Imaam Ahmad: 'Whoever Says Allaah's Names are Created is a Kaafir'. Ash-Shaafi'ee: 'Allaah's Names Are Not Created'. Jahmite Ash'aris: 'Allaah's Names are Created'
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Friday, October, 16 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Allaah's Names Allaah's Names

We have covered in previous articles the view of the Kullaabite Ash'aris and the Later (Jahmite) Ash'aris that this Qur'an we have, whose letters and words we recite, hear and memorize is created - and then they innovated a saying based upon some poetry ascribed to a Christian poet called "al-Akhtal" in which they claimed that "Kalaam" in the Arabic language refers only to the "meaning (ma'naa)" and not the "wording (lafdh)" - thereby uttering a great lie against the language of the Qur'an and the language of the Arabs. Then they sought to use as evidence, a saying of 'Umar and certain verses from the Qur'an to argue for their aberration - all of which is against them and not for them - and that's the subject of a separate article.

So their saying became that Allaah's Kalaam (which to them is just the meaning that is with Allaah's self from eternity) is "uncreated", whereas the Qur'an we have, which consists of letters and words, and which is recited, memorized, and heard is created (makhlooq). Following on from this issue is that of Allaah's Names, are they created or not, and this is directly connected to and follows on from the issue of Allaah's speech (Kalaam) and the Qur'aan.

So the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah said Allaah's Names are created (makhlooq) and hence arose their saying "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa" (the noun, name is other than the entity being so named) - and they meant by this that the Names of Allaah are created, following on from their saying that the Qur'an is created because it consists of letters and words, and it is the created expression of Jibreel, hence it is "other" than Allaah, and because "al-ism ghayr al-musammaa", then Allaah's Names are created.

And since the position of the Ash'aris is also that the Qur'an which we have, which is letter and word, recited, heard and memorized, is created, then they had to concur with that view (of the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah) and claim that Allaah's Names are created - even though outwardly they appear to be saying "Allaah's Names are not created" - we need to beware of this.

So we will first quote the sayings of Imaam Ahmad and Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee then go into a little more detail into the issue itself and the position and viewpoint of the Ash'arites.

Imaam Ahmad: Saying Allaah's Names are Created is Manifest, Plain, Clear Kufr

From, "al-Masaa'il war-Rasaa'il al-Marwiyyah Anil-Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal Fil Aqeedah" (Issues and Treatise Narrated from Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal Regarding Aqeedah), 1/270-271, and all these narrations from Abu Dawud's "Masaa'il", and are also found in "as-Sunnah" of al-Khallaal:

Which we can translate as:

Abu Dawud (as-Sijistani) said: I heard Ahmad, [and] a man had been mentioned to him who said, "The Names of Allaah are created", Ahmad said, "Plain, manifest kufr (disbelief)".

And in a narration of Abdul-Malik al-Maymoonee: That he said to Abu Abdullaah, "What do you say about the one who said the Names of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic are "muhdathah" (intending by muhdathah, "created")? So he said, "A Kaafir (disbeliever)". Then he said to me: [The name] "Allaah" is from His Names ... So their affair (that of the Jahmites) became grave and serious to him (Ahmad), and he would declare them disbelievers and he recited to me, "Allaah is your Lord and the Lord of the very first ones...", and he recited other verses.

And also from al-Laalikaa'ee's "Sharh Usool il-I'tiqaad" (tahqeeq Ahmad Hamdaan), 2/214, no. 351:

Which we can translate as:

From Ibraaheem bin Haani' who said: I heard Ahmad bin Hanbal - and he was concealed with me (hiding from the people) - so I asked him about the Qur'an and he said: "Whoever claimed that Allaah's Names are created is a kaafir (disbeliever)".

Important Note:

The reason for the takfeer of the Jahmites who said the Names of Allaah are created was because this was a natural extension of their saying that the Qur'an that we have, which is letter and word and is recited, memorize and heard, is created. And the Salaf did not mean that the ink, paper and voice is not created, they were not refuting the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah for saying that the ink, paper and voices of the reciters are created. Rather, whilst the ink and paper of the printed Qur'an and the voice of the reciter when he recites is created, what is written (maktoob) or recited (matloo) is not created, which are the letters and words that make up the Qur'an. You need to be clear about this difference, so as to get a good grasp of this entire issue.

Many of the Ash'aris are themselves confused on this issue and they don't really understand the position of the Salaf, and it is as if many of them they believe that the Salaf showed rejection against the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah for claiming that the written mushaf (copies of the Qur'an) and the actual voices of the reciters are created. This was not the case. The Jahmites and Mu'tazilah rejected that Allaah has speech which is tied to His will and power such that He spoke the Qur'an to Jibreel, who heard it and then spoke it to Muhammad (alayhis salaam), who heard it and conveyed it to the Ummah, and such that the Qur'an as we have it, in its letters and words, originated with Allaah, as His speech, it is uncreated. And when it is written, whilst the ink and paper is created, the letters and words that make up the Qur'an are the uncreated speech of Allaah. And when it is recited, whilst the voice we hear is created, what is being recited, the words, they originated with Allaah who spoke them and are uncreated. This is what the Salaf were establishing, and they refuted the Jahmiyyah (and Mu'tazilah) on this matter.

