Analysis of the Statement of Asrar Rashid (Birmingham) Concerning the Creed of the Salaf - Part 3: The Salaf, Ibn Kullaab, al-Ash'ari, the Sifaat and Tajseem|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Thursday, April, 14 2011 and
filed under Articles
We were requested recently to comment on statement of creed issued by a person named Asrar Rasheed of Birmingham, who is an Ash'ari / Maturidi in creed (the word "Ash'ari" is an umbrella term that includes the Maturidis, that's how most Maturidis themselves see it). A scan of a statement of creed written by this individual was sent to us on 5th April 2011. We have no idea when it was written, but we commenced responding to it on 14th April 2011. In the commentary upon this statement, we will come to realize how today's Ash'aris do not really differentiate between the early Kullabi Ash'aris (who were much closer to Ahl al-Sunnah) and the Later Ash'aris who reverted to many of the positions of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in the sifaat, and left the way of al-Ash'ari. At the same time, these contemporaries deceive themselves into thinking that what they are upon is the way of the Salaf, when the reality is that they are not even upon the creed of Ibn Kullaab and al-Ash'ari and his early students (the Kullaabi Ash'aris), let alone the way of the Salaf. Further, when they present their creed, it is presented in a deceptive manner using generalizations and vagueness, and the avoidance of any specificity and detail so as to allow a false ascription to the Salaf to be made in front of the audience.
Before we start commenting on his statement, we should clarify that all of those we have addressed previously on this site have been proven to be dishonest, conniving, calculated people, whose lies are plain and manifest to see to anyone with even an ounce of sincerity and the desire for seeking truth.
So Allaah knows best about Asrar Rasheed how he will behave after the hujjah is established upon him that his orientation in creed (coming from the Ash'ari Maturidi schools) is founded originally upon a matter that the Salaf condemned and vilified, namely the blameworthy ilm al-Kalaam which is the language of al-ajsaam and al-a'raad which he is trying so desperately to hide. What we find in practice is that as it becomes increasingly clear that the later As'haris had little to do with Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari himself and lost connection with him and that the Maturidis, from the very outset, were closer to the Mu'tazilah in creed than they were to the early Kullaabi Ash'aris, these people became more shrewd and more adept in the way they formulate and present their creed to the masses so as to conceal many things (by ommission) and to give the false picture that they are following the Salaf by maintaining policy of speaking in generalizations devoid of tafseelaat (details).
Asrar Rashid's Statement of Creed
This is a scan of a hand written copy sent to us, and inshaa'Allaah we will translate the relevant excerpts and comment upon them:
Translation and Commentary: Part 3
Asrar Rashid wrote:
Hence it is affirmation of what has been related, upon what has been related, alongside tanzeeh and negation of tashbeeh (resemblance), mumaathalah (likeness), categorically. Hence, there is no tashbeeh (resemblance) and no tamtheel (likeness) and no Tajseem (embodification), and no takyeef (specifying or asking how). Rather, He is as He, the Sublime and Exalted said, "There is nothing like unto Him and He is the all-Hearing, all-Seeing". Hence, He, the Sublime, is free of limbs and instruments!
This is a very interesting paragraph and indicates the conniving of people like Asrar Rasheed, this will become clear by the following observations, notes and comments - (and one should keep in mind here, the observations already made in Part 1 and Part 2) -:
First: The first thing that should be noted here is that the real thing Asrar Rasheed is saying by this paragraph and the way it is worded is that their way (that of the Ash'aris and Maturidis pretending to follow the way of the Salaf) is to affirm whatever has been mentioned in the revealed texts of the attributes [besides the ones they establish through pure reason independently of the text as part of their Kalaam theology], but to then cleanse them and sanctify them through their washing machine of tanzeeh (which is to negate Aristotles ten categories, al-jawhar wal-'arad, al-maqoolaat al-ashar, from Allaah, the Exalted), which essentially means to wash away the actual attributes so no attributes are left (besides the ones compatible with their proof of huduth al-ajsaam which is founded upon the ilm al-Kalaam derived from the conceptual tools and language of the Hellenized nations). The tanzeeh of the Salaf is not the tanzeeh of Ahl al-Kalaam. Asrar Rasheed like most deluded Asharis / Maturidis today will probably not even know what we are talking about here, and protest heavily and deny what we have just said. When this is the level of their knowledge of historical realities [i.e. of the roots of the Kalaam theology which is the foundation of the deen of the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Raafidi Mujassimah, Kullaabiyyah Karraamiyyah, Ash'ariyyah and Maturidiyyah], what trust can subsequently be put into their claims about the aqeedah of the Muslims at large?!!
