THE THEOLOGY OF THE FIRST THREE GENERATIONS HAS NO EQUAL pt.2: 41 IMAMS OVER 13 CENTURIES HAVE THEIR SAY

Masjid Bani Qudamah, Jamma`il, Palestine, dedicated to the theology of the First Three Generations. And this is the theology of most of the Ummah all through the ages. We call to all and sundry to stay on this way and if they are not, to immediately come to this way that ends all debates and arguments

[أئمة الحنابلة يفوضون الصفات السمعية ويعدونها من الصفات المتشابهة]

The Imams of the Hanbalis make tafwid of the Attributes and consider them to belong to the Mutashabihat [1]

قال الإمام أحمد بن حنبل (ت241هـ) :

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241), may Allah be pleased with him, had the following mentioned of him:

)وأخبرني علي بن عيسى أن حنبلا حدثهم قال سألت أبا عبد الله عن الأحاديث التي تروى إن الله تبارك وتعالى ينزل كل ليلة إلى السمآء الدنيا وأن الله يرى وإن الله يضع قدمه وما أشبهه فقال أبو عبد الله نؤمن بها ونصدق بها ولا كيف ولا معنى ولا نرد منها شيئا ونعلم أن ما جاء به الرسول حق إذا كانت بأسانيد صحاح ولا نرد على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قوله ولا يوصف الله تعالى بأكثر مما وصف به نفسه أو وصفه به رسوله بلا حد ولا غاية {ليس كمثله شيء وهو السميع البصير} ولا يبلغ الواصفون صفته وصفاته منه ولا نتعدى القرآن والحديث فنقول كما قال ونصفه كما وصف نفسه ولا نتعدى ذلك نؤمن بالقرآن كله محكمه ومتشابهه ولا نزيل عنه صفة من صفاته لشناعة شنعت(

It was narrated to me by `Ali ibn `Isa that Hanbal ibn Ishaq narrated to them and said: I asked Abu `Abdillah [Ahmad ibn Hanbal] about the ahadith in which it is mentioned that Allah, Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest sky, that Allah shall be seen, that Allah shall place His Foot and similar statements. He responded by saying, “We believe in it, attest to it, without how and without meaning. We do not deny any of it; but we know that what the Messenger came with is true and we do not reject the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.”

قال الإمام البربهاري (ت328هـ):

Imam Abu Muhammad Al-Barbahari (d.329), may Allah have mercy upon him, said the following:

(وكل ما سمعت من الآثار شيئا مما لم يبلغه عقلك، نحو قول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم:

And all of what is you have heard from the narratives – which your intellect can not fathom – such as the statement of the Messenger of Allah,

«إِنَّ قُلُوبَ بَنِي آدَمَ كُلَّهَا بَيْنَ إِصْبُعَيْنِ مَنِ أَصَابِعِ الرَّحْمَنِ»

“The hearts of the Children of Adam are all between the Two Fingers of the Most Merciful”,[2] as well as his statement,

وقوله: «إن الله تبارك وتعالى ينزل إلى سماء الدنيا» … وأشباه هذه الأحاديث

“Allah, Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest sky” and similar things such as these ahadith, then in this case:

فعليك بالتسليم والتصديق والتفويض والرضى ولا تفسر شيئا من هذه بهواك فان الإيمان بها واجب فمن فسر شيئا من هذا بهواه او رده فهو جهمي(شرح السنة للبربهاري ص68

You must have submission, attestation, tafwid and pleasure in and not explain any of these things with your desire as indeed it is wajib to have Iman in it. So whoever explained something of it with his desire or he denied some portion of it, then he is from the Jahmiyyah.[3]

قال أبو بكر الآجري (ت360 ه):

[Imam Abu Bakr Al-Ajurri (d.360), may Allah have mercy upon him, stated the following:]

اعلموا وفقنا الله وإياكم للرشاد من القول والعمل أن أهل الحق يصفون الله عز وجل بما وصف به نفسه عز وجل وبما وصفه به رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم وبما وصفه به الصحابة رضي الله عنهم

You should know – may Allah give us and you success in the right and direct guidance for actions and deeds – that the People of Truth describe Allah, Mighty and Majestic according to how He described Himself, Mighty and Majestic, how His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, described Him, and how the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, described Him.

وهذا مذهب العلماء ممن اتبع ولم يبتدع ولا يقال فيه: كيف بل التسليم له والإيمان به

And this is the way of the scholars who imitated and did not innovate. One is not to say how about the matter. Rather one is to show complete submission to it and have Iman in it.[4]

قال أبو بكر أحمد بن إبراهيم الإسماعيلي (ت371 ه)

[Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Al-Isma`ili (d.371), may Allah have mercy upon him, declared:]

وذلك ومن غير إعتقاد التجسيم في الله عز وجل ولا التحديد له ولكن يرونه جل وعز بأغينهم على ما يشاء بلا كيف.

And all of that of the Attributes is true. And that is without having a creed of likening Allah, Mighty and Majestic, giving limit, boundary or definition to Him; but the believers shall certainly see Him, Majestic and Mighty is He, with their eyes according to what He so wills without how.[5]

قال ابن بطة العكبري (ت380هـ) :

Imam Ibn Battah Al-`Ukbari (d.380), may Allah have mercy upon him, said:

)فكل هذه الأحاديث وما شاكلها تمر كما جاءت لا تعارض ولا تضرب لها الأمثال ولا يواضع فيها القول فقد رواها العلماء وتلقاها الأكابر منهم بالقبول لها وتركوا المسألة عن تفسيرها ورأوا أن العلم بها ترك الكلام في معانيها (الشرح والابانة(الابانة الصغرى) ش مكتبة الحجاز ص187

And all of these ahadith and similar to them we let them pass just as they came without argument with them, giving likeness to them, seeking to find fault in them with some word. As the scholars narrated them and the seniormost of them met these ahadith with acceptance, abandoned asking about its meaning and believed that knowledge of these is in abandoning discussing their meaning.[6]

الإمام ابو الفضل التميمي (ت410هـ) :

Imam Abul Fadl At-Tamimi (d.410), may Allah have mercy upon him, remarked:

)وسئل (أي الإمام أحمد) قبل موته بيوم عن أحاديث الصفات , فقال: تمر كما جاءت , ويؤمن بها إذا كانت بأسانيد صحاح , ولا يوصف الله بأكثر مما وصف به نفسه.. بلا حد ولا غاية ,

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, was asked one day before his death about the Ahadith us-Sifat and he said, “We let them pass by just as they came, we believe in them when the transmissions are sahih, Allah is not described with more than what he described Himself with, without boundary and without limit.

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهْوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

There is none like Him while He is the All Hearing, the All Seeing.[7]

ومن تكلم في معناها ابتدع( عقيدة الإمام المبجل أحمد ص9

And whoever should speak about their meaning has committed innovation”.[8]

قال أبو علي الحسن بن أحمد بن عبد الله بن البناء

[Imam Abu `Ali Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad ibn `Abdullah ibn Al-Banna’ (d.411), may Allah have mercy upon him, uttered the following:]

وهذه الصفة مع غيرها من الصفات الناطق بها الأخبار والآيات يجب الإيمان بهها والتصديق والقبول والتحقيق وإذا سئلت عن تفسيرها وتأويلها فقل لا علم لي بذلك ولا سمعت أحدًا من الأئمة فسرها بل أمّرها كما سمعها

So this Attribute, with all the other Attributes mentioned in the narratives and the ayat, are compulsory to have Iman in, testify to the truth of it, accept it and diligently adhere to it. And when you are asked about its interpretation or meaning, then say, ‘I have no knowledge of that, nor did I hear any of the Imams explain it. Rather the Imams passed them by just as they heard them’.[9]

[Imam `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d.486), may Allah have mercy upon him, declared of the creed:][10]

وَرَوَيْنَا عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ حَنْبَلٍ قَالَ : كُنْتُ أَنَا وَأَبِي عَابِرَيْنِ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ، فَسَمِعَ قَاصًّا يَقُصُّ بِحَدِيثِ النُّزُولِ فَقَالَ :

There is benefit in our mentioning something from `Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal[11] who said, “My father and I were staying in the masjid when we overhead someone relating the hadith of descent. When the person narrated it, he said,

إِذَا كَانَ لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ يَنْزِلُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَى سَمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا

 ‘When the fifteenth night of Sha`ban has come, Allah, Mighty and Majestic, descends to the lowest sky’.

