On substance (jawhar), accident (‘aradh) and body (jism)

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

Imām as-Safārīnī says in his poem:
and our Lord is not a Jawhar nor (is He) and ‘Ard or Jism exalted be He the possessor of grandeur.
Glorified is He, He has (performed the act of) Istiwā as it has appeared (in the text) without a ‘how’ indeed exalted and far removed is He from being confined by a limit (Yuhadd)

A reader only needs to have a glance at al-Saffarini’s introduction to this particular section to know the Salafism of al-Saffarini, and the reason he mentioned the terms like substance (jawhar), accident (‘aradh, and not ‘ardh, as the ignorant author transliterates), and body (jism). Al-Saffarini says:

‘Chapter: In regards to the Attributes of Allah that the Imams of the Salaf and the Athari scholars affirm, in exclusion to the others from the scholars of the Khalaf, the people of Kalam, let alone the misguide and corrupt sects, the masters of philosophy, and the heretics. However, because affirming these attributes gives rise to unexpected ideas for the philosophical intellects, the Kalami analogies, and the Khalafi imaginations, which may give impression of Tajsim, the author preceded the chapter (on sifat), with that which negates such (thoughts of tajsim), by saying:

Our Lord is not a substance (jawhar), nor an accident (‘aradh)

Nor a body (jism), may His Highness be exalted’

From this we conclude the following:

1) al-Saffarini clearly states in the beginning of this new chapter, that he will affirm the forthcoming Attributes (such as, Allah’s literal elevation over His creation, a Face and Hands), which only the Salaf and the Athari scholars affirmed, in exclusion to the Khalaf and the people of Kalam (i.e. the Ash’aris and Maturidis)

2) He clearly outlines his reasons for mentioning the Kalami terms, such as jawhar and ‘aradh, and that is to put the corrupt philosophical and Ash’ari minds to rest. For they, as he says, unexpectedly understand the literal meanings of this text to be what they see in the creation, and therefore, they are guilty of tajsim by making analogy of Allah’s Attributes to that of His creation.

We have already mentioned Ibn Taymiyya’s attitude towards the newly invented ambiguous terms, which al-Saffarini agrees to, that neither do we accept them, nor do we reject them, until we know what one means.
Surely, by using such terms, al-Saffarini is not negating Allah’s Attributes, and how could he, when he has dedicated a whole chapter in affirming Allah’s Face, Hands, etc, which the Ash’arites deny as Attributes of Allah.

On Istiwā
Imām as-Safārīnī said:
“It has been narrated from ash-Sha’bī that he was asked about al-Istiwā. He replied: ‘This is from the Mutshābih of the Qur’ān. We believe in it and we do not delve into its meaning’.”
He further said:
“So the meaning of the statement of Umm Salamah radia Allah Anha in the Hadīth and those who traversed her path from the Imāms is that: Istiwā is known; meaning His description that He the Exalted is upon the throne (‘ala al-‘Arsh), (Istiwā) : meaning Istiwā that is known by way of textual evidence that is established by Tawātur (multiple chains of transmission)” (page 200)

I have already responded to that above by summarising 23 pages of al-Saffarini into four pages clearly showing that al-Saffarini not only affirms literal highness of Allah above His creation, but also affirms for him a direction, and to that end, quotes extensively, whom he refers to as ‘Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya’.

This also highlights the more-than-obvious deceit on part of the author, who selectively quotes a paragraph, from a twenty-three page long discussion, which, if taken out of context, may seem supporting the argument of Ash’arite tafwidh, while ignoring the glaring affirmation of a direction for Allah, which he considers anthropomorphism.

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