Sharh Aqidah al-Awam: The Attributes of Allah (The Exalted)

Salam, please find the next installment in this series, namely Shaykh Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki’s commentary on Imam al-Marzuqi’s poem ‘Aqidah al-Awam’  (as recorded by his student Ustadh Muhammad Ihya Ulum al-Din).  I have made omitted some minor things from the chapter.  Note:  This is a draft work in need of revision.

Chapter One

Regarding the Attributes of Allah (the Exalted)

 (That which is necessary with regards to Him the Exalted- That which is possible with regards to Him the Exalted- That which is impossible with regard to Him the تعالى)

 – That which is necessary with regards to Him the Exalted

 The author Allah have mercy on Him said:

وبَعْدُ فَاعْلَمْ بِوُجُوْبِ المَعْرِفَهْ    مِنْ وَاجِبٍ ِللهِ عِشْرِيْنَ صِفَهْ   

After, know the necessity of knowing the twenty attributes which are necessary for Allah

    فَاللهُ مَوْجُودٌ قَدِيْمٌ بَاقِىْ    مُخَالِفٌ لِلخَلْقِ بِالإِطْلاَقِ      

So Allah has existence, without beginning, everlasting, different from the creation absolutely

   وَقَائِمٌ غَنِىٌّ وَوَاحِدٌ وَحَىْ    قَادِرٌ مُرِيْدٌ عَالِمٌ بِكُلِّ شَىْء       

Self Subsisting without any need, the One and the Living, Powerful, Willing, Knower of everything

          سَمِيْعٌ البَصِيرُ وَ الُمتَكَلِّمُ     لَهُ صِفَاتٌ سَبْعةٌ تَنْتَظِمُ         

All Hearing, All Seeing and Speaking, He has seven attributes which consist

    فَقُدْرَةٌ إِرَادةٌ سَمْعٌ بَصَرْ     حَياَةٌُ العِلمُ كَلامُ استَمَرْ

So they are Power, Will, Hearing and Seeing, Life, Knowledge, Speech which is continuous

Commentary:  It is compulsory upon every responsible person to know from the attributes of Allah those which are necessary with regards to Him:  Which is that whose absence the intellect cannot comprehend. 

That which is impossible with regards to Him: Which is whose existence the intellect cannot comprehend. 

And the permissible:  Which with regards to Him is that which is correct for the intellect to comprehend the existence and absence of

Likewise it is compulsory for him to know the likes of it with regards to the Messengers (upon them blessings and peace).  The author began in these verses by mentioning that which is necessary with regards to Him (تعالى), and they are twenty attributes detailed as follows:

1) Existence: Meaning the establishment (thubut) of a thing.  It is certainly necessary for Him (تعالى) due to His essence  and not due a cause, meaning that other than Him has not effected/caused His (تعالى)  existence.

As for existence which is other than from the essence (ghair dhati) such as our existence, then it is by His (تعالى) action.  The evidence for this is the existence of this creation, for if it was not for Him (Glorified and Exalted is He) there would be nothing from the creation (in existence).

He (تعالى) said:

Verily! I am Allah, There is no god except Me, so worship Me [Ta-Ha:14]

And He (تعالى) said: 

Do they not think deeply about themselves, Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord. [al-Rum:8]

 The desert Arab was asked regarding the proof, he replied:

The droppings point to the (existence) of the camel and donkey, and the footsteps to the traveller. So the heavens containing stars, and the earth with its mountain passes, and oceans and with its waves, do they not point towards a wise, powerful, all knowing creator?

2)  Without Beginning:  It is the absence of a beginning to His (تعالى) existence.  Meaning that He (تعالى) has no beginning to His existence because He (جل شأنه) is the origin (masdar) of this universe, and creator of all that exists.  Therefore He must precede it all, and nothing precedes Him (تعالى).  He (تعالى) said:

He is the First and the Last , the Most High and the Most Near. And He is the All-Knower of every thing [al-Hadid:3]

3) Everlasting:  It is His (تعالى) existence not coming to an end, meaning that He (تعالى) is continually existent without limit, and everlasting without end.  He (تعالى) said:

Everyone in it is annihilating and there only continues the Face of your Lord the Owner of Majesty and Generosity [al-Rahman:26-27] 

And He (تعالى) said: 

Everything will perish save His Face. His is the Decision, and to Him you (all) shall be returned. [al-Qasas:88]

4) His (تعالى) Non Resemblance to All Events:  It is the dissimilarity of any created thing to Him (سبحانه و تعالى), He (تعالى) said: 

There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is All Hearing and All Seeing.  [al-Shura:11]

And He (تعالى) said: 

And there is none like unto Him. [al-Ikhlas:4]

5) His (تعالى) Subsisting by Himself:  It is the absence of His needing a place in which he resides or location in which he dwells, or someone to bring Him into existence.  Rather He is without need of all that is other than Him.  He تعالى) said:   

(All) faces shall be humbled before (Him) – the Living, the Self-Subsisting  [Taha:111]

 He (تعالى) said:

O mankind! It is you that have need of God: but God is the One Free of all wants, worthy of all praise. [Fatir:15]

 He (تعالى) said:

For God is free of all needs from all creation [al-Ankabut:6]

6)  Oneness:  It is the absence of a multiplicity in His (تعالى) essence (dhat), Attributes (sifat) and Actions (afal). 

The meaning of oneness of the essence is:  That His essence is not constructed from parts, and that He has no partner in His dominion.

The meaning of oneness in attributes is:  That no one has an attribute which resembles any of His attributes.

The meaning of the oneness of actions is:  That no one other than Him (تعالى)  has any action.  For Allah is the creator of everything and originator of everything,  and He (تعالى) is independent in creating and originating.  He         (تعالى) said:

Glory be to Him! He is God, the One, the Irresistible. [al-Zumar:4]

He (تعالى) said:

And your God is One God: There is no god but He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. [al-Baqarah:163]

He (تعالى) said:

Say: He is God, the One and Only [al-Ikhlas:1]

 He (تعالى) said:

If there were, in them both other gods besides God, there would have been confusion in both! [al-Anbiyah:22]

He (تعالى) said:

No son did God beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to God! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him [al-Muminun:91]

7) Power:  It is a beginning less attribute established in His (تعالى) essence by which He brings into existence and non existence. 

Indeed God has power over all things. [al-Nur:45]

He (تعالى) said:  

 Nor is God to be frustrated by anything whatever in the heavens or on earth: for He is All-Knowing. All-Powerful. [Fatir:44]

8 ) Will:  It is a beginning less attribute established in His (تعالى) essence by which He specifies that which is possible with that which is possible for Him.  For He (سبحانه و تعالى) can dispose in the universe in accordance to his volition, will and wisdom.  So He may make this tall or short, beautiful or ugly, knowledgeable or ignorant in this place or in another. He (تعالى) said:   

For to anything which We have willed, We but say the word, “Be”, and it is. [al-Nahl:40]

He (تعالى) said:  

Your Lord does create and choose as He pleases: no choice have they (in the matter): Glory to God! and far is He above the partners they ascribe (to Him)! [al-Qasas:68]

He (تعالى) said:  

Say: “O God! Lord of Power (And Rule), You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please: You bestow honour whom you pleases, and you disgrace whom you please: In Your hand is all good. Verily, over all things You have power. [Aal-Imran:26]

He (تعالى) said:  

To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will, Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will: for He is full of Knowledge and Power. [al-Shura:49-50]

9) Knowledge: It is a beginning less attribute established in His (تعالى) essence by which He knows things.  He (تعالى) said:  

God has full knowledge of all thing. [al-Mujadilah:7]

He (تعالى) said:  

God comprehends, all things in (His) Knowledge. [al-Talaq:12]

He (تعالى) said:  

It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein. [Qaf:16]

10) Life:  It is a beginning less attribute of His essence which it is correct to attribute with Power, Will, Knowledge, Hearing, Seeing and Speech.  For if He (تعالى) was not living these attributes would not be established for Him.  He     (تعالى) said:  

And put your trust in Him Who lives and dies not [al-Furqan:58]

He (تعالى) said:  

He is the Living (One): There is no god but He: Call upon Him, giving Him sincere devotion. [Ghafir:65]

11-12) Hearing and Sight:  They are both beginning less attributes established in His (تعالى) essence by which that which exists is revealed.  For Allah (تعالى) is All Hearing, and hears everything even the creeping of a black ant over a smooth rock during a dark night.  He is All Seeing, viewing everything with a sight which is includes all that can be comprehended.  He  (تعالى) said:  

God has indeed heard the statement of the woman who pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in prayer) to God: and God (always) hears the arguments between both sides among you: for God hears and sees (all things) [al-Mujadilah:1]

He (تعالى) said: 

Go, both of you, to Fir’aun (Pharaoh), verily, he has transgressed, And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear Allah. They said: “Our Lord! Verily! We fear lest he should hasten to punish us or lest he should transgress (all bounds against us).He (Allah) said: “Fear not, verily! I am with you both, hearing and seeing.  [Taha:43-46]

13) Speech:  It is a beginning less attribute established in His essence, it is neither letter nor sound, indicating to all that is known.  He (تعالى) said:  

And to Moses God spoke direct [al-Nisa:164]

He (تعالى) said:  

When Moses came to the place appointed by Us, and his Lord spoke to him, [al-Araf:143]

He (تعالى) said:  

It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration [al-Shura:51]

If Power, Will, Knowledge, Life, Hearing, Sight, Speech are necessary for Him (تعالى), then it is natural that the following attributes also be necessary for Him, and they are: 

14) That He is Powerful

15) That He is Willing

16) That He is Knowledgeable

17) That He is Living

18) That He is All Hearing

19) That He is All Seeing

20) That He is Speaking

These twenty attributes are subdivided into four categories:

1) Attributes of Self (Sifah al-Nafsiyyah):  Linked/related to the self, meaning the essence.  The attribute of the self is that which the essence cannot be rationally conceived of being without, and it is one:  Existence.

2) Attributes of Negating (Sifat al-Salbiyyah):  Linked/related to [the term] negating, meaning nullifying.  They are named negating because they negate from Allah (Exalted) that which does not befit His Majesty.  And they are five:  Without beginning, Everlasting, Non resemblance to all events, Self Subsisting, and Oneness.

3) Attributes of Meaning (Sifat al-Maani):  They are named as ‘Meaning’ because they affirm for Allah (Exalted) meanings existing and established in His essence befitting His perfection, and they are seven:  Power, Will, Knowledge, Life, Hearing, Seeing, Speech.

4) Attributes Pertaining to Meaning (Sifat al-Manawiyyah):  Linked/related to the seven (attributes) of meaning of which they are a branch.  They are named as ‘pertaining to meaning’ because they are necessarily follow from the meanings.  They are that He is: Powerful, Willing, Knowledgeable, Living, All Hearing, All Seeing, Speaking.

The wisdom in mentioning these ‘attributes pertaining to meaning’ despite their being included in the aforementioned ‘attributes of meaning’ are the following:

i) Mentioning the beliefs in a detailed manner, because the danger of ignorance in it is great.

ii) A refutation of Mutazilah, as they deny them

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