Category Archives: I – Introduction to Asmaa wa Sifaat – The Names and Attributes of Allah Intro
A – 5 Important Principles for Approaching the Quran and Sunnah
B- The Dangers of Deviating with Allah’s Names and Attributes (Ilhad)
The first 5 major deviations of Islam were that of the Khawaarij (many of the modern ‘terrorist’ groups carry their characteristics), Rafidah (Shiah), Qadariyyah (referenced in the first hadith found in Sahih Muslim), Murji’ah, and the Mu’tazilah (rationalists).
Three of the main people who were the figureheads of the deviant groups are, Wasil bin Ataa (d. 131AH), Ja’d bin Dirham (d. 110AH), and Jahm bin Safwan (d. 124AH). All 3 of these people were from Iraq.
Wasil is the main founder of the Mu’tazilah thought, and claimed that a faasiq (sinner) is not a believer or disbeliever, but in a ‘place between two places’ i.e. manzilah bayna manzilatayn.
Ja’d bin Dirham was the first person to claim that the Quran was created. He was also severely rebuked by Wahb ibn Munabbih for his questions regarding Allah’s Names and Attributes. Ja’d had only one student, Jahm bin Safwan.
Jahm was the first person to openly reject the Quran. He said emaan was to simply know that Allah existed (Iblees would be a mu’min under this definition). He also denied that Allah is above us, and said He is all around us like the air (a’udhubillah).
The most amazing aspect of this history though, is the following ‘chain’ of teachers of Jahm bin Safwan.
Jahm was a student of Ja’d, who was a student of Bayyan bin Sam’aan. Bayyan bin Sam’aan was actually one of the original figureheads of a Rafidi mujassima sect. He claimed that Allah had a body like a man, and that on Qiyamah it would all be destroyed except the face.
Bayyan was a student of Talut, a Jew who claimed the Tawrah was created. Talut, was a student of LABID BIN A’SAM, the one who tried to poison the Prophet(saw).
So you see the whole chain, Labid -> Talut -> Bayyan -> Ja’d -> Jahm.
Wasil bin Ataa was greatly influenced by some teachings of Jahm. Among the teachings that became characteristic of the Mu’tazilahs was that they denied alll Divine Attributes and claimed that the Names were meaningless (an important point to keep in mind when we get to tafweed). They claimed that man created his own actions (a belief of the Qadariyyah), and they were the primary group that studied philosophy and tried to incorporate it into Islam. Of Wasil’s well known students was Amr bin Ubayd (d. 143AH), and of the famous Mu’tazilahs after them was al-Jubba’i (d. 301AH). Al-Jubba’i is important because he married a woman who had a son from a previous marriage. That son was none other than Abul-Hasan al-Ash’ari.
Ilhad literally means to turn away. In this regards, its turning away from the truth of the Asmaa wa Sifaat (Names and Attributes) of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).
Allah (swt) says,
And you were not covering yourselves, lest your hearing testify against you or your sight or your skins, but you assumed that Allah does not know much of what you do. And that was your assumption which you assumed about your Lord. It has brought you to ruin, and you have become among the losers.â€So [even] if they are patient, the Fire is a residence for them; and if they ask to appease [Allah], they will not be of those who are allowed to appease. [41:22-24]
The emphasis in these ayaat is their denying the attribute of Knowledge from Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala).
And to Allah belong the best names, so invoke Him by them. And leave [the company of] those who practice deviation [ilhad] concerning His names. They will be recompensed for what they have been doing. [7:180]
Examples of ilhad include to deny or distort their meanings, or claim that they have no meaning (tafwid). Considering His Attributes to be similar to the creation, deriving Names not befitting Allah (e.g. “The Father”), are also considered examples of ilhad.
1. The Quran and Sunnah contain everything we need.
“…And all things have We explained in detail.” [17:12]
“This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” [5:3]
Thus, our religion is complete and perfect, and we do not need any other sources for our beliefs.
2. The Prophet(sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) has informed us of all that we need to know.
O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And Allah will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.[5:67]
If the Prophet (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) did not mention something, then it is not a part of our deen. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) will protect him from failing in delivering the message.
3. Any guidance other than the guidance of the Prophet is misguidance.
“…If you obey him, you shall be on right guidance.” [24:54]
Say, “Then bring a scripture from Allah which is more guiding than either of them that I may follow it, if you should be truthful.” But if they do not respond to you – then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from Allah? Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. [28:49-50]
The Prophet (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) also said that there is nothing which brings you closer to Jannah, except that I have informed you of it, and there is nothing that brings you closer to the fire of Hell except that I have warned you against it. [Tabarani]
He also said, “There was no prophet who came before me except that he was obliged to tell his people of the good he knew, and warn them against the evil that he knew.”
So from this we see that those who turn away from the guidance of the Quran and Sunnah are following their desires, and that the Quran and Sunnah are complete as sources for our deen. The one who turns away from this is turning away from the guidance of Allah (swt) and is destroyed. This is as the Prophet (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) said, “I have left you upon a clear path, its night is like its day (distinct, clear, unambiguous), no one deviates from it except that he is destroyed (or he wishes for destruction).” [Abu Dawud]
4. The sacred texts are in clear and lucid language. (Important!)
This is proven from every ayah indicating that the Quran is clear. Many of these ayaat can be found as the first verse following an ayah of disjointed letters. For example, “Alif Laam Raa. A Book which We have revealed unto you … lead mankind out of the depths of darkeness into light“ [14:1-2], and “Alif Laam Raa. Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran that you might understand.“ [12:1-2]
Part of the eloquence of the Quran is that it gets the message across clearly, such that everyone can understand it. Just as if a man were to say something ambiguous, it would not be eloquent, how can one say that the Quran is unclear and not able to be understood? It is, after all, a book sent to guide mankind (and not confuse it!).
The Quran is complex; however, even the most complex meanings of an ayah can never contradict the clear basic meanings they give. For example, ibn al-Qayyim wrote a book (Madaarij as-Saalikeen) that is a 3 volume commentary on the ayah, “You alone we worship, You alone we ask for help.” The ayah has many meanings, some which only the scholars can derive, however, none of them can contradict the basic meaning that everyone picks up from seeing that verse.
5. Following the example of the earliest generation over the later ones.
This should be common sense. There are ayaat indicating Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) is pleased with the Sahabah (9:100). The Prophet (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) also said, “The best generation (of mankind) is my generation, then those after them, then those after them” [Bukhari/Muslim].
Simply, they were the best generation, they were there when the Quran was being revealed, they lived it, and when they agree upon something, it is binding upon us.
Following this methodology is something that seems fairly intuitive for most people, however there are some who refer to it as being “backward” or “regressive.” The following points can be made in response.
Firstly, it was these “backward” (audhubillah) people who spread the deen all over the world. Were it not for them (after the blessings of Allah) our ancestors would probably not have converted. They spread the message from China to Spain.
Secondly, no one is calling for a return to living life like 7th century Arabia, rather, it is a return to their understanding of the religion itself. It is to practice it as they practiced it, and believe in it like they believed in it. They are our unequivocal role models in this regard. Do we seriously expect to be saved by following a path different from it? The understanding, theology, practice of the deen is something that transcends time, and this is one of the things necessitated by the fact that our religion has been perfected for us.
Thirdly, those same “progressive” people who make these accusations are themselves actually returning to a philosophy (e.g. Aristotelian thought) even older than Islam!!