بِلَا زَوَالٍ وَلَا انْتِقَالٍ، وَلَا تَغَيُّرِ حَالٍ،

The one narrator of the hadith then added, ‘Without rising or changing state, location or affair.’

فَارْتَعَدَ أَبِي – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ – وَاصْفَرَّ لَوْنُهُ، وَلَزِمَ يَدِي، وَأَمْسَكْتُهُ حَتَّى سَكَنَ، ثُمَّ قَالَ : قِفْ بِنَا عَلَى هَذَا المتخوِّضِ،

“My father turned his face away in anger and disgust. His complexion became pale and he took hold of my hand and held it until he became calm. Then he said, ‘How can someone say this when speaking of Allah?’

فَلَمَّا حَاذَاهُ قَالَ : يَا هَذَا، رَسُولُ اللَّهِ أَغْيَرُ عَلَى رَبِّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مِنْكَ،

When he came forward, he said, ‘The Messenger of Allah had more jealousy and honour for His Lord, Mighty and Majestic, than you.

قُلْ كَمَا قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَانْصَرِفْ.

‘You should limit yourself to stating the matter just as the Messenger of Allah had done and leave it as such.’ My father went away from him shortly after”.

قَالَ حَنْبَلُ : قُلْتُ لِأَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ – يَعْنِي أَحْمَدَ بْنَ حَنْبَلٍ – : يَنْزِلُ اللَّهُ إِلَى سَمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا، قُلْتُ : نُزُولُـهُ بِعِلْمِهِ أَوْ بِمَاذَا؟

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s first cousin, Hanbal ibn Ishaq[12] said, “I mentioned the hadith, ‘Allah descends to the lowest heaven,’ to Abu `Abdullah-meaning Ahmad ibn Hanbal-then I said, ‘His Descent is with His Knowledge or what exactly?’

فَقَالَ لِي : اسْكُتْ عَنْ هَذَا، مَا لَكَ وَلِهَذَا، أَمْضِ الْحَدِيثَ عَلَى مَا رُوِيَ بِلَا كَيْفَ وَلَا حَدٍّ، عَلَى مَا جَاءَتْ بِهِ الْآثَارُ، وَبِمَا جَاءَ بِهِ الْكِتَابُ.

He replied, ‘Be silent about this matter. What is the matter with you? Leave the hadith how it has been narrated, without how, nor limit.  Hold firm to what has come in the laid-out narrations and the Book’. ”[13]

وَقَالَ الْإِمَامُ إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ رَاهَوَيْهِ : قَالَ لِي الْأَمِيرُ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ طَاهِرٍ: يَا أَبَا يَعْقُوبَ، هَذَا الْحَدِيثَ الَّذِي تَرْوِيهِ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ  

The Grand Imam, Abu Ya`qub Ishaq ibn Rahuwaih[14] said that the amir `Abdullah ibn Tahir[15] once asked him, “Abu Ya`qub, what does the ‘descend’ mean in this hadith which you have related from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, in which he said,

يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا عَزَّ وَجَلَّ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى سَمَاءٍ الدُّنْيَا

‘Our Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven’.

كَيْفَ يَنْزِلُ؟ قَالَ : قُلْتُ : أَعَزَّ اللَّهُ الْأَمِيرَ،

“So how does He descend?” Imam Abu Ya`qub responded, “May Allah strengthen the amir.

لَا يُقَالُ لِأَمْرِ الرَّبِّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ كَيْفَ، إِنَّمَا يَنْزِلُ بِلَا كَيْفَ

“When speaking of the Lord, Mighty and Majestic, ‘how’ does not enter into the conversation. He indeed descends without how. 

وَمَنْ قَالَ يَخْلُو الْعَرْشُ عِنْدَ النُّزُولِ أَوْ لَا يَخْلُو فَقَدْ أَتَى بِقَوْلٍ مُبْتَدَعٍ وَرَأْيٍ مُخْتَرَعٍ.

“If anyone should speak of the Throne as vacant or not vacant during the descent, this is the statement of the innovator and astray one going near to apostasy”.[16] 

أبو الخطاب الكلوذاني (ت510هـ) :

Imam Abul Khattab Al-Kalwadhani (d.510), may Allah have mercy upon him, stated:

قَالوا: فما معنى استواءه أَبِن لَنَا ؟ فَأجَبْتُهم: هَذا سُؤَال المُعْتَدِي منظومة الكلوذاني

“They say, ‘So what is the meaning of His Istiwa’? Clarify it to us?’ I answer them by saying: This is the question of the innovator that has transgressed the bounds”. [17]

قال الإمام ابن الحنبلي (ت536هـ) :

[Imam Ibn Al-Hanbali (d.536), may Allah have mercy upon him, elucidated the following:]

(وكذلك الإيمان واجب بمجمل الاحاديث التي رويت عن رسول الله واقرارها كما جاءت بلا كيف مثل حديث الاسراء حيث قال رَأَيْتُ رَبِّي فِي أَحْسَنِ صُورَةٍ

And likewise the Iman is wajib in the generality of the ahadith which were narrated from the Messenger of Allah, affirming them just as they came without how, such as the hadith of the Night Journey when he said, “I saw my Lord in the best form”.[18]

و«إِنَّ قُلُوبَ بَنِي آدَمَ كُلَّهَا بَيْنَ إِصْبُعَيْنِ مَنِ أَصَابِعِ الرَّحْمَنِ يُقَلِّبُهَا كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ»… وما أشبه هذه الاحاديث الصحاح كلها بغيرها كما جاءت بلا كيف لانها جاءت مقفلة ومفاتيحها مع رسول الله وروي عن امير المومنين علي بن ابي طالب أنه قال

Another example includes, “The hearts of the Children of Adam are all between the Two Fingers of the Most Merciful. He turns them how He so wills”.[19] This and what is like it of all the authentic ahadith is left just as they are without how as they have come sealed just as they are and their keys are with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It was narrated from the Leader of the Believers, `Ali ibn Abi Talib who said,

(نهانا الله تعالى ذكره عن تفسير متشابه القران وعن تفسير بعض الاحاديث المروية عن رسول الله التي سبيلها كسبيل متشابه القران وامرنا بالايمان بُجملتها والامساك عن تفسيرها) الرسالة الواضحة في الرد على الاشاعرة 607

Allah, Exalted is His Mention, has forbade us from explaining the mutashabih of the Qur’an, explaining some of the ahadith narrated from the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in which their pathway is like that of the mutashabih. We have been commanded to have Iman in them in general and be silent about their meaning. [20]

[Imam `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (d.561), may Allah have mercy upon him, gave the following remarks:]

كما قال سفيان بن عيينة رحمه الله كما وصف الله تعالى نفسه في كتابه فتفسيره قراءته لا تفسير له غيرها ولا نتكلف غير ذلك فإنه غيب لا مجال للعقل في إدراكه

And the discussion about the Attributes is just as Imam Sufyan ibn `Uyainah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “It is just as Allah, Exalted be He, described Himself in His Book. So its commentary is its recitation and there is no commentary for it besides that”. So we are not responsible for anything besides that as the matter belongs to the unseen and there is no way for the intellect to reach that.[21]

قال الإمام ابن هبيرة (ت580هـ) ،

The Imam, Ibn Hubairah (d.580), may Allah have mercy upon him, said the following:

 (تفكرت في أخبار الصفات، فرأيت الصحابة والتابعين سكتوا عن تفسيرها، مع قوة علمهم، فنظرت السبب في سكوتهم، فإذا هو قوة الهيبة للموصوف، ولأن تفسيرها لا يتأتى إلا بضرب الأمثال للّه، وقد قال عز وجل: “)

