The Names And Attributes Upon Their Apparent Meanings: Fingers, Descending, Ascending And Image. By Al-Barbahaaree, Explanation of Al-Fawzaan.

BISMILLAH

Imaam Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan b. `Alee b. Khalaf al-Barbahaaree (died 329H, rahimahullaah) stated in his Sharhus-Sunnah (point 42):

وكل ما سمعت من الآثار شيئا مما لم يبلغه عقلك نحو قول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قلوب العباد بين إصبعين من أصابع الرحمن عز وجل وقوله إن الله ينزل إلى السماء الدنيا وينزل يوم عرفة وينزل يوم القيامة وإن جهنم لا يزال يطرح فيها حتى يضع عليها قدمه جل ثناؤه وقول الله تعالى للعبد إن مشيت إلي هرولت إليك وقوله خلق الله آدم على صورته وقول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رأيت ربي في أحسن صورة وأشباه هذه الأحاديث فعليك بالتسليم والتصديق والتفويض والرضا ولا تفسر شيئا من هذه بهواك فإن الإيمان بهذا واجب فمن فسر شيئا من هذا بهواه ورده فهو جهمي

Everything that you hear from the Prophetic narrations which your intellect cannot comprehend, such as the saying of the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):

“The hearts of the servants are between the two Fingers from the Fingers of the Most Merciful, the Mighty and Majestic.”

And His saying:

“Indeed Allaah descends to the nearest Heaven.”

And He descends on the Day of `Arafah, and He will descend on the Day of Resurrection. Also people will not cease to be cast into the Hellfire until Allaah, may His praise be exalted, places His Foot over it. And the saying of Allaah, the Most High, to the servant:

“If you come to Me walking, I will come to you hurriedly.”

And the saying of the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):

“Allaah created Aadam upon His image.”

And the saying of Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):

“Indeed I saw my Lord in the most excellent image.” And the likes of these narrations (ahaadeeth).

So upon you is to submit to these texts, believe in them, and to consign [how they are] to Allaah [without engaging in speculation], and to be pleased with these narrations. These narrations must not be explained by your desires, rather Imaan (belief) in them is an obligation. Anyone who comes and explains them according to his own desires, and thus rejects them is a Jahmee.”

Explanation of Shaikh al-Fawzaan:

It-haaf al-Qaaree of Shaikh al-Fawzaan vol. 1, p. 277 onwards):

The texts concerning the Attributes of Allaah are firmly established, it is obligatory upon you to affirm them just as they are reported, upon their apparent meanings, without you imposing [or entering] your own intellect such that you say: “This attribute does not befit Allaah. Allah is pure and free from such an attribute, and this is resemblance to Allaah.” This is the sayings of the “Negators” (Al-Mu`attilah).

Likewise you must not believe that Allaah resembles His creation as is asserted by the “Anthropomorphists”  (Al-Mumaththilah). So both of these groups are upon misguidance.

Al-Mu`attilah: They went to extremes in declaring Allaah free and innocent from any resemblance(tanzeeh) to the extent that they negated His Names and Attributes intending by that to flee from resembling Him to the creation, as they claim.

Al-Mumaththilah: They went to extremes in affirmation of the Attributes until they resembled Allaah to His creation.

Both of these sects are upon falsehood.

The Madh’hab (Path) of Ahlus-Sunnah: Is the middle-path. They affirm Allaah’s Names and Attributes with an affirmation that does not involve resemblance to the creation. So they negate from Him resemblance to the creation, declaring Him innocent of that, without nullifying His Names and Attributes. This is the Madh’hab of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah in accordance with His saying (the Most High):

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ

“There is nothing like unto Him..”

This is a refutation of the Mumaththilah (the “Anthropomorphists”), whilst the following is a refutation of the Mu`attilah (the “Negators”):

وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

“And He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing.”

(Ash-Shooraa: 11)

So this verse proves that affirming the Names and Attributes of Allaah does not necessitate likeness (tamtheel) or resemblance (tashbeeh) with the creation [since in this verse Allaah negated resemblance to Him and affirmed two of His Attribues]. This is the correct and sound methodology concerning the Names and Attributes of Allaah.

