Ash-Shafii (d. 313 H) said:
“Whoever does not accept and believe that Allaah -the Most High- marvels, laughs, and descends every night to the lowest heaven saying: ‘Who is asking Me so that I give him?’ Such a person is a heretic, disbeliever. He should be asked to repent; He either repents, or he is to be executed.” (26)

3. Abu Ahmad al-Karaji al-Qassab (d. 360 H) said in his book As-Sunnah:
“Every attribute Allaah has described Himself with or was described by His Messenger, is a real attribute and not a metaphor.”(27)

4. Abu Umar At-Talamanki (28) Al-Maliki (d. 429 H) said in the book, ‘Al-Wusool ilaa Ma’rifah al-Usool’:
“A group of people among the Mutazilah and Jahmiyyah said, ‘It is not permissible to name Allaah the Mighty and Majestic with these names in reality and creation are named with them.’ So they negated from Allaah the reality of the names and affirmed them for His creation. If they are asked about what led them to this deviation, they will say: ‘Agreement in naming necessitates tashbeeh (i.e. likening Allah to His creation)’.
We say: This is a departure from the language with which we have been addressed. This is because what is known in the language is that resemblance does not occur by naming. Tashbeeh is by likening their essences, or aspects therein, like whiteness with whiteness, blackness with blackness, tallness with tallness, and shortness with shortness. Had it been that names necessitate similarity, all things would have been similar due to all of them being called a ‘thing’.”(29)

5. Abul Hasan Ibn al-Qazweeni Al-Shafii (d. 442 H) :
The Abbasi Khalifah al-Qa’em bi Amrillah brought out the Qadiri creed (written by his father, Al-Qadir Billah) in the year 432 AH. It was read in the divan, and the ascetic and scholars attended it. Among those present was Shaykh Abul-Hasan Ali bin ‘Umar al-Qazweeni. He wrote with his handwriting under it, before the jurists wrote: "This is the saying of Ahlus-Sunnah, it is my belief, and upon it is my confirmation". Part of what was reported in the Qadiri creed is: «That with which Allaah has described Himself with or described by Allaah’s Messenger -(sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam)-, is Allah’s Attribute in reality, and not a metaphor.» (30)

6. Ibn Abdul Barr al-Maliki (d. 463 H) said in “At-Tamheed” :
“The people of Sunnah are unanimous in affirming all the reported attributes in the Qur’aan and Sunnah; they believe in them, and interpret them upon the literal meaning (haqiqah), and not figuratively; but they do not speak of the kayfiyyah [i.e. reality; how it is] of any of that ... As for the people of innovation, the Jahmiyyah, the Mu’tazilah, and the Khawaarij, they all reject them; they do not interpret any of it upon its literal meaning; and they claim that whoever affirms them is a Mushabbih [one who likens Allaah to the creation].” (31)

He also said in “al-Istidhkaar” : “I say: Surely, Allaah is not unjust to the slaves. Were He to punish them, He would not be unjust to them. However, Exalted is the One whom is named the Forgiving, the Most Merciful, the Most Kind, and the Most Wise, that His Attributes should be anything but real/literal. There is none worthy of worship except Him. {He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.} [21: 23] (32)

7. Abul Qasim Isma`il al-Asbahani (33) ash-Shafi’i (d. 535 H) said:
“It is not permissible to attach figurative meanings to Allaah’s Attributes.”(34)

8. Ibn al-Qayyim al-Hanbali (d. 751 H) said in “E’laamul-Muwaqi’een”:
“The companions differed in many issues of jurisprudence (fiqh), and they are the best of the believers and most perfect in faith in the Ummah. But by the praise of Allaah, they did not differ in one issue regarding Allaah’s Names, Attributes, and Actions. Rather, all of them were upon affirmation of what is stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah - from the first of them to the last of them. They did not misinterpret them nor distort them from their proper meaning; they did not falsify anything of them nor coin similitude for them … And no one among them said it was obligatory to change them from their realities and interpret them figuratively. Rather, they received them with acceptance and submission; and accepted them with faith and veneration.”

9. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795 H)
He said in “Dhail Tabaqat al-Hanabilah” in the biography of al-Haafidh Abdul-Ghani al-Maqdisi al-Hanbali:
“In regards to his saying: «I do not affirm a transcendence for Him (Allah) that negates the reality of (the attribute of) nuzool (descending).» If this is authentically established from Him (i.e. Abdul Ghani al-Maqdisi alHanbali), it is the truth. It is like one saying: ‘I do not affirm a transcendence for Him (Allah) that negates the reality of His existence, or the reality of His speech, or the reality of His knowledge, or His hearing, or His sight, and so on.”

There are more statements other than what we’ve quoted, but what we mentioned suffices.

With this, it is clear that the truth is in the affirmation of these attributes just as they have come in the texts of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We are to affirm them for Allaah the Mighty and Majestic in reality without likening them to creation, nor interpreting them figuratively, nor describing them (i.e. speaking of their kayfiyyah; how they are). And whoever’s intellect cannot comprehend that, his duty is to believe and submit, for Allaah did not obligate us to comprehend it.


> > What is Tashbeeh in regards to Allah’s Attributes
> > Introduction to The Beliefs of the Pious Salaf in Allah's Attributes
> > The Obligation of Following the Understanding of the Righteous Salaf (Predecessors)

