General Principles Regarding Allaah's Attributes
Alawee ibn `Abdil-Qaadir as-Saqqaaf
Source: Sifaatullaah `Azza wa Jalla al-Waaridah fil-Kitaab was-Sunnah (trans. by Dawud Burbank)
The First Principle
"Affirmation of everything that Allaah affirmed for
Himself in His Book, or which His Messenger, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa
sallaam, affirmed for Him. Without distorting (tahreef), without denial (ta'teel), and without saying how they are (takyeef) and without making any resemblance with the creation (tamtheel)." ['Aqeedatus-Salaf Ashaabul-Hadeeth of as-Saaboonee, p. 4, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 3/3, 4/182, 5/26, 6/38 and 515.]
Since Allaah knows better about Himself than anyone else, and His
Messenger, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallaam, knows better than rest of
creation about his Lord.
The Second Principle
"To deny for Allaah everything which He has denied
for Himself in His Book, or which His Messenger denied for Him, whilst
believing its fully perfect opposite is confirmed for Allaah, the Most
High." [Al-'Aqeedatut-Tadmuriyyah, of Ibn Taymiyyah, p. 55, Al-Jawaab Saheeh Liman Baddala Deenal-Maseeh, by him also, 3/139.]
Since Allaah knows better about Himself than His creation, and His
Messenger out of all the people is the one who knows best about His
Lord, so denying death for Him includes affirmation of His perfect
Life, and denying oppression for Him includes affirmation of His
perfect Justice, and denying sleep for Him includes affirmation of His
perfect charge/control over everything.
The Third Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Might and Magnificent, are only to be spoken of in accordance with a text (tawfeeqiyyah).
So nothing is affirmed for Him except that which Allaah affirmed for
Himself (or which) was affirmed for Him by His Messenger, and nothing
is denied for Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent, except that which He
denied for Himself, was was denied for Him by His Messenger,
sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallaam." [Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/26]
Since there is no one who knows better about Allaah than Allaah, the
Most High, (Himself), and there is no one of the creation who knows
better about His Creator than Allaah's Messenger, sallallaahu 'alaihi
The Fourth Principle
"To halt with regard to vague terms which are not
found to be affirmed or denied textually, in wording or meaning, so
further explanation is sought. Then if something false is meant by it,
then we declare Allaah free of that and reject it, and if something
that is true and something that is not to be denied for Allaah, then it
is accepted and the correct terminology as found in the text is to be
made clear. And one should call for its usage in place of this vague
and newly-introduced wording." [At-Tadmuriyyah, p. 65, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/299, 6/36]
An example of this is the term 'direction.' We halt, neither affirming
or denying it, and we ask the one who says it, 'What do you mean by
direction?' So if he says, 'I mean a place which contains Him.' Then we
say, 'This is something false and Allaah is to be declared free from
this, and we reject it.' But if he says, 'That He is unrestrictedly
above.' Then we say, 'This is true it is not to be denied for Allaah,'
and we accept the meaning from him, and we say, 'However, it is more
fitting that you say, 'He is above the heavens,' or 'He is above,' as
occurs in the authentic texts.' But as for the term 'direction' then it
is vague and a novelty, so it is better to leave it.
The Fifth Principle
"Every attribute which is established by an authentic report definitely agrees with sound intellect." [Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iq al-Mursalah, 1/141 and 253.]
The Sixth Principle
"To cut off any hope of reaching the reality of 'how.' As He, the Most High, says:
And they will never compass anything of His knowledge. [Soorah Taa haa (20):110]
[Manhaj wa Diraasaat li Aayaatil-Asmaa was-Sifaat, of Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqeetee, p. 26.]
The Seventh Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, are affirmed in detail/specifically, whereas denial is done generally." [Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 6/37 and 515]
So detailed and specific affirmation is, for example, affirming Hearing
and Seeing, and the rest of the attributes. As for generalised denial,
then like denial of any likeness as in His saying:
There is nothing like unto Him [Soorah Shooraa (42):11]
The Eighth Principle
"Every name confirmed for Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, is inclusive of an attribute, but the opposite is not the case."
[Badaa'i'ul-Fawaa'id, 1/162 of Ibnul-Qayyim, Al-Qawaa'idul Muthlaa fee
Sifaatillaah wa Asmaa'ihil Husnaa, p. 30 of Ibn 'Uthaymain]
For example, Allaah's name ar-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful) incorporates the attribute of mercy, al-Kareem (The Munificent) incorporates the attribute of munificence and al-Lateef
(the Most Gentle and the All-Perceiving) incorporates the attribute of
gentleness and being all-perceiving and so on. However, as for His
attributes, (such as) His Will, His Coming, His Ascending-then names
are not to be derived from them such as, 'The One who Wills,' 'The
Comer,' 'The One who Ascended,' etc.
The Ninth Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Most High, are perfect, containing no deficiency in any sense at all." [Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/206, Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iq al-Mursalah, 1/232 and Badaa'i'ul-Fawaa'id, 1/168]
The Tenth Principle
"Attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent, are dhaatiyyah - those pertaining to His Self, and fi'liyyah - those pertaining to His actions, and there is no limit or end to His actions.
And Allaah does what He wills." [Soorah Ibraaheem (14):27]
[Al-Qawaa'idul Muthlaa, p. 30]
The Eleventh Principle
"The proof from the Book and Sunnah for the establishment of an attribute is either:
(i) by clearly stating it,
(ii) or by its being incorporated by the name,
(iii) or by clear statement of an action or a description proving it." [Al-Qawaa'idul-Muthlaa, p. 35]
Examples of the first are Mercy, Might, Power, His Face, His Hands and His Fingers etc.
Examples of the second are al-Baseer (The Seeing) which incorporates the attribute of sight, and as-Samee' (The Hearing) which incorporates the attribute of hearing, and so on.
Examples of the third are (His Saying):
Ar-Rahmaan rose over the Throne [Soorah Taa Haa (20):5]
Which proves His having ascended, and (another example is His saying):
We shall exact retribution from the Mujrimoon [Soorah as-Sajdah (32):22]
Which proves that He exacts retribution, and so on.
The Twelfth Principle
"One may seek refuge with Allaah, the Might and Magnificent's, attributes and swear an oath by them."
[Majmoo'ul-Fatwaawaa, 6/143 and 229, and see Sharhus-Sunnah of
al-Baghawee (1/185-187) and some of them differentiate between swearing
an oath by an attribute pertaining to an action and one pertaining to
His Self, and they say, 'It is not permissible to swear (check?) by an
attribute pertaining to an action.']
From this is his, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallaam, saying, "I seek refuge of Your Pleasure from Your Wrath, and from Your granting safety from Your punishment .." reported by Muslim (no. 486), and therefore al-Bukhaaree named a chapter heading in the Book of Oaths and Vows, "Chapter: Swearing an Oath by the Might of Allaah and His Attributes and His Words."
The Thirteenth Principle
"Speech concerning the attributes is like speech about His Self."
[Al-Kalaam 'alas-Sifaat of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee, p. 20, Al-Hujjah
fee Bayaanil-Mahajjah of Qawaamsu-Sunnah (al-Asbahaanee), 1/173,
At-Tadmuriyyah (p. 43) and Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/330 and 6/355]
Since just as His Self is real and does not resemble that of other than
Him, then it is characterised by real attributes which also do not
resemble the attributes of others, and just as affirming His Self is an
affirmation of existence but not of 'how'-then the same is true of the
The Fourteenth Principle
"Speech concerning some of the Attributes is like speech about the rest of them." [At-Tadmuriyyah, p. 31 and Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/212]
So whoever affirms the attributes of Allaah like Hearing, Seeing and
Will, must therefore affirms Allaah's Loving, being Pleased, His Anger
and His Hating. Shikhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, "And
whoever differentiates between one attribute and another, despite their
being the same with regard to reasons for their being literal or
metaphorical-then he is contradicting himself, erroneous in his
position, resembling those who believed in a part of the Book and
disbelieved in other parts."
The Fifteenth Principle
"Whatever is attributed to Allaah and is not
something separate from Him, then it is an attribute of His and not
something created, and everything that is attributed to Him and is
something separate from Him, then it is something created. So not
everything which is attributed to Allaah is necessarily an attribute of
His." [Al-Jawaab as-Saheeh liman-Baddala Deenal-Maseeh,3/145,
Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 9/290, Majmoo' Fataawaa wa Rasaa'il ibn 'Utahimain,
Examples of the first are: Allaah's Hearing, Allaah's Seeing, His being Pleased and His Wrath.
Examples of the second are: The House of Allaah, the She-Camel of Allaah.
The Sixteenth Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and
Magnificent, and all other matters of 'aqeedah are established by that
which is established from Allaah's Messenger, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa
sallaam, even if it is a single hadeeth, even if it is aahaad." [Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iqul-Mursalah, 2/332, 412 and 43]
The Seventeeth Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and
Magnificent, which are established in the Book and the Sunnah, are
known and are explained literally-never metaphorically or figuratively.
But as for ;how' they are, then that is unknown." [For a reply
to the doubts and claims of similarity refer to,
Ar-Risaalatul-Hamawiyyatul-Kubraa and Ar-Risaaltul-Marraakhashiyyah,
all of them within Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 3/1-128, 1/160-194, 5/5-121 and
5/133-193, and all of them have also been published separately]
[At-Tadmuriyyah, pp. 43-44, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/36-42,
Mukhtasarus-Sawaa'iqul-Mursalah, 1/238 and 2/106]
The Eighteenth Principle
"Whatever occurs in the Book or the Sunnah, then it
is binding upon every Believer to hold what it entails as his saying
and to believe in it, even is he does not understand its meaning." [At-Tadmuriyyah, p. 65, Majmoo'ul-Fataawaa, 5/295 and Daqaa'qut-Tafseer, 5/245]
The Nineteenth Principle
"The domain of reports [I.e., about Allaah and His
actions] is wider than that of the attributes, and so things related
about Him are not necessarily dependant solely upon text, such as 'The
Pre-Existing,' that He is a 'thing,' that He 'exists.'" [Badaa'I'ul-Fawaa'id if Ibnul-Qayyim, 1/162]
The Twentieth Principle
"No analogy is made regarding the attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and Magnificent." [Sha'nud-Du'aa of al-Khattaabee, p. 111]
So no analogy is made between His liberality (sakhaa') and His generosity (jood). Nor between His Strength (Jalad) and His Might (Qawwah). Nor His Capability (isti'aanah) and His Power (Qudrah). Nor His Compassion (riqqah) and His Mercy (rahmah) and (ra'fah).
Nor His being Aware and His Knowing and so on. Since with regard to the
attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, we may not go beyond the
principle of halting until a text is found, as has been seen in the
The Twenty-First Principle
"The attributes of Allaah, the Mighty and
Magnificent, cannot be enumerated, since every name comprises an
attribute as has preceded, and Allaah's names cannot be enumerated
since from them are those which Allaah has retained with Himself in the
knowledge of the Unseen."