Shaykh Abu Adam Refutes Yasir Qadhi’s Atomism Article.

Yasir Qadhi, in Muslimmatters, wrote an article titled “The Role of Atmomism in the Groups of Kalam” It can be read at:

http://muslimmatters.org/2008/04/09/the-role-of-atomism-on-groups-of-kalam/

Sidi Abu Adam gives an exquisitely masterful rebuttal against Yasir Qadhi and those who parrot his inaccuracies (Charles, etc.). To those who cry “scholar!” to Yasir Qadhi, be warned. He is one who is leading young Muslims on a path of treachery away from Ahl al-Sunna wa’al Jama’ah. The following are the two posts by Sidi Abu Adam that were not accepted on Yasir Qadhi’s atomism article discussion on the Muslim Matters blog. You can judge why. A third refutation by an orthodox Sunni Muslim follows Abu Adam’s posts. 

My special thanks to the Marifah Forums where this refutation was extracted. Enjoy!
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POST-1

EVERYTHING IS CREATED BY ALLAH, ALL THAT HAPPENS IS EXCACTLY AS HE HAS WILLED, AND HE HAS NO JUDGE.

Charles: With all due respect to Al-Isfaraayiiniy, there is a difference between what is fair legally and what is fair morally. Legally, all that is, Allah has created and is His to do as He wishes.

Abu Adam: The answer is that whether you call it legally or morally, the fact remains that Aļļaah does not have a judge. Aļļaah is neither subject to morals, nor laws, because He does not have a judge. ˆAbdulJabbar did not answer Al-Isfaraayiyniy, because he knew that injustice (ţħulm) is linguistically (in Arabic) to put something where it does not belong, and in common usage to deal in the rights of others without a right, or to transgress beyond one’s limits. None of these meanings can apply to the Creator, as all right belong to Him, and all things belong to Him, and He is not limited in any way.

Charles: However, I have never read that one of Allah’s Attributes or Names was cruelty.

Abu Adam: And it isn’t, because whatever Aļļaah does with His creation, He does so with a full right. The word “cruelty” implies injustice. Aļļaah has created some humans to be disobedient, and some to be obedient, then He punishes some of the former. When you say that it would be cruelty, you are making yourself a judge of Aļļaah’s action, merely based on your mind. This is the problem with the muˆtazilah; they gave the mind a much larger role in religion than it can justifiably take. It is like when Ibliis questioned Aļļaah for giving Adam a higher rank. Yours is a judgment that draws analogy between creation and the Creator (saying “if a human did that, then…”). One cannot judge Aļļaah in human terms, or any other terms for that matter. Aļļaah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiyaa’, 23). Clearly then, to make a judgment of Aļļaah’s actions is nothing less than a rebellion.

Al-Bukhaariyy narrated that the Prophet said:

إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ يُجْمَعُ فِي بَطْنِ أُمِّهِ أَرْبَعِينَ يَوْمًا ثُمَّ عَلَقَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَكُونُ مُضْغَةً مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ اللَّهُ مَلَكًا فَيُؤْمَرُ بِأَرْبَعٍ بِرِزْقِهِ وَأَجَلِهِ وَشَقِيٌّ أَوْ سَعِيدٌ فَوَاللَّهِ إِنَّ أَحَدَكُمْ أَوْ الرَّجُلَ يَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ بَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعٍ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا وَإِنَّ الرَّجُلَ لَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ حَتَّى مَا يَكُونُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا غَيْرُ ذِرَاعٍ أَوْ ذِرَاعَيْنِ فَيَسْبِقُ عَلَيْهِ الْكِتَابُ فَيَعْمَلُ بِعَمَلِ أَهْلِ النَّارِ فَيَدْخُلُهَا

“Verily one of you is gathered in his mothers stomach for forty days, then he is a blood-clot for forty days, then a piece of meat for forty days, then Aļļaah sends an angel ordered with four words: his provision, his end, happy or miserable1. By Aļļaah, verily one of you may be committing the deeds of the people of Hell, until he is only an arm’s length away, when (it is as if) his destined end overwhelms him2 and he starts to perform the works of the people of Paradise, and enters it. And verily one of you may be committing the deeds of the people of Paradise, until he is only an arm’s length away, when (it is as if) his destined end overwhelms him and he starts to perform the works of the people of Hell, and enters it.” Ed. This is why one should always ask Aļļaah to make one die as a Muslim.

{Notes on the ĥadiitħ: 1. Some said that it is four matters, and that the fourth matter is gender, but that it is well known from other narrations of the same ĥadiitħ, so it was left out in this one. Others said that the fourth matter is his actions, but that this is understood from the context. (ˆUmdatu-l-Qaariy). 2. Everything is always according to predestination, no one can ever do against it, so this is a figurative expression.}

Charles: If real intention does not exist, why is it so prominent in our religion?

Abu Adam: Intention does exist, but it is a action and therefore a creation of Aļļaah:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Meaning: “Aļļaah created you and what you do.” (Aş-Şaaffaat. 96)

Intention also cannot be without Aļļaah willing it:

وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Aļļaah has willed it.” (Al-Insaan, 30)

Charles: BB asked for verses and hadiths. Every verse and hadith that commands what shall be done and forbids what shall not be done states that humans are responsible and act according to what is inside of them. Still, here are a few:
18:29 “Say: (It is) the truth is from your Lord. Then whomsoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve.”
23:62 “And we task not any soul beyond its scope, and with Us is a Record which speaketh the truth, and they will not be wronged.”
45:22 “And Allah hath created the heavens and the earth with truth, and that every soul may be repaid what it hath earned. And they will not be wronged.”
76:29 “Lo! this is an Admonishment, that whosoever will may choose a way unto his Lord.”

Abu Adam: None of this conflicts with the fact that Aļļaah has created all acts and predestined them. None of them say that the will and action of creation is not created by Aļļaah, and it is made even clearer as follows:

It is mentioned in tafsiir books that when this was revealed:

إِنْ هُوَ إِلا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ * لِمَنْ شَاءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَسْتَقِيمَ

Meaning: “Verily this is a warning to the worlds, so the one who wills will take the path of fearing and obeying Aļļaah” (Al-Kawtħar, 27-28).