(1) “Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahlus-Sunnah” by Al-Lalika’ee (3/532). Reported also in “Siyar A’lam an-Nubala” by Adh-Dhahabi (10/610) with another isnad (chain); and in “Tarikh Madinat Dimashq” by Ibn Asakir (62/163) with his chain.
(2) From the great scholars of the Pious Salaf who is agreed upon. See his complete biography here :
(3) His student Abu ‘Eesa At-Tirmidhi reported this from him in his Sunan, Sunan At-Tirmidhi (2/42)
(4) “Nukat al-Qur’an” by Abu Ahmad al-Qassaab (4/68) with the tahqiq of Ali bin Ghaazee at-Tuwaijiree
(5) “Sunan Ibn Maajah” no. 93, (1/70); Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut said its chain is sound (sahih). It was also narrated by Ibn Asaakir in “Mu’jam Ash-Shuyookh” (1/61-62) and he said: the hadeeth is sahih. Imam Ahmad also reported it in his Musnad (6/55-56)
(6) “Ma`ani al-Qur’an wa I`raabih” by Abu Ishaaq Az-Zajjaj (2/112)
(7) “Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah” by Ibn Katheer (1/390), tahqiq: Abdullah At-Turki
(8) “I’raab al-Qur’aan” of Abu Ja’far an-Nahhas (1/507); Tahqiq: Zuhair Zaahid.
(9) “Juz’ feehi Qira’aat an-Nabee” by Abu Umar ad-Duree (p. 84); Tahqiq: Hikmat Basheer Yaasin. Also reported in “Sunan Abi Daawud” (5/241); Tahqiq: Muhammad Awwamah. Ibn Hajar said in Fathul-Baari: ‘Recorded by Abu Daawud with a strong chain based on the condition of Muslim’.
(10) “Al-Muhhadhab fi Ikhtisaar As-Sunan al-Kabeer” by Adh-Dhahabi (8/1494)
(11) Sahih Muslim (1285) chapter: description of the day of Judgement. And “As-Sunan al-Kubra” by an-Nasa’i (7/145); and “Sunan Ibn Maajah” (1/137), Tahqiq: Shuaib Al-Arnaut.
(12) Saheeh Muslim (p. 103-104); Ahmad in his Musnad (7/14-16); and al-Bazzaar in his Musnad “Al-Bahr Az-Zkhaar” (4/273-274).
(13) Musnad of Imam Ahmad (40/228); Shu’ayb al-Arnaut said: ‘Its chain is authentic according to the condition of Muslim’. It was also reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhari: Kitaab At-Tawheed/chapter on the Allaah’s saying: {Verily, Allaah is Ever All-Hearing, the All-Seer}; Abu Al-Shaykh in “al-Adhamah” (2/537), and others.
(14) Sunan Ibn Maajah (5/9-10), Dar Ar-Risala Al-Alamiyah publication.
(15) Narrated by Abu ‘Uthman As-Sabuni in “Aqeedat as-Salaf wa Ashaabul-Hadeeth” (pg.233-234), tahqiq: Al-Judai’; and (pg. 63) tahqiq by Abu Al-Yameen al-Mansuri
(16) One of the great scholars of the Righteous Salaf, whose authority and piety is agreed upon. See his complete biography here:
(17) One of the evidences for Allaah being attributed with hands is His saying: “O Iblîs (Satan)! What prevents you from prostrating yourself to one whom I have created with My Two Hands…” [38:75]
(18) Evidence for Allaah having the attribute of foot is the saying of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam): ”Hell fire will continue to say, ‘Are there any more to come? Then the Lord of Honour will put His Foot over it and it will say: Enough, enough by Your Power and Honor. And its various sides will come close to each other (i.e., it will contract).“ Sahih Bukhari and Muslim.
(19) Narrated by Ibn Shaheen in “Sharh Madhaahib Ahl As-Sunnah” (p 34-35) tahqiq: Aadil bin Muhammad. And Abu Yalaa mentioned it in “Ibtaal at-Ta’wilat” on the authority of Abul-Qasim Abdul-Kareem (1/55). And Abul-Qasim al-Asbahani At-Taymi in “Al-Hujjah fi bayaan al-Mahajjah”.
(20) “Kitaab As-Sunnah” by Abdullah the son of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (1/264), tahqiq: Muhammad bin Sa’eed al-Qahtaani. Ibn Hajar mentioned this in “Fath al-Bari” saying: ‘It was reported by Ahmad bin Hanbal in the book :“As-Sunnah” from Yahya bin Saeed, and said: And Yahya was pointing with his finger, putting a finger on a finger until he reached the last one.’ [Fath Al-Bari (13/409)]
(21) Narrated by Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal in “As-Sunnah (1/281), and Ibn An-Najjad reported it in “Ar-Rad ala Man yaqool al-Qur’an Makhluq” (pg. 5-6) on the authority of his Shaykh Imam Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal. And al-Khateeb al-Baghdadi in “Taarikh Baghdad” (7/254) with a chain to Ibn An-Najjad.
(22) “Fathul-Baari” by Ibn Hajar -through Abu Bakr Al-Khallal - (13/409) tahqiq: Abdel Qader Shaybt Al-Hamd
(23) He is replying to the claim of some Innovators that the speech which Prophet Musa (Moses) Alayhi Assalam heard at mount Tur where the tree was, was a speech that Allah created in The tree, they do not affirm it to be Allah’s Speech which He –The Most High- Spoke.
(24) “Ijtimaa’ al-Juyoosh al-Islamiyyah” by Ibnul Qayyim (2/274); and “Al-Arsh” by Adh-Dhahabi (2/271-272)
(25) “At-Tabseer fi Ma’alim ad-Deen” by At-Tabari (p140)
(26) “Tadhkirat al-Huffadh” by Adh-Dhahabi (2/215); and “Siyar A’lam an-Nubala” by Adh-Dhahabi (14/396)
(27) “Tadhkirah al-Huffadh” (3/101), “Al-Uluww lil Alee al-Ghaffar” (pg. 239), and “Dar’u Ta’arud al-Aql wan-Naql” by Ibn Taymiyyah (3/229)
(28) See his complete biography here:
(29) “Al-Uluw lil Alee al-Ghaffar (pg. 246) by Adh-Dhahabi
(30) “Tabaqat al-Hanaabilah” by Ibn Abi Ya’la (2/370-371) tahqiq Abdur-Rahman al-Uthaymin; and “Al-Muntadhim” by Ibn Jawzi (15/279)
(31) “At-Tamheed lima fi al-Muwwata’ min al-Ma’ani wal-Asaneed” by Ibn Abdul-Barr (7/145)- hadeeth no, 25
(32) “Al-Istidhkar” by Ibn Abdul-Barr (8/403)
(33) See his complete biography here:
(34) “Al-Hujjah fi bayan al-Mahajjah” by Abul Qasim Isma’il alAsbahani (1/446) tahqiq Muhammad al-Madkhali


Latest Articles

Main Categories

Search Form


Copyright reserved to every Muslim 1430 H. - 2009