The Jahmites and Mu'tazilah wanted to deny this, because they could not accept attributes for Allaah and actions (tied to His will) because Allaah having attributes and actions (tied to His will) would mean that He is created according to their proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" that they were using against the Atheists. So they (Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah) denied Allaah has "speech" as an attribute of His essence, and following on from this view, the Qur'an could not have come from this "speech" that is an attribute of His essence, because they don't affirm attributes. So the Jahmites denied Allaah speaks at all and said the Qur'an is something created, and the Mu'tazilah said the Qur'an can be said to be Allaah's speech, but Allaah created it in other than Him, and it is just like "the House of Allaah" and "the She-Camel of Allaah". But the intent behind all of this was to deny that Allaah has attributes (sifaat) and actions (af'aal) tied to His will and power.

The Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah came along and whilst they agreed with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah that the Qur'an that we have is created, they simply innovated a new saying which is that Allaah's "Kalaam" is only the meaning that exists with His Self - and that is what is uncreated, but as for what we have with us, the Qur'an, then that is created, it is an expression (ibaarah) of that meaning present with Allaah. So in reality, their saying is the same as that of their predecessors. The only difference being that what the Mu'tazilah called "ilm" (knowledge) and "iraadah" (will), the Kullaabis and Ash'aris called "Kalaam Nafsee" - see here for more details on this.

Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee: The Names of Allaah Are Not Created

Then the saying of ash-Shaafi'ee, as is reported by al-Laalikaa'ee (2/211), no. 343:

Ar-Rabee' bin Sulaymaan said: I heard as-Shaafi'ee saying: "Whoever swore an oath by a Name from the names of Allaah and then broke the oath then kaffaarah (expiation) is [obligatory] upon him, because the Name of Allaah is not created. And whoever swore an oath by the Ka'bah or as-Safaa and al-Marwah, then expiation is not upon him because [they] are created [things] whereas that (meaning, the Name) is not created.

And also from ash-Shaafi'ee (no. 344):

Ar-Rabee' said: Ash-Shaafi'ee said: "Whoever swore (an oath) by Allaah or by a Name amongst the names of Allaah, then kaffaarah (expiation) is binding upn him."

Notice here that as-Shaafi'ee distinguished between swearing by Allaah, and swearing by any of His Names, and at the same time he treated the Names to be uncreated - this will be better understood as you read through the rest of this article.

And also from ash-Shaafi'ee (no. 345), and al-Laalikaa'ee is narrating from ash-Shaafi'ee through his chain of narration:

From Muhammad bin Idrees ash-Shaafi'ee that he said: One of our associates narrated to us saying: Two men - a Muslim and a Jew - disputed [and raised the dispute to] Eesaa bin Ibaan - and he was the qaadee of al-Basrah and he held the opinion of the people (the Mu'tazilah) [meaning he held Allaah's Names are created]. It turned out that making the oath of denial was upon the Muslim, so the Jew said, "Make him (the Muslim) take the oath". So he the (qaadee) said, "Swear (take an oath) [by] 'Allaah, the one besides whom there is none worthy of worship except He'."

So the Jew said to the qaadee: "You claim that the Qur'an is created and "Allaah, the one besides whom there is none worthy of worship" is from the Qur'an. So make him take an oath for me by the Creator and not something created."

So Eesaa (the qaadee) became bewildered and said: "Both of you leave until I consider (reflect upon) your affair."

And the saying of al-Asma'ee (d. 215H), again reported by al-Laalikaa'ee (2/212), no. 346 and no. 347 - with two separate chains of narration, whose wordings are both the same:

Hafs bin Amr as-Sayyaaree said: I heard Abu Sa'eed al-Asma'ee saying: "When you hear him (meaning the Jahmee) say, "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa (the name is other than the one named by it)" then judge..." - or he said, bear witness - "...over him with zandaqah (heresy)".

All of these narrations establish the view of the Salaf that Allaah's Names are uncreated, and this is because Allaah Himself named Himself with these Names - they are not names given to Him by the creation, these are Allaah's Names, and Ahl us-Sunnah believe that Allaah spoke the Qur'an Himself, in letter, word and voice and that none of that is created - and this is the point of dispute between Ahl us-Sunnah on the one hand and the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Kullaabiyyah Ash'ariyyah on the other, who claim that the speech in letter, word and voice is created - as they do not accept that Allaah can speak whenever He wills and however He wills - and they wrongly presume that affirming "voice" meanings that the "voice" is like that of the creation, requiring a larynx and ligaments and so on - and all of this is baatil, it is a false necessity imposed by them - and Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani has rebutted this argument in Fath ul-Bari in two separate places (this is the subject of another article). All the Salaf were agreed and united that Allaah's speech is with letter and voice and and it is uncreated, and that His voice takes the same way as all the other attributes, we affirm it without tamtheel and takyeef, and it is established explicitly in the revealed texts that Allaah has a "sawt", voice. It was Ibn Kullaab who innovated the "Kalaam Nafsee" a saying never heard of before, and then al-Ash'ari took it from the Kullabis in Baghdad and carried this saying on, which the Ash'arites then adopted.

