Tawheed Asma’ Was Sifaat:
The Tawheed of Names and Attributes

In general this means the firm conviction that Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, is characterized by all attributes of perfection. He is above all defects and deficiencies, and that He alone is distinguished from the rest of creation by these characteristics. This Tawheed is achieved by attesting to all the names and attributes Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, said about himself, and those confirmed by His the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, in the Qur’an and Sunnah, without changing their expression or meaning. This tawheed is also achieved without nullifying them by denying all or some of them, or modifying them by attempting to determine their essence and assigning a certain form to them, or comparing them to any human characteristic.

The basis of Tawheed of names and attributes

It is clear from the above definition that this type of Tawheed is based upon three foundations. Whoever deviates from them does not attest to the Tawheed of Allah’s names and attributes......

1) Placing Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, above any likeness to human beings and beyond any imperfections.

2) Belief in the names and attributes established in the Qur’an and Sunnah, without ignoring them, expanding upon them, changing or overriding them.

3) Abandoning any desire to discover the form of those attributes by realizing the following:

. The attributes of Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, bare no resemblance whatsoever to any human attribute . “There is nothing unto Him” (ash-Shura:11) “And there is none comparable to Him.” (al Ikhlaas:4)” “So put not forward similitudes for Allah, subhana wa ta'ala,.” (an-Nahl:74) The tawheed of attributes of Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, means that the Muslim should believe his creator to be above having a spouse, partner, equal, assistant, interceder (without Allah’s permission) or protector. In addition, he should also place Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, above all imperfections, such as sleep, exhaustion, fatigue, mortality, ignorance, injustice, absent-mindedness, forgetfulness, prejudice, and so on.

B. The only names and attributes to be ascribed to Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, are those mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah. These are directly communicated to us and are not the products of opinion and interpretation. Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, is to be described only by the attributes with which He had described Himself or with which the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, described Him. He is to be named only by the names with which He had named Himself or with which the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam,named Him. Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, surely knows best about Himself, His names and His attributes. Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, says: “Do you know better, or does Allah, subhana wa ta'ala,?” (al Baqarah:140) As He knows best about Himself, and His messengers were truthful and believed, only telling their people what Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, had revealed to them, then His names and attributes should be derived solely from the Qur’an and Sunnah, Imam Hanbal said: “Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, should only be attributed with those characteristics He described Himself with or was described by the Prophet, His names and attributes should not extend beyond Qur’an and Sunnah.” (ar rawdah an niddiyyah p. 26) Nai’m ibnu Hamaad, Imam Bukhari’s teacher, said: “A person who compares Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, to His creation becomes a disbeliever and a person who denies Allah’s attributes Allah described to Himself, or that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, ascribed to Him has become a disbeliever. None of those attributes bare any likeness or comparison. L” (athaaf al kaainaat p. 6)

C. We are required to believe in these names and attributes WITHOUT INQUIRING AFTER THEIR NATURE AND MANNER OR INVESTIGATING THEIR ESSENCE. Because attributes vary according to the self they characterize, finding out how they manifest themselves depends upon knowing the self and how it acts. As we cannot inquire into the nature of Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, His essence and into how His actions take place, we cannot ask about the manner in which His attributes are manifested. For this reason ,when asked about the manner in which Allah is seated on the throne the Salaf said: “The sitting (istiwa’) is known, the manner is unknown, believing in it is an obligation, and inquiring about it is a heresy.” (ar rawdah an niddiyyah p 29) If someone were to ask: “How does Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, descend to the lower heavens?”, We would reply by asking: “What is His nature?” If the questioner says, “ I do not know Allah’s nature. “, We say: “And we know not how He descends! To determine how an attribute is manifested, we should know the nature of He whose attribute it is: the attribute is but an aspect of its owner, dependent upon Him. How could you expect us to explain the manner in which Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, descends, hears, sees, speaks, or sits upon the Throne, when you do not know what His nature is? If you attest that Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, is a constant, absolute reality, incorporating all the attributes of perfection, dissimilar from any other existing thing or being, you must accept that His hearing, seeing, speaking, descending, sitting and others are perpetual and real, and that He is characterized by the attributes of perfection which are not like the hearing, seeing, speaking, descending and sitting of beings.” (ar rawdah an niddiyyah p.34) Tawheed of names and attributes is damaged by the following:

1. Tashbeeh/ Comparison: This means comparing the attributes of the creator to the attributes of the created as the Christians, Jews and some sects in Islam compare the face of Allah with the human face, Allah’s hand to the human hand and so on. (al asilah wal ajwibah al usuliyyah p. 35)

2. Tahreef/Distortion: This is done through false interpretation or change. For exmple, the change of the wordings of names and attributes, by adding to them, subtracting from them or changing the grammatical constructions, such as the verse “And Allah spoke directly to Moses” (an Nisa:163) where the Arabic word Allah was declined to indicate that Moses spoke to Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, and so by doing negating Allah’s attribute of talking.The safest method to adopt towards this issue is that of the early Salaf. They confirmed the attributes which Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, had confirmed to Himself and which the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, had confirmed to Him, without distorting interpretation nor making comparisons that are unbefitting of the Majesty and Oneness of Allah, subhana wa ta'ala. We attest the attributes mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah such as the face, two hands, the occupation of the Throne, the descent to the lower heaven, anger, pleasure and so on. Without comparing them to human attributes or interpreting them in a way that leads to negating them. Imam Shafi’i said: “I believe i Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, and in what revelation tells about Him, in the manner He intended and I believe in the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, in the manner he intended.” (al asilah wa ajwibah al usuliyyah p. 50)

3. Ta’teel/Negation: This is done by negating divine attributes, and denying their existence in Allah, subhana wa ta'ala. For instance, negating the perfection of Allah by denying His names and attributes, or negating the proper conduct towards Allah by abandoning worship, or barring the created from its creator, such as those who deny the fact that Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, created the universe and claim that it developed and evolved

4. Taykeef: This is done by attempting to determine the manner in which Allah’s attributes take form and also determining their essence. The method of taking names and attributes mentioned in the the Qur’an and Sunnah at face value, without any comparison, change, negation, nor taykeef is the method of the Companions, radi Allahu anhum, their followers and those who followed their followers, may Allah have mercy them to engage in, nor had they tarnished their worship with the innovation and in inquiring after His nature and essence. In those days religion was pure and devoid of all heresy....” (at tuhaf fee madaahibi as salaf p. 7)



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