126. Allah’s Attributes are not Him nor other than Him. Thus, these are meanings that are eternally true of Allah the Exalted – and thus, they are not entities or beings, they are ‘not Him’. If one were to say they were Him, then there are two potential problems, one of them that there would be multiple gods (because Knowledge would be an independent Eternal being, Power would be an independent Eternal being, and so on); or that Allah would not be a Being, but only an abstract Attribute or set of Attributes, and this is the ideology of Daoists, Hindus, and others, and this is impossible.
Also, the Attributes cannot be used to describe any being other than Allah, and thus they are not other than Him. That is, it cannot be said that any from among the creation has the attribute of Eternal and Uncreated Knowledge, or Eternal and Uncreated Power, etc. If the Attributes of Allah were or could be ‘other than Allah’, they could hypothetically have been true for beings other than Allah, but this is impossible. Or they would have been emergent Attributes, and this is also impossible.
127. There are from among our opponents those who say that the Attributes are other than Him, in the sense that they must be created, otherwise there would be multiple deities. But this is obviously wrong, since in that case Allah would be a locus for contingent qualities (Mahall lil Hawaadith), and this is impossible. Also, for those saying that an Attribute (like Will) can be emergent yet Not in a Place (La Fi Mahall), this is an incoherent thing to say.
128. It is mentioned that our saying that Allah creates something with His Power should not be taken to mean that His Act of creation is in itself subject to His Power. Also our saying ‘when He decrees’ is a limitation of our minds and our way of speaking, not that Allah is within the confines of time.
129. There are different considerations with regards to Allah’s Oneness. First, is Oneness in His Dhaat (Self), as partitioning is impossible to attribute to Him. Second, is Oneness in His Attributes, in that He has no homologues in His Attributes. Third, Oneness in His Actions, in that there is no being other than Him who brings matters into existence and out of existence, and that created material ‘causes’ have no true influence or effect with regards to any of the possibilities.
This Oneness refutes four possibilities: 1. Multiplicity in the Dhaat, in that it is not composed of parts. 2. Multiplicity in the Attributes; there cannot be multiple attributes originating from one genus, such as Two Powers, Two Knowledges, etc. 3. Multiplicity detached from the Attributes; refers to the impossibility that there be among the created beings one who has attributes similar to those of Allah. 4. Multiplicity detached from His Actions, in that there be any being other than Allah who literally creates, originates, influences, etc.
However, multiplicity connected with His Actions is established, since there are many instances of His Creating, Providing Sustenance, Giving Life and Death, etc. This is related to the Ash’ari view that Allah’s Actions are emergent (since for the Ash’aris, these are defined as the linkages of Allah’s Omnipotence with the effect [the originated objects and events, etc.])…but with the Maturidis, all of these go back to one Attribute, that of ‘Takwin’).
130. It is admissible to say ‘The ‘Nafs’ of Allah’, since it points to the Dhaat (Entity) of Allah, not to a ‘soul’. Besides, the Qur’an and the Ahaadeeth mention ‘Nafs’, so there is no way to deny it with the meaning mentioned above.
131. From among those who upheld that Allah is in a place, some held that He was not in a direction, or among those who held that Allah is a body, some held that He did not have a form [based on their own redefinitions of place, direction, the Universe, body, or form]; however, it is obvious that even these ascriptions are very troubling when applied to Allah. In short, when someone says that Allah is a form or a body, etc., they are immediately pointing to a ‘modality’ (Kayfiyya), and modalities need to be specified, and this is impossible to attribute to Allah.
132. With respect to the ‘Qalb’ (lit. heart) of the person, a good number of scholars understood that it meant the Lateefa (the subtle spiritual heart) that is connected to the gross physical heart, but is separate from the physical heart.
133. With regards to the ‘Saaq’ (lit. leg) mentioned in the Qur’an, it has been interpreted to mean a great and momentous affair; the ‘Isba’ ’ (lit. finger) mentioned in a Hadeeth, it refers to how Allah controls the heart of the people between granting them success to do good actions or ‘deserting them’ (perdition) so that they do evil actions. With regards to the Hadeeth about ‘Qadam of Allah’, the correct view is that it is ‘Qidam’, that is, that Allah will throw into the Hellfire those whom He knows pre-eternally from amongst the Kuffar. With regards to the ‘Coming’ of Allah mentioned in Verse 89:22, this refers to the coming of Allah’s Order.
