E – Tafwid and its dangers
Tafwid literally means to relegate, or to entrust someone with something. It is found in the ayah, “…my affair I commit (ufawwidu) to Allah…” (40:44).
For the scholars of kalam it means to relegate the meanings of the Attributes of Allah without explaining them or discussing them. This was unknown to the early scholars and doesn’t seem to have appeared until the time of al-Shahrastani, Ghazali, and Razi (d. 547, 505, and 612AH respectively).
They made tafwid because of the false conviction that the Attributes could not be understood in a literal manner or it would lead to anthropomorphism, and the realization that the early scholars of Islam had never been exposed to the Aristotelian logic and cosmology upon which they based this conviction.
This led them to say that the earlier generations had no knowledge of the Sifaat and that they were “too pious and holy” to understand them, and thus made tafwid, whereas the ‘refined’ and ’sophisticated’ scholars of kalam came to make it more academic.
To make tafwid is to basically say the Attributes of Allah are like random letters, i.e. when Allah says He has a “yadd” (hand) He may as well just have said “Alif Laam Meem” because we don’t know what it means and we ‘relegate’ it to Allah. This is in direct contradiction to what Imam Maalik said, that isitiwaa is KNOWN but the kayf (how) is unknown. When one makes tafwid he says the meaning is also unknown. And this is what is meant by the copious narrations from the early scholars which all basically say in regards to the narrations of Allah’s Attributes, “pass them on as they have come, we believe in them, and narrate them, without any kayf.”
If Imam Maalik’s narration was in support of tafwid he would have never said istiwaa is known and the kayf is unknown. He wouldn’t need to specify the kayf if the meaning was also unknown (as is the case in tafwid).
Ibn Taymiyyah said in al-’Aql wan-Naql,
“As for tafweed, then it is known that Allah orders us to reflect over the Quran and encourages us to understand it and use our intellects, so then how can it be possible that we are expected to turn away from its understanding, to turn away from knowing anything about it? ….
And it is known that this is an insult to the Quran and to the Prophets, since Allah sent down the Quran and informed us that he made it as guidance and clarification for the people, and He ordered the Messenger to convey it clearly and to clarify to the people what has been sent down to them. He also ordered the people to reflect over the Quran and understand it. Having said all of this, then the most virtuous of what is in it is what He informed us of regarding His Attributes. To say that the meanings are not known and cannot be understood or reflected over, and that the Messenger (saw) did not clarify to the people what was sent down to them, nor did he convey it clearly, this would allow any infidel or innovator to say that the truth of the affair is what he knows from his own opinion or intellect, as the texts could not contradict that since they are all similarly problematic in that they cannot be understood by anyone, and thus, no one can use them as evidences! This kind of speech would mean the absence of any possible guidance and clarification from the prophets…[and that] they did not know what they were saying themselves… All of this shows clearly that the position of the people of tafweed, that believe they are following the Sunnah and the Salaf (Pious Predecessors), is from the most evil statements of the people of innovation and ilhaad.”
From the dangers of tafwid is first impugning Allah’s Wisdom. This is because they say Allah actually meant something else, i.e. He is speaking in a language everyone understann’t mean what He said. This casts doubts upon the Quran because if it speaks metaphorically about Allah, then what about everything else in it?
Tafwid is also a form of pure ta’til (negation or denial) because it strips Allah(swt) of all of His Attributes.
It also necessitates saying that the Prophet(saw) did not know the meanings and fell short in delivering the message. Did he not know? Did the Sahaba just ignore them? If he (saw) did not know, the people of tafwid essentially claim to know more then him(saw), and if he knew but did not say, then they accuse him (saw) of not conveying the message.
It is extremely disrespectful to the early generations of Muslim, especially the Sahabah. They were there when the Quran was being revealed, and if the issue was unclear, they would have asked. By accusing them of having a “blank mind” on the issue (as the people who make tafwid do) then it would mean that they did not care about Allah(swt)!
The methodology of tafwid is in clear contradiction to all the principles established regarding how to approach the sacred texts.
Posted on November 7, 2013, in Aqeedah 102, V - Disputing with the Language of the Sacred Texts and tagged Disputing with the language of the Sacred Texts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.