I am posting this important article by Sunni Muslim scholar Gibril Fouad Haddad on the corruption of Sunni texts by Salafi Muslims. I do this for the express purpose of making sure that this important work doesn’t disappear from the website.
In attempting to affirm that their false beliefs are supported by the Scholars of the salaf, the modern-day
pseudo-Salafis go to great lengths, either using weak or false hadiths or in actually distorting the
meanings and wordings (tahrif) of statements of scholars of the salaf and the khalaf. Among their beliefs
are the following:
“We believe that Allah is well above His creatures in His Person and His Attributes, because He says: “He is the High, the Great” (2:22); “He is Supreme over His servants, and He is the Wise, the All-aware” (6:18).
We believe that He “created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, then He settled Himself on the throne; He manages everything” (10:3). His “settling on the throne” means that He is sitting in person on His throne in a way that is becoming to His majesty and greatness. Nobody except He knows exactly how He is sitting.
We believe that He is with His creatures while He is still on His throne. He knows their conditions, hears their sayings, sees their deeds, and manages their affairs. He provides for the poor and the broken.”1
The `Aqida of Imam Abu Hanifa And Anthropomorphism
In an article entitled “Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya (Rahimahullah)” prepared by Abu Rumaysah the
following statement is made:
“Abu Hanifa said, when asked of his opinion of the one who says, I do not know whether Allah is above the heavens or on the earth. He has disbelieved, because Allah says, “The Most Merciful rose above the Throne,” and His Throne is above His seven heavens.
He was then asked, what if he said that Allah is above His Throne but he does not know whether the Throne is in the heavens or on the earth? He said, He has disbelieved, because He has denied that He is above the heavens, and whosoever denied that He is above the heavens has disbelieved.”2
In fact this statement attributed to Imam Abu Hanifa is mawdu` and a lie in its attribution to the Imam. al-
Dhahabi himself states3 that everything above was reported from the Imam by Abu Muti` al-Hakam Ibn
`Abd Allah al-Balkhi who is discarded as a narrator according to Imam Ahmad, Ibn `Adi, Abu Dawud, a
liar according to Abu Hatim, and a forger according to al-Dhahabi himself as reported by Ibn Hajar!4
Even so, the text mentioned by the Hanafi authorities is:5
“Abu Hanifa said: ‘Whoever says, “I know not whether my Lord is in the heaven or on earth:”‘ he has committed disbelief.” [Abu al-Layth al Samarqandi: Because he has attributed place to the Deity.]
Likewise, whoever says, “He is on the Throne and I know not whether the Throne is in the heaven or on the earth.” [Abu al-Layth: for the same reason.]
Hafiz al-Dhahabi – did not take the above from the original text of Imam Abu Hanifa but from the
anthropomorphist Hanbali Shaykh al-Harawi al-Ansari’s tampered version in his manifesto of Tajsim
titled al-Faruq fil-Sifat. Similarly Ibn al-Qayyim in his anthropomorphist book Ijtima` al-Juyush al-
Islamiyya, adds more tampering – Allah forgive them both.
As to its meaning: al-Bayadi said in Isharat al-Maram:
“This is because he implies that the Creator has a direction and a boundary, and anything that possesses direction and boundary is necessarily created. So this statement explicitly attributes imperfection to Allah Most High. The believer in [divine] corporeality and direction is someone who denies the existence of anything other than objects that can be pointed to with the senses. They deny the Essence of the Deity that is transcendent beyond that. This makes them positively guilty of disbelief.”6
Further down in the same text the Imam states:
“If someone says, ‘Where is Allah?’ The answer for him is that Allah existed when there was no ‘where,’ no creation, nothing! And He is the Creator of everything.”7
Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi states something similar in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, and others.
