Destroying the Slander of Tajsim (Anthropomorphism) Against Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah: Part 2 - Ahl al-Sunnah, Ibn Kullab, al-Ash'ari and the Early Kullabis, Ash'aris
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Monday, December, 06 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Tajsim Mujassimah Hishaamiyyah Karraamiyyah


Recap of Framework

Four Groups to Pay Attention To

Particular note should be given to the two non-kalaam groups who exaggerated in ithbaat (represented in Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan to whom tashbih is ascribed and al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa) and the two from the Kalaam groups (the Raafidee Mujassimah, and the Hanafi Karraamiyyah Mujassimah). It is important to separate all of these and understand the reality of their sayings, views, opinions and the nature of their error. This will allow you to appreciate the great pseudo-Ash'ari swindle of accusing the people of Sunnah, hadeeth and aathaar of being Mujassimah, Mushabbihah.

In this article, Part 2 of the series, we commence an outline of the factions that concern us, who are a) Ahl al-Sunnah and the early Kullaabi Ash'aris, b) the Rafidi Mujassimah and c) the Hanafi Karraamiyyah Mujassimah. This will be provide more detailed background, in addition to the framework in Part 1, to help us deconstruct the pseudo-Ash'ari swindle.

Ahl al-Sunnah and Followers, Ibn Kullaab and Followers, al-Ash'ari and Early Followers

We are looking at a cross section here, because there are both the people of the pure Sunnah, hadeeth and aathaar and those of the condemned 'ilm al-kalaam in this group, and they are agreed upon the affirmation of certain affairs, which are the 'uluww of Allaah Himself over His creation (in addition to 'uluww of rank and status and power and domination) and the sifaat khabariyyah (face, hands, eyes, love, pleasure, anger and so on). However, those sifat khabariyyah which are tied to Allaah's will and power (like love, pleasure, anger) were not totally denied, only the aspect of will (mashee'ah) in relation to them were denied, and they were made eternal attributes like life, knowledge, power. This was the approach of Ibn Kullaab, whilst the Ash'arites took the approach of denying them altogether and interpreting them with something else.

We have in fact documented statements in affirmation of uluww and the sifaat khabariyyah in other articles as it relates to the early Kullaabis and As'haris, so we can simply make certain points or link to relevant articles on this site.

First Point: Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the Righteous Salaf, their way is plain and manifest, it is not possible for any pseudo-Ash'ari swindler who misguides the common "aspiring to be Ash'ari" Ash'ari, to deny that their way was ithbaat of everything that has come in the revealed texts with denial of takyif and tamthil and tashbih and tahreef and ta'teel. There statements are abundant in this regard, and very clear and apparent. They affirmed all His names, attributes, and actions. The battle between them and the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah was one of meanings not a battle over texts devoid of meanings. So whoever said the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah were accusing Ahl al-Sunnah of being "Mushabbihah, Mujassimah" on the basis of pure letters making up words devoid of meanings is in error, a serious error. Rather, when the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah saw Ahl al-Sunnah affirming names implying meanings, attributes implying meanings and actions implying meanings, they accused them of being Mushabbihah, Mujassimah. This is because they themselves were operating upon the proof of huduth al-ajsaam to demonstrate the universes is originated, which argues that the presence of meanings in bodies (i.e. their attributes and actions such as color, taste, smell, motion, rest, combination, division, height, width, depth and so on to all the genuses of attributes found in the creation), shows that they are originated. Then to remain consistent they had to reject that the texts in the Book and the Sunnah relating to Allah's attributes indicate meanings which to them were a'raad (that is, attributes) and hawaadith (that is, actions). Hence, their allegation of tajsim and tashbih against Ahl al-Sunnah and their innovation of tahreef (called ta'wil) of the texts which Ahl al-Sunnah rejected from them. This is why we see statements from them stating, "Pass them on as they have come", "without tafsir", "without sifah", "without ma'naa", all of this was a refutation of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah and their innovated sayings aimed at changing the original meanings that the texts came with. All of this is historical fact and cannot be denied. The psuedo-Ash'ari swindlers at the higher level who misguide the average Muslim who simply wants to follow the truth know this very well. History is not on their side. This is why they absolutely hate the second and third centuries of Islaam, and they will not go anywhere near it.

