The Accusation that ibn Taymiyyah held Allah subject to movement (Harakah)

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The basis of this accusation is that, like the Salaf, ibn Taymiyyah believed that Allah descends to the Lowest Heaven in the last third of the night, and that He has the Attribute of Coming (Majee`). So the opponents adduced against him that he held Allah to move from one place to another, and this resembles Allah to His creation.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)

A Gimpse at the Belief of the Salaf to do with Descent

Imaam al-Aajurree (d.360) says in his exposition on Aqueedah, under the chapter ‘to have faith and trust that Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night.’

  “Faith in this is obligatory, and it is not allowed for the intelligent Muslim to say, ‘how does he descend?’ – and none would answer this except the Mu`tazila. [For example the saying of some, that His command descends, and the saying of others that His angels descend etc.] As for the people of truth, then they say, ‘faith in this is obligatory without asking how. Because the narrations are authentic to the Messenger ﷺ – that Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night – and the ones who transmitted this narration to us are the ones that transmitted the rules of the lawful and prohibited, the knowledge of salaah, zakaah, fasting, hajj, and jihaad. So just as the scholars accepted these from them then like this they accepted from them these Sunan. They said, ‘the one who opposed these is horribly misguided’ – warning him and warning against him.” [ ‘ash-Sharee`ah’ (pg. 272)]

Then he goes on to mention the ahaadeeth that occur on this subject.

The great hadeeth master, ibn Khuzaymah brings a chapter heading in his work ‘at-Tawheed’, “mentioning the narrations of Descent,” in which he mentions many ahaadeeth to do with this Attribute.

al-Laalikaa`ee (d.414) brings a chapter heading in his encyclopaedic work on aqueedah – Sharh Usul I`tiqaad – , “what is related about the Descent of the Lord, Blessed and Exalted, is He”

He states that the ahaadeeth that Allah descends to the lowest heaven have been reported by twenty companions and then….

“775) Fudail bin Ayaad (Taabi`ee) said, ‘when you hear the Jahmi say, “I disbelieve in a Lord Who descends”- say – “I believe in a Lord Who does what He wills”’

776) Yahya bin Ma`een said, ‘when you hear the Jahmi say, “I disbelieve in a Lord Who descends”, then say, ‘I believe in a Lord Who does what He desires.”’

777) Imaam Ahmad said, ‘He descends as He wills, according to His Knowledge and Power and Greatness. He encompasses everything with His Knowledge.’

Similar narrations occur in Khalq Af`aal al-Ebaad of Imaam al-Bukhari and ‘Ghunya at-Taalibeen’ of Abdul Qaadir Jeelaanee.

Imaam Abdullaah bin Ahmad narrates in his work ‘as-Sunnah’,

  “508) After mentioning the hadeeth of Descent the people said to Shareek, ‘verily there are a people who reject these ahaadeeth.’ He said, ‘what do they say?’

They said, ‘they abuse these ahaadeeth.’

He replied, ‘Those who brought (i.e. Companions) these ahaadeeth, are those who brought the Qur`aan, and that the prayers are five, and the Hajj to the House, and the fast of Ramadaan. And we do not know Allah except by these ahaadeeth.’

509) Abaad bin al-Awaam said, Shareek bin Abdullaah came to us about fifty years ago. He said (Abaad), ‘I said, “O Abu Abdullaah, verily there is a people with us from the Mu`tazila who reject these ahaadeeth.”’

He said, ‘so he narrated to me about ten ahaadeeth to do with this (i.e. the Descent of Allah) and said, “as for us we take our religion from the taabi`een from the companions of the Messenger ﷺ, from where do they take theirs?”’

Abul Hasan al-Ash`aree (d.294) said, “and we believe in all the narrations that the People of Transmission have established about the Descent to the lowest heaven and that the Lord says, ‘is there one who is asking? Is there one who is seeking forgiveness?’ And in the generality of what they transmit and establish, at odds to what the people of deviancy and misguidance say.” [‘al-Ibaanah’ (pg. 60) of Abu Hasan al-Ash’aree]

He also said, “and we believe in the ahaadeeth that have come from the Messenger ﷺ that Allah descends to the lowest Heaven and says, ‘is there one who is seeking forgiveness?’” [‘al-Maqaalaat’ (pg. 224) of Abu Hasan al-Ash’aree]

So we say yet again, if by ibn Taymiyyah’s affirmation of this Attribute, that Allah indeed Descends to the lowest heaven as befits His Majesty, is misguidance then so are all of the above scholars, and in fact Ahlus Sunnah itself misguided! And so is the very Imaam that the accusers claim to follow misguided, Abu Hasan al-Ash`aree!

Ibn Taymiyyah says, while discussing the use of the word ‘harakah’,

“…like Harb al-Kirmaanee, and Uthmaan bin Sa`eed ad-Daarimee and others. Indeed these clearly used the word harakah and they made clear that this was the madhab of the Imaams of Ahlus Sunnah and Hadeeth from the early and the later.

Harb al-Kirmaanee mentioned that this was the saying of the Imaams of Ahlus Sunnah that he had met, like Ahmad bin Hanbal, and Ishaaq bin Raahawiyyah, and Abdullaah bin Zubair al-Humaidee and Sa`eed bin Mansur.

Sa`eed bin Mansoor and others said: indeed harakah (movement) is from the necessary qualities of life and every living thing moves. They made out that denying this was from the saying of the Jahmiyyah upon whom Ahlus Sunnah are agreed with respect to their misguidance and innovation.

Another group from the Salaf, like Nu`aym bin Hammad al-Khazaa`ee, and Bukhari the author of the ‘Saheeh’, and Abu Bakr ibn Khuzaymah, and others like Abu Umar bin Abd al-Barr, affirmed the meaning of what they (the first group) affirmed but they named it Actions (of Allah). From these were those that forbade the use of the word harakah due to its not being narrated.” [‘Dar at-Ta`aarud’ (7/2)]

  He said, “the word harakah was affirmed by a group from Ahlus Sunnah and Hadeeth and this is what was mentioned by Harb bin Ismaa`eel al-Kirmaanee in his ‘Sunnah’ which he relates from a group of Imaams that he met like al-Humaidee and Ahmad bin Hanbal….

Some groups of Ahlus Sunnah negated the usage of the word harakah like Abu al-Hasan at-Taymee and Abu Sulaymaan al-Khattaabee….

What is narrated from Imaam Ahmad is the rejection of the one that negates movement but neither is the usage of the word harakah established from him, even though he may have affirmed some types (of Attributes and Actions) that the affirmer (of the word harakah) would have placed within the ranks of the word harakah. For when he heard someone narrating the hadeeth of Descent and saying, ‘He Descends without movement and transmission, and without change.’ So Imaam Ahmad rejected this and said, ‘say as the Messenger ﷺ said, for he was more shy of His Lord than you.’” [‘al-Istiqaamah’ (1/70)]

So from this we learn that:

From the salaf were those who negated the usage of the word harakah because it did not occur in the Qur`aan and Sunnah when describing Allah, but they affirmed the Attributes of Descent, Coming etc.

From the salaf were those who affirmed the word harakah meaning that Allah Comes, and Descends etc. and it is not like the movement of the Creation but rather as it befits His Majesty.

Shaykh al-Islaam quotes the two sayings stating that in meaning that they are the same and that there is no resembling Allah to His creation in this. He himself only affirms the Attributes of Allah without adding anything further.

Finally ibn Taymiyyah belonged to the first group above. So with all of this, the fourth accusation is cleared and all praise is due to Allah.

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at www.islamia.tv.)



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