Then the idolaters said, “so it is up to us, if we want, we will.” So Aļļaah revealed:

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Aļļaah has willed it.” Note that you cannot separate between Aļļaah’s Will and His Creating:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

Charles: One possibility is making a distinction between Allah’s active creation and His permissive creation.

Abu Adam: That does not work, because Aļļaah made no such distinction:

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Meaning: “Aļļaah created you and what you do.” (Aş-Şaaffaat. 96). No exceptions mentioned.

وما تشاءون إلا أن يشاء الله

Meaning: “You do not will anything unless Aļļaah has willed it.” (Al-Insaan, 30). No exceptions mentioned.

Charles: Allah, of course, created all from the beginning and actively sustains that creation. But that does not mean that He controls the creation as if it were a robot or a mechanical toy.

Abu Adam: You are drawing an analogy between the Creator and the created again. This is one of the principles of the Muˆtazilah in these issues. In any case, a robot or a mechanical toy is different from a human in many ways, such as having a feeling of self, and a created perception of free choice. You can build all the robots you like, but these things will always be missing. About this issue, Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy said {in brackets}:

{The reality of predestination is a secret of Aļļaah pertaining to His creation. Neither a favored angel, nor a prophet sent has ever been given knowledge of it.} This is because predestination is not something observable, and only Aļļaah has complete knowledge of what is not observable. {To become deeply absolved in and pondering about this} matter of the reality of predestination {is a means to failure} in religion, {a ladder to deprivation and a staircase to transgression} against what Aļļaah has prescribed. {So beware, beware} and avoid this {by} busying yourself with {pondering, thinking and} even {random ideas,} concerning other matters, {for verily Aļļaah has hidden the knowledge of} the reality of {predestination from mankind, and forbade them from seeking it. As Aļļaah said in his book:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ

(Al-‘Anbiyaa’, 23) Meaning: “Aļļaah is not questioned about what He does, but the created beings are.” {So whoever asked} in scorn or objection, {“Why did He do that?” has rejected the judgment of the Book} of the Qur’aan {and whoever rejects the judgment of the Book has become a blasphemer.}

Charles: If that were true, then we would be forced to accept that Allah also creates disobedience and evil. Rather, His creative power permits living beings to make choices, to have intention, to submit to Allah, or not.

Abu Adam: Your term “permittive power permits” is a play with words. A choice is something that did not exist, and then existed. This means that it needs a creator, just like anything else that did not exist and then existed. If you do not say that Aļļaah created that choice, the choice that was actually made, then you believe in more than one creator:

هَلْ مِنْ خَالِقٍ غَيْرُ اللَّهِ

Meaning: “Is there another creator than Aļļaah?” (Faaţir, 3)

وَاللَّهُ خَلَقَكُمْ وَمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Meaning: “Aļļaah created you and what you do.” (Aş-Şaaffaat. 96) When you say that Aļļaah did not create disobedience, then you are restricting these absolute statements without support in the scriptures, or sound reason for that matter.

Muslim narrated that Jibriil asked the Prophet about belief, and he answered:

أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ

“To believe in Aļļaah and His angels, books, and messengers, and the last day, and to believe in predestination, the good of it and the bad of it.”

Charles: These notions are theological knots that have no clear answers. So, although they can be useful to wrestle with in some circumstances at some times for some purposes, eventually we need to return to a more pressing need: the ongoing struggle of submitting to Allah.

Abu Adam: The very first step in submitting to Aļļaah would be to realize that one is not Aļļaah’s judge, and that He is the only creator. The ĥadiitħs and aayaahs I have mentioned leave no doubt, actually. The only problem is that if a person considers himself a judge over Aļļaah’s actions, then the whole issue becomes “knotty.” This is solved by remembering that Aļļaah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiyaa’, 23).

فَعَّالٌ لِمَا يُرِيدُ

Meaning: “He does what He wills.” (Al-Buruuj, 16).

For the Sunnis out there, Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy said {in brackets}:
{He guides whomsoever He wills, and He protects} from disobedience and {defends created beings} from misguidance and loss {as a grace.} Not because He is obliged to. {He creates disobedience to Him in whoever He wills, and leaves defenseless and afflicts with justice. All creations alternate by His Will between His Grace and Justice}.{The happy} in the Hereafter {are those that are made happy according to Aļļaah’s predestination. The miserable} in the Hereafter {are those that are made miserable according to Aļļaah’s predestination.}

ibnabeeomar,
I guess I won’t have a chance to respond to you after this, but I have written something to address your questions:

PROOFS OF ALLAAH’S EXISTENCE

The proof of Aļļaah’s existence I have mentioned earlier to Nathan (“http://muslimmatters.org/2008/04/09/the-role-of-atomism-on-groups-of-kalam/) is valid, and actually quite simple, and completely sensible. It is certainly not the only proof of Aļlaah’s existence, but it is one of the most effective in practice, especially with agnostics, as you have already seen. It is not only for academics, I have yet to meet anyone who does not understand that inifinity cannot have an ending, and that we exist today and that before today many events took place. Nothing exclusively academic about it, in fact most of the people I have explained it to are not academics, and I think they are in the hundreds. If there is a part I have not made clear, I would be glad to help. In fact, you would be doing me a favor, because the clearer I can be the better I’ll be able to use it. The proof is effective in silencing the millions of agnostics and atheists out there, and these are today’s philosophers, or their victims. Most westerners today are probably agnostics, and would not claim that they know that there is a creator, only that they believe it, and it cannot be known for sure. This philosophy is widespread also in Muslim countries. To ignore any of this would be a haram, because the Prophet said:

من رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بيده فَإِنْ لم يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لم يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ

“Whoever among you sees something disapproved of by Aļļaah, let him change it by his hand. If unable, then let him do so by His tongue. If unable to do even that, let Him reject it in his heart, and that is the least (act) of faith. ” (Muslim No. 49).

You can’t exclude atheism or any other disobedience without a scripture text to show that it is not meant.

