Ibn al-Qayyim: Five Questions To Pull The Very Foundations From Beneath the Negators of Allaah Being Above His Creation, Separate and Distinct From It
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Monday, August, 31 2009 and filed under Articles
Key topics: Al-Uluww Hulool Ittihaad Al-Uluww Hulool Ittihaad


Those affected by the creed of the Mutakallimoon (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah, Ash'ariyyah, Maturidiyyah) play games when faced with the issue of Allaah's existence external to the created universe, and some of them are led to make statements whose inherent contradictions they cannot see, such as affirming that "Allaah is above the Throne", or "Allaah is above the heaven" or "Allaah is not within the created universe", but at the same time they say, "He is not in direction". When the strength of argument that Allaah is above the Throne, above the Heaven, with His Essence dominates and subdues them, so they are forced to acknowledge it, but then go on to say "without direction", which in essence, implies non-existence, thus invalidating their sayings and affirmations that Allaah is not within the universe and is above it.

Their intent by negating "direction" is on account of what they have made to be the foundation of their creed, - the proof of the createdness of the universe through the presence of incidental attributes (a'raad) in bodies (ajsaam). And as location is an incidental attribute of created bodies, then in keeping with their intellectual proof, Allaah cannot be described with it, otherwise it would falsify the intellectual proof. Therefore, they are forced to deny Allaah being above the heaven (which to them is location and direction), along with many other attributes (the sifaat fi'liyyah). This is why they express rejection of "direction (jihah)" - its all about keeping their intellectual proof (of demonstrating the universe is created) from being invalidated.

A further explanation of this is that to them, the only way to demonstrate the truthfulness of the revelation is through the intellect, and thus, the revelation depends on the intellect. As such, any intellectual proof that demonstrates the createdness of the universe, and therefore the existence of a creator, and therefore, the plausibility and possibility of prophethood and resurrection - then this intellectual proof is the most decisive proof and it is above everything else - even the revelation. Now, practically, this is precisely what the Mutakallimoon are upon - and there is enough in their books and writings that clearly demonstrates this, without any shadow of doubt - and this will be documented in other articles inshaa'Allaah. But in short, their intellectual proof which they devised has to be protected and defended at all costs.

This is what the entire issue is about, from its beginning to its end.

The Earlier Ash'ari Scholars

The early Ash'ari Scholars had a creed different to the later Ash'ari Scholars (see here), specifically with respect to Allaah's uluww (aboveness) and some of the Attributes such as Face, Hands and Eyes. These Ash'ari Scholars affirmed that Allaah is above the Throne, with His Essence whilst negating "jismiyyah (being a body)", and this shows that they believed that Allaah being above the Throne, above the heaven, does not necessitate that He is a jism. They held this view in opposition to the Karraamiyyah who said "Allaah is above the Throne and is a body (although not like the created bodies)" - and the likes of the Karraamiyyah were in turn refuting - albeit with falsehood - the Jahmiyyah who were saying "Allaah is not in one place exclusive to another" and who were denying that He is above the heaven, separate and distinct from His creation.

Hence, the early Ash'ari Scholars affirmed "aboveness" for Allaah, with His Essence, and al-Qurtubi states that the Salaf, unanimously, affirmed "jihah" (direction) for Allaah (see here), and he means that they affirmed aboveness for Allaah with His Essence, although we would not use the word "jihah" due to the ambiguity it can contain - and they (the early Ash'arites) considered it the truth that Allaah is above the creation, above the Throne, with His Essence, without that necessitating He is a body like the created bodies. This is in stark contrast to what is propounded of the deen of the Jahmites by the Later Ash'aris, that Allaah is neither within the creation or external to the creation, and not in any particular direction.

However, there is another level of deception at play when the Ash'arites are cornered with the fact that the view of the early Ash'ari Scholars was the affirmation of Allaah being above the Throne, with His Essence, and not a jism (body). They say:

Hey! We affirm Allaah is above the Throne, and above the Heaven and above all things! So why are you accusing us of denying this? This is a lie upon us!

And what they actually mean by this is that He is above these things in status and rank - which is true - but not with His Essence. And this is what they seek to deny and they seek to deny this because it invalidates their intellectual proof of demonstrating the universe is created. And they bring statements from some of the Scholars such as Ibn Hajar and others who fell into some of what the Ash'aris fell into, stating that Allaah's aboveness is one of status and rank - and not of His Essence, however this avails them nothing when it is established that those who are said to be the "founders" of what became known as the Ash'ari madhhab, that they were mostly upon the creed of Abdullaah bin Sa'eed bin Kullaab (d. ~240H), and upon the belief that Allah is above the Throne with His Essence, whilst negating Jismiyyah.

The Underlying Truth of the Entire Affair

If you want to understand the deen of the Mu'attilah (Jahmiyyah, Mu'tazilah and Ash'ariyyah) then the following gets right down to the crux of it all - what is below is directed towards the Ash'arites but it applies to all of them, because their spring and fountain is the same - they just differ with each other on how to handle the texts of the revelation that contradict their "rational proof" for establishing the createdness of the universe.

Revisiting the Difference Between the Early Ash'aris and the Later Ones Regarding their Position on Allaah being Above the Throne and Jismiyyah (and Hence the Issue of Createdness)

The Ash'aris claim that attributing direction to Allaah necessitates He is a body (jism), and therefore kufr (disbelief) and this argument of theirs returns back to what they made to be the foundation of their religion of the proof of "hudooth ul-ajsaam" - the createdness of the universe, and their notions of substance (jawhar) and incidental attribute ('arad) and body (jism), occupation of space (tahayyuz) and so on. So anything that is in a direction or that can be pointed to, must be occupying space, and anything that occupies space must, by their definition, be a jism - therefore Allaah cannot be above the creation with His Essence.

To them, the universe is made up of space-occupying indivisible particles (al-jawaahir al-fardah), and a body is whatever is composed of two or more of these indivisible particles - and all bodies have incidental attributes which included location and direction. Thus, location and direction necessitates Jismiyyah (something being a body) - and since they made these foundations to be the basis for proving the createdness of the universe, and hence a creator, and since they made the truthfulness of the Messenger and the possibility of the resurrection to be dependent upon this proof - they had to maintain its sanctity and therefore denied everything in the texts that would contradict and nullify this proof, and hence they denied Allaah is above the heaven, above His Throne.

And it is because of this that they say, "Affirming direction for Allaah is kufr" which translates as:

  • Affirming direction for Allaah necessitates He is in a location
  • And if He is in a location, it necessitates He is occupying space
  • And if He is occupying space, He must be a jism (body) - thanks Aristotle...
  • And if He is a jism (body), then He must be created
  • And thus, this invalidates our proof for the createdness of the universe, and we cannot prove the existence of a Creator
  • And this makes it impossible to argue for the possibility of prophethood and the possibility of resurrection
  • And since we cannot now rationally prove any of that to the atheists, it follows that affirming direction for Allaah is kufr (because it negates all those things which are the very foundations of our religion - the createdness of the universe, the existence of a Creator, the possibility of prophethood and the possibility of ressurection)

In short, this is the equation:

Now, the Early Ash'aris, as we have pointed out held that Allaah is above the Throne with His Essence and is not a jism (body) - and even though they elaborated upon the same proof (for the createdness of the universe) - they could not deny Allaah being above the Throne, because of the strength of evidence and because it was known to be the deen of the Muslims, despite the emergence of the sayings of the Jahmites who were at that time scorned, debased, disgraced and humiliated. So they (the early Ash'aris) said, "Allaah is above the Throne and is not a body (jism)". It was well established and was irrefutable and was manifestly known that the belief of all the Muslims (save the Jahmites) was that Allaah is above the Throne, above the heaven. So the Early Ash'aris had to accept it, but they added their innovated term of negation "but he is not a body (jism)" - as a disclaimer and as a means to protect their intellectual proof for demonstrating the createdness of the universe.

This also shows that to the Early Ash'aris, being above the heaven, above the Throne, does not necessitate Allaah being a body. The Later Ash'aris however, they negated Allaah being above the heaven unrestrictedly and absolutely, and they argued that Allaah being above the heaven, above the Throne necessitates that He is a body (jism) and composed (murakkab) - and one of the chief spokesman of this is ar-Razi (d. 606H) who unscrupulously utilized many of the arguments of the Philosophers (who are supposed to be his disputants) in the process.

All of the above is the manifest truth and can be amply demonstrated (from their own books), and it will be demonstrated inshaa'Allaah through the content that will be added to this website in the future by Allaah's permission.

The Five Questions

In this article we want cover an argument demonstrated by Ibn al-Qayyim in some of his books and which is used against the Mu'attilah in general (and not the Ash'aris in particular), regarding the affirmation that Allaah is separate and distinct from His creation, above it and ascended above His Throne.

And these are a serious of five questions to ask the Mu'attil (Denier):

The First Question: Does Allaah Exist Outside of the Mind or Not?

So the first question is:

Does Allaah have an existence outside of the human mind, or is He just a figment of the imagination in the mind only, thus not existing outside of it?

Here, if the respondent says "No (He does not have an existence outside of the mind)", he has passed judgement upon himself that he is a disbelieving atheist, and he has negated a Maker, Creator and Originator.

And if He says, "Yes", then he is led to the second question.

The Second Question: Is Allah's Existence An Existence Separate to That of the Creation or Not?

The second question is:

So this existence of Allaah [outside of the mind], is it an existence separate and distinct from this creation that you see and observe, or is it this very same existence?

So if he says, "Yes it is the very same existence and there do not exist two separate existences", and negates that there are two separate existences, then he has worn the gown of "al-Ittihaad" (Unity in Existence), and once more he has testified to disbelief for himself, and has rejected the existence of the Creator, the Originator, and his disbelief is greater than that of the Christians, the worshippers of the cross, because they only spoke of the Ittihaad between Allaah and Eesaa, and his mother Maryam (alaihimaa as-salaam), but this Ittihaadee has claimed that Allaah is unified with all of his creation and what it contains of animals, of pigs and apes and other such things.

And if he says, "No, there are two separate existences, and that Allaah and the Universe are two separates, and are other than each other", then ask him the third question.

The Third Question: Does Allah Indwell Within the Creation Or Vice Versa?

The third question is:

Do you speak of the creation indwelling within Him, or do you speak of Him indwelling within the creation?

In other words we now move on from Ittihaad (unity with the entire creation) and ask about Hulool (indwelling). So he is given two options, does he affirm either of them. Namely, that does Allaah indwell within the creation, meaning that He is within it and resides within it. Or does the creation, indwell within him, meaning that Allaah created the creation inside of His dhaat (His essence), and thus it indwells within him.

This is unlike the second question, where he was asked whether Allaahs's existence is the actual existence of the creation (meaning wahdat ul-wujood). Here we are speaking about Allaah indwelling only within some of the creation, or the creation indwelling within the Essence of Allaah.

So if he affirms either one of the two, then he has agreed with the Christians, those who speak of the indwelling of Allah within al-Maseeh Eesaa Ibn Maryam (alaihis salaam), but rather he is worse than them, because they restricted this indwelling to al-Maseeh, but as for this person (this Innovator), then he has made Allaah to be an indweller of all of His creation, and thus by way of this he becomes a beloved one to the Christians and he affirms them (as people of truth). Note, it is for this reason that you see many of the Zanaadiqah, like Hishaam Kabbaani, Nazim al-Qubrusi and others very close to the People of the Book and partaking with them and intimate with them, and in their writings you see affirmations of the unity of religions and that all religions have what they hold to be this universal truth (which really stems from either the doctrine of Ittihaad or of Hulool).

However, if he negates both of these types of Hulool (indwelling) for Allaah, then he is asked the fourth question.

The Fourth Question: Is Allaah Established By Himself (al-Qaa'imu Bi Nafsihi) Or Not?

The fourth question is:

Is Allaah established by Himself, being free of need of anyone besides Him for His Existence, just like within the creation we find essences that are established by themselves and are not in need of or dependent upon other essences within the creation for their existence, or is He like the incidental attributes [that follow on from their essences], which are not established by themselves and are not free of need of the essences to which they belong for their existence?

So the question here - after establishing He is separate and distinct from the creation, neither in unison with it, nor indwelling within it, nor it indwelling within Him - is whether Allaah's existence is one that is established by itself and is not dependent or contingent upon anything else, or is He not established by Himself, meaning that He is like the incidental attributes of things which cannot exist on their own, but need something for their existence to be maintained, like for example, the attribute of hearing does not exist on its own, there is no thing in existence called "hearing" that can be pointed at, rather hearing is an attribute found in things - so incidental attributes need entities for their existence to be established and they do not have an independent existence.

So if he says that Allaah is like the incidental attributes that are parts or qualities of essences, and which therefore are not independently established by themselves for their existence, then he has spoken with what he negated in the previous two questions, meaning that Allaah is part of this creation, since he would be dependent upon it, even if He was separate from it. Since, being dependent upon it, would make him either a juz' (part) of its parts (ajzaa') or an 'arad (incident) from amongst its incidents.

However, if he says that Allaah is established by Himself, totally free of any need of anything besides Him for His existence, and is wholly independent of all that is besides him, then we move on to the fifth question.

The Fifth Question

Now that he has affirmed that Allaah exists (outside of the mind), separate from the creation, independently established by Himself, not in need of anything besides Him, he has thus affirmed that there are two separate entities (i.e. existences), Allaah and the universe or the Creator and the creation. All that is left now is to ask him the relationship between these two.

The fifth question is:

When we have two essences, or entities that are established by themselves, then inform me of the relationship between them. Are they

  • Two likenesses (mathalaan) of each other?
  • Two opposites (diddaan)?
  • Two separates (ghayraan)?

This is because it is not possible to speak of the relation between two entities except by these three possibilities, and irrespective of which one you choose, then with each possibility you are bound by necessity, to affirm the separation, distinction (infisaal, tabaayun) between them both, since if these two entities were not separate, distinct and outside of each other, then it would not be possible to affirm two separate things, there would not be two separate things to begin with, such that we can now discuss the relationship between them.

Summary From the Five Questions

Thus, it becomes clear that Allaah exists outside of the mind, is other than the creation, does not indwell within it, nor does it indwell within him, is established by Himself, independently, free of any need. And with this, the saying of the Innovators, is destroyed, since it is binding to affirm Allaah's existence outside of this Universe, and His being distinct and separate from this creation.