Abu Nasr ibn al-Qushayri answers the anthropomorphists (MUST READ!)

Imam Abu Nasr ibn al-Qushayri described the method that the anthropomorphists use to lead people to adopt wrong beliefs. He mentioned this in his book at-Tadhkirat ash-Sharqiyyat. Imam Murtada az-Zabidi quotes an excerpt of this book in volume 2 of his own book Ithaf Sadat al-Muttaqin pages 176-177 (last paragraph of page 176, first paragraph  of page 177), where Ibn al-Qushayri says :

Title page of Kitab Ithafou sSadat al-MouttaqinPage 176 of Kitab IthafPage 177 of Kitab Ithaf

A group of people has appeared, and if it were not for the fact that they approach laymen by what is close to their way of thinking and what is imagined in their illusions, I would have honoured this book by avoiding to [even] mention them.

They say: ‘We follow the apparent meaning, and the verses which suggest resemblance [between Allaah and His creations], for example the narrations which suggest a limit and a member [to Allaah], we give them the apparent meaning, and it is not permissible to interpret in another meaning, for any of those issues.‘  They pretend to be following the saying of Allaah ta’aala  وما يعلم تأويله إلا الله (wa ma ya’lamu ta’weelahu ‘illallaah) which means “And only Allaah knows its ta’weel”, and these people, by Allaah, are more harmful to Islam than the Jews, the Christians, the fire-worshippers and the idol-worshippers. Indeed, the deviations of the non-Muslims are obvious, and the Muslims steer clear away from them, whereas these people have launched an attack on the religion and on the laymen in a way which can fool the weakest among them.

They have suggested these bad innovations to their followers, and they have introduced in their hearts the fact of attributing to the one who is worshipped subhaanah: members, senses, ascending, descending, lying down, sitting, as well as moving into the different directions.

Therefore, the one who goes by the apparent meaning, he will start to imagine, with his illusions, things which are perceptible by our senses, and he will then have as a belief unacceptable things, and the tide will take him away without him even realising.

He also says, page 179:

The truth of the matter is that the very people who prohibit others to make interpretations [actually] believe in assimilation, tashbih [i.e. making Allah resemble His creations] but they try to hide it by saying “Allah is attributed with a Yad which is not like other yads, and Allah is attributed with a Qadam but not like other qadams, and Allah is attributed with al-Istiwa’ by Himself, but not like the istiwa’ we can perceive.”

Let the person who is among the people of the truth and who has been granted [proper] understanding say to them: ‘These statements need further clarification. For you to say ‘We take the text according to its apparent meaning, but we cannot understand its meaning’, is contradictory.

If you take the literal meaning of the ayah يوم يكشف عن ساق    ‘Yawma yukshafu ‘an saaq,’ which means: ‘A day when a saq is uncovered” then the literal meaning of  ‘saq’ is the organ which is composed of skin, flesh, nerves, bone and marrow. And if you take this literal meaning, and make it binding upon yourself to accept these other organs, it is therefore blasphemy. And if  it is not possible for you to take this literal meaning, then where is your rule  of taking the apparent meaning (i.e.  how is it that you claim to adhere to the literal meanings?).  Wouldn’t you [actually] leave out the apparent meaning and acknowledge that the Lord ta’aala is free from what is suggested by the apparent meaning? And if the enemy says “These literal interpretations (adh-dhawaahir) do not have a meaning in the first place” then it is as if he is saying that these ayahs are invalid and that there is no benefit in these verses, and this is impossible.

Points to note from this quote:

  • Imam Abu Nasr ibn al-Qushayri died in 514 after the Hijrah, i.e. 900 years ago. He is the son of the renowned imam Abu l-Qasim al-Qushayri who died  in 465 after the Hijrah.  Imam Murtada az-Zabidi, who quotes this statement, is also a great scholar who died in 1205 AH and who wrote Taj al-Arus min Jawahir al-Qamus which is an Arabic dictionary  in twenty volumes and the absolute reference in its genre. The book from which this statement by al-Qushayri is taken is from another one of his famous books entitled Ithaf Sadat al-Muttaqin  and it is a commentary of the book Ihya’u ‘Ulum ad-Din by imam al-Ghazali (who died in 505 AH).
  • Look at how contemporary his sentences sound! He says: ‘these people, by Allaah, are more harmful to Islam than the Jews, the Christians, the fire-worshippers and the idol-worshippers. Indeed, the deviations of the non-Muslims are obvious, and the Muslims steer clear away from them, whereas these people have launched an attack on the religion and on the laymen in a way which can fool the weakest among them.’
  • Also pay attention to  Therefore, the one who goes by the apparent meaning, he will start to imagine, with his illusions, things which are perceptible by our senses, and he will then have as a belief unacceptable things, and the tide will take him away without him even realising.’
  • And finally:  ‘The truth of the matter is that the very people who prohibit others to make interpretations [actually] believe in assimilation, tashbih [i.e. making Allah resemble His creations] but they try to hide it by saying “Allah is attributed with a Yad which is not like other yads, and Allah is attributed with a Qadam but not like other qadams, and Allah is attributed with al-Istiwa’  by Himself, but not like the istiwa’ we can perceive.’
  • It is obvious that the arguments he was refuting at the time are those still in use nowadays by some people. Instead of only saying “We recite the revelation in Arabic and do not add anything to it (which would have been correct), they say: “We take the verses according to their apparent meaning, but we do not know how“, which imam Ibn al-Qushayri rigorously exposed  as a nonsensical statement.
  • Remember that all of this has been said 900 years ago already!

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