Destroying the Slander of Tajsim (Anthropomorphism) Against Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah: Part 9 - The Accusation of Tajsim and Tashbih Against al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa al-Hanbali|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Thursday, December, 30 2010 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Tajsim Mujassimah Hishaamiyyah Karraamiyyah Abu Ya'laa
There is an impetus and motivation for the "Hanbalis" to be made the subject of attack by the Kalaam theologists (who are wholly represented by the pseudo-Ash'aris and Maturidis today) and this is because the pseudo-Ash'aris are closer to the Mu'tazilah than they are to Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari himself (who adopted the aqidah of Imaam Ahmad at the end of his life). Whilst this requires an article in an of itself, some explanation is needed here to provide the bigger picture as to why the "Hanbalis" must be maligned in front of an unsuspecting audience.
First: There is no doubt that Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal represented the Sunnah, meaning, what all the Salaf were upon from the Companions through to Imaam Ahmad's teachers, in the matters of creed. Imaam Ahmad inherited all of that and the statement returned back to him - as in the statement of what is truth and falsehood - in the context of the groups of Kalaam, the Jahmiyyah, the Mu'tazilah and the Kullaabiyyah. The leadership for the people of the Sunnah went to him, represented in the tribulation in the issue of the Qur'an. Imaam Ahmad represented the creed of Abu Hanifah, Maalik, Shaaf'iee and all the other great Imaams of the religion. He is in fact the flagbearer of the hadeeth, sunnah, aathar and of the Salafi creed and methodology - in direct conflict with the people of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, those who took to speaking about Allaah upon what they inherited and borrowed from the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans of speech based on bodies and accidents (ajsaam, a'raad). Read this series for an exposition of this matter.
He is Muḥammad bin al-Ḥusayn bin Muḥammad bin Khalf bin Aḥmad bin al-Farā', and is from the prominent Ḥanbalīs of the fifth century from Baghdād. He was born into a house of knowledge, and studied from a very young age. Refer to Tārīkh Baghdād (2/256), Ṭabaqāt al-Ḥanābilah of Ibn Abī Yaʿlā (2/193-230), Manāqib al-Imām Aḥmad (pp. 627-628), al-Bidāyah wal-Nihāyah (12/94-95), and al-Siyar (6/99-100). The intent is not provide an exhaustive biography here, since whoever is interested by this article will already know this Hanbali scholar. But it should be pointed out that he was considered an upright, honest, truth-seeking, scholar, even by those who criticized him. Ibn al-Jawzee said of him (al-Muntadham 8/243-244):
He was an Imaam in fiqh, he has many excellent authored works upon the madhhab of Imaam Ahmad. He taught and gave fatwa for numerous years and the knowledge of the madhhab ended up with him ... and he combined leadership, fiqh, truthfulness, good character, devotion, asceticism, good mannerisms, remaining silent from what is not befitting, and following the Salaf.
Ibn Asaakir mentions in al-Tabyin (p. 262) how they used to secretively study with Ibn al-Labaan until once they happened to arrive on the same occasion, realizing that each was taking from this Ash'ari scholar. So they both agreed to keep this quiet. Ibn al-Labaan was a student of al-Baqillaani. Abu Ya'laa also used to attend the gathering of Abu Ja'far al-Simnani al-Ash'ari (see al-Tabaqaat 3/386), and he was another student of al-Baqillaani. Hence, Abu Ya'laa was affected by the usool of Ibn Kullab (through these Ash'arites), as was Rizqullaah al-Tamimi, who was even more affected and he used to also deny the sifat khabariyyah. Rizqullaah is the son of Abu al-Fadl al-Tamimi who used to be associates with al-Baqillani. So what is happening here is that these Hanbalis were affected to different degrees, and Abu Ya'laa in particular fell into something of Kalaam and it came through in his views on Allaah's chosen actions (Af'aal Ikhtiyaariyyah), the speech of Allaah, the Qur'aan, and Allaah's 'uluww and istiwaa, and also returning the attributes of anger, pleasure and love to iraadah (wish).
You will find much in the speech of Abu Ya'laa which is from the language of Ahl al-Kalaam, and it can also be found in the speech of his son Ibn Abee Ya'laa, and very often Abu Ya'laa's views are similar to those of al-Baqillaani, a prime example is that of al-Muwaafaat, the doctrine that states that Allaah's Anger and pleasure are eternal and relate only to an individual on the basis of what he will die upon. This doctrine was innovated in order not to affirm a wish and will for Allaah, such that Allaah loves, becomes angry and becomes pleased if and when He so wishes. It should be noted that Abu Ya'laa authored a work in refutation of his former Ash'ari teacher, Ibn al-Labaan called al-Radd alaa Ibn al-Labaan (see al-Tabaqat 3/384), however since we do not have this book with us today, it is not known on what issues this refutation was centered around.
From the kalam views held by al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa (which he later turned away from) include: the first obligation being al-nadhar wal-istidlaal with a view to proving Allaah's existence, holding the validity of the proof of huduth al-ajsaam, falling into ta'weel and tafweed (often falling into contradiction), negation of the Sifaat Fi'liyyah (Allaah's chosen actions) and taking the approaches of the Ahl al-Kalaam towards them, speaking with the specific negations of Ahl al-Kalaam such as negating jism, jawhar, 'arad, hadd, jihah and the likes. Al-Qadi turned away from most of this, but despite that aspects of the language of Kalaam can still be found in what is transmitted from him.
Despite engaging with these Ash'arites and adopting some of their Kalaam views, al-Qaadee Abu Ya'laa nevertheless opposed the Ash'arites on the issue of the sifaat khabariyyah and authored a work Ibtaal ta'weel al-Sifaat around the year 429H in order to refute Ibn Fawrak (d. 403H) who had written a work Mushkil al-Hadith in which he proceeded to make systematic ta'weel of texts that "give the presumption of tajseem" as he claimed, upon the belief that ta'weel is a foundation of the Islamic creed and is part and parcel of "Tawhid", meaning here the "Tawhid" of the Mutakallimin, which after employing the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad requires by necessity that the revealed texts be "doctored" so as not to clash with this proof.
However, what aided al-Tamimi (and later on, others like Ibn al-Jawzee) in this scorn is that Abu Ya'laa included weak and fabricated narrations pertaining to the attributes which make mention of things that Allaah is not described with. His enemies also fabricated things upon him which he was innocent of and this opened up the door for his name to be tainted and tarnished and the accusations of tashbih to be mobilized against him.
Al-Dhahabi mentions in al-Siyar (18/90):
He compiled the book Ibtal ta'weel al-Sifaat and so they stood against him on account of what it contained of weak and fabricated narrations ... and the book Ibtaal al-Ta'weel was carried to al-Qadir Billaah (the ruler) and it amazed him, and many affairs and tribulations occurred, we ask Allaah for safety. Then the minister, Alee bin al-Muslimah rectified between the two parties (Ash'arites and al-Qaadee and his followers), and he announced openly, "The Qur'an is the speech of Allaah and the reports pertaining to the attributes are to be passed on just as they have come."
And Ibn Abee Ya'laa mentions in Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (3/372):
And [my] father, the pleased one, attended the gathering of Abu al-Qaasim Alee bin al-Hasan, the chief of the chiefs in the year 445H, in the Dar al-Khilafah, and there was a large gathering present with him, and a great number of the shaykhs of the jurists, and many from the people of the religion and the world. So the chief of the chiefs said on that day in front of all of the people, "The Qur'an is the speech of Allah, and the reports pertaining to the attributes are to be passed on just as the have come" and he rectified between the two groups.
It is clear that the tribulation that occurred here was that the Ash'arites by this time had already receded into the ta'teel of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, since they no longer affirmed what Ibn Kullab and al-Ash'ari (and likewise al-Baqillani) affirmed, and began to make ta'weel of it. So when al-Qadee Abu Ya'laa, after first being influenced by these Ash'arites (in certain areas), left part of that influence (resorting to ta'weel) and authored in refutation of their approach of ta'weel towards the reports pertaining to the attributes, they accused him of Tajseem and tashbeeh for affirmation of the sifaat khabariyyah. The weak and fabrication narrations were not really the issue but they were something that made matters worse for Abu Ya'laa in the situation itself, and he was criticized for that by both the people of the Sunnah and his opponents who only saw it as more fuel for their fire. In the above narration of al-Dhahabi, the minister Alee bin al-Muslimah who arbitrated, and the chief Ali bin al-Hasan (in the narration of Ibn Abee Ya'laa), supported Abu Ya'laa by stating that the attributes are to be left as they are (i.e. without ta'weel) and passed on as they have come. This was a victory for Abu Ya'laa against the detractors. The Ash'arites and those affected by them condemned Abu Ya'laa because he related the texts of the attributes without ta'weel, he was arguing for this as a methodology and corroborating this was the way of the Salaf. This was the fundamental matter, since all of the offshoots of the Jahmiyyah consider it obligatory to make ta'weel of those texts so as to keep in conformity with the proof of huduth al-ajsaam.