So in short, Allaah has always been "mutakallim" (one who speaks), and further, He speaks as He wills, when He wills, however He wills, and He spoke to Moses direct, and He spoke the Qur'an to Jibreel, and this speech is with letter and voice, and all of that is uncreated, and what the Qur'an contains of Allaah's Names, that is also uncreated, as Allaah spoke His own Names in the Qur'an, He named Himself with them, and they are from His speech.

The Saying of the Jahmites That Allaah's Names are Created

The Jahmites said, based upon their view that the Qur'an is created, that Allaah's Names, as they are found in the Qur'an, they too are created. So "ar-Rahmaan" and "ar-Raheem" and "al-Malik" and "al-Quddoos" and so on are all created. And in order to argue for this, they starting saying "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa", which means "the noun is other than the [entity] being named by it". This was just empty and useless speech aimed at arguing for their belief that Allaah's Names are created and therefore, other than Allaah - and this type of speech was unknown to the Salaf before the Jahmites raised it. Note here that in saying this, the Jahmiyyah are at one extreme, they are trying to separate between Allaah and His Names, by arguing that the definition of "ism" (noun, name) in the language is that it is other than the "musammaa" (the entity being named) - and while strictly speaking this is true, their intent was really to say Allaah's Names are created, built upon their claim that Allaah does not have actions tied to His will and therefore He did not speak the Qur'an, that the Qur'an is therefore created (and thus whatever is in it of Names are also created).

Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said in "Majmoo ul-Fataawaa" (6/185-186):

فإن الناس قد تنازعوا في ذلك، والنزاع اشتهر في ذلك بعد الأئمة، بعد أحمد وغيره، والذي كان معروفًا عند أئمة السنة أحمد وغيره: الإنكار على الجهمية الذين يقولون: أسماء الله مخلوقة.

فيقولون: الاسم غير المسمى، وأسماء الله غيره وما كان غيره فهو مخلوق. وهؤلاء هم الذين ذمهم السلف وغلظوا فيهم القول؛ لأن أسماء الله من كلامه، وكلام الله غير مخلوق؛ بل هو المتكلم به، وهو المسمى لنفسه بما فيه من الأسماء.

والجهمية يقولون: كلامه مخلوق، وأسماؤه مخلوقة، وهو نفسه لم يتكلم بكلام يقوم بذاته، ولا سَمَّى نفسه باسم هو المتكلم به، بل قد يقولون: إنه تكلم به، وسمى نفسه بهذه الأسماء، بمعنى أنه خلقها في غيره، لا بمعنى أنه نفسه تكلم بها الكلام القائم به.

فالقول في أسمائه هو نوع من القول في كلامه.

For the people have disputed regarding that, and the dispute became well-known regarding that after [the time] of the leading Scholars [of the Salaf], after Ahmad and others. And what used to be known with the Imaams of the Sunnah, Ahmad and others was: Showing rejection against the Jahmiyyah who were saying, "the Names of Allaah are created".

So they were saying: "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa" (the noun is other than the entity being named by it), and that the Names of Allaah are other than Him, and whatever is other than Him is created. And they are the ones whom the Salaf reprimanded, and were harsh with them in their speech, because the Names of Allaah are from His speech, and the speech of Allaah is uncreated. Rather, He is the one who spoke it, and He is the one who named Himself with what it contains of names.

And the Jahmiyyah were saying: His speech is created, and His Names are created, and He Himself does not speak with speech that is established with His Essence, and nor did He name Himself with a name that He spoke with.

In fact they sometimes say: He spoke it (the Qur'an) and He named Himself with these Names, but with the meaning that He created that in others besides Him, not with the meaning that He Himself spoke it with speech that is established with His Essence.

Thus speaking about His Names is from (i.e. branches off from) speaking about His Kalaam (speech).

Recall that the Jahmites said Allaah does not have the attribute of speech and that the Qur'an is created. And the Mu'tazilah said that while Qur'an is created it can be said to be "Allaah's Speech" since it is His creation, just like it is said, "the House of Allaah", "the She-Camel of Allaah", "the Messenger of Allaah" and so on. Recall that the Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah said, Allaah has speech "Kalaam", but it is only the "Kalaam Nafsee", a meaning (ma'naa) present with His self, and as for what we have of the Qur'an, in its letters and words, then that is created. So all of them are agreed that this Qur'an we have with us, recited, read, heard, memorized, its letters and words, it is all created. And the words of the Salaf are against this saying - they declared this saying to be kufr. And the Salaf did not mean by "uncreated" the ink and the paper and the voice of the reciter and so on, but they meant the actual words (kalimaat) that are written and recited. Because there is the writing and what is written and there is the recitation and what is being recited, and what has been written, and what has been recited originated with Allaah, He spoke it, because He speaks as He wills, when He wills, however He wills, and His speech is uncreated - and this is what the Salaf were establishing and it is for saying that what is written (maktoob), in letter and word, and what is recited (matloow) in letter and word is created that the Salaf declared the Jahmites kafirs.

And following on from their views regarding the Qur'an, by natural extension, is the view of each of these factions (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah) regarding Allaah's Names. They all hold that Allaah's Names are created. However, the Ash'ariyyah have simply concealed and veiled the reality of their saying with the twigs and leaves which are plays with words and definitions - which is something common to many of their viewpoints and positions.

The Salaf's Refutation of the Jahmites and Takfeer of Them

So the Salaf stood to refute the view of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, and the sayings of the Salaf and their clarifications in this regard fell into four positions - and in all of these sayings, their intent was one and the same:

The First Position: To withhold from speech regarding this issue and neither to affirm nor negate it, so they would not say, "al-ism huwa al-musammaa" (the noun is that [entity] which has been named) and nor "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa" (the noun is other than [entity] which has been named). This is the view of Abu Ja'far Ibn Jareer at-Tabari (d. 310H).

The Second Position: That "al-ism li al-musammaa" (the noun is a designation for the named entity) - and this is the view of the majority of the people of the Sunnah and people of hadeeth, and it is what is most correct, and is the saying of Imaam Ahmad - and this view is based upon the verses in the Qur'an such as:

وَلِلّهِ الأَسْمَاء الْحُسْنَى

To Allaah belong all the Most Beautiful Names (A'raaf 7:180)

لَهُ الْأَسْمَاء الْحُسْنَى

To Him belong all the Most Beautiful Names (Hashr 7:180 and Taha 20:8)

And in the Qur'an we see the use of the particle "li" which means "for" and "to" or "belonging to" And what this means is that the noun or name (al-ism) indicates and points to that entity being named (al-musammaa), but by definition, a noun or name (ism) does not refer to the named entity in and of itself, rather by definition a noun (ism) is a word used to refer to the entity. And in the hadeeth we find that Allaah is the one who named Himself with Names, as occurs in the hadeeth of Abdullah bin Mas'ood, and again we see in this hadeeth the use of the particle "li" (the laam) which denotes "for", "to", "belonging to":

أسألك بكل اسم هو لك سميت به نفسك

I ask you through every Name you possess, which You have named Yourself with.

So Allaah named Himself with these Names, and thus, they are not created, and Allaah revealed some of His Names (we don't know them all) in His Book and others He taught to the Prophets (such as what is found in the Sunnah) and others He kept with Himself in the knowledge of the Unseen, and they are all uncreated. But to the Jahmiyyah, because these Names are in the Qur'an (which to them is created) then the Names are created too.

And the view of Ahl us-Sunnah is based upon their saying that Allaah speaks with His will and power, and He names Himself with His will and His power - so Ahl us-Sunnah say yes, He names Himself with Names (as occurs in the authentic hadeeth), and in the Qur'an which Allaah spoke through His will and power, there are Names that Allaah revealed which belong to Him - by speaking them in the Qur'an, Allaah has named Himself with them - and they hold all of that to be from His speech which is uncreated.

The Third Position: That "al-ism min al-musammaa" (the name or noun is from the named entity) and what this means, as it relates to Allaah's Names is that the name is from the qualities of the one named, so ar-Rahmaan (the name) is from rahmah (the quality) that Allaah possesses, and so on. And this is not the case with the creation, for a person might have the name "Aadil (just)" but he is oppressive, and the name "Mahmood (praiseworthy)" but in reality blameworthy. And this view is that of Abu Dawud as-Sijistani and this view contains a refutation of the Mu'tazilah who claimed Allaah does not have attributes. And this saying also means that the Names of Allaah are from Himself, meaning He is the one who named Himself with them. So upon both these considerations it is said "al-ism min al-musammaa".

The Fourth Position: That "al-ism huwa al-musammaa" (the noun or name, is that [entity, thing] which has been named). This was held by the Scholars who came after the leading Imaams of the Salaf, though the majority disliked this saying and spoke against it, and this view is taken by al-Laalikaa'ee and al-Baghawi and Abu Nasr as-Sijzee. However, what they meant was that when a person calls out a name (ism), say "O Zayd", the noun is not the wording (lafdh) which is "Zayd", but the noun (ism) is what is intended by the wording, meaning, the one that is named (al-musammaa) with that name, which is the self of "Zayd". Here they are not speaking about the definition of ism (noun) in the language but simply what is intended by the use of any noun (ism) - which is simply to refer to the entity named by it. And this is different to what the Ash'aris intended by this saying (we shall see what they say and meant a little later).

All of these groups who were united in the meaning - despite having these different sayings - made takfeer of the Jahmites who claimed Allaah's Names are created - because the Salaf knew their saying (al-ism ghayr al-musammaa) followed on from their other saying that the Qur'an which we have, in letter and word, recited, heard and memorized, is created, and that it was from their saying that Allaah does not have actions tied to His will and power, such that He can name Himself and speak those Names. That is why we have the statements such as those from Imaam Ahmad and others making takfeer of the Jahmites and whoever spoke with this view. And as the Ash'arites (following Ibn Kullaab) share these usool with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, that Allaah does not have actions tied to His will and power, which is the basic underlying issue in this whole affair of Allaah's Speech and the Qur'an, and that the Qur'an we have, which is the expression of Jibreel, is created, then the Ash'arites are upon the same saying, that Allaah's Names are created.

Background Context to the Saying of the Ash'aris In This Issue

We have to bear in mind a couple of things before we look at the view of the Ash'aris on this subject.

Recall that they (following the innovation of Ibn Kullaab) hold that Allaah's "Kalaam" is only a singular meaning (ma'naa waahid) present with His Self from eternity, that this is uncreated, but that the Qur'an we have consisting of letters, words, which is recited, heard and memorized is created.

Recall also that they hold Allaah does not speak according to His will and power (al-mashee'ah wal-qudrah) - this is because they outright reject the Sifaat Fi'liyyah or the Af'aal Ikhtiyaariyyah (actions tied to Allaah's will). What this amounts to in reality is that despite claiming to affirm what they call "Kalaam" they do not affirm any "Kalaam" (speech) for Allaah at all. Rather, the reality is that what the Mu'tazilah call "al-ilm wal-iraadah" (knowledge and will) - which they make synonymous with the essence of Allaah - the Ash'aris simply call "Kalaam Nafsee" (a singular indivisible meaning present with Allaah's self) - as has been explained by Muhammad Sa'eed Ramadan al-Buti (see this article here). And al-Aamidee (7th century Ash'ari) had to admit defeat in not being able to answer the objection that on the issue of Allaah's "Kalaam", the stance they have taken necessitates that they simply treat all the attributes they affirm (the seven) to be synonymous with Allaah's essence (dhaat) which is the the view of the Mu'tazilah, and al-Aamidee (in his book Abkaar ul-Afkaar, 1/400) said he's got no answer for this issue - and this will be discussed in a separate article inshaa'Allaah.

Recall also that from their saying is that the letters and words (and languages) are all created, and thus the expression (ibaarah) of the Qur'an is created - meaning that this Qur'an we have is created, in its letters and words and this is the reality of their saying - they do not deny it and they express this textually in their books, that this Qur'an we have, in letter and word, is created - and it is precisely this saying for which the Salaf made takfeer of the Jahmites - and this is manifest and very clear from the sum total of what has been narrated from them.

Recall also that the Ash'aris reject Allaah's speech is with letter and voice (al-harf was-sawt) and this is something that all factions without exception were united upon (that speech is with letter and voice), despite their different sayings regarding Allaah's speech (whether it is created or not), up until Ibn Kullaab and the Kullaabiyyah came and along and until Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari followed them in that. There was actually no dispute about that at all, there was ijmaa' that speech is letter and voice (al-harf was-sawt), and that Allaah speaks with letter and voice. And Abdul-Kareem ash-Shahrastani (d. 584H), one of the important figures of the Later Ash'aris himself writes that Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari, in this subject of Allaah's speech (Kalaam) and letter and voice (al-harf was-sawt), that he broke the ijmaa' that existed previously and innovated a third saying not known before. In reality, it was Ibn Kullaab and not al-Ash'ari - but we can look at the saying of ash-Shahrastani (d. 584H) in another article in much detail, it is from his book, "Nihaayat ul-Iqdaam", where he says (p. 177), whilst noting that ash-Shahrastani's statements in characterizing the view of the Salaf are not entirely accurate and precise, but there is enough in what he has said that approximates to what is correct:

فأبدع الأشعري قولاً ثالثاً وقضى بحدوث الحروف وهو خرق الإجماع وحكم بأن ما نقرأه كلام الله مجازاً لا حقيقة وهو عين الابتداع فهلا قال ورد السمع بأن ما نقرأه ونكتبه كلام الله تعالى دون أن يتعرض لكيفيته وحقيقته كما ورد السمع بإثبات كثير من الصفات من الوجه واليدين إلى غير ذلك من الصفات الخبرية

So al-Ash'ari innovated a third saying and judged with the emergence of the letters, and this is the destruction of the ijmaa' (concensus) and he judged that what we read is Allaah's speech only metaphorically (majaazan) not in reality (haqeeqatan) - and this is pure innovation. Why did he not (simply) say that the revelation mentions that what we read and write is the Speech of Allaah without (him) delving into its kaifiyyah (how it is) and its haqeeqah (its reality) - just like in the revelation many attributes have been mentioned such as Face, Two Hands and other than them from the sifaat Khabariyyah.

Here he is saying that al-Ash'ari broke the Ijmaa' and innovated a third saying, which is that the Qur'an is said to be Allaah's speech only "metaphorically", since their view was that Allaah's real Kalaam is the "Kalaam Nafsee", and not the letters and words that make up the Qur'an. Ash-Shahrastani is in error here because it was Ibn Kullaab and the Kullaabiyyah who originated this view and not al-Ash'ari himself. But this is the subject for a separate article as this quote is part of a longer passage that discusses other relevant issues so we can look at this in a separate article. And also, as mentioned previously, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani (in Fath ul-Bari, Kitaab ut-Tawheed) rebuts the presumption of tashbeeh (which comes from the Ash'aris themselves unfortunately) that affirming "voice" (sawt)for Allaah necessitates that it requires what is required for voice amongst the servants of Allaah, Ibn Hajr rebuts this - and again this will be covered in a separate article.

And Ibn Taymiyyah said in "Majmoo ul-Fataawaa" (6/528):

وكما أنه المعروف عند أهل السنة والحديث، فهو قول جماهير فرق الأمة، فإن جماهير الطوائف يقولون: إن الله يتكلم بصوت مع نزاعهم في أن كلامه هل هو مخلوق، أو قائم بنفسه؟ قديم أو حادث؟ أو ما زال يتكلم إذا شاء؟ فإن هذا قول المعتزلة، والكرامية، والشيعة وأكثر المرجئة، والسالمية، وغير هؤلاء من الحنفية والمالكية، والشافعية، والحنبلية، والصوفية.