So what I am doing is that I am stopping them by the tongue, according to the order of the Prophet. This does not distract from the methodology of the Qur’aan, because it is based on the encouragement of the Qur’aan in aayahs like this:

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

In light of the aayah, all that the proof states is that the camel cannot have been preceded by infinitely many camels, or other events before it came about. Clearly then, it must have a creator that is not an event. By saying this I have not gone beyond looking at the “how” of the camel, and I have done exactly what the Qur’aan encourages. As I have stated previously, if you want me to restrict how I consider the camel, then you need to show me an explicit text saying not to consider so and so part of the “how” of the camel. It does not matter if the consideration is simple or not, lucid or not. This is because the encouragement to consider is absolute in the aayah. Knowing more proofs is better, and understanding more is better. This is in absolute terms:

هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لا يَعْلَمُونَ

Meaning: “Are those that know equal to those who do not?” (Az-Zumar, 9)

ISTAWA VERSUS “HE DOES NOT RESEMBLE ANYTHING”

ibnabeeomar,
I have attempted to answer some of your concerns regarding understanding the Qur’aan and were concerned about logical consistency by mentioning 5 points or so. I have addressed some of them already, I think the rest can be taken care of by answering your question: “It is very UN-scientific to take the ayah about Allah not resembling creation at face value and NOT take the ayah about istiwaa at face value. Why is one different from the other?”

Please read the below answer carefully:

It is not clear to me what you mean by “face value”, but at least I will explain the difference between the two. First of all, the basic principle for understanding the aayahs of the Qur’aan and Ĥadiitħs of the Prophet is that they be taken at their most absolute, literal and apparent meanings, unless there is a proof why they shouldn’t. Such proofs would be other aayahs, other ĥadiitħs, and ijmaaˆ, while mere preference is not acceptable for this. Sorting out these issues is the main purpose of Uşuulu-l-Fiqh, the methodology for knowing commandments from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. The rational purpose of this rule of requiring a proof, as mentioned, is to avoid people interpreting the scriptures any way they like, while recognizing that not everything in the Qur’aan can be understood literally, because that would lead to one aayah contradicting another in meaning.

If the rule of requiring proof for saying that an aayah should not be taken literally was not correct, then there would be no purpose in sending a prophet, because his message would have been open to any interpretation desired. For example, one time my non-Muslim mother watched this woman praying as Imam for Jumuˆah prayer in the US. She said, “Well, this is her interpretation,” implying that the woman is free to interpret from the scriptures that a woman can lead Jumuˆah prayer. I told her, “Interpretation has to have rules, if you were allowed to make any interpretation, then what would be the point in sending a prophet?” She could not answer.

In short, one’s understanding of a statement in the Qur’aan should be apparent, unless there is a proof of otherwise from other texts, or ijmaaˆ.

Having said that, the difference between “He does not resemble anything,” and “istawa” is that the first denies the resemblance of anything to Aļļaah. The latter, on the other hand affirms “istawa”. To be consistent then, we need to affirm istawa without affirming resemblance to something physical, because created things are physical, i.e. limited and quantitative, and therefore in need of Aļļaah to create them. That is why the Salaf said “istawa bi-laa kayf,” “istawa without a how”, but they did not say “He does not resemble His creation – without a how.” The first statement is an affirmation followed by a partial negation, the second statement is clearly nonsense.

This should be enough, but if you want the details……

When we want to understand “He does not resemble anything,” we need to understand what meanings and senses are exclusive to creation. We also need to identify the meanings and senses that are shared in created attributes, so that we do not end up believing that Aļļaah is different from His creation in the same sense as created things are different from each other only. After all, all created things are different from each other in some more or less obvious or subtle senses, even if it be only time or location. If we do not pay attention to this, we will end up saying that the meaning of the aayah is “everything is different from everything else,” and that would be to make it meaningless, which is clearly not allowed. After all, the statement addresses an attribute of Aļļaah.

Before we do this, let it be clear that “He does not resemble anything,” is an attribute that negates something from Aļļaah, which is different from an affirmation, such as “istawa” because we are forbidden from pondering meanings that are affirmed to Aļļaah. We are not forbidden from pondering about creation, however, so there is nothing wrong with identifying what meanings and senses are present in creation that Aļļaah is clearly not attributed with. Such meanings would be those that necessitate having a creator. Such pondering is encouraged in the Qur’aan, such as in:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aa ˆImraan, 190)

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

Based on this, when we look at creation, we notice that created things have quantities and limits, i.e. they have a physical measure. We also notice that they come in different shapes, types and resemblances in terms of these quantities and limits. They do not necessarily resemble each other in all aspects, for they have different time limits, locations, attributes, etc, but their nature of being limited and quantitative is shared. So a chair, for example, is very different from a human being, but similar in some aspects, such as in having a weight and a volume.

From this observation, we know that Aļļaah is not something limited, not something measurable or quantitative, because Aļļaah is not different from creation in the way they are different from each other only. Aļļaah’s attributes are greater than that; His attributes are not attributes of limits or quantity. Note that even when we use the same word to refer to a created attribute as we use for an attribute of Aļļaah, such as knowledge, then we know that this is completely different in meaning. Aļļaah’s knowledge is not something limited. It is not in a location, such as a brain, unlike ours. It does not increase or decrease, unlike ours. Our knowledge is quantitative an divisible, His is not. Etc.

We can also say it this way; the world around us is full of entities with size, even though they differ in attributes such as shape, density and taste, etc. The kind, however, things with size, is the same for them all. Since Aļļaah is not the same kind as creation, then He is not something with size, and is not in a place. Further to this, we can also say that since place is a creation, as it is something other than Aļļaah, He is not in it, because He existed before it.

To clarify further the meaning of “He does not resemble anything,” take the proof of Abuu Ĥaniifah that you linked (“http://saheefah.org/2007/12/01/beautiful-proofs-for-the-existence-of-allah/), which points out an absurdity to an atheist: “You cannot imagine one ship running without some one looking after its affairs. Yet you think that for this whole world, which runs exactly and precisely, there is no one who looks after it, and no one owns it?” Take also a look at the proof of Aļļaah’s existence that Asħ-Sħaafiˆiyy presented: “The leaves of Toot (berries) are all but one. Each leaf tastes exactly the same. Insects, honey bees, cows, goats, and deer live off of it. After eating these the insects produce silk; bees produce honey; deer give musk (a special kind of scent), cows and goats deliver off-springs.” Maalik said it this way: “Difference in languages, difference in pitches of voice, difference in singing are proof that Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala) exists!”

Such proofs are called arguments based on design, the order of creation, and they are also found in the Qur’aan. The Qur’aan does not have logically flawed proofs, so we can safely assume that they are valid. If you look carefully at these proof, and others like it, then you can detect what it means that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation. This is because when you specify the attributes of creation that makes it so obvious that it needs a creator, then you can know what attributes the Creator does not have. You can know this, because Aļļaah does not have a Creator.

