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On Eemaan, Ibaadah and Tawheed : Their Link and Interrelation.
  Lesson 2: How to Believe in the Attributes of Allaah
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Article ID : SCL010002  [9909]  
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All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds and prayers and peace upon His Messenger, Muhammad.

In this lesson we wil learn some of the principles which are linked to having the correct belief in Allaah's Names and Attributes.

Why is this subject important? Quite obviously since it is a part of Tawheed and it is also a part of Eemaan. (Remember the last lesson in which we mentioned that 'the speech of the heart' and 'the speech of the tongue' were related to knowledge). If the knowledge of Allaah is not correct then the actions of the believer will not be correct either (meaning that what his heart feels, how he uses his tongue and what he does with his limbs - all of this will not be correct).

It is also important because a lot of people have gone astray in this subject, and we shall also mention some things about them.

To proceed: Just like in the previous lesson on eemaan where we took a statement which the Salaf used to say (i.e. Eemaan consists of speech and action, it increases with acts of obedience and decreases with acts of disobedience) then, similarly we will take the statement of Shaikh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah for this lesson and expand upon it. He - may Allaah have mercy upon him said, in his 'Aqeedataul-Waasitiyyah': "

"And it is from having faith (eemaan) in Allaah, to have eemaan in whatever He has described Himself with in His Book and in whatever His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Him with - WITHOUT falling into any of the following:

i) denying such attributes for Allaah (ta'teel)

ii) changing the original meaning of these descriptions/attributes (tahreef)

iii) likening these attributes to those of the creation (tamtheel)

iv) enquiring into their true nature (takyeef)"

[Note: in the translation above the order of the four things that it is necessary for us to avoid has been changed, for the purposes of this lesson - to make the discussion follow...]

So this is the statement we will analyse and explain for this lesson because it summarises everything we need to know. We will now take his statement step by step and look into it:

"And it is from having faith in Allaah to have eemaan in whatever He has described Himself with in His Book ..."

Here the Shaikh explains that to have faith/belief in Allaah (properly) then one also needs to have faith/belief in certain things that He has said about Himself in His Book. One cannot be believing in Allaah properly without knowing Him through what He has said about Himself.

When we look in the Qur'aan we find that Allaah has mentioned lots of different things about Himself. To summarise them, they can be put into three categories.

a) His Names

b) His Attributes

c) His Actions

Examples of the Names by which He is known include, ar-Rahmaan, al-Malik, as-Salaam, ar-Razzaaq. However we are not concerned with His Names in this lesson.

Examples of His Actions: for example, He punishes and He forgives, He sends down the rain and He splits the seed which is under the soil, He makes the clouds gather together in a heap and then causes rain or hail to fall, he gives honours someone and He humiliates someone or He guides someone and misguides someone... so these are 'actions' which he mentions about himself. But we are not concerned about this in this lesson.

Examples of His Attributes include, hands[1], shin[2], eyes[3], istiwaa[4] face, anger, pleasure, (ascending) etc. This is what we will discuss.

"...and in whatever His Messenger, Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Him with..."

We also find that in the Sunnah, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has described Allaah with certain attributes. Examples include, laughter, amazement, descending, etc...

Now this is what we are concerned with and we want to make sure that we are believing in these things in such a way that we do not commit Shirk and other great sins.

You can easily see how people can be mislead just by looking at what type of attributes we have mentioned above. When someone reads them He might think 'No this cannot be true how can these things befit Allaah?' so he will deny them. Another person will think, 'Allaah has a hand like we do' and so he will make a resemblance between Allaah and His creation. Another person will think, 'No, it can't be the real meanings of these words, they must have different, hidden meanings'. And in fact, in Islamic History this is exactly what happened. Many individuals and groups were led astray because they did not submit to the texts of the Book and the Sunnah in the proper way.

We want to follow in the way of the Companions and the Taabi'een and the Salaf - the way they had in understanding these Attributes. So we will now look at the principles we need to understand:

The First Principle:


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