And when the Ahl al-Kalaam negate tashbeeh and tamtheel and takyeef, their negation is not what the Salaf meant by negation of these matters. The Salaf make ithbaat of whatever has been related as actual sifaat dhaatiyyah (attributes of the essence) for Allaah, and then upon the foundation that Allaah's essence is unlike all other essences, the principle of there being no likeness naturally follows, since the reality of the attributes of a thing can only be grasped if the reality of the essence itself is known, and since that is impossible with respect to Allaah, then two things follow: a) the impossibility of us ever knowing the reality of the attributes and b) the impossibility of there being likeness between the attributes of Allaah and the attributes of the creation. Hence, there is no caution in affirming whatever Allaah affirmed for Himself as attributes of His essence, and there is no presumption of tashbeeh at all. This is in reality, the very foundation of the view of the Salaf, and hence the creed of the Salaf is to affirm all the attributes of Allaah related in the Book and the Sunnah, upon their foundational meanings and to deny that there is any likeness in their realities and this is ithbaat without ta'teel and without a type of tanzeeh that removes the attribute as being an actual attribute of Allaah in its own right. Their way is ithbaaat bilaa tamtheel and tanzeeh bilaa ta'teel (affirmation without likeness and sanctification without divestment).
But Asrar Rashid, as we pointed out in earlier parts in this series, is simply a descendant of those Ahl al-Kalaam of old who use ambiguous, vague, generalized statements in order to deceive the people and conceal what they really believe, thinking that Allaah, the Exalted, is unaware of the conniving of their hearts and that they will not be exposed and their innermost secrets will not be brought out for all to see, despite the great lengths they go to in order to conceal the poison of Kalaam which their positions are based upon in reality.
Upon their Kalaam theology they operate upon an entirely different principle, which is to make the presumption of tashbeeh for whatever Allaah has affirmed for Himself and likewise what His Messenger has affirmed for Him, in the sense that anything that is other than the attributes of the essence they affirm through pure reason, independently of revelation (as part of their intellectual proof for the origination of the universe) is automatically considered to give the presumption of tasbheeh, and hence, the need, in fact the obligation, as they see it, of sanctifying Allaah.
