A – Kalam (Speech)
Ahlus Sunnah affirms Allah’s Kalam. He speaks whenever He wills, His Speech is heard, He speaks with words and letters, and His speech is eternal and uncreated.
And Allah spoke directly (kallama) to Musa [4:164]
And when he came to it (the fire), he was called by name: “O Musa (Moses)! Verily! I am your Lord! So take off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa. And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you.” [20:11-13]
And when Musa (Moses) came at the time and place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke (kallamahu) to him, he said: “O my Lord! Show me (Yourself), that I may look upon You.” Allah said: “You cannot see Me… [7:143]
And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words (kalam) of Allah [9:6]
The Mu’tazilah said His Speech is heard but it is created. About the ayaat mentioned here, they say Musa heard Allah but he heard a created speech. One way of refuting this is that if the kalam of Allah was created, that would mean that one of Allah’s Attributes had a beginning, yet Allah’s Attributes do not change with time,
He is the First (there is nothing before Him), and He is the Last (there is nothing after Him) [57:3]
The Ash’aris say that Allah is continually speaking (instead of speaking when He wishes) with an internal speech that cannot be heard, has no language, and is without words/letters. It is, according to them, an internal speech of the mind.
As discussed before, they fell into saying this out of a fear of committing tashbih (anthropomorphism).The Ash’aris said basically that if His Speech is heard, then it must automatically mean sound exists, and this implies a vocal cord, tongue, lips, etc. So because they could not view the Attribute in the middle path of Ahlus Sunnah (confirming the Attribute but leaving the ‘how’ to Allah) they fell into one extreme by trying to avoid the other. This also led them to say that the Quran is the uncreated internal speech of Allah, and what we have is simply an expression of it.
It is easy to notice that they delved into a lot of concepts that are unfounded in the Quran and Sunnah. What is ironic, is that the Ash’aris accuse Ahlus Sunnah of delving too much into the Names and Attributes of Allah when we are the ones who affirm the texts and do not go beyond that!
Imam Ahmed refuted the claim of the Ash’aris by saying, “As for their claim that sound can only occur from a combination of the throat, lips, and tongue, then did not Allah say to the heavens and earth “‘Come willingly or unwillingly!’ They both said, ‘We come, willingly!’” (41:12). And did not Allah say, “And We subjected the mountains and the birds to glorify Our praises, along with Dawood” (21:79). Do these people presume that they (i.e. the mountains, heaven, earth) glorified with a throat, lips, and tongues?! And how about when a disbeliever’s limbs will testify against him….Nay, rather Allah will make them to speak, as He wishes, without any throat lips or tongues!”
If what the Ash’aris say is true, then what did Musa hear in Tuwa? Also, do they consider muted speech to be praiseworthy? One who is mute is not like one who speaks, so to deny Speech from Allah, or interpret it as they do is an extremely dangerous and blasphemous position to take. It implies that the Creator is mute, while Allah is in fact free from all attributes of imperfection
Also, if the Quran is an internal speech and what we have is an expression, and His speech is without words/letters, then what do they say about the ayaat that the Quran is in a clear Arabic language?