THE ACTUAL KALĀM OF ALLĀH
The author said that the believers: ‘are certain that is the actual Kalām of Allāh.’ This statement serves as a refutation for the Mu’tazilites who claimed that the Qur’ān was in fact the Kalām of Allāh (kalāmullah) in a figurative sense.
Sound reasoning dictates that the Lord of all things must have the ability to speak as He wishes, when He wishes. Ibrāhīm (‘alay hisalām), even as a young child before Prophethood, would speak out against his idol-worshipping people. When he destroyed their idols, he challenged them by saying: ‘No; it was this great one of them that did it. Question them; if they are able to speak!’ He reasoned with them: if they were truly gods or god-like, surely they could speak. That a god must speak is a truism that every human being recognises. That is why his people were dumbfounded: ‘they turned to themselves and said, “Surely you are the ones in the wrong!”’Interpreting speech as something figurative or internal would render this passage of the Qur’ān meaningless.
Simply being unable to understand how exactly it is that Allāh speaks should not cause a person to deny or reinterpret the belief. We believe that on the Day of Judgement, our skin will be made to testify against us. On that day, horrified and perplexed, the person will call out: ‘Why have you testified against us?’: as this is something unimaginable, yet: ‘They will say, “We were made to speak by Allāh, who has made everything speak; and He created you the first time, and to Him you are returned’.
Our mind is limited in its understanding and reach. Though human beings can easily appreciate the meanings behind Allāh’s Names and Attributes, it is beyond their imagination to see how these meanings are manifested in reality, to perceive how the Creator acts, what the reality of His Divine Essence is, and so on. The correct approach is to submit wholeheartedly; as Allāh said: ‘Those firmly rooted in knowledge say, ‘We have faith in it. All of it is from our Lord.’ But only people of intelligence pay heed.’
THE COUNTER ARGUMENT
However fundamental this belief is, and despite the fact that the Qur’ān and the Sunnah are emphatic in stating it, the Mu’tazilites would say that the Qur’ān is the Speech of Allāh, kalāmullāh, in the sense that the Ka’bah is the House of Allāh, baytullāh. By this they meant that the Qur’ān is merely a created entity honoured by Allāh, just as He has honoured the Ka’bah, and not that He actually spoke those words.
Before explaining the error and fallacy in their understanding, a proper appreciation of what is meant by the word “Qur’ān” and what is being referred to by the term “Kalāmullah” is needed. The Qur’ān is what was revealed to the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam), whereas “Kalāmullah” refers to Allāh’s attribute of Speech in general. Therefore, when Allāh willed, He Spoke the Qur’ān and this was later spoken again when being revealed to the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam). As for Allāh’s Attribute of Speech, then this has always been an attribute of His from eternity to an eternity. The Qur’ān is therefore a specific part of His Mighty Speech.
As for annexing created things with Allāh, then this a form on honouring the created thing. This is the case of a believer who is given the title: the slave of Allāh, or the title of a masjid: House of Allāh, and so on. However, as for attributes of things, they cannot exist except as being part of that thing. This is how Allāh’s attributes are to be understood; they are linked to His Divine Essence (dhāt). Allāh’s Knowledge, Wisdom and Will cannot be said to exist independently of Him, rather they are His. This is the same with all His attributes like Speech, Hearing, Seeing, and so on. In the case of the former, created beings can exist independently; that is to say that a masjid will still be just that even if the title of “baytullāh” is not used. Thus, when we say that the Qur’ān is “kalāmullāh”, it means the words therein are Allāh’s literal words that He spoke, and not words that someone other than Him spoke, but are honoured by Him. Al-Ṭaḥāwi emphasised this point by saying: ‘…It originated from him as articulated speech’.
He then said: ‘Allāh revealed it to His Prophet by way of revelation’. As Allāh stated many times in the Qur’ān, such as His saying: ‘Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. The Trustworthy Spirit has brought it down. Upon your heart, [O Muhammad] – that you may be of the warners’.Which clarifies that Allāh spoke it, Jibrīl heard it and then conveyed it to the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam). Allāh similarly said: ‘Revealed by One who is truly wise, ever to be praised’. This is how Allāh, the Mighty, chose to teach the Prophet the Qur’ān. As al-Ṭaḥāwi said: ‘The believers bear witness to its revelation’.
The Early Muslims (salaf) held a pure belief in the Qur’ān; a belief that was not contaminated by preconceived notions rooted in Greek philosophy. It was belief that enters the heart, settles with ease inside, and ignites one’s faith (iman) in Allāh, Exalted is He.