وليس من طوائف المسلمين من أنكر أن الله يتكلم بصوت إلا ابن كلاب ومن اتبعه

And as this is known with Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Hadeeth, then it is also the saying of all of the sects of the Ummah, for the majority of all of the various factions say: "Allaah speaks with a voice" alongside their dispute regarding whether His speech (Kalaam) is created (or not)? And is it established with His Self (or not)? And whether it is eternal (qadeem) or recent (haadith)? And whether He has never ceased being "one who speaks when He wills" (or not)?

For this (that Allaah speaks with a voice) is the saying of the Mu'tazilah, Karraamiyyah, Shee'ah, most of the Murji'ah, Saalimiyyah, and other than them from the Hanafiyyah, Maalikiyyah, Shaafi'iyyah, Hanbaliyyah and Soofiyyah.

And there is not from the factions of the Muslims anyone who rejected that Allaah speaks with a voice (sawt) except Ibn Kullaab and whoever followed him.

Also understand that the Ash'aris (following the Kullaabiyyah) were forced to reject that speech is with letter and voice (al-harf was-sawt) and to innovate the "Kalaam Nafsee" because they were trying to tread a middle ground between Ahl us-Sunnah and the Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah. So on the one hand they wanted to affirm the truth (Allaah has speech) and at the same time not invalidate their intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" (anything that is subject to occurrences, events must be created) - and thus "Kalaam" now became (to them):

  • just the meaning present with the Self of Allaah,
  • a singular indivisible meaning and
  • not tied to Allaah's will and power

These views were innovated in order to protect that intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam", which argues that the presence of qualities (sifaat), incidental attributes (a'raad) and actions (af'aal, hawaadith) present in the bodies that make up the universe are a proof of those bodies being created, and thus the universe as a whole is created, and thus there must be a creator. This is actually a false, corrupt proof. But because they made this proof to be the ultimate rational truth upon which the veracity of the religion depends, they had to start fooling around with the revealed texts and innovate sayings in order not to falsify this proof, continuing the legacy of their Imaams in that, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah.

And these three sayings above in relation to what is Allaah's "Kalaam" are the most evident plain, manifest falsehood which are invalidated, without any shadow of doubt, by the clear texts of the Book of Allaah. And the shrewd ones amongst them knew this full well, which is why Abu al-Mu'aalee al-Juwaynee (d. 478H) innovated another innovation to conceal the previous falsehood the earlier ones were upon. So al-Juwaynee said, as mentioned by Ibn Abi al-Izz in his Sharh of at-Tahaawiyyah, that al-Juwaynee's view was that what is referred to as Allaah's "Kalaam" (speech) is something that shares between a) the meaning that is established with Allaah's self (al-ma'naa al-qaa'imu bidh-dhaat) - which is what the Kullaabis and Early Ash'aris were upon - and b) what Allaah creates in other than Himself of letters, voices (which is what the Mu'tazilah said is Allaah's "Kalaam") - this is because the shrewd ones knew you can't go around saying "Kalaam" is just the singular meaning (al-ma'naa al-waahid) in the self - it can't be sustained, the Qur'an and Sunnah falsify it and it is known, its a matter of ijmaa' that "Kalaam" (speech) is both meaning (ma'naa) and wording (lafdh) - none of this was disputed until the Kullaabiyyah and Ash'ariyyah used an unverified line of poetry of a Christian Poet called al-Akhtal as a basis to argue that speech is the "meaning in the self", and then they went looking in the revealed texts for anything that would support them in this. It's a case of "believe first, and find evidence for it afterwards", which is what they did with "Kalaam Nafsee", they (the Kullaabiyyah) innovated this saying of theirs to reconcile between the deen of the Mu'tazilah and that of Ahl us-Sunnah, and then went looking for evidences for it in the texts.

And what al-Juwaynee has done - seeing the falsehood in that - is to simply combine the deen of the Mu'tazilah, with the deen of Ibn Kullaab by devising a new definition for what is "Kalaamullaah (the speech of Allaah)", and al-Juwaynee took much of the Kullaabi Ash'arite creed in this direction. Ibn Kullaab said Allaah's speech is just the "Kalaam Nafsee" and the Mu'tazilah said, Allaah's speech is what He creates in the servants of speech, and so al-Juwaynee said, why not just combine between them both so we can have the best of both views in trying to defend that intellectual proof called "hudooth ul-ajsaam" - and al-Juwaynee was responsible for taking much of the Ash'arite creed back towards the direction of the Mu'tazilah, in this manner.

You have to remember why were these people fooling around like this, and what was the driving factor behind it all.

From this, you will see why all their sayings (those of the Ash'aris) are simply the branches and twigs that extend from the trunk (Mu'tazilah) and the roots (Jahmiyyah).

Bear all these things in mind before we look at the saying of the Ash'aris regarding Allaah's Names, because just like their sayings are deceptive on the issue of Allaah's speech and the Qur'an, then likewise their saying on the issue of Allaah's Names are also deceptive and other than what they appear to be.

The Creed of the Ash'arites - After Penetrating the Twigs and Leaves of Obfuscation - Is that Allaah's Names are Created

If are you a bit confused about twigs and leaves, just follow the previous link and read the article in full (do it later, not now).

