Ashʿariyyah: Clarifying the Doubt-Filled Arguments of the Ashʿarīs
Excerpted from the audio lecture 'The Concern for Tawḥīd in Relation to Rectification of the Ummah'; the third and final lecture in the series entitled: Correctness with Regards to the Names and Attributes of Allāh.
From the points discussed:
The Ashʿarī idea that there are only 7 Attributes only, of which are affirmed by the intellect
- The improper understanding of the 7 Attributes they do affirm
- Their taḥrīf (distortion) of the texts which mention these seven Attributes
- Their mistaken reasoning that the rest of the Attributes are to be rejected since they cannot be affirmed with intellectual reasoning
- Using the Intellect as a primary basis of proof is a baseless bidʿah and opposes the manhaj of the early Salaf
- Referring to the Intellect in this affair (Asmāʾa' wa-al-Ṣifāt - Names and Attributes) in itself opposes the Intellect (as it cannot be comprehended by the human mind alone)!
- Intellectual deduction in this affair will breed mass confusion and contraḍīction as the intellects will clash, person to person, one affirming something, one negating another, one explaining it this way, the other explaining it another way (another example of the futility of abandoning leaving the Texts as they are)
- The corruption of the Ashʾarī who when confronted with a text from the Book and the Sunnah and when he cannot reject the authentic source, he changes the meaning:
Claiming Allāh’s 'Hands' means Power, anything else would be resemblance? Response: You have changed the meaning to another Attribute 'Quwaa' (Power) so now should you not do the same with Power (changing it to something else, based on this theory)?
'Mahabbah' (Love) mean 'Iradah' (Desire), as they claim Love is something that contains deficiency, so they interpret it as something else. Response: So doesn’t the creation have 'Iradah' (desire/will) also? So perhaps you have likened Allāh to His Creation based on your principle of changing the meaning of an Attribute since the creation has an attribute of the same name/type (yet incomparable to Allāh's Attributes), A never ending cycle of intellectually deducing then changing meanings?
- The Ashʿarī claim that affirming certain Attributes of Allāh necessitates interpreting them as something different to avoid tashbīh (resemblance) to the creation. What necessitates Allāh Attributes being comparable to His creation? You (Ashʾarī) affirm Sight and Hearing for Allāh, yet some of the creation have sight and hearing without any concept that they are comparable to Allāh?
- The last breath of their argument being, 'we affirm these (seven) Attributes in manner which befits Allāh's Majestic!' then rather (we) affirm all the Attributes of Allāh in a manner befitting to Allāh (without resemblance, distortion or any type of logical interpretation)!
- The argument that 'al-istiwá' has 15 (linguistic) meanings, avoiding the reality that 'ʿalá is used in the āyah (sneaky methods to deceive the believer)
The claim that ‘you cannot attribute direction to Allāh (you are confining Allāh by saying al-Raḥmān ʿalá ʿarsh al-istiwá as it is)’ one of the cornerstones which they attach Ahl al-Sunnah with. The ʿAqīdah of the Salaf in this regard amongst countless ḥadīth, mention that Allāh is outside his Creation, Above the Seven Heavens, Above the Throne. So where does this argument (of direction/confinement) originate? The greek theory of the ‘parallel universe’ (two parallel universes, one which is physical (actual) and one which is conceptual and immeasurable, i.e. one world which has tall and short and one which is conceptual only) which was studied and adopted by the Mu’tizalah (a root of the Ashʿarī understanding) who introduced this to their ʿAqīdah, so then they equated Mercy (Raḥmah) as being conceptual only, they claim that Ahl al-Sunnah are limiting Allāh by affirming this āyah as it is, this can be refuted from many angles, from them, Allāh being affirmed as outside of creation, then there is nothing surrounding Allāh or limiting Allāh so the intellectual boundaries they imply are inapplicable; in addition, direction is something applicable inside of creation, if it is claimed that Allāh, outside of his Creation is confined, then it would also imply that there is something beyond Allāh (causing this confinement) such that the theories and philosophy would be an endless abyss of nothingness!
In summary, the doubts clarified in this lecture are more than enough to debase the rhetoric of the Ashʿarī and protect a person against their harmful ʿAqīdah.