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Ash’aris View of the Attributes of Allah Part I

Research Material provided for by Haitham Hamdan @ Multaqa Ahlal-Hadeeth

Ash’aris’ view of Allah’s Attributes

Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT has seven affirmative attributes. These attributes are: Life, Knowledge, Ability, Will, Hearing, Seeing and Speech. They also believe in another set of attributes, known as attributes of negation.

Atomism was the basis for their belief in the existence of four of the seven affirmative attributes. Atomism also impacted their view of the other three attributes, but was not the basis for their belief in their existence.

Based on the theory of Atomism, it only made sense for Allah SWT to have the Will and Ability to create atoms and accidents, and to specify accidents for certain atoms.
Both Ability and Will have to be based on Knowledge. And it is inconceivable for a being who knows, wills and able; not to be alive.

As for the remaining three attributes: Hearing, Seeing and Speech, Ash’aris concluded their existence because lacking them would be an indication of inferiority (ie. deafness, blindness and dumbness).

Reference: Al-Tamheed by Al-Baqillani.

Ash’aris deny any similarity between Allah SWT and His creation. They base this on two things:مثل).
2) Had He SWT been similar to His creation then there would have been no need for the creation. (Al-Tamheed by Al-Baqillani 112).

1) Verse 42:11: “there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees.”
To Ahlussunnah, this verse does not deny all aspects of similarity between the creator and the creation. Both exist, hear and see … etc. This verse denies the existence of an equal in all aspects to Allah SWT (

Atomism dictates that all creatures are bodies. All bodies are:
– Composite of material + attributes. They are in need for both aspects. Allah SWT is in no need for anything.
– Composed of parts. Each part has the ability to possess attributes different than the other. This is impossible for Allah SWT.
– Assume a volume of space. This is not acceptable, since Allah SWT is in no need for a space for Him to assume.

Therefore, Allah SWT cannot be a “body” to the Ash’aris, and cannot have any attributes of bodies. This includes being above His creation, having a face, hand, fingers and foot, descending in the last third of the night, coming to the scene of accountability on the day of judgment, and many other attributes mentioned in the Quran and and authentic Sunnah which are to them attributes of bodies.


1) Their view of Allah’s Will: Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT pre-eternally Willed for everything that is happening now to happen. Allah SWT specified the characteristics of the events that are to occur.
Ahlussunnah believe that new events are continuously willed and created by Allah SWT. Ash’aris considers this to be accusing Allah SWT to be similar to His creation.
Regarding His Will

Will is one of Allah SWT attributes. Allah SWT has always possessed this attribute. He SWT has always been Willing for events to take place.


However …

Allah SWT did not pre-eternally Will for certain events that are occurring now to occur. Allah SWT Wills for them to occur and they occur immediately.

This is the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah, unlike people of Kalam, including Ash’aris.

When Allah SWT Wills for something to occur is occurs without delay.

It is inconceivable for an action to be delayed from a will that is firm and an ability that is full.

If you have a firm will to do something, and you are fully able of doing it, then it is inconceivable for you not to do it immediately.

Allah SWT’s Will is always firm, with no doubts or hesitancies.

Allah SWT’s Ability is always full with no hindrances.

Therefore, it is inconceivable for His Actions to be delayed from His Will.

People of Kalam believe that Allah SWT pre-eternally Willed for everything that is occurring now to occur. This belief is based on another belief which they have, and that is: Allah SWT cannot initiate within Himself new events, otherwise He would have to be temporal.

 

We do not have a problem with Allah SWT continuously generating new events within Himself. In fact we view it as an aspect of perfection.


2) Their view of Allah’s Ability: Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT pre-eternally enabled events that are to happen in the future to happen. Ahlus-Sunnah believe that Allah SWT continuously wills, enables and creates new events. Ash’aris consider this to be accusing Allah SWT to be similar to His creation.

3) To Ash’aris, events occur at the conjunction of the will and ability.

4) Ash’aris use the theory of Atomism to refute the Christians belief that Jesus is God. Negating Allah SWT being a body means that He could not have been positioned in the womb of Mariyam AS.

 

Their view of Allah’s Seeing and Hearing:

 

– Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT sees and hears all things. This includes things that are not meant to be seen or heard. For example, they believe that Allah SWT hears colors and sees scents.

 

– They believe that seeing and hearing are qualities that provide additional knowledge of things. That’s all. When you read about a train you gain a certain amount of knowledge about it. When you see a train you gain more knowledge. When you hear a train you get even more knowledge. So the attributes of seeing and hearing refer back to the quality of knowledge.

 

– Ash’aris do not believe that Allah SWT only sees/hears things as they occur. So He SWT does not only hear a noise at the time it is produced. They believe that Allah SWT heard and saw all things pre-eternally!
Just like He knew all things pre-eternally.

 

Why did Ash’aris resort to this belief:

 

1) This is another sneaky attempt by Ash’ari to pretend to be consistent with the overwhelming Quranic verses which attribute hearing and seeing to Allah SWT, when in fact they do nothing more than to refer these attributes to knowledge.
2) To eliminate any similarity between the creator and His creatures in seeing and hearing.
3) To make Allah SWT attributes of seeing and hearing pertain to all things, not dependent on the qualities of things seen and heard.
4) To negate that the light reflects off of objects and then hits the eyes of Allah SWT. And that the sound waves strike the ears of Allah SWT!
May Allah SWT save us.