Istiwaa Is Not Unknown


Ja’far Ibn ‘Abdillaah said:

‘We were with Imaam Maalik when a man came and said, ‘O Maalik, “The most Merciful has ascended above His Throne,” [20:5] How did He ascend?

So anger overcame Imaam Maalik like none had ever seen from him. He looked down at the ground and scratched it with a piece of wood until he began to sweat profusely…

Then he said, “The specific details are incomprehensible, however ascending is something not unknown, having faith in it is obligatory, and questioning about it is an innovation. And I believe that you are a person of innovation.

He then ordered him out and he was removed.’ (1)

Rabee’ah Ar-Ra’y (d. 136H) said, “Istiwaa is not unknown, and its modality is not comprehendible. And from Allaah is the Message; upon the Messenger is to convey; and upon us is to affirm.” (2)

Shaykhul Islaam, Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“So the statement of rabee’ah and Maalik ‘Istiwaa is not unknown‘, agrees with the statement of the rest, ‘Pass them on as they have come, without asking how.

So they have denied having knowledge of the modality, yet they have not negated the reality of the Attribute. And if the people were to believe in the wording only, without understanding it’s meaning the way that Allaah intended it, they would have said, ‘Istiwaa is not unknown, and the modality is not comprehensible.‘ And they would have said, ‘Pass them on as they have come, without asking how, since Istiwaa at that moment, cannot be known. Rather, it is unknown at the level of linguistic words‘!

And also they would not be in need of negating the knowledge of the modality when the meaning of the word is not understood, they would only be in need to negating the knowledge of the modality if the Attributes are affirmed. And also, the one who negates some of the Attributes, or all of them, then he is not in need of saying, ‘without asking how‘. So whosoever says ‘Allaah is not above the Throne,‘ he is not in need of saying ‘without asking how‘.

So if the madhab of the Salaf had actually been to negate the Attributes, then why would they have said, ‘and without asking how‘?

And also, their statement, ‘Pass them on as they have come‘, necessitates a remaining indication of what it is. So the fact that it has come as a wording indicates a meaning. So if negation of these Attributes was to be indicated, then it would have been obligatory to say, ‘Pass on the wording with the belief that the understanding is not the intended meaning‘, or, ‘Pass on their wordings along with the belief that Allaah is not truly to be described with what this indicates‘.

So at that moment you have passed them on as they came, and therefore it canot be said, ‘and do not ask how‘. So modality must be negated from that which is not confirmed linguistically from the statement.” (3)

Footnotes:

(1) Al-Hilyah 6/325-326. At-Tamheed of Ibn ‘Abdil Barr 7/151. Al-Asmaa’ Was-Sifaat of Al-Bayhaqee p. 408, among others.

(2) Laalakaa’ee no. 665

(3) Al-Fataawaa Al-Hamawiyyah

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3 Responses to “Istiwaa Is Not Unknown”

  1. saabiqoon0inshaallaah Says:

    Salam alykum wa rahma
    SubhanAllaah Istiwaa is a very weighty subject that needs deep understanding! am a bit confused; first can i ask who was
    “Rabee’ah Ar-Ra’y”?? was he from Ahlu Sunnah??

    and could you please clarify what is meant by: ‘Pass on their wordings along with the belief that Allaah is not truly to be described with what this indicates‘.
    ……..and is this the view of the Ashairates??

    //So modality must be negated from that which is not confirmed linguistically from the statement.//

    does this mean that since the kayfiyah of istiwaah is not known so we have to negate that and affirm the attribute without asking the how?

    I hope the questions make sense

    Jazakumullaah
    wasalam

    • Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

      rabee’ah Ar-ra’y was from the Salaf, the pious predecessors. Ahlu sunnah take from him.

      As for the statement, ‘Pass on their wordings along with the belief that Allaah is not truly to be described with what this indicates‘.

      Then this is the statement that the people of ta’weel and ta’teel (misinterpretation and denial) indirectly believe. If ta’weel and ta’teel were from the ways of the salaf then the aforementioned statement would have come to us from the salaf. But because the aforementioned statement did not come to us from the salaf, this then proves that ta’weel and ta’teel are not from their ways.

      As for the statement: “So modality must be negated from that which is not confirmed linguistically from the statement.”

      Then by modality it means the how-ness. The how-ness we do not know because our minds cannot comprehend Allaah’s greatness.

      Just as there are things in this world which we cannot comprehend (things regarding atoms, molecules, brain cells etc.) then likewise (and to Allaah belongs the highest of examples) it is more befitting that the how-ness, when it comes to Allaah, is also not comprehendible, because Allaah is the greatest. Greater than anything our minds can comprehend.

      However, just because we don’t know the how-ness (kayfiyyah) then this does NOT mean that there is no how-ness to Allaah’s Actions.

      For further reading, refer to books written by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen.

      I hope this has answered ur question.

      Wassalaamu ‘alaykum.

  2. saabiqoon0inshaallaah Says:

    Barakallaahu feek, it did answer the question and clarified my confusion

    jazakumullaah

    Wasalam alykum wa rahma

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