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Refutation of the Ash`arees
  Affirmation of the Attribute of Face for Allaah
Author: Abu Iyaad
Article ID : AQD060004  

The Face of Allaah is one of Allaah’s Attributes which is true and real, just like all the other attributes that have been reported in the Book and the Sunnah, and it, like the others, has been repeatedly affirmed by the Salaf. The exact nature of His Face, like all the other attributes is unknown, and in this regard the statement of Imaam Maalik constitutes the scales by which all of attributes are understood, "Istiwaa is known, but its modality (kaif) is unknown, having faith in it is obligatory and asking about it (i.e. about its true nature is an innovation". So this is the methodology of the Salaf with respect to this Attribute.

However, the Jahmiyyah in the present times (such as al-Kawtharee, al-Bootee, as-Saqqaaf, al-Kabbaani, al-Habashi) and those who have the affectations of Jahm Ibn Safwaan deny the Attribute of Face and resort to heretical interpretations.

With respect to this particular attribute, the practice of the innovators is only too well known. To strike the texts of the Book and the Sunnah against each other and to selectively quote that which agrees to their desires.

ONE: The explanation of al-Khattaabee, al-Bayhaqee, Ibn al-Qayyim, Ibn Uthaimeen and others:

Allaah has ascribed certain characteristics to His Face, so He said, "Everyone upon the Earth will perish, [but] shall remain the Face of your Lord, Full of Majesty and Honour" [55:26-27]. So the description "Dhul-Jalaali wal-Ikraam (Full of Majesty and Honour)" is related to "the Face…" since it is in the nominative case (raf’). This is different to His saying, "Blessed be the Name of Your Lord, the Owner of Majesty and Honour", so in this verse the description "Dhil-Jalaali wal-Ikraam (Owner of Majesty and Honour)" is related to "Your Lord…" since it is in the genitive as is "Your Lord…"

So it is clear from this that Allaah has the attribute of Face, and this Face too has Attributes, such as in this verse. And this is undeniable.

Then from the Sunnah, is the saying of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), "His Veil is made of light and if He was to uncover it, the splendors/radiances (subuhaat) of His Face, would destroy everything of His creation that His Sight would reach." [Muslim, from Abu Moosa al-Ash’aree]

So it is clear from this that the Face, which is an Attribute of Allaah, also has attributes. In addition this hadeeth also affirms the Attribute of Sight for Allaah.

From this fact, the falsehood of the one who claims that Face refers to ‘reward’ or other such false interpolations can be witnessed. For how is it possible for ‘reward’ to be described by ‘Majesty and Honour’ and how is it possible for it to have ‘splendors/radiances’ that destroy everything in sight? And which of the Salaf have spoken of this? So the challenge to the Jahmiyyah is, apply your interpolations of Face to every mention of Face in the Book and the Sunnah and see where that leads you?

TWO: Then to establish this further, is the variety of supplications in which the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) seeks refuge in the Face of Allaah and how he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) separates between the essence of Allaah and the Face of Allaah in the same supplication.

So amongst such supplications are:

"I seek refuge in Your Noble Face, that You lead me astray, there is none worthy of worship save you…" [Abu Dawood and others].

In relation to the verse, "Say (O Muhammad) He has power to send punishment over you from above" [6:65], the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) said, "I seek refuge in Your face" [Bukhaaree, in Kitaabut-Tawheed].

"I seek refuge in Allaah the Mighty (al-‘Adheem) and in His Noble Face and His Eternal Power for Shaytaan the Accursed" [Abu Dawood].

So is it then plausible for a Muslim to seek refuge in a Face which in reality is ‘reward’ or ‘dominion’? For these are but created things and no Muslim seeks refuge in something created. Ibn al-Qayyim mentions concerning the third supplication above, "… so consider how he made a distinction between seeking refuge in the Essence (Dhaat) of Allaah and between His Noble Face. This is a clear refutation of the one who claims that Face is the Essence itself and of the one who claims that it is something created (i.e. other than Allaah)".

This is because those things that are annexed to Allaah are of two types. Those things separate from Him, from His creation, such as al-Bait (the House of Allaah), an-Naaqah (the She Camel of Allaah), al-Abd (the Servant of Allaah) etc. Or those things that are not independent of Him, but rather from His Essence such as knowledge, life, seeing, hearing, power, speech etc. So when these are annexed to Him then it is an annexation which signifies real attributes, it is not one that signifies created things for this is falsehood. So when this is the case, how is it possible for a Muslim to seek refuge in something created? So from this the falsehood is made clear!

THREE: Ibn al-Qayyim explains regarding the verse "Wherever you may turn, you will find the Face/Countenance of Allaah", then some of the Salaf have interpreted it to Face to mean the ‘qiblah’ of Allaah. Then this is something that is acceptable for this particular verse. But then is it correct for this meaning to be applied to other verses in which Face is mentioned? So of what benefit would this explanation be regarding the saying of Allaah, "[but] shall remain the Face of your Lord, Full of Majesty and Honour" [55:27] and "Except only the desire to seek the Face of His Lord, the Most High" [92:20] and "We feed you only for the Face of Allaah" [76:9]?

