Eternal, temporal and comments by Salafi editors

Posted on August 27, 2006. Filed under: 202 - Advanced Asma wa Sifaat |

On page 257, Imām as-Safārīnī affirms that the Atharī position is that the attributes of action such as Istiwā, Nuzūl, Majī, Khalq, ect are Qadīmah, i.e. they are ancient according to the Salaf of this Ummah and the Imāms of the Dīn. He says:
“Nothing of them are Muhdath, otherwise (if that were so) He would be subject to change and what is subject to change is created and Allāh is Exalted above that.”
The Salafi editors of this edition of Imām as-Safārīnīs book saw fit to place a footnote under his above mentioned words. They said after quoting a Salafi response from ibn Sahmān:
“So if you know this, it will become clear to you that the statement of the explainer (i.e. Imām as-Safārīnī) concerning Allāhs actions of Ikhtiyār (choice) that: ‘Nothing of them are Muhdath, otherwise (if that were so) He would be subject to change and what is subject to change is created and Allāh is Exalted above that’ -is not from the words of the Salaf and its Imāms, rather it is from the words of the people of innovation who are opposed to the Salaf.”

For the Mutakallimun, as mentioned earlier, ‘Eternal’ (Qadim) is synonymous with ‘Creator’, whereas ‘temporal’ (Hadith) is synonymous with the ‘Creation’, which is why when the Hanbali Imams say that Allah’s Speech is eternal, meaning it is not Created, not that it is ‘inner Speech’, as the Ash’arites claim; and this is further consolidated by the fact that they all affirm, literally, that Allah Speaks with a sound, or that He Descends last third of the night.

Precisely for this reason, as also mentioned earlier, the Madhab is not to use these terms that have two possible connotations, the right one and the wrong.

Hence, the statement that ‘no Hawadith take place in Allah’, if one intends by the term ‘Hawadith’, that no creation comes into existence in the Essence of Allah, or that Allah does not gain a new Attribute which He did not have before (which is what, ironically, the Ash’aris believe!), then this concept of Hawadith is certainly negated from Allah by the consensus of the Salaf and the Hanbalis.

However, if one intends by the term ‘Hawadith’, Allah’s Attributes of Actions, such as His Speech, His Descent, etc, as the Ash’aris do, then as it has already preceded us, al-Saffarini, like the rest of the Hanbalis, clearly affirms that Allah Speaks when He likes and how He likes, with a Sound, etc.

This makes clear beyond doubt that al-Saffarini uses the term Hadith/Hawadith synonymously with the term ‘Creation’; while uses the term ‘Qadim’ synonymously with the term ‘Creator’ and all His Attributes, irrespective of whether they subsist in Allah’s Essence, such as Hearing and Seeing, or they come into being preceded by non-existence, such as Allah’s Speech with a Sound, which Moses heard.

The author then refers to the footnote by Ibn Sahman al-Hanbali, in his effort to highlight the supposed differences between the Hanbali and the Salafi creed. If the author were to summarise the footnote for the readers, perhaps the readers would have a different picture. However, his heart is corrupt, and his objective is to deceive, yet Allah has decided to expose him and fail his efforts.

Firstly, all the Salafi comments the author is referring to, specifically object to the wording and the usage of certain terminologies, such as Hadd, Intiqal, Haraka, etc. For such terms have correct as well as incorrect connotations. Al-Saffarini himself quotes Imam Ahmad rebuking the man who negated Haraka and Intiqal from Allah. The comments do not, in any case, accuse al-Saffarini of being a Mufawwidh, or negator of Allah’s Attributes, because it is more than obvious that al-Saffarini affirms the literal meaning, as he explicitly states it himself.

Secondly, not all the comments are in criticism of al-Saffarini’s usage of newly invented terms. Rather, many comments simply add to, clarify, or support the statements of al-Saffarini. This is something the author himself must have realised, assuming that he simply flicked through the book without reading it, looking for the critical footnotes in particular, to support his flawed hypothesis.

Thirdly, the Salafi/Hanbali Ibn Sahman who placed the footnote, quotes from none other than Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim, whose statements are so extensively used through out the book in every chapter, that it is crammed full of them.

Fourthly, Ibn Sahman refers to Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim who explained that none of the Salaf ever used the word ‘Qadim’ to describe Allah’s Attributes of Actions, such as Allah’s Speech, His Descent, etc, even though what al-Saffarini intends is correct.

Fifthly, Ibn Sahman quotes Ibn Taymiyya saying that the Salaf unanimously affirmed the literal meaning of verses concerning Allah’s Attributes of Actions, such as Descent. While many of them, including a narration from Imam Ahmad, used the terms like Hadd (limit), movement (haraka) and relocation (intiqal) to describe Allah. Others, including Imam Ahmad, refused to describe Allah with such terms, simply because Allah and His Messenger did not use those terms. The Hanbalis, as mentioned earlier, were likewise divided, but they all affirmed the literal meanings of Allah’s Attributes of Actions. This has also been demonstrated earlier when al-Saffarini quoted al-Tufi saying that the Hanbalis by consensus believe in the literal meanings of the texts pertaining to movement, without objecting to any of it, and thereby tacitly agreeing with it, according to the methodology of the author.

Explaining the line of poetry wherin he says ‘Without any Fikr (thought), Imām as-Safārīnī says:
“(without any Fikr) concerning its meanings for that is not within the capability of human beings for them to be responsible for that nor is it within their ability to know it. And upon that method, thus traversed the Imāms of the Salaf and the truth who passed

The author missed out the line just before it, where al-Saffarini says: ‘Its tafsir is to narrate it as it is’, thereby, affirming that it has a tafsir, which is none but the literal meaning (dhahir). Moreover, al-Saffarini’s statements about affirming the literal meanings are too numerous, and we have extensively dealt with the whole issue previously.

Concerning the Hadith mentioning the Isba’ (translated as finger), Imām as-Safarīnī quoted Imām ibn al-Hammām:
“The Isba’ and Yad are attributes of His, the Exalted, not with the meaning of a bodily part, rather, in a manner that befits Him and He the Glorified knows best.”

Again, the author quotes a statement in rebuttal of his own doctrine. What is this statement, if not an affirmation of a Finger and a Hand of Allah, in a manner that befits His Majesty, while negating that it resembles anything of the Creation?

The only objection the mainstream Hanbalis would have, in accordance with the Madhab, is negation of terms Allah never negated from Himself, even though the meaning is correct. It is better to narrate the texts as they have come, without affirming this, or negating that, for Allah and His Messenger – SallAllahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam – feel ‘more jealous for Allah than you’, as Imam Ahmad stated.

Even then, this objection is very minor, especially when a person affirms the literal meaning, for many of the Salaf used such newly invented terms when required, and amongst them Imam Ahmad himself, as proven above.

Imām as-Safārīnī went on to quote from Hujjatul Islam, Imām Abū Hāmid al-Ghazālī’s monumental tract on creed, called Iljām al-‘Awām ‘an Ilm al-Kalām wherein he said:
“Know, that the correct truth that contains no doubt therein according to the people of insight is the Madh’hab of the Salaf, and I mean the Companions and the Tābi’ūn, may Allāh be pleased with all of them…”
Then he said:
“The reality of the Madh’hab of the Salaf- and it is the truth according to us- is that all who reach them a Hadith from the Hadith of the Akhbār (the attributes) from the general body of the people, it is obligatory upon that person to (hold to) seven things;
1. 1. at-Taqdīs (declaring Allāh far removed from having a Jism)
1. 2. at-Tasdīq ( believing in what was said)
1. 3. al-‘Itirāf bil ‘Ajz (admitting that one cannot comprehend)
1. 4. as-Sukūt (remaining silent)
1. 5. al-Imsāk (the hold back from altering the words used
1. 6. al-Kaff (holding back from thinking deeply and pondering its reality)
1. 7. at-Taslīm li Ahlil Ma’rifah (submitting to the people of knowledge)…”
Imām as-Safārīnī quoted Imām al-Ghazālī and supported his words, so what can be said about this in comparison to the Salafi creed?

Firstly, al-Saffarini never referred to al-Ghazzali as ‘Hujjatul-Islam’, or an ‘Imam’, neither did he regard his creedal work to be ‘monumental’, knowing that al-Saffarini and the Hanbalis are on one creedal planet, and al-Ghazzali on the other!

Secondly, the quote does not, anywhere and in any sense, negate the literal meanings of Allah’s Attributes, so why would the Salafis/Hanbalis have a problem with this?

Thirdly, so what if al-Saffarini quotes al-Ghazzali, and how does it show that the former is not a Salafi? I too, have a few books of al-Ghazzali, and from the works of his I love and hate to read is his terrible, yet a masterpiece, Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din. Does this make me a ‘non-Salafi’?

All this proves is that the pretentious author is just a novice, who has wronged himself and others, by plunging into the ocean of sciences he is completely ignorant of.

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