Al-Buti’s Recapitulation of the Two Methods part 2 of 2

Al-Buti’s Recapitulation of the Two Methods part 2 of 2


part 2/2

Al-Buti’s Recapitulation of the Two Methods: The Non-Specific ta’wilof the Salaf,the Specific ta’wil of the Khalaf, and the Impermissibilityof Imposing One Over the Other

An illustration of what I just said was given in what Bayhaqi related from al-Khattabi, after the latter cited the hadith of Anas ibn Malik narrated by Bukhari and Muslim:The Gehenna will keep asking: is there more? until the Lord of Might places His qadam (lit. “foot”) in it. Then it will say: Enough! Enough! Then it will gather up its parts together. And there will still remain room in Paradise until Allah gives rise to a creation which he will then place in the remainder of Paradise.After mentioning what has been said about Allah’s qadam and rijl (lit. “leg”) through different chains of transmission Bayhaqi said:Abu Sulayman al-Khattabi said: “It is likely that those who mentioned al-qadam and al-rijl without attributing it to Allah (i.e. by saying: “Allah’s qadam” etc.) did so because of their great fear, and to avoid misinterpretation in the matter. Abu `Ubayd used to say…(8)

Abu Sulaiman said: “The meaning of the qadam here is possibly a reference to those whom Allah has created of old or “sent forth” for the Fire in order to complete the number of its inhabitants. Everything that is “sent forth” is a qadam, in the same way that the verbal noun of demolishing (hadama) is a hadm or ruin, and that of seizing (qabada) is qabd or a seizure. Likewise Allah said: “They have a sure foundation (qadam sidq) with their Lord” (10:2) with reference to the good works which they have sent forth. This explanation has been transmitted to us from al-Hasan al-Basri.

It is supported by the Prophet’s saying in the aforementioned hadith: “As for Paradise, Allah will create for it a special creation.” Both meanings (i.e. respectively pertaining to the Fire and Paradise) are in agreement with the sense that Paradise and hellfire will be provided with an additional number of dwellers to complete their respective numbers, at which point they will be full.(9)

The reader knows that al-Khattabi (d. 386) is one of the Khalaf who is closest to the Salaf and one of the most attached to them. He is one of the most distinguished scholars of mid-fourth century, and you may ponder his just and objective discourses on this topic, in which he combines his appreciation for the Salaf, his respect and acknowledgement for their merit and precedence, together with appreciation for changing times and the cropping up of unexpected situations that require the mujtahid to act appropriately or, as he puts it: “according to the known meanings of the foundations of the Religion and the schools of the scholars.”

His pursuit of what the situation demands “according to the meanings of the foundations of the Religion” shows clearly his agreement with those who shun ta’wil and assert what Allah has asserted about His essence without interpretation nor modality whenever there is evidence to support it and lack of evidence to support interpretation. It also shows his disagreement with them whenever there is strong evidence to prove that the meaning of the word is different from its outward sense, relying in both cases on his scholarly insight.

An example of his position in the first case is his position regarding the numerous confirmed, authentic hadiths of Allah’s “descent.” He says in his book Ma`alim al-sunan: “This is the kind of knowledge in the outward sense which we have been commanded to believe without attempting to uncover its inner meaning, and it belongs to the mutashabih that Allah has mentioned in His book.”(10)

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