Why is affirming that Allaah is above the Throne considered to be making Allaah to be a body (jism) according to the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah - and how can they treat the apparent and meaning of that which is clearly stated in the Book and the Sunnah to necessitate something - in their view - that is kufr? This will be investigated in this article inshaa'Allaah.
First, we need to visit the Jahmite Ash'ari Faculty of Aristotelian Metaphysics, and see if we can find any clues, leads or even answers ...
The Jahmite Ash'ari Faculty of Aristotelian Metaphysics
Al-Ustaadh Abu Nicomachus Aristotle Bin Nicomachus al-Masedonee (d. 322BC) explains in his work titled Physics, Book 4, Part 4, what is said to be "place" (makaan), providing what he deems to be the correct conceptualization and definition of it:
What then after all is place [makaan]?
The answer to this question may be elucidated as follows.
Let us take for granted about it the various characteristics which are supposed correctly to belong to it essentially. We assume then-
(1) Place [makaan] is what contains that of which it is the place [makaan]. (2) Place [makaan] is no part of the thing. (3) The immediate place [makaan] of a thing is neither less nor greater than the thing.
(4) Place [makaan] can be left behind by the thing and is separable. In addition:
(5) All place [makaan] admits of the distinction of up and down, and each of the bodies [ajsaam] is naturally carried to its appropriate place [makaan] and rests there, and this makes the place [makaan] either up or down.
Having laid these foundations, we must complete the theory. We ought to try to make our investigation such as will render an account of place [makaan], and will not only solve the difficulties connected with it, but will also show that the attributes supposed to belong to it do really belong to it, and further will make clear the cause of the trouble and of the difficulties about it. Such is the most satisfactory kind of exposition...
... We say that a thing is in the world, in the sense of in place, because it is in the air, and the air is in the world; and when we say it is in the air, we do not mean it is in every part of the air, but that it is in the air because of the outer surface of the air which surrounds it; for if all the air were its place, the place of a thing would not be equal to the thing-which it is supposed to be, and which the primary place in which a thing is actually is
When what surrounds, then, is not separate from the thing, but is in continuity with it, the thing is said to be in what surrounds it, not in the sense of in place, but as a part in a whole. But when the thing is separate and in contact, it is immediately 'in' the inner surface of the surrounding body, and this surface is neither a part of what is in it nor yet greater than its extension, but equal to it; for the extremities of things which touch are coincident...
... It will now be plain from these considerations what place [makaan] is. There are just four things of which place [makaan] must be one - the shape, or the matter, or some sort of extension between the bounding surfaces of the containing body [jism], or this boundary itself if it contains no extension over and above the bulk of the body [jism] which comes to be in it...
Well, then, if place is none of the three-neither the form nor the matter nor an extension which is always there, different from, and over and above, the extension of the thing which is displaced - place [makaan] necessarily is the one of the four which is left, namely, the boundary of the containing body at which it is in contact with the contained body...
...For this reason, too, place [makaan] is thought to be a kind of surface, and as it were a vessel, i.e. a container of the thing. Further, place [makaan] is coincident with the thing, for boundaries are coincident with the bounded...
Thus, according to al-Ustaadh Abu Nicomachus (d. 322BC), place [makaan] necessitates [jismiyyah] which is something being a body [jism]. Now although, Abu Nicomachus is speaking within the context of the Greek notions of the celestial spheres and their movements - because that is how they understood the universe - it does not affect his definition of place [makaan], since he makes it to be something that necessitates Jismiyyah, something being a body. Thus, something with "place" [makaan], is by definition a body [jism], since place is the boundary of the body [jism] it contains.
Based upon this understanding - of place necessitating a body - lets take a look at an example of a standard, typical, run-of-the-mill expression of some of Abu Nicomachus's contemporary Jahmite Ash'ari followers (and this is an actual quote of one of these very deluded misguided Ash'arite blind-followers - as sincere as they might be in their misguidance):
The reason why it is kufr to say that Allah is in a place is because it implies that Allah is a body (ie. that Allah occupies space). And by the consensus of the Ummah, anyone who says that Allah is a body is a kaafir. All bodies are created. Allah is not created. To claim that Allah is in a place (or a direction) is to imply that Allah was created, and that implication is also kufr.
The definition of a body to these people (jism) is anything made up of at least two indivisible particles (atoms, al-jawaahir al-fardah) with the qualities and properties of all bodies being at the atomic level (at the level of the indivisible particle), Bodies are not devoid of incidental attributes, and thus incidental attributes necessitate Jismiyyah (something being a body) and it is for this reason that to these people, "place, location" [makaan] necessitates Jismiyyah. Thus, they have their own definition and understanding of what is a body (jism) and this is whatever is described with incidental attributes (a'raad). This is a meaning in addition to the standard meaning of "jism" in the language.