The common denominator of all these proofs is that they give examples of how creations need physical specification for how they are to be. What kind? What location? What volume? What quantity? What size? What shape? How wide? What color? What taste? What temperature? What boundaries and limits? Where? How fast? Etc. All such attributes need specification. So in Abu Ĥaniifah’s, for example, he proposes that the ship has goods (specification needed: what kind? how many? where?) that the ship keeps going back and forth (what direction, what speed? to and from where? what path?), etc.

Clearly such attributes need a creator, because they need to receive specification, and that also means that they have a beginning, because becoming specified needs a point in time. This means that all such things have a creator. Clearly then, Aļļaah is not something that physical specification applies to, so He is not a body, and therefore not in a place, because a body is what is in a place. The great scholar of the Salaf Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy stated: {Aļļaah is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments.}{The six directions} up, down, front, back, left and right {do not contain Him, like all created things}. This same thing was stated by the most eloquent of all creation, as narrated by Muslim and Al-Bayhaqiyy:

اللهم أنت الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ

“O Aļļaah, You are the First, so there is nothing before You, and You are the Last so there is nothing after You. You are Al-Ţħaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baaţin, so there is nothing below you.” If there is nothing above Him and nothing below Him, then he is not a body or a direction, and He does not have physical specification.

Further to this point, consider what was narrated from Aĥmad ibn Ĥanbal at the link you provided (http://saheefah.org/2007/12/01/beautiful-proofs-for-the-existence-of-allah/), where he made an example of the egg with a chick in it, saying: “There is an incredibly strong fort, it has no doors, there is no way to get in. In fact, there is not even a hole in it. From outside it glows like the moon and from inside it shimmers like gold. It is sealed from all sides, matter of fact it is air tight. Suddenly one of its doors breaks down, a living thing with eyes and ears, a beautiful looking animal appears yelling and wandering all over. So is not there a creator who made it possible for life to take place in this secured and closed fort? And is not this Creator better than humans? This Creator has no limit.” Note that he concluded based on his proof: This Creator has no limit.”

Another difference between “He does not resemble anything,” and “istawa” is that the first is clear in meaning, while the second is not; “istawa” has many possible meanings in Arabic. To get agreement between the two is therefore easy, you understand “He does not resemble anything,” absolutely and literally, and say that the meaning of “istawa” is one of the meanings in Arabic that does not contradict with “He does not resemble anything.” So it does not have the meaning of Aļļaah being in a place or direction, because that would mean He has a physical limit, and that would be to invalidate “He does not resemble anything”, and render it meaningless without a need.

Yet another reason why place or direction cannot be excluded from the literal “He does not resemble anything” is the explicit scriptural text mentioned earlier, namely that the Prophet said:

اللهم أنت الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ

“O Aļļaah, You are the First, so there is nothing before You, and You are the Last so there is nothing after You. You are Al-Ţħaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baaţin, so there is nothing below you.” If there is nothing above Him and nothing below Him, then He is not in a place or direction, so if one believed istawa to have the meaning of Aļļaah literally being in a place or direction, then one would have rendered the perfectly clear “He does not resemble anything” virtually meaningless, as all creation as we know it is in a place and direction by nature of being limited and quantitative. One would also have contradicted the perfectly clear “”You are Al-Ţħaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baaţin, so there is nothing below you.” This ĥadiitĥ is a praise of Aļļaah, and His names and attributes are attributes of perfection and greatness. Being in a place or direction is not an attribute of perfection; being physically in a high place is not greatness, because if it was, then Tibet would better than Makkah. Moreover, being in a physical direction necessitates having a limit. The Prophet then, made it clear that Aļļaah’s aboveness mentioned in other texts is not one of direction. Finally, one would have affirmed a limit to the creator and thereby claimed it possible for limited things to exist without a creator.

The best solution then, is that one simply says “istawa” to affirm the attribute and then “without a how” to comply with “He does not resemble anything”. This way one is left with the various possible Arabic meanings of “istawa” that are not physical in meaning, and one has not contradicted these other very clear and specific texts (and a number of others). In other words, one has avoided restricting the literal meaning of “He does not resemble anything” and “O Aļļaah, You are Al-Thaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baatin, so there is nothing below you.” Last, but not least, one has also avoided affirming a limit to Aļļaah which would contradict this aayah, among many others:

اللَّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى

Meaning “There is no god but Him, He has the best names.” (Ţaahaa, 8)

One does not, however, assign any specific one of those non-physical meanings to “istawa”, because it is not clear in the Arabic language which one is meant, and the meaning is not well known. For this reason, the Salaf left it at saying “istawa without a how,” and usually did not interpret the non-physical meaning left after saying “without a how”. This was for fear of speaking about Aļļaah without a proof, and ending up assigning a meaning that was not meant, thereby denying the one that was actually meant, or taˆţiil, as is it called in Arabic.

Note that when the Salaf said “istawa bi-laa kayf,” they did not mean “without knowing the physical how that is really there,” as some think. Literally, bi-laa kayf means, “bi-(with) laa (categorically no) kayf (how.)” Since they knew Arabic very well, and knew Aļļaah, this was all they needed to say as it made it clear that Aļļaah is not something physical or temporal. This is not the case with most people today. And there is nothing wrong also in detailing what “kayf” means, because the great scholar of the Salaf Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy stated: {Aļļaah is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments.} {The six directions} up, down, front, back, left and right {do not contain Him, like all created things}. He also agreed that believing that anything else is an insult to Islam, for he said: {Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.} Note that he said this after having already pointed out that the six directions apply to all created things, which includes humans.

I hope I have managed to make it clear now that denying istawa to be a physical attribute does not mean denying istawa. If you want more on this, and to prevent this dialogue to degenerate into an explanation of every scripture that might be taken to be physical in meaning, you can look at Ibn Al-Jawziyy’s “Daf’ Shubah al-Tashbhi”, which has been translated to English under the name “The Attributes of God”. I haven’t seen the translation myself, but here are a couple of quotes I have translated for you myself from the Arabic version: “And they (the corrupt Ĥanbaliyys) made Aļļaah’s aboveness physical, and forgot that physical aboveness can only be for a body, or an indivisible element, and that aboveness can be used for the meaning of high status, for one may say for example, ‘so and so is above so and so’.” In other words, Ibn Al-Jawziyy is saying that in no way shape or form is the denial of physical direction and physical aboveness a denial of an aboveness that is not physical. Physical aboveness is refuted, however, as it is a limited aboveness, because it involves at least one physical limit. For example, if someone says that Aļļaah is physically above the ˆArsħ (throne), then he is saying that Aļļaah has a limit adjacent to the throne.

