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In his lecture on the biography of Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari one amongst the Jahmite Ash'aris of Philadelphia said:
In those foundations of the religion Ahl us-Sunnah have three madhhabs there are three madhhabs in the usool ud-deen ...
And this is a Jahmite fabrication - there was only one madhhab in creed during the time of the Sahaabah and the Taabi'een until the Imaam of the Mu'attilah - Jahm ibn Safwan - founded the deen of the Jahmiyyah, part of which was negation of the attributes, and the historical background of that is covered here - and (there was only one madhhab) until he was followed in that by his Jahmite followers and then the Mu'tazilah who took ta'teel from the Jahmites.
However, this Jahmite Ash'ari wants to confuse the people and make them think that there are three valid approaches to Allaah's attributes, one which is that of the Salaf - and the others being the Ash'ari and Maturidi schools - which are really extensions of the deen of the Jahmites and Mu'tazilites - all their usool are the same.
... there is one, the madhhab of Ahl ul-Hadeeth wal-Athar, the People of the Hadeeth and Narrations. Their madhhab is a very simplistic madhhab. We believe in whatever came in the Quran and the Sunnah, as it came without divulging into how, or what it means or giving a tafseer or talking in detail. We don't do all of that. But when Allaah describes himself we know there is nothing like Allaah subhaanah wa ta'aalaa.
What the Jahmite Ash'ari is insinuating here is that the early Salaf just had a simplistic approach - and in saying this, these words include a belittlement of the Salaf - because what they are saying in essence (and this is their real intent) is that all the Salaf did was to acknowledge the text, pass it on, and didn't really fathom things and the truth wasn't really made manifest and codified until al-Ash'ari and al-Maturidi came along. This is what the Jahmite means to say, or what he is leading towards, so the way of the Salaf is "safer (aslam)", but the way of the khalaf (i.e. the Mutakallimoon, the theologians) is "wiser, more precise" (ahkam).
They hold that from the time of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) for three centuries up until the likes of al-Ash'ari and al-Maturidi and al-Baqillani and their likes came along - no one really grasped or explained the aqeedah and they cannot ascribe ignorance to the Salaf directly - hence they say, that the way of the Salaf is "safer" but their way is "wiser", and they say there are "three" schools of thought. The intent is to ascribe ignorance to the Salaf and knowledge and erudition to the khalaf.
And likewise, avoiding ascribing ignorance to the Salaf, they say, "there are three schools of thought", and by saying this they want to legitimize their own Jahmite creed, whose Imaam and founder is Jahm Ibn Safwan - and the Mu'tazilah acquired ta'teel from the Jahmiyyah and the Ash'ariyyah acquired much of the usool (foundations) of the Mu'tazilah and they are all upon ta'teel because what they made to be the fundamental part of their religion, which is proving the createdness of the universe through "substance" (jawhar) and "accident" ('arad) and the indivisible particle (al-Jawhar al-Fard), it required them to deny Allaah's attributes, otherwise they would have been made a laughing stock in front of those whom they were debating (the Philosophers and their likes), since their proof would have been falsified on account of what is found in the Book and the Sunnah of affirmation of attributes for Allaah.
Thus, you see them describing the way of the Salaf in this manner, "a simplistic approach". The reality is that the way of the Salaf is to affirm the texts, affirm that they have meanings, and to pass on the texts exactly as they have come without likening the reality of those attributes to the creation (tamtheel), and without devising and ascribing other meanings to these texts (ta'weel), and this is what some of the Salaf meant when they said, "bilaa kayf wa laa ma'naa" (without specifying how and without any meaning). And this refutes both the Mukayyifah, those specifying a "how" which are the Mushabbihah, and also it refutes the Mu'awwilah, those who devise new meanings and interpretations, intending by that to negate the attribute - But this is a subject for another article. You should simply note at this point that there are two schools of thought amongst the Ash'aris - those who adhere to ta'weel and those who adhere to tafweed. But those who make ta'weel refute those who make tafweed claiming that it is an affront to say that texts came devoid of meanings. So they have differences amongst themselves and in fact in most of their usool, they have many differences, and that is a subject for another article.
