(All quotations from Kabbani, unless otherwise stated, are taken from his
work ‘Islamic Beliefs and Doctrine According to Ahl al-Sunna’, Vol.
1, as-Sunna Foundation of America publication, Second Edition, 1997)
A CENSURE OF TAWEEL
This is the very nature of taweel. Not only does it contradict the way of the Salaf (as will be shown) but it also leaves one unsure as to whether the understanding arrived at through taweel is the one intended by the text. If Allaah has said Hand, how can the interpreter be sure that He, the Most High, intended by this something other than Hand, such as: power, bounty or favour etc?
Just as al-Haafidh ibn Hajar indicated:
"The one who takes the path of the Khalaf cannot be sure that that which he makes taweel of is the intended meaning and it is not possible to be certain of the correctness of the taweel."
(Fath al-Baaree 13/436 of ibn Hajar)
Kabbani himself (p.165) quotes al-Bayhaqee as saying:
"Bayhaqi said: The safest method is to believe in them (i.e. the Attributes) without modality, and to keep silence concerning what is meant except if the explanation is conveyed from the Prophet himself, in which case it is followed."
If the safest way is to remain silent unless there is an explanation from the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, why does Kabbani then not follow this principle? There is little benefit in Kabbani listing the works of al-Bayhaqee amongst his Recommended Books of Sound Doctrine (p.211) and then contradicting the advice contained in them. Where is the text from the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam showing us that he perfomed taweel of the Attribute of Hand and explained it to mean power, bounty or favour etc. as Kabbani has done?
Imaam al-Juwaynee explained in his retraction from the way of the Asharees:
"I did not find anything by which he (the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) followed up such texts (about the Attributes) with which he described his Lord, neither with another text nor with anything that would cause the meanings to be removed from their real (haqeeqah) meaning or cause taweel to be made of them
I did not find that he sallallahu alayhi wa sallam used to warn the people from having faith in what was apparent in his speech with which he described his Lord, whether it was concerning Allaah being above His creation or the Hands of Allaah or other than these. There is nothing recorded from him which proves that these Attributes have another inner meaning other than what is apparent from their meaning
(Risaalah Ithbaatul-Istawaa wal-Fawqiyyah, pp.176-183, which is part of Majmooatur-Rasaail al-Muneeriyyah)
Qaadee Abu Yalaa (d.458H) said:
"The proof for the futility of taweel is that the Companions and those who followed them from the Successors understood them (the Attributes) upon their apparent meaning and they did not take recourse to taweel nor did they move away from the apparent meaning. If taweel were permissible, they would have preceded us in it
(Ibtaalut-Taweelaat li-Akhbaar as-Sifaat, p.21, manuscript)
"The scholars of the Salaf explained the important and the unimportant words (from the Quraan and Sunnah)
as for the verses and the ahaadeeth about the Attributes, they never subjected them to taweel and they are the most important (texts) in the Religion. So if taweel were permissible they would have undertaken it. Know with certainty that reciting them and leaving them as they came is the truth, there is no explanation for them other than this. We believe this and remain silent, following the Salaf, in the belief that they are the Attributes of Allaah
and that they do not resemble the Attributes of the creation."
(Siyaar Alaamun-Nubalaa 10/505 of adh-Dhahabee)
Indeed, speaking about the Attributes of Allaah is to speak about an affair of the Unseen. Allaah is to be described only with that which He has described Himself, either in the Quraan or in the Sunnah of His Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. To do otherwise and take the words conveyed in the texts away from their apparent meaning would be to offer an interpretation which could only be permissible by another revealed text, since it is only through revelation that knowledge of the Unseen can be arrived at.
Ibn Jareer at-Tabaree writes, after mentioning some narrations on speaking about the Quraan from personal opinion:
"These reports bear witness to what we have said, that it is not permissible for anyone to interpret, according to his opinion, those verses of the Quraan whose interpretation can only be known through a text of the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam or through an indication towards it which he has given."
(Jaami al-Bayaan 1/pp.77-78)
Ibn Qudaamah (d.620H) wrote:
"If he should say: You have abstained from the interpretation of the Quranic verses and narrations which have come down to us in respect of the Attributes, claiming that the Salaf did make taweel of them and explain them, then he is uttering falsehood, forging lies, and is guilty of the most grievous aberration. For there is no question about the fact that the doctrine of the Salaf, in this regard, consisted in acknowledgement, unreserved approval, and avoidance of the temerity of using allegorical interpretation (taweel) and resemblance. Moreover, the fundamental rule is to presume the lack of their use of taweel. So let him who claims that they did interpret them allegorically produce evidence in support of his statement. But there is no way of knowing this save by the transmission and relation of narrations. Let him then transmit to us narrations to this effect on the authority of the Messenger of Allaah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam or his Companions or from one of the Successors or one of the approved Imaams. Furthermore, he who claims this is one of the people of kalaam (theological rhetoric), and they are the most ignorant of men with regard to the narrations."
(Tahreem an-Nazar fee Kutub Ahl al-Kalaam, no.16. It has been translated and edited in English as Ibn Qudamas Censure of Speculative Theology by George Makdisi, 1985, p.7, from which I have adapted these quotes)
Ibn Qudaamah goes on to say (no.53; p.21 of the translation):
"Taweel is tantamount to the passing of judgement upon Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, regarding matters which the interpreter does not know, and the interpretation of His intent by that which the interpreter does not know that He intended. Now, the most that the interpreter can claim is that a given expression admits a given meaning in the classical language. But it does not necessarily follow from the mere fact of the expressions admissibility of this meaning, that this meaning is intended by it. For just as it may admit this meaning, it may also admit others. It may even admit still other meanings with which the interpreter is not acquainted. Besides, he does not possess an encompassing knowledge of the content of dialects. This is especially true of the people of kalaam; for they are strangers to the knowledge of dialects and the beneficial sciences."