I reflected about the topic of the Akhbar of As-Sifat and I noticed that the Companions and Followers were silent about their meaning, even with the strength of their knowledge. So I looked at the cause of their silence and it was one of reverential fear of the One being described. And to give meaning to these and explain them does not come except by making likenesses to Allah. And He, Mighty and Majestic, has already said,

فَلَا تَضْرِبُوا لِلَّهِ الْأَمْثَالَ ۚ

And do not make likenesses for Allah.[22]

وقال) : لا يفسر على الحقيقة ولا على المجاز لأن حملها على الحقيقة تشبيه، وعلى المجاز بدعة (ذيل طبقات الحنابلة ح2 ص156

He also said in another place, “They are not explained as being upon the reality that we know nor metaphorical as saying they are the reality that we know is likening Him while saying they are metaphorical is indeed innovation”.[23]

قال الإمام ابن الجوزي في كلامه عن الصفات(ت597هـ) :

The Imam, Ibn Al-Jawzi (d.597) in his discussion about the Attributes said:

وانما الصواب قراءة الايات والاحاديث من غير تفسير ولا كلام تلبيس ابليس ص79

“The correct position is that reciting the Ayat and Ahadith on the topic is without commentary or discussion”.[24]

قال تقي الدين عبد الغني بن عبد الواحد المقدسي (ت600 ه)

[Imam Taqi ud-Din `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d.600), may Allah have mercy upon him, remarked:]

فيجب الإيمان به، والتسليم له، وترك الإعتراض عليه، وإمراره من غير تكييف ولا تمثيل، ولا تأويل، ولا تنزيهه ينفي حقيقة النزول

So it is compulsory to have Iman in it, show submission to it, abandon seeking to reject it, passing it by without any how, likeness, interpretation or seeking to glorify Him by negating the existence of things such as the descent done by Him.[25]

قال شيخ الحنابلة الموفق ابن قدامة المقدسي (ت620هـ) :

The Shaikh of the Hanbalis, Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdisi (d.620), may Allah be pleased with him, remarked:

)وكل ما جاء في القرآن أو صح عن المصطفى عليه السلام من صفات الرحمن وجب الإيمان به، وتلقيه بالتسليم والقبول، وترك التعرض له بالرد والتأويل والتشبيه والتمثيل. وما أشكل من ذلك وجب إثباته لفظا وترك التعرض لمعناه ونرد علمه إلى قائله( {لمعة الاعتقاد ص6}

And all of what came in the Qur’an or is authentically narrated from the Chosen One, peace be upon him, is from the Attributes of the Merciful. It is compulsory to have Iman in it, meet it with submission and acceptance, leaving seeking to refute it, interpret it, liken it or give it semblance. And whatever is ambiguous of that, it is compulsory to establish and affirm the wording and leave seeking the meaning while returning the meaning of it to the One who said it.[26]

وقال :

The Imam also remarked:

( ومذهب السلف رحمة الله عليهم الإيمان بصفات الله تعالى وأسمائه التي وصف بها نفسه في آياته وتنزيله أو على لسان رسوله من غير زيادة عليها ولا نقص منها ولا تجاوز لها ولا تفسير ولا تأويل لها بما يخالف ظاهرها ولا تشبيه بصفات المخلوقين ولا سمات المحدثين بل أمروها كما جاءت وردوا علمها إلى قائلها ومعناها إلى المتكلم بها) {ذم التاويل ص11}

And the way of the First Three Generations, may Allah have mercy upon them, is to have Iman in the Attributes and Names of Allah, Exalted be He, which He has described Himself with in His Ayat or the Revelation in total or on the tongue of His Messenger without addition or subtraction from it. And one does not transgress them, give meaning to them or interpretation that opposes the text, likening them with the attributes of the creation or qualities of ephemeral things; on the contrary, one is to let them pass just as they came, return the knowledge of it to the One that said it and return the meaning of it to the One who spoke it.[27]

وقال

He said on another occasion:

( فمنهم من أمرها كما جاءت من غير تفسير ولا تأويل مع نفي التشبيه عنها وهو مذهب السلف) {ذم التاويل ص27}

And among them are those who let them pass by just as they came, with neither meaning nor interpretation while negating likeness with the creation from them. And this is the way of the First Three Generations.[28]

قال الإمام مجد الدين ابن تيمية (ت(652

The Imam, Majd ud-Din Ibn Taymiyyah (d.652), may Allah have mercy upon him,

( أما الإتيان المنسوب إلى الله فلا يختلف قول أئمة السلف كمكحول والزهري. والأوزاعي وابن المبارك وسفيان الثوري والليث بن سعد ومالك بن أنس والشافعي وأحمد وأتباعهم أنه يمر كما جاء. وكذلك ما شاكل ذلك مما جاء في القرآن أو وردت به السنة كأحاديث النزول ونحوها. وهي طريقة السلامة ومنهج أهل السنة والجماعة  يؤمنون بظاهرها ويكلون علمها إلى الله ويعتقدون أن الله منزه عن سمات الحدث. على ذلك مضت الأئمة خلفا بعد سلف كما قال تعالى

As for as the expression “arrival” or “coming” being attributed to Allah, the statement of the Imams of the First Three Generations – like Mak-hul, Az-Zuhri, Al-Awza`ii, Ibn Al-Mubarak, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Al-Laith ibn Sa`d, Malik ibn Anas, Ash-Shafi`ii, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and their followers – do not differ in that these statements are left to pass just as they came. And likewise what is ambiguous of what is in the Qur’an or narrated in the Sunnah – like in the case of the ahadith of descent and the like – the path of safety and methodology of Muslim Orthodoxy is to believe in the text, consign its meaning to Allah while having firm conviction that Allah is exalted and above semblance to the creation. And upon that have passed the very Imams of the latter-day generations that came after the First Three Generations. And this is just as the Exalted One said,

وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللَّهُ ۗ وَالرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ آمَنَّا بِهِ

And no one knows its meaning but Allah. And those well-grounded in knowledge say, “We believe in it”.[29]

وقال ابن السائب في قوله

As-Sa’ib heard the ayah recited,

هَلْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِيَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي ظُلَلٍ مِّنَ الْغَمَامِ

Are they waiting that Allah should come to them in the clouds?[30]

هذا من المكتوم الذي لا يفسر مجموع الفتاوى لأبن تيمية ج16 ص409

As-Sa’ib said, “This is from the hidden knowledge which cannot be explained”.[31]

[Imam Yahya ibn Yusuf As-Sarsari (d.656), may Allah have mercy upon him, emphatically stated:]

أمرّ أحاديث الصفات كما أتت، على رغم غمر يعتدي ويشنع

Passing the Ahadith of Attributes by just as they have come is the fact, without transgressing the bounds, showing hostility but leaving the texts intact.[32]

قال الإمام عز الدين الرسعني الحنبلي (661هـ) :

Imam `Izz ud-Din Ar-Ras`ani Al-Hanbali (d.661), may Allah be pleased with him, expounded:

(وقاعدة مذهب امامنا في هذا الباب : اتباع السلف الصالح، فما تأولوه تأولناه وما سكتوا عنه سكتنا عنه مفوضين علمه إلى قائله منزهين الله عما لا يليق بجلاله) رموز الكنور في تفسير الكتاب العزيز ج8 ص241

The way of our Imam on this subject is to follow the pious First Three Generations. So whatever they interpreted, then we interpret it. And what they were silent from, we are silent from, consigning its meaning to the One who said it, declaring Allah free from anything that does not befit His Majesty.[33]

[Imam Abul Fadl `Abbas As-Saksaki (d.683), may Allah have mercy upon him, said the following:]

يوصف بما وصف به نفسه ووصفه رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم من غير تمثيل ولاتكييف على العرش استوى بلا كيف مباين لجميع خلقه ليس بممازج لهم ولا مختلط بهم

He is described by what He described Himself and His Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, described Him without likeness or how and above the Throne without how, distinct from all His Creation. He is not mingled among them or mixed with them.[34]

قال الإمام ابن حمدان الحنبلي (ت695هـ) :

The Imam, Ibn Hamdan Al-Harrani (d.695), may Allah have mercy upon him, ruled:

