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Chapter 1. Introduction

All praise is due to Allah, the One praised in every tongue (i.e. language), the One worshipped in every era. There is not a place that is free of His Knowledge nor does one affair preoccupy Him over another. He is far beyond any equals and rivals, as well as being free of any wife or children. His Decree is carried out in all of His servants. No intellect can derive an example of Him with its pondering, nor can any heart attempt to depict Him.

"There is nothing whatsoever like Him (in comparison). And He is the All- Hearer, the All-Seer." [Surah Ash-Shoora (42): 11]

To Him belong the best of Names and the most honorable of Attributes.

"The Most Gracious (Allah) rose over the Throne (in a manner that suits His majesty). To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and all that is between them, and all that is under the soil. And if you speak aloud, then verily, He knows the secret and that which is yet more hidden. Allah! None has the right to be worshipped except Him. To Him belong the best of Names." [Surah TaHa (20): 5-8]

His knowledge encompasses everything. He subjugates all creatures by His Honor and Rule. And His knowledge and mercy engulf everything.

"He (Allah) knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them (in the Hereafter) but they will never encompass anything of His knowledge." [Surah TaHa (20): 110]

He is described by what He has attributed to Himself in His Magnificent Book and upon the tongue of His honorable Prophet.

We are obligated to believe in and to welcome with submission and acceptance everything that is mentioned in the Quran or that is authentically reported on the Prophet (pbuh) concerning Allah's Attributes. And we must abandon opposing it (which is done) by radd (rejection), ta'weel (distortive misinterpretation), tashbeeh (comparison) and tamtheel (representation). As for what appears unclear from that, then we are obligated to affirm its wording and not oppose it’s (literal) meaning. We are to return the precise knowledge of it to the One who stated it and we entrust it upon the one who transmitted it, following the example of the ones who are deeply endowed with knowledge, those whom Allah has praised in His manifest Book, saying:

"And those who are firmly grounded with knowledge say: 'We believe in it (the Quran); the whole of it (clear and unclear verses) is from our Lord.’" [Surah Aali 'Imraan (3): 7]

And He says, dispraising the one who seeks the ta'weel (hidden meaning) of the unclear verses of His revelation.

"As for those in whose hearts there is deviation, they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking fitnah (mischief) and seeking for its ta'weel (hidden meanings), but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah." [Surah Aali 'Imraan (3): 7]

Thus Allah has placed the aspect of seeking after the hidden meanings (ta'weel) as a sign of deviation. And He has placed it at the same level of seeking after mischief, in the dispraise of it. Then He placed a barrier between them and that which they aspire and He cuts off their ambitions from what they seek after, by saying:

"But no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah." [Surah Aali 'Imraan (3): 7]

Concerning the hadiths: "Verily, Allah descends to the lowest heaven" and "Verily, Allah will be seen on the Day of Judgement" and what is similar to these ahaadeeth, Imam Abu Abdullah Ahmad bin Hanbal (ra) said: "We believe in them and we attest to their verity, without saying how and without ascribing a (fixed) meaning for them. Nor do we reject any part from them. We know that whatever the Messenger came with is the truth. We do not reject what Allah's Messenger came with, nor do we describe Allah with more than He has described Himself, without limits.

Allah says: 'There is nothing whatsoever like Him (in comparison). And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.’ We say as He has said. We describe Him with what He has described Himself and we do not transgress that. The description of those who (attempt to) describe Him, cannot grasp Him. We believe in the Quran, all of it, its clear verses as well as its unclear verses. We do not reject any of His Attributes due to a discomfort (that we may perceive towards it). We do not transgress the Quran and the Hadith. And we have no knowledge of how to understand them, except through the affirmations of the Messenger and the confirmation of the Quran."

Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idris Ash-Shaafi'ee, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "I believe in Allah and in what has been reported concerning Allah, upon what was intended by Allah. And I believe in the Messenger of Allah and in what has been reported concerning the Messenger of Allah, upon what was intended by the Messenger of Allah."

This is the way that the scholars of the past and present have followed, may Allah be pleased with them. They all unanimously agreed on acknowledging, accepting, and affirming what has been mentioned in the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (pbuh) concerning the Attributes, without turning towards the use of ta'weel.

We have been commanded to follow their way (the Prophet and his Companions) and to be guided by their example. And we have been warned of the newly invented matters and we have been informed that they are from among the things that lead astray. The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Khalifahs (who will come) after me. Bite onto it (i.e. the Sunnah) with your molar teeth and beware of newly invented matters.

For indeed, every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a misguidance."

Abdullah bin Masood (ra) said: "Follow (the Sunnah) and do not innovate! For you have been sufficed."

Umar bin Abdul-Aziz (ra) said something with the meaning: "Stop where the people have stopped! For, indeed, they stopped upon receiving knowledge. The clear evidences would suffice them and they were the strongest at manifesting it. If there were any addition (to the Religion), they would be most likely to have done it (first). So if you say: it was introduced after them, then no one introduces into it except for he who opposes their guidance and desires other than their example. They have described from it what was enough and they have spoken concerning it what has sufficed. What is above them is excessiveness. And what is below them is inadequacy. Some people have fallen short of them and so they have drawn away. And others have transgressed them and so they became extreme. But indeed, they were between these two, upon a straight guidance."

Abu Amr Al-Awzai (ra) said: "Stick to the narrations of those who came before you (man salafa), even if the people reject you. And beware of the opinions of men, even if they beautify them for you with their speech."

Muhammad bin 'Abd-ir-Rahmaan Al-Adarmee (ra) said to a man who was speaking of an innovation and calling the people towards it: "Did the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali have knowledge of it or did they not have knowledge of it?" He said: "They did not have knowledge of it." He said: "So something which they had no knowledge of, you know!?!" The man said: "Then I say that they did have knowledge of it!" He said: "Was it sufficient for them that they not speak about it nor call the people towards it, or was it not sufficient for them?" The man said: "Of course it was sufficient for them." He said: "So something which was sufficient for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his Khalifahs is not sufficient for you!?!" So the man refrained (from his call) and the Khalifah, who was present there, said: "May Allah not suffice the one who is not satisfied by what they found sufficient."

Similarly, whoever does not feel content with what was sufficient for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), his Companions, those who followed them in righteousness, the Imams that came after them and those deeply endowed with knowledge, regarding reciting the verses on (Allah’s) Attributes, reading the reports about them and leaving them the way they came (i.e. were reported), then may Allah not suffice him.

Among what has been revealed in the verses concerning Allah’s Attributes, is:

"And the Face of your Lord, full of Majesty and Honor, will remain forever." [Surah Ar-Rahmaan (55): 27]

And His saying: "Nay, both His Hands are widely outstretched." [Surah Al- Maa'idah (5): 64]

His statement in which He informs us that Isa bin Maryam said:

"You know what is in my inner-self, though I do not know what is in Your Self." [Surah Al-Maa'idah (5): 116]

His statement:

"And your Lord comes…" [Surah Al-Fajr (89): 22]

His saying:

"Do they then wait for anything other than that Allah should come to them." [Surah Al-Baqarah (2): 210]

His statement:

"Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him." [Surah Al-Maa'idah (5): 119]

His saying:

"Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him." [Surah Al- Maa'idah (5): 54]

His statement concerning the disbelievers:

"And the Anger of Allah is upon them." [Surah Al-Fath (48): 6] His statement:

"That is because they followed that which discontented Allah…" [Surah Muhammad (47): 28]

And His saying:

"But Allah disliked their being sent forth." [Surah At-Tawbah (9): 46]

From the Sunnah is the statement of the Prophet (pbuh): "Our Lord, may He be Blessed and Exalted, descends to the lowest heaven every night."

His (pbuh) statement: "Your Lord is amazed by the youth who does not possess childish manners."

And his (pbuh) saying: "Allah laughs at two men – one of whom kills the other, then they both enter Paradise."

We believe in this and what is similar to it, from that which has an authentic chain and reliable reporters. We do not reject it nor do we negate it. Nor do we change its meaning with something that contradicts what is literally apparent from it. We do not compare it to the attributes of the creation nor by (using) the naming schemes of the innovators. And we know that Allah, Glorified and Exalted, has no equal or comparison.

"There is nothing whatsoever like Him (in comparison). And He is the All- Hearer, the All-Seer." [Surah Ash-Shoora (42): 11]

Everything that is imagined by the intellect or pondered in one’s thoughts, then Allah is contrary to that. Another example is His saying:

So Allah revealed: "But they give preference to others over themselves, even though they had a need for it." [Surah Al-Hashr (59): 9]

"The Most Merciful rose over the Throne." [Surah TaHa (20): 5] And His statement:

"Do you feel secure that He, who is above the heavens…" [Surah Al-Mulk (67): 16]

And the statement of the Prophet (pbuh): "Our Lord, Allah, who is above the heavens! Sanctified be your Name."

And his (pbuh) saying to the slave girl: "Where is Allah?" She said: "Above the heavens." So he said: "Free her, for indeed, she is a believer." Malik bin Anas, Muslim and other scholars have reported this hadith.

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Husayn (bin Imraan): "How many gods do you worship?" He said: "Seven. Six in the earth and one above the heavens." He (pbuh) said "Who is it that you hope in and fear (most)?" He said: "The One that is above the heavens." He said: "Then abandon the six and worship the One who is above the heavens, and I will teach you two supplications." So he accepted Islam and the Prophet taught him to say: "O Allah, Grant me guidance and save me from the evil of myself."

What was reported in the previously revealed books, concerning the signs of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions, is that: "They prostrate on earth while claiming that their god is above the heavens."

Abu Dawud reported in his Sunan that the Prophet (pbuh) said: "Indeed what is between one level of heaven and (another) level of heaven is a distance of such and such…" He continued until he (pbuh) mentioned: "And above that is the Throne. And Allah, the One free of all defects, is above that."

This and what is similar to it is from what the Salaf, may Allah have mercy on them, have unanimously agreed on reporting and accepting. And we do not incline towards rejecting it (radd), nor toward distorting its meaning (ta'weel), nor towards making comparisons to it (tashbeeh), nor towards likening it (tamtheel).

Imam Malik bin Anas (ra) was questioned once, and it was said to him: "O Abu Abdullah! (Allah says): 'The Most Merciful rose over the Throne.’ How does He rise?" So he (ra) responded: "The Rising (Al-Istiwaa) is not something unknown. How (it is done) is incomprehensible. Believing in it is an obligation. And asking concerning it is an innovation." Then he put someone in charge of the man and he was thrown out.