A CENSURE OF TA’WEEL
This is the very nature of ta’weel. Not only does it contradict the way of the Salaf (as will be shown) but it also leaves one unsure as to whether the understanding arrived at through ta’weel is the one intended by the text. If Allaah has said Hand, how can the interpreter be sure that He, the Most High, intended by this something other than Hand, such as: power, bounty or favour etc?
Just as al-Haafidh ibn Hajar indicated:
"The one who takes the path of the Khalaf cannot be sure that that which he makes ta’weel of is the intended meaning and it is not possible to be certain of the correctness of the ta’weel."
(Fath al-Baaree 13/436 of ibn Hajar)
Kabbani himself (p.165) quotes al-Bayhaqee as saying:
"Bayhaqi said: ‘The safest method is to believe in them (i.e. the Attributes) without
modality, and to keep silence concerning what is meant except if the explanation is
conveyed from the Prophet himself, in which case it is followed.’"
If the safest way is to remain silent unless there is an explanation from the Prophet
sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, why does Kabbani then not follow this principle? There is little benefit in Kabbani listing the works of al-Bayhaqee amongst his ‘Recommended Books of Sound Doctrine’ (p.211) and then contradicting the advice contained in them. Where is the text from the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam showing us that he performed ta’weel of the Attribute of Hand and explained it to mean power, bounty or favour etc. as Kabbani has done?
Imaam al-Juwaynee explained in his retraction from the way of the Ash’arees:
"I did not find anything by which he (the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) followed up such texts (about the Attributes) with which he described his Lord, neither with another text nor with anything that would cause the meanings to be removed from their real (haqeeqah) meaning or cause ta’weel to be made of them… I did not find that he sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to warn the people from having faith in what was apparent in his speech with which he described his Lord, whether it was concerning Allaah being above His creation or the Hands of Allaah or other than these. There is nothing recorded from him which proves that these Attributes have another inner meaning other than what is apparent from their meaning…"
(Risaalah Ithbaatul-Istawaa wal-Fawqiyyah, pp.176-183, which is part of Majmoo’atur-
Qaadee Abu Ya’laa (d.458H) said:
"The proof for the futility of ta’weel is that the Companions and those who followed them from the Successors understood them (the Attributes) upon their apparent meaning and they did not take recourse to ta’weel nor did they move away from the apparent meaning. If ta’weel were permissible, they would have preceded us in it…"
(Ibtaalut-Ta’weelaat li-Akhbaar as-Sifaat, p.21, manuscript)
"The scholars of the Salaf explained the important and the unimportant words (from the
Qur’aan and Sunnah)… as for the verses and the ahaadeeth about the Attributes, they
never subjected them to ta’weel and they are the most important (texts) in the Religion. So if ta’weel were permissible they would have undertaken it. Know with certainty that
reciting them and leaving them as they came is the truth, there is no explanation for them
other than this. We believe this and remain silent, following the Salaf, in the belief that
they are the Attributes of Allaah… and that they do not resemble the Attributes of the
(Siyaar A’laamun-Nubalaa 10/505 of adh-Dhahabee)
Indeed, speaking about the Attributes of Allaah is to speak about an affair of the Unseen.
Allaah is to be described only with that which He has described Himself, either in the
Qur’aan or in the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. To do otherwise
and take the words conveyed in the texts away from their apparent meaning would be to
offer an interpretation which could only be permissible by another revealed text, since it is only through revelation that knowledge of the Unseen can be arrived at.
Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree writes, after mentioning some narrations on speaking about the
Qur’aan from personal opinion:
"These reports bear witness to what we have said, that it is not permissible for anyone to
interpret, according to his opinion, those verses of the Qur’aan whose interpretation can
only be known through a text of the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or
through an indication towards it which he has given."
(Jaami’ al-Bayaan 1/pp.77-78)
Ibn Qudaamah (d.620H) wrote:
"If he should say: ‘You have abstained from the interpretation of the Qur’anic verses and
narrations which have come down to us in respect of the Attributes,’ claiming that the
Salaf did make ta’weel of them and explain them, then he is uttering falsehood, forging
lies, and is guilty of the most grievous aberration. For there is no question about the fact
that the doctrine of the Salaf, in this regard, consisted in acknowledgement, unreserved
approval, and avoidance of the temerity of using allegorical interpretation (ta’weel) and
resemblance. Moreover, the fundamental rule is to presume the lack of their use of ta’weel. So let him who claims that they did interpret them allegorically produce evidence in support of his statement. But there is no way of knowing this save by the transmission and relation of narrations. Let him then transmit to us narrations to this effect on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam or his Companions or from one of the Successors or one of the approved Imaams. Furthermore, he who claims this is one of the people of kalaam (theological rhetoric), and they are the most ignorant of men with regard to the narrations."
