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Abu Hasan al-Qushayree on Tafweed: A Reply to an Ash’ari Mufawwid

Salafi argument

Quote:
the meaning of the word yad when applied to Allah is that it is an attribute of Allah that subsists in His essence and has performed the function of creating Adam and will perform the function of rolling the heavens and the earth on the Day of Judgment and has performed other functions. This is a real and literal attribute in the sense that it exists in reality.

Ash’ari Mufawwid Argument

Quote:
this is not meeting the conditions of providing a meaning to a word. We also agrees that Allah has a yad that performs these functions, but that we don’t know the meaning of the word yad, for it could be Allah’s power, mercy or something that we don’t know.

Mufawwid also said that

Quote:
we negate the literal meaning of the word and by “literal” we mean an organ.

Salafi response

Quote:
when we affirm “literal” we mean real in existence and actual.

Muffawid Ash’ari response

Quote:
We have failed to provide a meaning of the word yad. “organ” is meaning and not kayfiyyah and that kayfiyyah has to be related to something we could imagine. So for example, the Prophet said that we can’t imagine what is in store for paradise, yet the Qur’an talks about rivers. We don’t know the kayfiyyah of the paradise river, but we know its meaning since we could relate it to something that we know. However, with Allah’s yad, then I ask, what are we relating it to?

Conclusive question for Salafis

Quote:
What is the meaning of the word “yad” when ascribed to Allah? Give me a definition. I always see Salafis saying that we know the meaning, but not the kayfiyyah, but I never see a Salafi actually providing the meaning (the only instance I have seen is for istiwaa).

Says Abu Hasan al-Qushayree, the one responsible for the tumult he has caused to the Muslims in the Islamic history known as “Fitnah al-Qushayriyyah”
So he says

“How is it possible for one to say that there exists in Allah’s Book, that which cannot be known by the creation, and none knows its meaning (ta’wil) except Allah? Is this not from the greatest of slanders against prophet-hood, to suggest that the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam did not know the meaning (ta’wil) of the texts pertaining to the Attributes of Allah Ta’ala, and called the people to know what cannot be known? Doesn’t Allah say ‘(we’ve sent it down) in clear Arabic language’? Otherwise, according to what they claim, they should say Allah lied when He said: ‘in clear Arabic language’, since they do not know (the meanings). Otherwise, where is this ‘clearness’ (as expressed in the Quran)?

If it was in the language of the Arabs, how can he claim that this is something the Arabs do not know?”

He also says:

“To attribute to the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – that he called to a Lord, described with Attributes that are incomprehensible, is something heinous, which no Muslim can imagine! For ignorance with respect to Attributes leads to ignorance with respect to that which is described (i.e. Allah). And the saying of one who says: ‘His rising is an Attribute of His self, the meaning of which is incomprehensible; the Hand is an Attribute of His self, the meaning of which is incomprehensible; the Foot is an Attribute of His self, the meaning of which is incomprehensible is simply camouflaging modality (takyif), anthropomorphism (tashbih) and a call to ignorance… If the opponent now says: ‘The apparent meanings (dhawahir) have no interpretation (ma’na) at all’, then that is to render these texts defunct, and there was no benefit in these texts reaching us, for they are all useless, which is impossible… This is also contrary to the Madhab of the Salaf who believed in passing them on upon their apparent meanings (‘ala dhawahir)”.

recorded in Ithaf Sadat al-Muttaqin 2/110

My personal address to the Ash’ari Mufawwid

1. The first contention of the Mufawwid is

Quote:
this is not meeting the conditions of providing a meaning to a word. We also agrees that Allah has a yad that performs these functions, but that we don’t know the meaning of the word yad, for it could be Allah’s power, mercy or something that we don’t know.

Then what you are seeking in reality is a “hadd” i.e. a definition, and in the shariah, there is a difference between m’ana (meaning) and hadd (definition).

This is because the apparent meaning of yad is yad, and to quarantine it i.e. “define” it into one of these things is providing a hadd for it since the meaning of hadd (definition) in the shariah is
“a definition is to include and exclude from the object being defined”

What the mufawwid is actually performing here is that he is transforming “kayf” and passing it on as “m’ana”. If it was Allah’s power, Mercy, etc, then Allah would have SAID SO which brings us back to the statement of al-Qushayree, his own Imaam in his creedal madhaab.

So when he says “this is not meeting the conditions for providing a meaning” just substitute the word “meaning” with “kayf” and we have a more accurate reality. This is because meanings are known irrespective of subject, But in the manner in which it is will only be known based on who the “subject” is being refered to with such an attribute.

2. The Mufawwid said

Quote:
we negate the literal meaning of the word and by “literal” we mean an organ

We ask to this Mufawwid, if “organ” is the meaning of hand, then do you negate the “hands” of Angels? Do Angels have organs?

This is the stump that the mufawwid dead ends upon.

The “primary” meaning of “yad” is organ WHEN THE SUBJECT IS HUMANS. However, when the subject is something else, that primary meaning is no longer relevant because the actual subject has changed.

3. Muffawid contention

Quote:
We have failed to provide a meaning of the word yad. “organ” is meaning and not kayfiyyah and that kayfiyyah has to be related to something we could imagine. So for example, the Prophet said that we can’t imagine what is in store for paradise, yet the Qur’an talks about rivers. We don’t know the kayfiyyah of the paradise river, but we know its meaning since we could relate it to something that we know. However, with Allah’s yad, then I ask, what are we relating it to?

Incorrect. What we have failed to provide is the nature of yad, not meaning. When “YAD” is being discussed between a stretch of various SUBJECTS, then saying “organ is meaning” is an academic dishonesty because organ, when all subjects are being discussed with regards to yad, is actually “modality” (kayfiyyah) and not mere meaning.

Yes, Kayfiyyah has to be related to something we could imagine, but when we have no imagination of the subject, then we do not negate that there is a kayfiyyah, we just negate the knowledge of it.

Therefore his question
“with Allah’s yad, then what are we relating it to”

is an inapplicable question and it is a question that is equal or similar to the question “How did Allah istiwaa” which essentially brings me back to my initial contention which is that what this Muffawwid is seeking is the modality (kayf) of the Attribute Yad rather than the meaning.

In other words, he is basically saying the same question as the questioner told to Maalik “How did Allah istawaa” only with a different choice of words.

We CAN’T relate it to anything because we have nothing to relate to Allah and we were prohibited from doing this, and no one on the planet has called our inability to do so as “having no meaning” for this makes sense to no one.

lastly

4. Addressing the conclusive question

Quote:
What is the meaning of the word “yad” when ascribed to Allah? Give me a definition. I always see Salafis saying that we know the meaning, but not the kayfiyyah, but I never see a Salafi actually providing the meaning (the only instance I have seen is for istiwaa)

Yad is Yad. Hand. Thats the meaning, just as isawaa ala is rising or ascending. What else is there to say?

This is another problem, the seeker is seeking a hadd (definition) which is different than “m’ana” in the shariah. we are not to “define” the Attributes because this would constitute going into t’awil which may essential entail tahreef, and t’ateel, all based on the action of takyeef, which is by asking for a definition of Yad.

More importantly, definitions that exist in the human experience are definitions pertinent to humans. we don’t have definitions applicable to aliens, angels, jinn, etc. So if we do not have definitions for any of these creatures, then how in the world could people require us to provide a definition of Yad for Allah which essentially brings us BACK to the statement of al-Qushayree and the rest of the salaf who used to say that we affirm them and pass them on WITHOUT MODALITY.

This is our creed and this is our methodology.