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[al-Taḥawiyyah Pt 35] ‘Ilmul Kalām

He sways between faith and disbelief, confirmation and denial, and acceptance and rejection. He will be subject to vain suggestions, perplexed and lost, neither a sincere Believer nor an open denier.

فَيَتَذبْذبُ بَيْنَ الكُفْرِ وَالإِيْمَانِ، وَالتَّكْذِيبِ، وَالإِقْرَارِ وَالإِنْكَارِ، مُوَسْوَسَاً تَائِهَاً، زَائِغَاً شَاكَّــاً، لاَ مُؤْمِنَاً مُصَدِّقاً، وَلاَ جَاحِداً مُكَذِّباً.

When a person turns away from Revelation he turns his back on a guiding light emanating from the heavens. After this there are only darknesses of misguidance, discontentment, and doubt. Allāh, Exalted is He, referred to His Revelation as light when He told the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) that: ‘This is a Book We have sent down to you so that you can bring mankind from the darkness to the light, by the permission of their Lord, to the Path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy’.[1]

When speculative theology (ʿIlm al-Kalām) became popular from the forth Hijri century onwards, doubts and specious arguments began to surface in matters of theology. Those that adhered to it were left perplexed and full of doubt about their faith in the Religion.

What the author described here is based on confessions from famous scholars of speculative theology who in the end returned to the orthodox teachings of Islām and spoke of their problematic experience with it. Ibn Rushd Al-Hafiz (595 AH), who was one of the most knowledgeable of the science, wrote in Tahafut al-Tahafut: ‘Who has written anything in metaphysics that is to be treasured?’ Al-Amidi (631 AH), the top thinker of his time, noted that he could not overcome his doubts on major issues. Al-Ghazali likewise expressed his dissatisfaction with the science, gave it up and took up the study of Ḥadīth. At the time of his death, the Saḥīḥ of al-Bukhārī was in his hands.

All of this misguidance, perpetual doubt, and the resulting discontentment stems from turning away from the Sacred Texts: the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. The hearts of such people became hardened and no longer receptive to the light of revelation. The void that was left inside was instead filled with conflicting thoughts and ideas, fallacies, and never ending philosophical ramblings. Allāh described the internal state of the hypocrites when He said: ‘Their hearts are full of doubt and in their doubt they waver to and fro’[2]; this is also relates to those who turn their back on revelation and instead prefer other sources for enlightenment.

The Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) once said: ‘Indeed Allāh has overlooked the passing thoughts that come to my nation (ummah), unless they speak of them or act upon them’[3]. His blessed statement indicates that evil and misguided thoughts will certainly pass through people’s minds, however, they will not be held accountable for such thoughts so long as they do not dwell on them, entertain and explore them or worse still, begin to propagate them. The Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) was teaching his followers that such thoughts should be dispelled whenever they arise and should never be entertained or explored. The ideological warfare that people face today is unprecedented and unrelenting. It is therefore only natural to be afflicted by doubts and apprehension about one’s religion, however the Prophet’s advice is to be followed. He himself would supplicate when he woke from sleep with the words: ‘O Allāh, Lord of Jibrīl, Mīkā’īl and Isrāfīl, Originator of the heavens and earth, Knower of the Unseen and the apparent, You decide between Your servants in their disputes, I beseech You, with Your permission, to show me the truth concerning the matters which people have disputed. It is truly You Who guides whom You will to the straight path’.[4]

Ibn Abil ‘Izz (792AH) noted that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) appealed in the name of the Lord of Jibrīl, Mīkā’īl and Isrāfil to be guided with Allāh’s permission to the truth in the matters wherein people differ because the true life of the heart has been entrusted into the care of these three angels. Jibrīl is entrusted with revelation, which brings life to the heart; Mīkā’īl is entrusted with the rain, which facilitates growth of food which in turns nourishes the heart of living beings; and Isrāfīl is entrusted with blowing the Horn, which will bring the dead back to life for accountability in the Hereafter. [5]

[1]  Q. Ibrāhīm, 14: 1.

[2]Q. Al-Tawbah, 9: 45.

[3] H. Al-Bukhāri

[4] Muslim

[5] See Sharh al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah by Ibn Abil ‘Izz

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.


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.


  1. Muhammad Hasan

    What he calls Kalam is Falsafa and (in quoting al-Ghazali) what he calls Falsafa is Kalam.

  2. Muhammad Hasan

    Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. My Salams to Shaykh Haytham.

    In my opinion this article reveals the orientation of this website.

    I had a feeling this website leaned to a certain approach. To undiscerning readers: There is a group that thinks that the Muslim Ummah deviated completely after the Salaf in Aqeedah, disparaging the majoritarian Ash’ari, Maturidi and traditional Hanbali point of view.

    Their thought is based on Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibnul Qayyim and is traced back to an obscure figure known as Uthman bin Said al Darimi. He was an anthropomorphist who ascribed limits to Allah. Ibn Taymiyyah defends the Karramiyyah. They follow the Salaf as much as the heretical Mu’tazila follow the Salaf: Wasil Ibn Ata was a Taba-at-Tabiun. They follow the heretics of old, and disparage the likes of Imam Shafi’i who said Kalam is fard al-Kifayah, and Ibn Kullab of his Madhab who they call a heretic.

    I ask Dr Haitham: Why do you do Tawil when it comes to the Hadith of Allah is ad-Dahr? Why do you do tawil of the Hadith of the Dua in Sahih Muslim and Jami’at-Tirmidhi that there is nothing above him and nothing below him? But you take the hadith of the child pointing up literally?

    The scholars of the time rejected Ibn Taymiyyah. May Allah have mercy on him for the grievous mistakes he made. The later Hanbalis did not follow him: Read al-Balbani’s creed, read Imam as-Saffarini’s creed – read the commentaries made by that sect which try and say, “Imam Saffarini did not mean this” etc.

    Nor do they follow the Aqeedah of the earlier Hanbalis, certainly not of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal Rahimullah himself: I hav read that Ibn Jawzi in his Daf` shubah al-tashbih (p.135) reports `Ali ibn Muhammad ibn `Umar al-Dabbas related to us that Rizq Allah ibn `Abd al-Wahhab al-Tamimi said: “Ahmad ibn Hanbal did not attribute a direction to the Creator.” Nor did they follow the creed of al-Isfahani, Ibn al-Bannah, Ibn Qudamah and Ibn Hamdan, the true Hanbali authorities who transmitted Imam Ahlus Sunnah’s legacy.

    He is exalted over the throne and place and is not in any requirement of them. This is also found in Ibn Hamdan al-Hanbali’s creed, and he wrote his works of creed before Ibn Taymiyyah. Ibn Qudamah al-Hanbali is perhaps the first to talk of Tafweed al-Ma’na.

    As for the Shaykh’s criticism of Kalam, this is a valid view of some Hanabila, but clarify to your audience what Kalam is: It is not “speculative theology” – it is using reason to confirm Islamic beliefs e.g. the existance of God etc. There is a valid criticism in Ilm-ul-Kalam in two aspects: The first is that it makes you arrogant upon the truth when you realise your beliefs are in conformity to reason. The second is that heretics can attempt similar discourse in the guise of Kalam and employ philosophical thinking arriving at heresies. In reality Kalam can still be used to refute such views and logic can be used to show contradictions of the heretics (e.g. Ibn Taymiyyah’s view that there are creators besides Allah).

    How could you quote the neo-platonist and philosopher Ibn Rushd??

    Al-Ghazali abandoned Falsafa, not Kalam. Once you have used Kalam you do not need to use it again except to answer objections and heresies – this is why al-Ghazali does not use it in the end of his life. But he strictly holds on to the beliefs he arrived at through Mantiq and Kalam e.g. Occasionalism (in his Ihya). I am not negating that al-Ghazali studied hadith, but you should tell you audience that his Ihya contains weak and fabricated hadith. So your claim of, “he left Kalam and studied the hadith” is even less true. Ibn Jawzi and Ibn Qudamah made versions of his work without weak/fabricated hadith for this very reason.