(Tahreem an-Nazar fee Kutub Ahl al-Kalaam, no.16. It has been translated and edited in
English as ‘Ibn Qudama’s Censure of Speculative Theology’ by George Makdisi, 1985, p.7, from which I have adapted these quotes)
Ibn Qudaamah goes on to say (no.53; p.21 of the translation):
"Ta’weel is tantamount to the passing of judgement upon Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, regarding matters which the interpreter does not know, and the interpretation of His intent by that which the interpreter does not know that He intended. Now, the most that the interpreter can claim is that a given expression admits a given meaning in the classical language. But it does not necessarily follow from the mere fact of the expression’s admissibility of this meaning, that this meaning is intended by it. For just as it may admit this meaning, it may also admit others. It may even admit still other meanings with which the interpreter is not acquainted. Besides, he does not possess an encompassing knowledge of the content of dialects. This is especially true of the people of kalaam; for they are strangers to the knowledge of dialects and the beneficial sciences."
KABBANI’S DECEPTION IN CLAIMING TO REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF
Later we will look at Kabbani’s attempts to ascribe ta’weel to the Salaf and some of the
arguments used to support his theory. Before proceeding to do so, however, one is left
somewhat mystified as to why Kabbani even troubles himself to find a link between his way and that of the Pious Predecessors of this Ummah and to claim to broadcast their views under the banner of Ahlus-Sunnah? He said about his teacher:
"When Mawlana Sheikh Nazim opens something, if that something is to be found in
books, then it is not important. He only opens something that has never been written.
Every second there is creation of knowledge (I’m laughing) Bold italics is mine."
(Kabbani, Mercy Oceans Shore of Safety, pp.92-93, 1993)
Why then, in contrast to the way of his teacher, does Kabbani try to reproduce what is
contained in the books of the earlier generations if, as he says, such things are not
Kabbani goes on to say:
"Their knowledge has become as nothing in the ocean of knowledge of the saints of this
present day umma. Every second, there is creation of new knowledge. Previous knowledge is over and done with. It is now limited to its own time and place." (ibid, p.93)
What benefit, therefore, is there in Kabbani quoting the earlier scholars if, as he would
have us understand, their knowledge is over and done with, it is now limited to its own
time and place?
Just as it is said about his teacher:
"Nor did he (Nazim al-Qubrusi) accept that translations of some traditional tafseers
(Commentaries) would be useful because they were intended for the scholars (‘ulama) of
that time to provide explanations for their own people."
(Preface to Nazim’s, The Quran for 20th Century Man, p.1, no publication date given)
Why then does Kabbani in his work translate excerpts from the traditional Tafseer of at-
Tabaree (e.g. on pp.137, 144, 169) as well as the Tafseer of al-Qurtubee (e.g. p.147) if these were only intended to provide explanations for people of their own time?
Kabbani’s teacher describes an incident in which a scholar is rebuked by Allaah on the Day of Judgement because he had merely memorised the Qur’aan, thousands of hadeeth, knew many points of Divine Law and jurisprudence from the Imaams of the Schools of Law and spoke with the quotations of al-Hasan al-Basree and al-Ghazaalee! He is asked to bring some knowledge other than this because, as Nazim al-Qubrusi says: "… he had gained no knowledge whatsoever during the course of his life."
(Nazim, Mercy Oceans’ Endless Horizons, p.56, 1982)
If acquiring these fields of knowledge will not benefit the Muslim in the Hereafter, then
what will? If what is required is something other than these, why does Kabbani mention
the Qur’aan and hadeeth in his book and quote the Imaams of the Madhabs, as well as
repeating (accurately or otherwise) the words of al-Hasan al-Basree (e.g. p.195) and al-
Ghazaalee (pp.139, 171, 200)?
Is all of this the approach of someone who is seeking the way of the Salaf? Or is it the way of someone who is looking to devalue the statements of our Pious Predecessors, not to mention disheartening the Muslims from memorising the Qur’aan and hadeeth, so that it becomes an open licence to say whatever he wishes about the Religion whilst masquerading as someone who is representing Ahl as-Sunnah?
After casting aside the knowledge of the Salaf, they have the audacity to claim that their
teachings enable their followers to reach the level of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa
"The Naqshabandi Order teaches the very highest good manners, manners which make its
followers lovely to their Lord and to all people. It gives them subtle and exact perception
which enables them to arrive at the very essence of any matter; that is the level of the Holy Prophet himself."
(Nazim, Mercy Oceans’ Endless Horizons, pp.85-86)
In all of this there is also a reply to Kabbani’s sweeping slander (pp.2-3): "They (i.e. the
Salafis) consider that anyone who continues on the way of these noble ancestors to be a
kafir or disbelievers, as if all these great imaams were wrong and their Islam doubtful!"
Aside from challenging Kabbani to support this irresponsible accusation with proof from
the works of the Salafis, we also ask: Who is it that is leading people away from the Islaam of the noble ancestors? Is it the Salafis, or is it Kabbani and his teachers who, as we have just seen, would have us accept that previous knowledge is over and done with, that translations of traditional commentaries of the Qur’aan are of no use and that learning the jurisprudence of the Imaams of the Schools of Law will have no worth before Allaah on the Day of Judgement?
One should take Kabbani’s claim about his book that: "This book and the second volume
bearing the same title, are only a foundation for the correct teaching of the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’a…" (p.3) with a very large pinch of salt!