Imam Abu Hanifa also said:
“He is something (shay’un) but not like other things, and the meaning of shay’un is affirmed without affirming a body, limbs or organs. And He has no limit and no partner or opposite, and no similitude. And He has a Hand, a Face and a Self. As for what is mentioned in the Qur’an: the Face, the Hand, the Self (nafs) then these are His Attributes without asking ‘How.’”
The above is correct from al-Fiqh al-Akbar, in which he also said: “Not like the hand of creatures, and it
is not a limb.” So it is clear that anthropomorphism is precluded.
“And it is not said that His Hand is His Power (qudra) or Favour (ni`ma)because this contains nullification of the Attribute, and this is the saying of the People of Qadr (Jabariyya) and the Mu`tazila. Rather His Hand is His Attribute without asking how, and His Anger (gadb) and Pleasure (rida) are two Attributes without asking ‘How.’”8
The upshot is to preclude the sense of limb while committing the meaning to Allah Most High (tafwid al-
ma`na), i.e. all lofty meanings other than limb are possible, including power and favour.
(1) A Condemned Report Attributed To Imam Malik
Another report used by the “Salafis” to buttress their anthropomorphist claims is the following [Reported
by `Abd Allah Ibn Ahmad in Kitab al-Sunna, and others]:
“`Abd Allah Ibn Nafi` reported: Malik Ibn Anas said: �Allah is above the heavens, but His knowledge encompasses everything. Nothing escapes His knowledge.�”
This report is not authentic from Imam Malik.
– From Mutarrif Ibn `Abd Allah – al-Bukhari’s Shaykh – and Habib Ibn Abi Habib on the hadith of
descent (“Our blessed Lord descends in the late third of the night”):
“It is our Blessed and Exalted Lord’s command which descends — every pre-dawn (kullu sahar);9 as for Him, He is eternally the same, He does not move or go to and fro.”10
– Ibn Rushd in Sharh al-`utbiyya – a commentary on an early work of Maliki fiqh by Muhammad Ibn
Ahmad Ibn `Abd al-`Aziz al-`Utbi al-Qurtubi (d. 254 AH) – stated that Malik’s position is:
“The Throne is not Allah’s location of settledness (mawdi’ istiqrar Allah).”11
The report attributing to Imam Malik the words: “Allah is in the heaven and His knowledge is in every
place” is a condemned (munkar), anomalous (shadhdh) report of questionable authenticity narrated
through Ahmad Ibn Hanbal from Surayj Ibn al-Nu`man al-Lu`lu’i 12 from `Abd Allah Ibn Nafi` al-Sa`igh
Imam Ahmad himself declared `Abd Allah Ibn Nafi` al-Sa`igh weak (da`if), Abu Zur`a frowned at his name and declared him “condemned” (munkar), al-Bukhari questioned his memorisation, and Ibn `Adi stated that he transmitted oddities (ghara`ib) from Malik.14
As for the content of the report, Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda noted in his commentary on Ibn `Abd al-Barr’s al-Intiqa’ that it is contradicted by what is firmly established in mass-transmitted narrations from Malik and by al-Sa`igh’s other report from Malik omitting the above words.15 The report is made further dubious by the fact that Imam Malik was well known to condemn any statements about the Essence and Attributes of Allah Most High other than sound reports, particularly statements that suggest anthropomorphism.16
al-Awza`i said: “Whoever holds on to the rare and unusual positions of the scholars has left Islam.”17
(2) Tampered Report – Imam Malik And Istawa
The “Salafi” writes:
“Imam Malik said when replying to the one who asked, ‘How did Allah make istawa?’ (Ascension above the Throne):
“al-istawa is known, and its how is unknown, to have faith in it is obligatory, and to question it is an innovation. Then he said to the questioner, I do not think except that you are an innovator and he ordered him to be expelled.”18
The Sahih version of the above, also in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat, states: the how is inconceivable. This
difference is essential, because sitting and place are conceivable concepts. This means that Imam Malik
was saying: sitting, place, and direction are precluded.
It is related by al-Harawi from Imam al-Shafi`i, that he said, Imam Malik was asked about kalam (Theological rhetoric) and tawhid, so Malik said:
“It is foolishness to think about the Prophet , that he taught this Umma about istinja (cleaning after relieving oneself), but he did not teach them tawhid. And tawhid is what the Prophet said:
“I was commanded to fight the people until they say: There is no Deity worthy of worship besides Allah.” [Quoted in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
This report is true and its meaning undisputed. It shows that tawhid is One, not three. Its splitting into three is one of the innovations of misguidance that created fitna among the Muslims and is reminiscent of the Byzantine disputations. It is strange that some are still confused over this.
Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi`i (d. 204 AH / 820 CE)
Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi`i said:
“The belief that I am upon, and I saw Our Companions, the Ashab al hadith (People of hadith) – like Imam Malik and Sufyan and others – to be upon is:
Affirming the testimony that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And that Allah is above His Throne, above His heaven. He comes close to His creation howsoever He Wills, and He descends to the lowest heaven howsoever He Wills.”19
al-Dhahabi in Siyar a`lam al-Nubala’ declared this report a forgery.20
al-Shafi`i said on another occasion:
“To Allah belong Names and Attributes that occur in His Book and His Prophet informed to the nation. It is not possible for anyone to refute (radd) them. So the one who contradicts this after the evidence has been established against him then he is a kafir (disbeliever), and as for before the establishment of the proof then he is excused due to ignorance.
There is no dispute about this report nor its content.
Imam al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi (673-748 AH)
The “Salafi” writes: Imam al-Dhahabi said in the final lines of his most excellent work, al-`Uluw li al-
`Aliyy al-Ghaffar (pages. 286-287)
I have this edition in front of me and the title is incorrectly reported. The actual title is: Mukhtasar al-`Uluw i.e. the abridgment – in 300 pages – edited by the chief innovator of our time, Nasir al-Din al-Albani. The complete edition is not that of al-Albani but that of Hasan al-Saqqaf – in over 600 pages -which I also have.
Now, if it was a “most excellent work” then why did al-Dhahabi disclaim it later in his adult career (he wrote the book as a young man)? He wrote on its manuscript with his own hand:
“I have realised it [this book] contains baseless narrations and statements by many people that spoke loosely, and so I neither subscribe to those expressions nor follow those people in them – may Allah forgive them – nor do I consider them binding upon me as long as I live, and this is my firm conviction, and I know that Allah – there is nothing whatsoever like Him.”21
Al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi and ‘Ilm al-Kalam
Hafiz al-Dhahabi said:
“It it authentically related from al-Daraqutni that he said: There is nothing more despised by me than ‘ilm al-Kalam (innovated speech and rhetoric)…. [This is where al-Daraqutni’s words end. The rest is al-Dhahabi’s]… I say: No person should ever enter into ‘ilm al-kalam, nor argumentation. Rather, he should be a salafi (a follower of the salaf).” 22
The above is incorrect. Hafiz al-Dhahabi said: “I say: The man [i.e. al-Daraqutuni] never entered into kalam… rather he was a [true] salafi.”
Note: Unlike today’s “Salafis” the salaf did not lie nor tamper meanings and words like Ahl al-Kitab, Rafidis and other sects.
Falsification of Imam al-Qurtubi’s Position on Anthropomorphism
The “Salafi” writes:
“Al-Qurtubee said concerning the saying of Allah, the Most High, “Then he ascended (istawaa) the Throne”, We have explained the sayings of the Scholars regarding this issue in the book ‘al-Asnaa fee Sharh al-Asmaa al-Husnaa’ and we mentioned fourteen different sayings therein”
I have that book also and al-Qurtubi in it makes abundantly clear that he is against the position of the anthropomorphists!