From the oppressive slanders against Abu Ya'laa is what was cited by Abu Bakr bin al-Arabi (a student of al-Ghazali) in his book al-Awaasim min al-Qawaasim through an unnamed source that:
Abu Ya'laa Muhammad bin al-Husain al-Faraa', the chief of the Hanbalis in Baghdad used to say, when he mentioned Allah, the Exalted, and what is reported from these dhawaahir (plain, obvious meanings) regarding His attributes, the Exalted, he said: "Impose upon me whatever you wish (of attributes) for indeed I adhere to its affirmation, save the beard and the private parts."
This is a pure fabrication and slander, and this is in fact the saying of Dawud al-Jawaaribee, the Raafidee Mujassim, Mushabbih, and not the saying of al-Qaadee Abu Ya'laa (see his entry in this article). There is not in any of al-Qaadee's books any such statement, and nor anything of the sort transmitted from him, and Allaah is the reckoner of every oppressor. This fabrication against Abu Ya'laa is the basis of the slander of many of those who came after such as al-Kawthari and his likes and this will be on their shoulders on the Day of Judgement when they will have to contend on this matter.
Abu Ya'laa has a Kullaabi Ash'ari taint on his aqidah due to having spent time with the As'harites of Baghdad, and thus the language of Kalaam is readily apparent in some of his works when he writes on matters of creed. In fact, the same shows through in his son, Ibn Abee Ya'laa, who was no doubt influenced by his father in this regard. This influence was particular in the issue of the Sifat Fi'liyyah (Allaah's chosen actions) which are rejected by the Kalaam groups because they imply "hawaadith" (events, occurrences). As for the sifaat dhaatiyyah, khabariyyah, then al-Qadi took the way of Ahl al-Sunnah and he rejected ta'weel (after first being influenced in that regard). This is why scorn was scorn against him.
However, al-Qadee Abu Ya'laa also refuted the Mushabbihah and the Mujassimah and he actually has two works in that regard, "al-Radd alaa al-Karraamiyyah" and also "al-Radd alaa al-Mujassimah". He also wrote "al-Radd alaa al-Ash'ariyyah" and "al-Radd alaa al-Baatiniyyah". (See al- Tabaqaat of his son Ibn Abee Ya'laa, 3/383). To give you an idea of this mingling between his Kalaam influence and his affirmation of the sifaat khabariyyah and his rejection of tasbheeh and Tajseem, look at this statement of his creed related by his son Ibn Abee Ya'laa in Tabaqaat al-Hanaabilah (3/392):
And the pleased father (radiallaahu anhu) had said regarding the reports pertaining to the attributes:The madhhab regarding that is the acceptance of these ahaadeeth upon what they have come with without turning away from that to ta'weel which opposes its apparentness, whilst believing that Allaah, the Sublime, is different to every thing besides Him, and everything that occurs in the imagination of a definition (hadd) or of resemblance (tashbeeh) or takyeef, then Allaa is Sublime and Exalted from that, and there is no likeness unto Allaah, and He is not to be described with those attributes of creation which are indicative of their origination, and it is not permitted upon Him what is permitted upon them of change (taghayyur) from one state to another, He is not a jism (body) nor a jawhar (substance), nor an 'arad (incidental attribute), and that He never ceased to exist and will never cease to exist and that He is the one who cannot be imagined in the minds, and His attributes do not resemble the attributes of the creation, "There is no likeness unto Him, and He is all-Hearing, all-Seeing." (42:11)
There are a number of things presented in this citation (and it is one of many citations we could bring):
The first: What is very apparent that the methodology of Abu Ya'laa is ithbaat (affirmation) of what the akhbaar (reports) contain of attributes with negation of takyeef, tashbeeh and tamtheel - which is the way of the Salaf. This clashes directly with the methodology of the Ash'arites which is presumption of Tajseem and tashbeeh and the obligation of ta'weel.
