Regarding The Text*: The "Hand" of Allāh  (swt)
by Gibril F Haddad

In SP; AF wrote [quoting al-Imam al-Dhahabi]:

"Why do you say: 'A hand in reality is this bodily limb'? Rather, a ʿhand' is homonym, and it is in accordance with, and of the same category of what it is attributed to. Therefore, if the thing described therewith is an animal then the hand would be a bodily limb. If it were was statue made of brass and stone, the hand would also be of brass and stone. If it were an image drawn on the wall, the hand would be a drawing. If it were that of which neither there is a like, nor it is a body, the hand would also be that of which neither there is a like, nor it is a body" He also says: "If it is said: 'In its conventional usage, a hand only refers to the limb that we all know of' We would say in reply: Similarly, in conventional usage, knowledge, hearing and seeing are only accidents that subsist in bodies. Where, then, is the difference?" [Ithbat al-Yad lilLahi subhanah p. 42-44 by al-Imam al-Dhahabi]
Would such a statement be acceptable according to the Ashʿaris?
A pertinent question in light of al-Dhahabi's historical position as leaning toward tajsim according to his student Ibn al-Subki. The latter might reply: A hand in reality is this bodily limb because this is what comes to mind first. Hence we need to be clear and clarify for the ʿawamm that such a haqiqi meaning applied to the verses of the Qur'an is kufr.

More: both the early Ashʿaris and the late ones have a mustalah or convention making it explicit that "Allah Most High is not described as an accident nor as a substance," and "His Hearing is without limb, organ, ear-drum, meatus, or any such appendage," "His seeing is without eye, pupil, iris, retina" etc. This is what is missing from al-Dhahabi's mustalah, hence he was banished by the Ashʿaris of his time , who prevented him from taking over Dar al-Hadith al- Ashrafiyya in Damascus for not being an Ashʿari.

Also, in what sense did some of the early ash'ari authorities affirm 'yad' as an attribute of Allah? Did they intend by this 'power' or did they affirm it in the manner that Imam Dhahabi appears to be doing above?

Who do you mean? They all precluded any literal meaning in the sense of limb which comes to mind. Look at Ibn Furak's ta'wil of the narration "The Black Stone is the Yamin of Allah Most High on earth" in his _Mushkil al-Hadith._

So, Yad as power is, as Ibn Daqiq al-ʿEid said in his rules of ta'wil, "ta'wil allowed by the language, doctrine, and reason," while aydin was found so current, lexically, as "power" that the notion of ta'wil has disappeared and the preception is that aydin = power is literal, the meaning of hands having been subsumed. WAllahu aʿlam.


The way Sh. Farid al-Baji (al-Himyari's ghostwriter for the book _al- Mafahim al-ʿAqdiyya_) defined it is the Yad and the like are indeed "sifaat idaafiyya." As for the rule that something cannot be attributed to Allah Most High unless one knows its meaning, the reply is that we do not even know the real meaning of the ruh, which is created, let alone what is attributed to Allah Most High.


[SP 2006-12-28; 2007-01-08]

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