“up until he said, “And the Salaf of the very first times – may Allah be pleased with them all – never used to negate direction (al-jihah) for Allah and nor did they used to express this (negation). Rather, they, and all of the others, used to speak with its affirmation for Allah, the Most High just as His Book has spoken about it and just as His Messengers informed of it. And not a single one of the Salaf denied that his ascending (istawaa) the Throne was real and true (haqeeqah) (as opposed to metaphorical, majaaz).”
The continuation of al-Qurtubi’s words quoted in Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 286) states:
“And He mentioned His Throne specifically because it is the greatest of His creations. However, they actually did not know the modality or howness of his Istiwa’ for the reality of its modality cannot be known.”
NOTE: The original in al-Dhahabi’s `Uluw [full edition, 600 pages edited by Hasan al-Saqqaf] here states (p. 574): “for its reality cannot be known.” This is also what is found in al-Qurtubi’s Tafsir.
This tampering is one among many examples of the mendacity of al-Albani and his followers! The reason for this particular tahrif is that when the Salafiyya were faced with the reality of Tafwid among the Salaf, they invented the subdivision of Tafwid al-Kayfiyya so as to deny that the Salaf actually practiced Tafwid al-Ma`na. So when proof to the latter comes up, they deny it or manipulate it, as in this case.
THEN al-Qurtubi continues, in his Tafsir:
“I SAY: the `Uluw [exaltation] of Allah Most High and His irtifa` [elevation] are an expression of the `uluw of His Majesty, Attributes, and Dominion. Meaning: There is nothing above Him whatsoever in the sense of Majesty and its qualities, nor with Him as a partner. Rather, He is the Most High in absolute and unconditional terms – exalted is He!”
See the introduction and appendices to our translation of Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i’s Nasiha to the Ulema of Najd for many more examples of their tampering and misreprentations of the Ulema of Islam and their books.
As for the Ghunya: it is not an integrally preserved text and the copies we have today are corrupt. As for the book Ijtima` al-Juyush al-Islamiyya it is crammed with forgeries – like al-Sunna by `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad – and Ibn al-Qayyim is a notorious Mujassim.
Those who call themselves Salafiyyah do not mind lying about the Ulema they quote; make up their own definitions of tafwid and ta’wil; and generally have no idea of the accurate positions of the Salaf and the latter are innocent of them. Allah is our refuge from their bid`a and dalala. And Allah knows best.
1 The Muslim’s Belief by Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Salih al-`Uthaymin.
2 Hafiz al-Dhahabi, al-`Uluw; also Sharh `Aqida al-Tahawiyyah of Ibn Abi al-`Izz al-Hanafi.
3 Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Mukhtasar al-`Uluw – page. 136, Number. 118; al-`Uluw page. 391, Number. 327.
4 Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Lisan al-Mizan [2:407].
5 Imam Abu Hanifa in al-Fiqh al-Absat – (Azhariyya ed. pages. 49-51).
6 As quoted in Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan Zahid al-Kawthari, “Khuturat al-Qawl bi al-Jiha” (“The Gravity of the Doctrine That
Attributes Direction [to Allah Most High]”) in his Maqalat (pages. 368-369).
7 Quoted in al-`Uluw of Hafiz al-Dhahabi, also in Sharh `Aqida al-Tahawiyyah of Ibn Abi al-`Izz al-Hanafi.
8 Quoted in Fiqh al-Akbar Page Numbers. 36-37.
9 The bracketed words are only in the wording cited by al-Qadi `Iyad in his Tartib al-Madarik (2:44).
10 Narrated from Mutarrif by Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid (7:143) with a weak chain because of Jami` Ibn Sawada as per al-
Daraqutni in Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani’s Lisan al-Mizan (2:93). Also narrated from Salih Ibn Ayyub from Habib Ibn Abi Habib –
who is very weak – by Hafiz al-Dhahabi in Siyar a`lam al-Nubala’ (8:418). The latter reported in his Mizan al-I`tidal (1:452)
from Ibn `Adi’s Kamil (2:818) the opinion that all of Ibn Abi Habib’s narrations are forged but this is an extreme statement in
light of three factors: (a) Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid (24:177) mentioned Habib as merely weak, adding: “His reports from
Malik are full of mistakes and condemned matters”; (b) Salih Ibn Ayyub said: “I mentioned this report to Yahya Ibn Bukayr
and he said: “Excellent, by Allah! and I did not hear it from Malik.” Narrated by Hafiz al-Dhahabi who describes Ibn Bukayr
in Tadhkirat al-Huffaz. (2:420) as “the muhaddith of Egypt, the Imam and trustworthy Hadith Master… one of the vessels of
knowledge together with truthfulness and complete reliability… Where is the like of Ibn Bukayr in his leadership in the
Religion, his insight in fatwa, and the abundance of his learning?” (c) Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid (7:143) also narrates this
report from Habib, then goes on to narrate it from Mutarrif, adding: “It is possible that the matter be as Malik said, and Allah
knows best.” It is established that Jami` did narrate from Mutarrif, as stated by al-Mizzi in Tahdhib al-Kamal (28:71).
11 al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani quoted in his Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 7:124, Number. 3592).
12 Misspelt Shurayh in al-Saqqaf’s edition of al-`Uluw (page. 396, Number. 340) and al-Mahdi’s edition of al-Shari`a (page.
293, Numbers. 663-664). Shurayh Ibn al-Nu`man al-Sa`idi al-Kufi is a Tabi`i who died before al-Sa`igh was born.
13 Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Intiqa (pg. 71); al-Dhahabi, Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (pg. 247); & al-Ajurri, al-Shari`a (pgs. 293 #663-664).
14 Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Mizan al-I`tidal (2:513-514, Number. 4647); al-`Uqayli, al-Du`afa’ (2:311); Ibn `Adi, al-Kamil (4:242,
Number. 1070=4:1556); Abu Hatim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta`dil (5:183); Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Tahdhib al-Tahdhib (6:46-47,
Number. 99). Dr. Nur al-Din `Itr, however, states in his margins on Hafiz al-Dhahabi’s al-Mughni fi al-Du`afa’ (1:513,
Number. 3396) that al-Sa`igh is very reliable when narrating from Imam Malik and that Ibn Hajar declared him trustworthy
(thiqa) in al-Taqrib. Yet, the latter grading was downgraded to “truthful” (saduq) by Shu`ayb al-Arna`ut and Ma`ruf in al-
Tahrir (2:277, Number. 3659). al-Albani in his notes in Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (page. 140) criticized Imam al-Kawthari for citing
al-Sa`igh as weak in his introduction to Hafiz al-Bayhaqi’s al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat (p. ?), but he himself cites him as weak in al-
Silsila al-Da `ifa (2:231-232) as pointed out by Shaykh Hasan al-Saqqaf in his edition of al-`Uluw (page. 397, note. 708).
15 In Ibn `Abd al-Barr, al-Intiqa’ (page. 71, note. 3 and page. 73).
16 For example, Imam Malik said: “Allah is neither ascribed a limit nor likened with anything” (la yuhaddad wa la yushabbah);
Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-`Arabi, Ahkam al-Qur’an (4:1740).
17 Cited by Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-Nubala’ (1997 ed. 7:99).
18 Quoted in al-Asma wa al-Sifat, Page Number. 516.
19 Quoted in `Awn al-Ma`bud (13:41), and Ibn Abu Ya`la reports it in Tabaqat al-Hanabila (1:283) with a chain of narration
linked back to Imam al-Shafi`i.
20 Imam al-Dhahabi, Siyar a`lam al-Nubala’ (8:412).
21 As reported by the Hadith Master (hafiz) Ibn Nasir al-Din al-Dimashqi in his handwriting on the front page of the original
manuscript of al-`Uluw.
22 Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-Nubala’ – 16:457.