134. As per what is mentioned, regarding the Hadeeth: ‘I saw my Rabb (lit. my Lord) in the Night of Mi’raaj in the best of forms’, this refers to Jibril (Alayhi Salaam), not that Allah has a shape. With regards to the Hadeeth in Sahih al-Bukhaari where it is mentioned that Allah will appear in a ‘Surah’ (lit. form) that the people of the Standing (on Judgment Day) do not know, and then in a ‘Surah’ they know, it refers to the ‘Attributes’ of justice, managing of affairs, splitting of the moon, falling of the stars, after which will be the ‘Attributes’ of Forgiveness and Mercy (which they knew of in this world as well).
135. It is written: Istiwaa’ has a meaning related to conquering or subduing (the ‘Arsh), and even for the humans, one would say that “the general has Istawaa’ over the land”, which means he has conquered it, not that he literally sits over the entirety of the land – which we know is logically unsound even for humans.
136. Apparently, the Jahmiyya said that Allah is literally in all places. Whoever said this should know that Ma’eeya is interpreted according to the situation: Allah is with the believers with His Knowledge, with the Awliyaa’ with His Protection, and with the Prophets with His Help and Succor.
If someone were to hold to this position of Allah being in all places (basically pantheism or panentheism), it would lead automatically to polytheism, since it would imply that every particle that ‘God occupies’ is a ‘god’ unto itself.
137. It is written that the Ahadeeth related to the Vision of Allah in the Hereafter have been reported by 21 Companions, so it is quite well-known; the objections to the idea that Allah may be seen are refuted in a number of ways, a main one being that vision is a form of Idrak [cognizance] created in us, just like knowledge in the heart about Allah is created in us and we do affirm it to be true and to truly be about Allah (i.e. even though Allah is not at a distance from us).
Also, it can be said that vision is the affirmation of the thing (or the Entity) as it is by means of the faculty of the eyes; if the thing to be seen is in a direction, then it will be seen in that direction, and if (in the case of Allah) it is beyond direction then He will be seen thus. And there are other explanations for this as well.
Finally, another point is that Allah sees the creatures and hears the creatures yet He is not in a spatial relationship with us either.
138. The Kalam Nafsi of Allah is uncreated, and the recited Qur’an are the words, letters, and sounds that point to the Kalam Nafsi, not that the words, letters, or sounds are themselves eternal and uncreated, and a further explanation of this is available here (pages 17-20).
139. A number of simple-minded people equate Ash’aris with Jahmis, but we see that Jahmis contradicted the Ash’aris in the following important points : The total rejection of the Attributes of Life and Knowledge for Allah, the rejection of the Kalam Nafsi for Allah, the rejection of Ru’yah in the Hereafter, and their assertion of the mind being able to definitively know the Shar’i obligations even before they are revealed.
140. With respect to Verse 26:5 (trans. ‘And no revelation comes to them anew from the Most Merciful except that they turn away from it.’), one answer is that the Dhikr (remembrance) is mentioned, but the signification is towards the Dhaakir (the one reciting the remembrance) and that is the Prophet ﷺ, who is created and originated.
141. The Maaturidis say that since the Speech of Allah subsists in His Essence, it is under the ‘category’ of Vision [Ru’yah], and not under the category of Hearing [Sam’], since Hearing is only related to letters and sounds, which are inapplicable with respect to Allah’s Kalaam Nafsi.
142. There is a long discussion about the difference or lack thereof between the ‘Ism’ [Name] and the ‘Musamma’ [the thing named], and there is disagreement between the Maturidi scholars (at least some of them) and the Ash’aris on this issue. One point from those who hold the two to be the same is that if a man marries a woman [and in Islam it is verbal, by saying: ‘I am marrying Fatimah, Maryam’, etc.], then the marriage takes place with the woman referenced by that name, but if the two were separate, then the marriage would be only to the name, not to the woman, and this is incorrect.
But the response to this is that there are 99 names of Allah, yet no one would think of saying there are 99 gods…or if a piece of paper on which the word ‘Allah’ is written were to be burned, what is said about this then? The rebuttal to this is that in these types of situations, the issue is one of ‘Tasmiya’ (or ‘naming’ (i.e. the process of naming)). So it is possible for the name (‘Ism’) to be used with the signification of ‘naming’ and in such a case it is other than the thing named. (Admittedly, the discussion of this in the original work is short, so the various arguments and counterarguments are not included).
143. As we know, medicine is the cause (i.e. apparent material cause) for one’s health to be restored, but in reality Allah is the Healer; likewise with Kasb (acquisition of wealth) is the cause for one’s sustenance, but the Sustainer is only Allah the Exalted; same case for clothes, food, fire, and so on and so forth. I know that most people scoff at or even laugh at this presentation, but this is in fact a crucial point of Islamic belief. And I personally think it is the important point of Islamic belief about how the Universe works, and is an important component of our theological proofs.