Let's comment on this statement to get to the underlying thought process:
Highlighting the Jahmeethink and Jahmeespeak Inherent In This Type of Speech
So what this misguided individual is saying is really this:
The reason why it is kufr to say that Allaah is in a place...
First of all note the talbees (deception) and fraud being perpetrated here, in that they change what Ahl us-Sunnah say, Ahl us-Sunnah say, "Allaah is above the Throne", or they say "Allaah is above the Heaven", simply expressing the Sharee'ah texts. However, they are not honest and truthful in quoting and narrating the words of their opponents, and it is not from justice that you fabricate upon them what they do not say, for they do not say, "Allaah is in a place", they say, "Allaah is above the heaven", or "Allaah is above the Throne" and there is a great difference.
And this is because our contention with you and yours with us is whether Allaah being above the Throne necessitates that He is a (jism) or not and whether the Greek Metaphysics with which you understand the created, can also be applied to the uncreated (i.e. Allaah) or not in terms of affirming or negating what can and cannot be said about him. And we are arguing with you about this necessity, because we reject your claimed necessity and you need to prove to us why your Greek Metaphysics and its necessities are more decisive than the texts of the Book and the Sunnah and unanimous consensus of the Salaf.
And because what you really want to say is that the speech of Allaah and His Messenger (in explicitly stating in many texts that He is above His creation using words and expressions that leave no doubt as to what is intended from the apparent meanings of these words) is in fact kufr (in your view). However, you are not bold enough to say this, and thus, you instead say, "The reason why it is kufr to say that Allaah is in a place...", because if you said, "The reason why it is kufr to say Allaah is above the Throne", then your fraud would become apparent to all people with sound fitrah.
So what you are really saying is that to affirm the sayings of Allaah, "ar-Rahman ascended over the Throne", and "He is al-Qaahir, above His servants", and "The Angels ascend to Him ..." and so on - upon their dhaahir (plain, obvious, manifest, original) meanings is kufr, meaning also that everything that the Companions transmitted from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and what they said of their own statements in this regard, in confirmation of the dhaahir of the Qur'aan that Allaah Himself, with His Essence, is above the creation - then all that is manifest, plain kufr.
And this belief that was uncontested and unanimous during the time of the Companions and Taabi'een and their followers, is interpreted by these people to mean "Allaah is in a place". Thus, the tashbeen and tamtheel, originates in their hearts and minds, this is because they cannot understand Allaah being above the creation, above His Throne, except in terms of their Metaphysics (jawhar, jism, 'arad, jihah, makaan, tahayyuz) and their theory of Atomism - where everything in the universe is either a jism (body, made of jawhar, substance) or an incidental attribute (a'rad), and incidental attributes can only exist in bodies. So anything with incidental attributes must be a body, since incidental attributes can only inhere (take place in or be found in) bodies (ajsaam). And thus, description of something with an incidental attribute ('arad), such as "aboveness", or "elevation" and the likes, necessitates it must be a body. Hence (they say), based upon what they have inherited from the Metaphysics of the Hellenistic Greek Philosophers, that attributing "place" or "direction" to Allaah is kufr.
... is because it implies that Allah is a body (ie. that Allah occupies space)...
Meaning, upon what we have inherited from the pagan Hellenistic Philosophers of the classification of matter (maadah, jawhar), place (makaan) and accident ('arad) - then "place" and "location" implies Jismiyyah (something being a body), and it implies occupation of space (tahayyuz) and anything that occupies space (mutahayyiz) must be a body (jism) - that is a jism (body) upon our definition and understanding, composed of indivisible particles.
Thus (their [Jahmite Ash'ari] saying necessitates), the sayings of Allaah, "ar-Rahman ascended over the Throne", and "He is al-Qaahir, above His servants", and "The Angels ascend to Him ..." and so on - upon their dhaahir (plain, obvious, manifest, original) meanings are manifest clear kufr, and it is obligatory to figuratively explain these verses - and likewise everything that has come similar to this in the Book and the Sunnah must be subject to ta'weel.
Otherwise, the atheist Philosophers will destroy our argument of the createdness of the universe (hudooth ul-ajsaam) and we will become a laughing stock for arguing the createdness of the universe on account of incidental attributes (a'raad), and then believing in a creator that is described (in our conceptualization and terminology) by incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith) - the very things on account of which we have argued for the createdness of the bodies (ajsaam) that make up the universe. So now, if we don't negate the Attributes and subject the entirety of what has come regarding Allaah in the Book and the Sunnah to ta'weel, the atheist, materialist Philosophers will walk all over the religion of Islaam - and we will be the champions of Islaam, saving it and delivering it from the atheist Philosophers by subjecting everything to figurative, metaphorical explanations.
...And by the consensus of the Ummah, anyone who says that Allah is a body is a kaafir...
This is not unrestrictedly the case. There is a distinction that is made in the Ash'arite textbooks which the average Ash'ari will be unaware of.
Whoever says that Allaah is a body like the created bodies - then such a one is a disbeliever by consensus. And whoever says that Allaah is a body (jism) meaning by that, "not like the created bodies" - and there were a faction who said that historically - then this saying is a bid'ah, and it is not kufr - even though its sayer is rebuked and reprimanded and his saying reviled. Those who wrongly used the word "jism" in relation to Allaah, then they meant different things, as they were different factions, and thus, what they meant is looked into. And this will be covered in more detail in a separate article inshaa'Allaah.
...All bodies are created. Allah is not created...
Now, when a statement is made, you have to understand the thought process that went behind the making of that statement. This statement is upon their kalaamist Atomism theory, and it is upon this that their intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" depends. That incidental attributes and hawaadith (occurrences) only inhere (exist in) bodies (ajsaam), and as bodies (ajsaam) are not devoid of incidental attributes then they must be occurrences (hawaadith) - and as such all bodies (ajsaam) are created, and Allaah is not created.
But this means that Allaah's Attributes and Actions must be negated otherwise it would demolish this proof and make the Jahmite Ash'aris and their likes a laughing stock in the face of the atheist, materialist Philosophers, since they will (and did) say, "Your Lord is above the Throne, so who put Him there?" and "Your Lord speaks? So who gave Him speech?", and "Your Lord becomes angry? That's an 'arad", so who put anger in Him?", and "Your Lord spoke to Moses? That's an occurence (haadithah)" , and "Your Lord is described with attributes, so who gave Him those attributes, as attributes are only found in bodies" and so on.
So what they mean by "Allah is not created" is that Allaah is not described with what they understand to be a'raad (incidental attributes) and hawaadith (occurrences, events). This is what they really mean.
They mean by "Allaah is not created", that Allaah is not above the creation, Allaah did not speak to Moses in reality, Allaah never spoke what is in the Qur'an, Allaah is not described with Hearing, Seeing, Speech etc. (according to the Jahmites and the Mu'tazilah) and Allaah is not described with Love, Anger, Pleasure, Istawaa, Nuzool (according to all of them, including the Ash'arites) - when they say "Allah is not created" they mean Allaah is not described in reality, with what is in the Book and the Sunnah - and then they make ta'weel of all of that and others, who saw the falsehood of resorting to ta'weel, make tafweed of all of that. This is because the Jahmi makes a different ta'weel to the Mu'tazili and the Mu'tazili concocts a different ta'weel to the Ash'ari. And so the shrewd ones amongst them realised that this is tantamount to lying upon Allaah, and whichever way they tried to decorate it, their souls did not leave them feeling comfortable with this way, so they concocted tafweed and claimed that the verses and narrations of the Attributes are just mere a collection of letters with no meanings, just like a word in Spanish, is merely a collection of letters with no meaning to someone who is not familiar with Spanish even though he is familiar with its letters.
...To claim that Allah is in a place (or a direction) is to imply that Allah was created and that implication is also kufr.
In other words, to claim that Allaah is above the Throne, and that the Angels ascend to Him, and to claim that Allaah is above His creation, above His servants, and to claim that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) ascended up through the heavens to Allaah and so on - such meanings found in thousands of texts in the Book and the Sunnah - all of which indicates that Allaah is above - upon its dhaahir (plain, manifest, original) meaning - then all of that necessitates (to these mutakallimoon) that He is in a "direction (jihah)" and a "place (makaan)" which necessitates Jismiyyah - and thus a meaning which is kufr.
And the way of implication (in their view) is because makaan (place) and occupation of place (tahayyuz) are the special properties of all bodies (ajsaam) that are created. And thus, saying Allaah is "above" is to say Allaah is created - and thus, the apparent meanings of the Book and the Sunnah imply Allaah was created - and thus we have to interpolate and figuratively explain all of that away - in order not to become a laughing stock in front of the atheist, materialist Philosophers to whom we are being apologetic about Islaam, using their very own concepts and theories to prove a creator. Thus, the creator that is being argued for, must be one that conforms to and maintains the sanctity of their rational proof, which they have devised upon the theories and ideas of the Hellenistic (Greek) Pagan Philosophers.
Remember, the definition of a body (jism) to these Theologians, it is whatever is composed of two indivisible particles or more - and thus anything existing in space, by necessity is a body (jism) - and body is anything that is composed of two or more indivisible particles, and incidental attributes are only found in bodies, they cannot exist on their own, thus, where an incidental attribute is found (color, height, width, taste, wetness, dryness, location, space, direction etc.) then it must be in a body.
Abdul Malik al-Juwaynee (Abul-Ma'aali, chief Ash'arite theologian, d. 478H) said in al-Irshaad (p.7):
Al-Jism in the terminological usage of the monotheists is: that which is formed by composition (al-muta'allaf). Thus when two particles (jawharaan) come together [into a formation] they become a body (jism), since each one of the two has been attached to the other...
And Abu Sa'd an-Neesaapooree said in al-Ghunyah Fee Usool id-Deen (p. 50):
And as for al-jism: then it is [whatever is] composed, and the least [of what makes up a] jism are two particles (jawharaan) between which there is composition...
And he also says in the same book on the same page, regarding the indivisible particle (which to them, the entire universe is made up of):
al-jawhar al-fard: what exists in space, having a place that it occupies...
And Abul Ma'aali al-Juwaynee says in Lumu'al-Adillah (p.77) defining what is a jism (body):
...whatever has bulk (i.e. size)
And he also defines it as (p. 77):
...what accepts an incidental attribute ('arad) ...
From the above we can see that according to the Theologians, incidental attributes (a'raad), such as color, taste, breadth, width, height, location, direction, motion, rest and so on can only exist in bodies (ajsaam) and a body (jism) according to their particular definition is whatever is made up of two ore more indivisible particles (al-jawaahir al-fardah) - and thus if we assign any of these incidental attributes to anything, it necessitates - according to these Theologians - that it is a body (jism).
Here is another direct quote from the 21st century tail ends of the legacy of al-Ustaadh Abu Nicomachus Aristotle Bin Nicomachus, this has a Habashite flavour to it:
Hence, it shows that Allah, ta^ala, exists without a place, because whatever exists in a place is, by nature, i.e., composed of particles, i.e., it is a body, occupying a space. Allah, ta^ala, is clear of occupying spaces.
And we can bring another one here:
And it is as if this is al-Ustaadh Abu Nicomachus Aristotle Bin Nicomachus speaking himself, because it's hard to find a difference between what this 21st century Aristotelian tail-end has written above from what the master himself has stated (quoted at the very beginning).
Go ahead, read the last paragraph of what we've just quoted above, and then go to the beginning of this article and read through what al-Ustaadh Abu Nicomachus has said, and do this a few times.
And again here, the same Jahmite Ash'ari makes it even clearer:
Now this last paragraph is straight out of the horses mouth - it's as plain an admission as you will ever get and it could not be any clearer, and you can see why they must negate the Attributes of Allaah, and Allaah being above the Throne - they readily admit it - because this falsifies their intellectual, rational proof for a Creator - which they devised using the underlying philosophical concepts of the same people they are trying to refute, the materialist, atheist Philosophers - and they have made this to be the greatest foundation of their religion.
So we can see what principles are in use here and from where they have been derived ... Now, an explanation is clearly needed here - how can someone be so utterly misguided into thinking that the above (which necessitates that the apparent meanings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah are unequivocally kufr) - that it is truth and guidance?
That question can be answered by what follows:
Imaam adh-Dhahabi on the Jahmites and the Later Mu'tazilite and Ash'arite Theologians That Negate Allaah Being Above The Creation
Imaam ad-Dhahabee, in Mukhtasar al-uluww (p.146), brings the statement of Hammaad bin Zayd (d. 179H):
Sulayman bin Harb said: I heard Hammad bin Zayd saying: "They are circulating around [the issue of] of wanting to say that there is no deity above the heaven". He means the Jahmiyyah.
Then he comments upon this, saying:
I say: the saying of the Salaf and the Imaams of the Sunnah, indeed, that of the Companions, and of Allaah, His Messenger and the Believers is that Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic is above the heaven, and that Allaah is over the Throne, and that Allaah is above His seven heavens, and that He descends to the lowest heaven, and their proof for that are the texts and the narrations.
And the saying of the Jahmites: That Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted, is in all places, lofty and exalted is Allaah from their saying. Rather, he is with us wherever we may be with His knowledge [and not with His Essence].
And the saying of the later Mutakallimoon (Theologians): That Allaah is not above the heaven, and nor over His Throne, and nor over the heavens, and nor on the earth, and nor inside the universe and nor outside the universe and nor is He separate and distinct from His creation and nor connected to them.
They said: All of these things are the attributes of bodies (ajsaam), and Allaah is far above [being a] body.
So Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Athar said to them: We do not delve into that, and we say what we have mentioned [of Allaah being above the Throne etc.] following the texts (in that), and even if you claim [what you claim]... we do not speak with your saying. For these attributes of negation [you use] are [but] the qualities of the non-existent. Exalted is Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic from non-existence. Rather, He exists, distinguished from His creation, described with whatever He described Himself with, [namely] that He is above the Throne, without how (kayf).
Hammaad bin Zayd was to the Iraqis the same as what Imaam Malik was to the Hijazis in loftiness and knowledge.
We have covered elsewhere the reason why the Jahmites negated Allaah being above the Throne, separate and distinct from the creation (as well as all other descriptions) - and this was in light of the debates of Jahm bin Safwan with the Sumaniyyah, atheist, materialist Indian Philosophers - who overwhelmed and confused him in argument, and thus he was forced to concoct a creed that would not damage his intellectual proof against these materialist, atheist Indian Philosophers. You can read more about that here.
And the Mutakallimoon (the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah) simply followed the early Jahmite concoction but refined it in their own way and tried to make its corruption upon the creed and its misguidance less obvious by inventing and concocting their own principles, and rejecting the more obviously corrupt Jahmite positions (such as negating any description for Allaah) - and all of this was for the same reason - in order to keep their intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" (see here) intact - because to them, it is the core foundation of the entire religion - and all the Jahmites, Mu'tazilites and Ash'arites share with each other in rejecting Allaah being above the Throne, in rejecting the Attributes that have come in the narrations and in rejecting the actions of Allaah tied to His Will and Power.
However, what forced them to take these positions? The reason was that those atheists and Philosophers that al-Ja'd bin Dirham (ex. 124H) was debating were well versed in the Metaphysics of the Greeks - the pseudo-Sabian Harranian Philosophers. And al-Jahm bin Safwan (ex. 128H) was debating the atheist materialist Indian Philosophers. And the Mu'tazilah were also debating the same types of people. So they (the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah) sought a way to argue against these people without using the Qur'an - since these people do not accept there is a creator, nor do they accept revelation.
So a common platform had to be used - and so they concocted a rational proof that was built upon the Metaphysics of these same atheists and Philosophers - and through this method, they attempted to convince the materialist atheist Philosophers of the createdness of the universe, which in turn would lead to the conclusion of a creator, which in turn would allow the plausibility and possibility of prophethood, revelation and the resurrection - and this was the route to faith - so to speak. Thus, the discussion of this became the core foundation of the religion to these people - to such a degree that they had to butcher the rest of the creed in order to make it fit with this foundation.
And these people began using phrases such as jawhar (substance), jism (body), 'arad (accident), tahayyuz (occupying space), makaan (place, location) and so on - which none of the Companions or the Salaf indulged in or looked into.
So they took these basic underlying notions and then devised a rational proof. However, this corrupt and repugnant rational proof - which they have made to be the foundation of their religion - actually proves the opposite of what they were attempting. You need to read this article in depth to understand why. This was because Allaah has described Himself with Names, Attributes and Actions, which according to this rational proof they devised using the Metaphysics of the Philosophers, would necessitate that Allaah is created, and is a body like the created bodies. So they were forced to reject the Names and Attributes and Actions of Allaah tied to His Will. So the Jahmites negated everything, the Mu'tazilah accepted the Names only on the surface, and the Ash'arites who came a century or two later tried to be smart and follow the way of Ibn Kullaab in trying to tread a middle path by affirming some Attributes but rejecting the rest.
And ta'weel (which is in reality tahreef, distortion) of the texts - became a tool towards that end. But then when they saw the contradiction in this approach, since between all these factions (the Jahmites, Mu'tazilites, and the Ash'arites), they all ended up with different figurative interpretations for the same texts. So the wise and shrewd one's amongst them - knowing this to be false, and knowing this constitutes lying upon Allaah - then unleashed tafweed - which is to combine between negating the apparent meanings these texts came with firstly, and then to claim that the actual meanings of these texts are only known to Allaah - and thus the texts became a mere combination of letters with no meaning or significance and in this manner they overcame the apparent problem of making ta'weel.
Then they began to claim this was the way of the Salaf, and they found statements upon which they could impose such meanings - that the Salaf made ta'weel or made tafweed. And then they split into factions amongst themselves, those holding ta'weel to be the way to maintain the intellectual proof refuting those who hold tafweed to be the way, and vice versa - and this is found amongst the Ash'aris and the Maturidis who have these internal conflicts both inter-madhhab and intra-madhhab.