So on the surface, the Ash'aris say that "the Names of Allaah are uncreated" - but because this issue is directly connected to the issue of Allaah's speech and the issue of the Qur'an, then what they intend is very different to what is intended by the Imaams of the Salaf, and the people of the Sunnah, as has preceded from the quotations from Imaam Ahmad, Imaam ash-Shaafi'ee and others.

This is why it is important to keep in mind what the saying of the Ash'aris is regarding these two subjects of the speech of Allaah (Kalaam) and the Qur'an.

They believe that Allaah's speech is only a meaning (ma'naa) that is established with Allaah's Self in eternity. And this meaning is one indivisible meaning, you can't separate out different meanings, it is only one meaning, and that all revealed texts (the Qur'an, Injeel, Torah, Zabur) are simply created expressions (ibaaraat) of that singular meaning (figure that one out - no one else has in eleven centuries). And as for when Allaah spoke to Moses, He simply gave Moses the faculties through which he could grasp that meaning, not that Allaah spoke directly to Moses. The Qur'an and all revealed texts, in their letters and words, are all created, and that the Qur'an is simply from the expression (ibaarah) of Jibreel (alayhis salaam) whilst others say of Muhammad (alayhis salaam).

All of this is aimed at rejecting that Allaah speaks according to His will and power because this according to them, and according to what they inherited from the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah of the intellectual proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam", means that Allaah is subject to occurrences (hawaadith), meaning His actions of speaking when He wills and as He wills, which are actions, and the presence of "action" fulfils the Aristotelian classification of something being a body (jism, jawhar) - thank you Aristotle - and as such this must be rejected for Allaah. And in all of this they are in agreement with the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah.

The Saying of the Ash'aris

The view of the Ash'aris, the early ones amongst them, is that "al-ism ayn ul-musammaa" - which is that the definition of a the ism (noun, name) is that it is the very thing that is named. So instead of a name (ism, i.e. a noun) being an indication, through word (lafdh) and speech (qawl), of that entity which is being named (musammaa), which is what is known to the Arabs, the Ash'arites made the name (ism) to be the actual thing being named (musammaa) - meaning that the definition of "ism" which is made up of "alif, seen, meem" is that it refers to the actual essence of something (instead of the name of something). So here we are talking about what is the actual definition of "ism" (noun, name) in the language.

To clarify this further, the word (lafdh) "Khaalid" which consists of "khaa, alif, laam, daal" is an "ism" (name, noun) that points to and indicates the essence of the person being named with it. So the definition of "ism" is "a word that indicates and points to the musammaa (entity being named)". So what these Ash'aris were saying is that the definition of "ism" (name) is not the word used to identify the thing, but the very thing itself - and this is incorrect, and is opposed to the language of the Arabs.

To clarify this even further, we can illustrate this with the definitions of "noun" in English, because it is the same in English. So a noun (ism) is:

  • A content word that can be used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality, or action
  • The name of an object, concept, person or place
  • A word used as the name of a thing, quality, or action existing or conceived by the mind
  • The part of speech used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action

So you can see that the definition of "noun" (ism) is a word or name used to refer to an object. It is not the object itself. The meaning of "ism" (noun) is the name used to refer to the object, and not the object itself, by definition.

So why did the Ash'aris (some of them) claim that the definition of "ism" (name, noun) is the very thing being named, rather than the word or speech used to refer to that thing? Remember we said earlier that the Jahmites said "al-ism ghayr ul-musammaa" to support their falsehood that the Qur'an is created, and they meant here that the Names of Allaah are created because they are from the Qur'an, and the Qur'an is other than Allaah. So the Ash'aris went to the opposite direction (opposing falsehood with falsehood), and said, hey, the definition of "ism" is not the word or speech used to refer to an entity, but the very entity itself.

They did this to try and prove Allaah himself is not created - which wasn't the actual thing in dispute by the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. The Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah were saying the "Names" of Allaah created, not Allaah Himself is created.

Some of the Later Ash'aris saw this error and did not support this view and they distinguished between al-ism (the name), al-musammaa (the thing being named), and at-tasmiyyah (the act of naming) - and from them are the likes of al-Ghazali (d. 505H) and ar-Razi (d. 606H) and al-Eejee (d. 756H) discusses it in his al-Mawaaqif (p. 162), and he quotes from ar-Raazee:

And the Imaam, ar-Raazee said: "What is well-known from our associates is that al-ism huwa al-musammaa and from the Mu'tazilah that [al-ism] is the tasmiyyah, and from al-Ghazali that it [al-ism] is diffrent to them both [al-musamma, and at-tasmiyyah]...

From this we can see the view of the Mu'tazilah, that of the Ash'aris such as al-Bagdhadi (d. 429H), and that of those who came later such as ar-Razi (d. 606H), and al-Ghazali (d. 505H), and we have three sayings.

  • The saying of the earlier Ash'aris that "al-ism huwa al-musammaa" and what they mean here is that the definition of a noun (ism) is the very entity (being named by it) - and not the word or speech used to refer to it
  • The saying of the Mu'tazilah that the noun (ism) is the tasmiyyah (the act of designating a word or saying as a name for something)
  • The saying of the other Ash'aris that all three of ism (noun), musammaa (the entity being named) and tasmiyyah (the act of designating a name for something) are all different.

