Q and A with Feedback: The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah

quran

Figure 1A: The Muslim believes the Qur’an to be the word for word Speech of Allah.

Although this question was asked some time ago, it is still very useful so I posted it for everyone to read. May Allah put some benefit in the response and the questioner.

To: SOCSS Org <htspub@yahoo.co.uk>
Sent: Sunday, 8 June 2008, 17:47
Subject: Re: : God\’s Speech

as-salamu `alaikum sayyidi,

wa-Alaikum us-Salaamu wa Rahmatullah, 

It appears from  tahrim al-nadhr fi kutub ilm al-kalam that at least some major
Hanbalis like sh. Ibn Qudamah believed that God speaks with sound and letters.

I would like to know if this should be considered to be the 'default'
position of Hanbalis as a whole on this issue?  Also, is anything authentic related from
Imam Ahmad himself in this regard?

JazakumAllahu khayran

The Reply:

From: SOCSS Org <htspub@yahoo.co.uk>
To:
Sent: Tuesday, 17 June 2008, 21:42
Subject: Re: : God\’s Speech

As-Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

Noble brother,

Thank you for your question and may Allah reward you for your e-mail. The e-mail that you sent is a very dear inquiry and I thank you for sending it. When discussing the text and the position of the Hanbalis, we will have to mention perhaps five points:

1)      The text in question, in its’ Arabic form is some seventy pages and even that which has been translated by some Orientalists has been more than 150 in English. The text does not appear to be the full text unless they have serialised it, used brevity in translating or perhaps used a smaller font (this is not levelling the charge of dishonesty as I could not do such a thing, but rather it seems more brief than most of the times I have seen even cursory translations done. This may be an error on my part if they have chosen to use more pithy English to bring the words to life).

2)      When using these expressions ‘harf’ and ‘sawt,’ things must be defined. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy upon him, used the expression in his text, al-`Itiqad. The expression has invariably (explicitly or implicitly) been used by Imams Salih al-Baghdadi (the son of the Imam), Ibn Battah, al-Qadi Abu Ya`la the Elder, Mahfuz al-Kalwadhani, `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid al-Maqdisi, Ibn al-Jawzi, Muwaffaq ud-Din ibn Qudamah, Shams ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Muhammad ibn `Abdul Qawi al-Badran, Mar`ii ibn Yusuf al-Karmi, Mansur al-Bahuti, Ibn Qa’id an-Najdi, Muhammad al-Balbani, Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Saffarini, Ibn `Abdul Baqi al-Muwahibi, `Isa al-Qaddumi and his sons and grandsons (including `Abdullah ibn Sufan al-Qaddumi), Hasan ash-Shatti and others.

3)      The meaning of this expression and its’ application, however, is of the utmost importance for the question being asked. When Hanbalis use the word ‘harf’ or ‘kalimah’ or ‘kalam,’ they mean that the Speech of Allah is verses, it is words, it was the same verses that were recited to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that received them. Allah has said,

And if one of the idol worshippers seeks your protection, then protect him, so that he might hear the Speech of Allah and afterwards take him to his place of safety. This is because they are a people that do not know. Surat ut-Tawbah (9), ayah 6.

Allah says of His Revelation further,

But it is clear verses in the hearts of those who have given knowledge. Surat ul-`Ankabut (29), ayah 49

It was the verses of Allah that the Children of Israel heard when Allah (Glorified be He in his Sovereignty for giving us this gift) spoke to them from Mount Sinai. They heard the Speech of Allah and those that did not believe answered that they would disobey. Allah has revealed,

And when We took from you the covenant and raised above you the mountain, proclaiming, “Take what I have given you and hold tightly to it and listen.” They said, “We hear and we disobey,” so the love of the calf was taken into their hearts due to their unbelief. Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 93

4)      So when we say that the Speech of Allah is that which Allah handed down, the verses, the words, then the word ‘sawt’ is not referring to sound by them, but the fact that the one subjected to the Speech of Allah hears it. So when Allah has revealed His Speech, His Word, His Verses, it is handed down infallibly (Glorified and Exalted forever are you when indeed You Speak to us Your Will and Pleasure!). Those who are vouchsafed it, hear this Speech of Allah and testify to it. Again, most of the problems that there are between the three jama`ahs is just simple misunderstanding of the points in questions. And sometimes, they have spoken past one another. The main thing is to learn what the terminology may mean to someone else who is using the same words but intending a different meaning.

