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The Ash’ari View on the Divine Wisdom

Research material provided by Haitham Hamdan @ Multaqa Ahlal-Hadeeth 

Al-Ash’ari Position on the Divine Wisdom:موقف العقل والعلم والعالم من رب العالمين ): “The benefit and objective could exist as a consequence of the action, without them being a goal or a (علة غائية) that came to the mind of the actor and motivated him to act, this is the case regarding Allah’s actions.“

Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT’s actions are neither based nor motivated by a divine wisdom. They believe that expecting Allah SWT’s decree to adhere to a wisdom would be restrictive to Him SWT, and hence contradictory to ‘Tanzeeh’. It also conflicts with the Ash’ari view of how Holy attributes relate with each other.

Imam Sanoosi said: “It is impossible for Allah SWT to be described of having objectives behind His actions or rulings … (He) is in no need to bring forth benefits, and to repel harm.”

Obviously, this belief is erroneous.

But just to be fair, Ash’aris believe that once Allah SWT’s actions occur they result in wisdom. This is how they understand the many Quranic verses which describe Allah SWT to be wise.

Imam Bajoori said: “Know that although Allah’s actions and rulings are free from having an objective, they are not free from a wisdom. Otherwise, they (actions) would be in vain, which is impossible in the case of Allah.”

Shaikh Mustafa Sabri said in his book (

Ash’aris express this notion in other ways as well:

Some of them say: “Allah’s actions are in themselves: wisdom, not that wisdom is the motive behind His actions”.
Others say: “Wisdom follows His actions. It does not precede them.”

Shaikhul Islam ibn Taymiyyah said regarding negating the wisdom and objective behind the actions and rulings of Allah: “I have searched in the sayings of the Salaf starting with the Sahabah and Tabi’een without finding basis for what those Jahmis and their followers have said. I did not find who preceeded them to considering this as Tanzeeh.”

Furthermore, examples from the Quran and Sunnah proving the Divine Wisdom are countless.

 

Implications of Ash’aris Position Regarding the Divine Wisdom:


Ash’aris do not believe in a Divine Wisdom that is intended by Allah from His actions. This had several implications on their belief system:
التكليف بما لا يطاق. The Mu’tazilah, on the other hand, believe that Allah SWT is obligated to ordain that which is wise and within the capability of humans.

Ash’aris believe in a three category logical classification of things.
1) Obligatory. Such as the existence of Allah SWT.
2) Impossible. Such as 1 + 1 = 3, and for you to be inside and outside the room at the same time.
3) Possible. Such as the existence of creatures. It also includes everything which is imaginable by the humen mind. It is imaginable for a human to fly by flapping his arms in the air, therefore, it is possible.

Ash’aris believe that Allah SWT’s ability relates to everything which is classified as Possible. Everything which is imaginable by the human mind is possible to be done by Allah SWT. They believe this regardless of whether or not this action is wise from our perspective.

For example, they believe that Allah SWT could through Prophets in the hell fire. When asked: how could Allah SWT do such an unfair thing? They respond saying: unfairness is to manage that which one does not own. Anything you do with that which you own is fair. Allah SWT is the owner of his creation, and whatever He does with it is fair.

This lead them to believe in the possibility of Allah SWT ordering us to do that which is beyond our capability. This notion is known as:

Ahlus-Sunnah are on the middle path. They believe that it is possible for Allah SWT to obligate us with that which is beyond our capabilities, but that He SWT would never do that. He SWT made it forbidden for Him to practice oppression.