Ash'ari Competition Corner: 1st Quiz - Test Your Knowledge of Jismiyyah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, September, 26 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Jism Jismiyyah Competition Corner Jism Jismiyyah Competition Corner

We are pleased to announce a new competition section at Asharis.Com, through which we wish to foster better understanding about the Ash'arite creed and its underlying foundations. This is great news for budding Ash'ari Kalaam Atomists who can test their knowledge and understanding with some challenging questions.

Here is our first quiz question, it is actually three questions which are all related to the same topic.

Competition Corner - Test Your Knowledge of "Jismiyyah"

Regarding this verse:

Have you not looked at him who disputed with Ibrahim (Abraham) about his Lord (Allah), because Allah had given him the kingdom? When Ibrahim (Abraham) said (to him): "My Lord (Allah) is He Who gives life and causes death." He said, "I give life and cause death." (Baqarah 2:258)

Why was it not sufficient for Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) to respond to this kafir by saying, "You lie! You are a jism (body) and Allaah is not a jism (body)" - as that would have been the quickest route to silence the kafir?

And regarding the saying of Fir'awn, after Moses had been sent to him:

Saying: "I am your lord, most high", (An-Nazi'at 79:24)

Why was it not sufficient for Moses (alayhis salaam) to respond to this kafir by saying, "You lie! You are a jism (body) and Allaah is not a jism (body)" - as that would have been the quickest route to silencing the kafir?

And regarding the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to his companions regarding the Dajjaal, in what is narrated by al-Bukhari in his Sahih:

Indeed he is one-eyed and your Lord is not one-eyed ...

Why was it not sufficient for the Prophet Muhammad (alayhis salaam) to say instead "Indeed, the Dajjaal is a jism (body) and Allaah is not a jism (body)" - for that would have been the quickest way of refuting and falsifying his (future) claim to divinity?

Why did these three Prophets not answer with what is considered to be the most fundamental aspect of the [Jahmee, and Mu'tazili and] Ash'ari aqeedah, which is "Allaah is not a jism", by which all the claims to divinity by the aforementioned kafirs and of the great imposter, the Dajjal, could be refuted?

The answer must come from an Ash'ari perspective. In other words what would be the response to this from the Ash'ari madhab and its textbooks?

How to Participate

Please send us your answers and explanations through our contact page. This competition will last for one week starting today. Hint: You can get clues to help you answer from other articles on this site! Another tip! This issue was raised by one of those "nasty, evil" Philosophers - so there's a great incentive to find a good answer!

Updates and Responses

In this section we will post the answers received and our responses to them:

Answer from Ali, Saturday, 26 September 2009 21:09:22 PM

Simple question... dont change the topic... answer straight away. From your quiz it looks like you consider Allah a body with shape. Do you believe Allah to be a body with shape? Yes or No. Changing topic and throwing philosophy means you are embarrassed of what you believe in.


Thank you for your email! It does not answer the questions in the quiz, but in response to your question we can say:

Sorry, we don't answer loaded questions. As we have not made the intellectual proof of Jahm bin Safwan (d. 128H) and Abu al-Hudhayl al-Allaaf al-Mu'tazili (d. 235H) for demonstrating the universe is created to be the foundation of our creed, your question does not apply to us. And thank you for the invitation to play tennis with you and your first serve, but we won't be grabbing the racket or stepping on to your court.

It is not from the way of the Salaf, in the corroboration (iqraar) of their aqeedah, and nor in refuting what opposes it, to affirm or to deny the label of "jism" for Allaah because it is from the ambiguous, innovated words by which both truth and falsehood can be intended. This is based upon the principles that Allaah knows best about Himself and likewise that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the most knowledgeable of Allaah from His creation - and the use of such a term, "jism" is not reported in the Qur'aan and nor the Sunnah and nor upon the tongues of any of the Companions or the Salaf, in affirmation or negation - and this is one of the principles that distinguishes the people of the Sunnah from the people of Kalaam, which is that they adhere to the Sharee'ah words in both affirmation and negation and do not depart from that.

