Ibn Taymiyyah Discussing Ibn al-Mubaarak And Imaam Ahmad on al-Hadd (Limit) And A Response to the Jahmite Ash'aris of Philadelphia
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, June, 27 2009 and filed under Ibn Taymiyyah
Key topics: Jahmite Ash'aris Al-hadd Imaam Ahmad Abdullaah Ibn Al-Mubaarak Jahmite Ash'aris Al-hadd Imaam Ahmad Abdullaah Ibn Al-Mubaarak

Ibn Taymiyyah and the Issue of "al-hadd"

The basis for this doubt regarding Shaikh ul-Islaam is in fact a saying which has been reported from the Imaam, 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak regarding the affirmation of 'al-hadd' for Allaah. and it is also the saying of Imaam Ahmad.

So this issue firstly is narrated from the some of the Imaams of the Salaf - and we need to understand why did they say this, what was the reason? These questions are in fact answered by Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah when he discusses this matter, and from what Shaykh ul-Islaam has discussed on this issue we can ask the Philadelphian Jahmites posing as followers of Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari: Does Shaikh ul-Islaam speak with the affirmation of 'al-hadd' for Allaah with that meaning which appears to suggest the idea that Allaah is confined and limited just like a wall confines a house or fencing confines the garden?! And is there an attribute belonging to Allaah which is named 'al-hadd'? And was Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah the inventor of such a term?

Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah indicated that the reason for this investigation is the saying of 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak regarding affirmation of 'al-hadd' for Allaah as will be mentioned. It is likewise reported in 'Tabaqaat ul-Hanaabilah' (1/267):

I said to Ahmad ibn Hanbal, 'It is narrated about Ibn al-Mubaarak that it was said to him, 'How do we know our Lord?' and he replied, 'Above (fee) the seventh heaven, upon His Throne with a limit (bi haddin)''. So Ahmad said, 'This is how it is with us'.

Clarification of The Issue [1]

The First

Shaikh ul-Islaam - may Allaah have mercy upon him) mocks the intelligence of the one who claims that Allaah has an attribute which is the attribute of 'al-hadd' as occurs in 'Talbees ul-Jahmiyyah' (1/442). Shaikh ul-Islaam said:

These words that he mentioned would be applicable if they had said, 'Allaah has an attribute of 'al-hadd', just as this refuter has suspected them of saying. But no one has ever said this, and no sensible person says this. There are no reality to these words, since there is not amongst the Attributes by which He is described, any specific attribute which is called 'al-hadd' - as He is described with 'al-Yad' (Hand) or al-'Ilm (Knowledge) - for (al-hadd) is that by which a thing is distinguished from others in in terms of its description (sifah) and extent (qadr), as is well known regarding 'al-hadd' for those things which bring about separation (non-contact) between things. So it is said, 'The hadd (end, limit) of so and so' or 'to such and such extent', and this is from the attributes that demarcate something from others.

The Second

And when the astray Jahmees reject and oppose the Attributes of Allaah, denying His being above His creation, and claiming that Alaah is everywhere, and within everything (and they are the Hulooli Jahmees) one from the Salaf said what he said - as will be mentioned - that Allaah has a 'hadd' (a limit), meaning, attributes which distinguish Him from that which is besides Him, for He is not in every place as the Jahmiyyah say.

Shaikh ul-Islaam said in 'Bayaan ut-Talbees' (1/443):

And when the Jahmiyyah speak with such words whose meanings comprise the sense that the Creator is not distinguished (separate) from the creation, then they deny and oppose His Attributes by which He is distinguished, and they deny His existent reality (qadr) such that when the Mu'tazilah come to know that He is al-Hayy (Ever-Living), al-'Aleem (All-Knowing), al-Qadeer (All-Powerful), they say, 'We already know His reality and His (true) nature', and they say, 'He is not separate and distinguished (baa'in) from those besides Him'. In fact, either they should describe Him with the attribute of non-existence so that they say, 'He is neither inside the world, not outside it and nor this and nor that', or they should make Him merged with the created things or the existence of the created things.

So Ibn al-Mubaarak explained that the Lord, free from all imperfections and the Most High, is upon His Throne, distinct from His creation, separate from them and he mentioned 'al-hadd' because the Jahmiyyah used to say, 'He has no hadd (i.e. a limit such that He is separate from that which is besides Him)', but whatever has no limit is not separate and distinct from the creation and cannot be above the world because all of this is necessitated by (the meaning of) al-hadd (i.e. it necessitates that He is separate and distinct from the creation and above it).

So when they asked Ameer ul-Mu'mineen 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, 'How should we know Him?', he said, 'That He is above His heavens, upon His Throne, separate and distinct from His creation', then they mentioned the imperative of that which the Jahmiyyah denied, and by their denial of it, they also deny what it requires and necessitates - the existence of He who is above the Throne - free is He from all imperfection - and His distinction and separation from the creation, so they said to him, 'With a limit (bi haddin)', and he said, 'With a limit'. And this is something which is understood by everyone who knows what difference there is between the saying of the Believers of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah and the heretical Jahmees.

The Third

It is apparent to the fair and just person that Shaikh ul-Islaam investigated the tafseer of the word 'al-hadd' because it has been reported from the Salaf, and he never actually spoke with it to begin with. He reconciled - may Allaah have mercy upon him - between this and what has reported from others amongst the Salaf and the Imaams of the Sunnah and Hadeeth regarding the denial of 'al-hadd'. He said in 'Bayaan ut-Talbees' (2/163),

And this is because by the word 'al-hadd', to everyone who speakes with it, one of two things are intended: The reality of a thing itself (its true nature) is meant by it or the existence (of something) as confirmed with the sight (wujood ul-'ainee), or the existence of something in the mind only (wujood udh-dhahnee) is intended by it, so 'Abu Abdullaah - the Imaam Ahmad - informed that He, the Mighty and Magnificent, is upon the Throne without a reality that anyone can define (bilaa haddin yuhadduhu ahadun) and without a description that anyone can describe and he followed that with his words, 'The eyes cannot grasp him, neither with a limit (hadd) nor extremity (ghaayah).

The intent here is that the tafseer of the word 'al-hadd' by 'wujood ul-'ainee' - and this is what occurs by the sight and it's encompassment (of what it sees) - or by 'wujood adh-dhahnee' - which is what occurs by the perception of the mind and intellect and its defining of what it sees or imagines - is falsehood, and is denied from Allaah the Mighty and Majestic.

Allaah does not have an attribute whose names is 'al-hadd', however 'al-hadd' (as used by Abdullaah Ibn al-Mubaarak) is an expression of the distinction of Allaah from other than Him with respect to His Being and His Attributes and His being unique and specific in His perfection, His ascendancy (uluww) over His Throne and His being distinct and separate from His creation. So after this clarification does any doubt remain and have the words of Shaikh ul-Islaam left any insinuations? Allaah does not amend the actions of the mischief-makers!

An Important Note

The abovementioned quotation of Ibn al-Mubaarak is at the heart of the matter: Ad-Daarimee reported it in 'ar-Radd 'alal-Mareesee' (p.34) and in 'ar-Radd 'alal-Jahmiyyah (162) and 'Abdullaah bin Ahmad in 'as-Sunnah' (1/175) and 'al-Bayhaqee in 'al-Asmaa was-Sifaat' (p.427) from the route of 'Alee bin al-Hasan bin Shaqeeq who said, "I asked 'Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, I said, 'How do we know our Lord?' He replied, 'Above (fee) the seventh heaven, upon His Throne.' I said, 'But the Jahmiyyah say He is like this!' He replied, 'We do not say as the Jahmiyyah say, we say He is as He is.' I said, 'With a limit (bi haddin)?' He replied, 'Yes, by Allaah, with a limit (bi haddin).'"

And Imaam adh-Dhahabee said in 'al-'Uluww' (p.152 of its 'Mukhtasir'), "This is saheeh (authentic) from Ibn al-Mubaarak and Ahmad, may Allaah be pleased with him." And Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said in 'al-Hamawiyyah' (5/184 of Majmoo' ul-Fataawaa), "This is well-known from Ibn al-Mubaarak, established from him from more than one aspect and it is also affirmed from Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ishaaq bin Raahawaih and from more than one of the Imaams." Refer also to Sharh Aqeedatut-Tahaawiyyah (p.240).

A Second Note

One of the deviated Jahmees of this era claimed that this narration has three defects in a commentary of his upon (al-Bayhaqee's) 'al-Asmaa' (p.427). He said concerning al-Hasan bin as-Sibaah, the narrator of it from 'Alee ibn al-Hasan according to al-Bayhaqee, "An-Nisaa'ee said, 'He is not strong (reliable)' and they have accused Ibn Shaqeeq with al-Irjaa', and the various narrations from Ibn al-Mubaarak differ as you can see!"

I say: These defects are themselves defective and stricken!! Al-Hasan bin as-Sibaah has been investigated by more than one person, let alone the fact that the saying of an-Nisaa'ee concerning him is unacceptable, as you will see with clear evidences in the defence of al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar of him in 'Hadee as-Saaree' (p.397).

As for reviling Ibn Shaqeeq with the innovation of al-Irjaa then that is weak for two reasons:

Firstly, an accusation (of unacceptability due to) innovation - predominantly - is not to be made for the narration of someone who is reliable and trustworthy (thiqah) amongst the Huffaadh, and (in this case) especially since in what he has narrated no element of the (innovation) of al-Irjaa is to be found in it or can approach it.

Secondly, the claim of al-Irjaa is a false and rejected claim, for when it was said to him that he held the notion of al-Irjaa! He said, 'I do not put you to liberty', as occurs in 'Taareekh Baghdaad' (11/37) and in Tahdheeb ul-Kamaal (20/372) there occurs that he returned from it. And as for the claim of the differences in the narrations "& as you can see&" , then that is false claim, for there is not the slightest aspect of difference (in the various narrations.)

That is, those who attack Shaikh ul-Islaam accuse him of initiating this matter for which - in their estimation - there is no precedence from the Salaf. However, it should have been sufficiently clear to them when they quoted the words of Shaikh ul-Islaam from his works that he is merely discussing an issue that has actually been reported authentically from one of the Salaf.

And this shows that the Jahmite Ash'aris are not to be trusted in their quoting from and their attribution to Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - for their deception and treachery in this regard is as clear as daylight ...


[1] Adapted and emended from the book "Daf' Shubhah al-Ghawiyyah" of ash-Shukree.