Al-Hafidh al-Bayhaqi on the Attribute of Hand (al-Yad) and the Views of the Mutakallimin
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Tuesday, November, 09 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Al-Bayhaqi Jahmite Ash'aris Ta'wil

Al-Hafidh al-Bayhaqi on the Attribute of Hand (al-yad)

Here is one such example, from Imam al-Bayhaqi (d. 458H). The quote is through Ibn Hajr and occurs in Fath al-Bari (13/396) under al-Bukhari's chapter heading, "The Saying of Allaah, the Exalted, Whom I created with My own two hands."

قال البيهقي ذهب بعض أهل النظر إلى أن اليد صفة ليست جارحة وكل موضع جاء ذكرها في الكتاب أو السنة الصحيحة فالمراد تعلقها بالكائن المذكور معها كالطي والأخذ والقبض والبسط والقبول والشح والانفاق وغير ذلك تعلق الصفة بمقتضاها من غير مماسة وليس في ذلك تشبيه بحال وذهب آخرون إلى تأويل ذلك بما يليق به انتهى

Al-Bayhaqi said: Some of the people of inspection (the theologians) held the view that al-yad (hand) is an attribute that is not a limb, and every place in which its mention has come in the Book and the Sunnah, then its connection to whatever is mentioned along with it, such as folding, taking, grasping, outstretching, accepting, covetousness, spending and what is besides that is [from the angle of] the connection of the attribute to its requirement [but] without touch (mumaasah), and there is no tashbih in that at all. And others have gone to the [view] of making ta'wil of that with whatever is appropriate.

We have already established in other articles that al-Bayhaqi, influenced by al-Ash'aris final book al-Ibanah, and following the likes of Ibn Kullab, al-Muhasibi, al-Qalanisi, al-Baqillani, affirms two hands for Allah, without ta'wil, or tafwid and he rebuts the ta'wils made by the Mu'tazilah of ni'mah (favour) and qudrah (power) - see here. Here are some relevant quotes:

Sayf al-Din al-Aamidee (d. 631H) wrote in his book Ghayat al-Maraam (p. 135)

ومن الأصحاب من زاد على هذا وأثبت العلم بوجود صفات زائدة على ما أثبتناه وذلك مثل البقاء والوجه والعينين واليدين

And from the associates (of the madhhab) are those who added to this, and affirmed knowledge of the existence of attributes additional to what we have mentioned, and this is the likes of al-baqā' (lasting, remaining), wajh (face), ʿaynān (two eyes), yadān (two hands)

And then we have al-Juwayni (d. 478H) stating in al-Irshad (p. 155):

Chapter: Two hands, two eyes and face. Some of our leading scholars (a'immah) have gone to the view that the two hands, two eyes and face are established attributes for the Lord, the Exalted, and that the path to affirming them is the revealed texts, without entering the realm of reason (ʿaql).

These are two texts from two very prominent Ashari Scholars who affirm that there are those from their school who affirm two eyes for Allah, and they are referring to Ibn Kullab, al-Ash'ari, al-Baqillani amongst others. Al-Baqillani affirmed two eyes as occurs in his book al-Tamhid, you can read that here where he said:

And if someone says: Distinguish for us between the attributes of His Essence (dhaat) from the attributes of His Actions, so that I may know that. It is said to him: The attributes of His Essence are those that He has never ceased to be described with, and they are Life, Knowledge, Power, Hearing, Seeing, Speech, Wish (Iraadah), Permanence (al-Baqaa), Face, Two Eyes, Two Hands, and Anger, Pleasure...

Then in al-Maqaalaat (tahqiq Muhammad Muhyi al-Din, Egypt, 1950), al-Ashari affirms two eyes for Allah, whilst quoting the view of Ahl al-Sunnah, which he says that he follows and adheres to:

So he mentioned here face, two hands and two eyes. However, whilst these Ash'aris were in agreement with the Salaf on this matter, they had a methodological departure from the way of the Salaf in that they used specific negations in the course of corroboration of their belief, such as saying, "We affirm Allaah has a hand which is not a limb", "We affirm Allaah has an eye which is not a pupil", and so on. And whilst this meaning is true and correct, to specify these negations is not from the way of the Salaf in affirmation of their aqidah which is to say, "We affirm Allaah has a face, hand, eye, but which does not resemble that of the creation" - so here the negation is general. Nevertheless, these Early Ash'aris who held this view are commended for their agreement with the Salaf in the substance of the matter.

As for the second view that al-Bayhaqi mentions, then it is of those who followed the way of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in making ta'wil of these attributes, and that's what you have present today, those who abandoned the way of the early Kullabi Ash'aris. The Early Ash'aris were no doubt sounder in intellect than the contemporaries who lack integrity, honesty and justice and are upon a hybrid of the usool of the Kullaabiyah, Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Falsafah.