    My fear for people like Haytham al-Haddad is that they have realised the harsh hearted fanaticism of their own sect and so have gone to the other extreme in accepting liberal ideas such as democracy. We see this with Yasir Qadhi etc. You were taught heresy and continue to teach it.

    I advice any thinking reader to go read a translation of Aqeedah Tahawiyyah without any commentary. Realise one of the lines says, “He is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs. Nor is He contained by the six directions as all created things are.”

    We affirm Allah’s divine attribute of Yad and Wajh that he has attributed himself with. The linguistic translation of Yad is “Hand”. Yet we do not view this as a protrusion from his essence or a physical limb – exalted is he above that. Any Muslim who has read Surah Ikhlas knows this is heresy!

    Yes there are pseudo-Ash’aris and extreme Sufis who go to the other extreme and make Ta’til saying, “His Yad is not his attribute” or they say, “His Yad we interpret as power” We distance ourselves from such Azhar graduated who have been influenced by Muhammad Abduh and his lot.

    We, the Ash’aris (of the later school) and the Maturidis make tawil of the verses not the attributes! We make Tawil Ijmali not Tawil Tafsili! Read Ibn Kathir Rahimullah’s commentary on Surah Maidah verse 64 – that is the Tawil of the two Sunni groups – i.e. to interpet, “The jews say his hands are chained” as “They do not mean that Allah’s Yad is literally tied up. Rather, they mean that He is a miser and does not spend from what He has. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him” And this is attributed to Ibn Abbas Radiyallahu An – do you say the Salaf commited bid’ah?

    Our Hanbali bretherin do not accept such Tawil, preferring to recite such verses with interpretting (saying “we do not know” – do you make tabdi of the layperson who says he doesn’t know?). But they make the same type of Tafwid as we do, the so-called “Tafwid al-Ma’na”. After all, it was a Hanbali who coined this phrase!

    As for Ibn al-Izz – the one the Imam quotes from – I have read that Sayyid Ibrahim al-Ya`qubi, father of Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, suspected that “Ibn Abi al-`Izz” of being a pseudonym for Ibn al-Qayyim!

    Do you take your religion from two scholars who claim their Aqeedah is of Imam Ahmad when it is demonstrably not? Do you take your religion from two as opposed to the historical Jama’ah?

    Shaykh Haytham please accept the possibility that when someone goes and seeks sacred knowledge such as yourself, it is possible (or in our era, highly likely), that you will be taught the wrong Aqeedah! Late Hanafi muhaddith Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari of the Ottoman Empire criticised Ibn Taymiyyah and the movement that sprung from him.

    You have perhaps arrived at the position that Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s dawah was wrong – why do you not examine Ibn Taymiyyah’s Dawah as well? I have heard that Imam ad-Dhahabi said of Ibn Taymiyyah that he was upon the way of the Salaf and that then he deviated. Yet I hear from a particular group of scholars that he was upon batil and then came to the way of the Salaf.

    And may I remind laypeople, do not do taqleed in Aqeedah: Do your own research and read the evidences from the Quran and Sunnah and the statements of those who came before. For Allah said that the Jews and Christians took their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah and thus they were led astray.

    May Alllah bless my brother in Islam, Shaykh Haytham and guide him and myself unto the truth, and let him remind us both to not be arrogant in being confident that we have achieved the path of the Salaf as-Saliheen.

    And P.S. Voting is not shirk, with the correct intention (unless the intent is to legislate in which case it is shirk), but it should be avoided to avoid falling into shirk. But the ulama I follow allow it, I simply avoid it myself. My position on Istigatha is exactly the same.

  3. Mohd Amin Ibrahim

    Al-salaamu alaykum wa rahmat-Allaahi wa barakaatuhu

    Thank you for posting the above article. In the sentence below, do you mean that our Prophet (saw) appeal to direct to Allah ( Lord of all mankind including Jibrīl, Mīkā’īl and Isrāfil l) OR our Propjet (saw) is appealing to Allah through Jibrīl, Mīkā’īl and Isrāfil ?

    The sentence can be intepreted either way.
    Please clarify
    Jazakum Allahu khairan
    Was-salamu `alaykum
    Mohd Amin Ibrahim

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