Second Point: That Ibn Kullab (d. 240), al-Muhaasibi (d. 243H), al-Karaabeesee (d. ~245H), al-Qalaanisee (who are the true and real forerunners and founders of what became known as the true early "Ash'ariyyah") all affirmed the attributes of hand, face, and eye(s) as attributes (sifaat) of the essence (dhaat) of Allaah. Likewise al-Ash'ari (d. 324H) himself (see this article and this one), and Ibn Mahdi al-Tabari (d. 380H), and al-Baqillaani (d. 403H) (see this article and this article), and al-Bayhaqi (d. 458H) (see here and also here) and this is corroborated by the likes of Abu Mansur al-Baghdaadi (d. 429H), al-Juwayni (d. 478H), and al-Aamidee (d. 631H) (see here). Even Ibn Fawrak (d. 406H) affirmed these attributes as attributes of the essence (he stated that it is not possible to deny these as attributes of the essence in the way they have been reported, even if he permitted ta'wil in general) and likewise al-Shahrastani (d. 548H) alludes to the same affirmation in his book Niyaayat al-Aqdaam. These affirmations from those early Kullaabi Ash'aris were alongside their refutations of the allegations of tajsim and tashbih coming from the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, and you would do well to ponder over this saying of al-Baqillani (full quote is here), and pay careful attention to the reasoning:

And if someone said: What has led you to deny that His Face and Hand is a limb when you do not understand hand as an attribute, and face as an attribute except [in the form of a] limb? It is said to him: That is not necessitated, just like it is not necessitated when we do not understand a living, knowing, able (being) except to be a body (jism) that we, us and you, should judge Allah with the same.

And just like it is not necessitated when He is established by His own Essence (qaa'iman bi dhaatihi) that He is substance and body just because we, and you, do not find anything established by itself (qaa'imun bi-nafsihi) in what we (outwardly) observe except that it is like that (i.e. Substance and body).

And the answer to them is likewise if they say: It becomes necessary that His knowledge, life and speech and all of His attributes belonging to His Essence (dhaat) are non-essential incidental attributes (a'raad), genuses, or occurrences (hawaadith), or changes, or coalesce (merge) in Him, or are in requirement of a heart, and they adduced the existence (wujood) [that they observe] as argument [in this regard].

Now this itself is taken directly from al-Ash'ari, who wrote something identical in al-Ibaanah, (see Al-Ibānah (taḥqīq, Dr. Fawqiyyah Maḥmūd, Egypt, 1977, pp. 136-137):

Issue: And it is said to them: What has led you to reject that Allāh, the Exalted meant two hands by His saying, "With my two hands (biyadayya)" (38:75) and not two favours? If they say: Because if al-yad (hand) is not [with the meaning of] favour (niʿmah) then it is but a limb (jāriḥah).

It is said to them: Why have you judged that if hand is not favour, then it is but a limb? ... They said: al-yad (hand), when it is not favour in what is observed, it is but a limb. It is said to them: If you are working [on the basis] of what is observed [in creation] and you judged Allāh by way of it, then likewise, we do not find any living thing in the creation except as a body, flesh and blood. So judge Allāh with the that [too], exalted is Allāh from that.

We also see al-Bayhaqi rejecting the ta'wils of the Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyyah ( see here), which were unfortunately taken up by other Ash'arites and it became the standard doctrine in their ever-evolving school. Their refutations of the deniers were really an extension of what the Salaf were upon against the Jahmiyyah and is found in the statements of the likes of Nu'aym bin Hammaad, and al-Tirmidhee, and Ishaq bin Raahuyah and others, all of whom said that there is no tashbih in anything that Allaah has described Himself with, which means there is absolutely no tasbhih through mere affirmation of the meanings indicated by the texts. See al-Tirmidhi quote consensus on this matter in this article. Otherwise these statements of the Salaf are rendered meaningless and their intellect becomes questioned for making such declarations (upon a pseudo-Ash'ari, neo-Jahmnite reading of that period in history).

The aim is to illustrate that this was a battle of meanings, otherwise it makes no sense for the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah to accuse Ahl al-Sunnah of being Mushabbihah, Mujassimah, and we see this clearly proven in these statements of these early Ash'ari Scholars, and we don't even need to quote from any of the Imaams of the righteous Salaf, despite their statements being in the hundreds, if not thousands in regards to this issue. The Salaf and early Kullabis, Ash'aris affirmed meanings, the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah in turn imposed upon those affirmations [of meanings] coming from Ahl al-Sunnah, the takyif of what is found in the creation [treating them to be the haqaa'iq, realities, associated with those meanings affirmed for Allaah, the Exalted] and upon this, accused them of tashbih and tajsim. This observation of historical fact leads to the next point which further corroborates it, [leaving no pseudo-Ash'ari, neo-Jahmi falsifier of history any refuge at all]:

Third Point: Now this is crucial to understand here, which is that the only real difference between the people of the pure Sunnah, hadeeth and aathaar (the righteous Salaf) and a faction from Ahl al-Kalaam (Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari, al-Baqillani), and those who were attached primarily to hadeeth, were not Ahl al-Kalaam fundamentally, but accepted the conclusions of the Ahl al-Kalaam (al-Bayhaqi) is that the Salaf made specific affirmation (ithbaat) and general negation (of likeness, resemblance). Whereas those operating upon Kalaam, or influenced by its conclusions made specific affirmation along with specific negation. To illustrate, these are their sayings:

  • The Salaf: We affirm life, knowledge, hearing, seeing, face, hands, eye(s) [in their meanings] for Allaah without tamthil, takyif or tashbih [in their realities] [and thereafter remain silent].

  • Ahl al-Kalam (or those influenced by them): We affirm life, knowledge, hearing, seeing, face, hands, eye(s) [in their meanings] but [in their realities] face is not a form, and hands are not limbs and eyes are not pupils.

So general negation is replaced with specific negation involving takyif. Now even if the specific negation may be correct in meaning, from a methodological point of view, it is not the way of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the Salaf to make such specific negations, since takyif in negation is erroneous, as is takyif in affirmation. So this really is a subsidiary issue after they are united in affirming these as attributes for Allaah's essence, without ta'wil and more importantly without tafwid, in opposition to the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah. Tafwid was not really innovated as a way and wrongly ascribed to the Salaf until al-Juwayni came along and took the way of the Ash'aris towards the direction of the Mu'tazilah.

Fourth Point: From the above, we see the spuriousnenss of the claim that the Salaf were upon tafwid (of the meaning), since there was no Jahmite denying the mere existence of letters making up the words found in the texts relating to the attributes. Rather, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah were fighting against what is beyond the mere existence of letters making up words, which are meanings, since words indicate meanings. However, when some of the later Ash'arites like al-Juwaynee (d. 478H) saw the falsehood in making ta'wil because it entails speaking about Allaah without knowledge, and essentially lying upon Allaah, they resorted to tafwid in order to remain consistent with the proof of huduth al-ajsaam. Then, decontextualizing, or misinterpreting those statements of the Salaf made in the second and third centuries (i.e. negating tafsir, ma'naa, sifah, kayf) made overwhelmingly against the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah on the one hand and limitedly against the Mushabbihah on the other, they claimed the Salaf made tafwid. Wrongly, those who came after, the likes of al-Qurtubi, al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar, who were not Ahl al-Kalaam, but agreed with their conclusions [since that was the intellectual era into which they were brought up and raised in the circles of knowledge] and merged those conclusions with the Book and the Sunnah which was their real occupation. In this manner, they were led to wrongly believe that tafwid (and ta'wil) was the way of the Salaf. And thus it is from the conniving of the pseudo-Ash'ari, neo-Jahmites present today that when they wish to misguide someone away from the way of the Salaf, or to scaremonger them, they will start by throwing statements of the latecomers like al-Qurtubi, al-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and others, and they start by quoting ijmaa's (consensus) [of their kalam views pertaining to the attributes] when this is only a consensus amongst them, the Mutakallimin, as found in their own books (of the Ash'aris and Maturidis), about their own doctrinal school, it is not an actual ijmaa' of the Companions, the Taabi'een and the Righteous Salaf of the first three centuries, because the actual ijmaa' is on one side of the fence and the claimed ijmaa' is on the other. This is again why these people are averse to the first three centuries, their theology can never, ever, ever be corroborated from it. It is also for this reason, that they try to erode people's attachment to the Salaf by attacking ascription to the Salaf. It's a hostile era for them, they don't want people to catch on, and see what their game is really about, and to see that they actually have NO connection to the Salaf and nor to Ibn Kullaab and nor to al-Ash'ari himself.

Why Did Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari Affirm The sifat khabariyyah?

This brings us to this question now, and the answer is as follows.