And what is correct regarding the saying of Allaah "Wherever you may turn, you will find the Face/Countenance of Allaah" is that it is just like the statements of Allaah in all the other verses in which Face is mentioned. In all the places in the Book and the Sunnah that Face has been mentioned, it has been attributed to Allaah in the same way, with the same meaning. It does not have two meanings that are opposed to each other. However there is an exception with respect to that which comes in Surah al-Baqarah. In this verse, the explanation that it refers to qiblah (direction) is not singled out [as the only understanding]. Rather it can also be applied to the Face of Allaah literally (haqeeqatan). And this is because this verse was revealed with respect to travelling. So when a person prays and he errs in finding the right direction, then wherever He turns he will be facing Allaah. And the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) said that "When a person stands for prayer, then Allaah is in front of him" [Bukharee and Muslim]. This is because He is high above His creation, ascended upon His Throne and He encompasses the whole of creation. So wherever a servant turns Allaah is in front of him. The Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) said, "Indeed Allaah has commanded you with prayer, so when you pray do not turn [to the left or to the right] for Allaah directs His Face to the face of His servant in his prayer so long as he does not turn away" [Ahmad and Tirmidhee, Hasan-Saheeh]. And also his (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) saying, "When the servant performs ablution well and stands to perform the prayer, Allaah turns to Him with His Face…" [Ibn Maajah, all of its narrators are thiqah]".

So from the above, it is clear that the verse of Surah Baqarah is just like the other verses, even if from one aspect, the meaning can be understood to be qiblah (direction).

However, it is not possible to apply the same explanation to all the other texts that have attributed Face to Allaah the Most High. And in this is a challenge to the Jahmiyyah : Apply your interpretations to the other places in the Book and the Sunnah where Face is mentioned and see where that leads you?

FOUR: Regarding the statement of Allaah the Most High, "For those who do good is the best (i.e. Paradise) and something more [that is better]…" 10:26], then the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) said in explanation of this, "Looking at His Face, the Most High" [Muslim 1/163]. Therefore, the one who denies the attribute of Face for Allaah then he is claiming that the Believers in Paradise will be looking at something imaginary, and in this he has made a great error and invented a great lie. And the Companions, the Taabi’een, the Four Imaams, and all of the great Imaams of the Salaf are agreed that the Believers shall see the Face of their Lord in Paradise. Imaam ad-Daraqutnee (d. 385H) said: "Muhammad bin Mukhlad narrated to us: Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Umar bin al-Hakam, Abu Hasan ibn al-Attaar said: I heard Muhammad bin Mis'ab, the Worshipper saying: "Whoever claims that You do not speak and that You will not be seen in the Hereafter is a disbeliever in Your Face and he does not know You. I testify that You are above the Throne, above the seven heavens - not as Your enemies, the heretical apostates (Zanaadiqah) say." Kitaab us-Sifaat of ad-Daraqutnee (no. 64)


FIVE: Concerning the interpretation that Face refers to His Essence (Dhaat). Then if it is meant by this that it refers to His Essence while at the same time affirming a Face for him, then this is acceptable. For Face is an attribute of His Essence and it is not something created or separate from Him. Hence, if everything will perish save His Face, then it is understood from this that His Dhaat will not perish either, it will remain and this is because Face is an Attribute of the Essence, not created and separate from it. However if it is meant that it refers to His Essence while at the same time denying the attribute of Face for Him, then this is falsehood as has been made clear from the above. And based upon this we can understand the statements of those scholars who explain that Face refers to His Essence in certain verses of the Qur’aan. So there is no contradiction between what they say and between the fact that Allaah has an Attribute of Face.

Ibn Hajar in Fath ul-Bari, in explanation of the verse "Everything shall perish except His Face" [28:88], explains the statement of Imaam Bukhaaree in his Kitaabut Tafseer of his Saheeh, "… except His Face, except His dominion, (illaa mulkahu)" saying,

"In the narration of an-Nasafi there occurs ‘Ma’mar said’ and then he mentioned the above. This Ma’mar is Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Muthnaa, and these are his words taken from his book ‘Majaaz ul-Qur’aan’, however with the wording ‘except He’. At-Tabari has quoted the same from some of the linguists and al-Faraa mentioned the same. Ibn at-Teen and Abu ‘Ubaidah said, ‘except His Face, meaning His Majesty’. And it has been said ‘except He alone’, as you say ‘May Allaah ennoble your face’ meaning ‘may Allaah ennoble you’."

So here, some of the scholars are of the opinion that Face here refers to the Essence, and there is no problem with this as has proceeded and nor does it negate the Attribute of Face for Allaah.

Now in case anyone tries to argue (in the favour of ta’wil) using this statement of Imaam Bukhaaree, which at best is indecisive, then what would be his reply to the fact that Imaam Bukhaaree affirms the Attribute of Face in his Kitaab ut-Taweed at the end of his Saheeh, also called ar-Raddu ‘alal-Jahmiyyah (Refutation of the Jahmiyyah), using as evidence the very same verse as above [28:88]!!!

Chapter: The Statement of Allaah, "Everything shall perish save His Face".

Narrated Jabir bin Abdullaah, "When this verse, ‘Say (O Muhammad) He has power to send punishment on you from above’ [6:65], was revealed, the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, ‘I seek refuge with Your Face’. Allaah revealed, ‘Or from underneath your feet’ [6:65], the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, ‘I seek refuge with Your Face’. Then Allaah revealed ‘Or to cover you with confusion or party strife!’ [6:65], then the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallaam) said, ‘This is easier’."

And here Imaam Bukhaaree affirms, without doubt, the Attribute of Face, just as he brought narrations in affirmation of Hand, Eyes, Self (Nafs), His Speech, His being above the Throne and many of the other attributes that the Jahmiyyah denied. So this puts an end to the argument adduced from his Kitaab ut-Tafseer.

In addition, the arguments presented above would also apply. Try imposing these such isolated explanations that you use for denying the Attribute of Face to all those occurrences of the mention of the Face in the Book and the Sunnah and see where that leads you?! Inconsistency and mere falsehood!!

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