(ونجزم بأنه سبحانه في السماء وأنه استوي على العرش بلا كيف بل علي ما يليق به في ذلك كله ولا نتأول ذلك ولا نفسره ولا نكيفه ولا نتوهمه ولا نكذبه بل نكل علمه إلى الله) ص31 نهائية المبتدئين في اصول الدين (ش مكتبة الرشد )

We categorically state that the Glorified One is above the sky and that He is above the Throne without how but according to His Majesty and as benefits him in that in totality. We do not interpret any of that, give meaning to it, how to it, assign considerations to it or deny it. Rather, we consign the meaning to Allah.[35]

قال الإمام البعلي الحنبلي (ت709هـ) :

The Imam Al-Ba`li Al-Hanbali (d.709), may Allah have mercy upon him, remarked,

(والصحيح ان المتشابه ما ورد في صفات الله مما يجب الإيمان به ويتحرم التعرض لتأويله كقوله تعالى (الرحمن على العرش استوى)  (بل يداه مبسوطتان) (ويبقى وجه ربك) (تجري باعيننا) فهذا اتفق السلف على الاقرار به وامراراه على وجهه وترك تأويله … وفي الآية قرائن دالة على أن الله  تعالى  متفرد بعلم المتشابه وان الوقف الصحيح عند قوله (وما يعلم تاويله الا الله) لفظا ومعنى) تلخيص روضة الناظر ج1 ص123

“The authentic statement is that the mutashabih is what has been narrated regarding the Attributes of Allah – of that which is compulsory to have Iman in and absolutely impermissible to seek its meaning – like in the statement of the Exalted One, The Most Merciful is above the Throne, But His Two Hands are outspread, His Face shall remain forever more, it floated under Our Eyes. All of this was met with agreement by the First Three Generations in which one is to affirm it, pass it by just as it came, leave seeking the meaning. And in the ayah are many points of reference that show that Allah, Exalted be He, alone has knowledge of the mutashabih and this is the reason why there is a stop mark when he says, And none knows its meaning but Allah. This refers to knowing the meaning of the words and the meaning all together”.[36]

قال الإمام نجم الدين الطوفي (ت716هـ) في كلامه عن المتشابه :

The Imam, Najm ud-Din At-Tufi (d.716), may Allah have mercy upon him, made his statement on the mutashabihah statements:

( أو لظهور تشبيه في صفات الله تعالى،  كآيات الصفات وأخبارها نحو:

The ayat of the Sifat and their narratives, like,

وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ

The Face of Your Lord will remain forever. [37]

لِمَا خَلَقْتُ بِيَدَيَّ

The one who I created with My Two Hands[38]

بَلْ يَدَاهُ مَبْسُوطَتَانِ

But both His Hands are outspread.[39]

يد الله ملأى لا تغيضها النفقة، فيضع الجبار قدمه، فيظهر لهم في الصورة التي يعرفونها، خلق الله آدم على صورة الرحمن، ونحو ذلك، مما هو كثير في الكتاب والسنة ; لأن هذا اشتبه المراد منه على الناس ;  

Then there are the narratives, “The Hand of Allah is full and is never emptied from spending”,[40] “The Most Dominant shall put His Foot”,[41] “He shall come to them in a form that they shall know”,[42]  “Allah created Adam on the Form of the Most Merciful” [43] and similar matters that have been mentioned in the Book and Sunnah that have some resemblance in wording that then creates some doubt for the people.

فلذلك قال قوم بظاهره فجسموا وشبهوا، وفر قوم من التشبيه ; فتأولوا وحرفوا ; فعطلوا،

So it is due to that a group of people took the external form to be literal, fell into attributing a body to Him and likening Him to the creation. Then another people fled from likening Him to His Creation, so they interpreted, corrupted and fell into negation.

وتوسط قوم فسلموا وأمروه كما جاء، مع اعتقاد التنزيه ; فسلموا، وهم أهل السنة) شرح مختصر الروضة ج2 ص44

The middle path is those who submitted, passed the statements by just as they came while knowing that He is not in possession of any shortcomings or faults and they submit to the reports. These are Muslim Orthodoxy.[44]

قال الإمام شمس الدين ابن مفلح (ت773هـ) :

The Imam, Shams ud-Din Ibn Muflih (d.773), may Allah have mercy upon him, said of the Names and Attributes:

(المحكم: ما اتضح_معناه، فلم يحتج إلى بيان. والمتشابه عكسه؛ لاشتراك أو إجمال، قال جماعة من أصحابنا وغيرهم: وما ظاهره تشبيه، كصفات الله.) أصول الفقه لأبن مفلح ج1 ص316

The muhkam is a text in which its meaning is clear and does not require explanation or clarification for it. The mutashabih is the opposite of that as it shares similar words and general statements with other affairs. A group of our companions and others have said that taking it according to its outward form would be drawing a likeness, such as in the case of the Attributes of Allah.[45]

قال الحسن بن أحمد المقدسي (ت773هـ) :

Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad Al-Maqdisi (d.773), may Allah have mercy upon him, discussed the following point:

(فيه -اي :القران- الألفاظ المحكمة وهي المفسرة والمتشابهة عكسها وهو ما ورد في صفات الله عز وجل المنهي عن تأويله ويجب رد علمه لله كقوله تعالى (الرحمن على العرش استوى) و(بل يداه مبسوطتان)) التذكرة في اصول الفقه ص160 ش مكتبة الرشد

So in it – meaning the Qur’an – are decisive statements what are explained and clear and mutashabihah statements that are the opposite of that. The mutashabihah are what was related on the topic of the Attributes of Allah, Mighty and Majestic and are forbidden to interpret. And it is compulsory to return the meaning of those to Allah, such as his statement, The Most Merciful is above the Throne and But both His Hands are outspread.[46]

قال الإمام ابن عادل الحنبلي (ت775هـ) :

The Imam, Ibn `Adil Al-Hanbali (d.775), may Allah have mercy upon him, said the following:

(وإذا ثبت هذا فنقول: إن قوله تعالى: {ثم استوى على العرش} من المتشابهات التي يجب تأويلها، وللعلماء هاهنا مذهبان.

When the affair is established, then we say that the statement of the Exalted One, He is above the Throne is from the mutashabihat which is compulsory to interpret while the scholars have two ways of discussion on the matter.

الأول: أن يقطع بكونه تعالى متعاليا عن المكان والجهة، ولا نخوض في تأويل الآية على التفصيل،  بل نفوض علمها إلى الله – تعالى – ونقول: الاستواء على العرش صفة لله – تعالى – بلا كيف يجب على الرجل الإيمان به، ونكل العلم فيه إلى الله – عز وجل …

The first position is that one decisively hold that the Exalted One is exalted from and not in need of place or direction. We do not discussion in the detailed meaning of the ayah but instead we consign the meaning of it to Allah, Exalted be He. And we say that the istiwa’ on the Throne is an Attribute of Allah, Exalted be He. It is without how and is compulsory for the man to have Iman in it and consign the meaning of it to Allah, Mighty and Majestic.

