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ALLAH’S AMAZEMENT AND LAUGHTER

It may surprise non-Muslims, as well as some Muslims, to discover that the authentic traditions of Islam depict Allah as a finite spatial, temporal being who experiences bewilderment and amazement, as well as exhibiting emotions such as laughter.

For example, Muhammad is reported to have said that his god laughs at people and mocks them:

Waki’ bin Hudus narrated that his paternal uncle Abu Razin said:

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Book of the Sunnah

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Allah LAUGHS at the despair of His slaves although He soon changes it.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, does the Lord laugh?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘We shall never be deprived of good by a Lord Who laughs.’”

Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)

Sunnah.com reference: Book 1, Hadith 181

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 181

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 186 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/introduction/181; capital and underline emphasis mine)

Abdullah b. Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: I know the last of the inhabitants of Fire to be taken out therefrom, and the last of the inhabitants of Paradise to enter it. A man will come out of the Fire crawling. Then Allah, the Blessed and Exalted will say to him: Go and enter Paradise. So he would come to it and it would appear to him as if it were full. He would go back and say: O my Lord! I found it full. Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, would say to him: Go and enter Paradise. He would come and perceive as if it were full. He would return and say: O my Lord! I found it full. Allah would say to him: Go and enter Paradise, for there is for you the like of the world and ten times like it, or for you is ten times the like of this world. He (the narrator) said. He (that man) would say: Art Thou making a fun of me? or Art Thou laughing at me though Thou art the King? He (the narrator) said: I saw the Messenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were visible. And it was said: That would be the lowest rank among the inhabitants of Paradise. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0359 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0359)

Ibn Mas’ud reported: Verily the Messenger of Allah said: The last to enter Paradise would be a man who would walk once and stumble once and be burnt by the Fire once. Then when he gets beyond it, he will turn to it and say: Blessed is He Who has saved me from thee. Allah has given me something He has not given to any one of those in earlier or later times. Then a tree would be raised up for him and he will say: O my Lord I bring me near this tree so that I may take shelter in its shade and drink of its water. Allah, the Exalted and Great, would say: O son of Adam, if I grant you this, you will ask Me for something else. He would say: No. my Lord. And he would promise Him that he would not ask for anything else. His Lord would excuse him because He sees what he cannot help desiring; so He would bring him near it, and he would take shelter in its shade and drink of its water. Afterwards a tree more beautiful than the first would be raised up before him and he would say: O my Lord! bring me near this tree in order that I may drink of its water and take shelter in its shade and I shall not ask Thee for anything else. He (Allah) would say: O son of Adam, if I bring you near it you may ask me for something else. He would promise Him that he would not ask for anything else. His Lord will excuse him because He would see something he cannot help desiring. So He would bring him near it and he would enjoy its shade and drink its water. Then a tree would be raised up for him at the gate of the Paradise, more beautiful than the first two. He would say: O my Lord! bring me near this (tree) so that I may enjoy its shade and drink from its water. I shall not ask Thee for anything else. He (Allah) would say: O son of Adam! did you not promise Me that you would not ask Me anything else? He would say: Yes, my Lord, but I shall not ask Thee for anything else. His Lord would excuse him for He sees something the temptation of which he could not resist. He (Allah) would bring him near to it, and when He would bring him near it he would hear the voices of the inhabitants of the Paradise. He would say: O my Lord! admit me to it. He (Allah) would say: O son of Adam, what will bring an end to your requests to Me? Will it please you if I give you the whole world and a like one along with it? He will say: O my Lord! art Thou mocking at me, though Thou art the Lord of the worlds? Ibn Mas’ud laughed and asked (the hearers): Why don’t you ask me what I am laughing at. They (then) said: Why do you laugh? He said: It is in this way that the Messenger of Allah laughed. They (the companions of the Holy Prophet) asked: Why do you laugh. Messenger of Allah? He said: On account of the laugh of the Lord of the universe, when he (desirer of Paradise) said, Thou mocking at me though Thou art the Lord of the worlds? He would say: I am not mocking at you, but I have power to do whatever I will. (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0361 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=001&translator=2&start=0&number=0361)

Muhammad also claimed that his lord gets amazed, in fact bewildered, over the actions of his supposed creatures:

The Messenger of Allah said: “Verily, your Lord is AMAZED at a youth who does not incline towards his desires.” (‘Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Sahihah’, Number 2843)

عَنْ عُقْبَةَ بْنِ عَامِرٍ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يَقُولُ « يَعْجَبُ رَبُّكُمْ مِنْ رَاعِى غَنَمٍ فِى رَأْسِ شَظِيَّةٍ بِجَبَلٍ يُؤَذِّنُ بِالصَّلاَةِ وَيُصَلِّى فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ انْظُرُوا إِلَى عَبْدِى هَذَا يُؤَذِّنُ وَيُقِيمُ الصَّلاَةَ يَخَافُ مِنِّى فَقَدْ غَفَرْتُ لِعَبْدِى وَأَدْخَلْتُهُ الْجَنَّةَ»

Uqbah ibn Amir said: “I heard the messenger of Allah: ‘Your Lord is AMAZED with a shepherd high in the mountains who calls the Athan for the prayer and prays. Allah says: “Look at my slave, he calls the Athan and Iqamahfor prayer and fears me. I have forgiven my slave and admitted him to paradise.”’” (Collected by Abu Dawud (1205) and An-Nasa’i (666) and ibn Hibban (260), and graded as being Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani)

The following lengthy quote provides further proofs that the Islamic deity literally laughs and becomes astonished over the actions that occur within the temporal, finite creation:

The Third Hadith: Concerning the Affirmation of Laughing

And that is his statement: “Allah LAUGHS at two men, one of whom kills the other, and both of them will enter Paradise.”[1]

❖ In this Hadith, the Prophet informed that Allah laughs at two men; when they both met in while fighting, one of them killed the other, but both of them will enter Paradise. And the one of them will not kill the other except because of severe enmity between the two of them. Yet afterwards, they will both enter Paradise, and that enmity will be removed. One of them was a Muslim, while the other was a disbeliever. The disbeliever killed the Muslim, and by that the Muslim was a martyr, and so he enters Paradise. Then, Allah favored this disbeliever, and he accepted Islam, and then he was killed as a martyr, or died without being killed, so he will enter Paradise. So the killer and the one killed both enter Paradise, and then Allah laughs at both of them.

❖ IN THIS THERE IS AN AFFIRMATION OF LAUGHING FOR ALLAH, the Mighty and Sublime, AND IT IS REAL LAUGHING, but it does not resemble the laughing of the creatures. It is laughing that befits His majesty and greatness. It is not possible that we give examples of it, because it is not permissible for us to say that Allah has a mouth, teeth or the like. However, WE AFFIRM LAUGHING FOR ALLAH in a manner that befits Him, Glorious and Exalted is He.

❖ If someone says: By affirming laughing for Allah, it necessitates likening Him a creature!

The response is that it does necessitate likening Him to a creature; because the one who said: “He laughs” is the one upon to His statement, Exalted is He, was revealed:

<There is nothing like Him, and He is the Hearer, the Seer.> (Ash-Shura 42:11)

And from another angle, the Prophet would never speak concerning matters like this except that it was revealed to him, because it is from the matters of the unseen. It is not among matters of Ijtihad (deducing rulings from the texts) regarding which the Messenger might make a decision, and then Allah would acknowledge it or not. But this is from the matters of the unseen which the Messenger received by the way of revelation.

❖ If someone says: “What is intended by laughing is pleasure. Because when one is pleased with something, he is happy with it, and laughs as a result. And what is intended by pleasure is the reward or the intent to reward” as is claimed by the people of Ta’til (denial).

In response to this, WE SAY THAT THIS IS A FORM OF DISTORTING THE WORDS FROM THEIR PLACES. What is it that makes you know that what is intended by pleasure is the reward?!