So if a person says "Allaah's Hand is over their hands" [a verse in the Qur'aan] and he puts his own hand up to say like ... over, his hand should be cut off, see this was their madhhab. They were very strict on that, so a person ... and the Imaam of this madhhab was Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal rahimahullaah.
The Salaf showed rejection against the Mujassimah and the rejection they showed against the Mu'attilah was multiple times more - and this Jahmite feigns ignorance of that. For what we find of the works of Imaam Ahmad, and from what has been narrated from him regarding the corruption of the deen of the Jahmites, and the Mu'attilah in general, is abundantly more so than his speech on the Mujassimah - alongside the repugnance of Tajseem. So why is he saying or implying that the Imaam of this madhhab (of rejecting tashbeeh and tajseem) was Imaam Ahmad, when we find that what Imaam Ahmad has written and spoken in regard to the Jahmites and Mu'attilah is multiple times more than what he spoke regarding the Mujassimah.
So this is deception from this Jahmite Ash'ari. Rather, it should be truthfully said that Imaam Ahmad was an Imaam in standing up to the Jahmites and the Ahl ul-Kalaam and Imaam Ahmad refuted Jahm Ibn Safwaan who is the Imaam of the Mu'attilah and who is the root of much of what the Ash'arites are upon.
And what about the Salaf's rejection of the Jahmites in general - who are the Imaams of the Mu'attilah - how many books did they write entitled "ar-Radd alal-Jahmiyyah" - until Nu'aym bin Hammaad (d. 228H) alone wrote thirteen books against the Jahmites, as Imaam adh-Dhahabee says about him in as-Siyar. So what happened to Imaam Ahmad's annihilation of the Mu'attilah - those who negated Allaah's uluww and who negated His Attributes?
So if a person tries to say Imaam Ahmad rahimahullaah tabaaraka wa ta'aalaa believed Allaah ta'aalaa was a physical body or was a huge figure sitting on a Throne and tries to ascribe that to his madhhab, that person has no understanding whatsoever of the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal or the Ahl ul-Hadeeth.
Look at this talbees (deception), and look at this revilement upon the Book and the Sunnah and the creed of the Salaf. What they mean to say is that saying "Allaah is above the Throne" exactly as Allaah said, necessitates that He is a "body" - to understand why they say this, you need to read this article. Their denial of the attributes is in order to avoid falsifying what they made to be the foundation of their entire religion which is demonstrating the createdness of the universe through a rational argument called "hudooth ul-ajsaam", the createdness of bodies - which is the foundation of the deen of the Jahmites, the Mu'tazilah and the Ash'ariyyah - but this forces them to negate the attributes, because affirming the attributes would falsify their rational argument.
Their methodology was that we believe in it as it came and we don't divulge into the kayf, so Allaah ta'aalaa, "ar-Rahmaan alal Arsh istiwaa" bilaa kayf, so Allaah ta'aalaa made istiwaa upon the Throne, Ar-Rahmaan did istiwaa upon the Throne without how, without howness. meaning we don't add any other word, no descriptive word is added to that right there and we leave it just as it is.
So he claims that the Ahl ul-Hadeeth were simply silent in transmitting and narrating the texts, and that they never - in relation to any of these texts used any additional phrases. So they did not say "bi haddin", or to say "bi dhaatihi" (and this would include other phrases such as "baa'inun min khalqihi") and that these are the additions of the later people - whom he pours his abuse upon - such as the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah and so on.
And we need to address the claims of this Jahmite Ash'ari, his claim that the the simplistic madhhab of the Ahl ul-Hadeeth (of which he says Imaam Ahmad was the main representative) did not speak with anything more that is in the Hadeeth (on in the Aayaat, Verses).
We believe in whatever came in the Quran and the Sunnah, as it came without divulging into how, or what it means or giving a tafseer or talking in detail. We don't do all of that. But when Allaah descirbes himself we know there is nothing like Alaah subhaanah wa ta'aalaa.
