Who is Abu Bakr al-Baqillani?
He is the Qaadee Abu Bakr al-Baqillani who was born around the middle of the fourth century (hijri) and died in 403H (around 1013CE) in Baghdad. He is a prominent Ash'ari theologian and is touted by the Ash'aris as one of their luminaries - and Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah has words regarding him, stating in meaning that he was amongst the better ones of the Ash'aris - as he was closer to the truth in certain affairs.
He is the author of the book: "At-Tamheed al-Awaa'il wa Talkhees ud-Dalaa'il" - a book which focuses on the issues of creed, and it is found with a different name in the Paris manuscript, "at-Tahmeed fee ar-Radd 'alal-Mulhida was-Raafidah wal-Khawaarij wal-Mu'tazilah". He also has other works such as "adh-Dhabb an Abi Hasan al-Ash'ari" and a work titled "al-Ibaanah" and he has some letters he has written which are mentioned and quoted in the works of some of the Scholars.
In this article we will quote what Imaam adh-Dhahabee (rahimahullaah) has quoted from al-Baqillani's works on the issue of al-uluww (Allaah's highness above the creation).
Al-Baqillani on al-uluww From adh-Dhahabi's Mukhtasar al-uluww (p.258-259)
From his book "al-Ibaanah of al-Baqillani" - (note the first paragraph is also found more or less with the same wording in his book at-Tamheed and that is covered in another article here) - so we will translate from the second quoted paragraph:
Then if it is said: "Do you say that He is in every place?"
It is said (in reply): "Refuge is with Allaah, rather He is ascended (mustawinn) above His Throne, just as He informed [us] in His Book, saying, "Ar-Rahmaan has ascended above the Throne", and He said, "The good word (al-kalim ut-tayyib) ascends up to Him", and He said, "Do you feel secure that He who is above the heaven ..." ... [he, al-Baqillani said]: And if He was in every place, then He would have been in a man's stomach, his mouth, and in the [public] toilets, and it would be necessitated that He increases with the increase of spaces (places) when He creates of them those that did not previously exist, and it would be correct that [people turn to Him], seeking Him towards the earth, and to behind of us, and to our right and our left. And the Muslims are agreed upon what opposes this and [agreed] upon declaring the one who says this to be erroneous..."
Benefits From The Above
- al-Baqillani quotes numerous verses from the Qur'an that affirm Allah is above His Throne, that He is above the heaven, and that the good word ascends up to Him.
- al-Baqillani refutes the position of the Jahmites that Allaah is in every place and says that its error is agreed upon by the Muslims as a whole.
- al-Baqillani did not say that affirmation of Allaah's aboveness (over His Throne) and highness above the creation necessitates that He is confined in a space or is a jism - in the course of refuting the Jahmites. In fact he specifically negated that this is the case as we have covered in another article.
- al-Baqillani explains with the argument that had Allaah not been above His Throne, above the Heaven, but was in every place, then the Muslims would have turned to Him above, to the right, left and behind them and the Muslims are united upon the error of this.
- Our creed is not based upon whether al-Baqillani, or al-Ash'ari or al-Maatureedi, or anyone else for that matter, affirms or denies for Allaah - for the Book and the Sunnah and the speech of the Salaf is amply sufficient - however the point here is to show that the most prominent Early Ash'aris affirmed some of the Sifaat Fi'liyyah (nuzool, Ityaan, istiwaa) - without that necessitating Tajseem in their belief and opinion.