Category Archives: Aqeedah

Islam – Free from Baseless Superstitions

By Abu Zakariya

Virtually every culture that has ever existed has its own superstitious beliefs and practices, and many are shared across cultures. It is not solely the domain of the religious, as even millions of people in secular societies today indulge in practices such as astrology, tarot, numerology, palm reading, psychics, spiritual mediums and many others. In this article we will see how the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, rejected the baseless superstitious beliefs and practices of the world into which he was born and ultimately transformed humanity.

THE SUPERSTITIONS OF 7TH CENTURY ARABIA

Superstition formed a large part of Arabian society in the 7th century Arabs. Some of these practices included Tatayyur (belief in omens), Tanjeem (astrology), Tabarruk (seeking blessing from idols) and Kahanah (soothsaying). History has recorded a large number of myths and superstitions pertaining to the Arabs. For example, they believed that certain months of the year (such as the month of Safar) brought bad luck [1], and that certain birds were bad omens. When someone died and was buried, an owl (known as ‘Haamah’ in Arabic) was said to hover over the grave of a murdered person whose blood had not been avenged [2]. All such baseless superstitions were rejected by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He denounced all such beliefs when he said: “There is no bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Haamah, nor is there any bad omen in the month of Safar”[3].

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ endeavoured that people should follow truth and not falsehood: Those who follow the Messenger [Muhammad]… who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them… [Qur’an, 7:157]. There is a notable incident recorded that on the same day that the infant son of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ died, there was an eclipse of the Sun and Moon. The people linked the two events together by saying that even the Sun and Moon were saddened by the death of his child. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ personally denounced such beliefs, saying: “The Sun and the Moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e. birth) of someone…”[4] Is there really any reason Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would go against the superstitions of his people, especially when he came from a tribal culture that blindly followed the traditions of their forefa­thers? Had Prophet Muhammad ﷺ been an imposter, then this would have been the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the ignorance of the people, but he did not. The Qur’an also records some of the superstitions of the Arabs relating to the Sun and the Moon which they used to worship: “The night, the day, the Sun, the Moon, are only a few of His signs. Do not bow down in worship to the Sun or the Moon, but bow down to God who created them, if it is truly Him that you worship.” [41:37]

We can see that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ rejected the superstitions that were present in virtually every level of 7th century Arabian society. We should not be surprised by their widespread popularity, it was only natural given the circumstances of the people. Just think about the level of knowledge about the natural world at the time of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, over 1,400 years ago. Mankind lacked the technology we have today and so came to many incorrect conclusions about how the natural world works. Legends and myths were invented because they lacked a means of scientifically explaining the world around them. Of course, some thinkers and philosophers at that time still managed to make some amazing discoveries, such as accurately estimating the circumference of the earth, but for everything they got right, they also got a lot wrong. Lack of education is another issue, we take for granted the ability to read and write but most people in the world at that time lacked these skills. Arabia itself had extremely high rates of illiteracy. It is estimated that the number of literate persons in the region of Western Saudi Arabia, the locality of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, did not exceed seventeen [5]. Taking into account all of these circumstances, unless one has access to the unseen, then it will be very difficult to identify the falsehood of such beliefs and practices. A genuine prophet, though, would easily be able to identify such falsehood and reject it, by virtue of possessing the wisdom and insight that has been granted to them by a higher power. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born and raised in a world that was filled with baseless superstitions, he was subject to the same technological limitations as everyone else, and he could neither read nor write [6]. Yet he was unique, in the sense that he saw through all the falsehood that those around him were indulging in. Prophets are supposed to be beacons of truth, and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stood for the truth throughout his life, in the face of great danger, and often at great pain and cost to his own personal wellbeing. Let’s look at some other areas where Prophet Muhammad ﷺ rejected superstitions that plagued not only Arabia, but also the rest of the world:

1. DISEASE AND MEDICINE

When it comes to disease and medicine we know that magic and superstition played a very large part in the life of the Arabs [7]. For example, once there was an epidemic of fever in the Arabian oasis of Khaybar, people visiting the place would bray at the gates like donkeys to protect themselves. The reason was that they believed the fever attacked only humans, and by imitating donkeys they hoped to make it think they were not human and so to avoid catching it. In another example, a man could repel an attack of insanity by befouling himself with menstrual cloths and surrounding himself with dead men’s bones. An illness could be expelled by transference to someone else. For example, in a fever, a thread was tied round the arm of the patient. Whoever undid the thread would have the fever transferred to him, and the patient would recover. If someone was bitten by a snake, it was believed he could be cured if he held pieces of women’s jewellery in his hand and rattled them all night [8]. The advent of Islam did away with all of this. There is an incident where a Bedouin approached Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and asked,“O Messenger of God, should we not treat sickness?” Prophet Muhammad ﷺ replied, “Treat sickness, for God has not created any disease except He has also created the cure, except for one disease.” The Bedouin asked, “O Messenger of God, what is it?” Prophet Muhammad ﷺ responded, “Old age.” [9] When it came to contagious diseases, Islam was way ahead of its time as it instituted practices such as isolation and quarantine. Today these are strategies which are implemented by public health authorities. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ commanded his followers not to travel to places known to be afflicted with illness, and he advised those in the contaminated areas not to leave and spread the disease further afield. He ﷺ said: “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place” [10]. In fact, entire books have been written on the medicine of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, such as The Prophetic Medicine by the  scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya.

Let’s compare such 7th century teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ on disease, medicine and quarantine control, to the situation in Europe where, as late as the 14th century, it was still widely believed that distant planets caused diseases here on earth. The Bubonic Plague, also known as the Black Death, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe in the years 1346 – 1353 CE. It spread so quickly through Europe because medical knowledge had stagnated during the Middle Ages [11]. The most authoritative European account at the time of the Black Death came from a medical faculty in Paris. They produced a report in 1345 CE that was sent to the king of France, placing the primary source of the disease on a conjunction of three planets that caused a “great pestilence in the air”:

We say that the distant and first cause of this pestilence was and is the configuration of the heavens. In 1345, at one hour after noon on 20 March, there was a major conjunction of three planets in Aquarius. This conjunction, along with other earlier conjunctions and eclipses, by causing a deadly corruption of the air around us, signifies mortality and famine, and also other things about which we will not speak here because they are not relevant… These effects were intensified because Mars – a malevolent planet, breeding anger and wars – was in the sign of Leo from 6 October 1347 until the end of May this year… [12]

When we look to the writings of Europe’s distant past, we find similar accounts. The Iliad, an ancient Greek epic poem believed to be written c. 1194–1184 BCE, also attributes illness to stars:

Priam was the first to see him sparkling on the plain, bright as that star in autumn rising, whose unclouded rays shine out amid a throng of stars at dusk-the one they call Orion’s dog, most brilliant, yes, but baleful as a sign: it brings great fever to frail men [13]

It seems like 14th European medicine had advanced very little and was still steeped in the superstition of the ancient Greeks over 2,000 years before them. Sadly, a much more sinister explanation for the Black Death was prevalent in other parts of Europe. Here a chronicle by a 14th century Franciscan friar reports that Jewish people were blamed for the cause of the disease:

In 1347 there was such a great pestilence and mortality throughout almost the whole world that in the opinion of well-informed men scarcely a tenth of mankind survived. The victims did not linger long, but died on the second or third day. The plague raged so fiercely that many cities and towns were entirely emptied of people… Some say that it was brought about by the corruption of the air; others that the Jews planned to wipe out all the Christians with poison and had poisoned wells and springs everywhere. And many Jews confessed as much under torture: that they had bred spiders and toads in pots and pans, and had obtained poison from overseas… God, the lord of vengeance, has not suffered the malice of the Jews to go unpunished. Throughout Germany, in all but a few places, they were burnt. For fear of that punishment many accepted baptism and their lives were spared. This action was taken against the Jews in 1349, and it still continues unabated, for in a number of regions many people, noble and humble alike, have laid plans against them and their defenders which they will never abandon until the whole Jewish race has been destroyed [14]

We can see that even as late as the 14th century, Europe was still attributing the causes of disease to astrology as well as conspiracy theories about the Jewish people. Compare all this to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ on disease, its cures and quarantine control over 600 years prior.

2. CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Another area where mankind has suffered due to superstition is the criminal justice system. The 7th century Arabs lived by the tribal law of retaliation. According to this custom, when a noble person of a strong and influential tribe was killed, it was not enough to kill the perpetrator, especially if they had not been of equal rank. Therefore, many innocent members of the other tribe used to be killed. If such revenge was not sought then it was believed that the victim’s tribe would be shamed, and the adult males of the tribe would have to abandon wine, perfume and fancy food until they avenged their tribe [15]. To appreciate the extent to which the Arabs could take this practice, there is a famous incident where one tribe killed a camel belonging to another and it led to the start of a terrible war which lasted for 40 years, killing scores of people from both sides [16].

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ condemned such systems of justice as immoral. Collective punishment gave way to individual responsibility, as the Qur’an declares that innocent people are not to be held accountable for the actions of others: “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another” [35:18]. When it comes to punishing a person who is said to be guilty of a crime, the accused is presumed to be innocent until concrete evidence is brought forward. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ declared: “Had men been believed only according to their allegations, some persons would have claimed the blood and properties belonging to others, but the accuser is bound to present positive proof” [17]. One example of such evidence is multiple, corroborating eyewitness testimony, and each witness must be reliable individuals whose word can be trusted. The testimony of known liars, for example, would be rejected. We can see that Islam did not come with spirituality alone, but it also brought with it very practical approaches to solving our problems and challenges in day to day life. You may be thinking to yourself, is this really so impressive, as this is just the norm in criminal justice systems around the world. Today we take things like presumption of innocence, trials, testimony and evidence for granted. But such legal systems are quite different to the ones that were practised up until only a few centuries ago. Throughout Medieval Europe, justice was heavily influenced by superstition. The most important figure in a court of law was not a judge or jury, in fact they were not human at all. When a person was accused of a crime, they would have to perform a ritual during which God would reveal the guilt or innocence of the accused. People from poorer backgrounds would undergo a trial by ordeal [18]. For example, the accused might have to hold a red-hot iron. The wound would be bandaged and re-examined three days later by a priest, who would pronounce that God had intervened to heal it, in which case they were seen as innocent, or that it was merely festering—in which case the accused would be condemned as guilty. Nobles and people from a rich background would undergo a trial by combat. If a man was accused of a serious crime, he could prove his innocence by fighting his accuser. Fights took place in front of a huge crowd and had the atmosphere of a country fair. The battle would last until one of the men surrendered or was killed. It was still considered divine justice, as God would ensure that the innocent party would always prevail [19]. Eventually, trials by ordeal and combat gave way to trials by jury, but such superstitious justice systems were in place in Europe throughout the Middle Ages, over a thousand years after Islam introduced a system based on evidence and not superstition.

3. RACISM AND THE INEQUALITY OF HUMAN BEINGS

Even racism, one of the great evils of history, has its roots in superstition. The Curse of Ham (also known as Noah’s Curse) refers to an incident in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, regarding Noah and his son Ham. In this story, Noah gets angry with Ham, and places a curse on his descendants (the Canaanites), condemning them to slavery. There is a racist interpretation of this curse that some in the West have taken in order to justify slavery. The explanation that black Africans, as the “sons of Ham”, were cursed, possibly “blackened” by their sins, was advanced during the Middle Ages and became increasingly common during the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries [20]. Even the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who is considered a shining example of enlightened thinking, considered some human beings to be inherently inferior to others from the moment of their birth: “For that some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only necessary, but expedient from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.” Then he concludes, “some men are by nature free, and others slave, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right”[21]. Even Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most revered spiritual leaders of the 20th century, expressed racist views. Gandhi spent 21 years living in Colonial South Africa, from 1893 to 1914. He arrived there during a time when the nation was suffering severe political unrest and racial discrimination against black people. In 1895, Gandhi began actively promoting racial segregation in Durban. The Durban post office had two doors: one for whites and the other shared by Indians and black Africans. Being Indian, Gandhi was required to share a door with black South Africans, which deeply offended him. He petitioned the authorities to create separate entrances for Indians and was granted his wish when the authorities provided three separate entrances, one each for black Africans, Indians, and Europeans [22]. In 1903 Gandhi wrote: “We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race.” [23]. Gandhi shared many of the discriminatory racial views of his time. He was perhaps a product of the rigid Hindu caste system which divides people into different categories, with anyone falling outside of these categories being classified as “untouchables” and treated as social outcasts.

The Arabs of the 7th century were no better, they wrongly believed that the most superior of people were those who descended from the Arab race and had Arab blood. This is reflected in the widespread and brutal treatment of black slaves before the advent of Islam. Racism is an idea that Islam completely rejects:

O mankind, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognise one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. [49:13]

Here the Qur’an speaks of human equality in no uncertain terms. Islam rejects the notion that certain individuals or nations are favoured because of their wealth, power or race. God created human beings as equals who are to be distinguished from each other only on the basis of their faith and piety. The life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is a beautiful realisation of this Qur’anic standard. Throughout his Prophethood, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ advised his people to set aside their ignorant and perverse values and to live by the Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ love for humanity, irrespective of race or nationality, is demonstrated in his famous Last Sermon. In perhaps the most noteworthy manifestation of anti-racism of any religious figurehead in recorded history, he challenged an ultra-nationalistic and highly racist society by calling on people to unite under a banner of humanity:

O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today… All of mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action.” [24]

Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ anti-racist mentality helped lead his people out of the darkness of nationalism and racism and into the light by guiding them onto the path of racial equality. The fact that Islam spread amongst all the colours and races of the world is testimony to the fact that Islam did not accept these false divisions. Today millions of people across the world, black, white, Asian, African and European are all part of the unique Islamic brotherhood and sisterhood.

Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ anti-racist views were apparent very early on in his Prophetic mission through his friendship with Bilal ibn Rabah, a black slave who rose to a leading position within the Muslim community of 7th century Arabia. He was appointed as the official muadhin of the Prophet, meaning that he was responsible for making the public calls to prayer. In choosing Bilal for this honourable role, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ demonstrated that social exclusion and subordination based upon skin colour was not to be permitted in an Islamic society. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ broke down racial barriers for black believers in a part of the world that had one of the poorest track records for human rights, preceding the Western civil rights movement and Martin Luther King by nearly 1,500 years. It’s no wonder that British historian Professor Arnold J. Toynbee wrote,“The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding moral achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” [25]

If Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ main motivation was to gain power, as some argue, then why did he go against racism? He had absolutely nothing to gain by uplifting the status and rights of slaves in tribal Arabia. Quite the opposite in fact, as his stance only served to alienate and create enemies of those who were in positions of power over slaves and had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ spoke out against racism, and every evil in tribal Arabia, because the Qur’an commands believers to uphold justice, even if it goes against one’s self-interests: “You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly– if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do.” [4:135]

HOW PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S TEACHINGS TRANSFORMED THE WORLD

Here is the testimony of Ja’far bin Abi Talib, who was a contemporary of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He informed the king of Abyssinia about the condition of his people and the positive change Islam had brought for them:

O King, we were an uncivilised people, worshipping idols, eating corpses, committing abominations, breaking natural ties, treating guests badly, and our strong devoured our weak. Thus we were until God sent us an apostle whose lineage, truth, trustworthiness, and clemency we know. He summoned us to acknowledge God’s unity and to worship Him and to renounce the stones and images which we and our fathers formerly worshipped. He commanded us to speak the truth, be faithful to our engagements, mindful of the ties of kinship and kindly hospitality, and to refrain from crimes and bloodshed. He forbade us to commit abominations and to speak lies, and to devour the property of orphans, to vilify chaste women. He commanded us to worship God alone and not associate anything with Him, and he gave us orders about prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. We confessed his truth and believed in him, and we followed him in what he had brought from God, and we worshipped God without associating aught with Him. [26]

Prophet Muhammad’s teachings transformed every level of Arabian society. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the challenge that Prophet Muhammad faced, let’s look at an attempt in recent Western history to eradicate just one social ill: alcoholism. In 1920 the United States government passed a nationwide law to ban the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages for moral and medical reasons. This era is commonly known as the Prohibition. Although the consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of the Prohibition, it subsequently increased and led to other problems such as corruption and organised crime. The law was repealed in 1933. The failure of one of the most powerful governments in the world to tackle just a single social ill should make us reflect on Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. His teachings managed to completely reform not only alcoholism but all the social ills of Arabian society in a single generation. It took just 23 years! This was a revolution the likes of which the world has never witnessed.

The coming of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the 7th century produced one of the most successful civilisations in the history of the world. While Europe was in the Dark Ages it was the Muslims that produced some of the best known scholars. Victor Robinson, a historian of science, eloquently summed up the contrast between medieval Europe and Islamic Spain:

Europe was darkened at sunset, Cordova shone with public lamps; Europe was dirty, Cordova built a thousand baths; Europe was covered with vermin, Cordova changed its undergarments daily; Europe lay in mud, Cordova’s streets were paved; Europe’s palaces had smoke-holes in the ceiling, Cordova’s arabesques were exquisite; Europe’s nobility could not sign its name, Cordova’s children went to school; Europe’s monks could not read the baptismal service, Cordova’s teachers created a library of Alexandrian dimensions. [27]

Some examples of Muslim advances in science are the mathematician al-Khwarizmi, who played a significant role in the development of algebra. He also came up with the concept of algorithms which is why he is called the grandfather of computer science. The physician Az-Zahrawi is considered the greatest medieval surgeon and is described by many as the father of modern surgery. He made pioneering discoveries in surgical procedures and instruments, for example the material he utilised for internal stitching is still used in surgery today. The astronomer Al-Sufi made the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy. This was the first galaxy other than the Milky Way to be observed from Earth. The philosopher Ibn Sina is considered one of the greatest thinkers and scholars in history. He provided the first descriptions of bacterial and viral organisms. He also discovered the contagious nature of infectious diseases and introduced the concept of quarantine to limit the spread of disease. He has been so influential in medicine that he is referred to as the father of modern medicine [28]. You may be surprised to learn that many of the scientific words and terms we use today are taken from the Arabic language; this is a legacy of the discoveries of Muslim scientists. For example, the word “algebra” comes from the Arabic word “al-jabr”, taken from the title of one of the books by the Muslim mathematician al-Khwarizmi. The word “algorithm” is taken from al-Khwarizmi’s name itself. The word “alchemy” comes almost unchanged from the Arabic “al-kimya”. One of the greatest contributions made by Arab scholars was their development of the science of astronomy. If you look at a modern star chart, you’ll find hundreds of stars whose names derive from Arabic: Altair, Aldebaran, Betelgeuse, Vega, Rigel and Algol, to name a few. Finally, we owe the decimal number system that we use for counting to Arab mathematicians. In fact the most common symbolic representation of numbers in the world today (1, 2, 3 etc.) are actually taken from Arabic numerals.

THE SOURCE OF ENLIGHTENMENT, THE QUR’AN

You may be wondering, what is it about the Qur’an that inspired Muslims to go from the depths of ignorance of the pre-Islamic era to being leaders of the world in the sciences? Many of these scientists were excellent Islamic theologians and it was the Qur’an which drew their attention to inquire into the natural world and showed them the path to knowledge and enlightenment. The 10th century Muslim scholar Ibn al-Haytham is widely regarded as the father of the scientific method and was the first scientist in history to insist that everything be proven through induction, which uses observations and experimentation to challenge previously held theories. Ibn al-Haytham first studied theology, the Qur’an, and he stated that it was the Qur’an that inspired him to study philosophy and science: “I decided to discover what it is that brings us closer to God, what pleases Him most, and what makes us submissive to His ineluctable Will.” [27]

The following verses of the Qur’an were the first to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It is interesting that of all the things which the Qur’an could have mentioned, the actions of reading and writing were chosen. Notice how the very first word revealed was a commandment to “read”. Thus the Qur’an attaches great importance to knowledge and education:

Read! In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from a clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by [means of] the pen, who taught man what he did not know. [96:1-5]

God created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight and minds. Thus the Qur’an reminds us that we should be grateful to God for these tools which give us the means to obtain knowledge:

It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful. [16:78]

Here the Qur’an highlights the noble status of the one who has knowledge; they are superior to those who lack knowledge, as one who is knowledgeable has greater understanding. This encourages Muslims to continually seek knowledge:

How can those who know be equal to those who do not know? Only those who have understanding will take heed. [39:9]

The Qur’an draws our attention to many natural phenomena by encouraging us to observe the world around us:

Then do they not look at the camels – how they are created? And at the sky – how it is raised? And at the mountains – how they are erected? And at the earth – how it is spread out? [88:17-20]

Moreover this observation of the world around us should not be aimless but rather we should ponder and reflect on what we see:

There truly are signs in the creation of the heavens and earth, and in the alternation of night and day, for those with understanding, who remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth… [3:190-191]

The concept of putting ideas to the test is encouraged by the Qur’an. So is the use of witnesses in order to validate conclusions. It must be noted that no other religious text challenges its reader in such ways. The use of falsification tests is unique to the Qur’an:

If you have doubts about the revelation We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a single chapter like it– enlist whatever witnesses you have other than God– if you truly [think you can]. [2:23]

CONCLUSION

We have seen how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ transformed every aspect of Arabian society, and even the world at large. Whether you have read the Qur’an or not, whether you’ve even heard of the Qur’an before reading this article, it has already shaped and influenced your life in ways you cannot imagine. This is exactly the kind of legacy that one would expect, were Prophet Muhammad ﷺ a genuine Prophet of God.

References

1 – Sunan Abi Dawood, Hadith #3914.

2 – T. E. Homerin, “Echoes of a thirsty owl: death and afterlife in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry”, pp. 165-184.

3 – Sahih Bukari, Book 76, Hadith #27.

4 – Sahih Bukhari, Hadith #153.

5 – Al-Baladhuri, Futuh al-Buldan, p. 458.

6 – This is a fact which the Qur’an itself confirms: “Follow the Messenger– the unlettered prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel…” [7:157].

7 – M. Ullmann, Islamic Medicine, pp. 2-5.

8 – Richard Tapper and Keith McLachlan, Technology, Tradition and Survival: Aspects of Material Culture in the Middle East and Central Asia, p. 35.

9 – Tirmidhi, 4/383, Hadith #1961.

10 – Sahih Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith #43.

11 – Robert Clifford Ostergren, The Europeans: A Geography of People, Culture, and Environment, p. 88.

12 – Rosemary Horrox, The Black Death, pp. 158 – 159.

13 – Homer, The Iliad, Book 22:21.

14 – J. G. Meuschen, Hermanni Gygantis, ordinis fratrum minorum, Flores Temporum seu Chronicon Universale ab Orbe condito ad annum Christi MCCCXLIX, Leiden, 1750, pp. 138 – 139.

15 – Piotr Blumczynski and John Gillespie, Translating Values: Evaluative Concepts in Translation, p. 109.

16 – G.N Jalbani, Life of the Holy Prophet, 1988, pp. 2 – 3.

17 – Al Baihagi, The 40 Hadith of Imam al Nawawi, No. 33.

18 – Robert Bartlett, The Natural and the Supernatural in the Middle Ages, pp. 27 – 28.

19 – Janin Hunt, Medieval Justice: Cases and Laws in France, England, and Germany: 500-1500, p. 17.

20 – Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1482-1800, pp. 210, 247, 259, 312, 329, 585.

21 – Aristotle, Politics, Book I, chp. 5 pp.58-60.

22 –  Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 1, pp. 367-368.

23 – Jad Adams, Gandhi: The True Man Behind Modern India, Chapoter 4: Challenge and Chastity.

24 – Musnad Ahmad, Hadith #19774.

25 – Civilization On Trial, New York, 1948, p. 205.

26 – The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, translation by A. Guillaume, 2004, pp. 151 – 152.

27 – Victor Robinson, The Story of Medicine, New York, 1936, p. 164.

28 – George Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, Washington, 1927-48, 3 volumes.

29 – Steffens, B., Ibn al-Haytham: first scientist, 2007.

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UNDERSTANDING DIVINE DECREE AND HUMAN WILL – ARE WE FORCED OR DO WE HAVE FREE WILL??

Many groups have been misled in their understanding of Qadar (Pre-destination/Divine Decree). From them are the Jahmiyyah and the Jabriyyah who claim that the slave is forced in his actions and he has no control, ability or will. He is like a feather or a leaf which is blown by the wind.

Another group went to the other extreme and declared that every man creates his own actions. Allah has no will or control in the slave’s action. The slave performs his actions by his choice and power that is independent of the Will of Allah. Some of them exaggerated to the extent that they said that Allah does not know the thing before it occurs…

The first group (Jabriyyah) affirmed the Divine Decree and exaggerated (in their affirmation of Allah’s Will) and thus robbed the slave from his will.

The second group (Qadariyyah) exaggerated in (their affirmation of) the slave’s will until they denied the Will and Decree of Allah.

Both these groups are greatly mistaken and misguided.

The Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah is on the middle path – they affirm ability, choice and will for the slave but it is subservient to the Will and Power of Allah and the slave cannot do anything except by the Will of Allah.

This article gives the reader a thorough understanding of how the will, choice and ability of the slave are subservient to the Will and Power of Allah.

Apart from explaining what it means to believe in the Divine Decree, it has been expansively clarified about the important issues related to the subject, like Allah’s Will for the occurrence of Kufr despite His Hatred for it.

Explanation of additional issues like – the sinner’s justification by pre-destination. Is it obligatory upon us to be pleased with what has been decreed? – make the book more comprehensive and beneficial for the reader.

We ask Allah to forgive our mistakes and make us amongst those who are patient and pleased with the Decree of Allah. Aameen.

Faith in the Divine Decree

Iman (faith) in the Divine Decree/Pre-destination is to believe that Allah has decreed everything due to His (Absolute) Knowledge.

The scholars therefore, say that  Iman in the Divine Decree has four stages:

The Knowledge 
The Writing 
The Will 
The Creation 

Level 1: The Knowledge

Allah is the Knower of everything  – in general and in detail.

Allah knows everything concerning His Own Actions like creation, giving life, causing death, sending down rain, etc.

Allah knows everything concerning the actions of His creatures like the sayings and deeds of man. Even actions of the animals are known to Allah.

Everything is known to Allah before it occurs.

The proofs of Allah’s Knowledge are numerous, amongst them are; 
“Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything.”  [Surah al-Ahzab 33: 40] 

“It is Allah, Who has created the seven heavens and the earth the like thereof. His Command descends between them that you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah comprehends all things in (His) Knowledge.” [Surah at-Talaaq 65:12]

“With Him are the keys of the Ghayb (unseen), none knows them but He. He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darknesses of the earth or anything fresh or dry, but is written in a clear record.” [Surah al-An’am 6:59]

Let us discuss (Allah’s Knowledge mentioned in) the above verse,

“He knows whatever there is in the earth and the sea.”  

The word, ‘whatever’ is general. So, Allah knows everything on the earth and in the seas.

“not a leaf falls but He knows it.”

Any leaf in any tree in any place – at the top of a mountain or in the depth of a valley or in a meadow located in any part of the world. All trees shed leaves but Allah knows the leaf (that falls at the given time). (and Allah also knows) every leaf that shoots out  – beforehand.

“There is not a grain in the darknesses of the earth.”  

Allah Knows every grain small or big in the darknesses of the earth.

The word, ‘darknesses’ is plural which indicates that the earth has darknesses; darkness of the night, darkness of the sea, darkness of the sand, darkness of the clouds, darkness of the rain and darkness of the dust. These are six darknesses and there may be more which we are unaware of. However, these darknesses do not change anything between Allah and the grain. Allah knows the grain and sees it.

“nor anything fresh or dry”

Allah knows everything that is fresh or dry.

“but is written in a Clear Record.”

Clear Record means al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh (the Preserved Tablet). Al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh is due to the Knowledge of Allah.

The Knowledge of Allah concerning the actions of man is inscribed in the Book of Allah (i.e., al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh), “Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes We do) and Our Messengers (i.e., angels in charge of recording man’s deeds) are by them to record.” [Surah az-Zukhruf 43:80]

Allah knows the secret and the private counsel. 
Secret is that which one conceals in his heart and talks about it to himself.
Private counsel is one’s confidential talk with a friend. Both are known to Allah.

This Knowledge of Allah was never preceded by ignorance and is not affected by forgetfulness. Therefore when Fir’awn asked Musa (alayhissalaam), “What about the generations of old?” (Musa) said, “The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Record. My Lord is neither unaware nor He forgets.” [Surah Ta-Ha 20: 51-52]

“unaware” means ignorance

“nor He forgets” means He knows.
Knowledge of man, on the other hand, is surrounded by both -prior ignorance and subsequent forgetfulness, “Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing.” [Surah an-Nahl 16:78]

Level 2: The Writing

Allah recorded the destiny of everything fifty thousand years before creating the heavens and the earth. He recorded everything that will exist or not exist until the establishment of the Hour.

When Allah created the pen, He said to it, “Write.”

The pen asked, “O Lord, what shall I write?”

Allah replied, “Write the decree of what is to happen.”

So everything that is to happen until the Day of Judgment was written. Thus whatever occurs to man could not have missed him and whatever misses him could not have occurred to him.

The proof (that everything was previously recorded) is the Saying of Allah, “Know you not that Allah knows all that is in the heaven and on earth? Verily, it is (all) in the Book (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfoodh). Verily! That is easy for Allah.” [Surah al-Hajj 22:70]

“No calamity befalls the earth or yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfoodh) before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.” [Surah al-Hadid 57:22]

The people of knowledge saidthat the Writing is of many kinds:

(i) The General Writing which is in al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh (the Preserved Tablet).

(ii) The Writing about the Life of man.

The Writing about the life of man is recorded while one is in the womb of his mother. Ibn Mas’ood (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ told us, ‘Every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days then he becomes a clot for another forty days then a piece of flesh for another forty days. Allah then sends an angel to breathe a soul into him. The angel is commanded to write down four decrees – his provision, life-span, deeds and whether he will be doomed or blessed (in the  Hereafter).

By the One besides whom there is no god, one of you may do the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is no more than a cubit between him and it – then the decree overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and thus enters it.

One of you may do the deeds of the people of Hell until there is no more than a cubit between him and it. The decree then overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Paradise and thus enters it.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Such is because the first writing (in al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh) is dominant.

While reading the above Hadith, we should not forget the other Ahadith that give glad tidings to man. It is true that this Hadith causes one to be terrified and one might ask, ‘How can one man perform the deeds of the people of Paradise until there is no more than a cubit between him and it and then – we seek refuge from Allah – he commits an act of the people of Hell?

Reply: There are – Alhamdulillah – other texts which relieve the believer from his anguish (concerning this Hadith);

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “There is no one amongst you but Allah has already decreed his place in Paradise or in Hell.”  

They asked, “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, should we not rely on the Book and leave striving?”

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Strive, for each one will be facilitated to do that for which he is created. Those who are blessed will perform the acts of those who are blessed and those who are the doomed will perform the acts of those who are doomed.”

Then he ﷺ recited the verse, “As for him who gives (in charity) and keeps his duty to Allah and fears Him and believes in al-Husna. We will make smooth for him the path of ease (goodness). But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient…We will make smooth for him the path for evil.” [Surah al-Layl 92: 5-10]

This is a glad tiding from the Prophet ﷺ – if one performs the acts of the blessed people then this is a proof that he is written amongst the blessed people. So let him be pleased.

Imam Bukhari narrated in his Sahih that the Prophet ﷺ was in a battle and there was a brave and courageous man concerning whom the Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, he is from the people of Hell.” despite his bravery and courage.

This was hard on the Sahabah and so one of them said, “By Allah, I will follow him.” and so he did.

An arrow of the enemy wounded the brave man and so he was angered. He placed his sword on his chest and leaned on it until the sword emerged from his back. The man thus committed suicide.

The Companion returned to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah!”

The Prophet ﷺ asked, “What is the matter?”

The Companion replied, “The man concerning whom you informed us that he was from the people of the Fire, did such and such.”

Then the Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, a man may perform actions of the people of Paradise as it seems to the people while he is from the people of the Fire.” [See, Sahih al-Bukhari]

I ask Allah to purify my intentions and your intentions because intentions play a major role in one’s orientation. The heart is the chief and it controls man. We must therefore consider the heart, examine it and purify it perhaps, it contains impurities. Man might pretend to perform good deeds through the limbs but there might be in his heart this corrupt impurity that leads one to the fire in the end.

Some of the Salaf said, 
“My soul has not striven for anything – its striving is (only) for Ikhlas (sincerity).” 

That which many of us consider insignificant requires immense striving. If there is any bit of Riya (show-off) in a person, he is not a mukhlis (one who possesses Ikhlas – sincerity). Perhaps, Riya might be in his heart and it becomes a cause of his destruction at the last moment.

Ibn Qayyim mentioned (a story with regards to) the effects of sins and its consequences. A man indulged in Riba (interest – forbidden business) was prompted to recite the Shahadah by his family members at the verge of death. But he would only say ‘ten eleven’ because his heart only contained those prohibited issues that prevailed and overwhelmed it at the last moment. We seek Allah’s Refuge.

When Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah) was at the verge of death – and his knowledge, worship and piety are well-known  – whenever he lost consciousness, he would say, “not yet, not yet.’

So he was asked upon regaining his consciousness, “O Abu Abdullah, what was your saying, ‘not yet, not yet?’”

He replied, “I saw Shaytan biting on his fingers and saying, ‘You have passed me. O Ahmad.’ I told him, ‘Not yet, not yet.’ meaning I have not passed you as long as the soul is in the body.

Man is thus in danger and as the Prophet ﷺ said, “…until there is no more than a cubit between him and it (Paradise) then the decree overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and thus he enters it (Hell).”

(iii) The Annual Writing which is recorded annually during Laylatul-Qadr (The Night of Qadr). (This Writing is) concerning what will happen during the (coming) year.

“We sent it (this Qur’an) down on a blessed night in the month of Ramadhan. Verily, We are ever warning. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments.” [Surah ad-Dukhan 44: 3-4]

‘decreed’ means every issue is clarified and specified in detail.

Allah also says, “Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the night of al-Qadr.” [Surah al-Qadr 97:1]

(iv) The Continuous Daily Writing is the writing of the actions because indeed man does not act except that it is recorded – whether the act was in his favor or against him as Allah says, “Nay! But you deny the recompense. But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you, Kiraman (honorable) Katibeen writing down (your deeds). They know all that you do.” [Surah al-Infitaar 82: 9-10]

“Indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (by Our Knowledge). (Remember!) that the two receivers (recording angels) receive, one sitting on the right and the other on the left. Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).” [Surah al-Qaf 50:16-18]

This Continuous Daily Writing is different from the previous writings. The previous writings are concerning what man will do whereas this writing is concerning actions which he has performed and thus he will be recompensed (accounted) for them.

(v) The Writing of the Angels that are present at the doors of the mosques on Friday. They write down (the names of) those who reach the mosque first.

Whoever reaches at the first hour, it is as if he has sacrificed a camel (in Allah’s cause).

Whoever goes in the second hour it is as if he has sacrificed a cow.

Whoever goes in the third hour, it is as if he has sacrificed a horned ram.

Whoever goes in the fourth hour, it is as if he has sacrificed a hen.

Whoever goes in the fifth hour, it is as if he has offered an egg.

When the Imam comes out (i.e. starts delivering the sermon), the angels present themselves to listen to the sermon.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

level 3: The Will

Everything exists or does not exist by the Will of Allah. The Muslims are largely unanimous on this issue and all of them agree, “Whatsoever Allah Wills happens and what He does not Will does not occur.”

Everything occurs by the Will  of  Allah.

The Actions of Allah are without doubt by the Mashee’ah (Will) of Allah like creation, provision, life and death. Similarly actions of the creation are also by the Mashee’ah (Will) of Allah.

The proof from the Qur’an is the Saying of Allah, “If Allah had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other after clear Verses of Allah had come to them but they differed – some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allah had willed, they would not have fought against one another but Allah does what He likes.”  [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 253]

Fighting is the action of the creation which Allah caused (to occur) by His Mashee’ah (Will).

Allah says, 

“We have appointed enemies for every Prophet, Shayateen among mankind and jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion. If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it,” [Surah al-An’aam 6:112] 

“If Allah had willed they would not have done so.” [Surah al-An’aam  6: 112] 

“To whomsoever among you who wills to walk straight and you will not unless (it be) that Allah wills, the Lord of the Alameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists).” [Surah at-Takwir 81:29]

Our actions thus occur by the Will of Allah

Rational Proof
(that everything – the good and evil – exists by the Will of Allah)

Question: Is the creation the dominion of Allah?
Reply: Yes.

Question: Can there be anything in the dominion of Allah which Allah does not want?
Reply: No. As long as the thing belongs to Allah, there cannot be anything in His Dominion that Allah does not want.

Thus, everything that is in Allah’s Dominion is by His Will and Decision. There can never be anything in His Dominion that which He does not want.

If there were in His Dominion that which He does not will then His Dominion would be deficient, (because) there would be in His dominion that which would occur without His Knowledge and be beyond His Control.

LEVEL 4: THE CREATION

Faith in the Creation means believing that Allah created everything. The proof is the Saying of Allah,

“He (Allah) has created everything and has measured it exactly according to its due measurements.” [Surah al-Furqan 25:1-2] 

“Allah is the Creator of all things and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian, etc.) over all things.” [Surah az-Zumar 39:62] 

“He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything.”  [Surah al-An’am 6:102] 

“Verily, We have created all things with Qadar.” [Surah al-Qamar 54: 49] 

There are numerous verses which clearly mention that everything is a creation of Allah – even actions of mankind are a creation of Allah although they are by the choice and will of man because the actions of man are an outcome of two things:

a) Strong will 
b) Complete strength 

For example, if I were to ask you  to lift a rock weighing 10 kg and you refuse saying, “I don’t want to lift it.”

In this case, you decide to refuse to lift the rock.

I again ask you to lift the rock and you say, “Yes.” So, you try to lift the rock but you are unable to do so.

In this case, you are unable to lift the rock due to lack of strength.

For the third time I ask you to lift and you say, “Yes.” This time you lift it over your head.

In this case, you lifted the rock by your strength and decision.

All our actions are thus an outcome of strong will and complete strength, and the One Who created this will and strength is Allah.

If Allah had caused you to be paralyzed, then you would be incapable.

If Allah had changed your intention of doing that act, then (too) you would not have done it.

A Bedouin was asked, “By what do you know your Lord?”

He replied, “Through revoking of one’s intentions and changing of one’s interest.”

Man sometimes firmly resolves to do something then he changes his mind without any cause. Sometimes one goes out intending to meet a friend but he changes his mind and does not go without a reason. It is Allah, Who caused his heart to change his intention and so he returns.

Therefore, we say, “The actions of man are a creation of Allah because they are an outcome of strong will and complete strength and the Creator of this will and strength is Allah.”

Allah is the Creator of will and strength (of man) because these are the characteristics of the slave and the All-Powerful Who created the slave is Allah. The Creator of the one who possesses the characteristic (i.e., the slave) is (also) the Creator of the creature’s (slave’s) characteristics. It is thus clarified that the actions of man are a creation of Allah.

[Hereunder are discussions concerning the issue of al-Qadar because this subject – as we have mentioned at the beginning of our discussion – is critical, and includes numerous issues].

DISCUSSION 1: Allah has Mashee’ah, Iradah and Mahabbah

Allah says in the Quran, 

“Allah does what He Wills (al-Mashee’ah).” [Surah Ibraheem 14: 27] 

“Allah does what He wants (al-Iradah).” [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 253] 

Question: Are al-Mashee’ah (Will) and al-Iradah (Want/Will) one and the same thing?

Reply: No, they are different.

Question: Are al-Iradah (Want/Will) and al-Mahabbah (Love) one and the same thing? i.e., if Allah Loves something (does it also mean that) He Wills it? and if Allah Wills something (does it also mean that) He loves it?

Reply: Al-Iradah and al-Mahabbah are not the same. So there are three things  –

(i) al-Mashee’ah
(ii) al-Iradah
(iii) al-Mahabbah

All three have different meanings.
Al-Mashee’ah (Will) concerns issues of the universe regardless of whether it is loved by Allah or is detestable to Him. Allah might Will something although He does not love it and He might Will something that He Loves.

Evil is created by the Will of Allah although He does not love it.

Corruption in the earth exists by the Will of Allah although Allah does not love it.

Kufr exists by the Will of Allah although Allah does not love it.

So perhaps Allah might Will an issue concerning the universe that He does not love and He might Will an issue which He Loves.

Al-Mahabbah (Love) is related to issues of the Shari’ah (religious legislations).

Al-Mahabbah includes only those things which Allah has made permissible.

Evil is not loved by Allah but He loves obedience regardless of whether it occurs or does not occur.

Al-Iradah has two aspects;

(a) an aspect which comprises of al-Mashee’ah
(b) an aspect which comprises of al-Mahabbah

The first aspect of al-Iradah which includes al-Mashee’ah is al-Iradah al-Kawniyah (the Universal Will)

The Universal Will necessarily occurs. If Allah wants something to happen with regards to the universe then it occurs without fail regardless of whether Allah loves it or does not love it.

(al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah is mentioned in verses like)

“Allah does what He wants.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 253]

“If it is Allah’s Will to keep you astray.” [Surah Hud 11:34]

This verse means, “If Allah Wills to keep you astray” and it does not mean, ‘Allah loves to keep you astray’ because Allah does not love to misguide His slaves.

The second aspect of al-Iradah which includes Love is al-Iradah ash-Shar’iyyah (the Legislative Will).

The Legislative Will may not necessarily occur like the Saying of Allah, “Allah wishes to accept your repentance.” [Surah an-Nisa (4):27]

The Will mentioned in the verse is al-Iradah ash-Shar’iyyah because if it meant al-Mashee’ah (i.e., the universal Will which necessarily occurs) then repentance would have occurred with regard to all mankind but we see that there are people who repent and there are those who do not repent.

It is possible that both the Wills – al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah and al-Iradah ash-Shar’iyyah – agree with each other in one situation like for example, the Iman of Abu Bakr. This is what Allah Willed legislatively and universally.

It is the Legislative Will of Allah because Allah loves it.

It is the Universal Will of Allah because it occurred.

An example of al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah (Universal Will) which is different from al-Iradah ash-Shar’iyyah (Legislative Will) is the Kufr (disbelief) of Abu Lahab. Their Kufr falls under al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah because Kufr is the opposite of Shari’ah and Allah does not love the disbelievers.

An example of al-Iradah ash-Shar’iyyah (Legislative Will) which is different from al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah (Universal Will) is the Iman of Fir’awn. It is the Shar’iyyah Will because Allah sent Musa (alayhissalaam) to him. Musa (alayhissalaam) called him (to faith) but Allah did not Will it to occur due to al-Iradah al-Kawniyyah and therefore, it did not occur and Fir’awn did not accept Iman.

DISCUSSION 2: Allah’s WILL for the occurrence of KUFR Despite his hatred for it

Question: If Allah hates Kufr (disbelief) then how is it that He Wills it to occur although no one can force Allah?

Reply: Murad (cause/motive) is of two kinds;

a) Murad (cause/motive) which is (loved) for oneself. The thing that is beloved is wanted for one’s own self, like Iman. So Iman is the Murad of Allah universally and legislatively because it is intended for Himself.

b) Murad (cause/motive) for (the well-being of) someone else meaning Allah Wills it to occur not because He loves it but when He arranges the well-being (of His creation, He Wills it to occur) for the benefit of others. This can also include those issues which are due to Wisdom and not due to being forced.

Example

Kufr is detestable to Allah but Allah Wills it to occur for His slaves because

If there was no Kufr, the believer would not have been distinguished from the disbeliever and he would not deserve praise since everybody would be a Mu’min (believer).

If there was no Kufr, there would have been no struggling. Who would fight the believers?

If there was no Kufr, the Mu’min (believer) would not have valued the blessing of Islam.

If Kufr did not occur and all of mankind was Muslim then Islam would not have been a merit.

If Kufr did not occur, the creation of Hell-Fire would be futile whereas Allah has mentioned, “If your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one nation (all following the religion of Islam) but they will not cease to disagree except him on whom your Lord has bestowed His Mercy and for that did He create them. The Word of your Lord has been fulfilled, “Surely, I shall fill Hell with jinn and men all together.’” [Surah Hud 11: 118-119]

It is thus clear that the universal will – which might be detestable to Allah – could be intended for (the well-being of) others.

Example

A father immensely loves his son. If a spark of fire was to fall on the son, it would hurt the father’s heart as though the spark fell on him due to his love for the son.

The son falls sick and is taken to the doctor, who prescribes that the son be treated with cauterization (treatment by fire) in order to regain his health. The father agrees to the treatment.

This (decision of the father) is for the sake of the son and not for his ownself. It is for (the well-being of) someone other than himself.

You thus find that the father, with full calmness, comfort and contentment decides that his son be cauterized with fire although if a spark of fire was to fall on his son, it was as if it fell on the father’s heart.

It is thus known that something hateful can occur – not for one’s ownself but for (the well-being of) someone else. It is also known that something detestable might be done – not for one’s own self but for the sake of someone else. Such is also the case of Kufr, sin and corruption. Allah Wills it when it assures well-being – thus Kufr is willed by Allah for the sake of others and not for His Own-Self.

DISCUSSION 3: Allah’s DECREE  and the Slave’s Pleasure with it

It is obligatory upon us to believe in the Decree of Allah whatever it might be and be pleased with it (i.e., the Decreeing of Allah) but is it obligatory upon us to be pleased with what has been decreed?

What has been decreed is of two types;

1. The Legislative Decree (or the religious decree)

2. The Universal Decree

It is obligatory upon us to be pleased with the legislative decree like:

Allah has prescribed the five daily prayers. We have to believe in its obligation and accept it.

Allah has decreed the prohibition of adultery. It is obligatory upon us to believe in its prohibition.

Allah has decreed the legitimacy of trade. It is obligatory upon us to believe that trade is halaal (permissible) and be pleased with it.

Allah has decreed the prohibition of Riba (usury). It is obligatory upon us to believe and accept its prohibition.

The bottom line of this issue is that it is obligatory to be pleased with the Shar’iah (Legislative) Decree and accept it because, “Whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the disbelievers.”  [Surah al-Ma’idah 5:44]

The Universal Decree is that which Allah decrees concerning the universe. If this decree is loved by one and is in accordance with one’s nature then pleasure with it is from the natural instinct of man.

For example, If Allah decrees for the slave to be knowledgeable then he is pleased with it.

If Allah decrees for the slave to be wealthy then he is pleased with it.
If Allah decrees that the slave has children then he will be pleased with the Decree of Allah.

If the decree is not favorable to man and does not agree with his nature like sickness, poverty, ignorance, loss of children, etc. then the scholars have disagreed concerning it. Some said that it is obligatory to be pleased with it while others said that it is Mustahabb (recommended) to be pleased with it. The correct opinion is that pleasure with the unfavorable universal decree of Allah is Mustahab (recommended).

Man can be in four conditions when the decree is unfavorable and does not agree with his nature,

a) Dissatisfaction 
b) Patience 
c) Pleasure 
d) Thankfulness 

1) Dissatisfaction is prohibited.

(for example) If one is afflicted with hardship concerning his wealth, then he is dissatisfied with the Decree and Will of Allah. He starts scratching his face and tearing his clothes. He finds in himself hatred for Allah’s arrangement of affairs. This is prohibited and therefore Allah’s Messenger ﷺ cursed the one, who wails and the one who listens to it, “He is not from us, who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes, and calls the call of ignorance.”  

Does this prohibited action, which is a major sin, decrease the hardship of the calamity?

No, never does it ever decrease the hardship of the calamity, rather it increases it. Man becomes dissatisfied and grief-stricken. He does not gain any benefit from it. The Decree of Allah will surely occur no matter what. You have no power over it (it is not such that) if you had not done that then this would not have happened. This thinking is a delusion from Shaytan. The decree will surely take place therefore Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Whatever occurred to you could not have missed you, and what missed you could not have occurred to you,”  

Without doubt the decree has to occur as Allah Willed it, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “…if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don’t say, “If I had not done that, it would not have happened such and such,’ but say, Allah did what He had ordained and your ‘if’ opens the gate for Shaytan.” [Sahih Muslim 6441]

If one drives in a car and has an accident and so he pitifully says, “If I had not come out for this ride, then my car would not have been destroyed.”

Will this benefit him? No. It will never benefit because this accident was decreed and the matter is carried out just as it is decreed no matter what.

2. Sabr (Patience)

Man suffers greatly from hardship and is saddened but he practices patience and does not utter with his tongue (anything that is displeasing to Allah), nor (does any act that is displeasing to Allah) through his limbs. He takes control of his heart and says,

image

“O Allah, recompense me for my hardship and give me that which is better than it. Verily, we belong to Allah and to him we shall return.” [See, Sahih Muslim]

The ruling of patience here is that of obligation.

It is obligatory on man to be patient during hardship and not utter anything that is prohibited nor do anything that is prohibited.

3. Ridaa (Pleasure) 

Being pleased with the Decree of Allah despite being afflicted by a calamity

The difference between Sabr (patience) and Ridaa (pleasure) is that the heart of the Radi (one who is pleased) is never hurt, it goes along with the Decree.

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “…If he (the believer) is granted ease of living, he is thankful and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres and this is best for him.” [Sahih Muslim]

i.e., both the situations are the same for him as far as accepting the decree of Allah is concerned. He is pleased whether he is in difficulty or in ease.

Some of the scholars say that this (state of affair) is obligatory while the majority of the people of knowledge are of the opinion that it is not obligatory – rather it is Mustahab (recommended).

Ridaa (pleasure) is without doubt a more complete state than Sabr (patience) but as for making it obligatory upon the people and saying that it is obligatory upon you to be in the same state during calamity and in its absence is difficult and no one can handle it. Man can practice patience but he is incapable of being pleased at all times.

4. Shukr (Thankfulness)

One might find this strange. How can one be afflicted with calamity and thank Allah? Isn’t this contrary to the nature of man?

Man would be thankful to Allah if he were to know the rewards of a calamity that is endured with patience. Allah says, “Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.” [Surah az-Zumar 39: 10]

and He said,

“give glad tidings to as-Sabireen (the patient ones, etc.) who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly to Him we shall return. They are those on whom are the Salawaat (blessings) from their Lord and His Mercy…” [Surah al-Baqarah (2):155-157]

One says, “How trivial and worthless is this world in my eyes! If I were to gain from this calamity – which I bear with patience – such blessings, mercy of Allah and rewards without reckoning.” – then one will thank Allah for this blessing.

He will then see that this is a blessing from Allah because the whole world is transient whereas the rewards, blessings and mercy are forever – so he thanks Allah for this calamity.

Thankfulness upon calamity is Mustahab (recommended) and not obligatory because it is of a higher level than pleasure – however, thankfulness upon blessings is obligatory.

So, these are the states of man with respect to what is decreed universally and that which are against nature and not favorable to him.

Question: What do you say about being pleased with regards to what man does (against) the religious rulings like adultery and robbery. Are you pleased with his adultery and robbery?

Reply: There are two aspects to this:

First: Allah decreed it and originated it and therefore it is a universal decree. We have to be pleased with it in this regard and we do not say, ‘Why Allah caused the adulterer to commit adultery? Or why He caused the robber to commit robbery?’ We cannot raise objections.

Second: We are not pleased with the action of the slave. We establish the Hadd (punishment) on him, “The woman and the man guilty of illegal sexual intercourse, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.” [Surah an-Nur 24:2]

Concerning the robber, Allah said, “Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.” [Surah al-Maidah 5:38]

It is known that flogging and cutting of hand is displeasing. If one were to be pleased with them, then we would not have inflicted it as a punishment upon them.

DISCUSSION 4: The Sinner’s Justification by the Divine Decree

We have mentioned that everything is recorded, everything occurs by the Will of Allah and everything is a creation of Allah.

So does this belief give the sinner an excuse for his sins?

If we were to catch a man disobeying Allah and ask him, “Why do you commit disobedience?”

He replies, “This is by the Will and Decree of Allah.”

This statement is correct but if one uses this statement to justify his sins then this is what we say in reply,

“This is a false argument. There is no justification for your sin in predestination. The proof is the Saying of Allah, “Those who took partners with Allah will say, “If Allah had willed, we would not have taken partners with Him nor would our fathers…” Likewise, belied those who were before them till they tasted of Our Wrath.” [Surah al-An’am 6:148]

So, Allah did not accept their excuse and the proof that He did not accept their argument are the  words, ’till they tasted of Our Wrath.’

If they had an excuse in the Divine Decree then Allah would not have made them taste the Wrath.

But those who are against what we have mentioned will come up with this argument,

How do you assert that Allah falsified the argument of those who said, “If Allah had willed, we would not have taken partners with Him…” [Surah al-An’am 6: 148] whereas Allah said to His Messenger ﷺ, “Follow what has been inspired to you (O Muhammad ﷺ) from your Lord, ‘none has the right to be worshipped but He’ and turn aside from those who associate partners with Allah. Had Allah willed, they would not have taken others besides Him in worship. We have not made you a watcher over them nor are you set over them to dispose of their affairs.”   [Surah al-An’am 6:106-107]

This is a consolation for the Messenger ﷺ, Allah is explaining to him that their Shirk is occurring by the Will of Allah – in order to calm the Prophet ﷺ down. Allah is teaching the Prophet ﷺ that if it is the Will of Allah then it will surely occur and one should be pleased with it.

As for the second verse, “If Allah had willed, we would not have taken partners (in worship) with Him…” [Surah al-An’am 6: 148]

Verily, Allah falsified their argument because they wanted to justify their Shirk and sin by the Divine Decree. If they had presented the Divine Decree in order to submit to the Decree along with rectification of the situation, then we would have accepted it from them, like if they had committed Shirk and then said, “this occurred by the Will of Allah, but we seek forgiveness and we repent from it.’ Then we say, ‘you are correct.’ But if they say when we forbid them from Shirk, ‘If Allah had willed, we would not have taken partners (in worship) with Him…” [Surah al-An’am 6:148] then this is not acceptable from them at all.

Secondly: The falsity of the argument of the sinner by predestination is also proven by the Saying of Allah, “Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers.” [Surah an-Nisa 4:  165]

The proof in this verse is that if sending the Messenger cuts out all the excuses of the sinner then it means that the Decree was never an excuse for the sinner because if Decree was an excuse for the sinner then it should have been cut off by the sending of the messengers but the Decree still stands.

Thirdly: Another proof of the falsity of using the Divine Decree as an excuse is to say to those who use predestination as an excuse-before you are two ways – a good way and an evil way. Before entering the evil path, does he know that Allah has decreed for him to enter the path of evil?

Surely he does not know. If he does not know then why does he not expect that Allah has decreed for him the path of goodness?

Man does not know what Allah has decreed except after it occurs because the Will of Allah, as some scholars said, is a concealed secret. It is not known until after it occurs and we witness it.

So we say to the sinner, ‘You preceded yourself to the evil while you were unaware that Allah had decreed it for you. So if you were unaware then why did you not expect that Allah had decreed for you the good and take the door to good?!’

Fourthly: If the sinner (who seeks to use al-Qadar as an excuse) is asked, “What do you choose for your worldly affairs; good or evil?’
He will reply: the good.

We say: Then why do you not choose the good with regards to the affairs of the hereafter?

Similarly if we ask the sinner, “When you travel to a city and there are two ways; the left way is not flat, has a dead end and has great dangers while the right way is flat and safe. So through which path will you travel?”

He will surely reply, “From the right.”

We say, “Why do you go to the right way which has good and success with regards to the issues of the world? Why do you not go to the left path in which there is a dead end and is not flat and then say, ‘this is decreed for me?!”

He will reply, “I do not know the decree but I choose for myself the better option.”

So we say, “Why do you not choose the best with regards to the Hereafter (too)?!”

Another example:

We catch any man and begin to violently beat him. Whenever he screams we tell him, ‘This is the Decree of Allah.’

Will he accept this justification?

Surely he will not accept it whereas whenever he disobeys Allah, he says, ‘this is the Decree of Allah’ but if we disobey Allah concerning an issue that pertains to him, he will not accept when we tell him, ‘this is the Decree of Allah’ rather he will say, ‘this is your action.’ Is this not a proof against him?

A thief was brought before Ameerul-Mumineen Umar Ibn Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu) who ordered that the thief’s hands be cut because such is (prescribed in the Shari’ah).

So the thief said, “Wait, O Ameerul-Mu’mineen, By Allah, I did not steal except by Allah’s Will and Decree.

The thief was truthful in his statement but before him was Umar ibn Khattab (radhiyallahu anhu), who said, “We are not cutting your hands except with the Will and Decree of Allah.” Then he ordered the cutting by the Decree of Allah. So Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) used the same argument against him which the thief used as a proof.

If someone argues that Allah’s Messenger approved of using the Divine Decree as an excuse in the Hadith which mentions that Adam (alayhissalaam) used the Divine Decree as an excuse. When Musa (alayhissalaam) said, “you are our father, you caused us and yourself to be expelled from Paradise.” So, Adam (alayhissalaam) said, “Do you blame me for that which Allah had written for me before He created me? So the Messenger said, ‘So, Adam overpowered Musa.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

i.e., Adam (alayhissalaam) won the argument, although Adam (alayhissalaam) based upon the Will of Allah and his Decree.

Doesn’t this Hadith approve using Divine Decree as an excuse?

Reply: This is not an excuse by the Will and Decree of Allah for the action of the slave or his sin. It is an excuse by the Divine Decree for the calamity that resulted from the action. It is an excuse by the Divine Decree for the affliction and not the sins, and therefore he said, ‘you caused yourself and us to be expelled from Paradise.’ And he did not say, ‘you disobeyed your Lord and caused us to be expelled from Paradise.’

No. What happened to him was merely the Will and Decree of Allah.

Therefore, Adam (alayhissalaam)’s excuse by the Decree for the calamity that occurred is a sound argument and therefore Allah’s Messenger said, “Adam over-powered Musa.”

Another example, what would you say concerning a man who committed sins, regretted and then repented for?

One of his brothers came to him and asked, ‘How did this happen to you?’

He replies, ‘This is the Will of Allah and His Decree.’

Is his excuse correct?

Yes, it is correct because he repented. He did not use the Divine Decree as an excuse to continue his sin rather he is regretful.

An example of this is the following incident.

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ entered upon Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima (radhiyallahu anhum) and found them sleeping, and it was as if the Messenger ﷺ blamed them for not waking up (for prayers) So, Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) said, “O Messenger of Allah, verily our souls are in the Hands of Allah. If He Wishes, He ceases them, and when he wishes He sends them. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left while saying, “But, man is ever more quarrel-some than anything.” [Surah al-Kahf 18: 54]

So, did the Prophet ﷺ accept the excuse? No, rather the Prophet ﷺ explained that this is arguing because the Prophet ﷺ knows that the souls are in the Hands of Allah but man has to be determined and make sure that he wakes up for prayers.

In conclusion, it is clear to us that using the Divine Decree as an excuse for calamities is permissible. Similarly, using the Divine Decree as an excuse for sin after repentance is permissible. As for using the Divine Decree as an excuse for sinning in order to become guilt-free and persist in sin is not permissible.

DISCUSSION 4:  Does Man have Freedom of Choice?

The following statement has become widespread amongst people in today’s times;

‘Does man have freedom of choice or is he bound (by the Decree of Allah)?’ 

If the actions which man performs are those concerning which he has a choice then man has freedom of choice like his being able to eat and drink. Therefore, when the call to Fajr prayer is heard, some people proceed towards water. This is by their choice.

Similarly, when man feels sleepy he goes to bed by his choice.

When he hears the call for the Maghrib prayer he eats by his choice.

Similarly you will find that man has freedom of choice in all actions.

If it was not so then the punishment of the sinner would be injustice. How can man be punished for something over which he has no control?

If it was not so then how could man be rewarded for something over which he has no control? Are punishments and rewards futile?

So, man has choice but he does not perform any action except that it is Decreed by Allah because there is an authority over his authority, but Allah does not force man. Man has choice and he acts by his choice.

Therefore, when an act occurs without the man’s intention, then it is not attributed to him. Allah said about the people of the Kahf, “We turned them on their right and on their left sides.” [Surah al-Kahf 18:18]

So the act of turning is attributed to Allah, because they were sleeping and they had no power over themselves, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “He, who forgetfully eats or drinks in the state of fasting, then his fasting is complete because verily, Allah feeds him and…”  

So, the feeding and drinking is attributed to Allah because the man did not do it by choice. He did not choose to ruin his fast by eating and drinking.

Consequently, I have not seen this statement in books of the Sahabah or the Taba’een, and those who followed them, nor in the statements of the scholars, not even in the writings of the philosophers. Rather, this has come up in later times and people have started to think about it, “Is man in control or is he controlled?”

We know that we perform actions by our choice and decision. We do not feel that anybody is compelling us or forcing us to do it. Rather we are the ones who want to do something, then we do it and if we want to abandon it, we abandon it.

But as we said earlier in the levels of the Divine Decree that our actions are a result of strong will and complete strength and these are two characteristics in ourselves, and we are a creation of Allah, and the creator of the bark is the creator of the branches also.

Benefits of the faith in the DIVINE decree

1. Completion of faith in Allah because Qadar is the Power of Allah, so Iman in it is the completion of one’s Faith in Allah.
2. Completion of the pillars of Iman because Allah’s Messenger ﷺ mentioned it under Iman in the Hadith of Jibra’eel.

3. Man stays content because he knows that everything is from Allah, he is pleased with it and content. He knows that what has occurred to him could not have missed him and what missed him could not have occurred to him.

We have already mentioned that what has occurred can never be changed, so do not attempt, think or say ‘If,’ because that which has occurred cannot be changed or altered.

4. Completion of Faith in Allah’s Lordship. This resembles the first benefit because if man become pleased with Allah as his Lord, then he submits to his Decision and Decree and relies upon Him.

5. Faith in the Divine Decree truly exposes man to the Wisdom of Allah concerning His Decree of good and evil. Man knows that behind his thinking and imagination, there is the One, Who is Greater and more Knowledgeable. Therefore, many a time we do a thing or something happens and we hate it while it is good for us.

Sometimes, man perceives that Allah restricted him from doing something he wants, then later when things takes place, he understands that the good was in not doing it.

How many times do we hear that  someone reserves a seat in a certain airline for a trip, then when he reaches (the airport), he finds that he has missed the flight and the trip – and then the plane meets an accident.

So, before when he had arrived to board the flight and found that it had taken off, he was saddened but when the accident occurred, he knows that it was good (on his part) and therefore, Allah says, “Struggling is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it. It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 216]

READ ALSO: FATE AND DESTINY (AL-QADAA WA AL-QADAR)

Falsity of Dividing Tawheed into Three Parts

          By Dr. Omar Abdullah Kaamil

Introduction

Dividing tawheed into Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah and Al-Ruboobiyyah and Al-Asmaa Wa Al-Sifaat was not known prior to Ibn Taymiyyah. The Messenger of Allah did not tell someone who wanted to enter Islam that there are two types of tawheed (i.e. of Lordship and of Divinity) and one won’t become Muslim unless and until he acknowledges both. Nor did the Prophet ﷺ imply the multiplicity of tawheed in any way nor was it reported from any of the righteous predecessors until the seventh century where Ibn Taymiyyah divided tawheed into three parts:

1. Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah: Ibn Taymiyyah claimed that Muslims and polytheists alike acknowledge this type of tawheed. Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, means that one has to believe that Allah is the sole creator, sustainer and disposer of affairs in the universe.

2. Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah: This means worshipping Allah alone. Ibn Taymiyyah states: “The true God is the one who deserves to be worshipped … and the tawheed means that you worship Him alone without associating any partners.” [Al-Tadmeeriyyah, p. 106]

3. Al-Asmaa Wa Al-Sifaat: It means, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, believing in the attributes of Allah according to the apparent literal meaning.

Ibn Taymiyyah says in his Minhaj al-Sunnah talking about the Muslims, Scholars of the Islamic Creed of Ash’aris and others:

“They took out from tawheed what is part and partial of it such as Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah and believing in the Attributes of Allah according to the apparent literal meaning. The only thing left in tawheed for them is Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah which is to believe that Allah is the Creator of all things and their Lord. This last type of tawheed is even acknowledged by the polytheists. Allah Ta’ala says about them:

“If you ask them, who is it that created the heavens and the earth. They will certainly say: “Allah”. Say: “Praise be to Allah.” But most of them understand not.” [Surah Luqman: 25]

“Say, who is it in whose hands is the governance of all things, who protects (all), but is not protected (of any)? (say) if ye know, They will say, “(It belongs) to Allah.” Say: “Then how are ye deluded.” [Surah al-Mu’minoon: 86 & 87]

“And most of them believe them not in Allah without associating (others as partners) with Him!.” [Surah Yusuf: 106]

Some of the righteous predecessors said that when the polytheists were asked as to who created the heavens and the earth, they would respond: “Allah,” yet they used to worship idols. The tawheed that Allah demands of his slaves is Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah which contains Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah and it means that only Allah is worshipped without any partners…” [Minhaaj al-Sunnah, Pages 2 & 6]

He said in his article called “Ahl al-Sunna”:

“Tawheed Al-Ruboobiyyah alone is not sufficient and does not guarantee that one is not a disbeliever.”

Ibn Abdul Wahhab said in his book called “Kashf al-Subhohaat”:

“The last of the Messengers, Muhammad, who destroyed the statues of these righteous people, was sent to a people, who used to worship, perform Hajj, give charity and remember Allah often. However, they used to take some of the creation as intermediaries between them and Allah. They used to say, “We want them to get us closer to Allah and we want their intercession for us with Allah.” Their intercessors include those of the angels, Jesus and Mary and other righteous people.” [Kashf al-Subhohaat: Pages 3-4]

He also says:

“These polytheists accept and acknowledge that Allah is the sole Creator without any partner, He is the sole Sustainer, He is the sole giver of life and taker of life, He is the sole disposer of affairs in the universe, and that all seven heavens and the earth and their inhabitants are all His slaves and worshippers He does with as He pleases and when He pleases.”

Then he quoted a few verses from the Holy Qur’an to prove that the polytheists are as he just described them and he added:

“When it is established that the Messenger of Allah fought them so that only Allah is called upon, vow is made to Him, sacrifices made only for His sake, only His aid is sought after and all for of worship is dedicated to Allah alone, then you must realize that their acknowledging the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah did not make them enter into the circle of Islam and the fact that they turn towards the Angels, the Prophets, the Saints seeking their intercession to get closer to Allah is what made their blood and their wealth permissible. It should now be clear that the tawheed to which the Messengers called is the Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah and that is exactly what the polytheists refused.”

How could the Messenger of Allah ﷺ stay quiet about a matter such as this? How was it possible that all the scholars of the Ummah missed this point for seven centuries until the coming of Ibn Taymiyyah? Or was it that the generations before Ibn Taymiyyah were not on the creed of the Ahlus Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah and that the Ahlus Sunnah Wa al-Jama’ah are those who follow this division of tawheed?

This division of tawheed into three is illogical. The true God is at the same time the true Lord and vice versa. These two words are inseparable in that when (the word) ‘God’ is used ‘Lord’ is implied and when ‘Lord’ is used ‘God’ is also implied. We find that they are used interchangeably in the Qur’an, in hadith and in the statements of the scholars alike.

The Holy Qur’an and Prophetic tradition indicates the unrepeatability of Tawheed al-Uloohiyya and Ruboobiyyah. Allah Ta’ala says:

“(Kept them away from the Path), that they should not worship Allah, Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what ye hide and what ye reveal.” [Surah al-Naml: 25]

These verse establishes that none deserves to be prostrated to except the Omnipotent and Omniscient.

Allah Ta’ala says,

“And neither would he enjoin you that you should take the angels and the prophets for lords…” [Surah Aal Imran: 80]

This verse clearly states that the polytheists worshipped multiple lords. Despite this Divine injunction, the proponents of the bid’ah of trinity of tawheed say: The polytheists believed in the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah and they only have one Lord. They became polytheists because they associated partners with Allah in the Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah!!!.

Look at what the polytheists will say on the Day of Judgement:

“By Allah!, we were truly in an error manifest. When we held you (idols) as equals with the Lord of the Worlds.” [Surah al-Shura’a: 97-98]

That is to say that the polytheists held their idols as lords equal with Allah Ta’ala.

Allah Ta’ala says:

“Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)? They said: “Yeah, we do testify!”   [Surah al-A’raaf: 172]

If acknowledging the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah was not enough, then it would not have been enough to take the covenant with just the Lordship (Am I not your Lord?) Nor would it be correct for them to say:

“Surely, we were heedless of this.”

If the Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah were not included in the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah, then the wording of the covenant would not be enough and the mankind would have to have been asked to acknowledge also the Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah as part of the covenant. The fact that Allah Ta’ala asked for the acknowledgement of His Lordship means that Tawheed al-Uloohiyyah is already included in Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah.

As for evidence from the Sunnah [that the tawheed is inseparable], there is the questioning of the two Angels of an individual right after the burial – only about his Lord. They only say, “Who is your Lord?” This is because the angels do not distinguish between Lord and God. According to the view of the proponents of trinity of tawheed, the angels would have to ask: Who is your God not Who is your Lord? Or, they would have to ask both questions.

Thus, limiting the tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah to ‘tawheed of creation’ is a mistake and a dubious statement. This is because Lordship is not limited to creation only, as we have shown previously, but it also includes the administration of the universe as well as disposing of its affairs. Not all the polytheists and disbelievers were in agreement regarding the Lordship nor did they all believe in the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah as the proponents of the trinity of tawheed claim.

Some of the disbelievers at the time of the Prophet ﷺ were atheists and disbelieved in resurrection and life after death. Some of them were polytheists who associated partners with Allah Ta’ala and claimed that their idols were partaking in the creation as well as in controlling some of the matters of the universe. There were people of the book who believed in multiple gods. Yet Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers speak of the disbelievers as if they were one group having the same belief.

After all this, how can someone describe the word ‘Lord’ as just the Creator and the Originator?

Let us now examine the usage of the word ‘Allah’ in the Qur’an.

Use of the word ‘ilaah’ (a god) in the Qur’an

Upon beholding the Qur’an, we see that the word ‘god’ is a general term that is used for the same meeting as His exalted name ‘Allah’ but the latter is the clearest of all names that can refer to Him. We find that the understanding from these two words are one and the same to the extent that the word ‘Allah’ is used in place of “God” as a description, not as a proper noun in this verse:

“And He is Allah in the heavens and on earth. He knoweth what ye hide, and what ye reveal, and He knoweth the (recompense) which ye earn by your deeds.”   [Surah al-An’aam, 3]

This verse is a parallel of the following verse [where the word ‘God’ instead of ‘Allah’]:

“It is He Who is God in heaven and God on earth; and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge.”   [Surah al-Zukhruf, 84]

The use of His exalted name “Allah” in this verse and the like is a synonym for “the God (al-ilaah)” That is to say: “He is the God Who is…”

Whoever studies the verses in which the word “the God (al-ilaah)” is mentioned, finds that this word is used to mean “He who does what the lord must do — either all of it or some of it — from creation, to managing, to having full control over all affairs in the universe, etc. In addition, He is the only One deserving to be worshipped since He possess the above qualities. Examples of such verses include:

1. “If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! But glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!” [Surah al-Anbiya: 22]

The confusion in heavens and on earth won’t happen by the mere fact of multiplicity of gods unless and until we take the words “the God (al-ilaah)” in this verse to mean the disposer of affairs and the manager of the matters of the Universe.

2. “No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah. (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him!” [Surah al-Mu’minoon: 91]

In this verse, “the God (al-ilaah)”, is described as the Creator,  Disposer of affairs, Victor over all things.

3. “Say: if there had been other (gods) with Him, as they say, behold, they would certainly have sort out a way to the Lord of the Throne!” [Surah al-Isra’: 42]

Seeking out a way to the Lord of the Throne would necessitate multiple creators, disposer of affairs, victors who control the universe.

Use of the word rabb (a lord) in the Qur’an

The word “Lord (rabb)” is used in the Nobel Qur’an, as in the language, with various shades of meanings:
1. Upbringing (al-tarbiya)
2. Mending and caring (al-islaah wa al-ria’aya)
3. Governance and politics (al-hukooma wa al-siyaasa)
4. Owner (al-maalik)
5. Possessor (al-Saahib) as in the saying of Allah Ta’ala in Surah Quraysh: (3): “Let them adore the Lord of this House.”

The original meaning of this word “Lord (rabb)” is He in Whose Hands is the power of administration, managing and bringing about what is necessary. This is the general meaning of the term and being a creator is not among its meanings as some claim.

The Falsity of Dividing Tawheed into Three Parts

Allah Ta’ala says:

“Behold! Verily to Allah belong all who dwell in the heavens and on earth. Those who follow [alleged] partners apart from Allah follow nothing but conjecture. They do nothing but lie.” [Surah Yunus: 66]

“He merges Night into Day, and He merges Day into Night, and He had subjected the sun and the moon (to His Laws); each one runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allah your Lord: to Him belongs all Dominion. All those whom ye invoke besides Him have not the least power.” [Surah Faatir: 13]

These two verses indicate that the polytheists believed that the lords they were worshipping had a share in the dominion (mulk) and that they had influence on the Divine plan of Allah. The verses conclude by saying that what they believe is only conjecture. The lords or the idols had no influence over the Divine plan nor can they create anything.

Allah Ta’ala also says:

“Say: Do ye see what it is ye invoke besides Allah. Show me what it is they have created on earth, or have they a share in the heavens? Bring me a book (revealed) before this, or any remnant of knowledge (ye may have), if ye are telling the truth!”   [Surah al-Ahqaaf: 4]

This verse proclaims that the polytheists believed that their lords had a share in the lordship (ruboobiyyah) of Allah and that is why Allah Ta’ala demanded them to bring forth their evidence if they were speaking the truth.

How then can Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers claim that the polytheists were believing in Allah and were monotheists as far as the oneness of His Lordship (Uloohiyyah), despite the fact that Allah Ta’ala describes them as the violators of His Covenant!?

“Those who break Allah’s Covenant after it is ratified.”   [Surah Baqarah, 27]

What is the covenant that is mentioned in this verse? Isn’t it the first covenant that Allah took from mankind as described in the following verse?

“When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam – from their lions – their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): “Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)? – They said, “Yeah! We do testify!” (This) lest ye should say on the Day of Judgement “Of this we were never mindful.” [Surah al-A’raf: 172]

Did Allah Ta’ala take the covenant by saying “Am I not your God” Did not Allah Ta’ala say:

“In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not! (they suggest), Nor grieve! But receive the Glad tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which ye were promised.” [Surah Fussilat: 30]

Why would the polytheists then end up in hellfire after having believed in the Lordship of Allah?

Didn’t Fir’awn say:

“I am your Lord, the Most High.”   [Surah al-Naaziaat: 24]

Where is the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah of Fir’awn and his followers?

Didn’t the Prophet ﷺ inform us that the two angels ask everyone in the grave who his Lord is not who his God is?

The truth is that the word god (ilaah) and lord (rabb) are used interchangeably in the Qur’an as synonyms. The evidence is that “the God” and “the Lord” are one and the same thing in the Qur’anic and prophetic usage and are also found in the Qur’an itself and in the tradition of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

Allah relates the words of Yusuf (alayhissalaam) in Surah Yusuf: 39:

“O my two companions of the prison! (I ask you), are many lords differing among themselves better, or the One Allah, Supreme and Irresistible?”

He said thereafter:

“If not Him, ye worship nothing but names which ye have named, – ye and your fathers, – for which Allah hath sent down no authority. The command is for none but Allah. He hath commanded that ye worship none but Him, that is the right religion, but most men understand not.”   [Surah Yusuf, 40]

The “many lords” referred to in the above verse were being worshipped (not just taken as intermediaries or intercessors).

Allah Ta’ala said regarding ‘Eesa (alayhissalaam):

“Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and patrons.” [Surah Aal Imran: 80]

He said regarding the same subject in another place:

“And behold! Allah will say: “O ‘Eesa the son of Maryam! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation to Allah?” [Surah Ma’idah: 116]

Read the following verse again:

“Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for Lords and patrons.” [Surah Aal Imran: 80]

This was the religion of some of the polytheists of the Arabs. They took the angels as lords as did the tribe of Bani Maleeh from Khuzaa’ah. They used to worship Jinn and claimed that jinn appeared to them. They further believed that they were angels and daughters of Allah (Astaghfirullah). The fact that they claim that their lords were angels, it is as if they worshipped angels and that is why the angels will renounce the misdeeds of these polytheists as recorded in the Qur’an:

“One day He will gather them all together, and say to the angels, “Was it you that these men use to worship?” They will say,”Glory to Thee! Our (tie) is with Thee – as Protector – not with them. Nay! But they worshipped the Jinns: most of them believed in them (Jinns).” [Surah Saba 40 & 41]

Then Allah Ta’ala says regarding the angels:

“If any one of them should say, “I am a god besides Him,” such a one We should reward with Hell. Thus do We reward those who do wrong.” [Surah al-Anbiya: 29]

SUMMARY

“The Lord” and “The God” are two terms that the Qur’an uses as synonyms meaning one and the same thing. The polytheists, therefore, who worships the false gods, not Allah, will automatically violate the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah. The evidence for this is that the formula “La ilaha illa Allah (There is none worthy of worship except Allah)” encompasses the Tawheed of both Al-Uloohiyyah and Al-Ruboobiyyah. If it weren’t so, tawheed of Al-Ruboobiyyah would be expressed with a formula other than “La ilaha illa Allah” and this does not exist. Those who claim otherwise, we would refer them to the following verse:

“Say: produce your proof if ye are truthful.” [Surah al-Baqarah:111]

Al-Sanusi mentions that the formula “La ilaha illa Allah”  contains both tawheeds and that “The God” is in fact “The Lord” who is worshipped. And as was related already the two terms are inseparable.

Allah Ta’ala says:

“But (I think) for my part that He is Allah, My Lord, and none shall I associate with my Lord.” [Surah al-Kahf: 38]

The disbeliever will say, after having tasted punishment of Allah, in the hereafter:

“…and he could only say, ‘Woe to me! Would that I had never ascribed partners to my Lord and Cherisher.” [Surah al-Kahf:42]

The usage of these terms in the Sunnah is the same as in the Qur’an. For example, Al-Haakim narrates in his “Al-Mustadrak” on the authority of Qurra bin Iyadh (radhiyallahu anhu) who said:

“In the Day of Battle of Qadisiyyah…a Zoroastrian said to Mughira bin Shu’ba (radhiyallahu anhu): “I know exactly what brought you Arabs to us. You don’t find enough food in your country to eat until you are full. Here, we will give you  of the food that you need…” Al-Mughira said to him: “By Allah, we did not come for that. We are a people who worshipped the rocks and idols. When we saw a rock better than the one we worshipped, we would throw the former and start worshipping the latter. We did not know what a Lord is until Allah Ta’ala sent us a Messenger from among us who invited us to Islam and we followed him…(to the end of the hadith)” [Al-Musradrak, Hadith 5901, 3/510]

Al-Mughira (radhiyallahu anhu) states clearly in this hadith that they did not know what a Lord (rabb) was yet Ibn Taymiyyah says that they acknowledged the Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah!.

Al-Haakim said this hadith has an authentic chain even though neither of the Sahihs contains it. Al-Dhahabi agreed with Al-Haakim in his “Talkhees al-Khabeer.”

Perhaps the clearest evidence that the polytheists disbelieved in both Tawheed al-Ruboobiyyah and Al-Uloohiyyah is that when the angels ask the person in the grave who his Lord is, the disbeliever will say: “I do not know.”

[From the Book: The Bid’ah and Perils of Trinity of Tawheed]

Ibn Taymiyyah & The Conundrum Of Deobandi Praise

INTRODUCTION 

Some of our Akaabir Ulama of Deoband have lauded praise on Ibn Taimiyyah, and this created much obfuscation for laymen who have to contend with severe criticism of Ibn Taimiyyah by many other Ulama of Deoband. 

To dispel this confusion, we reproduce in this brief article a question and its answer which appeared in Hadhrat Thanvi’s Views – Some Ishkals (Doubts) From the Ibaraat of Malfuzaat Hakim ul-Ummat & Its Answers

A Deeni Student in U.K. wrote an Addendum which further clarifies the conundrum of the praise of Ibn Taimiyyah by some Akaabir Ulama of Deoband. We reproduce the Addendum as well. 

_Mujlisul Ulama of S.A. 

QUESTION
Hadhrat Thanvi praised Imaam ibn Taymiyyah and Imaam ibn al-Qayyim, saying they were `Aarifeen, and he referred to Imaam ibn Taymiyyah with the title of Allaamah.  

ANSWER
In India there was at that time a great dearth of the kutub of Ibn Taimiyyah and Ibn Qayyim, hence   most of our Akaabir of that era were unaware of the views of Ibn Taimiyyah. They were therefore justified to speak highly of Ibn Taimiyyah on the basis of the paucity of their awareness of his deviation. If you read some of our own publication of 40 years ago, you will find praise for Ibn Taimiyyah. That was due to our ignorance of his views. It was years later when Hadhrat Husain Ahmad Madani (Rahmatullah alayh) came from Madinah to teach Hadith in Deoband, that he began to apprize our Ulama of the reality of Ibn Taimiyyah. We are under no obligation to follow Hadhrat Thanvi’s view on this issue – a view based on insufficient information.

Such ‘taqleed’ is in fact jumood (fossilization of the brains) which is condemned by the Fuqaha.

Consider the example of stock market shares. Since our Akaabir were unaware of the true meaning of this concept, and since it was erroneously explained to them by some traders and by the one who posed the question, they understood that it was a valid shirkat, hence they issued their fatwa of permissibility. However, those who are aware of this concept, understand its hurmat to be clearer than the sun’s light at mid-day. Now making ‘taqleed’ of such an error of the Akaabir is satanic jumood (intellectual fossilization).

ADDENDUM BY A U.K. STUDENT OF THE DEEN

The authentic and only correct position regarding Ibn Taymiyyah as conveyed by a Deobandi authority who had had the opportunity to study many of Ibn Taymiyyah’s books which were not available in India to most of the Akaabir of Deoband, is represented by the explicit statements below of Shaykh-ul-Islam Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madani (rahmatullahi alayh), the Principal of Deoband for around 30 years.

Expressing conviction on the Tajseem (anthropomorphism) of Ibn Taymiyyah, Shaykhul Islam states:

“I am certain, having read his unpublished treatises, that he was guilty of innovation in beliefs, Tajseem and so on.” [Anwaar ul-Baari]

Shaykh-ul-Islam acquired this conviction only after having gained access to Ibn Taymiyyah’s unpublished treatises and books in Madeenah which were not accessible in India:

“While I was staying in Madeenah Munawwarah, I saw [Ibn  Taymiyyah’s] writings and treatises. I even saw some books which are probably not found in any of the libraries of Hindustan. Having read all of them, I came to the conclusion – upon insight – that there was an open deviation and departure from the path of Ahlus Sunnah found in him.” [Anwaar ul-Baari] 

Now that in this day and age the mass-publication and mass-propagation worldwide of Ibn Taymiyyah’s books have made his anthropomorphism as clear as daylight (see explicit statements below), and virulent sects are fervently propagating such anthropomorphic beliefs, it would be moronic and an aid for Baatil for someone to dig up some earlier Malfooz (statement) of Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madani in praise of Ibn Taymiyyah while he was still in a state of ignorance or uncertainty regarding Ibn Taymiyyah’s Tajseem.

It would be similarly moronic and an aid for Baatil for someone to translate and propagate some Malfoozaat of Allamah Taaj ud Deen as-Subki, Allamah Abu Hayyaan al-Andalusi, Allamah Salah ud Deen al-Alaai, Allamah Quwnawi, Allamah Zamlakani, and numerous others, in profuse praise of Ibn Taymiyyah, when the very same scholars turned extremely harshly against him later on, only after his Tajseem or his numerous other deviations became clear to them.

While the Salafis, Halafis (Salafis masquerading as Hanafis), and their like-minded breeds used to insinuate that the countless Fuqaha (jurists) throughout the ages who had carried out extremely harsh “Jarh Mufassar” (detailed criticism) on Ibn Taymiyyah, were all liars, fabricators, guilty of extreme bias, or part of a massive freemasonic-like conspiracy, in light of the mass-publication of Ibn Taymiyyah’s works in this age and the absolute vindication of such “Jarh Mufassar”, the Salafis are no longer able to maintain such irrational insinuations which tarnish the judgement and integrity of hundreds of upright scholars for the sake of their dear Mujaddid. “Hazrat-worship” (turning a blind eye to the flagrant evil of one’s dear Mujaddid) has never been more evident than in the attitude of the salafi-like breeds towards the deviances of Ibn Taymiyyah.

Furthermore, the status of the Salafis as Ahlul Hawaa (people of  desires), their hypocrisy, and their double-standards, are most manifest in their indiscriminate  application of the principle of  “Jarh Mufassar takes precedence over Ta’deel” (i.e. detailed criticism overrides praise), and the sudden and absolute suspension of this principle in regards to Ibn Taymiyyah and his student Ibnul Qayyim. We shall elaborate more on this principle and the Nafsaani-based application of it by the Ahlul  Hawaa such as the Salafis in a future article inshaAllah.

Consider the following explicit transmission of Mullah Ali al-Qaari that the Salafus-Saaliheen would regard as Kaafir the one who attributes a direction to Allah:

“A group from them (Salaf-us-Saaliheen) and the Khalaf said, ‘The one who believes in a direction [for Allah] is a Kaafir’, as explicitly stated by al-Iraaqi. He said, ‘This is the statement of Abu Hanifah, Maalik, Shafi’i, al-Ash’ari, and al-Baqillaani’”  [Mirqaat ul-Mafaateeh]

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Now that in this age it is manifestly clear without the slightest doubt that Ibn Taymiyyah regarded Allah to be in a specific direction, with countless Salafi sects today propagating such a belief openly and shamelessly, it would be moronic and a complete disservice to the teachings of Mullah Ali al-Qaari himself, to dig out some Malfoozaat of his in praise of Ibn Taymiyyah, while he was obviously ignorant of the fact that Ibn Taymiyyah firmly affirmed a belief that would warrant a Takfeer according to the Salaf whom Mullah Ali al-Qaari himself approvingly quoted. Yet, the Mudaahins (psychophants) of this age do exactly this, thus advertising thoroughly their stupidity.

Perhaps a group of Deobandi Mudaahin Muftis, Maulanas and Shaykhs who have nothing better to do, should embark on the urgent task of digging out Malfoozaat of the Akaabir of Deoband in profuse praise of Maududi, the evil denigrator of the Ambiya (alayhis salaam) and the Sahabah (radhiyallahuanhum). Hadhrat Ilyas Khandelwi, for example, before passing away, paid glowing tribute to Maududi, indicating that Maududi’s movement was far more important and valuable than the Tableegh Jama’at. It is obvious that many of the deviate beliefs of Maududi were yet hidden from Hadhrat Ilyas Khandelwi and other Akaabir who had praised him. And, even if some Akaabir did praise Maududi while cognizant of his denigration of the Ambiya (alayhis salaam) and Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhu), we are obliged to regard it as a lapse on their part, now that there no longer exists any ambiguity over Maududi’s deviance.

While it is possible for righteous authorities of the past to have committed errors in Furoo’ (e.g. certain fiqhi matters), without such errors impinging on their authority and integrity, to grant the same latitude for errors in Usool (e.g. Sifaat of Allah) is to spell the destruction of the Deen. Kufr shall always remain Kufr, regardless of the Nooraniyat shining from the perpetrator’s face, or his monumental textual knowledge, or the length of his beard, or the extent of his Zuhd and Jihaad, or the numbers attending his Urs (death anniversary). 

If we were to tolerate such evil as  the anthropomorphism of Ibn Taymiyyah as vividly apparent in the explicit statements to come below, then justice and consistency would demand that we also tolerate the Baatil of all other deviate sects today. Exhibiting leniency towards such beliefs as Allah having a direction, body, size, Allah being able to sit upon the back of a mosquito, Hell-fire ending for even the Kuffaar, the beginninglessness of the Arsh etc. would entail tolerating all the deviances of the Barelwi grave-worshippers, modernists, feminists, progressives, etc. Perhaps even some of the more ‘moderate’ Shiah sects will then have to be shoved back into the Ummah.

Furthermore, in authentic Ahadith and narrations from the Salaf, it is clearly indicated that Mudaahanah (tolerating evil) is THE primary cause of Allah’s punishment which often takes the form of brutal Kuffaar armies such as those which are ravaging the Ummah today. According to the Shar’iah, deviations in Aqeedah of the degree of anthropomorphism are worse than adultery and murder. Knowingly propagating and aiding the cause of the leaders of anthropomorphism are worse than propagating adultery and murder.

Thus, the Mudaahin Maulanas, Muftis and Shaykhs of this age should understand that their praise and aid in service of Baatil are not trivial issues that can simply be consigned as Kuffaar-style “academia”. They should reflect on their true intention of propagating such Malfoozaat of the Akaabir in praise of deviates which were obviously made in ignorance. Perhaps in the freelancing deviances of Ibn Taymiyyah there exists a uniquely wide scope for justification for the Tafarrudaat (abominations/ anomalies) of their own Hazrats.

A detailed treatise will be compiled elaborating on the beliefs of Ibn Taymiyyah regarding which the Salafi-lovers and the proponents of Mudaahanah bury themselves head-first, deep under the sand. Such is the explicit nature and unambiguous anthropomorphism in the statements of Ibn Taymiyyah which have only been recently published that even many of the most fanatic Salafi breeds have been constrained to adopt a stance of deafening silence regarding them.  

For now, for the edification of the sincere Mudaahins who may consider rectifying their Mudahaanah, below is a small sample of explicit quotes straight from the books of Ibn Taymiyyah, whose existence is easily verifiable today, which lift the veil of ambiguity that may have shrouded for many centuries Ibn  Taymiyyah’s true beliefs which elicited the severe and now completely vindicated “Jarh Mufassar” of hundreds of Fuqaha throughout the ages.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s fork-tongued and taqiyyah-like statements elsewhere in other books, in a fashion typical of Ahlul Hawaa, which successfully duped many a scholar, cannot render into non-existence the monstrosities cited below and many other statements of the same category of depravity, which are all absolutely irreconcilable with the true Aqeedah of Ahlus Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah.

Let us begin with Ibn Taymiyyah’s explicit, non-taqiyyah affirmation of body (jism) and direction (jihat) for Allah. In one of his many refutations of the Ash’aris, Ibn Taymiyyah employs some typically perverse Salafi Kalaam to “prove” that it is necessary for Allah to have a body and direction, according to how these terms are defined by the Ulama of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah:

“It is known that the vision [of Allah in the afterlife] which the Lawgiver has told [us] about cannot be affirmed while negating [for Allah] what they regard as a ‘body’. Rather, affirming it [i.e. vision] necessitates [affirming for Allah] what they regard as a ‘body’ and ‘direction’. It is clear that whoever tries to combine these two [i.e. affirmation of vision and negation of ‘body’ and ‘direction’] is stubbornly refusing what is established by reason and by the senses.” [Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah]

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While asserting ‘Jism‘ for Allah in the statement above, Ibn Taymiyyah was, no doubt, well aware of how his opponents defined ‘Jism‘ i.e. “what they regard as a body“. This clearcut definition of ‘Jism’ of the Ulama of Ahlus Sunnah which Ibn Taymiyyah emphatically and shamelessly affirmed for Allah Ta’ala is: 

“[Something with spatial] measurement of length, breadth and depth, which prevents something else from being present where it is, unless it moves from that place.”

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Ibn Taymiyyah employs more stupid Salafi Kalaam here to “prove” that it is impossible for Allah (azza wa jal) not to have a size:

“As for a thing not be described with increase and decrease, nor the absence of that, and it is existent without having a size, then that is inconceivable.”   [Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah]

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Ibn Taymiyyah explicitly affirms limits for Allah and the “Kufr” of denying limits for Allah:

“Allah, exalted is He, has a limit which nobody but Him knows. It is not permitted for anybody to imagine himself a demarcation to his limit, and rather he must believe in it and consign the knowledge of it to Allah. Allah’s place also has a limit, namely [His place] on the Throne above His heavens; so that means two limits.…[Here he cited a number of texts from the Qur’an which in his opinion show that Allah has a physical limit then he says:] This and what is like it are proofs that all show that [Allah has a] limit and whoever does not profess that has disbelieved in the revelation and denied the verses of Allah.” [Muwaafaqah, vol. 2, p. 29]

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In his Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah, while gently refuting another Mujassim (anthropomorphist) who restricts Allah to only one limit, Ibn Taymiyyah makes clear that he believes Allah to have more limits from various sides.

Finally to end this short sample, Ibn Taymiyyah states that Allah is actually able to mount on the back of a mosquito, hence this is stupid Salafi Kalaamic “proof” that Allah is actually mounted on the throne:

“If He wanted He could board/get on the back of a mosquito and it would hold Him up/carry Him by His power and the gracefulness of His Lordship; so what about a great throne greater than the seven heavens and the seven earths?” [Bayaan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah]

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Observe the violent and irreconcilable conflict between Ibn Taymiyyah’s explicit affirmation of body (tajseem), direction, size, limits for Allah, etc. with the pure Aqeedah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhu), and the Salafus-Saaliheen, as transmitted here by Imam Abu Ja’far Tahaawi (rahmatullah alayh) whom even the Salafis are constrained to accept as an authentic and uprighteous transmitter of the Aqeedah of the Salaf-us-Saaliheen:

“He (Allah Ta’ala) is transcendent beyond limits and boundaries, parts, limbs and instruments. The six directions do not contain Him like (the six directions contain) all created entities.” [Aqeedat-ut-Tahaawiyyah]

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Furthermore, Imam Tahaawi transmits from the Salaf-us-Saaliheen the ruling of Kufr (disbelief) for the one who describes Allah with such attributes that can apply only to created entities which self-evidently includes direction, body, size, limits, ability to sit on the back of a mosquito, and other descriptions with which the Mujassimah such as Ibn Taymiyyah describe Allah Ta’ala:

“Whoever describes Allah with a meaning (or property) from the meanings (or properties) of man, he has committed Kufr (disbelief).” [Aqeedatut Tahaawiyyah]

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For the sincere seekers of truth, the “Malfoozaat” (statements) above will more than suffice in providing a glimpse into the abundant reasons due to which Ibn Taymiyyah was severely and rightfully disparaged (Jarh Mufassar) by innumerable righteous scholars in every age, and which thoroughly overrides any praise (Ta’deel) he received from others who had clearly not come across all his abominations in their full gory detail which include literally dozens of contraventions of Ijma’ (consensus) in both the spheres of Aqeedah and Fiqh. The future article will highlight and examine many of those abominations in detail insha Allah.

ALSO READ:- The Kufr and Shirkiyyah Philosophy of Ibn Taymiyyah

The Science of Kalaam

[By Darul Uloom Misriyyah]

This brief treatise comprises an introduction to the study of the science of Kalam, one of the most important disciplines of Islamic knowledge. It will suffice to introduce its major branches and comprehend some of the problems it seeks to address, and then note the positions of certain scholars and schools on these problems.

Introduction

In the linguistic sense, “kalam” (“speech”) denotes a word indicating a certain meaning. In its technical sense, “kalam” denotes the theoretical consideration of matters of religious creed, or theology. Ibn Khaldun said: it is the discipline comprised of disputation over creedal beliefs with rational proofs . Al-Ayhi said: Kalam is the discipline that enables one to affirm creedal beliefs by amassing arguments and repelling doubt .

The Name “Kalam”

Al-Ayhi recorded four types of etymologies for the name of the discipline, respectively claiming it is so called because of 1) its linguistic sense of speech (kalam) yielding “(dialectical) debate” (al-jadal), which is the primary tool of the discipline, much like logic is the primary instrument or bulk of philosophy ; 2) its chapter-headings, which were first titled “discourse (al-kalam) on such-and-such”; 3) its paradigmatic topic of the speech (kalam) of God the Exalted, meaning the Qur’an, which raised ancillary questions to such profusion that the discipline itself came to be named after the topic; and 4) the fact that it enabled adversarial discourse (al-kalam) in religious matters .

Numerous Names of the Discipline

Kalam gained different names corresponding to the theoretical perspective taken. As al-Tahanawi and al-Tahawi variously noted, it is also known as the science of the foundations of religion (usul al-din) and the science of theoretical consideration and deduction (‘ilm al-nazr wal-istidlal); Imam Abu Hanifa famously called it the greatest jurisprudence (al-fiqh al-akbar). The preferred name is the discipline of unicity (‘ilm al-tawhid), in that it explained, on a Qur’anic basis, the relation between the axis of existence (God Most High, humanity, the cosmos) with reference to the two concepts of Divinely-appointed successorship (istikhlaf) and subservience (taskhir). Al-Taftazani said, the discipline related to derivative or inferential matters is called the science of rulings (‘ilm al-ahkam); and the discipline related to first principles or creedal matters is called the science of Divine unicity and attributes (‘ilm al-tawhid wal-sifat) .

Relation between Kalam and Philosophy

Certain scholars have held there to be a methodological difference between kalam and philosophy, in that the mutakallim (practitioner of kalam) admits or denies various metaphysical principles and then offers proofs in their support, while the philosopher admits no such first principles whatsoever and in their absence seeks to reason to a certain aim. For example, the mutakallim may admit the existence of God from the beginning and seek thereafter to offer proofs for His existence; but the philosopher begins with no such presumptions and only then tries to demonstratively establish the existence of God .

Ahmad Amin approximated the preceding scheme in contrasting the judge (one who begins by adopting a neutral position and then follows the evidence until he reaches a verdict as to the innocence or guilt of the accused) and the defense lawyer (who from the very beginning is bound to uphold the innocence of the accused).

We should not however inaccurately suggest, regarding the philosophers, that they necessarily begin in the absence of metaphysical presuppositions, for certain philosophical schools certainly do begin from first principles—otherwise they would be seeking through trials and experimentation to affirm or deny any metaphysical postulate whatsoever.

The discipline of Kalam in fact is Islamic philosophy in that it takes the religious creeds brought by Islam as performing the function of first principles. Thus it is a subsection of Islamic philosophy distinct from that postulated by such Arab and Muslim philosophers as al-Kindi, al-Farabi, and Ibn Sina, which preferred a different method: taking as the point of departure the opinions of Greek philosophers and then seeking to develop Islamic critiques. Those philosophers aided the defence of Islam, in terms of creeds and schools and religions, by taking from philosophy and Greek logic the tools to defend them. That is, they departed from what was given in those creeds and schools (i.e., of Greek philosophy and logic) in order to arrive at what was given for them (i.e., Islam). Dr. Zaynab al-Khudayri said, “Our teacher Dr. Yahya Huwaydi called this philosophy, which blossomed into the various disciplines of law and kalam and principles of religion, Islamic philosophy, because it was established on the Qur’an and its philosophy .”

Origins of Kalam

When Islam arose, the societies of what is known as the Arab lands were comprised of mere tribes or clans. The Prophet’s Hijra to Madina acted to elevate the tribal condition, cutting tribal bonds such that the believers from disparate tribes deferred to a single order of conduct. The nascent Arab Muslim nation began in the heart of that society.

The epoch of the rightly-guided Caliphs extended the teaching of the Prophet, establishing equality among the people and ending the preferential treatment previously accorded one’s kin and the powerful. This however was not the case after the era of the rightly-guided Caliphs, when began the decadent discrepancy between the theoretical affirmation of such equality and its practical application. The ensuing social struggle took the form of internal conflict between the powerful, each of whom sought the Caliphate; the state became an instrument of despotism over common social goals. Each party of them held themselves superior in truth to the rest, and sought religious justifications to that effect. Each party moreover championed a clan’s heritage and lineage in claiming what they upheld (the Umayyads, Hashimites, Abbasids, and so on), as the partisans to the conflict strove to establish dynastic states like that of Persia (Iran).

All of this worked to augment the conditions from which the theological schools (al-madhahib al-kalamiyya) would later develop into the discipline of Kalam. The Kharijite splinter group, most of whose supporters hailed from non-Qurayshite Arab tribes, did not admit the principle that the Caliph could not be elected from non-Qurayshites or non-Arabs (they first elected the non-Qurayshite ‘Abd Allah bin Wahb al-Rasibi to be their leader). The majority of scholars recognize that the Shi‘ite sect found its intellectual roots in Persian notions of kingship and lineage, given the clear resemblance between their school’s positions and the Persian monarchical system. Likewise, most of the supporters of the Mu‘tazilite school were of the Clients (al-mawali), the children of non-Arabs who became patroned wards of the state. Likewise, the Umayyads proved the majority of the supporters of the two sects of Determinism (al-jabr) and Deferral (al-irja’), to the extent that it was said “Determinism and Deferral is the Religion of the [Umayyad] Kings” (al-jabr wal-irja’ din al-muluk). And on this single earth the general Muslim populace splintered, through these conflicts and acts, until they fashioned diverse ways of thought, schools of law, art, knowledge, tradition, and other aspects of civilization. One of these was the discipline of Kalam.

Kalam was consolidated as a discipline also through contesting outside influences. The Islamic conquests came to include diverse bodies at the social level, meaning also those of non-Islamic cultures adhering to manifold ways of thought, schools, creeds, and philosophies. Hence it came necessary to employ rational and logical methods to note the deficiencies in these creeds and philosophies and invite their adherents to Islam.

Assessments of the Place of Kalam in Islamic Thought
A ruling of general prohibition was adopted by some such as certain later Hanbalis and Sufis, including al-Suyuti (in his work Sawn al-mantiq wal-kalam ‘an fann al-mantiq wal-kalam) and al-Hawari (in his work Dhamm al-mantiq wa-ahlih), as some of them relied on a mistaken interpretation of reported enunciations of the early Muslims (al-salaf) that prohibited plunging into speculative discourse on theological matters under a principle called tafwid.

Yet tafwid does not mean silence in the face of corrupt beliefs but rather refraining from plunging into creedal matters so long as the prevailing understanding remains sound. Indicating sound creed is a righteous act, and is what prevailed during the epoch of the Prophet—peace and blessings upon him—and the rightly-guided Caliphs, Allah be well-pleased with them. When there arise widespread deviations from correct understanding, however, then Muslims are obligated to work to rectify them. This is what occurred throughout Muslim history, as whenever the early Muslims undertook to oppose false creeds. Al-Hasan al-Basri (rahimahullah) said, “None of the Salaf would mention a thing, nor would they debate it, for they were all of a single uniform mission. They only began to talk about a matter and engage in debate when people began to deny it or raise doubts about it. When people began to innovate in the religion, God raised eminent scholars to refute and debunk these innovations and deviations from the truth .

This is likewise supported in what is narrated from Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr: The orthodox community (jama‘a) follows the opinion of Malik, God have mercy upon him, that—unless it would compel someone to [vain] speech, or fearing its general influence, or something to that effect—he would not seek to avoid discussing such matters when desiring to refute falsehood and turn its advocate from its school .

The view that the early Muslims (al-salaf) refrained from engaging theological questions and opposed it is an innovation (bid‘a) of unsound basis. We can provide further examples to support this, including the narration of Ibn Taymiyya from Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, who, in his work al-Radd ‘ala al-Zanaadiqa wal-Jahmiyya, engaged in certain interpretations against what the Zanaadiqa and Jahmiyya doubted regarding the ambiguous elements of the Qur’an; and he then addressed their meaning , as is further narrated by al-Bayhaqi. This is similar to what we regard as the right position, that is, Kalam as the attempt to posit solutions or repudiations to theological problems posed. Of course these attempts are delimited by authentically-narrated articles of creed indicating what God Most High has offered human knowledge (i.e., in its limits of understanding). This true position is confirmed by Ibn Taymiyya: engaging the discipline of Kalam is permissible when verifying truth and invalidating falsehood, and otherwise when not engaged in the aim of arguing with empty proofs or expounding false positions. Ibn Taymiyya said, The early Muslims (al-salaf) and the Imams did not find Kalam objectionable in itself for the terminology it employs—such as the terms essence (jawhar), accident (‘arad), body (jism), or otherwise—but because the meanings that they express in their formulation open themselves to false, reprehensible aspects in the proofs and determinations [offered]. They are not forbidden, because these words combine together meanings both of denial and affirmation…. So if you have familiarized yourself with the meanings they intend, for instance in these expressions, and assess them with the Qur’an and Sunna such that their truth is affirmed, and that falsehood denied which the Qur’an and Sunna deny, then engage them freely. Al-Ghazali relied on a similar method in considering the “unveiling” of the Sufis, and thereby established all of that which is true. Ibn Taymiyya proceeded from this assessment in many topics of Kalam—for instance, the relation between existence and the existent, or the conjunction of Divine power and determination with human free will—in the third part of his Majmu‘ fatawa.

Imam al-Ghazali (rahimahullah) resembles this position but differed on the point that the discipline of Kalam does not yield certain knowledge (gnosis) (al-ma‘rifat al-yaqiniyya) as does spiritual unveiling (kashf) or inspiration (ilham), for it depends on (and hence is limited to) the intellect. He wrote in his spiritual autobiography: Then I commenced with the discipline of Kalam, and obtained a thorough understanding of it. I studied the works of its sound theologians, and myself composed some works in the subject. But I found it a discipline that, while attaining its own aim, did not attain mine. Its aim is preserving the creed of orthodoxy and defending it against the inclinations of innovative folk. … But in doing so they (the practitioners of Kalam) came to argue on premises they admitted to their opponents and to which they were compelled, whether following precedent (al-taqlid), or the consensus of the community, or by solely accepting the Qur’an and traditions. The majority of their argument was dedicated to laying forth the contradictions of their opponents and criticizing the logical consequences of what they admitted. But this is of little benefit with respect to someone who admitted nothing at all save logically necessary truths—so Kalam was not sufficient in my case and was unable to treat the malady of which I complained.

Determining whether Kalam is permissible, recommended, or necessary proceeds from assessing its benefit, and determining whether it is impermissible with reference to its harm. Al-Ghazali (rahimahullah) writes elsewhere that Kalam contains both benefit and harm, its specific ruling being determined by the conditions at the time.

Certain Problems Addressed by Kalam and the Positions of Certain Kalam Schools

The Imamate According to Shi‘ism

Lexically, the word “Shi‘a” means “adherent” (ansar), such that the related word “partisanship” (tashayyu‘) denotes the victory of one over another (al-intisar). Historically, the word “Shi‘a” refers to the supporters of ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, God be well-pleased with him. In the sectarian sense, the term refers to the explicit conviction that the right to the Caliphate fell only to ‘Ali and his children, God be well-pleased with them. They differed thereafter as to which among his descendents had priority: the Zaydis asserted the Imamate through the third-generation descendent Zayd bin ‘Ali bin al-Husayn; the Ismailis asserted the Imamate through the seventh-generation descendent Isma‘il bin Ja‘far al-Sadiq; and the Twelver (Ithna Ash‘ari) Shi‘ites asserted the Imamate through Muhammad bin al-Hasan (known as al-‘Askari).

The Twelver Shi‘ites hold that the authority of the Imamate is one of the fundamental principles of religion that do not admit rational interpretation and therefore is not subject to independent judgment (ijtihad). Nor are ancillary matters related to it subject to such independent judgment, although they may admit rational interpretation. That is, choosing the leader (al-imam) is not achieved by election through the pledged allegiance (bay‘a) of the community (as Sunnis hold) but rather through Divine appointment and textual designation (i.e., from proof-texts drawn from the Qur’an and Sunna). The pledged allegiance is subsequent to and dependent on this Divine appointment. Shi‘ites narrate various textual proofs for this position, among them the hadith of the pond of Khumm (“Whosoever I am his master (mawla), so too ‘Ali is his master”). Likewise they advance rational proofs, including that the orthodox community—being comprised merely of a multitude of fallible individuals—is not immune from mistakes, and that mistakes in this matter of choosing the leader (al-imam) yield nothing less than chaos and social disintegration. For these reasons, among others, this matter must be effected through Divine appointment and thereby secured against the fallibility of the populace.

Given that they were Divinely appointed, the Imams are understood to be protected from error. Shi‘ites adduce both textual and rational proofs for this doctrine, including respectively God’s address to Abraham—upon him peace—that My Covenant does not include wrongdoers (Q 2:124) and the argument that the infallibility of the Imams interrupts the infinite regress of moral culpability that otherwise obtains.

Imam Muhammad bin al-Hasan (known as al-‘Askari), was hidden in what is known as the “minor occultation” (ghiba sughra), which lasted for seventy years starting in 260AH/874CE. Then began the “major occultation” (ghiba kubra), which will continue until the end of days. Shi‘ites further believe in the messianic return of the twelfth Imam in the last days, in the form of the long-awaited Mahdi.

Taqiyya refers to concealing the doctrines of a school from those who do not believe in it, or an individual’s concealing his affiliation to a school. Shi‘ites adduce in support of this doctrine the Qur’anic verse Except for one who is compelled [to disbelieve] while his heart remains content with faith (Q 16:106), and narrate from Ja‘far al-Sadiq the report “Taqiyya is of my religion and that of my fathers’ ”.

The Zaydis follow Zayd bin ‘Ali bin al-Husayn, and are the Shi‘ite denomination most similar to the Sunnis. They agree with the Sunnis (against the Twelver Shi‘ites) that the question of the Imamate is a branch of religion which does admit rational interpretation and is likewise subject to independent judgment. The Twelver Shi‘ites hold their opinion to be established through express textual support, that is, authentically-narrated reports indisputably indicating the person of the Imam. Zaydis recognize texts indicating the person of the Imam but hold them to be less definitive both in their transmission and their signification, and to describe the attributes of the Imam but not specify him by name. Further distinctions between the Twelver Shi‘ites and Zaydis are logically entailed by these differences, in that the former hold that one who denies the Imamate of ‘Ali and his descendents in effect denies decisive proof-texts and so disbelieves; while the latter hold that denying these matters means rather that one has sinfully erred in judgment (but remains within the fold of faith). The Zaydis hold that ‘Ali bin Abi Talib had precedence over Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman, God be well-pleased with them all, in that he had more right than them to the title of Caliph, but due to his younger age and the perilous conditions in the troubled state of the time, it is permissible to admit the Caliphate of those before him. This again is opposed to the Twelver Shi‘ites, who hold that the prior three Caliphs were flagrant usurpers. The Twelver Shi‘ites, Ismailis, and certain Zaydis affirm a doctrine of the awaited Mahdi (as opposed to the Sunnis, of whom the majority believe in the Mahdi and another party do not, but in neither case make this doctrine foundational to their Islamic creed).

The roots of the Shi‘ite conception of the authority of the Imam, and specifically that of the Twelver Shi‘ites, hearkens back to the doctrines and philosophies prevailing in pre-Islamic Persia. When Islam entered Persia it was in a state of disarray, and due to it its civilization was enriched but endured. One of the elements of Persian civilization that Islam did not abolish was the system that understood kings to have a quasi-Divine nature, and which influenced the Shi‘ite view of the Imamate (as argued by Shaykh Muhammad Abu Zahra) .

The Positions Championed by the Kharijites and the Murji’ites
Lexically, “Khuruj” denotes insurrection and insubordination. The active participle “Khawarij” refers to those who rebelled against ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, God be well-pleased with him. The movement originated at the murder of ‘Uthman, God be well-pleased with him, and the allegiance pledged to ‘Ali as Caliph: Mu‘awiya (then Governor of Syro-Palestine) refused to acknowledge this allegiance owed, accusing him instead of covering over the murder of ‘Uthman. Thereafter ‘Ali and Mu‘awiya faced each other in battle (at the Battle of Siffin) and the latter would have been routed, but that ‘Amr bin al-As enjoined his forces to hoist up copies of the Qur’an on their lances (invoking the authority of scriptural writ to decide between them). Certain of ‘Ali’s supporters inclined toward seeking an arbitrated settlement between him and Mu‘awiya, but a faction rejected the possibility of subjecting legitimate authority to such adjudication. They proclaimed the slogan, “no decision save that of God!” (la hukm illa li’llah), and struck camp at Harura (by which they are also known as the Haruriyya). Refusing the outcome of the arbitration, they left (rebelled) against his authority and thus became known as the Khawarij (lit., “those who left”). They subsequently split into twenty schisms.

The most important articles of Kharijite doctrine are 1) considering whoever is content with such arbitration to be unbelievers (takfir). They anathematized ‘Ali and Mu‘awiya and ‘Uthman, all of whom accepted arbitration in matters of authority; 2) appointing the Caliph through free, valid election alone, as established by the Muslim majority (and not a group of delegates or the like). They would support the Caliph so long as he ruled in justice as upheld by the Shari‘a; otherwise, they held it necessary to remove him from power, given also the necessity of rising against permissive authorities; 3) the permissibility of non-Qurayshite Caliphs, and indeed that all contenders were equal regardless of tribal or ethnic origin-even that non-Arab claimants were preferable for they would be easier to remove from power in the event they acted against the Shari‘a. They themselves chose the non-Qurayshite ‘Abd Allah bin Wahb al-Rasibi as their leader; and 4) a radical conflation of belief and action, holding that faith (iman) necessarily yields righteous works. This in turn meant they considered the perpetrator of sins an unbeliever, without distinguishing between enormities and minor sins. Likewise they considered those adhering to opposing judgments and schools to be unbelievers. In support of such doctrines they offered the Qur’anic verse Q 3:97 (And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto God for mankind, for him who is able to find a way there. As for him who disbelieves—surely God is independent of [all] creatures), which they interpreted to equate abandoning the rite of pilgrimage—surely a sin—with full disbelief, such that any sinner becomes a disbeliever. They also cited the verse Q 5:44 (Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah has revealed: such are disbelievers) to mean that every perpetrator of sins had decided his course of action by something other than revelation and so had disbelieved.

The followers of ‘Abd Allah bin Ibad, some of whom continue to reside in Oman and northeast Africa, are known as the Ibadis; they comprise the Kharijite sect closest to the Sunnis. They distinguish between disbelief in doctrine (that is, with respect to God the Exalted proper) and disbelief with respect to His bounties (that is, restricting or denying related aspects). They held that their opponents’ judgments and schools disbelieved in the latter sense, not the former, and thus that their opponents’ persons, homes, and livestock remained inviolable to them (except for their steeds and weapons). Likewise they held their opponents’ testimony, marriage with them, and inheriting from them all to be legitimate.

The Kharijite school rested on the equation of sovereignty (hakimiyya) with power (sulta) as what yields dominion (siyada) quite resembling that of modern political thought—that is, a concept of absolute authority. However, authority yields dominion only in particular times and places. Certain contemporary Islamist groups have approximated this view, relying for instance on what they understood of the teachings of Abul-A‘la al-Mawdudi or the later works of Sayyid Qutb. ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, God be well-pleased with him, was among the first to stridently resist this approach. Responding to the Kharijite slogan “No decision [or: rulership] save that of God!”, he said, “A true word, yet they intend falsehood by it. True, [there is] no rulership save that of God, yet they claim there is no command [or: government] (imra) save that of God while people require leaders (amir), whether righteous or profligate.”

The Murji‘ites were another early sect. Their eponymous key tenet of irja’ lexically denotes “postponement” (ta’khir), for they “deferred” the requital of transgressions to the Day of Judgment. It is imperative to differentiate the position of this sect from that of certain early Companions and Followers who (responding to the conditions of their time) forbade engaging the bitter contemporaneous political struggles. In that vein they recommended “deferring” the case of grave sinners to God Most High, Who will punish or forgive them as He wills on the Day of Judgment. In the subsequent period however, there emerged the Murji‘ites, who took this notion of deferral to its limit and made it a point of doctrine. They thus held that sin does not spoil faith much like obedience does not benefit disbelief—that is, that the believer remains a believer no matter the enormities of sins he commits, just as the disbeliever remains a disbeliever no matter the righteous deeds he works. They held that faith (iman) pertains to [private] beliefs, and that one who pronounces unbelief (kufr) with his tongue and worships idols or practically adheres to Judaism or Christianity (for instance, worshipping the cross or pronouncing Trinitarian doctrine) in the lands of Islam, and thereafter dies without recanting these practices, can yet be a believer of unaffected or complete faith in the sight of God almighty, and can yet be among the Folk of Paradise.

While the Kharijites grossly conflated faith (iman) and action (‘amal), the Murji‘ites radically separated them. The correct position is that the relation between faith and action is one of union (but not absolute identity, as with the Kharijites) and distinction (but not absolute disjunction, as with the Murji‘ites).

Creatures’ Actions, Between the Determinists and Libertarians
The name of the Libertarian sect (al-qadariyya) refers to the human power (qudra) to act and choose. Some hold that it refers to the determination (al-qadr) which they deny God Most High and affirm for humans. Some writers hold them to be aptly described by their opponents as corresponding to the hadith “those who deny God’s measuring-out are the fire worshippers of this community”. The strongest opinion as to their name is that the word “al-Qadariyya” generally encompasses the Mu‘tazilites and the Jahmites and more specifically refers to the latter.