We could bring many more quotes to indicate the reality of the creed of Abu Ya'laa and his son, but we will suffice with one more from his son in his book al-I'tiqaad. In the opening pages he brings all the usual issues of belief based upon the Qur'an and the authentic reports related to the reality of faith, then Allaah's attribute of speech, the Qur'an, then he mentions that Allaah is living with life, knowing with knowledge, powerful with power, hearing with hearing, seeing with sight, speaking with speech, wishing with wish, and then he affirms Allaah created Adam with His hands, and then affirms a face for Allaah, and likewise that Allaah will place His foot in the Hellfire, and that Allaah descends to the lowest heaven, and that Allaah laughs at two men one of whom kills the other and yet they both enter Paradise, and Allaah rejoicing at the repentance of His servant, and what is similar to these types of reports which all of the Salaf affirmed without rejection and without ta'weel. Then he says:
Resembling Allaah to His creation is disbelief. If he believes a belief in these attributes and their likes from what is reported in the authentic reports comprising resemblance (tashbeeh) in terms of body, and type and shape, and length - then He is a kaafir. Denial of the attributes is the madhhab of the Jahmiyyah. And if he interpreted them upon the requirements of the language or upon metaphor (majaaz), then he is a Jahmee. The Methodology of the Ahl al-Sunnah regarding the Attributes. And if he passed them on as they have come without ta'weel, and without tafseer, and without Tajseem, and nor tashbeeh, just as the Sahaabah and the Taabi'un did, then that is obligatory upon him.
Refer to his book al-I'tiqaad (pp. 11-66, tahqeeq Muhammad al-Khamees). Again you can see aspects of Kalaam creeping through into the type of language used here, particularly in negation, but the major thing is that Abu Ya'laa and his son Abee Ya'laa, just like the Imaams of Hadeeth and Sunnah before them saw the methodology of ta'weel towards the sifat khabariyyah to be from the way of the Jahmites. And this was the conflict between them and the Ash'arites who supported the way of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah in the sifaat khabariyyah, after jumping off the train of Ibn Kullaab and al-Ash'ari [who affirmed these attributes and were labelled as Mujassimah, Mushabbihah by the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah], and these later Ash'arites attacked Abu Ya'laa for not agreeing with them more than what he already had done, rather, for disagreeing with them and writing in opposition to their way of considering ta'weel to be an obligation (in order to defend the proof of huduth al-ajsaam).
Two parties criticized Abu Ya'laa.
Those from Ahl al-Sunnah who criticized him for the use of weak and fabricated narrations for affirming some attributes which are not related in the Book and the Sunnah. They did not accuse him of tashbeeh. As Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that Abu Ya'laa did not have the expertise in these areas of separating the weak from the authentic that the earlier Imaams did (see this article on the Hanbalis who erred for details). So he is criticized from this angle.
So there is a truthful criticism and a baseless criticism which is actually slander. Further, these unscrupulous Ash'arites and the common riff-raff amongst their followers would also fabricate or transmit lies against the likes of Abu Ya'laa. Abu Ya'laa said at the end of his book Ibtaal al-Ta'weelaat:
Know, may Allaah have mercy upon you, that when I completed this book of mine and it was read to some of the leaders of Khurasaan in the abode of the Sultan, this became very severe upon the opposers, and they made much distortion, lying, false-witness and fabrication in what they narrated from me, and they added things to my book seeking condemnations (against it) and to make the rulers and the common folk to become averse (towards it). And they said, "He has mentioned in it [the book]: Chapter on the Male Private Parts, and al-Qafhah, and the Beard, and the Head and al-Masrabah and the Hair and the Sandal and Riding upon a Donkey, and Walking in the Markets, and that He created Himself from the perspiration of horses and other than that of lying, falsehood and fabrication from what I did not preserve such that I should quote it... And Allaah the Exalted is the reckoner of every oppressor.
So it is apparent many lies were circulated about him. However, even if he was oppressed and slandered by that which he was free and innocent of, he made commentary on certain fabricated and weak narrations that affirm things which Allaah is free of (in the book Ibtaal al-Ta'weelaat) and in this he is certainly refuted for that as is the way of Ahl al-Sunnah to reject error from whomever it comes. However, the intent of the offshoots of the Jahmiyyah is really to malign the pure "Hanbali" creed which is nothing but the Salafi creed and to turn people away from it and to make them turn instead to what they believe is the true and real Tawheed, that of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad and the presumption of Tajseem and tashbeeh for the revealed texts and the absolutely binding obligation of ta'weel (meaning, tahreef) of the texts.
Was Abu Ya'laa a Mujassim and Mushabbih?
We are now in a position to answer this allegation, and the answer is that Abu Ya'laa is free and exonerated and innocent of these charges and particularly the slander that was conveyed by Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi against him, ascribing to him the saying which is that of the Raafidee Mujassimah such as Dawud al-Jawaaribee, and Allaah is the reckoner of every oppressive slanderer, fabricator and liar who did not abide by justice.
