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The Tawḥīd of the Prophets and Messengers

Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Expounding the message of the Messengers, from the first of them which is Nūḥ (ʿalayhi al-Salām), to the last of them, Muḥammad (ﷺ); all of them called to Tawḥīd.

We would like to explain that the message of the Messengers, from the first of them which is Nūḥ (ʿalayhi al-Salām), to the last of them which is Muḥammad (ﷺ); all of them called to Tawḥīd.  Allāh the Exalted said:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ ‎﴿٢٥﴾

“And We have not sent before you any Messenger, except that We revealed to him that there is no deity worthy of worship except Me, so worship Me.”
[al-Anbiyāʾ, 21:25]

And Allāh the Exalted said:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ﴿٣٦﴾

“And indeed We sent to every nation a messenger saying: Worship Allāh, and leave off the false deities.”
[al-Naḥl, 16:36]

That is to say that the creation was created by One, and He is Allāh the Mighty and Majestic.  He created them for His worship, and to attach their hearts to it, and for His deification (taʿaaliha) and exaltation (taʿdtheem) and fear (khawf) and hope (rajaaʾ) and trust (tawakkul) and fervent desire (raghbah), and dread (rahbah); until one withdraws from everything related to the worldly life, not preferring them over the Tawḥīd of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic in any of these affairs. So because you are part of the creation, then it is inevitable that you refer to your Creator, in heart and soul, and in everything.  Due to this, the call (daʿwah) of the Messengers (ʿalayhimus-salām) was to the magnificently important matter of the worship of Allāh alone, without any partners.

It is not possible that Allāh the Mighty and Majestic sent the Messengers to mankind to call to Tawḥīd al-Rubūbiyyah only, but to Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah also. That is because those who denied Tawḥīd al-Rubūbiyyah were very few; to the extent that those who denied it did not feel this denial to be possible in the depths of their hearts, except that their intellects knew of it, and recognized it, but they rejected it due to pride.

Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Indeed, the scholars have divided Tawḥīd into three categories:

1. Tawḥīd  al-Rubūbiyya

This is the singling out of Allāh in three matters: in creation (khalq), and mastership (malak), and management (tadbeer).  The proof for that is the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

أَلَا لَهُ الْخَلْقُ وَالْأَمْرُ ۗ﴿٥٤﴾‏

“Indeed, His is the creation and the command.”
[al-Aʿrāf, 7:54]

There is a proof found in this āyah in that its predicate proceeds the One who is entitled to delay.  And the principle of literary composition is that beginning the nominal clause with that which is supposed to come after.  The principle of literary composition (balághah) is that beginning with that which deserves to be delayed implies absolute restriction. Then reflect upon the introductory term in this āyah, ʾalá (Indeed) which implies extra notice and special emphasis.  “Indeed, His is the creation and the command.”  So it is not for anyone other than Him, so this creation and the command is supreme management (tadbeer).

As for absolute domination (al-malak), then the proof for it resembles the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ﴿٢٧﴾‏

“And for Allāh is the absolute domination of the heavens and the earth.”
[al-Jāthiyah, 45:27]

So verily this proves that Allāh the Glorified and Exalted alone has the right of absolute domination, and just like the last āyah, this one also begins with that which deserves delay.  So therefore, the Lord – the Mighty and Majestic – is to be singled out alone with the qualities of creation (al-khalq), absolute domination (al-malak) and supreme management (tadbeer).  So if you say: How do you reconcile between what you have just mentioned, and the fact that the ability of creation is found amongst other than Allāh?  Take for example the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ‎﴿١٤﴾‏

“So blessed is Allāh, the best of creators.”
[al-Muʿminūn, 23:14]

And similar to this is what is found in the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ) in regards to the picture-makers: “It shall be said to them: Bring to life whatever you have created.” 2 And similar to this is the statement of Allāh the Exalted in the ḥadīth qudsee: “And who is more oppressive than the one who resorts to creating the likeness of My creation?” 3 So how do you reconcile between your statement that Allāh is alone in His creating and between what these texts stipulate?

