By: M. Ramadan
The first obligation upon the responsible human being is to know Allah.
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (say, O Muhammad, Allah is Ahad. Allah is Samad. Allah begot none, nor was HE begotten. There is none Co-Equal or Comparable unto Allah).
[Allah] is Ahad (The One And Only). He is the one and only Ilah (God). There is no reality and true and permanent existence except His. He is self-existent. He and only He decide everything independently, no one decides with Him. He is the only one to whom ‘Ibadah (worship) is due. [Allah] () Never tolerates any partner to be worshipped with Him be he an exalted Malak (Angel) or Nabyy (Prophet) entrusted with a message, He is the only Allah to be worshipped. The word Ahad (the one and only) used here to refer to the unity of Allah is much more precise than the much more frequently used term Wahid which means (one), Ahad has the added connotations of absolute and continuous unity and the absence of equals.
Allah () is Samad. It is He Unto Him is turned in all needs, all are dependent on Him, and He is not dependent on anyone. It is He Whose glory and eminence in all perfection and attributes has reached the highest point. It is He Who is pure of the desires of eating and drinking. It is He Who shall be surviving ever after the expiration of all creation. He is Eternal: without beginning or end. He is absolute: not limited by time or place or circumstance.
Allah () begot none, nor was He begotten. We must not think of Allah as having a son or a father. All other things or beings that we can think of are His creatures and in no way comparable to Him. The creator must be of a different nature from all that has been created. Allah is the only one Who possesses all attributes of perfection and Who is far removed from every imperfection.
There is none Co-Equal or Comparable unto Allah (). Allah is not like any other person or thing that we know or can imagine. Allah’s qualities and nature are unique. No one is ever able to completely comprehend the Divine Essence (Dhat) and know Him as He Himself knows Himself. And this is why Rasul Allah () forbade thinking about the nature of [Allah] and commanded us to reflect on Allah’s creation. Ibn ‘Abbas () said that a group of people used to debate the nature of [Allah] and Rasul Allah () ordered them to ponder over the creation of ALLAH and not ponder over Allah’s Dhat (the essence of [Allah]).
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (Had there been other deities (Aalihah) than Allah in these Two (the heavens and the earth) then certainly, both of them would go to ruin! But Holy is [Allah], the Owner of the Throne from those things they attribute to Him) [Qur’an 21:22].
[Allah] alone has created all existing things and has laid down for them these marvelous laws and regulations. And everything is nicely set in its place, No improvement can be suggested and no flaw detected. There is complete Co-operation and harmony in the system, and the universe with its flawless system clearly indicates that there is One creator and One supreme controller. And this superb and perfect combination of order and beauty is clear proof of the presence of an All Wise, All-Knowing and All-Powerful creation and regulator.
[Allah] has created all things, and then He has guided them to their goal. Nothing in the universe is for nothing pointless, as Ecology (in particular) shows everything in creation, no matter has apparently insignificant, has a very significant role in existence, and serves a certain purpose. The chain of creation up to man is evidently directed to a final purpose, so: nothing is in vain in the universe; there are many purposes for everything, every activity and every event in it. The only Two sources from which we know Allah’s wisdom behind creation are Wahy (Revelation = Qur’an and Sunnah). [Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (What! Did you think that We ‘ALLAH’ had created you without any purpose, and that you would never be returned to us? Therefore exalted is [Allah], the true and Real sovereign: La Ilah Illa Hou (None has the right to be worshipped but He) The Rabb ‘the master’ of the Glorious Throne! [Qur’an 23:115-116]. Islam is based on knowledge to know The Supreme Being, His Wisdom behind creation and His laws. Knowledge is graded from the highest and purest source namely Wahy [Revelation].
The ultimate purpose for which man is established on earth is:
(a) To accomplish the designs of [Allah] and render account to [Allah] for his acts.
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (Behold! [Allah], your RUBB, said to the Angels: ‘ I am going to place in the earth Khalifah (One that shall rule as My deputy) [Qur’an 2/30].
