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Al-Tahwiyyah: Pt 10- Beyond Imagination

The author continues introducing Allāh’s description to us. The fact that the author continues to describe Allah affirms the notion that even though we cannot perceive the reality of Allah’s attributes we can understand their meanings.

لا تَبْلُغُهُ الأَوْهامُ، وَلا تُدْرِكُهُ الأَفْهامُ،

”No imagination (wahm) can conceive of Him, and no understanding (fahm) can fathom Him.”

The author continues introducing Allāh’s description to us. The fact that the author continues to describe Allah affirms the notion that even though we cannot perceive the reality of Allah’s attributes we can understand their meanings.[1]

All that we know of Allah is what He told us through the Qur’ān and through His Messenger SAW. However, what mankind were told will aptly suffice them in their worship and glorification of Him. The more of this knowledge we gain regarding Him, the closer we become to Him.

If ever a person were to attempt to imagine Allāh then they should know that Allāh is far greater and more majestic than that, and His likeness and the true nature of His divine essence (dhāt) is beyond our imagination. Allah made this clear to mankind when He said: ‘No vision can grasp (yudrikuhu) Him, but His Grasp is over all vision.’[2] Just as one cannot see Allah, nor can one imagine what He looks like.

The author also said: ‘and no understanding can fathom Him’, which means that if a person were to ponder deeply over the reality of Allah, His description, or His divine essence; his reason would be unable to fathom their realities. This is why one cannot attribute foreign names (asmā) or attribute (sifāt) to Allah without proof from the Qur’ān and the Sunnah.

Refuting the Mujassimah, Mu’attilah & Extreme Sufis

This point also serves as a refutation for the Mujassimah, who asserted that Allah, and Allah’s refuge is sought from that, has a human-like body. It also serves to refute the Mu‘attilah, who outright denied any attribute that Allah asserted for Himself, as they first claimed that affirming the attributes entails likening Allah to humans which then led to them to deny the attributes. When both these groups read in the Qur’ān that Allah has a hand, such as His saying: ‘The Hand of Allah is over their hands’[3], they first conceived that Allah’s hand must be like the hand of a creature and thus blasphemous. To escape such an assumption of anthropomorphism, they denied the attribute outright. They would say that if Allah were to ascend (istawā) the Throne, He would either be greater than the Throne or smaller than it or equal to it, all of which possibilities must be ruled out. This illustrates that they cannot understand by Allah’s being on the Throne any differently from what they understand by a creature being on top of another object, otherwise they would not have drawn such conclusions. The ascension (istawā) which behooves Allah’s majesty and is only for Him does not admit any of those consequences which are associated with created beings and which must therefore be negated of Allah.

Indeed it is truly evil to liken Allah to His creation, whether implicitly or explicitly. The Mujassimah are guilty of this, but the Mu‘attilah are also guilty as they first liken Allah to the creation and then seek to disavow that likeness by negating the attribute altogether.

It is a duty upon the believing heart, which believes in the attributes of Allah that His Prophet praised and glorified Him with, to be one that glorifies Allah and not to be polluted with the filth of resemblance (tashbeeh), so that the bedrock of his heart is good and pure, and open to possessing faith in the attributes upon the basis of exaltation and elevation.

In this statement there is also a refutation of the extreme sufis who claim that the Friend (wali) of Allah, through deep meditation, can attain spiritual ecstasy (al-fanā), where he becomes one with Allah and sees Him.


Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah 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-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah, is a short text outlining the aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements. Edited by Asim Khan

Source: www.islam21c.com

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[1] A detailed discussion regarding Allah’s attributes can be found under point 2

[2] Q. Al-An’ām, 6: 103.

[3] Q. Al-Fath’, 48: 10.

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About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

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