So the answer it to say: that the creation has been created out of nothing, and this is something specific for Allāh the Exalted.  As for altering something to another form, then this is not truly creating, even if it is called ‘created’ with the expression of organization.  However, in reality, this is not a total creation.  So for example, this carpenter makes a door out of wood, so it is said: he created a door.  However, this product was fashioned from that which was created by Allāh the Mighty and Majestic.  It is not possible for the people, whatever level of capability they may have reached, to create the branch of a tree, nor to create an atom, nor to create a fly.  Listen to the statement of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَن يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَابًا وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ ۖ وَإِن يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئًا لَّا يَسْتَنقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ۚ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ ‎﴿٧٣﴾‏

“O people!  An example is presented, so listen to it.  Verily those whom you call upon besides Allāh will never create as much as a fly, even if they gathered together for it.  And if the fly should steal something from them, they could not recover it from him.  Weak are the pursuer and the pursued.”
[al-Ḥajj, 22:73]

“…those whom…” This is a comprehensive term covering everything that is called upon besides Allāh from trees, rocks, human beings, kings and other than them.  Everything that is called upon besides Allāh “will never create as much as a fly, even if they gather together for it.”  And if everyone is singled out by that, then their weakness will be singled out by that, “if the fly steals something from them, they could not recover it from him.”  So if a fly steals something from those who are called upon besides Allāh, they are not capable of recovering it from this weak fly.  If a fly comes across the most powerful king in the world and takes a sip from his drink, it is not possible for the king to take out his drink from this fly.  Likewise, if it comes across his food.  So therefore, Allāh the Mighty and Majestic alone is the creator.

So if you say: how do you reconcile between your statement that Allāh is alone in Kingship (malak), 4 and the affirmation of kingship for the creation?  For example, Allāh the Exalted said:

أَوْ مَا مَلَكْتُم مَّفَاتِحَهُ ﴿٦١﴾‏

“Or those whose keys you possess (malak).”
[al-Nūr, 24:61]

إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ ﴿٦﴾

“Except from their wives, or those whom their right hands possess (malak).”
[al-Muʿminūn، 23:6]

So the answer is that they can be reconciled from two angles:

Firstly, the sovereignty (malak) of men over something is not complete and comprehensive. So I have sovereignty of that which is in my possession, but I do not have sovereignty of that which is in your possession.  So Allāh the Mighty and Majestic is sovereign over everything. So everything is included under the sovereignty of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic in its entirety.

Secondly, my mastery over this thing is not true mastery where I can do with it whatever I wish.  I can only do with it that which I have been commanded to by the Sharīʿah.  So the true Master is Allāh the Mighty and Majestic. If I exchange one dirham for two dirhams, I do not have the authority (malak) to do that, nor is that lawful for me. So therefore, my mastery (malak) is deficient.  Also, I do not have mastery over anything in terms of full capability to do to it what I please, because such a capability (qudrah) is (only) for Allāh.  So it is not possible for me to say to my ill servant: ‘Be cured,’ so he becomes cured.  And it is not possible for me to say to my healthy servant: ‘Be ill,’ so he becomes ill. Rather, the true ability to change things is for Allāh the Mighty and Majestic.  So if He says to him: ‘Be cured,’ he will be cured, and if He says to him: ‘Be ill,’ he will be ill.  So therefore, I do not have the ability to change the affairs absolutely, neither in terms of the Sharīʿah, nor in terms of ability.  So my mastery (malak) here is deficient in terms of being able to change things, and it is deficient in terms of being able to change things, and it is deficient in terms of being universal and all-encompassing.  So with that, it becomes clear to us how Allāh the Mighty and Majestic his to be singled out in His Mastery (malak).  My power of tadbeer does not cover everything, I have the power of tadbeer over that which is under my authority and possession.  Likewise, my power of tadbeer only does not occur, except upon that which is in conformity to what the Sharīʿah have made permissible for me in this tadbeer.  So from this muʿmīnt, it becomes clear that our statement that ‘Allāh the Mighty and Majestic is to be singled out alone in khalaq (creation), malak (absolute domination), and tadbeer (supreme management),’ is fully absolute and eternal.  There is nothing excluded from that because everything that we have mentioned does not contradict what has been affirmed from that.

11. Tawḥīd  al-ʾUlūhiyyah

This is the singling out of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic in worship, so as not to become a servant to other than Allāh.  No king is to be worshipped, nor any Prophet, nor any saint, nor any scholar, nor a mother, nor a father; no one is to be worshipped except Allāh alone.  So Allāh the Mighty and Majestic alone is to be singled out in deification and worship, and due to this it is called, Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah (the oneness of Allāh in deification), or it is named, Tawḥīd al-ʿĪbādah (the oneness of Allāh in worship).  So by expressing it in connection to Allāh, it becomes Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah, and by expressing it in connection to the worshipper, it becomes Tawḥīd al-ʿĪbādah.  So worship is built upon two great matters, they are love (maḥabbah) and exaltation (taʿdhīm), the result of them is:

إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَيَدْعُونَنَا رَغَبًا وَرَهَبًا ۖ ‎﴿٩٠﴾‏

“Verily they used to hasten towards good deeds, and they used to supplicate to Us in hope (raghbah) and fear (rahbah).”
[al-Anbiyāʾ, 21:90]

So maḥabbah (love) can be raghbah (hope), and exaltation (taʿdhīm) can be dread (rahbah) and fear (khawf).  Due to this, worship consists of commands and prohibitions: the commands are built upon hope and seeking to reach the Commander; the prohibitions and are built upon exaltation and dread of this Magnificent One.

So if I love Allāh the Mighty and Majestic, I hope in what is with Him, and I hope to reach Him, and I seek the path that will get me to Him, and I obey His instructions completely.  When I exalt Him, I come to fear Him, and I decide to obey Him, I become cognizant of the Magnificence of the Creator, the Mighty and Majestic, so I avoid disobedience.

لَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ ﴿٢٤﴾‏

“Indeed, she was determined to seduce him, and he would have been inclined to her, had he not seen the proof of his Lord.  That was how We averted evil and immorality from him.”
[Yūsuf, 12:24]

So this is from the favour of Allāh upon you, that when you resolve to become involved in disobedience, you will find Allāh in front of you.  So you wake up and you become fearful, and you distance yourself from disobedience, because you worship Allāh with hope and fear.

So what is the meaning of al-ʿĪbādah?  Worship is applicable to two matters: to the action, and the one for whom the action is done.  It is applied to the action that is a form of worship (taʿabbud), so it is said: The man worshipped his Lord with ’ʿibādah and taʿabbud and we use ‘taʿabbud’ by way of using the verbal noun upon the infinitive.  And we know that by expressing its application upon the action, it refers to: Being subservient to Allāh the Mighty and Majestic in love and exaltation, by acting upon His commands, and avoiding His prohibitions.  Whoever is subservient to Allāh, is honoured by Allāh.

وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ ‎﴿٨﴾‏

“And the honour is for Allāh and His Messenger.”
[al-Munāfiqūn, 63:8]

And the definition (of worship) is applied to the object of it, that is: the one who is worshipped by it.  It is with this meaning that we come to know that Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah came to know when he said: “Worship (al-ʿibādah) is a collective noun comprising of everything that Allāh loves and is pleased with from statements and actions, outward or inward.” 5 So it is obligatory that this thing that we worship Allāh with be made for Allāh alone, and that it is not to be directed to other than Him, such as Prayer, fasting, zakāt (alms), Pilgrimage, supplication, vows, fear and trust and other than these from the acts of worship.

So if you say: What are the proofs that Allāh is to be singled out with Ulūhiyyah?  So the answer is that there are many proofs, from them is the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ ‎﴿٢٥﴾

“And We did not send a messenger before you, except that We revealed to him that there is no deity worthy of worship, except Me, so worship Me.”
[al-Anbiyāʾ, 21:25]

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ ۖ

“And indeed We sent to every nation a messenger saying: Worship Allāh and avoid the false deities.”
[al-Naḥl, 16:36]

And there is also the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ ‎﴿١٨﴾‏

“Allāh bears witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him, and so do the Angels and the People of Knowledge.”
[Ālī ʿImrān, 3:18]

So this is a clear proof that there is no deity worthy of worship besides Allāh the Mighty and Majestic.  I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship besides Allāh, and you must testify that there is no deity worthy of worship besides Allāh.  This is the true testification.  If a person says: How do you reconcile this with the fact that Allāh affirms other deities besides Himself, as is found in the statement of Allāh the Exalted:

وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ ۘ ﴿٨٨﴾‏

“And do not call upon other deities along with Allāh.”
[al-Qaṣaṣ 4:88]

And like the statement of Allāh:

وَمَن يَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ لَا بُرْهَانَ لَهُ بِهِ ﴿١١٧﴾

“Whoever calls upon another deity along with Allāh, he has no proof for it.”
[al-Muʿminūn, 23:117]

And like the statement of Allāh:

فَمَا أَغْنَتْ عَنْهُمْ آلِهَتُهُمُ الَّتِي يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ‎﴿١٠١﴾

“And they were not availed at all by their deities which they called upon besides Allāh.”
[Hūd, 11:101]

And like the statement of Ibrāhīm:

أَئِفْكًا آلِهَةً دُونَ اللَّهِ تُرِيدُونَ ‎﴿٨٦﴾

“Do you desire falsehood as gods besides Allāh?”
[al-Ṣāffāt, 37:86]

And there are other āyāt, so how do you reconcile between this and the testification that there is no deity worthy of worship besides Allāh?  So the answer is that ʿulūhiyyah for anyone other than Allāh is an ʿulūhiyyah of falsehood, it exists in name only.

إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ ۚ ‎﴿٢٣﴾

“These are not but mere names you have named them with – you and your forefathers – for which Allāh has sent down no authority.”
[al-Najm, 53:23]

So the deification of these deities is falsehood and they are only worshipped and deified by those who are ignorant.  So they are not true deities, but they are still worshipped, so they become deities that are worshipped, but they are still deities of falsehood.

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ الْبَاطِلُ ‎﴿٣٠﴾

“That is because Allāh is the truth, and those whom you call upon besides Allāh are falsehood.”
[Luqmān 31:30]

So these are two categories from the categories of Tawḥīd, which no one from amongst the people of the Qiblah who ascribes himself to Islām rejects, nor opposes.  However, there have come out from amongst the people who call for the deification of a human being, such as the extremist Rāfidah for example.  They say that ʿAlī (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) is a deity; as their ringleader – ʿAbdullāh Ibn Sabaʾ – claimed when he came to ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib, and he said to him: ‘You are Allāh in truth!’  However, ʿAbdullāh Ibn Sabaʾ was originally a Jew who entered into the Religion of Islām in order to call to the following (tasheeʿ) of the Ahlul-Bayt (the Family of the Prophet), so as to mislead the people of Islām from their Religion.  Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah (d.728H) said: “This is just like what Paul fabricated when he entered into the Religion of Christianity in order to corrupt the Religion of the Christians.” 6 This man, ʿAbdullāh Ibn Saba‘ said to ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu): ‘You are Allāh in truth,’ and ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib was not pleased that anyone should raise him above his status, to the extent that ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib, due to his equity, justice, knowledge and well-acquainted, used to say in his sermons: “The best of this Ummah after its Prophet is Abū Bakr, then ʿUmar.” 7 He used to make this statement publicly in the Friday sermons. Indeed, this has been related concurrently (tawātur) from him, and how can one says this and affirms that his family is from the human race, be pleased that it be said to him: Verily you are Allāh?!  So due to this, they were censured with the severest censure. He commanded that trenches be dug, so they were dug, then they were filled with wood and it was ignited. Then he came to the people and threw them into the fire and burned them in it because their falsehood was great and not insignificant, and refuge is sought with Allāh.  And it is said that ʿAbdullāh Ibn Saba‘ escaped and was not captured. The important thing is that ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) burned the Saba‘iyyah in the fire because they called upon him in ʿulūhiyyah.

So we say: Whosoever is from amongst the people of the Qiblah, he does not deny these two categories of Tawḥīd; and they are: Tawḥīd al-Rubūbiyyah and Tawḥīd al-Ulūhiyyah, even though there may exist some from amongst the people of innovation who deify human beings.

111. Tawḥīd  al-Asmāʾ wa-al-Ṣifāt:

This is a matter concerning which, many have entered into war. So the people can be divided into three categories with respect to it.  So the people can be divided into three categories, and they are: mumaththal (one who resembles Allāh to something from His creation) mu’attil (one who denies the Attributes of Allāh) and the mu’tadah (one who is moderate).  And the one who denies (mu’attil) is either a liar or a distorter.  And the first innovation that was innovated into this Ummah was the innovation of the Khawārij, because their leader revolted against the Prophet (ﷺ). He was Dhul-Khuwaysirah from the tribe of Tamīm. The Prophet (ﷺ) was dividing up the  booty that had come. So he divided in up amongst the people, so this man said to him: O Muḥammad!  Be just! 8 So this was the first revolt (khurūj) that was revolted against the Sharīʿah of Islām.  Then their fitnah became great at the end of the Caliphate of ʿUthmān, and during the fitnah that took place between ʿAlī and Muʿāwiyah. So the Muslims were declared to disbelievers and their blood was made lawful.

Then the innovation of the Qadariyyah was invented; they are the Magians of this Ummah, they are those who say: Allāh the Glorified and Exalted did not pre-decree the actions of the servants, and that they do not enter into the Will of Allāh, and that their actions were not created.  Rather, their leaders and extremists say that these things are not known aforehand by Allāh, and that it is not written in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawhul-Mahfoodth), and that Allāh does not know what the people will do until they do it.  And they say, that this is a matter of rejection, and these people were known in the later stages of the Companions (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhum).  So indeed they became known in the time of ʿAbdullāh Ibn ʿUmar (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu) and ʿUbādah Ibn Saamit and a group from the Companions, but they were in the last stages of the Companions.

Then the innovation of irjaa‘ was invented, and it became known in an age where many of the tābiʿīn were alive.  So the Murjī‘ah are those who say that īmān (faith) is not harmed by disobedience!  If he asks you whether you are a Believer and you say yes, he says to you that disobedience does not harm your īmān.  You can fornicate, steal and drink intoxicants, and kill, yet you will remain a Believer, so you are a Believer who is complete in īmān, even if you commit all types of disobedience.  However, Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah said that when the speech of the Qadariyyah and the Murjī‘ah was refuted by the remaining Companions, it was in regards to obedience and disobedience, and the Believers and the fāsiq (disobedient one), they did not speak about their Lord and His Attributes.

So there came a people from amongst those who are extremely intelligent, those who call to giving the intellect precedence over the Revelation. So they uttered a statement that was in between two statements – the statement of the Murjī‘ah, and the statement of the Khawārij – they said that the one who commits a major sin is not a Believer, and he is not a disbeliever as the Khawārij say.  Rather, he is at a level between two levels; like a man travelling from one city to another. So he is travelling along the path, so he is not in his city, nor is he in the city he is travelling to. Rather, he is at a level between two levels, this is in regards to the rules and regulations of this world. As for the affair of the Hereafter, then such a person will reside in the Hereafter forever, so they are in agreement with the Khawārij with regards to the Hereafter. However, they oppose them in the life of this world. This innovation emerged and spread, then the oppressive innovation of the Jahmiyyah came about, and it is the innovation of Jahm Ibn Ṣafwān and his followers, and they are called the Jahmiyyah.  This is an innovation that was invented, and it is not connected to names and regulations, a Believer or a disbeliever, or a disobedient one, nor does it refer to a level between two levels.  Rather, it is connected to the Essence (dhaat) of the Creator.

Look at how the innovations vary in degrees in Islām, to the extent that they reach the Creator the Mighty and Exalted.  And they place the Creator at a level of the creation, they say whatever they wish.  So they say that this affirmed for Allāh, and this is not affirmed, and this is acceptable to the intellect to describe Allāh with, and this is not acceptable to the intellect to describe Allāh with.  So the innovation of the Jahmiyyah and the Muʾtazilah was invented. So in regards to the Names and Attributes of Allāh, they are divided into various categories:

[1]: One category say that it is not permissible for us to ever describe Allāh, neither with existence (wujood), nor with absence (’adam), because to describe Allāh with wujood necessitates resembling the other things that exist, and to describe Him ’adam necessitates resembling Him to other things that are absent, and it is upon the person to negate existence and absence from Him and whatever is related to that.  So he resembles the Creator to the lawful and unlawful affairs, because existence and absence are two opposites, and opposites do not unite.  So all of the intellects of the children of Ādam would reject this, they would not accept it.  So look at how they run away from something only to fall into that which is worse than it!

[2]: And another category of people describe Him with negation (nafī), not with affirmation (ithbaat); meaning, that they go to the extent of negating the Attributes from Allāh the Glorified and Exalted.  They do not affirm anything, meaning that we cannot say that He is Ever-Living (al-Hayy), we can only say that He is not dead.  And we cannot say that He is the All-Knowing (al-ʿAlīm).  Rather, we must say that He is not ignorant and so on.  They say that if we affirm something for Him, we have then resembled Him to the creation, because they claim that everything that exists can be resembled to Him. So nothing can affirmed for Him. As for negation, then they claim that they (the Attributes) are absent, even though He is present in the Book and the Sunnah in regards to the Attributes of Allāh and being much more in affirmation than negation.  It is to be said to them, that Allāh says about Himself, the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing!

They say that this is by way of attributions, meaning hearing is attributed to Him, not because He is to be described with it, but because the creation hears.  So this is by way of attributions, so ‘All-Hearing’ does not mean that He hears.  Rather, He perceives audibly.  A second group has emerged, they say that such descriptions necessitate descriibng Allāh with His creation, and they do not describe Him in such a way.  According to them, none of these things can be affirmed for Allāh.

[3]: The third category affirms Names for Him, but not Attributes, and these people are the Muʾtazilah.  They affirm the Names of Allāh, they say that Allāh is All-Hearing, All-Seeing, Fully Capable, All-Knowing and Wise.  However, He is Fully Capable without ‘capability,’ All-Hearing without the faculty of hearing, All-Seeing without the faculty of sight, All-Knowing without ‘knowledge’ and Wise without the faculty of wisdom.

[4]: Then there is a category of people who affirm the True Attributes for Him, meaning that they affirm the Attributes that agree with the intellect and they reject the rest.  They only affirm seven Attributes for Him, and they reject the rest by tahref (distortion), not by takdheeb (denial), because if they reject them though takdheeb, then they would have disbelieved. However, they reject them through taḥrīf, and it is what they call taʾweel (figurative interpolation). The seven Attributes that they accept have been collected in the following verses of poetry:

‘He is the Ever-Living (hayaat), He has Speech (kalām), and Sight (basar);

Hearing (sama’), Will (iraadah), knowledge (ʿilm) and Might (iqtadar).’

So they affirm these Attributes because they agree with the intellect, and (they believe that) the rest of the Attributes do not agree with the intellect. They oppose whatever the intellect does not agree with.  So these are the Ashāʿirah, they believe in some of the Attributes and disbelieve in others. So these are categories of taʿṭeel (rejection) in the Names and Attributes, and all of them branch off from the innovation of al-Jahm, “And whosoever enacts a sinful practice in Islām, then h carries its burden and the burden of those who follow him, until the Day of Judgement.” 9

So the result – dear brothers – is that they study the works of a people who meant to gather the statements of the people concerning this affair so that they may see the strangest of things.  There are those who say, ‘How can an intelligent person – let alone a Believer – utter the likes of these words?!’  However, the one who does not make a light for Allāh, then he cannot have a light!  They are those whom Allāh has blinded from insight, just like the one whom He blinded from sight.  So just as the blind one will not see the light from the sun, even though he may be standing in front of it, then likewise, the one whom Allāh has blinded in insight will not see the light of the truth, even though he may be standing in front of it, and refuge is sought with Allāh.  So due to this, it is always befitting for us to ask Allāh for steadfastness upon the affair, and that He does not allow our hearts to deviate after having guided us, because the affair is dangerous.  So Shayṭān will enter upon the son of Ādam in every circumstance and from every direction, and he will cause him to have doubt concerning his ʿaqīdah (belief) and his Religion, and in the Book of Allāh and in the Sunnah of His Messenger (ﷺ).  So this is the reality of the innovations that have spread amongst the Ummahof Islām.