Taking a Closer Look at the Ash'aris Saying the "Ism" is the "Musammaa"

But let's take a look at a saying of those who supported the view that "al-ism ayn al-musammaa". Abu Mansur Abdul-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d. 429H) in his "Usool ud-Din" says (pp. 116-117):

The First Issue in This Foundation: Regarding the Meaning of al-Ism and Its Reality

They differed regarding al-ism (the noun). The majority of our associates said that is is the thing being named (al-musammaa), but that the expressions of it are appellations (tasmiyyaat) for it. And Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari has textually stated this saying in "Kitaab Tafseer al-Qur'an". And he mentioned in "Kitaab us-Sifaat" that the noun (al-ism) is the attribute (as-sifah), and he categorized it in the manner of the categorization of the attributes.

And the Qadariyyah [meaning the Mu'tazilah] claimed that al-ism is other than the actual entity being named (al-musammaa), and they referred by it to a saying which our companions have called "at-tasmiyyah".

This means here that the definition of al-ism (the noun, the name) is "the very entity being named (al-musammaa)" rather than the word or speech used to refer to the entity. So this would mean, that the name "Allaah" in Arabic "alif, laam, laam, haa", as a noun, in and of itself, is the actual Essence (of Allaah) - instead of a word that refers to and points to Allaah's Essence.

However, when it was argued against them that Allaah has multiple names and not just the name "Allaah" - which they could not answer - they then said, that all the multiple names, the "Asmaa", are in fact "Tasmiyyaat", and the "Tasmiyyaat" are created. And Tasmiyyah, means the act of naming, giving something a name, designating a name to something, and here they simply agree with the Mu'tazilah, that all the Names of Allaah are Tasmiyyaat (which are created).

Al-Baghdadi says (p. 117):

And because the one who said from the Qadariyyah [meaning, the Mu'tazilah] that the name is other than the named (al-ism ghayral-musammaa), then it becomes necessary upon his principle that Allaah does not have any name or attribute from eternity, because the names and descriptions, to him (the Mu'tazili) are tasmiyyaat (appellations) and ibaaraat (expressions), and nothing from them are eternal upon their saying.

He means here that the view of the Mu'tazilah is that the Names of Allaah are tasmiyyaat and ibaaraat (meaning, created expressions and appellations) and that these are not eternal. And this is the saying of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah. And then after saying that if there is not any name or attribute from eternity, then this is merely the description of a non-existing thing. Then he says:

... And if they then ask us about His saying, "To Allaah belong the Most Beautiful Names", we say that He intended by "al-Asmaa" (Names) the "Tasmiyyaat", meaning the appellations (designating of Names for Him). So the intent behind it is the "Tasmiyyaat", because numerousness (al-'adad) relates to this (the multiplicity of tasmiyyaat) and not to the single entity (being named).

And here he is saying that the multiple Asmaa (Names) are in fact the Tasmiyyaat - the designating of Names for Allaah, which are those created expressions which are made up of letters and used to refer to Allaah. The Ash'aris believe Allaah does not speak according to His will and power, and Allaah does not speak as and when He wills, and as such Allaah did not speak the Qur'an with letter and word, and as such what we know and utter of the Names of Allaah (ar-Rahmaan, ar-Raheem, al-Malik and so on) are not "Asmaa" (names), but "Tasmiyyaat" - and these are created.

To get an idea of what is going it, its probably useful to bring out a diagram:

The Mu'tazilah said that the Names are the "Tasmiyyaat" (acts of naming something with something, or designating a name for something) - which to them are created. Recall that to the Mu'tazilah, the Qur'an which we have is created. So they treated Allaah's Names just like they treated the Qur'an, and Allaah's speech as being something that Allaah creates in other entities. So their view on this was "the ism is the tasmiyyah" meaning, that Allaah's Name is "the act of naming by the servants", and as Allaah creates speech in people, then tasmiyyah becomes something created, so when a person says "ar-Rahmaan", Allah created that act in that person who said this, and thus Allaah's Name (ism) is the action of expressing the name (tasmiyyah) and referring to Allaah by it, this being created. This follows on from their saying regarding Allaah's Speech and the Qur'an.

Now, the Ash'aris in order to oppose this view, they decided to say, "the ism is the musamma" (the name is the very thing being named), because they wanted to argue through this that Allaah is not created. However, this was not actually in dispute, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah do not claim Allaah is created, they claimed Allaah's Names are created. But despite saying "the ism is the musamma", meaning the noun or name, by definition, is the very thing being named, and not the word or saying that is used to refer to the thing, they still held that the tasmiyyah (act of designating a name for something) is created - they had to because it follows on from their saying that the Qur'an which we have, in letter and word, the expression (ibaarah) of Allaah's "Kalaam Nafsee", is created. So when a servant says, "ar-Rahmaan" for example, this is the created expression, and as such what is taking place here is that it is the servant who is doing the tasmiyyah (the act of designating this name for Allaah and referring to Allaah by it), and this is created. Because to them, Allaah did not speak with His will and power and with letter and word.

The outcome of all this is that irrespective of whether the Ash'aris say that the definition of ism (noun, name) is the very thing being named, or other than the thing being named, their viewpoint regarding the Names is the same as the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah which is that Allaah's Names are "Tasmiyyaat" and are created.