Ibn Taymiyyah: Hudooth ul-Ajsaam Is The Foundation of the Deen of the Theologians (Jahmites, Mu'tazilites and Ash'arites): Part 1 - Must Read If You Want To Understand Why Negating Allaah's Attributes Entered the Ummah
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Wednesday, July, 22 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Hudooth Ul-ajsaam Hudooth Ul-ajsaam

"hudooth ul-ajsaam" refers to the rational, intellectual proof that uses the classification that all things in the universe are bodies (ajsaam), being made of at least two indivisible particles (al-jawaahir al-fardah) [bearing in mind the difference amongst the Mutakallimoon as to exactly what constitutes a jism], that these ajsaam (bodies) have incidental attributes (a'raad) and actions (occurrences, hawaadith), and that these (attributes and occurrences) are brought about (muhdath, came into being, meaning created) which indicates that the bodies in which they are found, must also be Muhdath and thus, things that are Muhdath cannot have no beginning, thus there must be a muhdith, one who brought them about, meaning created them - this is on a very simplistic level - but is a form of argument shared by the Mutakallimoon (Theologians) amongst the Jahmites, Mu'tazilites and Ash'arites - and the Jahmites and Mu'tazilites were the pioneers of this - in their debates with the philosphers, materialists and atheists - and then later the Ash'arites "borrowed" and refined this rational proof.

This rational proof was used against atheists, materialists and Philosophers who believed the universe was eternal and does not have a creator, and thus they had no notion of prophethood, revelation and resurrection. So the Mutakallimoon utilised this method and made it to be the foundation of their religion.

They wrongly believed that there is no other way to argue for the prophethood and the truthfulness of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) except by way of this rational proof - and thus they made this rational proof decisive and definitive (qat'ee) and as a result whatever was not congruent with it from the texts of the Book and the Sunnah they made ta'weel of and when the inconsistency of this approach became apparent, a faction of them concocted tafweed as the means through which the texts can be reconciled with their rational proof.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah on "hudooth ul-ajsaam"

Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said in "ar-Risaalah as-Safadiyyah" (Tahqeeq: al-Jaleemee, ad-Dimashqee), pages 275-276 - and he is describing the essence of what the Theologians (Mu'tazilah primarily, and following them in that, the Ash'ariyyah) built the foundations of their religion upon:

They (the theologians) said: Because He cannot be known except by the observation (an-nadhar) and inference (al-istidlaal) that leads to knowledge of the affirmation of a Maker.

As we have covered in other articles, the Jahmites and Mu'tazilah, who preceded the Ash'arite Theologians by up to two centuries - were much involved in debates with the Philosophers and atheists that were found in the lands to which Islam spread. And as these groups did not affirm revelation, then these Theologians (those who indulged in this Kalaam from the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah) sought a proof by which they could argue for

  • the createdness of the universe, as opposed to it being eternal
  • the existence of a creator therefore,
  • and thereby the possibility (imkaan) of prophethood, and
  • the possibility of resurrection.

As these things are the most basic foundations in leading a person to belief a creator and what follows on from that, they sought a rational proof that would allow them to achieve this, and they thought that this has to be the most important fundamental basis of the religion itself,and this is what they call Usool ud-Deen, its their kalaamist theology based around these subjects.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

They said: And there is no path to that except by affirmation of the occurrence (hudooth, i.e. creatededness) of the universe.

So here, the first step is to affirm that the universe "occurred" (was haadith) after not having existed. And this is the starting point. So they thought by what rational method can we establish that the universe "occurred".

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

Then they said: And there is no path to that except by affirming the occurrence of bodies (hudooth ul-ajsaam).

The method they came up with utilized some basic concepts from the Greek Philosophers, and these were a) Aristotle's manhaj of classifying everything in the universe as either substance (jawhar) and accident ('arad, something which is an incidental, non-essential attribute of a thing, or a substance) and b) the notion of the indivisible particle, which was an idea that some of the Greeks and Hindu philosphers were upon, and it is known as Atomism.

However, they only took the basic notions and they differed with the beliefs of those Philosophers as the Philosophers held the universe to be eternal, so though they did not agree with the theological views of the Philosophers, they took the basic underlying notions. And Atomism (al-Jawhar al-Fard) became a crucial element of the entire theology of the Ash'arites as it underpins everything.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

They said: And there is no evidence for that except through [deduction of evidence through] inference by the [variety of] incidental (temporal) attributes (a'raad) or [through] some of the incidental (temporal) attributes, such as motion (harakah) and rest (sukoon), or combination (ijtimaa') and separation (iftiraaq), and these are the states of being (akwaan).

So now we have the basics laid down, let us see through this rational explanation, and it works something like this. Let's take pebble and a pebble is what is defined as substance (jawhar), however, it is said to be a jism (body), since a body (according to some of the Theologians - they differ amongst themselves) is whatever is made up of at least two indivisible particles - so we have a pebble that is made up of substance (jawhar) and we refer to it is a body (jism). Now this pebble has width, height, depth, texture, color, hardness and so on. These are incidental attributes of this pebble. And anything that is a jism (body) is surrounded by space, it exists in space and location, and in relation to other things it has direction (jihah).

So according to their reasoning, all bodies (whatever we see around us in the universe) have attributes that are not essential to their being bodies. These are what we can incidental attributes (a'raad) also called more formally as "accidents". And similarly bodies also have occurrences, or events taking place in them, so say for example someone speaking, that's an event, an occurrence, something that happened after it did not. Or a leaf being at rest, then going through motion on so that's motion, an event, an occurrence. And these "accidents" also occur at the level of the smallest indivisible particle (al-Jawhar al-Fard), and indivisible particles are subject to combination, separation, motion and rest.

So you get the picture, all bodies have incidental attributes (like the height, skin color of a human) and those attributes which are temporal such as having a headache, or feeling sad for example - these are all called "a'raad" - those things which are temporary or non-essential. And there are other which are events, occurrences, things that take place after not having taken place in that body.

So all of the universe therefore is made up of bodies characterized with incidental and temporal non-essential attributes and in which events, or occurrences take place. You need to pay careful attention to two words, "a'raad" and "hawaadith", the first meaning incidental attributes, the second meaning events, occurrences, because this will help you realize why the Jahmiyyah and the Mu'tazilah were forced to negate Allaah's sifaat (attributes) and Af'aal Ikhtiyaariyyah (those actions of Allaah tied to His Will, which are also called sifaat fi'liyyah).

Not all bodies have the same a'raad, that's why Aristotle mentioned all the different categories of a'raad that bodies have. And to give some examples: color, shape, taste, smell, heat, cold, wetness, dryness, texture, number, space, location, direction, width, height, depth, motion, rest and so on.

Now, all bodies have collectively a wide range of a'raad, but at the level of the indivisible particle (al-Jawhar al-Fard) - which the entire universe is made up of - according to them - they needed to make the argument by way of a'raad that are common to every body (jism), to every thing basically.

And so there are two sets of a'raad:

  • combination (al-ijtimaa') and separation (al-iftiraaq) and
  • motion (al-harakah) and rest (as-sukoon).

This means indivisible particles coming together after being separated, or separating after being combined, or being at motion after rest, or rest after motion. What this means is that, at the most basic level, we can use either of these two pairs of a'raad in our argument. We don't need to worry about color, wetness, dryness, depth and so on, because that is not true of all bodies, or particles. But what is common to them all is either of these two pairs of a'raad (incidental attributes).

So then they argue amongst themselves as to which of these two pairs should be the basis, shall we argue on the basis of combination and separation (i.e. of the indivisible particle) which means the fact that we see indivisible particles coming together to form bodies and the other way round, with bodies being separated into indivisible particles. Or on the basis of motion and rest? Since all individual particles are either in motion or at rest, after not having been in motion or rest.

And are these two pairs of a'raad the basis or can we use other a'raad such as color for example. These affairs are arguments between them (the Mutakallimoon amongst the Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah).

But the point being here, the core of the argument comes down to arguing through the qualities (sifaat), incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith) in bodies for their createdness.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

For a body cannot be devoid of them, and they (the a'raad) are occurrences (haadithah). And whatever cannot be devoid of occurrences, is itself an occurrence (haadithah).

So now, the fact that a body (jism) is not devoid of having incidental or temporal attributes (a'raad) proves that it itself is an occurrence (haadith) because a'raad cannot exist on their own, they need bodies (ajsaam). So for example, you don't see the color green walking down the street, it has to be in something, some body, and likewise, you don't see a headache walking down the street, it can only take place in a body (in a human), and so on, so a'raad (incidental, or temporal attributes) cannot exist on their own, they have to be in something.

Now the question is for them (a'raad) to be in something, some substance or body (jism) how did they get there. They must have been placed there, because they cannot have put themselves there. In other words, the color green did not decide, I am going to inhabit that leaf. This is because a'raad (incidental attributes) cannot exist on their own - and this is one of their principles, that a'raad cannot exist independently on their own, they must inhere (i.e. reside in or exist in) a body (jism). So these a'raad had to be put there, and thus they were occurrences (hawaadith) in these bodies, and thus, they must have been put there.

Now whatever is subject to occurrences must itself be an occurrence, and because bodies are not devoid of having incidental or temporal attributes, then bodies must themselves be occurrences (hawaadith) - meaning they came about after not having existed.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

They said: And this foundation comprises four sections: a) Affirmation of incidental attributes (a'raad), (b) then affirmation of their occurrence, (c) then affirmation of [incidental attributes] being necessary of bodies (ajsaam), or that they (the bodies) cannot be devoid of them, (d) then nullification of occurrences that have no beginning, after which the occurrence of a body (jism) [after not having existed] is made binding.

So now we have the procedure outlined, which is bodies (ajsaam) have incidental attributes, and these incidental attributes were put there, as they cannot exist on their own, so they are occurrences (hawaadith) in those bodies, and whatever is subject to ocurrences, must itself be an occurrence. And hence all bodies (which are made up of indivisible particles) are therefore occurrences (haadithah). But occurrences cannot be infinite, there cannot be occurrences which have no beginning. There must have been a starting point, and this shows the entire universe which is made up of bodies (through indivisible particles) must be an occurrence, meaning happened after not having existed.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah continues:

And hence, the occurrence of the universe (after not having existed) is made binding because it is (made up of) bodies (ajsaam) and incidental attributes (a'raad). And thus, affirmation of a Maker becomes necessary because that which is brought about (mudath) must have one that brings it about (muhdith).

So this is the conclusion they wanted to come to through this rational demonstration.

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah says:

And this method is the basis of the Kalaam (theological rhetoric) whose reprimand by the Salaf and the Imaams became well-known, and due to it they (the theologians) said the Qur'aan is created, that Allaah will not be seen in the Hereafter, that He is not above the Throne, and they rejected the Attributes.

Now, we are speaking here mainly about the Jahmites and Mu'tazilites as they were the pioneers of this rational demonstration, and the Ash'arites came later and simply "borrowed" it and refined it a little.

Proving a Creator, Prophethood and Resurrection to the Atheists, Materialists and Philosophers

So what happened is that they (the Jahmites and Mu'tazilites) were debating the atheists and Philosophers and they came with this rational proof in order to demonstrate to those atheists and Philosophers the existence of a creator, and therefore the possibility of prophethood and resurrection.

So there are three things, a creator, prophethood and resurrection, and if you get any atheist agreeing upon these three things, then calling them to Islam is easy, but you have to prove these three things, and so they tried to do it rationally, and they came up with this demonstration. Unfortunately they engrossed themselves in this, and then they made these notions (of al-jawhar, al-jism, al-'arad, al-jawhar al-fard) into the core foundations of the religion itself.

And you see the futility of the claims of 21st century neo-Jahmites claiming to be followers of Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari - that the Mutakallimoon only used the terminology of the Greek Philosophers in order to refute them based on their terms, this is a huge lie and an absolute fraud - rather they took the basic notions from those Philosophers in order to establish a Creator, then they found that in order to remain consistent with their proof - they had to negate the Attributes, and thus, these basic notions became the core of their religion. You can go an open any basic Ash'arite textbook and you will see that they have indeed made the discussion of these affairs (al-jawhar, al-jism, al-'arad etc.) to be fundamental to their creed.

Becoming Engulfed, Swallowed and Destroyed By the So-Called "Rational Proof"

Now, when some of the atheists and Philosophers said, fine there is a Creator, now describe Him to us.

It is here that they got taken, grounded and pounded.

This is because in the Qur'an Allaah described Himself as being "above" the Throne and "aboveness" is an 'arad, incidental attribute according to their way of thinking, and Allaah described Himself as having spoken to Moosaa (alayhis salaam), an occurrence (haadithah), and Allaah described Himself with anger (ghadab), pleasure (ridhaa) and so on, and these are incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith) according to their understanding. So now when the Jahmite, the Mu'tazilite sees in the Qur'an, Allaah is above His Throne, or in the Sunnah, Allaah descends to the lowest Heaven, the first thing in their intellect is Tajseem, which is what they immediately thought,

"Oh No! An incidental attribute ('arad), or an event (haadithah), necessitating a jism!! This cannot be right - we have to explain this."

Incidental attributes and occurrences only take place in bodies (ajsaam) and bodies are made up of indivisible particles (al-Jawhar al-Fard), and only the universe is made up of indivisible particles (according to them), and so this would mean that Allaah is created, subject to incidental attributes and occurrences.

So now there is so much at stake - now they are completely and utterly stuck and now it's either Islam being demolished, so to speak - according to their way of thinking - or doing something in order to save Islam so to speak from those atheists - and thus Jahm, the Imaam of the Mu'attilah, he is the one who denied Allaah could be described with anything at all - all in order to maintain the "sanctity" of this intellectual proof. And so this is where ta'teel and ta'weel were born, as well as treating the intellect as being decisive over the texts of the Book and the Sunnah.

And so the greatest of the things to them were the issues of the Qur'aan, which is Allaah's Speech and which Allaah spoke in relation to events, and His Speech is tied to His Will. So for example, Allaah says, "Allaah has heard the saying of she who disputes...", at the beginning of Surah al-Mujaadilah, and this means Allaah could only have spoken this after creating the creation, and creating the one who disputed ... but this means this is an event (haadithah) and Allaah's instance of speech on this occasion is an event (haadithah) - but this must mean Allaah is a jism (body). So they had to negate this.

Thus, the saying of the creation of the Qur'aan - was an absolute must and so they innovated the saying that the Qur'aan must be created and this is what all that fitnah was about - they needed to maintain that intellectual proof - and thus, the Qur'an must be created. And the Mu'tazilah took up this issue until they put the Ummah to trial with it - but this issue originated with Jahm, and then the Ash'ariyyah Kullaabiyyah took up this issue in their own way, inventing a new innovation of "Kalaam Nafsee" attempting to conceal the plain falsehood of the view of those who preceded them.

And likewise Allaah being seen in the Hereafter, to Jahm, he had to deny that Allaah can be perceived in any way at all, and thus the Ru'yah was also an issue, because only bodies (ajsaam) can be seen, so this was another major issue of creed that had to explained away, and the Mu'tazilah inherited this from them and the Ash'ariyyah inherited it from their predecessors, claiming "Allaah will be seen, but not in any jihah (direction)" - which is sophistry and its aim is to maintain what the Jahmiyyah innovated in order to maintain the sanctity of their intellectual proof against the atheists.

And likewise, Allaah's Attributes, and His Attributes tied to his Will, such as istiwaa, and Nuzool and so on. These attributes necessitate (according to them) that Allaah is subject to incidental attributes (a'raad) and occurrences (hawaadith), and thus they must negated. And likewise, Allaah being above the Throne - this must mean (according to them) that Allaah is enclosed in space, since direction (jihah) and location (makaan) are incidental attributes of bodies (ajsaam), and so this must be negated.

So this is how and why they negate these great affairs, the Qur'an being the uncreated speech of Allaah, Allaah being seen in the Hereafter, and Allaah being above His Throne, and Allaah's Attributes and Allaah's Sifaat Fi'liyyah or Af'aal Ikhtiyaariyyah (Actions tied to Allaah's Will).

So now we can understand and put the saying of all the Jahmite, Mu'tazilite, Ash'arite negators into context and understand where they are coming from.

The Solution: ta'teel and Ta'weel

And so the Jahmites negated everything, and the Mu'tazilah followed in their path, negating every Attribute, and affirming only the Names, but only as synonymous labels, without them indicating any attributes - and all of this was because the true and real foundation for them was their intellectual proof, and thus everything in the Book and the Sunnah had to be explained away.

And here we see the birth of ta'weel - the distortion of the meanings of the texts of the Book and the Sunnah, and so they sought to make ta'weel of everything in the Book and the Sunnah, and the Imaam, Chief and ta'weel Master was Bishr bin Giyaath al-Mareesee (d. 218H) who excelled in this and invented the vast majority of the ta'weels that the later ones adopted (Jahmites, Mu'tazilites, Ash'aris and Maturidis).

The reason why they had to do this was because their rational argument meant Allaah was subject to incidental attributes according to the Book and the Sunnah, and thus, this would necessitate He is a body (jism), and this would destroy their argument, and as such, the Prophethood cannot be argued for, and the Resurrection cannot be argued for - and thus, this would give the atheists and Philosophers the upper hand, and it meant destruction of what they saw as the foundations of the religion (according to them) - and so they opened this evil door and this is what led to the origin and spread of ta'teel and tahreef within the Ummah.

And the Jahmiyyah and Mu'attilah shared in the ta'teel, but the Mu'tazilah were a bit wiser in that they saw it is not possible to negate what Allaah has clearly affirmed of Names, so they affirmed the Names, but only as mere labels which are all synonymous, so ar-Rahman is the same as al-Baseer, it's just a label referring back to Allaah's essence, and ar-Rahman does not indicate any attribute, just like al-Baseer does not indicate any attribute, they are all just labels. So the Jahmites negated everything, and the Mu'tazilah negated everything but the names.

So when the Jahmites raised their heads and started questioning the verses of the attributes and authentic narrations in which the attributes are mentioned - with a view to negating them - the Salaf understood what they were attempting and thus began authorship in refutation against the Jahmites - and those claiming the Qur'an is created. So the Salaf authored much against these people, and that's why see scores of books entitled "ar-Raddu alal-Jahmiyyah" (Refutation of the Jahmites) until Imaam adh-Dhahabee mentions that Nu'aym bin Hammaad (d. 228H) "...authored thirteen books in refutation of the Jahmites", may Allah reward him.

Falsehood Giving Birth To Another Falsehood - Tajseem

And then to counter the Jahmites and Mu'tazilites, there emerged another group who in order to combat them, exaggerated in affirmation - as they perceived that what the Jahmites were doing was to negate the Lord - so they said, "Hearing like our hearing, Seeing like our seeing, Hand like our hands" and so on and they spoke of Allaah in a manner that is repugnant - and thus they refuted falsehood with falsehood - just like the Jahmites argued with the Philosophers with falsehood - which is their rational demonstration based upon these terms: jawhar, 'arad, jism, haadith and so on. And this is why we hear from the early Salaf that there appeared from Khurasaan two vile and filthy innovations - the ta'teel of Jahm bin Safwaan and the Tajseem of Muqaatil bin Sulaymaan - and incidentally both these characters knew each other, and would pray in the latter's mosque in Balkh and they would debate each other, and thus Muqaatil, attempting to refute Jahm, went to the other extreme and He likened the Attributes to those of the creation.

The Ash'arites - Effeminates of the Mu'tazilah

And so this is a brief synopsis of the origins and foundations of the deen of the Jahmites, Mu'tazilites in the second century and the Ash'arite Theologians simply followed on from that, they are merely the tail ends, they are the effeminates (eunuchs) of the Mu'tazilah as has been said about them historically, and they came along and the earlier ones amongst them like al-Ash'ari tried to bridge the gap between Ahl us-Sunnah and the Mu'tazilah following the creed of Ibn Kullaab in that - (but failing in that and inventing more innovations in the process) - to try and tread a so called middle ground. And then the later ones, such as al-Juwaynee in the fifth century simply reverted back more or less to the Jahmism and Mu'tazilism of the second century, adopting much of their ta'teel and ta'weels.

And it should be noted that the earlier Ash'arites had much better positions, such as al-Ash'ari himself and Abu Bakr al-Baqillani - they were from the end of the third and beginning of the fourth century, and they affirmed Allaah being above the Throne, His Face, Two Hands and so on, even despite being affected with the kalaamist theology, they affirmed these Attributes without ta'weel.

Further Notes and Comments

ONE: As has been pointed out by the Scholars upon the way of the Salaf, this method used by the Mutakallimoon is baatil and corrupt, and actually leads to a conclusion opposite to what it is set out to achieve - and for this reason the Philosophers (whom the Mutakallimoon) were arguing against, were shrewd and saw the flaws in it, and as a result of this, they found an opening to reject the created nature of the universe, the possibility of prophethood and resurrection.

TWO: The rejection of the Salaf and the people of the Sunnah and Hadeeth against Kalaam is this Kalaam, this is what they were speaking about, reprimanding it, rebuking it, and stating that the one who indulges in it will lose his religion. This Kalaam that they were using to try and establish the foundations of the religion - which to them is the createdness of the universe, the existence of a creator, the possibility of prophethood and resurrection. This is what the Salaf spoke about when they condemned Kalaam. And this Kalaam is what led them (the theologians) to claim the Qur'an is created, that Allaah has no descriptions at all (to the Jahmiyyah), that Allaah does not have actions tied to his Will and so on. And that's why we see books were written against Kalaam and its people, in response to the Jahmites, Mu'tazilites and the Ash'arites.

THREE: The Jahmite Ash'aris try to argue that their "Atomism" has a basis in the Qur'an, and they use verses to support the notion that everything is made of the indivisible element (according to their understanding) - but they don't go into the intricate details of what their belief in the indivisible element actually is and it is the most corrupt of beliefs which all intelligent people will reject upon grasping it and inshaa'Allaah we will cover this in a separate article - but they hide much of what they are upon, for fear that when the common folk amongst them realize what the true and real foundation of their creed is, they will recognize its falsehood immediately - so they conceal much of what their creed is based upon.