Imam al-Dhahabi, His Disapproval of the Phrase 'Bi Dhatihi', and the Deception and Stupidity of Today's Jahmite Ash'aris
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Monday, November, 08 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Al-Dhahabi Bi Dhatihi

Further, in many parts in this book, al-Dhahabi frequently attacks the Mutakallimin (Ashariyyah, Mu'tazilah, Jahmiyyah), and speaks ill of their theology built upon the language of the Philosophers, that of ajsaam and a'raad (bodies and their incidental attributes), and rebuts them for their rejection of al-uluww.

However, when the diseased of heart amongst them saw that al-Dhahabi disapproved of the use of this phrase "bi dhatihi" they took it as an opportunity to deceive the people by setting up smoke and mirrors to try and make the situation look like other than what it really is. So they fabricated lies against al-Dhahabi and said, for example, that al-Dhahabi freed himself from this book later in his life (a blatant lie - see this PDF article), or that al-Dhahabi had two views, one in the book al-uluww, and then another in al-Siyar, his biographical work. This is also from the conniving of the Ash'arites. What exactly are these supposed two views?

So these statements are just smoke and mirrors used to deceive those who a) don't know Arabic, and b) don't have access to these works so they can check for themselves.

The Statements of Imam al-Dhahabi

Al-Dhahabi said [in Mukhtasar al-ʿUluww (al-Maktab al-Islāmī, Beirut, 1991), p. 263]:

قلت قولك بذاته هذا من كيسك ولها محمل حسن ولا حاجة إليها فإن الذي يأول استوى يقول أي قهر بذاته وإستولى بذاته بلا معين ولا مؤازر

I say: Your saying bi dhātihī is from your kays (subtlety, intelligence), and it has a good interpretation (mahmal hasan), but there is no requirement for it because the one who interprets istawā' says that He subdued with His essence (bi dhātihī) and that He conquered (istatwlā bi dhātihī) without any aider or assistance. And without doubt, leaving superfluous speech is from the better part of Islam.

And he also said [Mukhtasar al-ʿUluww (al-Maktab al-Islāmī, Beirut, 1991), p. 267]:

قلت هو الذي نقله عنهم مشهور محفوظ سوى كلمة بذاته فإنها من كيسه نسبها إليهم بالمعنى ليفرق بين العرش وبين ما عداه من الأمكنة

I say: This which he has quoted from them is well-known and preserved, except for the phrase bi dhātihi, for this is from his subtlety, intelligence (kaysihī), he attributed it to them in terms of meaning in order to distinguish between the Throne and what is besides it of the [various] places.

And of Ibn Abi Zayd's use of this phrase, al-Dhahabi, says [Mukhtasar al-ʿUluww, p. 255-256]:

وإنما أراد ابن أبي زيد وغيره التفرقة بين كونه تعالى معنا وبين كونه تعالى فوق العرش فهو كما قال ومعنا بالعلم وأنه على العرش كما أعلمنا حيث يقول الرحمن على العرش استوى وقد تلفظ بالكلمة المذكورة جماعة من العلماء كما قدمناه وبلا ريب أن فضول الكلام تركه من حسن الإسلام.

وكان ابن أبي زيد من العلماء العاملين بالمغرب وكان يلقب ب مالك الصغير وكان غاية في علم الأصول. وقد ذكره الحافظ ابن عساكر في كتاب تبيين كذب المفتري فيما نسب إلى الأشعري ولم يذكر له وفاة. توفي سنة ست وثمانين وثلاثمائة وقبل سنة تسع وثمانين وثلاثمائة وقد نقموا عليه في قوله بذاته فليته تركه

Ibn Abī Zayd and others intended to distinguish between Allāh, the Exalted being with us, and between His, the Exalted, being above the Throne. And so it just as he said, that Allāh is with us in knowledge, and that He is above the Throne where He says, "The Most Merciful ascended over the Throne" (20:5). And a group from the Scholars have spoken with this aforementioned wording as we have already [mentioned] previously, and without doubt, leaving superfluous speech is from the good part of Islām. And Ibn Abī Zayd was from the Scholars residing in al-Maghrib (Morocco), and he was titled, Mālik al-Saghīr (the Small Mālik), and he was skilled in the knowledge of the usūl (foundations). Al-Hāfidh Ibn ʿAsākir mentioned him in the book Tabyīn Kadhib al-Muftarī Fīma Nusiba ilā al-Ashʿarī, but he did not mention his death (date). He died in 386H and it has been said 389H. And they showed hostility to him for his saying bi dhātihī, so if only he had left it.

And al-Dhahabi says in al-Siyar (19/607):

قد ذكرنا أن لفظة بذاته لا حاجة إليها وهي تشغب النفوس وتركها أولى والله أعلم

We have mentioned that there is no need for the phrase bi dhātihī (with His essence) and it disturbs the souls, to leave it is more befitting and Allāh knows best.

Al-Dhahabi has mentioned here how Ibn Abi Zayd was attacked because of this phrase - no doubt those Jahmitess did not like it and this is why al-Dhahabi exclaimed, "if only he had left it", so that he would have not been subjected to harm. And this is the angle from which al-Dhahabi did not like this phrase, because it is superfluous and redundant, and that it disturbs the souls (of the those who do not know any better) and it brought harm to notable scholars like Ibn Abi Zayd.

Al-Dhahabi on Using "Bi Dhatihi" for al-Nuzul and the Likes

In another place in al-Siyar (20/331) al-Dhahabi says:

ومسألة النزول فالإيمان به واجب وترك الخوض في لوازمه أولى وهو سبيل السلف فما قال هذا نزوله بذاته إلا إرغاما لمن تأوله وقال نزوله إلى السماء بالعلم فقط نعوذ بالله من المراء في الدين وكذا قوله <<وجاء ربك>> ونحوه فنقول جاء وينزل وننهى عن القول ينزل بذاته كما لا نقول ينزل بعلمه بل نسكت ولا نتفاصح على الرسول بعبارات مبتدعة والله أعلم

And the issue of al-Nuzul, having faith in it is obligatory, and abandoning disputation about its necessities is more befitting, for it is the way of the Salaf, and so this [one who] said that His nuzul is with His essence except to compel the one who made ta'wil of it and who said "It is His nuzul to the heaven with His knowledge only". We seek refuge in Allaah from argumentation, speculation in the religion. And the same regarding His saying, "And your Lord will come", and what is similar to it. So we say, He will come and He descends, and we prohibit from the saying, "He descends with His essence", just as we do not say, "He descends with His knowledge". Rather, we remain silent and we do not pretend to be more eloquent than the Messenger with innovated expressions, and Allah knows best.

Al-Dhahabi disapproves of the use of "bi dhatihi" for these sifat fi'liyyah, Allah's chosen actions, however, to say Allah makes istiwaa over His Throne, "bi dhatihi", is established from the Salaf.

In any consideration, there is nothing here for the Ash'ari Jahmites in the speech of al-Dhahabi which supports their aim and objective of trying to obliterate the belief that Allaah himself, with His essence, is above the Throne, above the creation, from the hearts and minds of the Muslims, which is what they are attempting by staging this smoke and mirrors in front of the people. And it is all in order to defend and prop up that proof of huduth al-ajsam which they took from the Sabean star and idol worshipping pagan disbelievers through the isnad of al-Ja'd bin Dirham, al-Jahm bin Safwan, the Jahmiyyah, Amr bin Ubayd and the Mu'tazilah - which is the proof of ajsaam (bodies) and and a'raad (incidental attributes) which is what their belief in Allaah is centered around as is evident in all of their books. It's just that these pusillanimous Jahmite cowards don't want you to know that.

Finally, what better way than to finish off with the very last words of al-Dhahabi in his book al-Uluww:

I (al-Dhahabī) say: Yes, this is what the deniers of the ʿUluww (highness) of the Lord, Mighty and Majestic, have depended upon. And they turned away from the requirement of the Book, the Sunnah, the sayings of the Salaf and the innate dispositions of the whole of creation. What they claim to be necessitated (from affirming Allāh's ʿUluww) is only applicable to created bodies. Yet there is nothing like Allāh and the necessities arising from the clear and evident texts (of the Book and the Sunnah) are also true. However, we do not make use of any expression except one that comes through a narration.

In addition to this we say: We do not accept that the Creator's being upon His Throne and above the heavens, necessitates that He is confined (in space) and in a direction, since whatever is below the Throne is said to be confined (in space) and in direction. However, what is above the Throne is not like that. And Allāh is above the Throne as the very first generation are unanimously agreed upon and as the Imāms after them have quoted from them. They said this in refutation of the Jahmiyyah, those who said that He is in every place seeking as a proof His saying, 'And He is with you...' So these are the two sayings which were present in the time of the Tābiʿīn and their successors who came after them. And they are the two sayings that can be understood in the statement.

As for the third saying which arose later which is that "Allāh the Most High is not in any of the places, nor outside of them, nor above His Throne, not attached (merged) with His creation, nor separate from it, nor is His essence (dhāt) confined in space, nor is He separate and distinct from His creation, nor is He in any of the directions, nor is He exempt from of any of the directions, and nor this and nor that", then this is something that cannot be comprehended nor understood, along with the fact that within it is opposition to the verses (of the Book) and the narrations (from the Salaf). Therefore flee with your religion and beware of the opinions of the Mutakallimūn (Theologians). Believe in Allāh and what has come from Him upon the desired intent of Allāh, then submit your affair to Him and there is no power nor movement except by Allāh. The book is completed and all praise is to Allāh alone.

And this creed is affirmed in al-Siyar in abdundance in the biographies of many of the Salaf, so beware of the deception of the Jahmites! And in al-Siyar we see al-Dhahabi citing and affirming Allah's uluww from many of the Salaf, such as the saying of Ayyub al-Sakhtiyaani, al-Awzaa'ee, Ibn al-Mubaarak, Hammad bin Zayd, Imaam Ahmad, the two Razis, Abu Hatim and Abu Zur'ah, al-Darimi, Ibn al-Surayj al-Shafi'ee, Abu Ma'mar al-Qatee'ee, al-Muzani who said, "The Tawhid of any person is not sound until he knows Allaah, possessing attributes, to be above the Throne" (al-Siyar 12/494).