وروي عن سفيان الثوري، والأوزاعي، والليث بن سعد وسفيان بن عيينة، وعبد الله بن المبارك، وغيرهم من علماء السنة في هذه الآيات التي جاءت في الصفات المتشابهة، أن نوردها كما جاءت بلا كيف)   اللباب في علوم الكتاب ج9 ص151

So with regard to the ayat which are from the Mutashabihat Sifat, we narrate them just as they came to us without how. And this is the understanding narrated from Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Al-Awza`ii, Al-Laith ibn Sa`d, Sufyan ibn `Uyainah, `Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak and others from Muslim Orthodoxy.[47]

ابن رجب (ت795هـ) :

Imam Ibn Rajab (d.795), may Allah be pleased with him, uttered:

 (والصواب ما عليه السلف الصالح من إمرار آيات الصفات وأحاديثها كما جاءت  من غير تفسير لها ولا تكييف ولا تمثيل: ولا يصح من أحد منهم خلاف ذلك البتة خصوصا الإمام أحمد ولا خوض في معانيها ولا ضرب مثل من الأمثال لها: وإن كان بعض من كان قريبا من زمن الإمام أحمد فيهم من فعل شيئا من ذلك اتباعا لطريقة مقاتل فلا يقتدى به في ذلك إنما الإقتداء بأئمة الإسلام كابن المبارك. ومالك. والثوري والأوزاعي. والشافعي. وأحمد. واسحق. وأبي عبيد. ونحوهم.) بيان فضل علم السلف على علم الخلف ص4

The correct statement is what the pious First Three Generations were upon, which is passing by the Ayat and Ahadith of the Attributes just as they came without explanation, how or likeness. And it is not valid from anyone among them to have any dispute in that, especially in the case of the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal. There is no debate regarding their meaning or likeness given. And even if one of them near to the time of Imam Ahmad did something regarding explaining them by following the way of Muqatil, such a one should not be followed in that. One is only to follow the Imams of Islam, such as Ibn Al-Mubarak, Malik ibn Anas, Ath-Thawri, Al-Awza`ii, Ash-Shafi`ii, Ahmad, Ishaq, Abu `Ubaid and others like them.[48]  

قال الإمام ابن اللحام الحنبلي (ت803هـ) :

The Imam, Ibn ul-Lihham Al-Hanbali (d.803), may Allah have mercy upon him, mentioned the following:

(مسألة فى القرآن المحكم والمتشابه وللعلماء فيها أقوال كثيرة

On the point of The Qur’an possessing the mutashabih and muhkamah ayat, the scholars have many statements on the matter.

والأظهر المحكم المتضح المعنى والمتشابه مقابله لاشتراك أو اجمال  أو ظهور تشبيه ولا يجوز أن يقال فى القرآن ما لا معنى له عند عامة العلماء وفيه ما لا يفهم معناه الا الله تعالى عند الجمهور ولا يعنى به غير ظاهره إلا بدليل) المختصر في اصول الفقه ص73

The most dominant affair is that the muhkamah is something that is clear in its meaning and manifest while the mutashabih is the opposite of that as the names are shared or the general affair and some apparent likeness. It is not permitted that something be said in the Qur’an that has no meaning mentioned by all the scholars or something in it in which its meaning is not understood by anyone except Allah, Exalted be He according to the vast majority. And one may not take the matter away from the text except with an evidence.[49]

قال الإمام المرداوي (ت885هـ) :

The Imam, `Ala’ ud-Din Al-Mardawi (d.885), may Allah have mercy upon him, declared:

( والمتشابه: مقابله،  وهو غير المتضح المعنى، فتشتبه بعض محتملاته ببعض، للاشتراك وعدم اتضاح معناه. فالاشتراك – مثلا – كالعين، والقرء، ونحوه من المشتركات …) ثم قال : (أو لظهور  تشبيه في صفات الله تعالى،  كآيات الصفات وأخبارها فاشتبه المراد منه على الناس، فلذلك قال قوم بظاهره فشبهوا وجسموا، وفر قوم من التشبيه فتأولوا وحرفوا فعطلوا، وتوسط قوم فسلموا فأمروه كما جاء مع اعتقاد التنزيه فسلموا، وهم أهل السنة وأئمة السلف الصالح.) التحبير شرح التحرير ج3 ص397

The mutashabihah the opposite of the muhkamah as it is not clear and has some likeness to other words in wording but the meaning of the other one is not clear. Examples of shared meeting include `ain, qar’ and similar things which have the same wording but different meanings. As far as the appearance of the Attributes of Allah, Exalted be He, like the Ayat and Akhbar of the Attributes that appear to have some likeness to the people as the words are spelled the same, it is due to that there are some people who took the outward form of the ayah, likened it and gave Him likeness and body. Then another group of people fled from likening, interpreted, corrupted the texts and stripped them of their attributes. Still another group of people were in the middle, submitted to it, passed them by as they came with the believe that He is pure of any shortcomings and they submit to that. And these are none other than Muslim Orthodoxy and the Imams of the First Three Generations.[50]

قال الإمام مجير الدين العليمي الحنبلي (ت928هـ) :

The Imam, Mujir ud-Din Al-`Ulaimi Al-Hanbali (d.928), may Allah have mercy upon him, remarked:

(والأولى في هذه الآية وفي ما شاكلها أن يؤمن الإنسان بها، ويمرها كما جاءت بلا كيف،  ويكل علمها إلى الله سبحانه، وهو مذهب أئمة السلف وعلماء السنة، قال سفيان بن عيينة: كل ما وصف الله تعالى به نفسه في كتابه، فتفسيره قراءته، والسكوت عنه،  ليس لأحد أن يفسره إلا الله ورسوله) وقال : ({على العرش استوى} استواء يليق بعظمته بلا كيف، وهذا من متشابه القرآن، نؤمن به ولا نتعرض لمعناه) فتح الرحمن في تفسير القرآن ج4 ص280

The most important thing about the ayah in question and what is similar to it is that the human being believe in it, pass it by just as it came without how, consign the meaning of it to Allah, Glorified be He, and this is the way of the Imams of the First Three Generations and the scholars of the Sunnah. Imam Sufyan ibn `Uyainah said, “All what Allah, Exalted be He, described Himself with in Book, its explanation is its recital and being silent regarding it. It is not for anyone to explain it except Allah and His Messenger”. He then said, “As for Him making istiwa’ above the Throne, it is an istiwa’ that befits His Grandeur without how and this is from the mutashabih of the Qur’an. We believe in hit and do not seek its meaning”.[51]

قال الإمام ابن النجار الحنبلي (تقي الدين) (ت972هـ) :

The Imam, Taqi ud-Din Ibn An-Najjar Al-Hanbali (d.972), may Allah be pleased with him, gave this point of reference:

(“وعكسه” أي عكس المحكم ” متشابه” وهو  ما لم يتضح معناه إما “لاشتراك” كالعين والقرء ونحوهما من المشتركات. أو “إجمال” وهو إطلاق اللفظ بدون بيان المراد منه. … أو ظهور تشبيه كصفات الله تعالى” أي كآيات الصفات وأخبارها. فاشتبه المراد منها على الناس. فلذلك قال قوم: #بظاهره فشبهوا وجسموا، وتأول قوم: فحرفوا وعطلوا. وتوسط قوم: فسلموا، وهم أهل السنة وأئمة السلف الصالح) مختصر التحرير في شرح الكوكب المنير ج2 ص141

The opposite of the decisive is the mutashabih and it is what does not have its meaning clearly given. And this is whether it shares a meaning with another word or two meanings within one word, like the words `ayn, qar’, general meanings without a clarification of which meaning is preferred or the apparent likeness like in the case of the Attributes of Allah, Exalted be He – such as in the case of the Ayat of the Attributes or the Akhbar of Sifat. The doubt or likeness intended belongs to the people (and not the texts). So it is due to this that one people speak with the apparent meaning of the text, liken Him and declare Him to have a body. Still another interpret, corrupt and then fall into negation of the Attributes. The middle path is to submit to what was given and the this is the way of Muslim Orthodoxy and the Imams of the First Three Generations.