Allah has revealed and spoken His Revelation,

And Allah spoke directly to Musa. Surat un-Nisa,’ ayah 164.

Allah has given it and chosen to speak to whom He wills,

Indeed I have chosen you over humanity with My Message and My Speech. Surat ul-A`raf (7), ayah 144.

And those who have received the revelation have heard it from their Lord,

And if one of the idol worshippers seeks your protection, then protect him, so that he might hear the Speech of Allah and afterwards take him to his place of safety. This is because they are a people that do not know. Surat ut-Tawbah (9), ayah 6.

And they know it is His Speech and knowingly disobey, even after hearing it,

And when We took from you the covenant and raised above you the mountain, proclaiming, “Take what I have given you and hold tightly to it and listen.” They said, “We hear and we disobey,” so the love of the calf was taken into their hearts due to their unbelief. Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 93

And they understand the Speech of Allah and still lie,

And do you think they will believe in you and a group of them already heard the Speech of Allah, then corrupted it after what they understood and they know they did so. Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 75

Someone could hear speech or communication without the speaker or communicator having need of a larynx, vocal cords or chest cavity, as a rock gave salam to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, before he received the first verses of the Qur’an. (Collected by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, vol. 1, pp. 11-12; Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj in his Jami` us-Sahih, Book of Virtues under the Chapter of the Virtue of the Lineage of the Prophet and the Stone that Greeted Him before Receiving Revelation and classed by them as authentic).

And then there is the poison rack of lamb that warned the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that it was poisoned. Collected by Imam al-Bukhari in his Jami` us-Sahih, Book of Jizyah, under the Chapter of When the Idol Worshippers Assassinate Muslims, It is Forgiven? and classed by him as authentic.

Further to this, there is the date palm that wept when the Muslims started doing Friday prayer in the Masjid and not under its’ branches. Collected by Imam al-Bukhari in his Jami` us-Sahih under the Book of Jumu`ah.

Then there is the date palm that gave him salam one day. Collected by Imam al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, vol. 2,  pp. 619-620

We know then that these trees, the rock, the rack of lamb, none of them have vocal cords, chest cavity or anything like that. Yet they spoke and were heard by those spoken to according to the narrations. And again, these are creations. Our Lord, who spoke at Mt. Sinai (according to historical accounts three million were present) speaks revelation and is heard speaking it. This is all the Hanbalis mean and is the core argument used by Imams `Abdul Ghani al-Maqdisi in his al-Iqtisad fil-I`tiqad, pp. 130-150; Muwaffaq ud-Din ibn Qudamah, Lum`at ul-I`tiqad, pp. 10-11; Ibn `Abdul Baqi in his al-`Ain wal-Athar, chap. On Speech of Allah; Ibn Qa’id an-Najdi in his Najat ul-Khalaf fi `Itiqad is-Salaf, chap. On Speech of Allah; Muhammad ibn Ahmad as-Saffarini in Lawami` ul-Anwar ul-Bahiyyah, chap. On the Speech of Allah and many others.

5)      The Hanbali scholars have by and large been very stalwart in their positions simply due to the fact that doors being opened that should remain shut pose a danger to the common Muslim. And it is this reason why that simple creed is still uppermost. If you should ask the common Muslim, “Did Allah speak with verses when He revealed the Book?” He may perhaps look at you like an indigent for he knows it was revealed. It is verses. And the same applies if you ask whether those who received it heard it. It is this same creed which is the safest and hence the common Muslims are not the most theologically sophisticated, but the most accurate as the words are clear. And may Allah bring us back to that so that time is not wasted and we argue over too many things that we do not know or have not received as revelation.

was-Salaam,

brother in Islam,

Abu Ja`far al-Hanbali


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