Now, you said about Allah what you know not, from two angles:

The first angle; you changed the text from what is obvious, without knowledge.

The second; you affirmed a meaning for it that is contrary to what is apparent, without knowledge.

Then we say to them: If you say Al-Iradah (intent, will, volition) is established for Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, this will invalidate your principle, because man also has Iradah as he, Exalted is He, says:

<Among you are some that Yurid (desire) this world and some that Yurid (desire) the Hereafter.> (Al ‘Imran 3:152)

So man has Iradah. Even, the wall has Iradah, as Allah, Exalted is He, says:

<Then they found therein a wall about Yurid (wanting) to collapse.> (Al-Kahf 18:77)

Therefore you either negate the Attribute of Iradah from Allah (because of this), just as you negate the other Attributes you negate, or you affirm for Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, what He affirms for Himself, even if the creature has its kind in terms of the name, but not the reality.

❖ The behavioral benefit derivable from this Hadith is that once we know that Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, laughs, we will hope for all forms of goodness from Him.

That is why a man said to the Prophet: “O Messenger of Allah, does our Lord laugh?” HE SAID: “YES.” He (the man) said: “We will never be devoid of any goodness from the Lord who laughs.”[1]

When we know this, it inspires hope of having all good things, because there is a difference between a frowning person that is hardly seen laughing, and another who smiles. And the Prophet was always cheerful and smiling.

And his saying: “Our Lord is AMAZED at the despair of His slaves, and closeness of His change. He is looking at you, in severe despair, so He continues laughing, knowing that your relief is near.” A Hasan Hadith….

The Fourth Hadith: Concerning THE AFFIRMATION OF AMAZEMENT, and some other Attributes

That is his statement “Our Lord IS AMAZED at the despair of His slaves, and the closeness of His goodness. He is looking at you, in severe despair, so He continues laughing, knowing that your relief is near.” A Hasan Hadith.[1]

❖ Amazement: it is to be astonished by a thing and this occurs for two reasons:

The first reason: The unawareness, on behalf of the one amazed, of one of the reasons for the amazing incident, such as when something happens to him suddenly without any expectation. This is impossible with respect to Allah, Exalted is He, because He is All-Knowing. Nothing is hidden from in the heavens or the earth.

Secondly: That the reason (of the amazement) is that this thing is outside of what is normal for it, and from what is appropriate for it; not because of any incapability of the one that is amazed; such as him doing an action that is astonishing, whose like is not appropriate for him.

This is affirmed for Allah, Exalted is He, because such amazement is not as a result of an imperfection, but it is amazement because of the case of the one doing what is amazing.

❖ His statement: “Our Lord IS AMAZED at the despair of His slaves.”

Despair is the worst of all forms of hopelessness; the Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, IS AMAZED at the entrance of severe hopelessness into the heart of the slave.

❖ “And the closeness of His change” The Waw (and) means “with” meaning: “with the closeness of His change.”

So, the Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, IS AMAZED at how we are pessimistic while He, Glorious and Exalted is He, changes things quickly. He changes a situation to another situation with just a word and that is “Be” and it is.

❖ His statement: “He is looking at you:” that is, Allah is looking at us with His Eyes.

❖ “In severe despair:” Al-Azil is the one in a difficult situation, while Qanitin: is plural of Qanit who is the one that despairs of relief and removal of difficulty.

So the Prophet mentioned the case of man and the case of his heart. His case is that he falls into a difficulty, and his heart despairs of hope feeling far removed from the relief.

❖ “He continues Laughing:” He continues laughing due to this amazing situation. How do you despair of the mercy of the most merciful of those who are merciful, Who says to something: “Be” and it is?

❖ “knowing that your relief is near:” That is, the removal of your severe situation is near.

❖ There are a number of Attributes in this Hadith:

Firstly: Amazement; based on his statement: “Our Lord is amazed at the despair of His slaves.” THE GLORIOUS QUR’AN HAS POINTED TO THIS ATTRIBUTE. Allah, Exalted is He, says:

Nay I WONDERED (‘Ajibtu) while they mock. (As-Saffat 37:12)

According to the recitation with Damma on the Ta’i.[1]

— It also contains a clarification of Allah’s power, based on his statement: “And the closeness of His change” and that His, the Mighty and Sublime, power is perfect. Whenever He wills, He changes the situation from one state to the opposite within a short period of time.