Then Ibn Al-Jawziyy narrated from Aĥmad ibn Ĥanbal that he said: “istawa is an attribute no doubt, and it does not mean purpose or control,” and that, “Aĥmad refuted that Aļļaah should have a direction, because directions cannot be without something other than them,” i.e. something physical to be in a direction. Then Ibn Al-Jawziyy said, “Since the claim that Aļļaah has a direction is false, then it is clear that He is not in a place.” Then he clarified this by saying “because Aļļaah is not surrounded by anything, and He does not have attributes with a beginning.”

Note, however, that when some later scholars saw the activities of deviants trying to use the silence of the scholars regarding istawa in order to spread the falsehood that Aļļaah is physical, some of them decided to mention specific non-physical meanings. This happened also to some extent among the Salaf. This was to calm the minds of the uneducated (who were far from the mindset and linguistic capability of the Companions of the Prophet) so that they would not keep thinking about this issue. They did this because it was a much lesser evil than having people believing Aļļaah to be something in a place or a direction, and it is a rule of the religion that if one has the choice between two harmful things, then one chooses the less harmful. This is their view. Note also that whether the non-physical meaning of scripture texts that have apparent physical meanings are known or not, is sometimes a matter of disagreement. So for example, many scholars interpreted the literally translated, “He is with you wherever you are,” as “in the sense of knowledge,” I.e. Aļļaah knows about you, and what you do, wherever you are. Clearly this aayah is also not literally meant.

The Qur’aan and ĥadiitħ texts are full of such figurative expressions, and they are widely known. They did not cause confusion among the Companions, simply because they knew that Aļļaah is not limited, as He does not have a Creator. They knew their Creator in other words, so physical meanings did not even enter their minds, just like when you heard the AT&T commercial “reach out and touch someone,” you knew that it was not literally meant, because you know what a telephone is.

Ibnabeeumar: You therefore affirm what Allah said AND disassociate yourself from resembling the creation at the same time. we don’t know HOW He made istiwaa, but we affirm that He did without delving into how.

Abu Adam: It is better to say, “the istawa does not have a how.” When you say “we don’t know how” then you are implying that there is a how, i.e. a physical meaning, except that you do not know it, which is clearly incorrect.

THE INDIVISIBLE ELEMENT

Muadh Khan: My only bone of contention from the beginning is that the primary reasons for Ta’weel have nothing to do with Atomism; as aptly demonstrated by Shaykh Abu Adam and as stated by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi that your average person doesn’t even know anything about it.

Abu Adam: Muadh, my brother, the issue is not really whether atomism has to do with ta’wiil. The original accusation was that Asħˆariyys actually base their belief on atomism and Greek philosophy, and that the claim that the physical world around us is not infinitely divisible has been shown to be ridiculous by science. None of this was backed by proofs and it was accompanied by a number of statements that clearly attempted to make the muˆtazilah look much better than the Asħˆariyys. It was an attempt to put Asħˆariyys in a bad light, and look silly, it was also a poorly disguised takfiir when it comes down to it. I mean if you do not take the Qur’aan and the Sunnah as the bases for your very belief, what would you be other than a kaafir? So what unity can there be after that?

All that is important to belief scholars, and NOT average Muslims, is to hold that the events of this world, be it time, bodies or attributes are finite, and not infinitely divisible. What is mentioned about the nature of the indivisible element of bodies, however, is non-essential, in fact it is unknown, but SOME scholars back then, felt confident enough to talk about it, and did. Needless to say, they differed widely in their views, with the limited mathematics and instruments they had. Many Asħariyys, such as Az-Zarkasħiyy, contended that to speak of its nature is a mistake, because everything we observe is divisible. Others ventured to do it, to attack the philosophers on their own premises in geometry and other fields. It is from the “I ain’t givin’ you even an atom of my fingernail” approach; they wanted to attack every argument that the philosophers presented. Today, needless to say, many of these arguments are no longer needed, as they are no longer used by the opponent, as the premises they hold have changed.

The main point of defense remains, however, namely that the bodies around us are not infinitely divisible, and there is an element, called Al-Jawhar Al-Fard in jargon, which cannot be divided. This is based on the Qur’aan, because it unequivocally implies that created things, are not infinitely divisible, but are finite in size:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden to creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75) As you know, the book is not inifinite in size, therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smalles ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3) This aayah tells you very clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded, this means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Aļļaah knows the number of all things.” (Al-Jinn, 28)
Another aayah:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29) Aţ-Tabariyy said it means that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, its total number, amount, and value. Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity.

Denying that creation has an indivisible element is also against ‘ijmaaˆ, for ˆAbdu-l-Qaahir Al-Bagħdaadiyy stated in his “Uşuulu-d-Diin” regarding it : “This is the saying of most Muslims, except An-Naţţaam (a muˆtazilite leader),” and the disagreement of someone like An-Naţţaam is certainly not considered for ‘ijmaaˆ.

This knowledge is important when fighting those who believe that there is something other than Aļļaah that is beginningless, without getting into the details of this matter. Based on the concept of the indivisible element one can derive powerful proofs for the Creator’s existence.

To say that the idea of the indivisible element is ridiculous then, is to contradict what these aayahs above necessarily imply. It is also a claim that is not backed by scientific findings, for how would a scientific experiment show with certainty that an element is infinitely divisible, when dividing it in such a case would never end?

I hope that the attack on the belief in the indivisible element was not a sign for the coming of something far worse. I hope it is not a prelude to spreading the ancient kufr of believing that something other than Aļļaah is eternal, while demagogically sloganizing “Al-Kitab Wa-s-Sunnah,” and “Sheikh Al-Islam says” to dupe the ignorant.

FINAL REMARK

Most of the conflicts I have seen here can be solved simply by admitting that anything that has a beginning needs a creator, and that there is only one creator. Consistency in this belief destroys both any denial of predestination, and the problem of attributing quantitative limits to Aļļaah, such as movement and size.

Abu Adam
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POST-2 

SIDI ABU ADAM REFUTES YASIR QADHI

Yasir: The people of kalaam, of all stripes, considered proving the existence of God to be their utmost priority.

Abu Adam: As if this is something bad… This is because this is the basis for knowing Aļļaah; knowing that His existence is a must. In any case, we are not interested in your opinion, we are interested only in verdicts. Are you saying it is ĥaraam? If it isn’t ĥaraam, then by what right are you blaming us?

Yasir: Rather, the threat of worshipping other than the True God (i.e., shirk) is actually much more real and pronounced, and it is for this reason that literally thousands of verses in the Quran deal with the problem of shirk, whereas only a handful deal with atheism. I only wish the Ash`arites took on refuting shirk with the same passion and zeal that they do in determining what God ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be characterized with.

Abu Adam: Ahlu-s-Sunnah are concerned with the problem of shirk. We want everyone to believe that Aļļaah is not a body. There is no difference between someone who believes that Aļļaah is a body, and says “but I don’t know how,” and a hindu that only worships one idol that he has not seen yet, and says “I don’t know how.” Both are worshiping something physical that they don’t know the shape of, but that has a shape; they are two things of the same kind. Al-Qurtubīy in his commentary in the Qur’ān narrates from his Shaykh Ibn Al-’Arabīy, the famous ĥadiitħ scholar of Andalus, regarding those who say Allāh has a body: “The sound verdict is that they are blasphemers, because there is no difference between them and those that worship idols and pictures. Thus they are requested to repent from this belief, and if they refuse they are killed” (4/14).

What it comes down to is that it is of extreme importance that you actually worship Aļļaah, not just something that you call Aļļaah. You don’t become a believer in Aļļaah by calling an idol “Aļļaah.” This is the main concern of Ahlu-s-Sunnah, and it is a concern about shirk.

Yasir: Neither the ‘Proof from Accidents’ nor the Ash`arite belief in atomism are ‘Quranic’ proofs.

Abu Adam: First of all, if an argument is valid, then it is a proof, and it does not matter if you feel it is “Quranic” or not. Whatever that means. A valid argument is a valid argument and a proof. If you start rejecting some valid arguments for no reason, then you have destroyed the bases for human knowledge beyond what the senses provide. You have sunk to the level of the dumb animals. You have taken the view of the Baraahimah, the philosophers of ancient India and Persia. They rejected the idea that knowledge can be achieved beyond what is strictly sensory. This is the heritage of your cow-worshiping neighbors back home.

The belief that there is an indivisible element is clearly stated in the Qur’aan, because it unequivocally implies that created things are not infinitely divisible. Rather, they are finite in size:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden to creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75) As you know, the book is not infinite in size, therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3) This aayah tells you very clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded, this means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Aļļaah knows the number of all things.” (Al-Jinn, 28)

Another aayah:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29) Aţ-Tabariyy said it means that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, its total number, amount, and value. Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity.

Denying that creation has an indivisible element is also against ‘ijmaaˆ, for ˆAbdu-l-Qaahir Al-Bagħdaadiyy stated in his “Uşuulu-d-Diin” regarding it : “This is the saying of most Muslims, except An-Naţţaam (a muˆtazilite leader),” and the disagreement of someone like An-Naţţaam is certainly not considered for ‘ijmaaˆ.

Yasir: What I mean by this is that the Quran itself does not make such claims (I.e. ‘Proof from Accidents’).

Abu Adam: What you call “accidents” refers simply to the different events and attributes bodies have, that is, anything with a size. The Qur’aan states that Aļļaah created everything. Does this not include what happens to bodies? This claim of yours is truly puzzling.

Yasir: And the greatest proof for this is that the earliest generations of Islam (and even the Prophet (saw) himself) did not derive such complex theological premises from the Quran. Now, the claim that a certain proof or theory does not contradict the Quran is not the same as saying it is Quranic.

Abu Adam: If the proof is valid, complies with the Qur’aan, and proves something stated in it, then why is it not Quranic? Different times and different people are affected by different types of proofs. The encouragement to think of proofs of Aļļaah’s existence and attributes are very many in the Qur’aan, and they are not restricted to what is verbatim mentioned in the scriptures. An example of such encouragement is in this aayah:

أَفَلاَ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى ٱلإِبْلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

Meaning: “What, do they not consider how the camel was created?”

In light of the aayah, if you want me to restrict how I consider the camel, then you need to show me an explicit text saying not to consider so and so part of the “how” of the camel. It does not matter if the consideration is simple or not, lucid or not. This is because the encouragement to consider is absolute in the aayah, and cannot be restricted without a scripture text as proof.

An example of an aayah from the Qur’aan that encourages thinking about bodies (things with size) and accidents (attributes and actions of things with size) is:

إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآَيَاتٍ لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Meaning: “Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.” (Aa ˆImraan, 190)

The Skies and the Earth are both bodies, because they both have size, and the changes of night and day are “accidents”. Clearly then, seeking proofs of Aļļaah’s existence and attributes in bodies and events is something Quranic of the highest order.

Anyway, using the proofs mentioned in the Qur’aan will lead to the same conclusions as proofs based on the indivisible element, namely that Aļļaah is not like creation. This is because all creation as we know it is either something with size (a body), or an attribute of it (“accident”). If you prove that Aļļaah exists based on them, then you are implicitly saying that Aļļaah is not like that, because you are already arguing that these bodies and their attributes need a creator.

For example, based on the aayah, if you say that night and day are timed orderly, and that this shows that someone orders them, then you must also hold that Aļļaah is not something “timed”. Otherwise you would end up saying that Aļļaah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Moreover, if you say that the skies and the earth are highly ordered structures, and that someone must have ordered them, then you must also hold that Aļļaah is not a structure. Otherwise you would end up saying that Aļļaah needs a creator according to your original argument.

Yasir: The problem then comes that one takes a non-Quranic evidence as a certain fact, and then uses it to deny or distort what is clearly Quranic (in this case, the Attributes of God). Herein actually lies the main contention that the Ahl al-Hadith have with the Ash`arites. If there is nothing like Him, we should not compare Him to ‘accidents’ or ‘bodies’ but rather simply accept what He says about Himself.

Abu Adam: Asħˆariyys do not deny Aļļaah’s attributes, and they do not compare Aļļaah to accidents and bodies, they deny that He is like them. They deny that His attributes should be quantitative or limited. That is something very different. This does not involve comparison, but knowing the characteristics of creation that makes them need a creator. This is something obvious to even common people, because it simply means that Aļļaah is not limited, not by time and not by place. Rather, He created time and space, and He existed without them before they existed, and He is now as He was before they existed.

Yasir: Rather, Allah has created each and every substance with intrinsic properties, and these properties may in fact affect other substances if Allah allows them to…..Allah can prevent these natural causes from acting, but if He wills, the cause can have an effect. Hence, nothing happens except by the Will of Allah, and Allah is indeed the creator of all things, but this does not negate that Allah Himself has created substances with intrinsic properties.

Abu Adam: Are you telling me that substances can act without Aļļaah having created that act? That they will act unless He prevents them? If you do, then you are a contradicting the Qur’aan, because Aļļaah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

If you are not saying that, then you don’t know what you are saying, because this is exactly the position of the Asħˆariyys. No one is saying that if you put a fire on your hand you won’t burn, what is being said is that the fire itself, the heat that it generates, and the burn that it makes are all separate creations. So whenever fire has heat it means that Aļļaah has created that particular heat of that particular incident, and if it ever burns a hand it is because Aļļaah created the burn in the hand for each and every incident. This is true even if the burning never fails to happen, because Aļļaah said:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)
_________________________________________________

 The following is another rebuttal by an orthodox Sunni Muslim against Yasir Qadhi’s article on atomism:

The Indivisible Element

A response to “The Role of Atomism in the Groups of Kalam”

Ahlu-s-Sunnah are currently under the accusation that they founded their belief on the existence of the indivisible elements of bodies, and that they took this idea from Greek philosophy. The accusers say that the affirmation of such elements’ existence has been shown to be ridiculous by science. None of these claims have been backed by proofs, and are a poorly disguised attempt to baselessly attack the people of the truth. Widespread intoxication from the heavily financed wines of anthropomorphism and bigoted literalist sophistry, has made many engage in assaults on the people of tanziih1 , Ahlu-s-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaaˆah. No punches against sound reason are spared these days, regardless how low the blow, and all of this is done in the name of Aļļaah’s religion. As has been narrated in a ĥadiitħ about the last days before the coming of Ad-Dajjaal:

ويتكلم فيها الرويبضة

“And in those days the silly people speak about matters of public importance.”

Having said that, it is important to hold that the elements of this world are finite, and not infinitely divisible. This is the case whether it be time, bodies or attributes, because the Qur’aan unequivocally implies that created things are finite:

وما من غائبة في السماء والأرض إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “there is nothing hidden of creation in the skies or earth that is not in a clear book.” (Suuratu-l-Naml, 75).

Clearly, the book is not infinite in size. Therefore, the created things in the sky and earth are limited in number, and not infinite.

Another aayah:

لا يعزب عنه مثقال ذرة في السماوات ولا في الأرض ولا أصغر من ذلك ولا أكبر إلا في كتاب مبين

Meaning: “Nothing is hidden from Him, not what has the size of the smallest ant in the Skies or Earth, and nothing smaller or larger than that, and it is all recorded in a clear book.” (Suuratu Saba’, 3).

This aayah states clearly that everything smaller than the smallest ant is recorded. This means that it is not infinitely divisible, because the book is not infinite in size. Further to this is another aayah:

وأحْصَى كُلّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدا

Meaning: “Aļļaah knows the number of all things.” (Al-Jinn, 28)

Another aayah that affirms the finite existence of creation is:

وكل شيء أحصيناه كتابا

Meaning: everything has been recorded in a book. (An-Naba’, 29).

Aţ-Ţabariyy stated regarding the meaning of this aayah that all things have been counted and recorded in a book, that is, “its total number, amount, and value.” Clearly then, they are not infinite, because that would make all the numbers infinity. (Jaamiˆu-l-Bayaan Fiy Ta’wiili-l-Qur’aan)

The indivisible element of bodies is called “Al-Jawhar Al-Fard” (the unique essence) in Arabic jargon, but that is just a name. This “Jawhar” is not the same as the atom (because it has electrons as parts,) or the electron (because it has quarks as parts,) or even necessarily the quark (as some scientists suggest that it has parts.)

The existence of the indivisible element of bodies, call it a “Jawhar” or whatever you like, is affirmed by scholarly ijmaaˆ consensus. Abuu Manşuur ˆAbdulQaahir Al-Bagħdaadiy (429 H) said,

“Ahlu-s-Sunnah agreed by consensus that any jawhar is a part that is indivisible, and they declared as a blasphemer An-Naţħţħaam (a muˆtazilite leader) and the philosophers who said that all parts are divisible into infinitely many parts. This is because it leads to saying that their parts are not known as a limited count by Aļļaah, and this contradicts the saying of Aļļaah:

“وَأَحْصَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدًا”

{Meaning: He knows the number of all things.} (An-Naba’, 29).”

(Uşuulu-d-Diin, 36)

In his Uşuulu-d-Diin, Abuu Manşuur said:

“As for affirming the existence of the jawhar, the indivisible part (of anything with bulk): this is the saying of most (of those who claim to be) Muslims, except An-Naţħţħaam, for verily he claimed that there is no end to the parts of a single body, and this is the saying of most of the philosophers. If this was true, then the mountain would not be bigger than the mustard seed…. because what does not have a finite existence, is not larger than something else that does not have finite existence (i.e. infinity=infinity, note that we are speaking of real existence, not potential existence, such as what is to be in the future)….

…. As for An-Naţħţħaam, it is said to him: If you believe in the Qur’aan, then there is the saying of Aļļaah:

“وَأَحْصَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ عَدَدًا”

{Meaning: He knows the number of all things.} (An-Naba’, 29), so if the parts of all the kinds of creation were not limited (at all times), then they would not be known as a number.”

(Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firaq, 354)

This narration of ijmaaˆ must be taken seriously, because its proof is clear, and the narrator, ˆAbdulQaahir ibn Ţaahir Al-Bagħdaadiy Al-Tamiimiy, Abuu Manşuur, (?-429 AH/ ?-1037 AD) was the head of the scholars of his time. The historian Adħ-Dħahabiy (673-748 AH/ 1274-1348 AD) described him in his book Siyar ‘Aˆlaam Al-Nubalaa’ as: “the great, outstanding, and encyclopedic scholar” …. “ He used to teach 17 different subjects and his brilliance became the source for proverbs.” Al-Dħahabiy said that he would have liked to write a separate, more complete article about him, and quoted Abuu ˆUtħmaan Aş-Şaabuuniy (373-449 AH/ 983-1057 AD) saying: “Abuu Manşuur is by scholarly consensus counted among the heads of the scholars of belief and the methodology of jurisprudence, as well as a front figure of Islaam (17/572).” Abuu ˆUtħmaan Al-Şaabuuniy, who said this, is one of the greatest scholars of Islaam and among Sunnis he is known as “Sħaykħ Al-Islaam” – the Sħaykħ of Islaam. Al-Subkiy, in his “The Levels of the Sħaafiˆiy Scholars,” quotes a number of scholars praising Al-Şaabuuniy, among them Al-Bayhaqiy, who knew him and said, “Verily he is in reality the Imaam of the Muslims and in truth the Sħaykħ of Islaam. All the people of his time are humbled by his state of religion, leadership, sound beliefs, amount of knowledge, and his commitment to the way of the Salaf generation (the first three generations, or first three centuries of Muslims). (1/223-224)”

As stated by At-Taftaazaaniyy and others, the knowledge about the indivisible part is important when fighting those who believe that there is something other than Aļļaah that is beginningless (Sħarĥu-l-ˆAqaa’id An-Nasafiyyah, 36). This was especially the case with the philosophers that claimed that matter is eternal, without getting into the details of this issue in this article. In any case, based on the concept of the indivisible element one can derive powerful proofs for the Creator’s existence.

Note that what is mentioned about the nature of the indivisible element, however, is not essential with regards to the Islamic belief. In fact, its nature is unknown. Some scholars back in the middle ages, such as Fakħru-d-Diin Ar-Raaziyy, felt confident enough to talk about it, and did. Back in those times, even the hardcore science of physics was not yet a science, but merely a branch of philosophy and mathematics. This is in stark contrast from today, where even sociologists are attempting to upgrade their field to be labeled as “science,” due to the astonishing success of the hard core experimental sciences of physics, chemistry and biology.

Needless to say, the scholars of old differed widely in their views, with the limited mathematics and instruments they had. Many Asħˆariyys, such as Az-Zaraksħiyy, contended that to speak of its nature is a mistake, because everything we observe is divisible. Others ventured to do it. Their purpose was to attack the philosophers on their own premises in geometry and other fields. It is from the “I ain’t givin’ you even an atom of my fingernail” approach; they wanted to attack every argument that the philosophers presented. They did not do this with the intention of making these arguments the core of the Islamic belief, they merely wanted to show that even based upon their own premises the philosophers were wrong. Many of these proofs are not of the unequivocal type, unlike the proofs for the jawhar’s existence, though they can be helpful in developing one’s imagination and finding out just how limited we are. Today, needless to say, many of these arguments are no longer needed, as they are no longer used by the opponent. In fact, trying to understand the indivisible element through the geometry of divisible things, is a bit like trying to understand satellites by watching a cockfight on the basis that movement is a shared characteristics; one thing has next to nothing to do with the other.

It is very important to understand then, that the weakness of some of the proofs based on geometry are not evidence for doubt in the indivisible element. This is because the proof of its existence, not its nature, is firmly established by the Qur’aan, scholarly ijmaaˆ consensus, and sound reasoning.

In conclusion, to say that the idea of the indivisible element is ridiculous is to contradict what these aayahs above necessarily imply. It is also a claim that contradicts scholarly ijmaaˆ consensus. Moreover, it is an opinion that is not backed by scientific findings. It is finally a failure to think logically, for how would a scientific experiment show with certainty that an element is infinitely divisible, when dividing it in such a case would never end?

I hope that the attack on the belief in the indivisible element was not a sign for the coming of something far worse. I hope it is not a prelude to spreading the ancient kufr of believing that something other than Aļļaah is eternal, while demagogically sloganizing “Al-Kitaab Wa-s-Sunnah,” and “Sħaykħ Al-Islaam says” to dupe the ignorant.

Notes:

Tanziih is the Sunni belief that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation, that He is not in a place or in time, because He existed before He created them and He did not change. Aţ-Ţaĥaawiy stated: {Aļļaah is above} the status of {having limits, extremes, corners, limbs or instruments.} {The six directions} up, down, front, back, left and right {do not contain Him} because that would make Him {like all created things}. The opposite of tanziih is anthropomorphism, which is the belief that Aļļaah has attributes similar to that of creation. The most prominent of such beliefs today is the belief that Aļļaah is above the ˆArsħ (throne) in the literal sense. They promote this idea to the general public by adding “but we don’t know how.” This does not help, because having this belief entails believing that Aļļaah is something adjacent to the throne, and that He therefore has a limit. This belief is blasphemous by the consensus of the Salaf, and all reasonable human beings.

References

1. Abuu Jaˆfar Aţ-Ţabariy. Jaamiˆu-l-Bayaan Fiy Ta’wiili-l-Qur’aan. Beirut, Lebanon: Mu’assasah Al-Risaalah.
2. Abuu Manşuur ˆAbdulQaahir Al-Bagħdaadiy (429 H). Uşuulu-d-Diin. Istanbul, Turkey: Daar Al-Funuun Al-Turkiyah, 1346/1928. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1981/1401.
3. Abuu Manşuur ˆAbdulQaahir Al-Bagħdaadiy (429 H). Al-Farqu Bayna Al-Firaq. Beirut, Lebanon: Daar Al-Aafaaq Al-Jadiidah, 1977.
4. Al-Dħahabiy. Siyar ‘Aˆlaamu-n-Nubalaa’. 23 vols. Beirut, Lebanon: Mu’assasah Al-Risaalah, 1413/1993.
5. Saˆd Al-Diin Al-Taftaazaaniy. Sħarĥu-l-ˆAqaaid An-Nasafiyyah. Kairo, Egypt: Al-Maktabah Al-Azhariyyah Li-t-Turaatħ, 1401.
6. Taaju-d-Diin Al-Subkiy. Ţabaqaatu-sħ-Sħaafiˆiyatu-l-Kubraa. 10 vols. Hajr Printing and Distribution, 1413.

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