144. The deviants said that the person has an inherent and independent power before the action takes place, and that it is with this power that he brings his actions of good and evil into existence. But the Sunnis flatly refused this presentation of matters, saying that Allah creates the ability within the person only at the time when he does the action, not before it nor after it. Of course, had it been after the deed it would mean that actions can be done without ability whatsoever, and this is impossible; but to say that the power was created in the person before the action would mean that the person himself created the deed, and this is also impossible.
145. There is a well-known difference of opinion as to whether actions in and of themselves are part of Imaan (belief). The Maturidis said that no, they are not, since there are a number of Qur’anic evidences to this; and also, (the reasoning alluded to is) if someone were to convert to Islam in the early morning after Fajr, and then die before Zuhr, would he be in Paradise or Hellfire? Obviously he would be in Paradise, even though he did not even pray one prayer and may have committed no good deeds after his conversion. Had the actions themselves been part of faith, this new convert would not have entered Paradise, since he only said the Shahaadah and then died. (This is the outline of the argument, there seems to be much more discussion about this not yet covered).
146. There is a discussion as to whether Imaan includes the saying by the tongue or not. What is written is, the best known position is that the articulation by the tongue is a condition for the application of the regulations of Islam on the person, but with regards to pure Imaan in and of itself, then no, it is not included within Imaan itself. (There are other opinions, such as that if the person is physically able to say that which declares his Imaan but stubbornly refuses to do so, then his Imaan is lost in such a case).
147. There is another discussion over whether one should say that he is a believer without any doubt, or whether he is a ‘believer Insha Allah’. Of course, the first group is saying that the situation is as such in the present. But the second group is thinking about what state they will die in, and since they are not absolutely sure as to what their end will be, they say ‘Insha Allah’ (Allah willing). But the first group counters that such a declaration of ‘Insha Allah’ generally invalidates all things said just before it, such as divorce, freeing of slaves, buying and selling, and so forth; and that also, no one is making a declaration of what the person will die upon when he says ‘I am a believer without doubt’, but rather he is expressing his inner conviction tied to his own self.
All in all, it seems that the second group is articulating the uncertainty they have concerning their final state (i.e. they are actually answering the question: ‘Will you die upon Islam?’ or ‘Are you sure that Allah has accepted your Islam?’ not ‘As far as you know, are you a true Muslim?’ or ‘Do you accept that Islam is the correct religion?’), while the first group says that there is no need to get so deep into what will happen to us in the future or what Allah’s judgment on our heart is, as we say what we know of our internal states as best as we can make it out, and hope for Allah’s Mercy at every moment.
A side note: People say there are too many divisions in Islam, but look at how Allah saved the Ummah from clashing with each other about these very points. Had something like this come up in Christianity, they would have been at each other’s throats in no time. But in Islam, the ‘people of Hadeeth’ and the ‘people of scholastic reasoning’ did not let this ultimately tear the Ummah apart. Yes, there are things that did constitute real and divisive issues, but Allah saved us from many further divisions and their evil consequences.
148. On the question of Imaan, there is a difference between ‘Al-Imaan al-Mutlaq’ (complete faith) and ‘Mutlaq al-Imaan’ (saying that someone has faith (i.e. the lower levels of faith)). The first category prevents the person from entering the fire, and the second category prevents the person from remaining in the fire eternally. Of course, this difference itself is within the consideration of whether Imaan increases or decreases within a person.
149. One definition of the major sins (Kabaair) is whatever has a specific punishment in the Shariah, such as adultery, stealing, drinking alcohol, etc.
150. There is a long discussion (historically speaking) about whether the perpetrator of major sins remains a Muslim, whether it affects him, etc. Our position is that the major sin must be repented from, but the person who commits it still remains a Muslim, except if he considers that sin (or any sin in Islam) to be in fact something permissible; or if he thinks that the prohibition itself is unfair, etc. Of course, there might come the issue of whether there is Tawaatur that an action has in fact been considered a sin, but we can simplify when we are talking about obvious sins like Zinaa (adultery).
One of the things that may be said ‘in response’ to our position is the Hadeeth where the Prophet ﷺ mentions that the adulterer, the thief, and the drinker do not commit these acts while they are believers, so how do we consider the perpetrator of these sins as believers? The response given here is that this is a saying outside the norms of common speech, in order to show the true ugliness of such acts.
We also need to remember that Tawbah (repentance) has been made obligatory on the believers in the Qur’an, and this is with respect to all sins, small ones and big ones as well; for had the perpetration of a big sin rendered the person a disbeliever, then the urging of Tawbah from sins would not have been addressed to the believers.