(b) To be devoted on earth to the service of [Allah] ().[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (I [Allah] have not created Jinn and mankind, but to worship Me. I do not ask from them any sustenance and I do not ask that they should feed Me. Surely, [Allah] is The All-Provider, The Owner of Power, The Most Strong) [Qur’an 51:56-58]
(C) And to enjoy the fruits of the earth and take advantage of its marvels, within the bounds of Divine Law, which regulates all human needs.
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (It is He Who brought you into being from the earth and gave you means to dwell upon it) [Qur’an 11/61]. It is this that [Allah] has ordained on all people and indeed HE has created them for this purpose.
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (And certainly, We [Allah] sent among every Ummah a messenger with the command: worship [Allah] and avoid Taghut “all false deities’. Then, some of them Allah guided and upon some proved error) [16:36].
Ibn Quayem explained the meaning of (false deities) which in Arabic (Taghut) saying: (Taghut) is that which are wrongly served, whether it is a God, imitated one or obeyed one. Taghuts are numerous; on the head of them are five: [1ST.] Iblis (Sa’tan) May [Allah] curses him, [2ND.] Whosoever is delighted in being worshipped, [3RD.] whosoever calls people to worship him, [4TH.] Whosoever claims any knowledge of the Unseen, [5TH.] And whosoever governs or judges with that what [Allah] does not revealed.
[Allah] () Has raised the Messengers and has sent the Sacred Scriptures, so that all created beings may Know [Allah] and understand the reality of The Creator, Recognize the ultimate purpose for which people are created, And know that they will not be left to an end; they will be called to account for all that they did while alive, whether good or evil.
[Allah] chose Muhammad to be the final seal of the Prophethood and strengthened Him with the Qur’an, the only miracle that lasts forever.
Whosoever obeys [Allah] and His Messenger is destined to Jannah (paradise) and whosoever disobeys Them is consigned to Nar (Hell). [Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (A party shall be in Jannah [paradise] and another party in Sa’er [the blazing fire]) [42/7].
The good and the evil deeds have been connected to the one’s own choice and free will. Good deeds that caused by obeying [Allah] and His Messenger are attributed to [Allah] since He is The One Who aided ‘Abd (the servant) to perform it. Bad deeds that caused by disobeying [Allah] and His Messenger cannot be attributable but to ‘Abd (the servant), its doer, nor is it right to attribute it to [Allah] (). Having committed a bad deed by one’s own choice and free will does not mean that he has created his deed by himself, rather it shows that the creator is [Allah], The One Who created him and his will and free down of choice. If [Allah] had wished to prevent His ‘Abd (servant) from committing a good deed or a bad deed and had He wished, He would have been able to do that, but He had not done it. Allah () says [interpretation of the meaning]: [And by the human self ‘Nafs’ and Him Who perfected it in proportion and showed it what is wrong and what is right, truly he succeeds who purifies his own self and truly he fails who corrupts his own self] [Qur’an 7-10]. In another Ayah, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): [Every soul is entangled in what he has earned] [Qur’an 74:38]
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (The command or the Judgment is for none but ALLAH, HE has commanded that you worship none but HIM) [Qur’an 40/12].
[Allah] () IS the only Ruling Judge. [Allah] () is the only Author of Laws, and that no human being may enact laws than those established by ALLAH. [Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (It is for ALLAH to give Judgment in whatever you may differ) [Qur’an 42/10].
The Divine Law is the only one law, which ought to be followed and that is the Shari’ah from [Allah]. [Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): (Then We have set You, O prophet, upon a clear way of Shari’ah ordained by [Allah], so follow it and do not follow the desires of those who have no knowledge) [Qur’an 42/18].
The Shari’ah Of Islam is a comprehensive system that deals with all aspects of life, individual as well as communal. By The Shari’ah of [Allah] Is Meant everything Legislated by [Allah] for ordering man’s life, it includes the principles of believes and concepts, principles of administration and justice, principles of morality and human relationships and principles of knowledge.