As for those who apply the word "jism" to Allaah, saying "Allaah is a jism (body)", then they are astray innovators, and they are of two types, and as for those who affirm the negation "Allaah is not a jism (body)", then they too have innovated. For more details, you can refer to the article below which discusses this issue and includes quotes from the Ash'ari textbooks:

The use of the word "al-jism" for Allaah is from the censured innovations, Ibn Taymiyyah said in 'al-Minhaaj us-Sunnah' (1/204):

As for the third saying, it is the saying established from the Imaams of the pure Sunnah such as Imaam Ahmad and others. They do not apply the word 'al-jism', neither in affirmation nor in negation, and this is for two reasons. The first, because it is not reported from the Book or the Sunnah and nor is it reported from any of the Companions or the Successors who followed them in goodness, and nor from other than them amongst the Imaams of the Sunnah. Therefore, it is from the censured innovations. The second, that its meaning comprises both truth and falsehood. Those who affirm it, enter into its meaning such deficiency and tamtheel (likeness) that is falsehood. And those who negate it, enter into its meaning such ta'teel (denial) and tahreef (distortion) that is falsehood.

Ibn Taymiyyah also said in 'Dar' at-Ta'aarud' (10/306):

And if they had held fast to the Book and the Sunnah they would have been in agreement as the Ahl us-Sunnah and Hadeeth were in agreement. For the Imaams of the Sunnah and Hadeeth never differed about anything regarding the foundations of their religion. And for this reason, not a single one of them said, "Indeed Allaah is a jism (body)" and not [a single one of them] said, "Indeed, Allaah is not a jism (body)." In fact they rejected the negation [of "al-jism" for Allaah] when the Jahmiyyah, the Mu'tazilah and others innovated it. And they rejected what the Jahmiyyah negated of the Attributes alongside their rejection against whoever resembled His Attributes with the attributes of His creation.

We recommend you read the article mentioned above because it quotes from the Ash'arite textbooks (with scans of the pages) to show that they never considered those who affirmed the label of "jism" for Allaah (who were the Karraamiyyah) to be disbelievers, because what they meant by "jism" was merely "al-qaa'imu bi nafsihi" (established by Himself) and "mawjood" (existent) - which are true and correct meanings.

Here is one quote from Adhud-Deen al-Eeji, a well-known later Ash'ari in his "al-Mawaaqif", (p. 17), and it's quoted in the article referred to above:

... And some of the ignoramuses have gone to (the view) that He, the Most High, is a jism, then they differed [regarding what they meant]. So the Karraamiyyah, that is, some of them, said, "He is a jism (body), meaning, existent (mawjood)". And (another) people amongst them said, "He is a jism (body), meaning established by Himself (qaa'imun bi-nafsihi)". So there is no dispute with them upon [either] of these two explanations except in the naming, meaning in the application of the word "al-jism" to Him...

So you can see here, that in this Ash'ari textbook (and there are others too, refer to the article), that those who apply the label of "jism (body)" to Allaah, who are the Karraamiyyah, then from them are many factions who use the word "jism" but only to indicate a true meaning - so the dispute with them is in wording only - according to these Ash'ari textbooks.

Now if this is what is found in the Ash'ari textbooks, regarding such people as the Karraamiyyah, then it is intellectual fraud and hypocrisy to charge those who do not affirm nor negate the word "jism" for Allaah due to it being an innovated term - adhering to the methodology of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah and that of the Salaf in that - whilst at the same time, they are free and innocent of the charge that they believe Allaah is a "jism" (body) and they are the furthest of people from holding that Allaah's Attributes resemble or are like those of the creation. Rather they expressly reject that in the most severe of ways. If this is the case and this is the reality, then any Ash'ari who knows what is in his Ash'ari textbooks regarding those factions of the Karraamiyyah who say, "Allaah is a jism (body), but not like the (created) ajsaam (bodies)", and who knows that the Ash'aris scholars say that there is no difference with these people except in the use of the word alone, then if he proceeds to make accusations against the People of the Sunnah who refuse to be drawn into such innovated terms and phrases, and knows what they hold in this matter, - then all of that is from his hypocrisy, vile treachery, and intellectual fraud and dishonesty.

As for your saying, "... throwing philosophy...", well we wish we could throw the philosophy (ilm ul-kalaam) taken from the atheist Philosophers themselves and all of its practitioners down the well, because that would be the quickest route to abolishing all the differences. And take a look at Ibn Hajr quoting al-Qurtubi on this same Kalaam philosophy of al-jawhar and al-'arad - (see here). You see the Companions and the Salaf were not the ones who took on the Metaphysics of Aristotle (d. 322BC) - (al-jawhar wal-'arad) - and the Atomism of Democritus (d. 370BC) - (al-Jawhar al-Fard) and then tried to prove Allaah's existence through these ways - it was actually the Mu'tazilah and the Ash'ariyyah - they were the ones who were "throwing philosophy", not the Companions, not the Salaf and not those who follow their way.