As for Tajseem, then Abu Ya'laa wrote a refutation of the Mujassimah, those who concluded through ilm al-Kalaam, the language of al-ajsaam wal-a'raad, that Allaah must be a jism. So he is free from the charge of being from the Mujassimah, in this respect, we see him using the language of the Ash'arites and the people of Kalaam in explicitly rejecting "Jismiyyah" from Allaah. Hence, he cannot be a Mujassim. As for tashbih, then he is free and innocent of what the Raafidee Mushabbihah fell into of claiming their lord is a human of blood and flesh and as a result described Him by fabricating their own descriptions from their ownselves, claiming that He has hair, and lips, and a heart and so on. Al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa rejected this and was certainly not upon this, since this tashbih is treating the essence of the Lord to be like the essence of a human, and then describing Him with what is unique to the essences of humans. Likewise, al-Qadi Abu Ya'laa also rejected that any of the attributes of Allaah resemble those of the creation, and this is replete in his writings and what is cited about him from his son. So on this account he is free of tashbih as well.
Whilst Abu Ya'laa vehemently opposed tajsim and tashbih he erred purely from the angle of affirmation of weak and baseless narrations, thinking them to be authentic, and speaking on the basis of them. His real crime to those Ash'arites was that like the Salaf and the Imaams of Hadeeth before him, he affirmed the sifat khabariyyah without ta'weel and authored in laying this down as the true methodology. However he slipped, due to not having that expertise in separating the authentic from the weak, and this slip cost him and harmed him. It is from justice, that the true reality and nature of his error be pointed out, and it is from oppression and slander that he be accused with that which he is free and innocent of.
It is also clear that all this commotion and so called controversy is nothing but the making and stirring of these Ash'arites who just like their forerunners, the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah, accused anyone who affirmed the reports without ta'weel as being Mujassimah, Mushabbihah, Hashawiyyah. Weak and fabricated narrations or no weak and fabricated narrations - that is wholly irrelevant - the real issue is that al-Qaadee Abu Ya'laa, despite falling into the Kalaam of the Ash'arites in some areas, actually opposed and refuted their claim of the obligation of ta'weel of the reports and this is why they sought to attack him, as did some of his fellow Hanbalis like Rizqullaah al-Tamimi who had entered further into the snares of those Ash'arites than Abu Ya'laa himself had entered into their snares.
With the truth made clear on this matter, another pillar and support of the pseudo-Ash'ari swindle, hoax and con-job is demolished and all of these games they play are really false props, they are just mirages by which they confuse the gullible, by distorting history, or confusing it, or mixing affairs and clothing truth with falsehood and presenting a picture other than what it really is. You have to remember the bigger picture here which is that their own aqidah, their own creed, which is:
Allaah is not a jism, nor a jawhar, nor an 'arad, he is not above, nor below, nor to the right, nor to the left, nor before, nor behind, He is not within the universe, nor outside of it. He is not direction, nor a place, nor in spatial occupation. He is not a form, or shape, or flesh, or bones, or blood. He does not have color, or taste, or smell, and nor hotness or coldness, or motion or rest, or combination or separation, or wetness or dryness. He does not have parts, and does not have a where, or a when....
These people know that this language [which you will find straight out of the standard Greek books on philosophy and the writings of the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans] is something that the people's fitrah simply will not accept. For this reason they cannot start out from this looney-bin as every person with uncorrupted fitrah will look at them as if they had just escaped from St. Lukes Mental Hospital. There's plenty of them lurking on the various blogs, forums and websites, be warned! And these people know this reality for sure (take a look here, here and here to see al-Ghazali and his likes admit it openly). So knowing this, these pseudo-Ash'arites of today have to devise strategies and use cunning in order to find ways to make their creed palatable and acceptable. Hence, a major part of their primary activity in the overall polemic for their call and their creed is to push these slanderous accusations of Tajseem and tashbeeh in the faces of the people, to mix truth with falsehood, to obfuscate matters, to conceal, twist, exaggerate, decontextualize (like they do with quotes from al-Darimi and Ibn Taymiyyah) and so on, so they can maintain this false illusion and through which they can siphon off people towards the loony-bin of ilm al-Kalaam, because after this treatment, this looney-bin does not appear too bad after all and its people are just normal ... not a jism, not a jawhar, not an 'arad, not inside the universe, not outside the universe...
References and further reading: