The Uncreatedness of the Divine Speech- The Glorious Qur’an

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

Al-Hamdulillah for the favor of Islam and the honor of right Belief. May Allah bless and salute our Master Muhammad and his Family and Companions.

This article sums up the doctrine of the massive majority of the Muslims, namely the People of the Sunna and the Congregation, concerning the pre-existent, pre-eternal, beginningless, and uncreated nature of the Divine Speech Allah Most High has named al-Qur’an, as held by the Salaf al-Salihun and as formulated by the two Masters, Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari and Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and their respective schools.

The position of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a differs fundamentally on this matter with that of the rest of the Muslim sects, especially with that of the now defunct Mu`tazila. The position of the Shi`a is indentical with that of the Mu`tazila, who denied not only the Pre-existent status of the Divine Speech, but of all the Divine Attributes for they considered that they are the same as the Essence.

Ahl al-Sunna agree one and all that the Qur’an is the pre-existent, pre-eternal, uncreated Speech of Allah Most High on the evidence of the Qur’an, the Sunna, and faith-guided reason.

In a rare instance of classic kalâm reasoning, Imam Malik gave the most succinct statement of this doctrine:

“The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, the Speech of Allah comes from Him, and nothing created comes from Allah Most High.”[1]

Hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir said in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari:

“The Mu`tazila said: ‘the Speech of Allah Most High is created, invented, and brought into being.’ The Hashwiyya, who attribute a body to Allah the Exalted, said: ‘The alphabetical characters (al-hurûf al-muqatta`a), the materials on which they are written, the colors in which they are written, and all that is between the two covers [of the volumes of Qur’an] is beginning-less and pre-existent (qadîma azaliyya). Al-Ash`ari took a middle road between them and said: The Qur’an is the beginning-less speech of Allah Most High unchanged, uncreated, not of recent origin in time, nor brought into being. As for the alphabetical characters, the materials, the colors, the voices, the elements that are subject to limitations (al-mahdûdât), and all that is subject to modality (al-mukayyafât) in the world: all this is created, originated, and produced.”[2]

Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi said in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat with a sound chain:

“Something Ibn Shaddad had written was handed to Abu Bakr al-Marwazi which containing the phrase: “My pronunciation of the Qur’an is uncreated” and the latter was asked to show it to Ahmad ibn Hanbal for corroboration. The latter crossed out the phrase and wrote instead: “The Qur’an, however used (haythu yusraf), is uncreated.”[3]

“In another sound narration, Abu Bakr al-Marwazi, Abu Muhammad Fawran [or Fawzan], and Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal witnessed Ahmad rebuking one of his students named Abu Talib with the words: “Are you telling people that I said: `My pronunciation of the Qur’an is uncreated’?” Abu Talib replied: “I only said this from my own.” Ahmad said: “Do not say this – neither from me, nor from you! I never heard any person of knowledge say it. The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah uncreated, whichever way it is used.” Salih said to Abu Talib: “If you told people what you said, now go and tell the same people that Abu `Abd Allah [Imam Ahmad] forbade to say it.””[4]

The Proof of Islam and Renewer of the Fifth Hijri Century, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali said in his “Foundations of Islamic Belief” (Qawa`id al-`Aqa’id) published in his Rasa’il and his Ihya’ `Ulum al-Dinand partially translated in Shaykh Nuh Keller’s Reliance of the Traveller and by Mrs. Ahmad Darwish on the Mosque of the Internet:

“The Qur’an is read by tongues, written in books, and remembered in the heart, yet it is, nevertheless, uncreated and without beginning, subsisting in the Essence of Allah, not subject to division and or separation through its transmission to the heart and paper. Musa – upon him peace – heard the Speech of Allah without sound and without letter, just as the righteous see the Essence of Allah Most High in the Hereafter, without substance or its quality.”

And Imam al-Tahawi said of the Qur’an in his “Creed of Abu Hanifa and his Companions”: “It is not created like the speech of creatures.”

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was detained and lashed for twenty-eight months for refusing to say that the Qur’an was created. In his stand for the sake of the pure and undefiled Religion he was compared to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq’s unwavering stand with regard to the Arabian tribes who committed apostasy after the Prophet – Allah bless and greet him and his Family – left this life. May Allah be well-pleased with them and make them pleased.

Someone on the SRI forum mentioned the following syllogism:

“Allah says that He is the creator of every thing. The Qur’an is a thing. Therefore the Qur’an Is created. . . If you want to prove that the Qur’an is uncreated you will first have to prove that the Qur’an is not a thing. Can you do that? No.”

But elsewhere in the thread the same person states:

“So Allah is called a thing in the Qur’an.”

Therefore he admits that there is an exception to the false reasoning stated above, but in a separate place than where he brought it up.

He also stated his denial of the reality and pre-eternity of the Divine Attributes, subsuming them into the Essence:

“Coming back to the main point. If someone believes that anything is eternal other than God (existed from ever) he/she has committed shirk; made a partner with God.”

Yet elsewhere he affirms one such attribute. Meaning, not according to his rule that the attribute IS God, but predicating the attribute to God as a distinct reality in contradiction of his former denial, committing shirk by his own principle:

“[…] Truth is an attribute of God.”

Then he immediately annuls the reality of the attribute he just mentioned:

“Other than God both Truth and Evil don’t really independently exist.”

So then
(1)  according to him Allah categorically created all things and both the Qur’an is a thing and Allah is a thing; and
(2) according to him  it is shirk to hold anything to be eternal other than God, even an Attribute of His such as Truth; for
(3) according to him  such attributes, anyway, “don’t really independently exist.”

Of course he extirpates himself by adding “There is nothing like unto Him”. So he has shown that there is at least One Exception  Subhan Allah!  to his supposed axiom, and he found that exception stated in the Qur’an. He himself has shown that it can be misleading  and horrendously so to cite certain verses in isolation of others in the matter.

But he claims that it is apostasy to make more than this single exception:

“Yet you are making TWO exceptions. This is against the creed of Pure Islam. If you make more than ONE exception what prevents you from making Three, four or more exceptions?”

However, we Sunnis hold there are as many exceptions to the phrase “Allah has created everything” as there are Divine Attributes, and that to speak of any of His Attributes as created, is kufr.

The `Aqida of the People of Truth is:

sifaatu-l-Laahi laysat `ayna dhaatin The Attributes of Allah are neither the very Essence,

wa laa ghayran siwaahu dha-nfisaali nor other than Himself, nor separate.

sifaatu-dh-Dhaati wa-l-af`aali turran And all the Attributes of the Essence and of the Acts

qadiimaatun masuunaatu-z-zawaali are pre-existent and without end.

[From the poem Bad’ al-Amali by the Maturidi master, Siraj al-Din `Ali ibn `Uthman al-Ushi (d. 569).]

Another argument the objector brings forth is:

“The Qur’an is created. The Qur’an is refers to itself as Muhdath in verses 21:2 and 26:5”

And this is an outright lie, for the Qur’an refers to “a new/fresh reminder” (dhikr) in the indefinite in both verses, not “to itself” as falsely claimed. This would have been immediately noticeable if he had only cited the translations that he pretended to adduce.

He also made false claims based on his deficient knowledge of the Qur’an:

“The Qur’an says that it is From/By the Knowledge of God but it doesn’t say that it IS the Knowledge of God therefore even this view is non-Qur’anic and it is a belief withoutburhaan which Allah has not given any Sultaan or permission to believe in.”

This is false, the Qur’an most explicitly states “wa ma-khtalafa ahlu-l-kitaabi illaa min ba`di maa jaa’ahum AL-`ILM”  – “…Nor did the People of the Book dissent therefrom except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them…” (3:19) and “fa man hajjaka min ba`di ma jaa’aka MIN AL-`ILM – “…If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: “Come!…” (3:61) among other verses equating Divine Revelation with “The Knowledge”. This was pointed out by Imam Ahmad in many places, notably his first reply to the Devils who interrogated him on the issue, as cited below. So to believe that the Qur’an is the Speech of Allah and there is no disagreement over this from the Shi`is is to believe that it is the Knowledge of Allah, though not necessarily all His Knowledge.

The objector also said some more enormities about the Qur’an and the Heavenly Books:

“The Qur’an is applicable only from the time of the Prophet until the end of time. It is applicable in places humans can live. If the truth was otherwise then there would be no need for the Taurah, Zaboor and Injeel. If the truth was otherwise the Qur’an should have come down with Adam but it didn’t.”

The truth is, as Allah is my witness and yours, that the Qur’an is the uncreated Speech of Allah to the worlds in which He mentions the taking of the Covenant from all the Prophets and their Communities and the all-encompassing witness of the Seal of Prophets over them; that the Torah is the uncreated Speech of Allah; the Zabur is the uncreated Speech of Allah; and the Injil is the uncreated Speech of Allah. And the Heavenly Books shall surely stand witness for or against all those who wrote in this thread on the Day of Judgment.

How well Imam al-Shafi`i spoke when he said:

“My ruling concerning the practitioners of kalâm is that they be flogged, then seated upon a camel and paraded among the clans and the tribes while a herald proclaims: ‘This is the reward of those who abandon the Book and the Sunna in order to take up kalâm!’” I.e. to take up false reasonings and speculations in the guise of defending the Book and the Sunna instead of sticking faithfully to the latter. He also said: “Every mutakallim according to the Qur’an and Sunna possesses diligence, while every other type is delirious.”

It was correctly mentioned that al-Shafi`i declared to a man who spoke of the Qur’an as created: “You have just committed disbelief.” The man in question was the Mu`tazili-turned-Jabri, Hafs al-Fard of Basra. It is established that al-Shafi`i entered into kalâm disputations with this Hafs over the issue of the creation of the Qur’an until he declared Hafs a disbeliever, and he used to nickname him “Hafs the Isolated” – Hafs al-Munfarid – as a word-play on his name of Fard. Hafs had tried unsuccessfully to make `Abd Allah ibn `Abd al-Hakim and Yusuf ibn `Amr ibn Yazid debate him before al-Shafi`i accepted – and defeated him.[5]

The objector also stated about his supposed method:

“I don’t want to hear the opinions of Malik or Buyuti. Tell me what the Qur’an says. Tell me what the Messenger of Allah said (saw).”

It seems he thinks he is stating what the Qur’an says and rejecting imitation; but he actually misunderstands the Qur’an in pure imitation – unwittingly or not – of the enemies of the Qur’an. For he has used two of the exact same weak arguments used against Imam Ahmad and the other Mountains of Islam by the underlings of Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s sons al-Ma’mun the scholar (198-218) and the near-analphabet al-Mu`tasim (218-227), and the latter’s profligate son al-Wathiq (227-232), abetted by his Mu`tazili vizier Ibn Abi Du’ad and a certain Barghuth [“Gnat”] al-Jahmi.

He states: I don’t want to hear the opinions of Malik or Buwayti. But Malik or Buwayti’s juridical and doctrinal stands are based on a Mujtahid Mutlaq’s understanding of the Qur’an and Sunna. Whereas that person’s use of the English meanings of the Qur’an on the Internet – Ma Sha’ Allah – is that of a layman, or less. So we have a choice between following the Imams, or following at best a layman. How do ye judge?

Mujtahid Mutlaq = Qualified for absolute independent juridical exertion i.e. to apply legal reasoning, draw analogies, and infer rulings from the evidence independently of the methodology and findings of the Sunni schools, through his own linguistic and juridical perspicuity and extensive knowledge of the texts.

Allah have mercy on al-Buwayti and give him the highest ranks in Paradise! He died in 231 in jail, bound in chains in Iraq for refusing to say that the Qur’an was created. May Allah have mercy on him and on all the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna and give them the merits of their detractors.

Yes, a Nobody can quote Qur’an, just like Imams Ahmad and al-Buwayti can quote it. However, the understanding of the Mujtahid Mutlaq compared to that of the Nobody is like the soaring eagle compared to a one-day gnat, although both can be said to fly.

I must also say that his protestation against the opinions of the scholars is a hollow one coming from a Shi`i, for Shi`is are notorious for their slavish imitation of their Imams’ opinion, not bothering even to check the validity of transmission of a given opinion to a purported authority. That is why he is able to reject the Sunni doctrine of Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq in this matter even as he claims, “Our beliefs are based on what the 12 Imams of the Ahlul-bayt taught and endorsed as authentic Islam.”

Yes, in addition, somewhere in the thread, he himself happily quotes from Imam Ja`far ibn Muhammad (al-Sadiq) to make a point! Then he declaims: “Why can’t you base your argument on the Qur’an, Sunnah and Reason. Why must you bring the opinion of someone in the 10th century as a support?”

So we are to put forward a Duodecimal Shi`i’s partial understanding of the Qur’an, biased abuse of the Sunna, and deficient reasoning before exemplars of the Qur’an and Sunna such as the Mujtahid Imams and Awliya’ except, of course, when we mean a Twelver-Imam? – Although, to top the irony, Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq is authentically reported to hold that the Qur’an is uncreated, as indicated by Brother Ismaeel; here is the report:

Al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat narrated with his chain from Ja`far ibn Muhammad, from his father, from `Ali ibn al-Husayn who said: “The Qur’an is neither creator nor created, but it is the Speech of the Creator.”[6]

The objector claims to stick fast to the Qur’an, but his likes reject and belie the Qur’an when it praises the First and Foremost of the Muhajirun and Ansar! And he claims to stick to the Sunna when his likes pick and choose among the most authentic narrations what they want and reject what they want according to their lusts; rejecting Sayyidina `Ali’s affirmation of wiping (mash) on the khuff, and his confirmation of the cancellation of mut`a to name but two fundamental examples – both reports as sound and clear as the sun, and the first one is mutawatir.

He stated concerning the noble Sahaba:

“did all the Sahaba enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong? No.”

It must be understood that in reality this is an attack upon the Lord of the worlds, as if reproaching him for choosing unworthy Companions for the Seal of His Prophets! wallahu al-musta`an. And did the Prophet (s) make any distinctions when praying for his Companions when he said: “O Allah! have mercy on the Ansar and the Muhajirin!” the day they were digging the Trench before the battle of the Clans? Undoubtedly, such phrases as “did all the Sahaba enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong? No.” shall come as millstones around the neck of their speakers on the Day of Judgment, when they shall be facing the Sahaba – and the Prophet (s) – in shame. And Allah Most High might ask them: What business did you have reviling the men and women I chose as Companions for My Most Beloved, Most Respected, Most Praised Servant??

Hear now the ironclad responses given to the Shayatin who were torturing him, given by the Imam of the Sunna as narrated by his son Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal[7]:

Questioner: What do you say about the Qur’an?
Ahmad: And you, what do you say about the Knowledge of Allah Most High?
Another questioner: Did not Allah say: “Allah is the Creator of all things” (13:16), and is not the Qur’an a thing?
Ahmad: Allah also said: “Destroying all things” (46:25), then it destroyed all except whatever Allah willed.
Another questioner: “Never comes there unto them a new reminder from their Lord” (21:2). Can something new be anything but created? Ahmad: Allah said: “Sâd. By the Qur’an that contains the Reminder” (38:1). “The” reminder is the Qur’an, while the other verse does not say “the”.
Another questioner: But the hadith of `Imran ibn Husayn states: “Allah created the Reminder.”
Ahmad: That is not correct, several narrated it to us as: “Allah wrote the Reminder.”[8]
They cited the hadith of Ibn Mas`ud: “Allah Most High did not create a garden of Paradise nor a fire of Hell nor a heaven nor an earth more tremendous (a`zam) than the verse of the Throne (2:255).”[9]
Ahmad: The creating here applies to the garden, the fire, the heaven, and the earth. It does not apply to the Qur’an.
Another questioner: The narration of Khabbab states: “I admonish you to approach Allah with all that you can; but you can never approach Him with something dearer to Him than His speech.”[10]
Ahmad: And that is true.

For the sake of completion on this topic I will append the additional proofs already cited by Cbun in message <8o2mle$d2l$>, with slightly modified spelling and style:

Allah says, “Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is!” – Yaseen 82

Ibn `Uyayna explains, “Allah has differentiated his Creation from his Command. His command is “Be” (Kun).”

Allah says, “Verily! Our Word unto a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: “Be!” and it is.” – Surah An-Nahl 40

Shaykh `Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (Rahimahullah),*[11] explaining that the word of Allah is not created says, “Allah (subhanahu Wa ta’ala) said, “Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the Command”; (Allah) has differentiated his Creation from his Command, If His Command which is “Be” (Kun) that He creates His creation (with) is created it would be a repetition that has no benefit – as if He (Allah) said ‘Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the creation’; Allah (subhanahu Wa ta’ala) is far removed from doing such a thing.”[12]

[1]Narrated by al-Dhahabi in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala’ (Dar al-Fikr ed. 7:416).
[2]Hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (Dar al-Jil ed. p. 150-151)
[3]al-Bayhaqi, al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (al-Kawthari ed. p. 265; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18)
[4]al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (al-Kawthari ed. p. 265; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18)
[5]See on this: Ibn `Asakir, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (1404 ed. p. 338-340) and al-Lalika’i, Sharh Usul I`tiqad Ahl al-Sunna (2:252-253).
[6]Al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (chapters on the Divine Attribute of Speech, al-Hashidi ed. 1:600 #534) narrated with his chain [“isnaduhu hasan”]. I remember reading the report in Qadi `Iyad’s al-Shifa’ as well.
[7]in al-Dhahabi’s Siyar (9:478) and Ibn al-Subki’s Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra (2:46-47).
[8]Al-Bukhari, Sahih, book of the Beginning of Creation: “Allah was when there was nothing else than Him, and His Throne was upon the water, and He wrote in the Reminder (al-dhikr) all things, and He created the heavens and the earth.”
[9]Narrated by Sa`id ibn Mansur, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn al-Daris, al-Tabarani, al-Harawi in his Fada’il, and al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman, as stated by al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur. Al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan mentions Sufyan ibn `Uyayna’s explanation whereby this is because the garden, the fire, etc. are all created as opposed to the Qur’an.
[10]Narrated by al-Hakim (2:441) who declared it sound – al-Dhahabi concurred – and by al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat with two sound chains (1:587-588 #513-514).
[11]I have replaced Rahmatullahi `alayh with Rahimahullah, for I heard my Shaykh say that the former is used for the `Awamm – the general public of the Muslims – while the latter is used for the Khawass – the elite.
[12]From the book `Abd al-Qadir Jilani, Al-Ghunya li-Talibiy Tariq al-Haqq, volume 1 page 59.

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