On Allah’s Hands

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

Imām as-Safārīnī says in explanation of his own words:
al-Hāfidh al-Bayhaqī said: ‘ the earlier generation of scholars (the Mutaqqadimūn) of this Ummah did not explain what appeared in the Ayāt of Akhbār (the Sifāt not known without textual affirmation) in this area, all the while they possessed belief that Allāh is One and that it is not permissible that He be divisible…’
Imām as-Safārīnī went on to quote the famous words of Imām an-Nawawī concerning the Hadith that affirm the word Yad (lit. Hand):
“This is from the narrations pertaining to the Divine attributes. So we either believe in them and we do not speak with Ta’wīl of them and believe that the apparent (meanings-the primary meaning for the words used in the Arabic language) are not intended and that they possess meanings that befit Allāh, or they are interpreted in such fashion that it is said that what is intended by them both being right (the Hadith stating that both of His Yads are right) is that it means in a good condition or high rank. In his statement that both of His Yads are right contains a notice that what is intended is not that they are limbs and that His two Yads the Exalted possess that attribute of perfection without any deficiency in either of the two because the left is deficient when compared to the right.
Here Imām as-Safārīnī quotes Imām an-Nawawī without any opposition, rather, this quote indicates support for his words.

he author of the rotten ‘Apples and Oranges’, habitually and deliberately misrepresents the truth due to the following reasons:

1) The author ignores al-Saffarini’s own words literally affirming Allah’s Hands as he says: ‘… and thus, the author states: ‘…like His Hand…’ which is affirmed via the Quranic texts and prophetic traditions’, and then goes on to quote the textual proof in affirming Allah’s Hands over two pages.

2) He then quotes Ibn Taymiyya, as usual, affirming that narrations such as those affirming Allah’s Hands are numerous, which prove that the Heavens and the earth in Allah’s grasp are smaller than the smallest of particle in the hand of a human being. Al-Saffarini then says: ‘If you recall what we have mentioned, and understood the meaning of what we cited, then be certain, that the Madhab of the Salaf al-Salih and the Hanbali scholars, and those who agree with them from the Atharis, is that the intent behind (mentioning) Two Hands, is to affirm Two Attributes of Essence for Allah that are called Two Hands, that are more than just bounty (ni’ma) and ablity (qudra)…

3) al-Saffarini then quotes al-Baghawi and al-Bayhaqi referring to figurative interpretation of Allahs’ Hands and says: ‘Then al-Bayhaqi nullified all of that (figurative interpretation), and affirmed that the Two Hands are in fact two Attributes, that are related to the creation of Adam, which honoured him (Adam) as opposed to Iblis.’ He then quotes Abul-Hasan al-Ash’ari affirming the Two Hands for Allah, and says: ‘The Mu’tazilas, and a group from the Ash’aris believed that the meaning of ‘Two Hands’ is power…’

4) It is in refutation of such figurative interpretation that al-Saffarini quotes al-Bayhaqi explaining the Madhab of the Salaf, which is not to give tafsir, referring to the Ta’wil that al-Saffarini mentions just before he quotes al-Bayhaqi. Hence, al-Bayhaqi’s quote placed in its context, clearly shows that al-Bayhaqi’s and al-Saffarini’s negation of Tafsir speicifically refers to figurative interpretation, and not the literal meaning, which he explicitly affirms in his Sharh in many instances. This also clarifies the intention of those of the Salaf who negated the ‘tafsir’ of Allah’s Attributes, i.e. the ta’wil.

5) al-Saffarini then quotes al-Nawawi, the very quote the author of the rotten ‘Apples and Oranges’ mentions and says that al-Saffarini shows no opposition to al-Nawawi, and more ridiculously, that he in fact supports al-Nawawi’s words! Yet, al-Saffarini opposes al-Nawawi on no less than two counts; i) making ta’wil of both of Allah’s Hands being His Right, and ii) negating the literal meaning (dhahir) of the texts; for al-Saffarini quotes al-Khattabi and Ibn Khuzayma in refutation of al-Nawawi and others who figuratively interpret both of Allah’s Hands being on His Right, and ends Ibn Khuzayma’s quote saying: ‘He (Ibn Khuzayma) then insults them, curses them, and described them with Kufr, negation, and extensively reproaching and mocking those who figuratively interpret the texts, and divert them from their real meanings (haqiqatiha), and Allah is the source of ability.

Al-Saffarini, later on refers to al-Khattabi who claims that nothing has been narrated in affirmation of Allah’s Fingers, and says: ‘This is amazing from him (al-Khattabi)! Rather, this is (i.e. the Fingers), is affirmed in the authentic Sunnah, which is beyond any doubt, authentic’. To this end, he quotes al-Nawawi to prove that there is indeed mention of Allah’s Fingers, yet, according to al-Nawawi, the literal meanings of such verses are negated. He likewise quotes al-Qurtubi making ta’wil of Allah’s fingers and says: ‘Some of the researches said: This Hadeeth is from the rest of the texts (on Attributes) which the Salaf refrained from making ta’wil of, such as the Hadeeth of Hearing, Seeing and Hands, for these texts are taken at their face value (literal meaning – ‘ala dhahirihi), and narrated using the same words with which it was narrated.’

In refutation of al-Nawawi’s claim, that the literal meaning (dhahir) must be negated, al-Saffarini then quotes Ibn Taymiyya:

‘Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya – May his soul rest in peace – said in his Tadmurriyya treatise: ‘If one says: Are the literal meanings (dhahir) of the texts intended, or not? It is said to him: There exists in the term ‘literal’ (dhahir), a sense of generality and homonymy (ijmal wa ishtirak). Hence, if the person believes that the literal meanings are in fact likening (Allah’s Attributes) with the attributes of the creation, or with what is specifically from the their qualities, then no doubt that is not the intended meaning (of those texts).

However, the Salaf and the Imams never referred to such (resemblance) as the literal meanings (dhahir) of the texts, nor would they be pleased with the idea that the literal meanings (dhahir) of the Quran and Hadeeth is Kufr and falsehood! For Allah is more knowledgeable and more wise, that there may exist in His Speech, with which He described Himself, the literal meaning (dhahir) of which is nothing but Kufr and misguidance!

Al-Saffarini then ends this section on Allah’s Hands by affirming all of the narrations related to Allah’s Attributes, such as His Foot (rijl), Step (qadam) and Form (sura).

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