The most important Jahmite leader, Ma‘bad al-Juhani, preached his school in Iraq and was killed by Hajjaj in the uprising of ‘Abd al-Rahman bin al-Ash‘ath and Ghilan al-Dimashqi, who had been debated by ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and was spectacularly killed by Hisham bin ‘Abd al-Malik. This group radically ascribed action and volition to humans, holding that every human action occurs through a will independent from the will of God Most High. They rejected God’s prior knowledge and determining (taqdir) the occurrence of human action. Dr. Muhammad Yusuf observes, “The Libertarians took the position that humans are the ones who determine their own actions through their knowledge, facing them through their will, and enacting them through their power—and that God has no power over these works, cannot engage them in His volition or power, and cannot have knowledge of them before they occur. ” In this way the Libertarians came to ascribe the Divine Attribute of Lordship (rububiyya) to others beside God, delimiting His properly unrestricted knowledge and power.

The Jahmites gained their name through their eponymous ascription to Jahm bin Safwan. They argued that, given that God Most High is the creator of creatures’ acts, and given that He possesses unrestricted power, human power over actions is transformed into a mere instrument without volition. Jahm bin Safwan said, Indeed humans determine nothing, nor are they characterized by such ability; rather they are compelled in their actions, having no [independent] volition and no choice. It is God Most High Who creates actions for them in the same way that He does for other bodies. Actions are ascribed to them only in a figurative sense, as they are other bodies . In the following period this opinion suffused various groups associated with the Sunnis.

The Determinist school (al-jabariyya) came to be named for their fundamental tenet denying human power to act and choose. The Determinist opinion arose in Islam because the transcendental conception of God Most High holds there to be no contradiction between the abstract or general acts of God and the delimited acts of human beings. The former defines and delimits the latter, both in their generation (manifesting them in the visible world through the Divine habit that ensured the conditions of human action) and their commission (like legal boundaries manifest themselves through the various Divine commands of obligation and prohibition, to which humans ought to cleave in their actions). This school of thought conflates the acts of God with everything consequent, and so understands attributing actions to any other than Him to be ascribing Him partners in His lordship—even though this is more properly the case only with reference to the unrestricted acts of God, not the delimited acts of human beings. Their conflation in fact resembles the approach of Idealists of Western philosophy such as Hegel. The improbability of determinism in Islamic orthodoxy means that, contra certain Orientalists, it is not receptive to such Idealism.

Good and Evil, Between the Mu‘tazilites, the Ash‘arites, and the Maturidites

Mu‘tazilites

The Mu‘tazilite sect gained its name when Wasil bin ‘Ata’ (founder of the school) differed from his teacher Hasan al-Basri on the question of the status of a Muslim who committed grave sins. The latter held him to be a sinner but nonetheless a Muslim, while Wasil dissented to argue that he was in a station between belief and unbelief (that is, neither a believer nor a disbeliever). Hasan al-Basri commented that Wasil “withdrew” (i‘tazala) from his company, and so this disagreement led to the formation of the Mu‘tazilite school.

Mu‘tazilism is based on five creedal articles. The first two pertain to the highly transcendental conception of God they advance. 1) Divine unity (al-tawhid): Mu‘tazilites rationally interpreted all verses that could yield anthropomorphism and, in an effort to rigorously maintain the single eternity of God, denude God of all attributes other than His Essence (repudiating a distinct existence to these attributes). Thus they rationally interpret the Divine attributes as recorded in the Qur’an to be various names of the Divine essence, not attributes proper. In this sense they are also known as those who deny the attributes (al-mu‘attila), with the nuance that they only deny these attributes as they exist distinct from the Divine essence (al-ta‘til al-juz’iyy la al-ta‘til al-kulli).

2) Justice (al-‘adl): Mu‘tazilites held that the principle of Divine justice dictates that He reward the righteous with good and requite the sinner with ill, and also that He endow humans with power over their actions and the ability to choose between good and evil. For were humans compelled in their deeds, then the Divine reward and punishment based on them would be essentially unjust—and He is above such ascriptions! In order to secure Divine justice, however, they radically emphasized human freedom and so came to imply that humans create their actions.

They held further that the moral quality of actions (their good or evil) inhere essentially in them, being independent of Divine commands or prohibitions. Therefore the Legislator enjoins certain actions because of the good inhering in them and prohibits others due to the evil inhering in them, and even those people who have not been reached by revelation are nonetheless accountable to God for their actions (because the ethical status of actions is independently rationally comprehensible).

3) The Intermediate Position (al-manzila bayn al-manzilatayn): The Mu ‘tazilites held that those who commit enormities are relegated to a position between that of disbelief (kufr) and belief (iman)—that is, they cannot properly be said to be disbelievers or believers, although nothing prevents calling them “Muslims” if it is specified that their repentance is yet called for. Ibn Abi Hadid said, If we take the position that those who commit enormities can be called neither believers nor “Muslims” we would prefer that he be called “Muslim” so that we may distinguish him from Dhimmis or idol-worshippers.

4) The Promise and Threat (al-wa‘d wal-wa‘id): Mu‘tazilites held that God’s promise to reward the righteous with good and requite sinners with ill to be irreversible. Thereby they also denied notions of intercession in the hereafter.

5) Commanding the Good and Forbidding Evil (al-amr bil-ma‘ruf wal-nahi ‘an al-munkar): Mu‘tazilites made rebellion against a tyrannical despot obligatory, albeit conditional on the particular circumstances of the case (contra the Kharijites, who affirmed this obligation unreservedly).

The radically transcendent emphasis of the Mu‘tazilites led them to deny the Divine attribute of speech (al-kalam) as distinct from the Divine essence, for, as a contingent characteristic of other creatures, they believed it could imply a multiplicity of deities. In this they repudiated the Christian claims that the Qur’an supported the divinity of Christ when it described Jesus, upon him peace, as the “Word of God” (kalimat Allah). They further interpreted Qur’anic references to the speech of God Most High (kalam Allah) to mean that He created that speech as He did any other thing, and thereby that the Qur’an itself is created (and thus contingent), not pre-eternal.

In keeping with these methodological and hermeneutical principles, Mu‘tazilites rejected the possibility of “seeing” God. Certain scholars understood this to apply specifically to the notion of seeing God with one’s eyes. Al-Shahrastani said, They were united in denying an ocular beatific vision in the Abode of Permanence (ru’yat Allah ta‘ala bil-absar fi dar al-qarar).

From the position that God in His wisdom acted according to certain principles, not haphazardly, the Mu‘tazilites took up the notion that it was necessary for God to act in the best manner possible. That is, given that God the Exalted only acts from His infinite wisdom, it is impossible for Him to command anything but virtue or prohibit anything but depravity. Thus both good and its superlative are necessary for God.

The Mu‘tazilites reached their positions primarily through engaging members of other religions and refuting opposing creeds, by using methodological abstractions and rational strategies derived from Greek logic. However, these techniques—in their rigor—in fact shield one from the vigor and vitality of gnosis as ordered by revelation, and cut at the very heart of knowledge of the unseen. For example, the Mu‘tazilite concept of the Divine essence can be understood as a response to the radical anthropomorphists (or corporealists), who imputed to God aspects of a body (like that of humans); but their more transcendent concept in effect severs the bond between humans and their Lord. It empties their concept of the existence of God, as in the question of Divine attributes, even while it unrestrictedly subordinates these matters to the intellect, as in the question of the ethical status of acts and others such surveyed above. They go too far also in their affirmation of human freedom, as they transform the delimited acts of human beings—which are defined by the acts of God in their instantiation and their moral investiture (takwinan wa taklifan)—into unreserved acts. They hold that humans are the creators of their own acts, but creation is an attribute of Lordship signifying that an act is performed by none other than God. Therefore they seem to imply partners in His lordship, and compromise the monotheism they otherwise strictly seek to defend. Finally, it is more proper to hold that God made the good of His actions obligatory on Himself, rather than to say He is obliged or bound in any fashion. In Qur’anic idiom, He has prescribed it for Himself (kataba Rabukum‘ala nafsih) (cf. Q 6:12).

Ash‘arites

The eponymous founder of this school is Abu al-Hasan al-Ash‘ari, one of the first to study under but then quit the Mu‘tazilites. The Ash‘arites came to comprise the largest Sunni group, including among its ranks such great scholarly giants as al-Juwayni, al-Shahrastani, and al-Ghazali.
Like the Mu‘tazilites, the Ash‘arites held that the Divine essence was transcendent and repudiated anthropomorphism. However, they understood the Qur’anic verses whose apparent sense could yield similarities between God and human beings to employ conventional Arabic figures or metaphors, without subjecting them to further speculative or abstracting interpretation. Al-Baghdadi attributed anthropomorphist interpretations to “renegades and radicals ” and al-Shahrastani considered the anthropomorphist Karramite scholars to be “ignorant fools ”. Al-Ghazali insisted one must properly understand ostensibly anthropomorphic Qur’anic expressions such as those referring to “the Hand [of God]”, which, as an equivocal expression, includes the primary corporeal sense of a limb composed of flesh and bone but also includes a metaphorical sense that is not essentially corporeal.

Ash‘arites affirmed Divine attributes as distinct from the Divine essence, including divine power, will, hearing, sight, and speech. Al-Ash‘ari held that human acts are the result of God’s creation and human acquisition (kasb), which is the conjunction of human power and Divine act. An example to elucidate this relation is the movement of a hand wearing a ring, whereby the movement of the ring is conjoined to that of the hand. Contra the Mu‘tazilites, Ash‘arites did not believe that acts are essentially good or bad, but that they receive their moral character through Divine command or prohibition. Al-Ash‘ari said that one who commits enormities is a sinning believer and relinquished to the will of God as to whether He forgive him and enter him into Paradise or whether He first requite him with punishment for his sins. He further affirmed the possibility of the beatific vision, in that every existent (including God) admits being seen. Ash‘arites posited that the Divine attribute of speech is pre-eternal in His essence, but he divided the Divine speech into two types: unlettered speech (kalam nafsi), which singularly abides with the Divine essence; and lettered speech (kalam lafzi), which is comprised of contingent letters and sounds conforming to the meaning of the unlettered speech that comprehends every injunction and prohibition. The Qur’an is therefore the uncreated speech of God but its disparate letters, colored inks, inscriptions, and vocalizations are all created in time. Finally, the Ash‘arites held that the acts of God are not bound to an underlying rationality, for that would restrict His sovereign will even in such questions as the requital of the obedient and transgressors. Rather they cite the Qur’anic verse He will not be questioned as to what he does, but they will be questioned (Q 21:23).

Various criticisms were advanced against these positions and formulations. Ibn Hazm criticized the Ash‘arite conception of godhead, arguing that their division of the eternal essence of God from His abiding attributes compromises His absolute oneness . The Ash‘arites began soundly, establishing human actions as the result of God’s creation and human acquisition; but their definition of acquisition as merely a conjunction effectively tended toward Determinism. Al-Juwayni (rahimahullah) commented that denying human power and ability is refused both by rationality and lived experience, for affirming a power without effect (as in the definitions of certain Ash‘arites) is essentially denying that power as such . The Ash‘arite position on the ethical status of acts in effect was said to undermine rationality, for by unreservedly refusing the possibility of independently discerning good (husn) or ill (qubh) they in turn deny the independent existence of good (khayr) and evil (sharr). Likewise, their position that God’s acts are not bound by revelation in an absence of wisdom is a contradictory and inadequate conception inadmissible for God, for His works are unreservedly independent and in turn complete.

The Maturidites are a Sunni sect founded by Abu Mansur al-Maturidi, holding many positions in common with the Ash‘arites but differing from them on others. Much like the Ash‘arite approach to Qur’anic verses that could yield an anthropomorphic concept of God, they affirmed His transcendence while understanding these expressions by the conventional figurative meanings they had garnered in Arabic—not through some sort of speculative rational interpretation. The Maturidites recognized that the moral quality of certain works can be rationally apprehended, just as there are others whose moral quality cannot be understood except through revelation. But in every case, they hold that humans are not obliged to do good and refrain from evil until they encounter revelation. They agree with the Ash‘arites that human acts are the result of Divine creation and human acquisition, but (against the Ash‘arites) hold that acquisition is not merely conjoined with action but in fact is its very reality (haqiqiyya). Maturidites hold that those who commit enormities will not abide in Hellfire, even if they died without repenting. Al-Maturidi said, the truth about believing, habitual sinners is that their case is relegated to God Most High, for Him to forgive them if He so chooses (from His bounty and goodness and mercy) or to punish them to the extent of their sins, if He so chooses. They will not abide in the fire. People of faith are between hope and fear. Against the Mu‘tazilite rationalizing interpretation of Divine acts, al-Maturidi said, His acts obey an underlying wisdom because He is the Wise; He wills wisdom by them because He intends them, not because He is compelled to act in a certain manner. He is not bound but rather has free volition and will.

We note here that the Maturidites have the soundest solution to the issue of the scope of reason in discerning the ethical status of actions, in that they develop a variegated approach. Yet they do not clarify the nature of these acts in their two types such that one might say that the acts whose moral status does not admit rational investigation are abstracted from their particular conditions, while those whose moral quality is discernible are circumscribed in relation to their time and place.

Divine Attributes, Between Imputing Similarities and Relinquishing the Matter to God

Tashbih is the position that there are similarities (beyond analogies) between God the Exalted and His creation. Tajsim is the related position that imputes a bodily form to God. Tashbih emerged before Islam among certain Jewish and Christian sects, and then spread to certain radical sects in Muslim lands; its more prominent proponents include certain Shi‘ite groups, the Karramites, and the Hashwites. It is based on a particular understanding of those scriptural verses whose apparent meaning expresses similarities between God and creation.

The Shi‘ite extremists who took such a position include Mughira bin Sa‘id, who claimed that the one he worshipped was a man of light with a crown upon his head and limbs unlike a man, and Bayan bin Sam‘an, who maintained that the one he worshipped was a human being enveloped in light but for his face. The Karramites were named after Muhammad bin Karam al-Sajistani, who affirmed the Divine attributes but in a corporealizing and anthropomorphizing fashion. He called his followers to worship an embodied, delimited God. In his book “The Punishment of the Grave,” he described God as seated proudly upon the Throne in terms that admit movement, change, and cessation— much like he affirmed the beatific vision without securing the doctrine against its potential spatial implications. The Hashwites, finally, are those who cling to an extremely literal hermeneutic, and so insist on the apparent sense of those verses that could imply similarities between God and creation. Al-Tahanawi recorded, in his book Kashshaf istilahat al-funun, that the Hashwites clung to apparent meanings until they corporealized their theology, and further. Some assimilated them into various Sunni groups, especially the later Hanbalites, of whom we may give examples of scholars who appear to adopt the Hashwite hermeneutic; but great numbers of other Hanbalites (including Ibn Jawzi) vociferously rejected it in the fourth and fifth centuries. Ahmad bin Hanbal himself never anthropomorphized but rather urged a specific kind of relegation (tafwid), which (as practiced by certain early Muslims) is simply refusing to comment on such matters.

Ibn al-Jawzi said, “I wonder at those who call to knowledge and tend toward anthropomorphism (tashbih) by taking hadiths literally .” The interpretation (haml) here referred to includes both a specific understanding and discussion of that understanding; but maintaining the traditional approach is achieved by refraining both from plunging into that discussion or speculating on how to understand it.

One of the Sunni approaches to such questions is attributed to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, founder of the Hanbalite legal school, and includes numerous great scholars such as Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Taymiyya, and Ibn al-Qayyim. Other appellations of this methodological group include “the Traditionalists” (lit., “the Companions of Hadith”, ashab al-hadith) and “the Folk [adhering to the way] of the Predecessors” (ahl al-salaf). The later Wahhabite school named after Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab hearkens back to this group in aspects of its method and practice.

The approach of Ahmad bin Hanbal on ambiguous matters was to refrain from commenting on them, relegating their specific interpretation to God (tafwid) in His transcendence with reference to the verse Q 3:7: None knoweth its explanation save God…. Later, Ibn Taymiyya adopted such a position of tafwid, but furthermore considered the early Muslims to have understood these ambiguous verses and hadiths in their apparent sense (i.e., he ascribed this understanding to them despite their refraining from comment). It is evident, he wrote, that when the Lord described Himself as “Knowing, Powerful”, He did not qualify His own formulation by saying its evident sense is unintended. This is because its meaning (mafhum) with respect to Him (fi haqqihi) is similar (mithl) to its meaning with respect to us. A similar hermeneutical principle obtains, Ibn Taymiyya writes, in such cases as God ascribing to Himself the creation of Adam by His Hand .

Ibn Taymiyya rejected determinism for the way it divested the sinner’s responsibility before God. He affirmed human power to act and choose, but without ascribing them the creation of their acts as did the Mu‘tazilites. One of the most enduring elements of human thought, he writes, marshalling a logical-grammatical argument, is [the causal principle by which] one who acts justly is understood to be just, one who works iniquity is understood to be iniquitous, and one who lies is known as a liar—if it is not the creature who is agent of his lies and iniquity but rather God who is the effector of those actions, that entails God be attributed with deceit and wickedness!

Ibn Taymiyya disputed the Ash‘arite position that God’s acts are not justifiable, arguing that this emptied His acts of their underlying wisdom. Rather, he said, He created creation, enjoined His commandments, and forbade His prohibitions all according to a distinct wisdom.

Ibn al-Qayyim agreed with al-Maturidi that the moral quality of certain acts is rationally discernable, yet that the reward of good and requital of ill requires revelation. He wrote, In truth, one will find no contradiction in the approach holding that acts are in themselves good and evil (like they have benefit and harm) without making this a cause of their reward and requital, which is determinable only through the commands and prohibitions of revelation. Like Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim refused the position that human acts are determined in any way. Thus he affirmed human action and volition without making reference to their existence as God’s creation.

Ibn al-Jawzi differed from Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Taymiyya in understanding potentially anthropomorphic Qur’anic verses and hadiths in terms of a metaphor that could that would be readily understood by an Arabic speaker, without finding it necessary to resort to rational speculation (for example, as one who says that the Qur’anic references to God’s “finger” is “the trace of His virtue” or that “His hand” is “His blessing”). This is the position too of Ibn Hazm, al-Ghazali, and al-Maturidi. (For a thing is taken on its face if possible; if it is interpreted, it is done so based on metaphor.)

There are two aspects to the approach of the early Muslims to this question: their theoretical understanding and its practical implementation. It is unsound to hold simply that they refused to comment on the matter, for certainly some of them did speak on it (specifically ‘Ali bin Abi Talib and Ibn Mas‘ud, in refuting innovators’ creeds). Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim were of the opinion that the early Muslims understood such verses in their apparent sense, while others (including Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Hazm, and al-Ghazali, as surveyed above) felt otherwise.

The Creed of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah

By Darul al-Ifta al-Misriyyah

Creed
The word for creed in Arabic is ‘aqida. Linguistically, it means to bind firmly and tightly. And in the terminology of the sciences, it is a belief held strongly and with conviction in the hearts of humans, whether it be true or false. This strong belief is a motivator to action, such as is the case with the belief of a Muslim in the existence of God and the veracity of the Prophet.

History attests to the fact that all peoples at all times have had an ideology or religious creed to which they assent, which moves them to action and which has an impact on their behavior and conduct.

The Islamic creed consists of a firm belief that God, Lord of the Worlds, is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth; that there is only one God Who can be characterized by all perfections, Who transcends all deficiencies, and Who is unlike any other being; that Muhammad is his Prophet and Messenger to the Worlds, and that he fulfilled this mission in the most perfect and complete manner; that the Qur’an is His Book, truthful and untouched by any falsity; and that what it conveys of matters unseen – for example, angels, other prophets, paradise, and hell – is all true.

This set of beliefs moves he who possesses them to hold fast to the rules of the shari’ah and the commands and prohibitions of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Monotheism
Monotheism (tawhid) is to believe in the Oneness of God, worshipping Him alone, and affirming this belief of His Essence, His Qualities, and His Actions. It is also to affirm that there is no entity which resembles His Indivisible Essence; that no qualities which resemble the Divine Qualities, in which plurality is not possible such that one can say that God has two Wills or Knowledges, for example; and that His Actions do not admit of any association – there is, that is to say, no action other than His, and any action of another is to be regarded as acquisitive (kasb).

What has been said by the theologians with regards to monotheism can be simplified as follows:
1. It is the belief that God is other than anything that can be conceived by the imagination
2. It is the belief that His Essence in no way resembles other entities, nor does It compromise his Qualities
Tawhid is in fact a developed science derived from certain and definitive proofs. It enables one to establish religious beliefs via argumentation and repelling doubts.

It is concerned with the Essence of God, and what is necessary, impossible, or permissible to affirm of It. It is also concerned with the messengers, what they brought affirming the existence of a Creator. Finally, it treats revelatory data, and the necessity to belive in it.

The benefit of the science of tawhid is that it leads to a knowledge of God through definitive proofs, and the attainment of eternal happiness as a result. Because it is connected to the knowledge of God and His prophets, it is the most noble of sciences. As the Arabic saying goes, things are ennobled by that which they are connected to.

Learning this science is an individual obligation for every person, male or female, as established by the verse which directs all to “Know that there is no god but Allah” (Surah Muhammad, 19). Technically, the obligation is to know the creed in a general way; while knowledge of the particulars and details is a communal obligation.

The science of tawhid discusses three matters:
1. Divinity – that which has to do with God
2. Prophecy – that which has to do with prophets and messengers
3. Revelation – that which treats matters which cannot be proven except through revelatory reports
Types of Proofs

There are two types of proofs:
1. Purely rational, such as that which establishes the existence of a Creator through the creation of the Heavens, the Earth and ourselves.
2. Revelatory, which is in fact a combination of rational and revelatory premises, because the veracity of a report can be established only by reason. These proofs may establish definitive certainty in shari’ah matters when they are mass-transmitted or accompanied by empirical evidence. However, in cases where they do not accord with a reason-based proof, the latter is given priority, for to disregard reason would be to disregard both types of proofs (since the latter is a hybrid).

Epistemology and Ontology
The philosophers say that that which may be known are either non-existent, existent in the mind, or existent in the world. And that which has extra-mental (i.e., worldly) existence is either necessarily existent, i.e., it is impossible that it does not exist, or it is contingently existent.
The theologians say that the existent is that which has a reality in the world, and it is either eternal or created. The created is further divided into two: the substance and the accident

The ‘contingent’ (al-mumkin) is that which is necessarily in need of a cause. It may be either existent or non-existent, in equal probability. The ‘contingent’ is always created, never eternal.

The ‘necessary’: The essentially necessary is God, Who is Simple, not compound. This is because to be compound means to be contingent, created and admitting divisibility. This also means he does not admit association because that would entail being compound. God transcends comparison and resemblance. His Qualities include Life, Knowledge and Power. These Qualities are eternal, and do not compromise his necessity of being, nor do they render him needy of anything, for His Qualities are not other than Him.

The createdness of the world
To be created (huduth) means to be preceded by non-existence (‘adum). The world is everything other than God, the Exalted. The world is made of substances (jawahir) and accidents (a’raad). Substances are those entities that are independent of place. Accidents are those qualities that are “connected” to substance, such as color, taste, smell, life, death, will, power, and knowledge.

The createdness of the world is proven as follows: All existents can be classified as either eternal (qadim) or created. 

The eternal is that which is preceded by nothing else. It is necessary of existence. It is impossible for the eternal to not be, for eternality contradicts non-existence.

The created is that existent which is preceded by another. It may both exist and not exist. So, when it is distinguished by existence rather than non-existence, it is in need of something that performs that distinguishing for it. This entity is a creator characterized by volition and power.

All that is not void of created entities is created. No body in the world is void of created accidents and changeable states. The qualities of the bodies change, and they move from one state to another. The reality of changeable entities is that in fact one state is annihilated and another is created. This is known in the case of the new state by observation, and in the case of the old state because, if it were eternal it would not have become non-existent.

Therefore, it is necessary to believe firmly that the world, all its bodies, including all sorts of vegetation and animals; all actions; all utterances; and all beliefs are created. They came to exist after non-existence.

The existence of the Creator
Belief in the existence of the Creator is the first pillar of Islamic doctrine. All other doctrinal principles are built upon it. And believing in this existence is the only path to attaining a correct understanding of creation, and the meaning of existence in this world.

The world that we see is contingently existent (mumkin al-wujud), which means that the mind precludes neither its existence nor non-existence. Therefore, there must be some external cause which made it existence, and distanced it from non-existence. In its default mode, the world and its entities are possible of both states. And the Cause that made it existent (and not non-existent) is what we call God, the Exalted.

Every rational person, through observation, knows necessarily that creation came into existence after non-existence, i.e., they were created. That which is created is in need of a Creator. An infinite regression of such creators is impossible, as all rational people agree. Infinite regression means that a created entity has a creator, and that creator has its own creator, and on and on with no end. This infinite regression, on whose impossibility all rational people agree, cannot be avoided except by positing an Eternal Creator, Who is in need of no other. His Existence needs No Originator. This is God, the Necessarily Existent. The Necessary, i.e. God, is not a compound being, nor multiple. It is truly One.

If all existences were simply contingent, and none of them were necessary, this set of contingently existent entities – which encompasses all existent entities – would be in need of an originator. This is because the set is itself contingent, a compound entity made of a set of contingent entities. However, the Necessary of Existence (God) is independent in His Existence. He does not need any other entity for his existence. And He is outside of this set. So He is the Creator.

The first obligation
Contemplating (al-nazar) knowing God is an obligation by consensus, whether it is by revelatory means as the Ash’aris say, or by rational ones as the Mu’tazilis say.
The primary obligation is to know God, and the means to achieving it is speculation (al-nazar), so it is also an obligation. But speculation is not possible without intent to engage in it. Therefore, the intention is also an obligation, indeed the first obligation.

By al-nazar is meant the tools and methodologies by which knowledge is organized so as to lead from one piece of information to another. Alternatively, it is defined as abstracting the mind away from insignificant matters and orienting it to the objects of reason. When this is done properly, what results is necessary knowledge.

This is an obligation, because in matters of doctrine, following another based on his or her authority is a sin for someone who is capable of engaging in theoretical and rational thought. If he is not capable of this, it is not a sin. Abu Mansur al-Maturidi says, “Our companions are agreed that the masses believers and knowers of God, and they will populate Heaven, as we are informed in reports and as is agreed on by scholars. For their natural state leads them to monotheism and belief in the Creator’s eternality and the createdness of all else, even if they are unable to articulate this in the terminology of the theologians.” Al-Amidi reported agreement that those who attest to the correct doctrine based on authority are not disbelievers.

The difference of opinion obtains when we turn to the judgement in the Hereafter. In matters of this world, there is no disagreement that we are to judge based on apparent attestations alone. So, he who attests to the doctrine of Islam is to be treated as a Muslim, and not pronounced a disbeliever. So, he may marry other Muslims; he may lead the prayer; his slaughtered meat may be consumed; Muslims may inherit from him, and he from them; and he is to be buried in their cemeteries.

Belief (Iman)

Belief (iman) is to attest to all that is brought by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and is known necessarily to be of the religion, both in generalities and particulars. “That which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought” is al-Islam, outside of which there is no salvation. As Allah says, “Say: ‘Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for God, the Cherisher of the Worlds. No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit (muslimin).” [al-An’am: 162-163].

It is necessary that one submit to this, for there is no salvation in the eyes of God except by entering into Islam: “Say: ‘We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam).’ If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (All spiritual good).” [Aal Imran: 84-85].

Islam is the religion of God with which all other messengers had been sent: “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists.” [Aal Imran: 67]

The formula of testification is: “I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” For one who is capable of uttering it, it is obligatory for the validity of his faith. Simply uttering the words is not sufficient if the speaker does not understand the meaning of what he is reciting.

Articulating the formula of testification is a condition of one being considered a Muslim in legal matters, such as inheritance, marriage, leading prayer, being eligible for the funeral prayer, burial in Muslim cemeteries, and being subject to the demand to pray and pay the zakat. This is because silent affirmation in one’s heart, though it constitutes belief, is hidden, and we are in need of a visible sign of one’s Islam.

He who attests with his tongue, but not his heart, is a hypocrite. Though he is not a Muslim in the eyes of God, he is to be regarded as a Muslim in this world, provided he does not betray any visible indication of his disbelief, such as prostrating to an idol or abusing a copy of the Qur’an.
The “rejecter” is one who refuses to utter the formula of testification. He is a disbeliever both in the eyes of God and in the consideration of people in this world. An affirmation of the heart is of no consequence.

He who is confronted by doubts must seek to dispel them either through rational speculation or by asking someone of knowledge. He who is confronted by temptations should seek refuge in Allah, and say “I believe in God and His Messenger.” The children of Muslims are considered believers, and are to be treated as such in this world even if they never articulate the formula of testification their whole lives.

Divine Attributes

What may not be attributed to God: There are some things that cannot be affirmed of God. In short, He is transcendent, and free of anything that indicates createdness or deficiency of any sort. Therefore, one may not attribute to Him accidental attributes like taste, color, smell, or pain. Nor is he restricted to directionality. Nor can we ascribe to him adjacency, for he is not bound by area. Neither the earth nor the heavens surround Him. He has neither limits nor measure.

Anything that is distinguished by directionality is restricted in a space, and therefore is capable of being joined to substances and separate from them. Anything that admits such a joining and separation with substance is connected to substance, and not void of it. Anything that is not void of substance is created like the substance it is connected to. In contrast, God transcends space, and connection to bodies.

We believe that the Creator of the world cannot be restricted by space, nor can He have an end. For a thing may not be so restricted except by something else, nor can he have an endpoint except by imposing a limitation on him by another entity. But the Creator is neither created, nor restricted, nor limited in any way. As Allah says, “Do you not see that Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth? Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three persons but He is the fourth of them, nor (between) five but He is the sixth of them, nor less than that nor more but He is with them wheresoever they are; then He will inform them of what they did on the day of resurrection: surely Allah is Cognizant of all things.” [al-Mujadala: 7].

It is impermissible to attribute to God movement or rest, going and coming, being in a place, connectedness and disconnectedness, physical proximity and distance, size, body, form, measure, directions, or sides.

The Attributes of the Divine Essence: These are the attributes which subsist in the Divine Essence. They number seven or eight, the difference in number being due to scholarly disagreement.

These attributes are eternal like His Names. If they had been created, this would mean affirming something created of the Divine Essence. It would also mean that God was once without them, i.e., before their creation. Finally, it would indicate the need for something to endow the Divine Essence with this quality, which contradicts His Absolute Self-Sufficiency, i.e., His lack of need of anything other than Him.
These are in contrast to “the attributes of action” which are not eternal according to the Ash’aris.

The attributes of the Divine Essence are of neither the essence, nor of other than it. The former is obvious, for it is well known that the reality of the essence is not the same as that of its attributes, otherwise they would be identical. As for the latter, what is meant is that they are not of a separable other. For these attributes are not separable from the essence, even though their reality is not that of the essence itself.

Whoever directs his worship to the attributes alone has committed disbelief. And whoever connects his worship to the Essence alone has sinned. The correct path is to worship the Divine Essence characterized by Its Attributes.

These attributes are:
1. Existence: This means the existence of His Essence, uncaused by any other. It is impossible that He did not exist. This sort of perfect existence is affirmed only of God. All others partake in a subordinate mode of existence, both preceded and succeeded by non-existence. This is an affirmative attribute, affirmed of the Essence itself.

2. Eternality: This is a negative attribute, which is to say that it negates that which is not worthy of God – in this case, createdness, and so previous non-existence. What is meant is the eternality of the Essence – that It never “came into” existence. For if It were not eternal, It would be created, and thus in need of a creator, which creator would itself be in need of a creator. This would regress infinitely. As such, He must be Eternal. We believe that God has always been. A report in the Sahih of Ibn Hibban has it that, “There was Allah, and there was none other than Him.”

3. Everlastingness: This is also a negative attribute intended to exclude non-existence from His Essence. Just as we may not contemplate a cause for the generation of the Necessary Existent, we may not admit a cause for Its destruction. If we were to admit such a cause, there would be no Necessary Existent. The proof that God’s existence has no end is that It would then not be Eternal, because eternality contradicts non-existence. The existence of all other creation has both a beginning and end, except for Paradise and Hell, which had a beginning but no end. We know this through revelation and not reason.

4. Opposition to all Created Things: This is also a negative attribute indicating a lack of resemblance between God and creation. For He is neither a body nor an accident, neither a universal nor a particular. He similarly transcends all states and attributions that, for example, can be said of humans and other entities, such as sleep, heedlessness, hunger, thirst, and need. The proof of this attribute is that if God were not opposed to all created things in all qualities, He would resemble them in their createdness, or they would resemble Him in His eternality. That is impossible.

We believe that God cannot be characterized by those qualities which characterize creation. These latter is the essence of createdness, such as being restricted to a place or time, having bodily or mental needs, or weakness or incapacity. God is completely Transcendent. Nothing even remotely resembles Him. He has neither ancestors nor descendants. Nor does He have friends and enemies in the manner commonly spoken of, though we may use these words to mean sincere devotees, on the one hand, and those who transgress his commands, on the other.

However, it is true that we may describe humanity by some qualities we attribute to God, such as knowledge, power, will, and perception. But we distinguish by saying that these are essential attributes of God, but not essential attributes of humans. In the case of the latter, they are divine blessings.

5. Subsistence in Himself: This means that he has no need for other. We believe that God subsists in Himself. He has no need for an entity to generate Him, nor for a space to encompass him. He has been God since before the generation of anything else, and before the generation of time and space itself. Nor does he have directionality, though some anthropomorphists have said that He is characterized by “aboveness.” This is invalid. As Qadi ‘Iyad has said, “There is no disagreement among the Muslim jurists, hadith scholars, theologians, thinkers, and lay people that the apparent meaning of verses that mention God being in the Heavens, such as ‘Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes (as in an earthquake)?’   are not to be taken literally, but rather are to be interpreted.”

6. Oneness: This is also a negative attribute in that it denies something that is not appropriate to attribute to God, that is, multiplicity or quantity. God is neither composed of parts, nor made up of particulars (subsumed under a universal). He does not have two knowledges or wills that complement one another, nor does He have a knowledge or will that partakes in the knowledge or will of others.

7. Power: This is an eternal attribute of the Divine Essence, through which all things come to be and come to an end in accordance with His Will. What is necessary for every Muslim to know and believe is that God is capable of all things. The proof that God is characterized by power is that if He were not All-Powerful, He would be characterized by incapacity. This is impossible.

8. Will: This is also an eternal attribute of the Divine Essence, which has to do with realizing some of the potentialities of contingent beings. God’s Will is one. It originates and annihilates some things. 

Other Eternal Attributes: There are also other attributes. These include Knowledge, Life, Speech, Hearing, and Sight.

The Beautiful Names of God: Allah says, “The most beautiful names belong to God: so call on Him by them” [al-A’raaf: 180].

The names of God are eternal like His essential attributes. This eternality is taken to mean that either that they were suitable of God from pre-eternality, or that they always indicated the meaning of those names. Some like Ibn ‘Arabi took them to be equal in that they all pertain to one essence (God’s), even though they may differ in the world. Others took them to be of varying degrees of importance.

“Allah” is itself the Greatest Name, above all others. Ninety-nine have been enumerated in a hadith in Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurayra, but al-Nawawi has said that the scholars have agreed that the names listed there do not exhaust the names of God. The position of ahl al-sunna is that His Names and Attributes are taught to us, for this is what indicates God’s permission. This may take the form of either being in the Qur’an and sunna, or it may be established by consensus of use, such as the Fabricator, the Existent, the Necessary, the Eternal.

Prophecy

In Arabic, the word “prophet” (nabi) is taken from the word for “news, or report” for he reports about God. He is also the one who is reported to, in the first instance, since Gabriel brings him news.

Terminologically, the word “prophet” refers to a pure human who is inspired by a revelatory code of conduct on which he himself acts, even though he may not be called on to propagate it. If he is in fact called upon to propagate, he is a “messenger” (rasul). All messengers are prophets, but not all prophets are messengers. The sending of messengers is a great bounty from God. It is a rational possibility, but He is under no obligation to send messengers.

Allah has named 25 prophets in the Qur’an. Their prophethood must be believed in. It is not permissible for a Muslim to be ignorant of them. There are yet others not mentioned by name or in detail in the Qur’an. We know of them only generally, and so must believe in them in that general manner. That is to say, we must believe that God sent many prophets and messengers, to every nation and group, in a variety of places and times. It is ignorant to think that God specified only the Arabian peninsula and its surrounding areas for prophecy.

There are five necessary requirements for prophethood:

1. Prophets only arise among humans, not among jinns or angels.

2. Prophets must be characterized by trustworthiness and honesty, and innocence from sin. This is so that their testimony may be believed, and held to a high standard.

3. Prophets must be characterized by a perfect rationality, precision, and uprightness.

4. They must have propagated to the people everything they had been ordered to propagate. They did not conceal anything.

5. There is disagreement on whether a prophet must be male. Those who said he must be a male rely on the verse, “And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent revelation, so ask the followers of the reminder if you do not” (al-Anbiya: 7). Those who say it is not a condition that a prophet be made point to verses which say that the mother of Moses was “inspired” (al-Qasas: 7) and that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was listed in a context where many other prophets were listed (Maryam : 58). 

The greatest of Prophets is the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims are duty bound to love him, as we learn from a number of hadith.

Miracles

Miracles are actions of God in which the conventional laws of nature are broken at the hands of His messengers, so that the messenger’s truthfulness, and the veracity of his message, may be affirmed. It may be speech, like the Qur’an; or an action, such as the gushing forth of water between his fingers; or an absence, such as the inability of the fire to burn Abraham.

The conditions for a miracle are that:
1. It be from God himself.
2. It be a breaking of the conventional laws of nature
3. It be inexplicable
4. It be at the hands of someone who claims prophecy, so that his prophethood may be established.
5. It be in accordance with what is being claimed
6. What is claimed not be disproven by the miracle itself.
7. It not precede the claim, but be made in conjunction with it
Therefore, Prophet Jesus’s speech in his infancy, wet dates falling on lady Mary from a dry palm tree, cutting the chest of Prophet Muhammad and washing his heart, clouds forming a shadow over him to protect him from the sun along with the peace greetings that he used to hear from stones before his prophecy are considered miracles.

The Prophet’s greatest miracle was the Qur’an itself. He also had material sensible miracles, such as the splitting of the moon, the greetings offered to him by stones, trees speaking to him, the gushing forth of water between his noble fingers, and others.

Causality and Intermediaries

It is obligatory for a Muslim to believe firmly that there is no Cause in the world other than God, and that all the apparent causes we see in the world of phenomena are deputized by God Himself. There is however no harm in using language that indicates causality of things other than God if one’s beliefs are sound on this matter. For example, one might say, “This medicine was of benefit to me,” or “This doctor cured me,” or “The rain this year caused there to be a good crop.”

This is why there is no harm in a Muslim seeking intercession with God via the relics of prophets, as long as he believes that the only Cause is Allah. This fits with the language used with respect to the apparent causality of the world. The most obvious instance of such is the Qur’anic verse, “We have not sent you (O Messenger) except as a mercy to the worlds.”   If Allah has said of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he is the cause of mercy to his servants, there is no harm in invoking this honor He has granted the Prophet.

Revelation

The word used here, sam’iyyat, refers to all that which can be known only through reports that partake in certainty. One may not be a believer in Allah in his heart, mind and soul without believing in both the seen and the unseen. The unseen we believe in is that which is not visible, which may not be perceived purely through rationality.

Believing in the unseen is the first pillar of piety. This means believing in God; the reality of angels; divine scriptures and messengers, and that they are from God; the Last Day, and that it will undoubtedly come; in Fate, good and bad; and that there is nothing in the world except it was willed by God.

The unseen includes also

1. jinns, whose existence is proven by definitive texts. God says in the Quran “And He created the jinn from a smokeless flame of fire”. 55:15. So the jinns are created from fire and are asked to worship God Almighty and follow the prophets and messengers as God says “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me”. 51:56. Also the jinns are divided into believers and non believers as God says in the Quran “And among us are Muslims [in submission to Allah], and among us are the unjust. And whoever has become Muslim – those have sought out the right course.”   72:41 Satan is one of the jinns but was expelled away from God’s mercy and earned God’s wrath on him because of his disobedience of God’s direct command to prostrate to Adam as was narrated in the Quran “And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam,” and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. …” 18:50. God’s eternal wrath on Satan deems him to enter hellfire but his punishment is postponed till Judgment Day where he will be sentenced to excruciating pain along with those who were seduced by Satan and followed his path of evil. The jinns are inhabitants of earth and are able to see humans unlike humans who are unable to see jinn as God explained in the Quran saying “Indeed, he sees you, he and his tribe, from where you do not see them..” 7:27

2. The Throne, which is the greatest of creation, and where Allah will present Himself on the Day of Judgment. This throne will be carried by eight angels in the Day of Judgment but we are unable to attribute any sort of a defined or detailed description of this throne due to a lack of knowledge about it. We also believe in the divine Seat but similarly we have no available date describing it. What we know for sure though is that neither the throne nor the Seat are dwellings of God. In other words, God did not create the throne out of need for elevation or superiority and did not create the Seat out of a need for sitting down. Same goes for creating the pen, He did not create it for writing a non previously known knowledge nor asked angels to write down and document the deeds of humans out of fear of forgetfulness.

3. Paradise and Hell, which are two created entities, the first an eternal abode of reward, and the latter an eternal abode of punishment and fire. They are of levels, and each person will occupy the level in accordance with his deeds. Some people might assume that the eternality of heaven and hell comes in opposition to God’s saying in the Quran “Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned”. 28:88 but the correct interpretation of this verse is that everything in its own right amounts to nothingness (‘adum) because of its inability of independent self existence.

4. The reservoir from which the Prophet will serve the believers of his nation in the hereafter and we believe that whoever drinks from it will not be subjected to thirst.

5. The Hour and its signs: there are some obvious signs like the appearance of Gog and Magog, the emergence of the Beast, the rising of the sun from the west and the appearance of smoke. These signs- especially the ones that are backed by definitive proofs from the Quran- whoever denies its veracity deemed to be a liar and a disbeliever. These signs are part of revelation which the mind does not have much say in as they are believed in through revelatory reports. For example, God says in the Quran “Until when [the dam of] Gog and Magog has been opened and they, from every elevation, descend 21:96.

6. The questioning in the grave is authenticated by numerous prophetic reports. It is believed that the soul returns back to the body with all its five senses intact and its intellectual ability persevered to be questioned in the grave and receives its due punishment or enjoys its grace. After the burial of the dead and the dismissal of people attending his or her funeral, two angels called Munkar and Nakir are responsible for asking the deceased three questions with the language that is comprehendible to the deceased.

The angels ask the dead about the two parts of the testimony of faith namely the oneness of God and the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad. Prophets are exempted from these questions as well as martyrs who died for the sake of God along with children because they were not eligible to understand commands and prohibitions ordained by God. God the Almighty has the power to gather back the scattered particles and atoms of the body resided in a grave or spread in a desert or kept in the belly of an animal and form the human body again to be asked about his or her life on earth. The scholars of the Ash’arite theology reached a consensus that both the body and the soul combined either suffer from the ailments or enjoy the grace in the grave.

7. The return of the body to the spirit on the Day of Judgment is believed in as all the particles of the body is gathered again to return it to its original state to form the full human body. God Almight possesses the ability to reorganize these particles because of his unlimited power and divine knowledge.

8. The resurrection of the dead and taking them out of their graves for the Reckoning. In this day all human beings, jinns, angels are resurrected along with beasts and animals.

9. The Reckoning

10. The Intercession of the Prophet. The belief in the intercession of Prophet Muhammad to all people in the day of Judgement is obligatory and this noble status of waseelah is the supplication or prayer which the Prophet saved for his people until Dooms Day. The meaning of intercession entails forgiveness for whoever attested to the Oneness of God and the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad even if this person committed grave sins.

Prophets as well have an intercession in the Day of Judgement along with the angels, the Gnostics and the martyrs. The first intercessor among all these is Prophet Muhammad. As for the intercession of others, it occurs only after reckoning and punishment over small and grave sins which were not forgiven by God. The importance of intercession lies in honouring the intercessor in this day and showing his great position in the sight of God. Therefore, the forgiveness of sins other than polytheism is possible both through logic and revelation as intercession deems forgiveness possible. As for polytheism is it deemed impossible through revelation for a polytheist to be forgiven.

The Ash’arite creed refuses to make a judgement of disbelief on any sinful believer in this world and it is similarly impermissible to pass a verdict of his or her eternal stay in hellfire for sins whether minor or major. The correct approach is to delegate the whole issue to God.

11. The Judgment of all the deeds of people’s lives

12. The crossing of the path that stretches over Hell. All will have to pass over it as a test and among the passers are the prophets, the Gnostics and those who enter paradise without previous subjection to reckoning and judgement over their deeds. The description of the path is that it is thinner than a hair and sharper than a blade. Whoever is deemed to enter paradise will succeed in crossing his way over to heaven and whoever is deemed to enter Hell will fall over the bridge straight down to Hell.

Belief in Qadr/Taqdeer (Pre-Destination) – Between the Extremes

[By Allama Muhammad Idris Saheb Kandhlavi (Rahmatullahi Alayh)]

ACTIONS AND DEEDS
Just  as  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  the creator  of  human  beings,  so  too  is  He  is  the  Creator  of  their  characters,  habits,  qualities  and  actions.  These actions,  be  they  good  or  bad,  are  all  in  the  Taqdeer,  control and  knowledge  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  Nevertheless,  He  is  pleased with  good  and  displeased  with  evil.  One  must  remember  this  and  remember  well,  that  to  attribute  only  evil  to  Allaah  Ta  ‘ala  is  contrary  to  respect  and etiquette.  It  is  inappropriate  to  (only)  say  that  Allaah  Ta ‘ala  is  the  Creator  of  evil,  it  will  be  more  befitting  to  say  that  He  is  the  Creator  of  good  and  evil.  One  should  say  that  Allaah Ta’ala  is  the  Creator  of  everything.  One  should  never  (only)  say  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  the  Creator  of  filth  and  pigs,  etc.  It  is  wholly  disrespectful  and  sacrilegious  to  attribute  such  things  (alone)  to  Allaah Ta’ala,  Who  is  a  Pure  Being.  In  short,  just  as  the  servants  are  the  creation  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  so  too  are  their  actions  the creation  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  However,  some  actions  of  man are  voluntary,  which  come  into  being  with  the  order  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  and  others  are involuntary,  which  occur  without  man’s  intention  or  will,  and  without  his  intervention, like  the  hand  of  a  person  who  shakes  from  shaking  palsy.  In  this  shaking  there  is  no intention,  nor  desire  of  the person  for  it,  hence  this  is  known  as  an  involuntary  action.  When  the  doer  desires  for  an  action  and  he  initiates  it,  then  it  is  known  as  a  voluntary  action,  for  example,  when  one  stretches  the  hand  to  make  musafaha  (handshake),  or  one  lifts  his  hand  to  strike  someone  out  of  anger.  These are  voluntary  actions. 

