03 Nov God’s Figurative Attributes.Part2
- “Asking” in “He asks the angels;”
- “Ordering” and “Prohibiting” in the Prophetic sayings where we see the phrases “He orders” and “He prohibits;”
- “Witnessing” in the sayings where the phrase “He wit nesses” is mentioned;
- “Moving Speedily” in the sayings such as “He moves speedily to respond with favor;”
- “Approaching” in such sayings as “He immediately approaches with favor;”
- “Descending” in the sayings such as “He descends to the heaven of the world,”76 and several other concepts such as:
- “Loving, Becoming Wrathful, the Best Form, Exhilaration, Smiling, Grasping, Contracting, Expanding, Struggling, Feeling Wonder, Showing Care, Heed and Sensitivity, Being with or Companionship” in the Prophetic sayings where we see the phrases, “He loves; He becomes wrathful; He is seen in the Best Form; He exhilarates;He smiles; He grasps; He expands; He struggles; He feels wonder; There is none more careful and sensitive than God,” and “I am with him when he mentions Me,” respectively.
The earliest scholars of Islam, who followed the way of the Prophet and his Companions very closely, acted in self-possession and with great care concerning the Figurative Attributes, in the same way they did with the subtle, very meaningful statements of the Qur’an. They admitted them to be among God’s Attributes and preferred referring their true meanings to God Almighty.
Unlike these scholars of the Ahlu’s-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘a, the followers of certain misguided sects, such as the Anthropomorphists (Mujassima) and the Comparers (Mushabbiha), asserted that God Almighty had a body and compared Him to the created, respectively; this was partly in order not to deny these Attributes, and thus the Divine Being was conceived as One Who, like human beings, has hands, feet, eyes, and ears, and Who descends, ascends, runs, gets near, becomes rejoiced, and smiles, etc.
As a result, they fell into mental misguidance. In contrast to such an extreme attitude as this, the Mu‘tazila and the Jahmiyya went to the opposite extreme and, considering that having such Attributes was not appropriate for the Divine Being, denied God any Attribute, rather asserting that there is only the Divine Being Himself with His Acts. However, the earliest, righteous Muslim scholars admitted the existence of all the Divine Attributes including the Figurative Ones, and referred the exact knowledge of their true nature to God Almighty.
In addition to their considerations of the Divine Essence and Attributes that are free from any comparison and anthropomorphism, they were able to view and speak of the Divine Being as absolutely exempt from any defects, resemblance, or partnership, and, in the following words of the scholars of religious essentials or basic principles, they ascertained the truth:
“God exists and has At tributes, without having any resemblance and bearing no comparison to anything created; He is absolutely free from any defect, resemblance, and comparison, but has Attributes and Names.”
Some of the scholars of later generations did not deem it harmful to make certain reasonable interpretations concerning the Attributes based on the essential principles of the Religion in order to preserve minds from adulteration with misguided thoughts and creeds.
For example, they interpreted “Descending” as the descent of God’s mercy, “Coming” as the coming of His punishment, “Self-Establishment on the Supreme Throne” as His demonstrating His absolute dominion, “Hand” as His bounties, Power, and ownership, “Moving Speedily” and “Getting Near” as God’s immediate response with favor and regard, and “Love” as His treating people pleasingly and mercifully.
Unless there is a necessity to respond to objections, following the way of the earliest righteous scholars is safer and is a better mannered approach. In case of necessity, the way of the righteous scholars of later generations may be adopted.
O God! I believe in You and in whatever comes from Your Presence. Enable us to follow Your Religion in safety and make us steadfast. Do not let our hearts swerve after You have guided us, and bestow upon us mercy from Your Presence. Surely You are the All-Bestowing. And bestow blessings and peace on our master and the intercessor for our sins, Muhammad, and on his Family and Companions, pure and clean. All praise and gratitude are for God, the Lord of the worlds.