However, not a single innovation has been innovated, except that Allāh has exchanged it with His blessing and nobility by exposing this innovation and refuting it with the truth.  And this is from the completeness of the statement of Allāh the Blessed and Exalted,

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ ‎﴿٩﴾

“Verily We have revealed to you the Reminder, and We shall preserve it.”
[al-Ḥijr, 15:9]

So this is one of the ways in which Allāh preserves the Reminder and this also demonstrates the wisdom of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic, because Allāh the Exalted has made the Muḥammad (ﷺ) the last of the Prophets.  The message, however, must inevitably remain upon the earth, so that it can be a proof for the people in front of Allāh. So therefore, there is no escape from the fact that the message will remain upon the earth.  It is a necessary demonstration of the wisdom of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic that every innovation will be exposed and uncovered.  So this is the result and it is due to this that I always say to you, hasten towards knowledge, because we will have a future in this country if we do not arm ourselves with knowledge that is built upon the Book and the Sunnah, or else we will fall into making lawful that which Islamic countries other than ours have made lawful.  Right now, this country is the one in which the enemies of Islām have set up ground and exerted pressure upon, in order to misguide its people.  So due to that, arm yourselves with knowledge until you are upon a clear path with regards to the affair of your Religion, and until you wage a war with your tongues and your pens against the enemies of Allāh the Glorified and Exalted.

So all of these innovations spread after the Companions.  So the Companions were not fully aware of these affairs, because they took the Book and the Sunnah upon their apparent meanings and upon what the fitrah (natural inclination of every human being) necessitates, and the sound fitrah is secure. However, these innovators came and innovated into the Religion of Allāh whatever they innovated; either due to their little knowledge, or due to their faulty understandings, or due to their evil intentions.  So they brought about corruption in the world through these innovations which they innovated.  However, as we said, an innovation has not come about, except that Allāh the Exalted, through His wisdom, praiseworthiness, sufficiency and excellence, has exchanged, refuted and exposed it.


  1. The following is taken from Sharḥul-ʿAqīdahtil-Waasitiyyah (1/20-35) of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ṣāliḥ al-’Uthaymīn.
  2. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 5961) and Muslim (no. 2107).  The ḥadīth is as follows: From ’Aa‘ishah (raḍī Allāhu ’anhaa) that the Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Verily the people who made these pictures will be punished upon the Day of Judgement, and it shall be said to them: Bring to life whatever you have created.”
  3. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 5953) and Muslim (no. 2111), from Abī Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu)
  4. Translator’s Note: The term ‘malak’ is translated more than one way in accordance to the context in which it is used.
  5. Taken from his treatise al-’Uboodiyyah, as is found in Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (10/149)
  6. This statement was originally stated by al-Lālikaa‘ee (no. 2832) from ash-Sha’bee.  It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymīyyah in Minḥājus-Sunnah (1/29) and he pointed out the earlier scholars who did this.  It was declared ḥasan by al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar in Fat′h al-Bārī(12/270).
  7. Related by Aḥmad (1/110), Ibn Abī ʿĀsim in al-Sunnah (2/570) and Ibn Mājah (no. 106) from ʿAlī Ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).
  8. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 3610) and Muslim (no. 1064), from Abī Saʿīd al-Khudrī (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu)
  9. Related by Muslim (no. 1017) from the ḥadīth of Jarīr Ibn ʿAbdullāh al-Bajalī (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).

Translated by Maaz Qureshi 

Published: May 22, 2007
Edited: January 6, 2022

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