Just  like  how  a  person  sees  with  the  eyes  given  to  him  by  Allaah  Ta’ala,  and  he  hears  with  the  ears  given  to  him  by  Allaah  Ta’ala,  so  too  does  he  carry  out  actions  by  the  power  and  ability  given  to  him  by  Allaah  Ta’ala.  All  these  actions  of  man,  although  they  are  created  by  Allaah  Ta’ala,  and  they  come  into  existence  by  His  Will  and  Decree,  however,  since  they  are  voluntary  by  man,  and  through  these  actions  he  carries  out  good  actions,  therefore  he  is  compensated  for  it.  If  he  does any  evil  action,  then  he  will  be punished  for  it. 

The  Mu’tazilahs  and  Qadariyyahs  (deviant  sects),  hold  this  belief,  that  man  has  the  full  control  of  his  actions  and  man  is  the  creator  of  the same. 

The  Jabariyyah  (another  deviant  sect)  hold  this  belief,  that  man  has  absolutely  no control  of  his  actions,  whatever  man  does  is  not  out  of  his  own  choice,  just  like  how  the  movements  of  a  tree  or  stone  occur,  so  too  do  the  actions  of  man.  Hence,  their  belief  is  that  man  will  not  be  taken  to  task  or  punished  for  any  evil  actions,  but  he  will  be  compensated  for  good  actions.  According  to  them  the  sinners and  the  Kuffaar  are  all  excusable  and  they  will  not  be questioned. 

The  Ahlus  Sunnah  Wal  Jamaat  say  that  both  these  beliefs  are  wrong  and  incorrect.  The  belief  of  the  Qadariyyahs  and  Mu’tazilahs  is  incorrect  because  man  does  not  have  the  ability  to  create  his  own  actions.  It  is  impossible  for  man  to,  bring  a  non-existent  thing  into  existence.  Also,  the  Pure  Being  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  Who  has  no  partner  is  also  free  from  this  that  there  can  be  partners  to  His  exclusive  Quality  of  creating.  He  Alone  has  the  quality  of  creation.  As  Allaah  Ta’ala  says: 

“Do  they  ascribe  partners  to  Allaah,  that  they  (can)  create  like  how  He  creates.  They  are equating  the  creation  to  Him,  Say!  Allaah  is  the  Creator  of  everything.  He  is  One,  Most Powerful.”  

The  helplessness  of  man  is  such  that  he  cannot  even  utter  the  letter `meem’  from  the  throat  or  the  letter  ”ayn’  from  the  lips.  With  such  a profound  debility,  how  can  the quality  of  creation  be  attributed  to  man? 

The  belief  of  the  Jabariyyah  is  incorrect  because  it  is  contrary  to  common  sense  and  logic.  Therefore,  all  intellectuals  are unanimous  on  this  point  that  actions  are  of  two  categories;  voluntary  and  involuntary.  They  also  agree  on  this  point  that  whoever  carries  out  a  voluntary  good  action,  he  will  receive  a reward,  and  whoever  carries  out  a  voluntary  evil  action,  should  be  punished.  The  Jabariyyah  sect   oppose  this  differentiation  and  categorisation  of  actions. According  to  them  all  actions  are  involuntary  and  no  action  is  voluntary. 

The  trustworthy,   protectors  and  protagonists  of  any  land  are  rewarded  and  the  rebels  are  imprisoned  and  punished.  The  thieves  and  evil  people  are  imprisoned  for  a  while  and  have  to  undergo  a  trail  of  suffering.  If  there  was  no  system  of  reward  or  punishment  in  this  world  for  good  and  evil  actions  then  this  world  would  have  been absolutely  destroyed  and  devastated  long  ago.  When  this  system  of  rewarding  the  good  and  punishing  the  evil  is  acceptable  and  commended  as  being  justice  by  the  temporary  governments  of  this  world,  then  how  come  there  is  a doubt  and  objection  to  this  system  with  regard  to  Allaah  Ta’ala,  Who  is  the  Best  Judge amongst  judges. 

If  a  thief  is  caught  stealing  and  he  offers  the  following  excuse  that  he  was  forced  to  commit  the  crime and  it  was  an  involuntary  actions  on  his  part,  then  he  will  be  told  that  he  is  lying  and  if  he  was  forced,  then  how  come  he  left  his  home?  Can  we  say  that  it  is  an  involuntary  action  to  come  out  at  night  and  break  someone’s  lock  or  break  down  his  door?  If  man  can  be  subservient  to  the  temporary  justice  of  man,  how  can  he  not  be  subservient  to  the  eternal  and  perfect  Justice  of  Allaah  Ta’ala?  The  Ahlus  Sunnat  Wal  Jamaat  say  that  these  two  views,  that  man  is  completely  in  control  and  that  he  is  completely  helpless,  are  unacceptable  and  incorrect,  and  they  are  contrary  to  common  sense  and  logic. 

The  Straight  Path  is  the  one  that  goes  between  the  excesses.  That  is  that  man  is  neither  completely  in  control  (of  his  actions)  nor  is  he  completely  helpless,  in  fact  we  are  in  between  being  forced  and  having  full  choice.  Logically  as  well,  this  is  the Truth,  because  the  view  of  the Jabariyyah  that  man  is  completely  helpless  and  incapable  of  intention  and  choice,  is  contrary  to  common  sense  and  real  life.  Who  does  not  know  that  man  has  the  quality  of  choice  and  intention?  Every  person  knows  that  his/her  actions  are  not  like  that  of  a  stone.  The  movements  of  a  stone  are  done  without  its  choice  and  intervention,  whereas  man  has  a  choice  and  intention  in  his/ her  actions. 

Now  that  it  is  established  that  man  has  choice  and  intention,  then  there  are  now  two possibilities.  Either  this  choice  is  fixed  and  unshakeable  or  it  is  fixed  to  only  this  level  that  Allaah  Ta’ala’s  Will  has  no  play  in  a  person’s  kufr  and  Imaan.   This  is  the  Madh-hab  of  the  Qadariyyahs. 

The  second  possibility  is  this  that  man  has  choice  and  intention.  But  this  intention  and  choice  is  not  fixed  and  firm,  rather  it  is  subservient  to  the  Desire  and  Will  of  Allaah Ta’ala.  This  is  the  Madh-hab  of  the  Ahlus  Sunnat  Wal  Jamaat. 

Logically  and  rationally,  this  is  the  truth.  Because  for  a  person  to  have  such  full  and  fixed  control  over  his  choice,  that  is  not  subservient  to  Allaah  Ta’ala,  is  impossible.  When  the  mere  existence,  qualities  and  character  of  man  is  not  fixed  but  completely  subservient  to  the  Will  and  Desire  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  then  how  can  the  quality   of  power  and  choice  be  fixed  in  man?  Allaah  Ta’ala  says: 

“And  you  do  not  desire,  except  that  which  Allaah  Ta ‘ala, Rabbul Aalameen,  Desires.”  

From  this  we  deduce  that  man  has  desire  and  choice,  but  this  is  limited  to  and  under  the  control  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  Therefore,  the  Ahlus  Sunnat  Wal  Jamaat  say  that  man  is  in  between  being  totally  in  control  or  under  control.  In  a  way,  he  has  a  choice,  therefore  he  is  able  to  carry  out  actions  by  choice  and  intention.  He  is  not  totally  helpless,  but  he  also  has  no  choice  in  this  choice.  Just  like  a  how  a  person  has  the  choice  to  see  and  listen,  however,  he  has  no  choice  in  the  ability  of  hearing  and  seeing.  In  the  same  way,  man  has  choice  in  his  actions,  but  he  has  no  choice  in  this  choice,  in  fact  he  is  helpless  in  his  having  a  choice.  When  a  person  carries  out  an  action  through  this  Allaah  given  choice,  then  in  the  Shariah  we  say  it  is  ‘Khasab’  (earned).  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  the  Creator  of  actions  and  He  brings  it  into  existence.  Man  is  the  earner,  actor  and  doer  of   the  actions.  This  earning  and  acting  is  sufficient  to  warrant  reward  or  punishment.  For  the  weak,  a  weak  choice  is  appropriate,  and  a  full  and  complete  choice  is  appropriate  for  The  Creator  and  not  the  created.

The  difference  between  the  Qadariyyah  and  the  Ahlus  Sunnat  Wal  Jamaat  is  this  that  the  Qadariyyahs  claim  that  man  has  fixed  and  total  choice  over  his  actions,  and  we  say  that  this  choice  is  not  full  or  fixed.  We  take  the  middle  path  and  say  that  man’s  choice  is  between  full  choice  and  no  choice,  and  this  is  what  we  call  in  the  Shariah  earning  and  acting. 

In  the  Qur’aan  Majeed,  Allaah  Ta  ‘ala  has  in  all  places  attributed  the  quality  of  creation  exclusively  to  Himself,  and  earning  and  acting  (carrying  out  actions)  to  His  servants.

“And  Allaah  created  you  and  you  carry  out  the  actions.”

In  this  Aayat,  Allaah  Ta’ala attributes  the  quality  of  creation  to  Himself  and  the  carrier  out  of  the  actions  is  man.  There  is  absolutely  no doubt  that  every  action  of  man comes  into  being  by  the  Knowledge  and  Will  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  However,  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  also  granted  a  certain  amount  of  power  and  ability  to  man,  whereby  man  carries  out  actions  and  he  becomes  worthy  of  reward  for  it  or  punishment  in  this  world.  Similarly,  he  will  be  rewarded  or  punished  for  his  actions  in  the  Aakhiraat  (Hereafter).

FATE & DIVINE DECREE
Fate  and  Divine  Decree  is  Haqq (Truth),  and  it  is  Fardh  (obligatory)  to  believe  in  it.  To  bring  Imaan  in  Divine  Decree   means  that  one  should  believe  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  had  pre-destined  for  mankind  even before  their  creation,  the  good and  the  bad,  Imaan  and  kufr,  guidance  and  deviation,  and obedience  and  disobedience,  and  all  this  has  been  recorded.  Now  whatever  occurs  in  this  universe,  is  doing  so  at  the behest  and  wish  of  Allaah  Taa’ala.  Also  whatever  happens,  Allaah  Ta’ala  knew  about  it  in  its  entirety  even  before  its  occurrence. 

The  dictionary meaning  of  Taqdeer  is  to  measure  or  estimate.  That  occurrence  that  happens  by  desire  and  intention,  is  done  with  full  understanding  and  measure.  For  example,  a  person  wants  to  build  a  house.  First  a  plan  will  be  drawn  so  that  the walls,  etc.  of  the  house  can  conform  to  some  set  standard.

In  the  same  way,  when  Allaah  Ta’ala  intended  to  bring  this  universe  into  existence,  He  first  set  out  a  plan  in  His  infinite  Wisdom  and  Knowledge,  and  He  measured  each  and  everything  from  the  time  of  inception  until  the  end.  Hence  this  ‘design’  and  ‘plan’  of  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  known  as  Taqdeer.  Allaah  Ta’ala,  in  His  infinite  Wisdom  and  Knowledge had  already  meted  out  that  at  a  certain  time  a  certain  occurrence  will  happen  at  a certain  place,  or  that  a  person after  his  birth  will  bring  Imaan at  a  certain  time,  or  that  a person  after  his  birth  at  a certain  time  will  make  kufr,  etc., etc.  As  Allaah  Ta’ala  says:

“Indeed  Allaah  had  made  everything  in  measure.”  

Taqdeer  is  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  measured  out  everything  of  this  universe  even  before  its  creation.  Qadha (Fate)  is  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  created  and  brought  into  existence  everything  according  to  His  plan  and  measure.  The dictionary  meaning  of  Qadha  is  to  create.  As  Allaah  Ta’ala  says: 
“And  He  created  in  them  seven  skies.”  

Hence  the  unanimous  belief  of  the  Ahlus  Sunnat  Wal  Jamaat  is  that  Fate  and  Decree  are  Haqq.  There  is  not  an  atom  (or  even  the  smallest  particle)  which  is  beyond  the  Taqdeer  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  No  one  has  the  ability  or  potential  to  ward  of  or  evade  His  Decree.  Or  even  to  delay  it  or  expedite  it.  Whoever  He  wishes,  He  grants  guidance  to  and  whoever  He  wishes  He  leads  him  astray. There  will  never  be  any  questioning  Him  or  asking  for  explanation.  However,  He  will  question  His  bondmen  regarding  their  actions.  They  will  then  be  rewarded  or   punished  for  their  good  deeds  or  their  evil  actions. 

Nevertheless,  Allaah  Ta’ala’s  Decree  and  fate  is  Haqq.  There can  never  be  any  chance  of  mistakes  or  miscalculations  in  His  Actions.  A  human  will  first  draw  a  plan  prior  to  building  a  house,  and  Allaah  Ta’ala  had planned  this  universe  prior  to  His  creating  it,  but  between  the  planning  and  knowledge  of  man  and  that  of  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  a  vast  difference.  The difference  is  that  man,  due  to  some  obstruction  or  the  other,  may  have  to  change  or  alter  his  originally  intended  plans,  hence  the  planning  and  knowledge  of  man  can  be incorrect  and  deficient.  But when  Allaah  Ta’ala  intends  to  do  something,  there  is  nothing  that  will  or  can  ever  prevent  Him,  because  the  planning  and   Taqdeer  of  Allaah  Ta’ala  can  never  be  incorrect  or  deficient.  His  intentions  always  come  into  being  and  none  can  prevent  it.  Also,  the  knowledge  of  man  is  extremely  deficient.  There  are  many  things  that  man  only  comes  to  know  about  after  he  had  drawn  up  his  plans,  therefore,  there  will  be  a  difference  between  the  plan  of  man  and  the  outcome.  And  the  Knowledge  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  because  it  is  All-Encompassing,  therefore  there  will  never  be  a  difference  between  the  plan  and  the  outcome  of  Allaah  Ta’ala. 

TAQDEER AS AN EXCUSE??
The  Taqdeer  of  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  Haqq.  It  is  Fardh  to  bring  Imaan  in  it.  It  is  incorrect  to  present  Taqdeer  as  an  excuse  to  our  actions  and  deeds. 

For  example,  a  man  steals  or  commits  Zina  (adultery),  and  then  he  makes  the  excuse  that  this  was  written  in  his  Taqdeer.  This  excuse  of  his  is  unacceptable  and  insufficient  to  avert  punishment  from  him.  Indeed,  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  decreed  everything,  but  you  did  not  have  any  knowledge  thereof.  When  you  had  stolen  or  committed  Zina,  then  you  did  so  purely  out  of  nafsaani  (inner)  desires  and  to  satisfy  yourself.  At  that  moment  you were  unaware  as  to  what  was  decreed  for  you.  This  is  all  an excuse,  you  have  no  knowledge of  Taqdeer.  You  committed  this  act  voluntarily  and  by  purpose.  You  were  not  forced  into  doing  it,  in  fact  you  expanded  your  effort,  strength,  desire  and  gratification,  hence  for  anyone  to  say  that  he/she  was  compelled  by  Taqdeer  to  carry  out  a  certain  act  is  a  lie  and  deception.  The  bondsman  is  not  bound  or  compelled  by  Allaah  Ta’ala  or  Taqdeer.  Whatever  the  servant  of  Allaah does,  he  does  so  of  his  own intention  and  accord,  even  though  this  intention  and thought  is  made  possible  by  Allaah  Ta’ala,  nevertheless,  the servant  has  the  choice  of  carrying  out  the  action,  he  is  not  forced. 

TAQDEER BEING FORCED??
Now  remains  the contention  that  since  it  is  impossible  for  the  servant  to  act  contrary  to  Taqdeer,  is  not  this  a  form  of  being  forced?? 

No  this  is  not  the  case.  Allaah Ta’ala’s  Knowledge  and  planning  is  complete  and  flawless.  There  can  never  be  a  mistake  in  the  Taqdeer  of  Allaah Ta’ala.  Hence,  to  act  contrary  to  this  Taqdeer  is  impossible.  Taqdeer  is  the  information  and  ‘data’  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  Knowledge  follows  that  which  is  known.  Information  and  data  is  something  that  follows  what  is  related  and  transmitted,  and  it  conforms  to  the  reality.  What  is  known  does  not  follow  the  knowledge  of  it  and  what  occurs  and  the  reality  of  a  situation  does  not  follow  the  information  and  data  of  that  incident.  Just  like  how  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  the  knowledge  of  our  actions  and  deeds,  so  too  has  He  the  Knowledge  of  His  actions.  Nevertheless,  Allaah  Ta’ala  does  not  force  anyone  on  account  of  His  knowledge.  In  this  way,  understand  that  the  servant  is  not  forced  due  to  Allaah  Ta’ala’s  knowledge  or  Taqdeer.  Allaah  Ta’ala’s  Knowledge  is  on  its  place  and  the  servant  is  on  his  place.  In  this  world  a  person  is  not  regarded  as  being  forced.  If  people  were  being  forced,  then  the  governments  would  not  need  to  make  prisons  for  the  transgressors.  Allaah  Ta’ala  had  granted  His  bondsmen  choice  and  ability,  whereby  he  conducts  his  Deeni  and  worldly  affairs.  But,  this  choice  of  the  servant  is  not  with  him  by  choice.  Just  like  how  a  person  has  eyes  and  ears,  not  by  choice  but  the  actions  he  does  with  the  eyes  (looking)  and  ears  (listening)  are  done  by  his  choice.  In  a  similar  way,  a  person  makes  a  choice  to  do  something  and  he  has  the  ability  granted  to  him  to  carry  it  out,  by  his  own choice.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  it  is  said  that  a  person  has  no  choice  in  his  qualities,  but  he  has  choice  in  his  actions. 

To  believe  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  is  the  Creator  of  man’s  actions,  movements  and  animations  does  not  necessarily  mean  that  these  movements  are  out  of  man’s  choice  and  power,  because  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  created  both  the  power  and  the  one  who  has  the  power.  He  has  created  both  the  choice  and  the  one  who  has  the  choice.  Power  is  one  of  the  qualities  of  man,  which  Allaah  Ta’ala  had  created  and  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  created  both  man  and  his  qualities.  All  this  is  in  His  Control.  If  man  carries  out  an  action  through  this  Allaah  given  quality  of  power  of  his,  then  according  to  all  learned  men,  this  is  by  his  (man’s)  choice,  and  not  an involuntary  action.  In  short,  we  say  that  the  existence  of  man,  his  actions  and  qualities,  although  we  relate  all  this  to  Allaah  Ta’ala,  does  not  mean that  man  is  helpless. 

Allaah  Ta’ala’s  Power  and  Will  is  connected  to  the  existence  of  man,  but  owing  to  this  connection  man  does  not  become  obliterated.  In  a  similar  way,  by  Allaah  Ta’ala’s  Power  and  Will  being  connected  to   man’s  power  and  choice  does  not  make  man  helpless.  Man  is  however  the  servant  and  the  creation  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  It  is  not  possible  for  the  creation’s  existence  and  qualities  to  supercede  the  Encompassing  Power  and  Will  of  the  Creator.  Those  who  aver  that  man  is  the  creator  of  his  own  actions  and  that  (Nauthubillah!)  man’s  actions  have  no  relation  to  the  Power  and  Will  of  Allaah Ta’ala,  are  trying  to  say  that  the  creation  can  supercede  the  Creator’s  Power  and  Will.  The  entire  Ummat  unanimously  agree  that  “Whatever  Allaah  Ta’ala  Wills  comes  to  pass  and  whatever  He  does  not  Will  does  not  occur.” 

The  Mu’tazilahs  believe  that  the  actions  of  the  servant  are  excluded  from  the  Will  of  Allaah  Ta’ala.  LAA  HAWLA  WA  LAA  QUWWATA  ILLAA  BILLAAHIL  ALIYIL  AZEEM. 

Allaah  Ta’ala  has  created  this  universe  with  different  things  in  it,  the  size  and  shape  of  everything  is  different  for  one  another.  The  ability  of  each  thing  also  differs  from  the  next. 

Take  the  example  of  a  tree  which  has  thousand  different  types  of  wood,  some  are  used  for  burning,  others  for  making  wooden  boards,  others  for  roofing,  etc.,  etc.  Everyone  agrees  that  if  everything  in  this  universe  had  the  same  qualities  and  conditions,  then  this  universe  would  not  be  able  to  function  properly  and  smoothly. 

Now  remains  the  contention  that  why  are  the  abilities  of  everything  different.  This  answer  has  still  not  been fathomed  until  today. 

Muslims  say  that  all  this  is  in  the  Wisdom  of  the  All-Knowing  and  All-Wise.  The  atheists  say  that  all  these  different  abilities  are  due  to  the  movements  of  the  blind  and  deaf  matter. 

Just  as  Allaah  Ta’ala,  in  His  Infinite  Wisdom  has  created  the  abilities  and  shapes  of  trees  and  stones  different  from  one  another,  He  has  also  created  the  abilities  of  man  different  from  one  another.  Some  He  made  intelligent  and  sagacious,  whilst  others  He  made  stupid  and  ignorant.  Some  He  made  susceptible  to  the  Haqq  and  others  to  kufr.  He  made  the  heart  of  some  clean  and  clear,  whilst  that  of  others  are  black   and  dark.  “None  can  ask  about  what  He  does,  whilst  they  are  at  answerable.” 

AN OBJECTION AND ITS  ANSWER
The  objection  is  that  the actions  and  speech  of  man  is  dependant  upon  their  respective  abilities.  And  all  this  is  pre-destined,  and  not  in  the power  of  man,  hence  why  is  there  an  indictment  against  the Kuffaar,  when  they  are  in  actual  fact  helpless  and  without  choice.

ANSWER
Allaah  Ta’ala  has  created  two types  of  creations.  Some  are those  which  Allaah  Ta’ala  did not  give  any  knowledge  or  (intelligent)  qualities,  like  trees  and  stones.  This  type  of  creation  will  have  no questioning  or  retribution.  They  will  not  be  rewarded  or  punished.  The  other  type  of  creation  is  that  one  on  whom  Allaah  Ta’ala  placed  intelligence and  choice,  like  man  and  jinn.  For  this  creation  Allaah  Ta’ala  granted  them  intelligence,  choice  and  power.  They  have  also  been  given  limbs  and organs,  whereby  they  willingly  carry  out  actions,  and  these actions  are  attributed  to  them.  For  example,  they  say  that  we  have  done  this  action  with  our  hands,  or  that  ‘I  have  said  this’,  or  ‘I  did  that’,  etc.,  etc.  They  accept  and  agree  that  whatever  (worldly)  reward  or  recompense  is  due  upon  them  for  any  action  carried  out,  is  for  them  and  that  they  deserve  it.  But  when  it  comes  to  reward  or  punishment  in  the Hereafter  they  say  that  we  are helpless.  They  do  not  realize  that  Allaah  Ta’ala  has  granted them  intelligence  and  choice  in  this  world  so  that  they  may follow  and  carry  out  the Commands  of  Allaah  Ta’ala,  and then  be  liable  for  either  reward  or  punishment.  Just  like  how  in  this  world  one  is  merely  rewarded  because  of  his  ability  and  potential,  so  too  is  a person  not  punished  in  the Hereafter  simply  due  to  his  ability.  Reward  and  punishment will  be  meted  out  only  after  one  carries  out  good  or  bad  actions. 

A  person  is  not  rewarded  merely  because  he  is  brave  and  strong.  He  has  to  go  out  into  the  ring  and  prove  himself.  In  a  similar  way,  a  person  will  not  be  rewarded  (by  Allaah  Ta’ala)  merely  on  account  of  his  ability.  He  must  carry  out  actions  that  will  warrant  a suitable  retribution.

Further Reading: FATE  AND  DESTINY  (AL-QADAA  WA  AL-QADAR)