So regarding the saying:

“The hearts of the servants are between the two Fingers from the Fingers of the Most Merciful, the Mighty and Majestic.”

So you should affirm the fact that Allaah, the Most Merciful, has Fingers just as it is stated in the hadeeth, and you must not say: “These fingers are like the fingers of the created beings,” because that is to make resemblances, and we free Allaah from this resemblance with the creation. Rather we affirm the Fingers of Allaah in a manner that befits His Majesty, the Most Perfect and Most High. His Fingers are not like those of the created beings.

And you should affirm what is stated in the Hadeeth Qudsee wherein Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, said:

وَمَنْ أَتَانِي يَمْشِي أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً

“Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him hurriedly..”

(Al-Bukhaaree, no. 6970. Muslim, no. 2675.)

With the meaning: “Whoever hastens to My pleasure and My obedience, then I will hasten to forgive His sins, and fulfil his needs.” Its meaning is not what is normally understood by us as “running”. And that is explained by the end of the same hadeeth:

“If he was to ask Me for something, I would give him, and if he sought refuge in Me, I would surely grant him refuge.”

So the meaning of “running (harwalah)” here is: That He hastens to fulfil the needs of His servant, just as the servant hastens to the obedience of Allaah. So the servant walking to his Lord, is it literally or in meaning? So in this is a refutation upon some of the hasty ones who rush to affirm and ascribe to Allaah the Attribute of “running”. So this is from the aspect of reciprocating deeds, just as Allaah, the Most High, stated:

فَيَسْخَرُونَ مِنْهُمْ ۙ سَخِرَ اللَّهُ مِنْهُمْ

“..so they ridicule them – Allah will ridicule them..”

(At-Tawbah: 79)

إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ

اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ

“The hypocrites say: “Indeed, we are with you; we were only mocking.” But rather Allah mocks them ..”

(Al-Baqarah, 14-15)

وَمَكَرُوا وَمَكَرَ اللَّهُ ۖ وَاللَّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ

“And the disbelievers planned, and Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners.”

(Aali `Imraan: 54)

So it is obligatory to know these tremendous principles so that a person is upon sure-sightedness and so that he is acquainted with the Madh’hab of the Salaf (the Pious Predecessors) in this matter – those Salaf who were more firmly established and knowledgable than him. He should not rely on his own independent understanding and his own intellect and thereby ascribe to Allaah and affirm for Allaah affairs that he has no knowledge of, based upon literal meanings and unclear texts. So there are clear proofs that explain these affairs and make them clear – it is therefore necessary to refer the ambiguous texts (mutashaabih) to the clear texts (muhkam). None is guided to this understanding except those firmly grounded in knowledge (ar-raasikhoon fil-`ilm).

It is thus necessary for the student of knowledge and the beginner not to be hasty in these affairs, rather he must withhold himself from them, and learn how understand them upon the Methodology of the Salaf – and the pathway is clear! The Salaf did not fall short in clarifying the truth and in laying down principles and guidelines – but all this requires studying, and requires understanding. And similar to this is the saying of the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):

ينزلُ ربُّنا إلى سماءِ الدُّنيا

“Our Lord descends to the nearest Heaven..”

(Bukhaaree, no. 1094. Muslim, no. 758, from Abu Hurairah)

He also said:

ينزلُ عشيَّةَ عرفةَ

“He descends on the evening [before the day] of `Arafah.”

(Note: Muslim, no. 1348, from `Aa’ishah that Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

ما من يومٍ أكثرَ من أن يُعتِقَ اللهُ فيهِ عبدًا من النارِ ، من يومِ عرفةَ . وإنَّهُ ليدنو ثم يُباهي بهم الملائكةُ . فيقول : ما أراد هؤلاءِ ؟

“There is not a day upon which Allaah frees more of His servants from the Fire than on the Day of `Arafah [during Hajj]. He draws close and then boasts regarding them to His Angels saying: What is it they want?”)

Also:

يأتي يوم القيامة

“He (Allaah) will arrive on the Day of Resurrection.”

(Note: Allaah, the Most High, said:

هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٍ مِّنَ الْغَمَامِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ

“Do they await but that Allah should come to them in covers of clouds, and the angels as well, and the matter is then decided? And to Allah all matters are returned.” Al-Baqarah: 210)

Also:

يجيءُ يومَ القيامةِ لفصل القضاء بين عباده

“He will come on the Day of Resurrection to judge between His servants.”

(Note: Allaah, the Most High, said:

وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفًّا صَفًّا

“And your Lord has come forth and the angels, rank upon rank.” Al-Fajr: 22)

We affirm these attributes for Allaah upon their apparent meaning, without entering into the discussion of specifying the manner or “how” (kayfiyyah). So we do not burden ourselves with seeking to know “how” He descends, or “how” He will arrive, or “how” He will come forth. So we do not delve into “how” the Attributes are.

As for meaning then it is comprehended. For this reason, when Imaam Maalik Ibn Anas (rahimahullaah) was asked about the manner of the ascending of Allaah when the questioner asked him:

الرَّحْمَٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَىٰ

“The Most Merciful ascended over the Throne.” 

(Taaha 20:5)

So how did He ascend?

So he asked Imaam Maalik regarding the manner of the ascension or “how” Allaah ascended. Maalik (rahimahullaah) said to him:

الاستواء معلوم

“The Ascending of Allaah is well known.”

i.e. its meaning is known.

والكيف مجهول , والإيمان به واجب , والسؤال عنه بدعة

“The manner [of the ascending] is not known, and having faith in it is an obligation, and questioning how, is an innovation.”

Meaning, asking about the manner of the ascension is an innovation. So this is the correct and sound methodology in the likes of these affairs.

Likewise with respect to the affirmation of the “Image” (asSoorah) for Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, as occurs in the saying of the Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam):

خلق اللهُ آدمَ على صورتِه

“Allaah created Aadam upon His image.”

(Bukhaaree, no. 5873. Muslim, 2841)

And there occurs in a narration:

 على صورة الرحمن

“Upon the image of the Most Merciful.”

(At-Tabaraanee in Mu`jam al-Kabeer, 12/430. Al-Haarith Ibn Abee Usaamah in his Musnad, 2/831. Ibn Khuzaimah in Kitaab at-Tawheed, no. 41, from `Abdullaah Ibn `Umar (radiyallaahu `anhumaa). Authenticated by Imaam Ahmad, and Is’haaq Ibn Rahaawaih as cited in Al-Meezaan al-I`tidaal of Adh-Dhahabee, 4/96.)

So we affirm the “Image” for Allaah just as Allaah’s Messenger (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) affirmed it for Him, just as he (salallaahu `alaihi wassallam) said:

رأيت ربي في أحسن صورة

“I saw my Lord in the most excellent image.” 

(Ahmad in his Musnad 5/234. At-Tirmidhee, 5/368. From Mu`aadh Ibn Jabal (radiyallaahu `anhu). Authenticated by At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan, and he cited its authenticity from Al-Bukhaaree.)

And that was in the worldly life whilst in a dream. His saying: “In the most excellent image” contains an affirmation of a Soorah (image) for Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, which befits His Majesty, not like the image of the created beings. Rather this is the Image of the Most Merciful, the Mighty and Majestic. So we affirm these affairs so we do not enter into speculation concerning them, or doubt them, or to dispute concerning them.

The saying of al-Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah):

“…and tafweed (consigning to Allaah)..”

What is correct is that this refers to consigning how the Attributes are to Allaah – and it does not refer to claiming ignorance of the meanings of the Attributes. (i.e. we leave alone enquiring about how the Attributes are whilst affirming the meanings of the Attributes).

The saying of Imaam al-Barbahaaree said:

ولا تفسر شيئا من هذه بهواك

“These narrations must not be explained by your desires.”

