Affirming al-Istawaa' - Responding to the misinterpreters

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Affirming al-Istawaa' - Responding to the misinterpreters

Postby AbuDahlia » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:28 am

Answering those who try to misinterprete the statement of Imaam Maalik رحمه الله

Imam Maalik رحمه الله when asked about how Allaah rose over the Throne (Istiwaa’), said: “Istawaa’ is known, its manner is unknown, believing in it is obligatory, and asking about it is a Bid`ah (religious innovation).”
[Majmoo` al-Fataawa of Ibn Taymiyyah (3/58)]

Yahya Ibn Yahya said: A man came to Imaam Maalik and said: O Abu `Abdullaah! (Allaah says)

الرَّحْمَـٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَىٰ
{The Most Beneficent (Allaah) Istawaa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that befits His Majesty)}
[Surah Taha (20): 5]

How did Allaah rose over the Throne (Istawaa)? Yahya said: I did not see Imaam Maalik as furious and angry as I saw him that day because of what the man had said, and his forehead was sweating, and he bowed his head down, and distress was visible on him, then he replied: “The Kayf (how of Allaah rose over the Throne) is incomprehensible, and Istawaa is not unknown*, believing in it is Waajib (obligatory), and asking about it is Bid`ah (religious innovation), and I do not think that you are anything but an innovator.” Then he ordered that the man be expelled.
[Mukhtasar al-`Uloo of al-Dhahabee with the checking of Shaikh al-Albaanee (132) and al-Laalikaa’ee in “al-Sunnah” (664) and the wording is his. This was graded as “Saheeh” al-Dhahabee and Shaikh al-Albaanee. This was also reported by Ibn al-Qudaamah in al-`Uloo (88)]

* “not unknown” meaning: the meaning of the word Istawaa is known to everyone who understands Arabic.

Rabee`ah who was the Shaikh of Imaam Maalik also had a similar response:

Sufyaan al-Thawree said: I was with Rabee`ah Ibn Abee `Abdul-Rahmaan and a man asked him,

الرَّحْمَـٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَىٰ
{The Most Beneficent (Allaah) Istawaa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that befits His Majesty)}
[Surah Taha (20): 5]

How did Allaah rose over the Throne (Istawaa)? Rabee`ah replied: “Al-Istawaa is not unknown, and the Kayf (how of it) is incomprehensible, and the message is from Allaah, and upon the Prophet ﷺ was to convey, and upon us is to believe in it.”
[Mukhtasar al-`Uloo of al-Dhahabee with the checking of Shaikh al-Albaanee (111). Shaikh al-Albaanee said: “chain of this narration from Sufyaan is Saheeh. And al-Laalikaa’ee also reported this in his “al-Sunnah” from the narration from Ibn `Uyaynah that Rabee`ah was asked…” Ibn Taymiyyah in al-Hamawiyyah said: “This was reported by al-Khallaal with the chain in which all of its narrators are Imaam in reliability.”]

Shaikh `Abdul Rahmaan al-Mahmood said in his explanation of Lum`atul-I`tiqaad:

“Imaam Maalik was born in the year 93H and died in the year 179H. He faced some of the Bid`aat (religious innovations) that became widespread during his time. During one such day, a man came to Imaam Maalik while he was teaching in the Masjid and said: “O Abu `Abdullaah! How did Allaah rose over the Throne (Istawaa)?”

Here we have two issues:

The first issue: The questioner knows that the Qur’aan affirms al-Istawaa’, and he himself is pointing to it by reciting the Aayah.

The second issue: The question is about the “How” of it because he asked: “How did Allaah rise over the Throne?”

We say this because the response of Imaam Maalik exposes the opposers of the Creed of Ahl al-Sunnah, he exposed those who did the wrong Tafseer (exegesis) of this Aayah.

Imaam Maalik said: “al-Istiwaa’ is not unknown”. (In some narrations it is mentioned that he said: “al-Istiwaa’ is known, and the “how” of it is not known”). And he further said: “How of it is incomprehensible, and believing in it is Waajib (obligatory), and asking about it is Bid`ah (religious innovation).”

The saying of Imaam Maalik: “al-Istiwaa’ is not unknown”, means: The meaning of al-Istawaa’ is, as what has been mentioned in the Qur’aan, and we are being addressed in the Arabic language, the meaning of al-Istawaa’ is known to us and not something unknown. But what is the thing that we are unaware of and do not comprehend?

The thing that which we are unaware of, and which is unknown to us is, how Allaah did it. We have not seen Allaah, therefore we do not know how His Attributes look like (but we affirm our belief in Allaah’s Beautiful Names and Lofty Attributes that have been mentioned in the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Prophet ﷺ).

But some of the deniers of al-Istawaa’ of Allaah over the Throne, and who misinterpret it by saying “al-Istai`laa’” (meaning: Allaah conquered the Throne), respond to this saying of Imaam Maalik by saying: “His saying that al-Istawaa’ is known, means that it has been mentioned in the Qur’aan.”