Ali, we'll give you two points as a token gesture for affording us the opportunity for the above explanation, however, you get zero marks for not answering the actual questions.

So with our first received answer not really addressing the question, are there any more takers? How about if we throw in a pack of dates or a jar of honey?

Sunday, 27 September 2009: No takers.

Monday, 28 September 2009: No takers.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009: No takers.

Answer from Usamah, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 08:43:17 AM

The answer was not from an Ash'ari perspective so it is not relevant to our competition. We are looking at how would an Ash'ari answer this question, and how would he explain this particular objection in light of what he believes to be the truth in describing Allaah, the Most High.

The point in the questions is that if what the Ash'aris believe to be the truth about Allaah is what lies in their metaphysical language, then they need to explain why none of it was used in the revealed texts, and the particular examples given (from the three Prophets) are just some of many. So what is found in the As'hari textbooks as an explanation for this? Hint: There are articles on this site that more or less give you the answer.

Thursday, 01 October 2009: No takers.

Answer from Usamah, Friday, 02 October 2009 07:42:35 AM

They didn't mention the jism because:

If the Prophet Invited to Belief in Allaah Through the Language and Terminology of the Ash'arites, Not even One in a Thousand Would Accept It! Rather the Majority Would Tend to Atheism!


Well ... you are right then!

And just to clarify to the readers in case anyone might misunderstand the nature and import of the questions above, the following should be noted:

The Prophets mentioning or not mentioning the word "jism" and whether they have a reason or do not have a reason to mention it does not arise at all. It's a non-question. It's not actually applicable. They simply convey what is revealed to them from their Lord. They don't need to stop and think about what is revealed to them from their Lord, that "If I say this, then this will be the outcome...", rather they merely convey what is revealed to them from their Lord, because it is nothing but the truth - this is as it relates to the actual speech of Allaah.

As for the ahaadeeth, then its meaning is from Allaah and it's wording is from the Prophet (with the exception of the hadeeth qudsee where both meaning and wording that of Allaah), and the Prophets, being the most-knowledgeable of Allaah from the creation, speak on account of what Allaah has revealed to them and given to them of knowledge of His Self. Thus, they speak on account of the knowledge that Allaah places in them regarding Himself, and they express that accordingly.

سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُون َوَسَلَامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Glorified be your Lord, the Lord of Honour and Power! (He is free) from what they attribute unto Him! And peace be on the Messengers! And all the praise and thanks be to Allaah, Lord of the 'Aalameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists). (As-Saffat 37:180-182)

And Shaykh Saalih Aal ush-Shaykh said:

وقال هنا عن نفسه ﴿سَلامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ﴾ فهو الذي جعل الأنبياء والمرسلين أهل للسلامة . والسلامة متبعضة : هناك سلامة في القول في صحته ومطابقته للواقع ، وسلامة في الفهم ، وسلامة في العبودية ، وسلامة في الاعتقاد ، وسلامة في التبليغ . فجهات السلامة كثيرة ، والله جل وعلا أعطاها عباده المرسلين .

And here He said about Himself, "And peace (salaam) be upon the Messengers", for He is the one who makes the Prophets and Messengers, the people of salaamah (blamelessness, flawlessness, with integrity). And salaamah is divisible (of different types). There is the salaamah in speech, in its correctness and in it agreement with the actualy reality. And salaamah in understanding. And salaamah in worship (uboodiyyah). And salaamah in belief (i'tiqaad). And salaamah in conveying (tableegh). So the aspects of salaamah are many, and Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic has given it to His Servants, the Messengers.

So the issue here is that the answer we are looking for is that essentially what (lame, pathetic) excuses can the Ash'aris bring to explain the fact that the Messengers were not upon their methodology in describing Allaah, the Most High.

And the answer you brought from al-Ghazali explains that, and inshaa'Allaah we will comment on it further when the competition closes in a few days time.

Saturday, 03 October 2009: No takers.

Sunday, 04 October 2009: No takers.

Competition Closed

This competition has come to an end.