قال الإمام مرعي الكرمي الحنبلي (ت1033هـ) :

The Imam, Mar`ii ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi Al-Hanbali (d.1033), may Allah have mercy upon him, discussed:

(إذا تقرر هذا فاعلم أن من  المتشابهات آيات الصفات التي التأويل فيها بعيد فلا تؤول  ولا تفسر وجمهور أهل السنة منهم السلف وأهل الحديث على الإيمان بها  وتفويض معناها المراد منها إلى الله تعالى  ولا نفسرها مع تنزيهنا له عن حقيقتها فقد روى الإمام اللالكائي الحافظ عن محمد بن الحسن قال اتفق الفقهاء كلهم من المشرق إلى المغرب على الإيمان بالصفات من غير تفسير ولا تشبيه) {اقاويل الثقات في آيات الصفات ص60}

So when you have affirmed this, then know that part of the mutashabih are the Ayat of Sifat in which interpretation of them is far-fetched and they should not be interpreted or explained. The vast majority of Muslim Orthodoxy – among them the First Three Generations and the People of Hadith – have Iman in them, consign their meaning and the intent of it to Allah, Exalted be He. We do not explain them under the guise of glorifying Him and then negating the meaning of them. The Imam, Al-Hafiz, Al-Lalaka’ii already narrated from Muhammad ibn Hasan who said: The fiqh scholars in totality – from the east to the west – have all agreed upon Iman in the Sifat without commentary or likeness.[52] 

قال الإمام السفاريني الحنبلي (ت1188هـ) :

Imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad As-Saffarini (d.1188), may Allah have mercy upon him, gave this ruling:

( فمذهب السلف أنهم يصفون الله – تعالى – بما وصف به نفسه، وبما وصفه به رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – من غير تحريف ولا تكييف، وهو – سبحانه – ليس كمثله شيء لا في ذاته، ولا في صفاته، ولا في أفعاله، وكل ما أوجب نقصا أو حدوثا فالله – تعالى – منزه عنه حقيقة، فإنه – تعالى – مستحق الكمال الذي لا غاية فوقه، ومذهب السلف عدم الخوض في مثل هذا، والسكوت عنه،  وتفويض علمه إلى الله – تعالى) لوامع الانوار البهية ج1 ص97

So the madhhab of the First Three Generations is that they describe Allah, Exalted be He, as He described Himself and as the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, described Him. And this is without corruption, how while He, Glorified be He, there is no thing like Him in His Essence, Attributes and Actions. All of what would necessarily be a shortcoming or something created, then Allah, Exalted be He, is not in not of it and pure from it in reality. Indeed He, Exalted be He, is deserving of the perfection which has no limit or boundary above it. And the way of the First Three Generations is no debate in this affair, silence about it and making tafwid of its meaning to Allah, Exalted be He.[53]

قال الإمام محمد بن بدر الدين بن بلبان (ت1083 ه)

[Imam Muhammad ibn Badr ud-Din ibn Balban (d.1083), may Allah have mercy upon him, concluded:]

والمراد بمعرفته – جل وعلا وتقدس – معرفة وجوب وجود ذاته بصفات الكمال فيما لم يزل ولا يزال

So the intent of having direct knowledge of Him – Majestic, Mighty and Holy is He! – references knowing the necessary fact of the existence of His Essence with the complete and perfect Attributes that have been and shall always be.

لا معرفة حقيقة ذاته لإستحالة ذلك لأنها مخالفة لسائر الحقائق فلا يمكن معرفتها وتحصل المعرفة بالله تعالى وصفاته شرعًا،

One is not safeguarded with having direct knowledge of His Essence as that is impossible on account of the reality of His Essence being different to all other realities and thus it is impossible to know it. Direct knowledge of Allah, Exalted be He and His Attributes results from that which is given in the Revealed Law.[54]

]قال الإمام عبد الله صوفان القدومي (ت1331 ه)[

[Imam `Abdullah Sufan Al-Qaddumi (d.1331), may Allah have mercy upon him, spoke unequivocally:]

وهو من الأحاديث التي يجب الإيمان بها مع التنزيه لله عن مشابهة المخلوقين كبقية أحاديث الصفات وآياتها نؤمن بها مع تنزيهنا لله عن مشابهة المخلوقين والله أعلم

And this belongs to the the Ahadith which it is compulsory to have Iman in them while declaring Allah glorified above resembling the creations, like the rest of the Ahadith of the Sifat and the Ayat on the topic as well. So we believe in all of these while declaring Allah glorified from likeness with the creation. And Allah knows best. [55]   

قال الإمام عبد القادر بن بدران الدومي (ت1346 ه)

[Imam `Abdul Qadir Ibn Badran Ad-Dumi (d.1346), may Allah have mercy upon him, made the following decisive remark:]

أي لا نقول كيف هي؟ ولا نقول معناها كذا وكذا، بل نقول صفة أثبتها تعالى لنفسه، فنحن نثبتها له ونكل كيفيتها ومعناها إليه تعالى، وأعلم أن هذا ما كان عليه السلف كلهم والأئمة المقتدى بهم وذهب إليه المحققين من الخلف،

This means that we don’t say, “How is it?” And we don’t say, “It means thus and so”. Instead we say that it is an Attribute that the Exalted One has affirmed for Himself. So we affirm it for Him and the how and meaning of it back to Him, Exalted be He. You should know that this is what all of the First Three Generations were upon and the Imams that followed them as well as the researchers from the latter-day generations.[56]

قال الإمام عبد الله خلف الدحيان (ت 1349)

[Imam `Abdullah Khalaf Ad-Dahyaan (d.1349), may Allah have mercy upon him, said of the right creed:]

ذكر المصنف رحمه الله في بعض تعليقاته ما نصه: ذكر العقائد ما لفظه عقائد الفرقة الناجية قال: وهم الأشاعرة والماتريدية وأهل الحديث، وقال بعض العلماء: الفرقة الناجية أهل الحديث يعني الأثرية والأشعرية والماتريدية فإذا قلت لفظ الحديث يقتضي عدم التعدية حيث قال فيه ستفترق أمتي على بضع وسبعين فرقة كلهم في النار إلا فرقة واحدة وهي ما كان على ما أنا عليه وأصحابي،

So the author of the said text, may Allah have mercy upon him in one of his footnotes mentioned a discussion centred around the doctrines of the Saved Sect and he said that the Saved Sect were: the Ash`aris, the Maturidis and the People of Hadith.[57] Some of the scholars have said that the Saved Sect are the People of Hadith, meaning the people of Athar and narrations, the Ash`aris and the Maturidis.[58] Thus in the case that one says the hadith on the topic refers not to a number but rather one group with the wording: “Indeed my Ummah shall divide into some seventy or more sects, all of them in the Fire except one and it is what I and my Companions are upon”, this leaves an ambiguity in the mind of some people.

فالجواب أن الثلاثة فرق هي فرقة واحدة لأنهم كلهم أهل الحديث فإن الأشاعرة والماتريدية لم يردوا الأحاديث ولا أهملوها وإنما فوضوها وإما أولوها وكل منهم أهل الحديث، وحينئذ فالثلاثة فرقة واحدة لإقتفائهم الأخبار وانتحالهم الآثار. بخلاف باقي الفرق فإنهم حكموا العقول وخالفوا المنقول فهم أهل بدعة وضلالة ومخالفة وجهالة والله تعالى أعلم.

The answer to this matter is that the three groups are in fact the one sect as they are all from the People of Hadith. So indeed the Ash`aris and Maturidis neither reject the hadith nor negate their value.[59] They only consign the meaning in some cases and interpret in other cases.[60] And both the Ash`aris and Maturidis are from the People of Hadith.[61] So then at that point it is clear that the three groups are in fact the one Saved Sect as they follow the narratives and hold onto and abide by the traditions of the past. This is the opposite of the remaining sects as they give judgement to thier intellects and oppose the transmitted and handed down texts. So they are a people of innovation, astrayness, opposition to the truth and grave ignorance. And Allah, Exalted be He, indeed knows best.[62]

قال الإمام محمد بن عبد العزيز بن مانع (ت 1389)

[Imam Muhammad ibn `Abdul `Aziz ibn Mani` (d.1389), may Allah have mercy upon him, gave this response:]

كذاك أي: كما أن علمنا لا يحيط بذاته المقدسة، لا ينفك أي: يخلص ويزول عن صفاته الذاتية، وأفعاله الإختيارية، فذاته ليست مثل ذوات المخلوقين، وصفاته كذاته ليست كصفات المخلوقين.