We respond to them by saying: If Imaam Maalik intended as they are claiming, then he would have agreed with the questioner. Because the questioner said: “O Abu `Abdullaah! {The Most Beneficent rose over the Throne}. How did He rise?” Then the response of Imaam Maalik that al-Istawaa is mentioned in the Qur’aan would have no value because the questioner already knows that. The questioner would have responded by saying: “I did not ask you about this because I already know that al-Istawaa’ is mentioned in the Qur’aan.” But what Imaam Maalik really intended was to affirm and proclaim the Methodology of the Salaf (al-Saalih) رحمهم الله, i.e. al-Istawaa’ is known, meaning: we know the meaning of al-Istawaa’ because it has been addressed to us (in the Qur’aan) in the Arabic language. Al-Istawaa’ has several meanings: `Alaa (علا - Exalt), Irtafa` (ارتفع – Ascend), Istaqir (استقر – Establish), Sa`da (صعد – Rise), all these words have been reported from the Salaf رحمهم الله. So, it is clear that al-Istawaa’ is known, and since it is already mentioned in the Qur’aan (numerous times), then this matter is axiomatic (i.e. no further evidence is required), and it was not possible that Imaam Maalik was ignorant about it, rather, the questioner himself mentioned it that his question is about the “how” of it. And how Allaah rose over the Throne is incomprehensible.

This is the methodology of the Salaf رحمهم الله. They affirm the Attributes of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى, affirming it in a literal sense (and not metaphorical. Affirming without discussing “how”, or likening Him to His creation, and without denying any of His Attributes, or interpreting them in a way different from the apparent meaning). And they (the Salaf) said: “How Allaah rose over the Throne, then no one knows about this except Allaah سبحانه وتعالى” (i.e. Allaah تعالى mentioned that He rose over the Throne, but He تعالى did not describe how He تعالى did it. So, we affirm what is mentioned in the Texts and we stop where it stops, without misinterpreting the meaning).

And the saying of Imaam Maalik: “To believe in it is Waajib (obligatory)”, meaning: it is obligatory from the Methodology of the Salaf (al-Saalih) رحمهم الله to affirm al-Istawaa’, and it is not permissible to interpret it in a way different from the apparent meaning.

And the saying of Imaam Maalik: “and asking about it is Bid`ah”, meaning: questioning about how Allaah did it is Bid`ah, and not about affirming it. Because it has been reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: ❝If my Companions are mentioned, then keep quiet; if the stars are mentioned, then keep quiet; and if the divine decree is mentioned, then keep quiet.❞
[Narrated by al-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer (1427, 10448) and graded as “Saheeh li ghairihee” by Shaikh al-Albaanee in al-Saheehah (34), and Saheeh al-Jaami` (545)]

So, does this Hadeeth mean that we do not speak about having Faith in al-Qadr (Divine Decree), and that we do not speak about the merits of the Companions? The answer: No! Rather, it means that when al-Qadr is mentioned and people fall into dispute and falsehood, then refrain from speaking about it, and that we should refer the matter back to Allaah سبحانه وتعالى. Affirming belief in al-Qadr is from the foundation of the Religion, rather, it is one of the Pillars of Imaan, as the Prophet ﷺ said: ❝and you affirm your faith in the Divine Decree about good and evil.❞
[Saheeh Muslim (1)]

Therefore, ❝refrain from speaking❞, here means not to dispute about it upon falsehood. And a similar thing has been mentioned about the Companions. So, does that mean that we never mention (the merits of) the Companions? The answer is: No! What is intended in this narration is not to speak ill of the Companions as many of the Ahl al-Bid`ah do. We either speak good about them or remain silent, and we should not dispute about what took place between them.

“Then Imaam Maalik ordered that the man be expelled”, meaning: Imaam Maalik ordered that he be expelled to discipline him, and as a lesson for his students. It is important to try to stop the Ahl al-Bid`ah from spreading their Bid`ah among the masses, and this has been the Methodology of the Salaf al-Saalih. Some people think that opening channels for discussions leads to an increase in knowledge and in understanding the reality, and that people should be willing to have a discussion with every Bakr and Zaid that comes along with a notion, (and this is against the Methodology of the Salaf). What is required from those who are upon the Methodology of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah is not to be complacent with the Ahl al-Bid`ah, and to try to prevent them from spreading their Bid`ah. (During the Khilaafah of `Umar Ibn al-Khattaab رضي الله عنه, a person by the name Sabeegh Ibn `Asal began to spread misconceptions and doubts about the religion), so, (when this person came to) `Umar رضي الله عنه, he did not let him speak, but rather he commanded that he be whipped, and he was beaten till he said: “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen! By Allaah! All my doubts have gone.”

But if a situation arises where the Bid`ah became widespread and the Muslims have been put to trials by it, and Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah are not able to suppress it, then, in that case, it becomes permissible to debate with Ahl al-Bid`ah, but that does not mean that we give them the opportunity to speak about and spread their Bid`ah freely. Many men fell into Bid`ah because they could not find answers, so they were overtaken by doubts and suspicion, this was the case of many learned men, then what about the common people? And what about the women and children?

So, from the Methodology of the Salaf رحمهم الله is to proclaim the truth, and to teach the matters pertaining to `Aqeedah with proofs and evidence, so that the soul feels satisfied, and that the Imaan gets stronger, and not to engage in debates except when there is a necessity, and when there is a danger which cannot be removed except through this.”
[Tayseer Lum`atul-I`tiqaad of Shaikh `Abdul Rahmaan al-Mahmood]

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