Second: The driving force, spring and fountain behind the creed of all of Ahl al-Kalaam, both the Mu'attilah amongst them (those who negate something from Allaah's Names, attributes and actions) and the Mujassimah amongst them (those who operate upon the premise of Allaah being a jism [body]) is the proof of huduth al-ajsaam which al-Jahm bin Safwan and al-Ja'd bin Dirham entered into the Ummah after taking it from the Hellenized Sabeans, Jews and Christians. And thus their approach to the attributes is from an entirely different perspective and angle to that of the revealed Books, the followers of the Prophets and Messengers and the adherents to the way of the Salaf. Therefore, we will see many of these people of Kalaam making statements in their creed which on the surface are crafted to appear identical to the statements and positions of the Salaf, but what they really mean by them is something entirely different because they are coming with an entirely different paradigm, with a particular conceptual baggage. It is this conceptual baggage that Asrar Rashid thought he could hide by this cleverly crafted one page statement of his, as vague and obscure as it is. Thus, when he says (إثبات ما ورد على ما ورد مع االتنزيه), "affirmation of what has been related upon what has been related, alongside freeing [Allaah of faults, deficiencies, resemblance etc.]," it's true and real intent is explained by the last sentence in this paragraph when he says, (فهو سبحانه منزه عن الجوارح والأدوات), "For He, the Sublime, is free of [having] limbs and instruments" (see next point). Whilst Allaah is indeed free and exonerated from the gross tashbeeh of the Raafidee Mushabbihah (who affirm limbs and parts for Allaah), the intent of Asrar Rasheed goes beyond this into a type of ta'teel that was refuted by the early Kullaabi Ash'aris themselves, let alone the entirety of the Salaf against the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. He intends the negation of the sifaat khabariyyah dhaatiyyah (those attributes which are only known through revealed text), this is his real intent. If he was following the way of the Salaf as he claims, then he would have followed exactly in their footsteps and made specific and detailed ithbaat (affirmation) which is the methodology that is so plain and evident in all of their books written in the second and third centuries. This is sufficient to prove that Asrar Rasheed is just another dishonest individual, the likes of whom Ibn Kullaab, al-Haarith al-Muhaasibee and Abu al-Abbaas al-Qalaanisee (all forerunners of the Ash'ari creed), and likewise al-Ash'ari and al-Baqillaani (and even al-Bayhaqi) were refuting on the matter of the sifat khabariyyah dhaatiyyah in the third and fourth century after hijrah. We have established extensively in many other articles on this site that all of these Scholars, let alone the entirety of the Salaf, affirmed the attributes of face, hands and eye(s) as attributes of the essence without ta'weel and tahreef, and they refuted the Mu'tazilah in this regard who were accusing them of being Mujassimah. However, the only difference between them (i.e. those early Ash'aris) and the Salaf is that they entered into a methodological departure by making specific negations that the Salaf never entered into. But that is a side-point to the fact that there is agreement between the Salaf and the early Kullaabi Ash'aris against the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah regarding the affirmation of these sifaat khabariyyah dhaatiyyah. This puts Asrar Rashid on the other side of the fence with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah despite his spurious claim of following the Salaf.
Third: There are two matters to point out in Asrar's statement above, his use of negation of "Tajseem" and his negation of "limbs and instruments" from Allaah, the Exalted. We will deal with each of these separately:
As for the label of "Tajseem", then it is not known from the Salaf that they used this language and terminology regarding Allaah, the Exalted, because the use of the conceptual tools of the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans (al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, which is the ilm al-Kalaam condemned by the Salaf) was not a source, nor a foundation for their speech in matters of creed. Rather, this was the very ilm al-Kalaam they condemned and declared its practitioner a heretic, astray, leading others astray, and this is well known and famous from Imaam Abu Haneefah, Imaamm Abu Yusuf, Imaam Malik, especially Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee and likewise Imaam Ahmad and the rest of the Salaf.