Rather they should be explained with the correct meaning that befits Allaah, the Majestic and Most High. And it is not to be said that these narrations cannot be explained, rather they are to be explained and their meaning clarified. Tawfeed is only made of the manner of the Attributes (or “how” they are). We affirm the Descending of Allaah, and we leave alone the knowledge of how He Descends. Allaah, the Majestic and Most High, will come forth (ya’tee) on the Day of Resurrection to judge between His creation, just as He (the Most High) said:

وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْمَلَكُ صَفًّا صَفًّا

“And your Lord has come and the Angels, rank upon rank.”

(Al-Fajr: 22)

Allaah, the Most High, said:

هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٍ مِّنَ الْغَمَامِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَقُضِيَ الْأَمْرُ ۚ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ الْأُمُورُ

“Do they await but that Allah should come to them in covers of clouds and the angels [as well] and the matter is then decided? And to Allah all matters are returned.”

(Al-Baqarah: 210)

Allaah will come forth and arrive (ya’tee and yajee’) to judge between His servants, but this coming forth and arriving is not like that of the creation. Rather it befits His Majesty, however He wishes, the Most Perfect, free from all imperfections and Most High.

The saying of al-Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah):

“…with your desires..

Meaning, do not explain it without knowledge. As for you explaining the Attributes of Allaah with that which is necessitated by the proofs, and referring the ambiguous texts to the clearcut texts – then there is no harm in that. As for the beginner in seeking knowledge or the ignorant person, then such a person does not enter himself into these mighty affairs. That would be wrong and a great danger.

I (Shaikh al-Fawzaan) see many from the youth feigning knowledge and boldly discussing affairs of `Aqeedah, venturing into affairs and talking about them. They become enemies one to another, boycotting each other when they fall into differing.

O brothers, Allaah did not burden you with these affairs. Upon you is to traverse the Methodology of the Salaf, and to speak with their speech. The books of `Aqeedah have been taken out of manuscript and verified, and all praise is for Allaah, they have been published, and checked for authenticity, deliberated over, and checked for precision. So do not speak with matters emanating from yourselves and your own understandings. You have been sufficed in this affair.

The saying of al-Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah):

“So to believe in this is obligatory.

Believing in the Names, the Attributes of Allaah and in the Actions of Allaah is a binding obligation upon the servants.

From Imaan (Belief) in Allaah is to have Imaan in His Names, and His Attributes in a manner befitting His Majesty, the Most Perfect, Most High. So whoever enters into speculation concerning the affairs related to the Names and Attributes of Allaah, either by negating them (ta`teel), or by likening them to the creation (tamtheel), or by claiming their meanings are not known (tafweed)or by explaining these affairs from oneself – such a person does not believe in Allaah with a true belief, rather his Imaan is deficient.

The saying of al-Barbahaaree (rahimahullaah):

“Anyone who comes and explains them according to his own desires, and thus rejects them is a Jahmee.

The Jahmiyyah negate the Names and Attributes of Allaah because they explain them in a manner befitting the creation – and no doubt, Allaah is free from being described in a manner that befits the creation. So they begin by likening Allaah to the creation, then they go on to negate the Names and Attributes based upon their likening Him to the creation, since these texts do not appear to them except as resembling the creation, so they negate them based upon that.

And if they had said: These texts contain Attributes and Names of Allaah in truth and in reality – however they befit His Majesty, and they are not like unto the names and attributes of the created beings. If they had traversed this methodology, they would have been safe. Instead they came along with their own understanding and their own desires.

Jahmiyyah:  It is an ascription to Jahm Ibn Safwaan at-Tirmidhee [or as-Samarqandee], and he was the first to openly declare that the Qur’aan is created, and he negated and rejected the Names and Attributes. He said that Imaan is merely acquaintance with the heart, and other matters from his heretical misguided belief of kufr. And whoever speaks with this belief, then he is ascribed to Jahm. And it is said: He is a Jahmee as an ascription to Jahm.

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