This will be dealt with in a separate article inshaa'Allaah
Clarification of the Issue: Bi Dhaatihi (With His Essence)
In the very early times, it is certainly true that the Scholars, the people of hadeeth, narrated the akhbaar (narrations) and passed them on - since there was no dispute and there was no confusion as to the meanings of the narrations. Thus, everyone understood, knew and believed that Allaah is above the heavens, above His Throne, and that Allaah is described with attributes such as Hearing, Seeing, and other such as Hands, Face, Anger, Pleasure and so on. So they passed on these narrations, negating there is any likeness for Allaah or for His attributes and that these attributes are in a manner that befit His Majesty. They never distinguished between attributes mentioned in the Qu'raan or attributes mentioned in the Sunnah (which was a later innovation), and they did not distinguish between the attributes either - they affirmed all of them and negating any likeness from them and nor did they explain them away with the ta'weels of the later people.
Then there arose the likes of Ja'd bin Dirham and Jahm Ibn Safwaan in the early part of the second century, and they began to cast doubt about Allah being above His Throne and about His Names and attributes. And the reason they did this was because they devised a rational argument to prove the universe has a creator, through which they debated the Philosophers of other nations and religions. However, this rational argument necessitated that Allaah too is created, unless all His attributes are negated in order to remain consistent with this proof. So they began to reject the narrations, and start making ta'weel of the texts and so on. The historical background of that is covered here.
So when they (and their subsequent followers and offshoots, the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah) began to cast aspersions and make false ta'weels (interpolations) and started saying that Allaah has no attributes, is everywhere, and that istiwaa (ascending over the Throne) means "conquering", and that it is not Allaah that descends, but his "mercy" or his and that it is not Allaah that will arrive or come on the Day of Judgement (as occurs in Surah al-Fajr) but His "mercy" or His "command" and that His "Hand" means His Power and that the Qur'an is not Allaah's speech but it is something created and so on - then the Scholars of Ahl ul-Hadeeth stood to rebut them and to expose their falsehood because these people did not stop where the narrations stopped, rather they exceeded the limits and brought meanings from themselves, and so they distorted and played with the texts and violated the sanctity of these texts.
So the first of those to use expressions other than those of the Book and the Sunnah were the straying Jahmites and all those who followed something of their legacy (which includes the Mu'tazilah and the Ash'ariyyah), and those who suffered from Hellenistic (Greek) philosophical influences.
And using the issue of al-uluww (Allaah's highness above the creation) as an example, when the Jahmiyyah began to say: "Istiwaa is metaphorical (majaaz)", the Ahl ul-Hadeeth made the matter clear that Allaah is ascended over His Throne with His Essence (dhaat) and that Allaah is above the creation with His Essence (dhaat). And we see this reported in abundance about the early Salaf, the people of hadeeth.
Imaam al-Awzaa'ee (d. 157H) said as reported by al-Bayhaqee in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (p.408) and Fath ul-Baaree (13/406):
We while the Taabi'een were many used to say: Verily, Allaah the Exalted is upon (alaa) His Throne and we have faith in what has been reported in the authentic Sunnah of His attributes.
Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said as occurs in Majmoo al-Fataawaa (5/39):
Al-Awzaa'ee said this after the madhhab of Jahm (the Jahmiyyah) appeared, which rejected Allaah's being above His Throne and which denied His attributes, so that the people may know that the madhhab of the Salaf was in opposition to that.
So after this time, the Ahl ul-Hadeeth wal-Athar spoke and clarified the truth from falsehood and they explained that when Allaah says "Allaah ascended above the Throne", that it indeed is Allaah Himself who ascended above the Throne, as that is manifestly and perfectly clear - no one denying this except one blind in vision and insight. So the scholars spoke until their clarifications and expressions became well known ...
Our Imaams like Sufyaan ath-Thawree (d. 157H), Maalik (d. 179H), Hammaad bin Salamah (d. 167H), Hammaad bin Zayd (d. 179H), Sufyaan bin Uyainah (d. 197H), al-Fudayl (bin 'Iyaad) (d. 187H), Ibn al-Mubaarak (d. 181H), Ahmad (d. 241H), and Ishaaq (d. 238H) are agreed that Allaah is above the Throne bi Dhaatihi (with His Essence) and His knowledge is in every place, and that He descends to the lowest heaven, and that He gets Angry, and is Pleased and Speaks with what He Wishes.
And the likes of this phrase [bi Dhaatihi (with His Essence)] has preceded from Abu Ja'far Ibn Abee Shaybah and Uthmaan bin Sa'eed ad-Daarimee, and likewise Yahya bin Ammaar, the preacher of Sijistaan, used it in his 'Risaalah', ....and likewise ibn Abdul Barr as will follow, and likewise the phrase of Shaikh al-Islaam Abu Ismaa'eel al-Ansaaree who said, "....that Allaah is above the Throne with His Essence (Dhaat)". And likewise al-Hasan al-Kurjee ash-Shaafi'ee who said in this poem, "their belief is that Allaah is over the Throne with His Essence (Dhaat), with His Knowledge of the Unseen". And upon this poem is written, in the handwriting of al-Allaamah Taqee ad-Deen bin Salaah, "This is the belief of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah". And likewise this phrase was used by Ahmad bin Thaabit at-Turkee, the haafidh. And Shaykh Abdul Qaadir al-Jeelee (or Jeelaanee), and the muftee Abd al-Azeez al-Qaheetee and a group (of scholars)... And what Ibn Abee Zayd and the others meant (by this) was to distinguish between His being with us and His Being above the Throne. So He is, as He said, with us in Knowledge, and that He is over the Throne, as he informed us when He said, "ar-Rahmaan Ascended (istawaa) over the Throne". And a group of the People of Knowledge spoke the aforementioned word (bi Dhaatihi)......
Then the ahaadeeth abound that He created the Throne, then He rose above it with His Essence (bi Dhaatihi), the He created the earth and the heavens... and He is Above the Throne with His Essence (Dhaat)."
And Ibn Abee Zayd al-Qayrawaanee (d. 386H), known as Imaam Maalik as-Sagheer, said in his risaalah:
And that He is above (fawqa) His Throne with His Essence (Dhaat) yet He is in every place with His knowledge.
And Abu 'Umar at-Talamankee (d. 429H) said, as occurs in Ijtimaa' Juyoosh al-Islaamiyyah of Ibn al-Qayyim (p.142):
And the Muslims are united, those from Ahl us-Sunnah, that the meaning of "And He is with you wherever you may be" (Hadeed 57:4) and what is similar to that from the Qur'an is [referring] to his knowledge and that Allaah is above the heavens with His Essence (bi dhaatihi), ascended over His Throne however He wills ...
And this is just a small sample to illustrate that the Ahl ul-Hadeeth indeed used explanatory phrases in response to what was initiated by the people of falsehood - those who are the ancestors of the likes of this Philadelphian Jahmite Ash'ari whose words we have quoted above.
And thus we see in other subjects, in the subject of Imaan (faith) the Ahl ul-Hadeeth saying, "Imaan is speech and action", or "Imaan is belief, speech and action", or "Imaan is speech, action and intention" - whereas the likes of this is not found anywhere in the Book or the Sunnah, in terms of the wording - however the Ahl ul-Hadeeth clarified the precise meanings of what was in the Book and the Sunnah - in response to the Murji'ah who opposed the Book and the Sunnah and raised the controversy.
And likewise, we see the Ahl ul-Hadeeth saying in relation to the Qur'aan, "The Qur'aan is the Speech of Allaah, uncreated" - and we do not see the likes of this phrase anywhere in the Book or the Sunnah and they said this in response to the Jahmites and the Mu'tazilah who were the first to raise this controversy, so Ahl ul-Hadeeth used these explantory phrases in response to these deviants.
So the Salaf never remained silent, they clarified and explained the meaning that is abundantly clear in the texts. All of this took place before Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi were even born - and continued after them. So the Ahl ul-Hadeeth indeed - they used words, and they added to what is in the Book and the Sunnah, out of necessity, explanatory phrases to distinguish and separate the truth from the falsehood.
Clarification of the Issue: Baa'inun Min Khalqihi (Separate From His Creation)
Abdullaah Ibn al-Mubaarak (d. 181H) said as reported in ar-Raddu alal-Jahmiyyah of ad-Daarimee (p.67):
We know our Lord to be above (fawqa) His seven heavens, He ascended over the Throne, is separate and distinct (baa'in) from His creation and we do not say as the Jahmiyyah say.
And this is also reported by Abu Uthmaan [an-Neesabooree] as-Saaboonee (d. 449H) in his "Aqeedat us-Salaf wa Ashaab ul-Hadeeth":
We know our Lord to be above His seven heavens, separate from his creation (baa'inun min khalqihi), and we do not say as the Jahmiyyah say that he is here - and he (Ibn al-Mubaarak) pointed with his hand to the earth.
And Imaam Ahmad said, in the creed narrated from him through Harb bin Ismaa'eel al-Kirmaanee (one of his companions), with a full isnaad traced back to Imaam Ahmad, and as mentioned by Ibn al-Qayyim at the end of his book "Haadi al-Arwaah":
... because Allaah - the Blessed and Exalted - is upon the Throne, above the seventh and highest heaven - and He knows all of that. And He - the Exalted is - separate from His creation (baa'inun min khalqihi), no place is free from His knowledge, but Allaah the Exalted is upon the Throne and the Throne has Angels which carry it, but Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic - is upon His Throne.
And in the creed of the two Raazees, Abu Zur'at ur-Raazee (d. 264H) and Abu Haatim ar-Raazee (d.267H), as is reported by al-Laalikaa'ee in his Sharh Usool ul-I'tiqaad (2/176-182):
And that Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic is upon (alaa) His Throne, distinct and separate from His creation (baa'inun min khalqihi), just as He described Himself in His Book and upon the tongue of His Messenger, without asking how? He has encompassed everything in knowledge: "There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer".
and their syaing (also in al-Laalikaa'ees Sharh Usool il-I'tiqaad):
And we believe that Allaah is upon (alaa) His Throne, distinct and separate (baa'inun min khalqihi) from His creation...
And the Imaam Ismaa'eel bin Muhammad bin Fadl at-Taymee (d. 535H) said as occurs in Ijtimaa' Juyoosh al-Islaamiyyah of Ibn al-Qayyim (p.180-181):
The Scholars of the Sunnah said: Indeed Allaah the Mighty and Majestic is upon His Throne, distinct from His creation (baa'inun min khalqihi). And the Mu'tazilah said: He is in every place with His Essence (bi dhaatihi). And the Ash'ariyyah said: al-istiwaa returns back upon the Throne (i.e. meaning that istiwaa is attributed to the Throne, not to Allaah). And if it had been as they had said, then the recitation would have been with "al-Arsh" in the nominative case, so when it is with "al-Arsh" in the genitive case it proves that it returns back to Allaah the Sublime and Exalted. And some of them said, istawaa means istawlaa (conquered)...
Clarification of the Issue: Bi Haddin (With a Limit, Demarcation)
This issue has already been covered in a previous article.
Clarification of the Issue "Imtala'a Minhu al-Arsh"
This will be dealt with in a separate article inshaa'Allaah.
Clarification of the Issue "Laa Yahkloo Minhu al-Arsh"
This is regarding the issue raised by the Jahmites themselves as to whether, when Allaah makes Nuzool (descends to the lowest heaven, as occurs in the ahaadeeth), the Throne becomes "empty" of Him or not? This is dealt with in a separate article where the talbees and jahl of this Jahmite Ash'ari on this issue is made clear: Go to the article here.
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