However, those who adopted it, the Ahl al-Kalaam, divided into two camps. The first are the Mu'attilah (the negators), and they negated, to varying degrees, Allaah's Names, attributes and actions from Allaah because the affirmation of these matters clashed with the intellectual proof they devised using those conceptual tools in order to demonstrate Allaah's existence, and which they subsequently made to be something upon which the veracity of Islaam itself depends. So they used this language, "Allaah is not a jism, nor an 'arad...." and this is what Asrar Rasheed means when he includes the negation of "Tajseem" in his list above, and thus, his language is not Sunni, Salafi, Athari ithbaat (affirmation) with negation of tamtheel (likeness), rather it is Jahmee, Mu'tazilee nafee (negation) founded upon the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, which is the very Kalaam condemned by Abu Hanifah, Malik ash-Shaafi'ee, Ahmad and generality of the Salaf, and which he is trying his utmost to conceal. The second camp of the Ahl al-Kalaam, they are the Mujassimah, who are the Raafidi Hishaamiyyah and the Hanafi Karraamiyyah. Now, whilst this camp also agreed with that intellectual proof called Hudooth al-ajsaam, they had a slightly different rendering of it whilst adhering to its core premises, and they concluded first that Allah is a jism (body). As for the Raafidi Mujassimah, they fell into the grossest of tashbeeh and tamtheel, and treated Allaah as being in human form, in flesh, with limbs, organs and so on. And as for the Hanafi Karraamiyyah, their saying Allaah is a jism, was merely to afford the meaning that He is al-qaa'imu bi nafsihi (established by Himself), and mawjood (exists), and on account of which attributes can be said of Him, and this is the saying of their main leaders, however, they added a type of takyeef in their language of describing Allaah's uluww and istiwaa as a result of which they were refuted by the early Kullaabi Ash'aris, who affirmed Allaah Himself is above the Throne and rejected the takyeef of the Hanafi Karraamiyyah. The point here is that the affirmation and negation of jism and Tajseem is purely a Kalaam thing and it is not from the language of the Salaf, because they never delved into this ilm al-Kalaam to begin with, this baggage of the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans, such that they should speak in this manner. It is a debate between the two camps of Ahl al-Kalaam, the Mu'attilah and the Mujassimah and the Salaf are innocent and free of any of that type of falsehood. Hence, you do not see, this type of language prominent in their speech. There were some later Hanbalis (the al-Timimis) who were studying with the As'harites who ascribed this language to Imaam Ahmad in meaning, but Imaam Ahmad is free of that, and none of that is authentically established from Imaam Ahmad at all.
As for the negation of limbs and instruments. This phraseology is not found in the speech of the Salaf, however, it is found in the creed of al-Tahawi, and whilst it is not from the way of the Salaf to make specific negation as a methodological principle, those intended by al-Tahawi are the Raafidi Mutakallimeen, the Mushabbihah, who rendered Allaah as a human (in the form of some of their leaders), in flesh and blood, thereby giving Him parts, organs and limbs, likening Him to the creation, free and innocent is Allaah of what they claim, and they are from Ahl al-Kalaam, the cousins of the Mu'attilah. But as for the affirmation of the attributes of face, hands, eye(s) [from the sifaat khabariyyah dhaatiyyah which come in the revealed texts], then there is none from the Salaf, and nor Ibn Kullaab and nor al-Muhaasibee, and nor al-Qalaanisee and nor al-Ash'ari, al-Baaqillaanee (and not even al-Bayhaqee) who denied and rejected these as attributes of the essence in principle. But this is the intent of Asrar Rasheed, to treat the sifaat khabariyyah dhaatiyyah as Tajseem, and in this he is in reality jingoing with the Jahmiyyah whilst making a pretence of subscribing to the Salaf, and he thought he could conceal and clothe himself with vague, generalized statements and make it look as if he is wearing the attire of the Salaf, when in reality he is wearing no attire and his deception is plain to see for anyone with baseerah. For if he was truly a follower of the Salaf, he would have followed their particular methodology in laying down his creed, and their methodology is known in their books, it is detailed ithbaat with generalized negation of tamtheel. Pick up the books of the Salaf written in the second and third centuries on the topic of the sifaat of Allaah, the Exalted and what do you see? Then compare that with the deception Asrar Rasheed thought he could pull off with this one page of generalizations and obscurities. However, as we said, it is not possible for any innovator to conceal his misguidance and thus, it was inevitable that at least something of his Kalaam theology be made manifest in his writing, as short and general as it is.