All the Mutakallimun based their theology upon the proof of huduth al-ajsaam - arguing for the origination of bodies through the presence of what they call a'raad (incidental attributes) and hawaadith (events) in them. The Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah did not distinguish between a'raad and hawaadith, they referred to everything as a'raad (to mean attributes and actions). And they said whatever is not devoid of a'raad is originated, a body. Hence they negated everything from Allaah, attributes and actions. However Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari distinguished between a'raad [what the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah use to refer to Allah's attributes and chosen actions] and hawaadith [what the Kullabiyyah, Ash'ariyyah use to refer to Allaah's chosen actions], and then they further justified exclusion of Allaah's sifaat from the a'raad (incidental attributes) by saying the a'raad do not last two instants of time [all attributes in the creation are therefore constantly destroyed and recreated at every smallest instant of time], hence they are only "incidental attributes" in the creation, but as for Allaah, His attributes do not perish, so they are not called a'raad but sifaat. Thus, whatever are from His permanent attributes (which include face, hands, eyes) are affirmed as such. Further, both Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari (in his Kullabi period) never considered the proof of huduth al-ajsaam to be obligatory, nor the only way to demonstrate Allaah's existence, they acknowledged there were other ways. Because of this, they did not see any clash between this particular proof (amongst proofs) and affirmation of Allah's uluww (being above the creation) and His attributes such as face, hands, eye(s) and the likes. Hence, they would refute the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah very strongly on these issues and they would say "Allaah is above the Throne and is not a jism", an "Allaah has a face, hands and eyes, and they are not limbs", and they made these specific negations in countering what the Mu'tazilah were making binding upon them that they have affirmed a body and limbs for Allaah (by these affirmations). So they saw no problem in these affirmations. However, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah believed there was no other proof except huduth al-ajsaam to prove Allaah's existence, hence they said the entirety of belief in Allaah must conform to it, and hence, the revealed texts must be interpreted (i.e. distorted) in order to conform to this proof. This is why they held the views that they did, denying Allah's uluww, His being seen in the Hereafter with the vision of the eyes, His speaking to Moses, the Qur'an being His speech and so on, because this would render Him a body. Thus they innovated the ta'wil (whose instances these very same early Kullabis and Ash'aris refuted strongly).

Hence, we see the battle between Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari against the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, but their battle involved the condemned ilm al-Kalaam as a result of which they submitted to the validity of something from the false foundations of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah underlying their proof of huduth al-ajsaam, and therefore they denied actions are established with Allaah through His will. And this battle of theirs was after the wider context of the battle of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah against the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, but that battle was pure Sunnah verses pure Kalaam, in which manifest truth was plain and clear from manifest falsehood.

However, what happened with the Ash'aris who came after is that they unfortunately treated this proof, like the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, to be obligatory, and the only way to prove Allaah's existence, and because they adopted this view, opposing al-Ash'ari and Ibn Kullaab, they were subsequently forced to recede - over time - into the ta'teel of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, in order to remain consistent with it. Thus, the Later Ash'aris we see them denying 'uluww, and denying the sifat khabariyyah. So they increased in ta'teel and gravitated towards the Jahmiyyah. All of their theological writings and polemics are centred around patching up the inconsistencies that were subsequently pointed out to them. So they were forced to choose between discarding the proof and following the way of the Salaf entirely, or to maintain this proof and increase in ta'teel to remain consistent. They chose the latter and developed their school upon finding ways to patch up this proof, which could only be through increased ta'teel and invention of new views, explanations, rationalities. This is their ilm al-Kalaam. In choosing this path, they gravitated towards the views of the Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyyah (having united with them on the view that the whole of Islam depends upon this proof) and therefore their enmity towards these groups waned (as it did towards the Philosophers when they saw no problem in merging kalam with Falsafah to strengthen their theology), and their enmity shifted instead towards the people of Hadeeth, Sunnah and Aathaar, and this is where we are today and have been for many a century.

Conclusion and Summary

In this article we have established the views of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah, the Righteous Salaf and a faction of the Ahl al-Kalaam, who despite the two different approaches (one true, the other false) were united in certain areas, and the reasons for that have been explained. This means that the diagram of allegiance and loyalty is as follows:

The Salaf (including the four Imaams), Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari and their early followers are on the side where the grass is greener, and the later Ash'ariyyah (and the Maturidis) are on the other side with the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and animal fodder, and they are all collectively throwing the same accusations against the other side of the fence, being united upon that, sharing in their accusations and their ta'wil bullets (hand = qudrah, ni'mah, 'uluww = rank, status, istiwaa = isteelaa and so on). Indeed, we ask Allaah not to make our hearts blind through deliberate rejection of the truth when it stares right in the face [like it is doing right now, after the above]. Ameen.

This lays another milestone, another slab, or another stake in our progression in deciphering the great pseudo-Ash'ari, neo-Jahmi swindle. Next we will start looking at the Mushabbihah, Mujassimah proper.