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The Ash'ari Creed and 20th Century Thinkers and Political Activists: Part 2i - The Aqidah of Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani: The Bid'ah of the Murji'ah
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Topics: Taqi Ad-Din An-Nabahani Hizb Ut-Tahrir Taqiuddin Al-Nabhani Yusuf An-Nabahani

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An-Nabahani and the Bid'ah of the Murji'ah

Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani defines eemaan (faith) with the standard definition provided by the Ash'arites that it is tasdeeq and that as for the actions, even if they have been given the label of eemaan in some of the revealed texts, that is simply a metaphorical (majaazee) label, whilst the reality of eemaan is the linguistic meaning, which is tasdeeq. This standard doctrine is found in the standard Ash'arite textbooks such as that of al-Baqillani, "at-Tamheed", and Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi "Usool al-Imaan" and al-Juwaynee's "al-Irshaad" and so on.

An-Nabahani defines it in ash-Shakhsiyyah al-Islaamiyyah (p. 15) as:

ومعنى الإيمان هو التصديق الجازم المطابق للواقع عن دليل

The meaning of eemaan is firm, resolute assent (tasdeeq) that concurs with reality upon (substantiating) evidence.

This is the definition of the Ash'arites but with an-Nabahani's own Mu'tazili flavour added to the end of it, in that rather than saying that eemaan is "tasdeeq", he adds to it, "concurs with the reality upon [substantiating] evidence". You won't really grasp this part until you understand an-Nabahani's view on the aql (intellect) and its role in aqidah. Basically, he says that in all sensory matters, the aql is the primary source. As for unseen matters, then it is the revealed texts (the Qur'an and mutawaatir ahaadeeth, with it being haraam to use aahaad hadeeth in matters of aqidah). However, even these revealed texts, in their meanings, must not oppose the intellect and are qualified by the intellect in their meanings. And thus, it is the intellect really that is the ultimate foundation for the aqidah in its details and understanding. This is explained in the opening parts of "ash-Shakhsiyyah al-Islaamiyyah".

So when he says that eemaan is "firm, resolute assent (tasdeeq) that concurs with reality upon (substantiating) evidence.", then the reality he is talking about is the reality as determined by the evidence of intellect, be that in sensory matters, or be that the intellect-qualified rendering of definitive (qat'ee) texts.

But if we ignore this Mu'tazili embellishment, an-Nabahani expels actions from the reality (haqeeqah) of eemaan, through the standard As'harite definition of "tasdeeq".

The Danger of Irjaa'

This is one of the most vile and evil of innovations because it's consequence is to belittle actions and encourage sin and vice and the abandonment of performing the Sharee'ah obligations.

Ibn Battah in his al-Ibaanah brings from al-Awzaa'ee (d. 157H), his saying:

قال الأوزاعي : كان يحيى وقتادة يقولان: ليس من أهل الأهواء شيء أخوف عندهم على الأمة من الإرجاء

Al-Awzaa'ee said: Yahyaa and Qataadah used to say: There is not a [saying] of the people of desires (i.e. deviation, misguidance) anything more harmful to the Ummah, in their view, than that of al-Irjaa' (expelling actions from eemaan).

The Sects of the Murji'ah

The expulsion of actions from eemaan is the bid'ah of the Murji'ah, who were of numerous types: The Jahmiyyah who said eemaan is just "ma'rifah" (pure knowledge in the heart), the Ash'ariyyah who said it is "tasdeeq" only, the Karraamiyyah who said it is the expression on the tongue only, and the Murji'at ul-Fuquhaa who said it is belief in the heart and expression of the tongue (whilst expelling actions from eemaan).

The creed of the Ash'arites is that eemaan is only tasdeeq and they have arrived at this view by taking a purely linguistic definition of eemaan and the religious realities are not known purely by linguistic definitions. For example, (الصلاة) which is prayer, linguistically means (الدعاء) which is supplication. However, the religious reality of prayer is that it is made up of sayings, supplications and actions, both inward and outward, without which it is not considered prayer that is valid. So taking purely linguistic definitions leads to serious deficiencies in understanding the religion in general. And this is what they did with the subject of eemaan, for even if the word eemaan is used in the revealed texts in its linguistic meaning of "tasdeeq", then it's religious reality is clarified in a whole multitude of other texts which clarify that all actions are from the essence of eemaan. Just like the Ash'arites claimed the texts of the attributes are metaphorical (majaazee), then likewise they claimed that when the revealed texts refer to deeds as eemaan, then it is only a metaphorical label. And in this manner did they argue for their falsehood.

Eemaan with Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah

The aqidah of the Righteous Salaf with respect to Eemaan is summarized in the following statement:

الإٍيمان اعتقاد ، وقول ، وعمل ، يزيد بالطاعة ، وينقص بالمعصية

Eemaan is belief, statement and deed. It increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience.

And this is its elaboration:

  • Eemaan is belief, speech and action, all of these enter into Eemaan and are from the reality of Eemaan. Thus, holding the belief that "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah" or "the Qur'an is the speech of Allaah" is eemaan, and the feeling of love in the heart for Allaah, or hope or fear is eemaan, and testifying "None has the right to be worshipped except Allaah alone" is eemaan and saying "Subhaanallaah", or commanding someone "Fear Allaah and do not backbite" is eemaan, and removing something harmful from the floor or performing prayer is eemaan, and not stealing, or backbiting, and withholding one's limbs from falling into these actions is eemaan. The outward actions of eemaan are not merely the "fruits" and "consequences" of eemaan as the Murji'at ul-Fuquhaa say, rather they are eemaan itself.
  • Eemaan increases with obedience and decreases with disobedience and it is not just a single indivisible entity that does not admit to increase, decrease - such that if some of it goes all of it goes (in the view of the Khawaarij and Mu'tazilah) or such that none of it goes no matter what actions one does (the Murji'ah) - as [in the erroneous view of both factions], eemaan is just a single indivisible entity.
  • It is permissible make an exception (al-istithnaa) for one's faith by saying "I am a believer, if Allaah wills", out of a) avoiding self-praise, and b) uncertainty about one's future actions and what one will die upon.

And all of this is plain and manifest in all the early books of aqidah from the second century hijrah onwards in which there are to be found thousands if not many hundreds of their statements in corroboration of the above. One can refer to al-Laalikaa'ee's (d. 418H) "Sharh Usool al-I'tiqaad", and Ibn Battah's (d. 387H) "al-Ibaanah" for more details.

Al-Laalikaa'ee (d. 418H) reports in his Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah (5/958) that Abdur-Razzaaq (as-San'aanee) said:

I met sixty two Shaikhs, amongst them were: Ma'mar, al-Awzaa'ee, ath-Thawree, al-Waleed bin Muhammad al-Qurashee, Yazeed ibn as-Saa'ib, Hammaad bin Salamah, Hammaad bin Zaid, Sufyaan bin Uyainah, Shu'ayb bin Harb, Wakee' bin al-Jarraah, Maalik bin Anas, Ibn Abee Laylaa, Isma'eel bin Ayyaash, al-Waleed ibn Muslim and those I have not named, all of them saying: "Faith consists of speech and action, it increases and decreases."

Al-Laalikaa'ee also reports in Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah (4/848) from Yahyaa bin Saleem that he said:

I asked ten amongst the Fuqahaa about faith and they said: "Speech and action." I asked Sufyaan ath-Thawree and he said "Speech and action." I asked Ibn Juraij and he said "Speech and action." I asked Muhammad bin Abdillaah bin Amr bin Uthmaan and he said "Speech and action." I asked al-Muthnee bin as-Sabaah and he said "Speech and action." I asked Naafi' bin Umar bin Jameel and he said "Speech and action." I asked Muhammad bin Muslim at-Taa'ifee and he said "Speech and action." I asked Maalik bin Anas and he said "Speech and action." And I asked Sufyaan bin Uyainah and he said "Speech and action."

All of this opposes the narrow, restricted, purely linguistic definition of the Murji'ah of eemaan being "tasdeeq".

And al-Laalikaa'ee also narrates from Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d. 256H), in explanation of his creed, which he took from thousands of the Scholars and Imaams of the Muslims in his time, as occurs in Sharh Usool I'tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah:

I met more than a thousand men amongst the people of knowledge from the people of al-Hijaaz, al-Makkah, al-Madinah, al-Koofah, al-Basrah, Waasit, Baghdaad, Shaam and Misr. I met them numerous times, generation after generation and then generation after generation . I met them while they were ample and widespread for over 46 years; the people of ash-Shaam, Misr and al-Jazeerah twice, [the people of] al-Basrah four times in a number of years. [Those of] al-Hijaaz [over a period] of six years and I cannot enumerate how many times I entered [upon the people of] al-Koofah and Baghdaad along with the Muhaddithoon of Khurasaan...

Then after mentioning names of his teachers from the various regions he says:

And I never saw a single one amongst them differ with respect to the following matters:

That the religion consists of [both] speech and action.

And this is due to the saying of Allaah:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّه َمُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاء وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَذَلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and make their worship exclusively for Him alone, being Hunafaa (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat: and that is the right religion. (al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Al-Bukhaaree (rahimahullaah) used this verse as a proof to indicate that actions are from the essence and reality of eemaan (faith), and that faith extends beyond mere tasdeeq - and this was a refutation of the Murji'ah.


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