The Shari’ah of [Allah] cannot be overruled. It is known that the total address of Islam to its followers is called Shari’ah and the primary sources of the Shari’ah (Islamic laws) are the Holy Qur’an and The Sunnah [the traditions of Rasul Allah consisting of His sayings, deeds, His approval or disapproval of something done before Him]. [Ijtihad] is the term indicating the utilization of available evidence to think out the best course to be taken, provided it does not conflict with the Qur’an or Sunnah or with the goals of Shari’ah. If there is a clear Nass [text] available from The Qur’an and The Sunnah then that will be decisive and no room Ijtihad [using one’s own judgment]. As for those cases regarding which no such clear judgment is available and for those cases regarding which no legal text has been revealed then the times comes for Ijtihad and that according to well-defined principles which are consistent with Allah’s religion and not merely following opinions or desires. Imam Al-Banna says: (The Glorious Qur’an and the purified Sunnah are the reference points for every Muslim to acquaint himself with the rules of Islam. The Qur’an can be understood by applying the rules of the Arabic language without constraint or controversy. And the Sunnah can be acquired by reference to the trustworthy transmitters of Muhadithen [collected Sayings of the prophet].
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): [Allah! La Ilah Illa Huwa, (there is no Ilah but He) To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names] [20/8]. The name of The Al Mighty [Allah] appears in the Qur’an coupled with many attributes, qualities of His Perfection.
The Names of [Allah] ()
The Creator, in His wisdom, made Himself known to His creation through names and attributes that suit His Majesty, which a believer should memorize as a blessing and have pleasure in mentioning them and as a mark of respect for their status. We give here the authentic Hadith, which puts them all together.
In a Hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, Abu Huriarah, May [Allah] be pleased with him, said: Rasul Allah () said: [Allah has ninety-nine Names, one hundred but one. Everyone who memorizes them enters Jannah, He is One (Witr), and He loves the Witr].
In another narration of Bukhari, He says: [Whosoever counts them].
The attributes of [Allah] ()
The verses of The Holy Qur’an have mentioned some attributes necessary for perfect divinity. The attributes of [Allah] () mentioned in The Holy Qur’an are numerous, and the aspects of His perfection are infinite and cannot be conceived by the minds of human beings, Glory be to Him, We cannot praise Him as adequately as He has praised Himself. Some of those holy verses inform us about the existence of Allah. Some contain a reference to the attributes of eternity and permanence of Allah (). Some contain a clear reference that Allah is beyond occurrence and that He is above being a child or a father or having an equal or a similar. Some contain a reference to the fact that He () is self-sufficient and does not need His creatures but it is they who need Him. Some indicate that He () is One in His being, One in His attributes, One in His actions and deeds. There is no Lord but Him and no deity but Him. Some point to the vastness of His power and wonderful magnitude of His greatness. Some confirm the existence of the will of Allah () and that it supersedes every other. Some indicate the vastness of the knowledge of Allah () and His awareness of everything small or large, minute or great. Some indicate that He () has the attribute of hearing and sight. Some indicate that He () has the attribute of speech.
Muslims are obligated to believe and accept everything that is mentioned in the Qur’anic verses or that is correctly attributed to Rasul Allah () concerning Allah‘s names and His attributes. Recognizing the reality of the creator, believing in His oneness and glorifying Him are the most sublime beliefs of Islam.
THE AYAT OF THE QUR’AN
[Allah] () says (interpretation of the meaning): ([Allah] is The One Who has revealed to You, O Prophet, the Book, some of its verses are Muhkamat [precise in meaning] they are the foundation of the Book, and other Ayat which are Mutashabihat (ambiguous) [Qur’an 3/5].
MUHKAMAT IN THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH:
These are the texts that have only one Meaning according to the rules of the Arabic language, and its Meaning or interpretation is clearly known.