— It also affirms looking, based on his statement: “He is looking at you.”

— And affirms laughing, based on his statement: “He continues laughing.”

— And similarly, knowledge: “knowing that your relief is near”

— And mercy, because the relief is from Allah, which is evidence of Allah’s mercy for His slaves.

And with all of these Attributes which this Hadith is evidence for, IT IS OBLIGATORY UPON US TO AFFIRM THAT THEY ARE REAL FOR ALLAH, the Mighty and Sublime, ACCORDING TO THEIR REALITIES, AND THAT WE NOT MAKE Ta’wil WITH THEM.

❖ The behavioral benefit in this, is that when someone knows this about Allah, Glorious and Exalted is He, he will avoid this matter; that is despairing of Allah’s mercy. And it is for this reason that despairing of Allah’s mercy is one of the major sins. (Commentary On Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s Al-‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah, by The Virtuous Shaikh, Al-‘Allamah Muhammad bin Salih Al-‘Uthaymin [Darussalam Publications, 2008], Volume 2, pp. 37-44; capital emphasis mine)

[1] Reported by Al-Bukharl (2826) and Muslim (1890) from the narrations of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him. (Ibid., p. 37)

[1] Based on the report of Waki’ bin ‘Ads from his paternal uncle, Abu Razin who said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Our Lord laughs at the despair of his slaves and nearness of His change.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Does our Lord laugh?’ He said: ‘Yes.’” He said: ‘We will never lack any goodness from the Lord who laughs.” Reported by Ahmad (4:11,12), Ibn Majah (181), Al-Baihaqi in Al-Asma’ was-Sifat (987), Al-Ajurri in Ash-Shari’ah (279), Ibn Abi’ Asim in As-Sunnah (1:244), and Al-Albani graded the Hadith Hasan (good) in As-Silsilah As-Sahihah (2810 manuscript as quoted from him by the brother ‘Ali Al-Halabi in his verification of Al-‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah page 41), see also what comes after it. (Ibid., p. 40)

[1] From the Hadith of Abu Razin, according to Ibn Kathir in his explanation of His saying, Exalted be He: “Or think you that you will enter paradise.” (Al-Baqarah 2:214) and its wording is: “Your Lord IS AMAZED” and in place of Ghiyarihi (His change), there is Ghaythihi (His rain). (Ibid., p. 41; capital emphasis mine)

[1] Translation note: Referring to the recitation of As-Saffat 37:1. Meaning, ‘Ajibtu (with Damma on the Ta’); “I wondered” as in the recitation reported FROM IBN MAS’UD AND OTHERS, while what is popular is ‘Ajibta (with Fath on the Ta’) which is “You wondered.” (Ibid., p. 43; capital emphasis mine)

It is interesting that Ibn Taymiyyah and the commenter al-Uthaymin both acknowledge that there is a variant reading of Q. 37:12, one where it is Allah instead of Muhammad who said to be astounded over the ridicule of the disbelievers. This alternate rendering is noted by the following Quranic translation which mentions some of the different Arabic readings in its footnotes:

Rather, yousg were amazedd as they ridicule. And when reminded, they remember not. S. 37:12

Qd Hamza, Al-Kes’ai and Khalaf read it as: “Rather, I gravely noted as they ridicule.” (Fadel Soliman, Bridges’ Translation of the Ten Qira’at of the Noble Qur’an [AuthorHouse, 2020], p. 299; bold and underline emphasis mine)

We, therefore, have allegedly sound narrations attributed to Muhammad, and even from the Quran itself, confirming that Allah is a spatialized, anthropomorphized deity who is not only composed of material organs, and therefore bound to time, space and place, but who also exhibits human traits such as amazement, bewilderment and laughter.

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