Fourth: To expand further on the bolded sentence in the last paragraph, when one looks at the second and third centuries after hijrah, we see that this was when ilm al-Kalaam appeared in theological matters and it was carried by the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Rafidi Mujassimah in the second century (100H-200H) and the Kullaabiyyah and Karraamiyyah in the third century (200H-300H), before the Ash'aris and Maturidis appeared in the fourth century. Now, though there was gross tashbeeh present with the Raafidi Mutakallimeen, and likewise Tajseem present with the Hanafi Karraamiyyah, the overwhelming majority of the speech of the Salaf was against the Mu'attilah from Ahl al-Kalaam. In fact, their speech against the Mu'attilah dwarfs their speech about the Mushabbihah, and this is plain and manifest when one surveys all the books authored by the Salaf on matters of creed in the second and third centuries against Ahl al-Kalaam. The point we are leading to here then is that when this is the historical reality and when it is the case that the war of the Salaf was overwhelmingly against the Mu'attilah from Ahl al-Kalaam on the issue of the sifaat, Allaah's Speech and the Qur'aan, the Ru'yah, and al-uluww, then if a person was truly following the way of the Salaf, then he would have followed their way in writing his creed. Which is detailed and specific ithbaat (affirmation). However, because Asrar Rasheed is in reality on the side of his Kalaam ancestors, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, who entered this ilm al-Kalaam into the Ummah and through whom it came to the Ash'aris and Maturidis (after passing through the Kullaabiyyah), Asrar Rasheed has not followed the way of the Salaf at all, because he is in reality a disputant to the Salaf. If he did follow the Salaf as he claims, we would have seen an altogether different style and different content in the writing of his creed. Instead, he tried to remain as vague and general as possible, pretending to venerate and respect the way of the Salaf, focusing on negation (nafee) mostly, and the most he addressed, albeit very very indirectly, is the issue of the sifaat khabariyyah, and Allah's uluww and ma'iyyah, and that is only because it is inevitable that he mention at least something without which his written creed would be devoid of substance, and practically meaningless to the reader.
Requesting Asrar Rasheed to Refute Ibn Kullab, al-Ash'ari and al-Baqillani, Let Alone the Entirety of the Salaf
The Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah accused the Salaf of being Mujassimah for affirming the sifat khabariyyah, and this dispute also took place between them and Ibn Kullaab, and al-Ash'ari and al-Baqillani. So we would like Asrar Rasheed to show us on whose side he is in reality, with the Salaf and the early Kullaabiyyah, Ash'ariyyah or with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah:
Al-Qadi Abu Bakr al-Baqillaani said in al-Tamheed (full quote here in this article), refuting the Mu'tazilah:
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]
And this he took no doubt from Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari who said, addressing the same doubt (in al-Ibaanah, 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. And if not then you are [obliged] to abandon your saying because you are contradicting your very own justification [in argument]. And if you affirm [one who is] living but not like the living [creatures], then what has led to you reject that He has two hands which Allāh, the Exalted informed about, which are neither two favours nor two limbs, and nor like the hands [of the creatures].
Likewise, it is said to them: We do not find any mudabbir (controller), hakīm (wise), except as a human, but then you affirm that the world has a mudabbir and ḥakīm who is not like a human, and you opposed what is observed [in the creation] and you contradicted your justification [in argument]. Therefore do not prevent from the affirmation of two hands that are not two favours or two limbs for the reason that it is opposed to what is observed.
What Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari intends here is: Don't deny the affirmation of two hands for Allāh upon the argument that if they are not two favours and not two limbs, then this opposes what is observed in creation, since we only know in what is observed, either hand as "favour", or hand as "a limb". So al-Ashʿarī is refuting this argument of the Muʿtazilah and explains that you are in contradiction when you affirm other matters for Allāh, because the same argument equally applies there as well. And al-Ash'ari took this affirmation from Ibn Kullaab (see al-Maqaalaat), who himself was in agreement with the Salaf in these particular sifat khabariyyah.
With that clarified, it is clear that Asrar Rasheed is just another conniving pretender, trying to be smart by presuming that a vague generalized statement in creed with the avoidance of tafseel (detail) is enough to pull the wool over the eyes of his audience. We would like to see which particular type of tanzeeh he is promoting, whether it is that of the Salaf, or that of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah.