A Reply to Those Who Deny Punishment in the Grave
By Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen
Information related to the Religion (Al-khabar), is categorized in accordance to the manner in which it has reached us. There are two categories:
: al-Mutawaatir (recurrent): that which has been narrated from one group to another. Convention dictates: it is impossible that they would act in collusion upon a lie, from he beginning of the chain of narration to the end.
: al-Aahaad (singular): all narrations excluding those classified as recurrent. Some individuals from the people of kalaam, for instance the:
The Mu’tazilah and whoever followed them from later generations, for example Shaykh Muhammad Abduh, Mahmood Shaltoot, Ahmad Shalbee, ’Abdul-Kareem ’Uthmaan, amongst others. In addition to the Usooliyyeen: Ascribed to the opinion that the khabarul-waahid cannot be used as a means of founding matters of ’aqeedah, rather only definite evidence can be used to establish matters of ’aqeedah, comprising of either a verse or a prophetic tradition.  The assertion above concerning the impermisibility of establishing matters of ’aqeedah upon singular traditions is inadmissible. For indeed, if the authenticity of a hadeeth is established, it being transmitted by a trustworthy chain of narrators, and has arrived to us in a correct manner, then eemaan (faith) upon it is indeed obligatory, in addition to the affirmation of it. Irrespective of whether it is khabarul-aahaad or mutawaatir. It imports upon the individual an obligation to maintain the indisputable knowledge concerning it. This is the creed of the scholars of our pious predecessors, established upon the Command of Allaah the Most High to the believers, by his statement:
‘‘It is not for a Believer, man or woman, when Allaah and his Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.’’ [Sooratul-Ahzaab 33:36]
His statement, the Most High:
‘‘Obey Allaah and His Messenger.’’ [Soorah Aali-’Imraan 3:32]
Ibn Hajar (d.852H) – rahimahullaah – said:
‘‘The implementation of the singular tradition, by the companions and the Taabi’een without repudiation is ubiquitously circulated and known, for it dictates that they unanimously accepted it.’’ 
Ibn Abil-’Izz al-Hanafee (d.729H) – rahimahullaah – mentioned:
‘‘The Ummah has received the khabarul-waahid with acceptance, by implementation of it, and attestation to it. It does denote indisputable knowledge amongst the vast majority of the Ummah. It is one category of al-mutawaatir. There did not exist any variance of opinion amongst the Salaf concerning this matter.’’ 
A man questioned Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee concerning a matter. He responded, ‘‘The Messenger of Allaah decreed such and such.’’ The questioner said to ash-Shaafi’ee, ‘What do you say?’ He said, ‘Praise be to Allaah, do you see me attending the church? Do you see the belt of the Christians around my waist? I say to you: The Messenger of Allaah decreed such and such and you respond: what do you say?’’ 
Ash-Shaafi’ee (d.204H) – rahimahullaah – also mentioned:
‘‘When I narrate an authentic tradition from the messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and do not accept it, I would have testified to you that my intelligence has disappeared.’’ 
Hence, he did not differentiate between the khabarul-waahid and the khabarul-mutawaatir. Further more, he did not distinguish between narrations concerning to ’aqeedah and those pertaining to a matter of action. Indeed the determining factor was founded upon the authenticity of the tradition.
Imaam Ahmad (d.241H) – rahimahullaah – stated:
‘‘We affirm and accept every matter that has arrived from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) by means of a sound chain of authorities. If we did not affirm or accept that which the Messenger came with, by means of repudiation and opposition to it, we would have opposed the command of Allaah.
Allaah the Most High stated:
‘‘Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it, whatever he prohibits you from, abstain from it.’’ [Sooratul-Hashr 59:7]’’ 
Accordingly, Imaam Ahmad did not stipulate any conditions for acceptance save the authenticity of the tradition.
Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – rahimahullaah – stated:
‘‘If an action of Sunnah is established, all the Muslims are in agreement upon the obligation to adhere to it.’’ 
Ibnul-Qayyim mentioned in his refutation of those who reject the proof of the khabarul- waahid, ‘‘From amongst the proofs: The Companions’ conveyance of traditions amongst themselves. For they asserted authoritatively that which an individual narrated from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). No individual amongst them responded to the one who informed him of a tradition from the Messenger of Allaah with the statement: your information is founded upon the khabarul-waahid, this does not constitute knowledge until it is founded upon a mutawaatir tradition. If one of the Companions narrated a tradition to another from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) pertaining to Sifaat (attributes), it would be received with acceptance. Furthermore, the recipient would believe in that attribute categorically and with absolute certainty. Similarly they believed in the vision of the Lord, His Speech, His Call upon the Day of Judgment to His servants wit a voice that will be heard in the distance as it shall be heard nearby. His descent every night to the lower heaven, His Laughter, His Delight, His Act of Grasping the heavens and placing them upon a Finger from the Fingers of His Hand, in addition to the affirmation of His Foot. Whosoever heard these ahaadeeth from those who narrated them from the messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) or his companions, believed in the authenticity of their content by virtue of having heard them from the just and the truthful, and they entertained no doubt therein. It is perhaps conceivable to assume that they sought affirmation in some traditions pertaining to rules and regulations. However, despite that, no individual from amongst them sought the confirmation of the narrations pertaining to the Attributes at all. Rather they were amongst the foremost of the people in the acceptance and affirmation of them, authoritatively asserting their content, and establishing the Attributes upon them. They did so from what was communicated to them by means of these ahaadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Whosoever has the closest acquaintance with the Sunnah and consideration towards it is aware of that matter. For if the position was not manifestly clear concerning this matter, we would certainly have cited in excess of on hundred examples of clarification.
Hence, this practice of disaffirming knowledge founded upon the ahaadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) which they are dependant upon, was punctured by the consensus of the companions. This is a matter, which is known by necessity. In addition to the consensus of the Taabi’een and the consensus of the Imaams of Islaam. However they are in agreement with the Mu’tazilah, the Jahmiyyah, the Raafidah, and the Khawaarij who violated this sanctity. Groups amongst the Usooliyyeen and the fuqahaa‘ (jurists) followed them. Otherwise, they are not aware of a single individual amongst the Salaf – from the Imaams of the Salaf – who followed that opinion. Rather the Imaams explicitly declared their opposition to their statement. From amongst those who ascribed to the opinion that the khabarul-waahid constitutes knowledge: Maalik, ash-Shaafi’ee, the companions of Aboo Haneefah, Daawood Ibn ’Alee and his companions, for example Muhammad Ibn Hazm.’’ 
From amongst the reasons, which are propounded by those who reject the legal validity of the khabarul-waahid by reason of doubt, is the notion that the khabarul-waahid constitutes uncertainty and suspicion. They intend by means of their allegation the ‘preponderant uncertainty’ to infer the probability of ’alaa waahid (the individual narrator) erring, or the presence of negligence, or forgetfulness. However they allege: by a unanimous resolution, it is obligatory to implement those rules and regulations, which are founded upon the ‘preponderant uncertainty’. Never the less they assert that it is impermissible to employ them for the purpose of matters relating to ’aqeedah.  They derive the evidence for this principle from the aayaat, which prohibit the following of uncertainty and suspicion (dthann). For example, His statement, the Most High:
‘‘While they have no knowledge therein. They follow nothing but dthann, and indeed dthann is no substitute for the truth.’’ [Sooratun-Najm 53:28]
The response to this doubt is that their allegation founded upon this verse and those similar to it is rejected. For dthann here is not the ‘preponderant uncertainty’, which they mean. Rather it is doubt, falsehood, conjecture and guesswork. Verily it is stated in an-Nihaayah and al-Lisaan, and other books of language: dthann: A doubt propounded to you in a certain matter, hence you scrutinize it and deliver a verdict upon it.
Ibn Katheer mentioned in his tafseer (explanation) of the following verse:
‘‘But they have no knowledge concerning it.’’ [Sooratun-Najm 53:28]
Meaning that they the unbelievers do not have correct knowledge to authenticate that which they say. Rather it is lies, falsehood, fabrication and heinous unbelief:
‘‘They follow nothing but dthann, and indeed dthann is no substitute for the truth.’’ [Sooratun-Najm 53:28]
Meaning, it has no weight at all, it can never establish it self upon the platform of truth. It is indeed established in the Saheeh that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) stated, ‘‘Beware of dthann. For indeed dthann (suspicion) is the most false type of speech.’’
Accordingly, doubt and falsehood is deemed dthann, in a matter which Allaah the Most High dispraised and censured the Polytheists for pursuing. This assertion is corroborated by His statement, the Most High:
‘‘They follow nothing but dthann, they do nothing but utter falsehood.’’ [Sooratul-An’aam 6:116]
Accordingly, if falsehood and conjecture is dthann (the preponderant uncertainty which they allege), it is indeed impermissible to implement them in matters of rules and regulations, for these matters are not to be founded upon doubt and conjecture.  In relation to that which was propounded, concerning the existence of negligence or forgetfulness by the narrator. This is rebutted with that which has been stipulated in the khabarul-waahid from the premise that each narrator is sound and trustworthy. Hence, if the tradition is deemed authentic, there can be no sphere to imagine an error being committed by the narrator. In addition, by convention, a trustworthy and sound narrator is neither to be considered negligent, nor an individual who uttered a lie. Accordingly, there is no scope in which to reject his information by reason of the possibility of rationale and intellect negating that which is established by convention. Evidences to support the acceptance of the khabarul-waahid, in view of the fact that the inherent fallacy in their assertion, it is impermissible to establish matters of ’aqeedah upon the khabarul-waahid has been clarified. The various evidences which obligate the necessity of implementing them in these matters are numerous in number. They are present in both the Qur‘aan and the Sunnah. From amongst them:
: ‘‘It is not proper for the believers to go out and fight all together. Of every troop amongst them, only a party should go forth, so that those who are left behind may receive instruction in religious matters. There after they may warn their people when they return to them, so they may be ware of evil.’’ [Sooratut-Tawbah 9:122]
This aayah exhorts the believers to study the Religion. A group: which is dispatched may include one individual or more. Imaam al-Bukhaaree (d.265H) – rahimahullaah – said, ‘‘A single man may be deemed a group, in accordance with His statement:
‘‘If two groups from amongst the believers start to fight, then make peace between them both.’’ [Sooratul-Hujuraat 49:9]’’ 
Hence, if two individuals start to fight, they are to be included in the meaning of this aayah. Accordingly, if what is communicated by a single individual, in matters pertaining to the Religion, is to be accepted, this indicates that his information is a proof. In addition, studying the religion incorporates matters of rules and beliefs. No, rather the study of beliefs is more important then the study of rules and regulations.
: ‘‘O you who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with news, ascertain the truth.’’ [Sooratul-Hujuraat 49:6]
This aayah is indicative of the principle that the acceptance of information from a trustworthy individual ought to be absolute and authoritative. It is not necessary to verify that information. For that individual is not deemed to be a faasiq (wicked, mischievous individual). If the information conveyed did not constitute knowledge, the command to verify the truth would have been absolute until the information conveyed assumed the status of knowledge. 
: ‘‘O you who Believe! Obey Allaah and obey the messenger, and those entrusted with authority amongst you. If you differ in any matter amongst yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger.’’ [Sooratun-Nisaa‘ 4:59]
Ibnul-Qayyim – rahimahullaah – said:
‘‘All the Muslims by unanimous resolution are in agreement that the act of referring to the messenger is an act of returning to him during his lifetime, and referral to the Sunnah after his death. Hence, if those traditions which are mutawaatir or aahaad do not constitute knowledge and certainty, there can be no provision for referral back to Him in this manner.’’
In relation to evidences from the Sunnah: they are plentiful in number. I shall restrict myself to quote a few from amongst them:
: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to send his messengers to various kings, one after another, similarly his governors were dispatched to different countries. The people sought instruction from them in all matters pertaining to regulations, both in action and in belief. He sent Aboo ’Ubaydah ’Aamir Ibnul-Jarraah (radiyallaahu ’anhu) to the people of Najraan.  He sent Mu’aadh ibn Jabal (radiyallaahu ’anhu) to the people of Yemen.  He sent Dihyah al-Kalbee (radiyallaahu ’anhu) with the Book to ’Adtheem Basrah.  In addition to other Companions.
: It has been narrated by al-Bukhaaree, from ’Abdullaah Ibn ’Umar (radiyallaahu ’anhu), who said, ‘‘We were amongst the people of Qooba’ during the dawn prayer, when a messenger came arrived with an aayah. He said: Indeed an aayah from the Qur‘aan has been revealed to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) during the night. He has commanded us to turn his face towards the direction of the Ka’bah, so turn your faces towards it. Their faces at that time were turned towards the direction of the Shaam. They therefore turned their faces towards the Ka’bah.’’  It cannot be said: this is a ruling concerning action, for the implementation of this ruling is founded upon the authenticity of this information.
: From ’Umar (radiyallaahu ’anhu), ‘‘There was a man from amongst the Ansaar, if he was absent from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), and I witnessed the Prophetic instruction, I would come to the man and would inform him of that which I heard from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). If I was absent form the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) and he witnessed the Prophetic instruction, he would come to me and inform me of that which he heard from the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam).’’  Hence, this as the state of affairs amongst the Companions. It indicates that one companion was content with the information of one individual in matters pertaining to his religion. Irrespective of whether the matter concerned action or belief.
: From ’Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu ’anhu), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) say, ‘‘May Allaah illuminate the face of the one who heard a hadeeth from me, and then memorized it in order that he may communicate it to others. For perhaps the informant will be more learned then the one who heard it initially.’’  Similarly, this precept is not restricted to those traditions concerning actions only, excluding other matters. Rather it is general in meaning, applicable to traditions concerning action, and rulings linked to belief. If eemaan in that which is established to be authentic from him (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) in matters of belief, related by means of the khabarul-waahid is not obligatory, why was this command from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) relating to the conveyance of his traditions general in meaning. Rather the Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) would indeed have clarified that this principle is restricted to traditions linked to action, excluding others.
Accordingly, the statement that aahaad traditions do not establish principles of belief is an innovated statement, unprecedented, and devoid of any foundation in the Religion. Not one individual from amongst the Pious Predecessors (Salafus-Saalih) communicated this statement. Nor has it been transmitted by any individual from amongst them. Rather they did not entertain such a thought. If categorical proof was found indicating that aahaad ahaadeeth can not be employed to establish ’aqeedah, indeed the companions would have been conversant of it. Furthermore, they would have publicly declared such a matter. Similarly, those who proceeded them from amongst the Pious Predecessors would have communicated it. In addition, this innovated statement comprises of an ’aqeedah necessitating the rebuttal of hundreds of authentic ahaadeeth, established form the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam).  Hence those who do not accept the Khabar al Waahid in matters of Aqeedah are obligate to reject matters of belief which are established by means of the singular tradition, from amongst them:
: The superiority of our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) over the remainder of the Prophets and Messengers.
: His intercession upon the Day of Congregation.
: His intercession for those who perpetrated the major sins from amongst His Ummah.
: All his miracles excluding the Qur‘aan.
: How creation was inaugurated, the description of the Angels and the jinn, and the descriptions of Paradise and Hell, excluding that mentioned in the Qur‘aan.
: The questions of Munkar and Nakeer.
: The compression and expansion of the grave upon the dead.
: as-Siraat (the bridge of), al-Hawd (the pond), al-Meezaan (the balance, complete with two scales).
: The belief that Allaah has decreed the happiness (destined for the paradise) or the misery (destined for the hellfire) for each individual, in addition to his sustenance, his death, during his presence in his mother’s stomach.
: The unique characteristics of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), collected by as- Suyootee in his book al-Khasaa‘isul-Kubraa. For example: His admittance in the Paradise during his lifetime, his vision of the inhabitants, and that which has been prepared for the Muttaqeen (the God fearing) therein. In addition to the acceptance of Islaam of his companions from amongst the jinn.
: The absolute certainty that the ten who were given the glad tidings of Paradise are amongst the people of Paradise.
: The finite residence of those who perpetrated the major sins in the Fire.
: Eemaan in all that has been authentically narrated in the ahaadeeth pertaining to the description of the Day of Judgement, the Gathering, the Resurrection, excluding that which has been mentioned in the Qur‘aan.
: Eemaan in the sum total of the Signs of the Hour. For example the appearance of the Mahdee, the descent of ’Eesaa (’alayhis-salaam), the emergence of Dajjaal, the appearance of the beast, the rising of the sun from the west and others.
Furthermore, not all the evidences employed to establish these points of ’aqeedah are authentic by means of the khabarul-waahid, which is the point of view asserted by them. For their relative proofs are not contained in aahaad ahaadeeth, rather amongst them are those precepts evidenced by virtue of mutawaatir ahaadeeth. Never the less, these rejectionists have little knowledge in relation to the proof of the khabarul-aahaad. It has caused them to reject all these points of belief. In addition to other precepts of ’aqeedah, which have arrived by means of authentic ahaadeeth. 
 Sharhul-Kawkabil Muneer fee Usoolil-Fiqh (p. 350-356) of al-’Allaamah Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn ’Abdul-’Azeez al-Hanbalee
 Fathul Baaree (13/234)
 Sharhul-’Aqeedatit-Tahaawiyyah (p. 399-400)
 Mukhtasar Sawaa’iqul-Mursalah ’alal-Jahmiyyah wal-Mu’attilah (2/350) of Ibnul-Qayyim
 Mukhtasar Sawaa’iq (350/2)
 Ittihaaful-Jamaa’ah (1/4)
 Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (19/80)
 Mukhtasar Sawaa’iq (2/361-362)
 Wujoobul-Akhadh bi Hadeethil Aahaad fil-’Aqeedah war-Radd ’alaa Shubhil- Mukhaalifeen (p. 6-7) Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaanee
 Related by Muslim (no. 4646), and refer to Tafseer Ibn Katheer (7/434)
 al-’Aqeedah fillaah of ’Umar Sulaymaan al-’Ashqar (p. 48-49)
 Saheehul-Bukhaaree (13/231)
 Wujoobul-Akhadh bi Hadeethil Aahaad fil-’Aqeedah war-Radd ’alaa Shubhil- Mukhaalifeen (p. 7)
 Mukhtasar Sawaa‘iqul-Mursalah ’alal-Jahmiyyah wal-Mu’attilah (2/352)
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/232)
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/261)
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/241)
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/232)
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/232)
 Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (6/96), and Shaykh Ahmad Shaakir authenticated it and said it had been narrated through two authentic chains of narration from Imaam Ahmad.
 Wujoobul-Akhadh bi Hadeethil Aahaad fil-’Aqeedah war-Radd ’alaa Shubhil- Mukhaalifeen (p. 53)
 Wujoobul-Akhadh bi Hadeethil Aahaad fil-’Aqeedah war-Radd ’alaa Shubhil- Mukhaalifeen (p. 36-39)
Mutawaatir: That which has been narrated by a number of people in every level of the chain such that it is impossible for all of them to make a mistake or error. Ahad is the opposite in that it contains less than 4 narrators at any given level of the isnaad. Mutawatir has more than 4 at each level. (Please note that the exact number has been differed over, but this is what I have come across in my own personal study)
The people of kalam made a distinction in that they would only accept hadith mutawatir in matters of creed (aqeedah). The following are some proofs showing that this is a faulty position.
Allah (swt) says,
And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party (nafara) only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil). [9:122]
Shafi’ee, Bukhari and many others said that nafara can refer to one person, or a small group.
Allah (swt) also said,
O you who believe! If a rebellious evil person comes to you with a news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done. [49:6]
So by this token, if a trustworthy person comes, then there is no need to verify.
The belief of not taking khabar al-ahaad led Amr bin Ubayd (a Mu’tazili) to say in regards to the hadith of qadr, “If ibn Mas’ood said it, I would call him a liar. If the Prophet(s) said it, I would reject it. If Allah said it, I would say that You did not create us for this” (a’udhubillah).
The Prophet(s) also normally sent just one person to teach people, for example Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr to Medinah. They did not reject and ask for a mutawaatir group of people. Imam Shafi’ee also quoted the following hadith as a proof for khabarul waahid in his book ar-Risaala,
The Prophet(s) said, “May Allah brighten the face of a person who heard my speech, and then memorized it and understood it, and passed it on to others.” [Tirmidhi]
The action of the direction of the qibla changing from Jerusalem to Mecca is also a proof, as only one caller was sent out to the different Masjid announcing it and everyone accepted the command.
The early scholars also had many statements regarding this issue.
People who deny khabar al-ahaad in matters of aqeedah argue that it does not constitute certain knowledge, and therefore cannot be acted upon. Certain knowldge and acting on knowledge are 2 different things that should not be confused. So for example, if a trustworthy person comes and says it is raining and to take an umbrella, you will act on it even though you might not be a full 100% sure of it. But you will still act on it since the person is trustworthy. If 10 people come into the room soaking wet and tell you its raining, then its ‘certain knowledge’. So whether or not khabar al-wahid gives certain knowledge or not is irrelevant in regards to acting on it.
Ibn Taymiyyah argued that khabar wahid can be certain knowledge depending on the situation, for example a distressed person saying that his father died. Also, he said that the hadith found in Bukhari and Muslim constitute certain knowledge since the ummah has agreed on them.
The most important point, perhaps, is that this differentiation was unkown to the Sahabah and early generations. It was made by the latter scholars. There is also no precise demarcation between what is mutawatir vs. ahad. According to one opinion, it is to have at least 10 people in each level. As-Suyuti tried to compile the hadith fitting this condition and only came up with ~110. This shows that making this distinction basically leaves us with no religion.
Lastly, the same people who use this distinction due so out of their principles of logic and philosophy and clearly reject mutawatir narrations when it goes against their ‘philosophy’. An example of this is the hadith of nuzool which will be covered later in great detail and is a mutawatir narration mentioned by 39 Sahabah.
Simply affirming the fact that the Quran is clear is enough to refute the previous concepts discussed. It was revealed in a clear language such that the scholar and bedouin both can recite and understand it. While the scholar will obviously be able to extract much more benefit and wisdom from it, that benefit and wisdom will never contradict the basic meaning that even the bedouin would understand.
The Quran has been characterized as a maw’idha (admonishment/instruction), shifaa’ (healing), and hudaa (guidance).
O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers. [10:57]
This ayah is in contrast to the peoplep of kalam who call the Quran a book of majaz. The Quran is a book of guidance, not a book of tricks and puzzling meanings.
Haa Meem. By the Book that makes things clear [43:1-2]
It is also a book sent in a clear Arabic language so that people may have taqwa.
And thus We have sent it down as a Quran in Arabic, and have explained therein in detail the warnings, in order that they may fear Allah, or that it may cause them to have a lesson from it (or to have the honour for believing and acting on its teachings). [20:113]
If the Quran was as the people of kalam claim, how could we have taqwa of Allah?
These ayaat lead to the command to ponder over the Quran, the greatest message of which is tawheed
And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember, then is there any that will remember (or receive admonition)? [54:17]
(This is) a Book (the Quran) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. [38:29]
Allah (swt) criticized those people who did not ponder over it, who did not understand it, but only listened or read
Do they not then think deeply in the Quran, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)? [47:24]
This is in sharp contrast to the people of kalam, the people of tafwid, and ta’wil, those who read without understanding,
Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path. (i.e. even worst than cattle). [25:44]
They are like the mushrikoon who have a barrier between themselves and the Quran,
And when you recite the Qur’an, We put between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter a concealed partition. [17:45]
It is also a characteristic of the munafiqoon (hypocrites)
And among them, [O Mu?ammad], are those who listen to you, until when they depart from you, they say to those who were given knowledge, “What has he said just now?” Those are the ones of whom Allah has sealed over their hearts and who have followed their [own] desires. [47:16]
Those who make tafwid are basically accusing the Sahabah of this when they say that the way of the salaf was to not understand what was said!
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.
We need to differentiate between two things:
1) Metaphoric words (Majaaz).
2) Metaphoric sentences (Not Majaaz).
For example, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, we do not mean: Zaid is an actual fox, the animal. From the context we understand that we are only giving a metaphor of how cunning Zaid is.
This is a metaphoric sentence. This exists in the Quran in abundance. For example:
“And, out of kindness, lower to them (your parents) the wing of humility …”.
Obviously, humility does not have a wing to lower. But from the context we understand: be kind to your parents, etc.
This is not Majaaz. It is not the point of dispute between people of Sunnah and people of Bid’ah.
Metaphoric words (Majaaz):
Again, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, notice that the word fox does not mean anything other than: fox; the animal. The word fox does not mean cunning in itself. The entire sentence means: Zaid is cunning. But the word fox still means: fox; the animal.
In the example of: “lower the wing of humility”, we see that the word “wing” does not mean anything other than the well known wing, (as in a bird’s wing).
What people of Bid’ah say is that the words themselves have an apparent meaning, and a different hidden meaning (Majazy meaning). This is to help them in saying things such as “Yad” means: ability, self … etc.
Ahlus-Sunnah disagrees; words can only have one meaning dictated by the context.
(From Multaqa Ahl al-Hadeeth)
To say we need to make ta’wil implies tat Allah spoke incorrectly regarding the most noble matter. Also when one does ta’wil it opens the door to doing the same thing to other ayaat. There is no evidence to indicate we should make ta’wil or make it only in regards to Allah’s Attributes, as groups of kalam have done. In fact, it is what causes some people like the Agakhanis to make Hajj into a metaphor of just seeing Agakhan with the naked eye!
An example of ta’wil also is people who come and try to claim that istiwaa has 15 meanings and only Allah knows which one it really is. This is refuted by the athar of Imam Maalik (refer here).
Also related to this is the issue of majaz. Some later scholars made a categorization (that was later propagated heavily by the Mu’tazilah) of majaaz (metaphorical) and haqiqi (literal). This was a categorization unknown to early scholars and rejected by some later ones as well, such as ibn Taymiyyah and ibn al-Qayyim. No famous scholar of the Arabic language ever mentioned it either.
One thing to note about ibn Taymiyyah’s opinion is that he contextualized things to show the primary meaning. For example, if someone says “Abdullah was a lion on the battlefield” it is automatically known that this means bravery and not a physical reincarnation of a lion. Thus, ibn Taymiyyah would argue, this is in fact the haqiqi meaning even though technically it may be a ‘metaphor’.
The importance of this, is that groups of kalam would claim the Attributes of Allah were majazi. This is problematic for quite a few reasons. First is that they verses are taken to be haqiqi unless there is evidence indicating otherwise. It is quite inappropriate to claim that the ayaat revealed by Allah establishing the fundamental concepts of tawheed are all somehow metaphorical and detached from their apparent meanings.
If someone wants to interpret them differently, then they must bring proof showing the validity of the interpretation. Also, when one combines all the ayaat and narrations regarding the Attributes, etc. it becomes clear that the haqiqi meaning was intended. A good example of this is looking at all the narrations of the ‘Arsh (i.e. the hadith indicating there are Angels holding it, that it was above water, etc.).
If someone makes the fundamentals like tawheed open to metaphorical interpretation, what then about things like fiqh?
Even if majaz was true, it must still rest upon something that is known, and not unknown. For example, when you say so and so was a lion on the battlefield, it is known what is being referred to. But there can never be an analogy for Allah’s Attributes, and this is what the people who make ta’wil will fall into.
One of the ways majaz is defined is something that can be negated. For example, you can say Abdullah wasn’t a lion, but he was brave.
There is no clear way to differentiate haqiqi and majazi when it comes to the unseen when this methodology is employed. If Allah’s Attributes can be made metaphorical, then what about Jannah? Is it metaphorical as well? Unfortunately, some people even claimed later that Jannah is simply a state of mind.
Finally, all the early scholars of Islam were of the opinion that Allah’s Attributes are understood at face value, and are affirmed as Allah Himself affirmed them, but that they do not resemble at all the attributes of the creation.
Ibn Abdul-Barr (d. 463AH), a famous Maliki scholar, said that there is ijmaa (unanimous consensus) on this issue,
The Ahlus Sunnah have unanimously agreed in affirming those Attributes (of Allah) that are found in the Quran or Sunnah, and believing in them as haqiqi, not as majazi, except that they do not explain the ‘howness’ (kayfiyyah) of these Attributes, nor do they limit them to a particular manner. As for the people of innovations, from the Jahmiyyah, and the Mu’tazilah, and the Khawarij, then they deny these Attributes, and they do not understand them in a haqiqi manner…” [Majmoo’ al-Fatawa v. 5 p. 198]
In summary, the people of kalam approached the Quran with preconceived notions, and tried to twist the ayaat to fit those notions.
This also relates back to the muhkam and mutashabih, in that we affirm the meaning, and this is muhkam, but the ‘howness’ of the Attributes is mutashabih.