Points of Benefit
1) This is the only place where the author discusses the issue of Kalām of Allāh. This follows well in sequence, as in the beginning he spoke about belief in Allāh, then the Prophet and now the Qur’ān.
2) The claim that the Qur’ān is a creation of Allāh became the hallmark of the scholars of speculative theology (ahl al-Kalām) from the third century onwards and a dividing line between Ahl al-Sunnah and Ahl al-Kalām. Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya, relates a chain-of-narration tracing back the origins of this deviant belief, Al-Ja’d b. Dirham, the infamous Jahmite (d. 128H) > Bayān b. Sam‘ān, a known heretic > Ṭālūt, a Jew > Labīd b. Al-A’ṣam, the infamous Jew who performed black magic on the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) who took the idea from a Yemeni Jew. However the origins of this view seem to trace back to Christian thought, and not Jewish heritage, as their well-known view was that Jesus was the Word of God and thus part of God or god-like.
3) Ibn Abil ‘Izz made an insightful observation of the Ash‘arite view of “kalāmullah” when he said: ‘There is an interesting point concerning this view. It has close affinity with the doctrine of the Christians regarding divinity and humanity. They say that the Kalām of Allāh is only an idea that exists in Him and is inaudible. As for its articulated form, it is created. Hence, the relationship between the Kalām of Allāh, as an eternal idea subsisting in His essence, and the created words, which express the idea, is like the divine appearing in a man who, as the Christians believe, is Jesus.’
4) Whether the Qur’ān is written, recited, heard or memorised; it is all the Word of Allāh. The author of poetry, book, or song, always has his work attributed to him, regardless of who reads it after him. Similarly, when a person recites the Qur’ān the words do not become his, but rather it is the word of Allāh. One needs to make a simple distinction between saying the voice of the reciter is something created by Allāh, but the words he is reciting are only Allāh’s and thus uncreated.
5) One of the reasons why some scholars said that Tajwīd of Qur’ān is an obligatory science is because one needs to learn how to recite the Qur’ān as the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) recited it which is the way he heard Jibrīl reading it, who in turn heard Allāh speaking it in this manner.
6) Neither did the prophet nor Jibrīl rephrase anything of the Qur’ān. The verse of the Qur‘ān: ‘Qul HuwAllāhu Aḥad’ indicates this as why would the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) order himself to read by saying Qul? Rather, the usage of the word Qul indicates that when one reads the Qur’ān we are in fact repeating what Allāh once said.
7) As soon as one negates that the Qur’ān is the actual word of Allāh, they reduce its status, its majesty, and miraculous nature. For everything other than Allāh is created, and only Allāh is the One Perfect Being; free of any faults and blemishes. Is not the inability to speak a huge shortcoming?
8) Allāh, Exalted is He, ordered the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam): ‘If any of the idolaters ask you for protection, give them protection until they have heard the words of Allāh (kalāmullah)’- what was it that Allāh wanted them to hear? An internal inaudible speech? The Quraysh of Makkah belied the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) and denied that the Qur’ān was the word of Allāh. How did Allāh address such a claim of those who said: ‘This is not but the word of a human being’? He said that: ‘Soon will I cast him into Hell-Fire!’ The Quraysh, who were stooped in idol-worship knew that if they affirmed that the Qur’ān was the word of Allāh, it must mean that the Prophet is indeed the final messenger of Allāh. How does one reconcile the Quranic verse: ‘and Allāh spoke directly to Mūsā’ with the notion that Allāh has an internal inaudible speech, without a degree of mental gymnastics?
9) The Qur’ān states: ‘and Allāh spoke directly to Musa’; how astounding and overwhelming it must have been for Mūsā (‘alay hisalām) to hear the words of Allāh as He addressed him on mount Ṭūr.
10) The Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) would invoke Allāh with the words: ‘I seek refuge in the perfect words (kalimātillah) of Allāh from the evil of that which He has created’.It is precisely because the Kalām of Allāh is uncreated and His Own Attribute that the Prophet sought refuge in it from all types of evil: ‘which He created’.
It is the believers who will have the honour and glory of seeing Allāh and being addressed directly by Him, Exalted is He, in the life to come. As for the disbelievers: ‘No indeed! Rather that Day they will be veiled from their Lord’, they will be deprived of seeing His Majestic Face. Moreover: ‘On the Day of Rising Allāh will not speak to them or purify them. They will have a painful punishment.’
Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-‘Aqīdah al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah, edited by Asim Khan, will soon be published as a hardback book. Islam21c have exclusive rights to share extracts from the book for its readers, and will be posting certain sections of the book on a weekly basis. The book: al-‘Aqīdah al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah, is a short text outlining the ‘aqīdah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements.