Hadith 2. Fundamentals of Islam Part B

Also on the authority of `Umar (radi Allaahu ‘anhu), who said:

“One day while we were sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journey were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down in front of the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam), with his knees touching against the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs he said: “O Muhammad, tell me about Islaam.”The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Islaam is to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allaah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, to perform prayers, to give zakaah, to fast in Ramadaan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so.”He said: “You have spoken rightly”; and we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken rightly.He (the man) said: “Tell me about Eemaan.”He (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is to believe in Allaah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny (qadr), both the good and the evil of it.”He said: “You have spoken rightly.”He (the man) said: “Then tell me about Ihsaan.”He (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is to worship Allaah as though you see Him, and if you do not see Him, then (knowing that) truly He sees you.”He said: “Then tell me about the Hour.”He said: “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.”He said: “Then tell me about its signs.”He said: “That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, and that you will see barefooted, naked destitute shepherds competing in constructing lofty buildings.”Then he (the man) left, and I stayed for a time. The he (the Prophet, sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “O `Umar, do you know who the questioner was?”I said: “Allaah and His Messenger know best.”He said: “It was Jibreel, who came to teach you your religion.”

It was related by Muslim

Brief Commentary

  • Everyone is born with a natural inclination of wanting to worship Allah
  • Belief in Allah is of 3 levels
    • His lordship: that He created us, sustains us, nurtures us, will cause us to die, etc
    • His divinity: Only He is worthy of our worship, our repentance, seeking help, etc
    • His names and attributes: He is the only one with the most perfect of names and attributes
  • Although the people of Quraysh believed in the oneness of Allah with regards to His lordship, they denied the attribute of Allah’s divinity, so they believed it was only Him who created us, but they refused to worship Him alone and worshipped others with Him
  • Believing in the oneness of Allah with regards to His lordship is not sufficient by itself, hence the people of Quraysh were called disbelievers
  • Denying any of the 3 types of Allah’s oneness, or not affirming all 3 types of Allah’s oneness renders a person a disbeliever
  • Many people fall into the mistake of denying a part of Allah’s divinity, and this is due to their ignorance of what constitutes worship. Worship of Allah includes making du’aa, seeking refuge, slaughtering, making oaths, and praying. However, it also includes fear, hope, humility, seeking help and many other actions which many people do not see as worship
  • Not all types of fear, hope, humility, etc. fall into the oneness of Allah’s divinity, hence we must study them to understand and differentiate between what must be dedicated to Allah alone from what can be dedicated to the people
  • A brief summary is that any action which makes a person give others a right that only belongs to Allah is considered as associating partners with Allah and disbelief in Allah e.g. if you fear someone because you think he has the power to deprive you of your sustenance then you have associated partners with Allah by giving someone an attribute that only belongs to Allah (providing sustenance), and you have disbelieved in Allah because you have denied the oneness of Allah’s lordship in that you do not believe that it is only Allah who can provide sustenance
  • Belief in Allah’s names and attributes is something that many people fail to properly understand
  • We affirm whatever Allah has affirmed for Himself and do not go beyond that by trying to imagine what this attribute is
  • Ja’far Ibn ‘Abdullah said, “We were with Imam Malik, so a man came and recited to him ‘{The Most Merciful has ascended above His Throne}  Surah Taa Haa [20:5]. How has He ascended?’ So anger came over Imam Malik such that no affair like this had ever caused to come over him. So he looked towards the earth and scratched with his cane in his hand, until he raised his hand and wiped the sweat from his forehead, tossed the cane aside, and said, ‘The modality (how it is) cannot be comprehended by the intellect, and al-istiwaa’ (ascent) is not unknown, and having faith in it is obligatory, and the question concerning it is an innovation. And I think that you are a person of innovation,’ and he commanded him to leave.”
  • The reason why Imam Malik replied in such a harsh manner is because this man is trying to imagine how Allah’s attribute is, and by doing so, he will fall into a grave error by trying to contradict the Qur’an, as Allah said in Surah Al-shoora [42:11] that there is none like Him so His attributes are unimaginable
  • There are two extremes when it comes to belief in Allah’s names attributes:
    • Imagining/Likening what Allah says about Himself e.g. trying to imagine how He ascends, or imagining or likening His hands or His face to that of others. This is wrong because it contradicts the verse mentioned previously [42:11]
    • Negating Allah’s attributes due to trying to avoid contradiction of the above verse e.g. saying Allah does not have a hand, and His hand means power. This is wrong because it is negating something that Allah affirmed for Himself. Also, know that every negation has been preceded by a likening because you only negate it due to likening it to that of His creation
  • The correct belief with regards to Allah’s names and attributes is that which Imam Malik said in that we believe in it but do not go into how it is or how it looks like

Benefits and action points:

  • Study about Allah as you can only love who you know, and to avoid falling into disbelief of Allah. Good books to read are “The creed series” by Umar Al-Ashqar, and “The three fundamental principles” by Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahab
  • Do not deny any of what Allah has ascribed to Himself
  • Do not compare what He has described Himself with to His creation
  • Do not try to think of “how” or to imagine it as we can only understand it in terms of what we know
  • Do not try to make an analogy as we actually deny the attribute like this
  • Know that although the name is the same, the essence is completely different

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