Example of this type of AYAT is (interpretation of the meaning): (None is equal to Him).
MUTASHABIHAT IN THE QUR’AN AND SUNNAH:
These are the texts that can have more than one Meaning according to the rules of the Arabic language, and its Meaning or interpretation is not clearly known.
Example of this type of AYAT is [interpretation of the meaning]: [Al-Rahman, The Merciful [Allah] rose over the throne].
Example of this type of Ahadith [interpretation of the meaning]: In a Hadith transmitted by Imam Muslim, Rasul Allah () asked the slave girl: Where is [Allah]? , She said: Above the heavens, He () said: [Free her, for indeed she is a believer].
The Methodology of Salaf and Khalaf for explaining the Mutashabihat in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
(1) The Methodology of Salaf:
Definition of Salaf:
The Scholars of Salaf were the Scholars of the first three centuries after the Hijrah of Rasul Allah ().
Position of Salaf regarding the texts containing Allah’s names and attributes:
The Scholars of Salaf, May Allah be pleased with them, said: [we are obligated to believe in these Ayat and Ahadith as they are, to affirm its wording, to abandon opposing its literal meaning and to return the precise knowledge of it to the one who stated it and we entrust it upon the one who transmitted it. Thus, they affirm their belief that the words: (Allah’s hand, eye, eyes, settling Himself firmly on the Throne, laughter, wondering…etc.) cannot be explained in terms that we can understand, and therefore their explanation should be left only to [Allah] () who knows their true meaning. This is especially so in view of the prohibition by Rasul Allah (): [Ponder over the creation of [Allah] and do not speculate on the Essence of [Allah], because you will never be able to give Him His Due].
(2) The Methodology of Khalaf:
Definition of Khalaf:
The Scholars of Khalaf were the Scholars who lived after the first three centuries.
Position of Khalaf regarding the texts containing Allah’s names and attributes:
The Scholars of Khalaf, May Allah be pleased with them, said: [We categorically state that the meanings of the words of these Ayat and Ahadith should not to be taken literally but they should be understood as metaphors, the interpretation of which can do no harm]. In this way, they tended to interpret (a face’) as (essence/self’), (the hand) as (ability) etc., in order to avoid the suspicion of comparing ALLAH to HIS creatures.
The difference between Salaf and Khalaf regarding [Allah]’s names and attributes:
Now you know that the Scholars of Salaf used to interpret Mutashabihat in the following way: They agree upon acknowledging, accepting, and confirming what has been mentioned in the Qur’an and The Sunnah of Rasul Allah () concerning Allah’s names and attributes without turning towards the use of Taiweel (distortive misinterpretation). While the Scholars of Khalaf used to give specific meanings to Mutashabihat in compliance with the Arabic language and the Deen (Ta’weel) and avoid any suspicion of comparing Allah to His creatures (Tanzeeh).
Their positions can be summed up as follows.
(1) Both parties agreed on the doctrine of Tanzeeh. They do not reject Mutashabihat. Nor do they negate them. Nor do they change their meaning with something that contradicts what is literally apparent from them. Nor do they compare them to the attributes of the creation. And neither of them attributes anything to [Allah] that does not befit Him.
(2) Both parities did agree on the principle of Ta’weel [metaphorical explanation] which goes against the fundamentals of Shari’ah is inadmissible. In this way, the dispute was limited to interpreting words in accordance with the Shari’ah and The Arabic Language and this is not a significant matter as you can see. Khalaf was more definitive in explaining the intended meaning. They were forced to do so in order to protect the creed of Islam. They lived at a time when Ordinary Muslims started to lose their natural disposition for the Arabic language. Seeing that Muslims become weaker in Arabic language, the scholars of Khalaf feared that those with perversity in their hearts would read meanings into Mutashabihat that do not befit [Allah]. Their aim was to protect Ordinary Muslims from such a misconception. So, the Scholars of Khalaf followed the example of the Scholars among The Salaf who chose to give specific meanings to Mutashabihat. Thus the difference between the two parties does not warrant arguments or recrimination.
