Method of the True Salaf Regarding Ambiguities

The explanation of the word in other verses confirms the above meanings. The scholars have pointed out that al-yad among the Arabs also signifies strength (al-quwwa). The verse “We have built the heaven with (Our) hands” (51:47) is cited in al-Hafiz al-Zabidi’s massive dictionary of Arabic “Taj al-`Arus” (10:417) as an illustration that “hands” may mean “strength.” Allah says: “And make mention of our bondmen, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men of parts (literally of two hands) and vision” (38:45) meaning, “men possessing strength.” It also means ownership (al-mulk) as Allah said: “Lo! the bounty is in Allah’s hand” (3:73). It also means favor, as it is said: “So-and-so has a hand over so-and-so,” to mean that he owes him a favor. It also means a kind of link, as Allah said: “Or he agrees to forego it in whose hand is the marriage tie” (2:237).

As Nawawi said in the passage already quoted from his commentary on Muslim, many of the Salaf also applied such figurative interpretation (ta’wil) of Allah’s “Hand,” as shown from the explanation of aydin (Hands) as meaning “strength” in the verse:

“We have built the heaven with (Our) hands” (51:47) Ibn Jarir al-Tabari said in his Tafsir: Ibn `Abbas said: “It means: with strength.” He reports an identical position from Mujahid, Qatada, Mansur, Ibn Zayd, and Sufyan al-Thawri.1 This is also Imam al-Ash`ari’s explanation according to Ibn Furak in the latter’s recension of Ash`ari’s school.2

These interpretations are all acceptable and they do not imply the slightest denial of any of Allah’s Attributes on which there is consensus. We should nevertheless obligatorily believe that the word yad (hand) does not mean an organ as we know it, in accordance with the verse already cited: “There is nothing like Him whatsoever” (42:11) and that the word yad does not imply a resemblance to creatures.

As for the Prophet’s saying: “The Black Stone is Allah’s right hand,” if it is established as true, then the mind witnesses that Allah is not spatially confined anywhere and is not divisible; and the senses witness that the Black Stone is not literally the right hand of Allah, rather, that it consists in prosperity and blessing.3 Yet we see the excesses of the anthropomorphists at work here also: Ibn Rajab relates in Dhayl tabaqat al-hanabila that Ibn al-Fa’us al-Hanbali gave the hadith a literal meaning: “He used to say: The Black Stone is Allah’s Right Hand literally (haqiqatan).”4 Ash`ari’s biographer Abu Bakr ibn Furak writes that he embarked on a study of kalam (theology) because of this hadith according to Subki in Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya.5

1 Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tafsir 7:27.

2 Abu Bakr ibn Furak, Mujarrad Maqalat al-Ash`ari (Beirut, 1987) p. 44.

3 This hadith on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and others is related by Ibn Abi `Umar al-Ma`dani in his Musnad, Tabarani, Suyuti in his Jami` al-saghir 1:516 (#3804-3805), Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq 15:90, 92, and others. It is considered da`if (weak) by Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn `Adi, and Albani. Ibn Qutayba in Gharib al-hadith (3:107(1)) says that it is a saying of Ibn `Abbas.

4 Ibn Rajab, Dhayl tabaqat al-hanabila 7:174-175.

5 al-Subki, Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya 3:53.

Reproduced with permission from Shaykh M. Hisham Kabbani’s _The Repudiation of “Salafi” Innovations_ (Kazi, 1996) p. 108-112

Blessings and Peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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