And none knows or encompasses the reality of the Names and Attributes or His Holy Essence or the wisdom of His Actions. So His Essence is not like that of the creations and His Attributes in the same way are not like the attributes of the creation.[63]

قال الإمام محمد عصام الشطي (ت 1440)

[Imam Muhammad `Isam Ash-Shatti (d.1440), may Allah have mercy upon him, quoted Imam As-Saffarini and then agreed with and seconded the quote:]

اعلم أن مذهب الحنابلة هو مذهب السلف، فيصفون الله بما وصف به نفسه، وبما وصفه به رسوله، من غير تحريف ولا تعطيل ولا تمثيل، فللَّهِ تعالى ذات لا تشبه الذوات، متصفة بصفات الكمال التي لا تشبه الصفات من المحدثات، فإذا ورد القرآن العظيم، وصحت سنة النبي الكريم عليه أفضل الصلاة والتسليم، بوصف للباري جلّ شأنه، تلقيناه بالقبول والتسليم،

You should know that the madhhab of the Hanbalis is indeed the madhhab of the First Three Generations. They describe Allah in the way that He described Himself and in the way that His Messenger described Him without corruption, negation or likening. So Allah, Exalted be He, has an Essence and it is not like the essences of the creation. He is described with the Most Complete and Perfect Attributes which bear not resemblance to the attributes of the creation. So when it has been mentioned in the Grand Qur’an, authentically reported by the Noble Prophet, upon him be the best peace and blessings, in describing the Creator and Fashioner of things – Majestic is His Mention – then we meet such statements with acceptance and submission.

ووجب إثباته له على الوجه الذي ورد، ونَكِلَ معناه للعزيز الحكيم، ولا نعدل به عن حقيقة وصفه، ولا نُلْحِدُ في كلامه، ولا في أسمائه، ولا في صفاته ولا نزيد على ما ورد، ولا نلتفت لمن طعن في ذلك ورَدَّ فهذا إعتقاد سائر الحنابلة كجميع السلف، فمن عدل عن هذا المنهاج القويم، زاغ عن الصراط المستقيم، وانحرف فدع عنك فلان عن فلان، وعليك بسنة ولد عدنان ، فهي العروة الوثقى التي انفصام لها والجُنة الواقية التي لا انحلال لها  

So it is compulsory to affirm the wording according to how it has been related, attributing its meaning to the Almighty, the All-Wise. And we do not depart from affirming that the Attribute given has a reality. We do not strip away or take away from His Speech, Names and Attributes and nor do we add to that which was related. And we do not turn any attention to the one that transgresses in that affair and repudiates them. The aforementioned is the creed of all the Hanbalis like all the First Three Generations. Thus whoever should depart from this straight methodology and path has again gone astray from the Straight Path, departed into crookedness. So see that you protect yourself regarding “such and such” from “such and such”. You must follow the Sunnah of the Chosen One from the Children of `Adnan. And this is the Firm Rope which shall not be severed and the clear and obvious shield of truth which has no weak portions in it.[64]

قال إسماعيل محمد بن بدران الدومي

[contemporary Imam, Isma`il Ibn Badran explained:]

كُلُّ مَا جَاءَ فِي اَلْقُرْآنِ، أَوْ صَحَّ عَنِ اَلْمُصْطَفَى صلى الله عليه وسلم كَآيَةِ الاِسْتوِاءِ، وَحَدِيثِ النُّزُولِ، والرَّحْمَةِ، وَاليَدِ، وَالوَجْهِ وغيرها، يَجِبُ الإيمان بِهِ، وَتَرْكُ اَلتَّعَرُّضِ لَهُ بِالرَّدِّ، وَالتَّأْوِيلِ، وَالتَّشْبِيهِ، وَالتَّمْثِيلِ، والتَّفْسِيرِ، وَهْوَ مِنَ الْمتشابه الَّذِي لا يعلمه إلا الله

All of what is in the Qur’an or authentically narrated from the Chosen One, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, – like the ayah of Istiwa’, the hadith of descent, rahmah, hand, face and other than that – is compulsory to have Iman in it, one is to abandon seeking to reject it, interpret it, give likeness or semblance to it while it is from the mutashabih in which none but Allah knows its meaning.[65]

قال الإمام عبد الرحمن الشامي

[contemporary Imam, `Abdur-Rahman Ash-Shami gave the following statement:]

كُلُّ مَا جَاءَ فِي اَلْقُرْآنِ، أَوْ صَحَّ عَنِ اَلْمُصْطَفَى صلى الله عليه وسلم كَآيَةِ الاِسْتوِاءِ، وَحَدِيثِ النُّزُولِ، والرَّحْمَةِ، وَاليَدِ، وَالوَجْهِ وغيرها، يَجِبُ الإيمان بِهِ، وَتَرْكُ اَلتَّعَرُّضِ لَهُ بِالرَّدِّ، وَالتَّأْوِيلِ، وَالتَّشْبِيهِ، وَالتَّمْثِيلِ، والتَّفْسِيرِ، وَهْوَ مِنَ الْمتشابه الَّذِي لا يعلمه إلا الله

All of what is in the Qur’an or authentically narrated from the Chosen One, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, – like the ayah of Istiwa’, the hadith of descent, rahmah, hand, face and other than that – is compulsory to have Iman in it, one is to abandon seeking to reject it, interpret it, give likeness or semblance to it while it is from the mutashabih in which none but Allah knows its meaning.[66]

قال الإمام محمد السيد الأزهري

[contemporary Imam, Muhammad As-Sayyid gave this statement:]

أما مذهب الحنابلة على ما قرره شيخ المذهب ابن قدامة فهو التفويض والمقصود باختصار هو إثبات ما أثبته الله لنفسه من صفات مع تفويض معناها إلى الله عز وجل مع نفي مماثلة و مشابهة الحوادث وتفويض معنى الصفة متفرع على تفويض معنى الذات والمقصود بالمعنى المفوض هو حقيقة الذات وحقيقة تلك الصفة أما لوازم الصفة التي تفهم من السياق القرآني أو الحديثي فلا تفويض فيها

As far as the madhhab of the Hanbalis, this is according to what was established and affirmed by the Shaikh of the Madhhab, Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah and that way is consigning the meaning of the Names and Attributes to Allah. The intent of this in brief is that one is to affirm that which Allah has affirmed for Himself of the Attributes while consigning the meaning to Allah, Mighty and Majestic while at the same time negating likeness and resemblance to the creation. Thus consigning the meaning of the Attribute is a branch of consigning the meaning of the Essence. So the intent of the word consignment is the reality of the Essence and the reality of that Attribute. As for the general expression of the Attribute mentioned and understood from the speech of the Qur’an or the hadith, there is no consignment of the general meaning[67] of the Attribute.[68]

قال الإمام عبد الباسط الرحيباني آل الشيخ

[contemporary Imam, `Abdul Basit Ar-Ruhaibi gave his word:]

والصفات الإلهية من المتشابه وقد سار الإمام أحمد – لو عورة هذا الطريق – على طريقة السلف الصالح وهي: التفويض ونعني بالتفويض: إثبات نصوص المتشابه كما هي، مع التسليم وتفويض المعنى إلى الله دون الخوض في التفصيلات مع الفهم الإجمالي

So the Divine Attributes are from the mutashabih ayat and the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal – with all earnestness – travelled this path that is the path and way of the First Three Generations, namely tafwid. By this word we mean affirming the texts of the mutashabih just as they are while submitting to what was given and then consigning the meaning of that to Allah without debate or discussion into the details while having a general understanding[69] of the Attributes.[70]

وقال

And he said further

أثبت الإمام أحمد صفات الله تعالى، ولكنه نفى لوازم التجسيم والأعضاء والجوارح والحدود والغايات وكل ما يخطر ببال البشر، سئل الإمام أحمد رضي الله عنه عن الإستواء فقال: “استوى كما أخبر لا كما يخطر للبشر”

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, affirmed the Attributes of Allah, Exalted be He, but he negated any earthly likeness and attribution of organs, limbs, boundaries and extremities and all of what occur to the mind of the human being. The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah be pleased with him, was asked about the istiwa’ and he said, “Istiwa’ is just as He has informed us and not like what occurs to the human being”.[71]

كتبه الشيخ مصطفى حمدو عليان

As written by the Shaikh, Mustafa Hamdu `Ulayyan but with footnotes and additional scholars that are indicated by the inclusion of [].

[This is by no means an exhaustive list but rather one that has a large body of luminaries. There are many that could be and perhaps later will be included that are not enclosed on this list currently. The point was to give a clear enough record of the creed of the First Three Generations that could be seen by all and sundry – Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali]


[1] These represent 41 statements, starting with the Imam of Muslim Orthodoxy and the last of the third age and its Reviver, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, all the way up to our time. We boldly and brazenly challenge anyone to bring 41 examples from the same school and methodology declaring the opposite. If one cannot – and he will not be able to – repent from sin, avarice and bearing false witness and leave what you are upon and come to the way of the First Three Generations and the successful vouchsafe of their way.

[2] Ash-Shami, Al-Jami` bain As-Sahihain: Muslim, vol.1, Section1: Al-`Aqidah, pp.199-200

[3] Sharh us-Sunnah, p.68

[4] Kitab ush-Shari`ah, pp.231-232

[5] I`tiqad Ahl is-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah, pp.42-43

[6] Ash-Sharh wal-Ibanah (Al-Ibanat us-Sughra), Maktabat ul-Hijaz Printers, p.187

[7] Surat ush-Shura (42), ayah 9

[8] `Aqidat ul-Imam Al-Mubajjal Ahmad, p.9

[9] Al-Usul ul-Mujarradah, pp.44-45

[10] The Well Balanced Creed, pp.116-119

[11] d.290 (AD903). He is Abu `Abdur-Rahman `Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal Ash-Shaibani. He was the second son of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and one of his successors in the madhhab and has often narrated from his father’s theology and understanding on matters. Please see Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp.174-181

[12] d.273 (AD886). He is Abu `Ali Hanbal ibn Ishaq ibn Hanbal ibn Hilal ibn Asad Ash-Shaibani. Notable memoriser and trustworthy, he witnessed and wrote on the Inquisition of the Imam and the events immediately following. Tadhkirat ul-Huffaz, vol.2, pp.599-601.

[13] Mentioned by Imam Al-Lalaka’ii in Sharh Usul ul-I`tiqad, point# 777.

[14] d.238 (AD852). He is Abu Ishaq Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn Makhlid Al-Hanzali. One of the great memorisers of his time and the chief scholar of Central Asia and the Grand Imam over them. Please see Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp.108-109.

[15] He is `Abdullah ibn Tahir ibn Al-Hussain ibn Mus`ab ibn Zuraiq Al-Khuza`ii. He was the governor of Khurasan in his time and one of the most important leaders of the `Abbasid government and was well trusted by the ruler Al-Ma’mun. Al-A`lam by Az-Zarkali, vol.4, pp.224-226

[16] Cited partially by Al-Lalaka’ii in Sharh Usul I`tiqad Ahl is-Sunnah, vol.3, pp.450-452.

[17] Manzumat ul-Kalwadhani, pp.3-4

[18] Collected by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Al-Musnad, vol.5, pp.233-234

[19] Ash-Shami, Al-Jami` bain As-Sahihain: Muslim, vol.1, Section1: Al-`Aqidah, pp.199-200

[20] Ar-Risalat ul-Wadihah fir-Raddi `Al al-Asha`irah, p.607

[21] Al-Ghunya, vol.1, pp.86-87

[22] Surat un-Nahl (16), ayah 74

[23] Dhail Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.2, p.156

[24] Talbis Iblis, p.79

[25] Al-Iqtisad fil-I`tiqad, pp.104-105

[26] Lum`at ul-I`tiqad, p.6

[27] Dhamm ut-Ta’wil, p.11

[28] Dhamm ut-Ta’wil, p.27

[29] Surah Ali `Imran (3), ayah 7

[30] Surat ul-Baqarah (2), ayah 208

[31] Rumuz ul-Kunuz fi Tafsir il-Kitab il-`Aziz, vol.8, p.54

[32] Manzumah fi Madh in-Nabi, pp.32-33

[33] Majmu` Al-Fatawa, vol.16, p.409

[34] Al-Burhan, pp.95-96

[35] Nihayat ul-Mubtadi’in fi Usul id-Din, p.31, Maktabat ur-Rushd Printers.

[36] Talkhis Rawdat in-Nadir, vol.1, p.123

[37] Surat ur-Rahman (55), ayah 27

[38] Surah Sad (38), ayah 74

[39] Surat ul-Ma’idah (5), ayah 64

[40] Ash-Shami, Jami` ul-Usul it-Tis`a: Ahmad and Muslim, vol.7, Section1: Al-`Ibadat, pp.354-355

[41] Ash-Shami, Al-Jami` bain As-Sahihain: Al-Bukhari and Muslim, vol.1, Section2:Al-Iman, pp.162-163

[42] Collected by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Al-Musnad, vol.5, pp.233-234

[43] Ash-Shami, Al-Jami` bain As-Sahihain: Al-Bukhari and Muslim, vol.3, Section8:Ar-Raqa’iq, pp.538-539

[44] Sharh Mukhtasar ir-Rawdah, vol.2, p.44

[45] Usul ul-Fiqh, vol.1, p.316

[46] At-Tadhkirah fi Usul il-Fiqh, p.160, Maktabat ur-Rushd Publishers

[47] Al-Lubab fi `Ulum il-Kitab, vol.9, p.151

[48] Bayan Fadli `Ilm is-Salaf `Ala `Ilm il-Khalaf, p.4

[49] Al-Mukhtasar fi Usul il-Fiqh, p.73

[50] At-Tahbir Sharh ut-Tahrir, vol.3, p.397

[51] Fath ur-Rahman fi Tafsir il-Qur’an, vol.4, p.280

[52] Aqawil uth-Thiqat, p.60

[53] Lawami` ul-Anwar, vol., pp.96-97

[54] Mukhtasar ul-Ifadat, pp.485-486

[55] Al-Minhaj, pp.9-10

[56] Short Commentary on The Illumination of the Creed, pp.38-39

[57] The People of Hadith (Ar.Ahl ul-Hadith) is another reference for the First Three Generations or the Salaf while the Ash`aris and Maturidis – although from Muslim Orthodoxy – are from the khalaf or latter day generations in which one is not duty bound to follow them, while in the case of the former one most certainly is to be guided. The First Three Generations handed to us the Book, Sunnah, Consensus and their unimpeachable understanding without any flaw. The latter day generations after them are only to be followed as and when they agree with these blessed three; outside of that, one may do the opposite or discard their positions.

[58] This order is more correct as the First Three Generations came first, then the Maturidis and then the Ash`aris, both from the latter-day generations that one is not required to follow. They are not Muslim Orthodoxy, rather a branch within Muslim Orthodoxy. Let the reader keep this distinction in mind so as not to be pulled into senseless wars and matters that will do nothing to his knowledge and Hereafter but deplete it.

[59] Although there are a small group today in the West and some students of knowledge that engage in this and are guilty of negating the Names and Attributes as mentioned by the Shaikh, Faaris ibn Faalih Al-Khazraji. And this tiny, vile and vituperative band soil the name of the scholars like An-Nawawi, Ibn Hajar and Ibn Daqiq Al-`Eid.

[60] When in reality the way of the First Three Generations is to consign the meaning in all cases as this is what was handed down to us infallibly.

[61] And this was said by the Imam, Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la Al-Baghdadi the Elder when the Ash`aris crystallised in his time after having come out of the seventy-two sects years previously.

[62] Sharh As-Saffariniyyah, pp.74-75

[63] Sharh us-Saffariniyyah, pp.132-133

[64] Fada’il il-A`mal, vol.1, pp.29-31

[65] Mukhtasar ul-`Aqa’id, pp.12-13

[66] Mukhtasar ul-`Aqa’id, pp.12-13

[67] Meaning that His Power is different than His Mercy, His Wrath is different than His Pardon and the ayat given, whether at the beginning, middle or end demonstrate the generalities of the expressions. Thus one (1) affirms the said Attribute, (2) has Iman in it and (3) attributes meaning of it to Allah.

[68] Taken a fatwa given Ramadan 1440.

[69] Please see previous notes on this matter.

[70] Ida’at, pp.62-63 and 82-83

[71] Ida’at, pp.62-63 and 82-83

2 thoughts on “THE THEOLOGY OF THE FIRST THREE GENERATIONS HAS NO EQUAL pt.2: 41 IMAMS OVER 13 CENTURIES HAVE THEIR SAY”

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