(3) Each party categorically stated that:
Using words of these texts with reference to [Allah] () cannot possibly indicate the literal meanings that are used in reference to human beings. This follows from their agreement on the incomparability of Allah.
(4) Each of the two parties realized that:
Words are either coined to express feelings in the heart or to refer to material things relevant to users of each language. No language, however rich it may be, can include expressions about objects unknown to its speakers. Since the facts regarding The Essence of [Allah] () fall outside human knowledge, then language cannot possibly express them. Therefore trying to define the meanings of these words (denoting attributes of Allah) is a waste of time. Imam Al-Banna says: [We believe that the position of the Scholars of Salaf: (reciting Mutashabihat and reading the reports about them and the statements of approval regarding them without rejecting any part of them or attempting to interpret them on our own) is safer and should be followed in order to avoid problems resulting from Ta’weel (metaphorical interpretation) on the one hand, and the nullification of Allah’s attributes on the other. If you are one of those whom Allah has endowed with the tranquility of faith and whose hearts have been blessed with the serenity of certitude, you need not seek other positions. On the other hand, we believe that Ta’weel (The metaphorical interpretations) of Khalaf Do not sanction any judgment on them as having gone outside Islam or to stray from the right path, Nor do they justify that long dispute between them and others past and present, because Islam is vast and comprehensive enough to accommodate all of them.
(5) Muslims nowadays have to stand aloof from the disagreement that exists among the Scholars concerning these texts. It is enough for us to adopt the attitude of Rasul [Allah] () and His Sahabah (And those who are grounded in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is al from our Rabb) [Qur’an 3/7]. In a beautiful story reported by AL-Khattab, Ibn Al-Jawzi, Ibn Al-Qyyem and Ibn Kather, Mohammed Ibn Abd Al-Rahman Al-Darami said to a man who was speaking of a Bed’ia (An innovation) and calling the people towards it: (Did Rasul Allah (), Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Alee have knowledge of it, or did they not have knowledge of it?) The man said: (They did not have knowledge of it). He said: (So something that they had no knowledge of, you know?). The man said: (Then I say that they did know it). He said: (Was it sufficient for them that they not speak about it nor call the people towards it, or was it not sufficient for them?). The man said: (Of course it was sufficient for them). He said: (So something that was sufficient for Rasul Allah () and His Khulafaa is not sufficient for you?). So the man refrained from his call. The Khalifah, who was present there, said: (May [Allah] not suffice the one who is not satisfied by what they found sufficient).
In this respect, Professor Abu-Hasan-Nadawi writes in his valuable work, Islam and the World: [The Prophets had imparted to man the true knowledge of Allah’s existence and His attributes and actions. They had laid the foundations upon which man could erect the edifice of his own spiritual conduct without getting involved in the fruitless metaphysical discussion on (being) and (knowing.) But man heeded not. Instead of being grateful for Divine guidance, he allowed the ship of his thought to drift on uncharted seas. He behaved like an explorer who, sitting aside the geographical charts and maps, tries to scale every height, fathom every depth, and measure every distance on his own initiative. The results of such endeavors can at least be a few sketchy notes and incomplete hints picked up here and there. So when the people tried to reach [Allah] with the help of reason alone and without the aid of light furnished by the Prophet’s teachings, the knowledge of [Allah] gathered by them consisted of little else besides random thoughts, conflicting theories, and haphazard conclusions] [Nadawi, Islam And The World [PP. 62 – 63].
[Allah] () Says [interpretation of the meaning]: [And they have been commanded no more than: to worship [Allah], offering Him sincere devotion, Hunafaa ‘ Being true in Faith ‘)[Qur’an 98/5].
Muslims should worship [Allah] alone with pure religious devotion, it is this that [Allah] has ordained on all people and indeed He has created them for this purpose.
Muslims should accept all sorts of ‘Ibadah (worship) with which [Allah] commands such as Islam (The Submission), Iman (The Conventional Faith) and Ihsan (The indulgently benevolence).
Some of the forms of Ibadah (worship) ordained by [Allah] () are:
(1) Zikr (Remembrance of [Allah]/ [Allah]’s thought at all times):
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (He ‘Allah’ guides to Himself all who turn to Him: those who have Iman and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, for without doubt, in the Zikr of Allah human hearts find satisfaction) [Qur’an 13:28]. In another Ayah, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): (And whosoever turns himself away from Zikr Al-Rahman (Allah’s remembrance) we appoint for him A Shai’tan to be A Qarin (a companion) to him) [Qur’an 43/36].
Dale Carnegie says: (Psychiatrists realize that Strong Iman in and adherence to The Deen are enough to banish the sense of anxiety and nervous tension and to heal similar sorts of maladies).
(2) Khash’yah: (apprehension)
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (Those that obey [Allah] and His Messenger, fear [Allah] and attain Taqwa will surely triumph) [Qur’an 24/52]. In another Ayah, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): (Verily, those who fear their Rabb in secret (unseen) they shall surely have forgiveness and a great reward) [Qur’an 67/12].
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (O prophet, tell them plainly: if your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your near and dear ones, the property you have gained, the trade you fear may decline, and the homes you love- if all these things- are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and Jihad (struggle) in His way, then wait until Allah shall fulfill His decree, for [Allah] does not guide the wicked people) [Qur’an 9/24].
The evidence from the Sunnah (interpretation of the meaning): (Whoever possesses the following Three qualities will have the sweetness of Iman: the one to whom [Allah] and His Rasul becomes dearer than anything else, who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake and who hates to revert to Shirk ” disbelieve ‘ as he hates to be thrown into the fire after [Allah] has brought him from it) Sahih Hadith.
(4) Tawakkul: (Trust in [Allah]/Humbleness).
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (Allah is All-Sufficient for the man who puts his trust in Him) [Qur’an 65/3].
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (Allah has brought you out of your mothers’ wombs while you knew nothing and He gave you ears and eyes and hearts so that you might have cause to be grateful) [Qur’an 16:78]. In another Ayah, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): (The dead land is a sign for these people, We gave it life and produced grain from it, so that they eat of it, and We planted it with the palm and the vine and watered it with gushing springs, so that they may eat of its fruits, it is not their hands which have made all this, should they not give thanks?) [Qur’an 34-35]. And in Surat Ibraheem, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): (And when your Rabb declared: if you give thanks I would certainly bestow abundance upon you and if you deny My favors My chastisements is truly severe) [Qur’an Ibraham (7)].
(6) Istighfar:(asking forgiveness)
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (And those who when they have committed Fahishah ” illegal sexual intercourse, or wronged their souls with evil remember [Allah] instantly and seek forgiveness for their faults and who forgives the faults but [Allah]? And who do not knowingly persist in their misdeeds, the reward of such will be forgiveness from their Rabb) [Qur’an 3/135-136]. And in another Ayah, Allah () says (interpretation of the meaning): (He that does a sinful thing or wrongs his own soul and then implore Allah’s forgiveness will find [Allah] Forgiving and Merciful) [Qur’an 4/110]. After Muhammad’s death some of His Sahabah said: (we used to have Two sources of security, One of which has gone ” the prophet’s presence with them ‘ and we still have asking forgiveness, if we loss it all is lost).
The evidence from the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): (There is no Najwa’ ‘ secret counsel ‘ of three but Allah is their fourth, nor five but Allah is their sixth, nor less than that or more but Allah is with them wherever they are, then on the day of resurrection He will inform them of their doings, verily Allah has the knowledge of everything) [Qur’an 58/7]. These, as well as, other forms of ‘Ibadah ordained by Allah, are all due to Allah alone according to His statement.