Ibn Taymiyyah, the Use of the Term 'Jism' (Body) for Allaah the Exalted and the Attempted Slander of Ibn Taymiyyah by Zaid Shakir|
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Saturday, September, 24 2011 and filed under Doubts and Misconceptions
Zaid Shakir's Attempted Slander of Ibn Taymiyyah Which Backfired Upon Him
In 2007, Zaid Shakir published an answer to a question put to him within which was the following, quote: "Ibn Taymiyya, may Allah have mercy on him, was a pious man, a great scholar, and a prolific writer. Most of his career was spent in Damascus. He was a staunch defender of the Hanbali approach in creed ('Aqida), an approach based on a reliance on the transmitted evidence of the Qur'an and Sunnah to establish and defend theological positions. Although he was himself a Hanbali, he differed from the mainstream of the school on many issues related to creed and jurisprudence... He also insisted on "constituting" the Divine as a physical body, by emphasizing the reality (Haqiqiyya) of his various attributes, along with an insistence on physical boundaries to contain and define his essence, to such an exaggerated extent that one would be led to envision Him (Allah) as resembling His creation, in violation of the fundamental rule governing our understanding of those attributes, Laysa Kamithlihi Shay'un (There is nothing like unto Him) (Qur'an 42:11). For these and other innovations in 'Aqida, Ibn Taymiyya was strongly condemned by many of the scholars his time and imprisoned several times to force his repentance." End quote.
At the time, he was responded to by numerous brothers from different quarters, all of whom pointed out his lies. And our intent with this article is simply to put this (cheap attempt) on the record as it is worthy of having its place on IbnTaymiyyah.Com, and for the reason that whilst these people make a display of piety, rectitude, fairness and the likes, there are clear agendas lurking in the background, which Ahl al-Sunnah, the followers of the Salaf, should be wise too.
Ibn Taymiyyah and the Use of the Term "Jism"
We see Ibn Taymiyyah's position clearly explained in all of his well known books and his position is that the use of the word jism (body) in both affirmation and negation is a reprehensible bidah (innovation) in the religion. We can bring only a small sample of quotes here: He said in Minhaj al-Sunnah (2/135):
As for the word jism (body), it is an innovation (bid'ah) in both negation or affirmation, there is not in the Book or the Sunnah and nor the saying of any of the Salaf of the Ummah and it's leading Imaams who applied the word "jism" with respect to Allaah's attributes, neither in negation nor in affirmation.
He said in 'Bayaan Talbees ul-Jahmiyyah Fee Ta'sees Bida'ihim al-Kalaamiyyah' (tahqeeq: al-Hunaydee) (1/283):
And those who said that He is a "jism (body)" are of two types: The first: And this is the saying of their scholars - that He is a jism (body) but not like the [created] bodies, just like it is said, a dhaat (essence, self) but not like the [created] essences, and mawsoof (described) but not like the [created entities that are] subject to description, and a thing (shay') but not like the created things. So these people say that He, in His reality, is not like those besides Him from any angle at all, however this affirmation (of jism) is merely (to indicate) that He has a real existence by which He is distinguished [from whatever is besides Him]. Like when we say, "mawsoof" (something being subject to description), then this is an affirmation of a reality (haqeeqah) that (a thing) can be distinguished by... ...And as for the second type, they are the majority, those about whom it is narrated that they said, 'He is flesh and bones' and similar things to this. This saying of their's which is the most obvious corruption, if He had been flesh and bones - as it is understood - then what is permissible upon (the created types of) flesh and bone would be permissible upon Him, and this leads to the tamtheel (resemblance to the creation) that Allaah has negated from Himself...
Then he said, after that:
...So whoever speaks with this tashbeeh (resemblance), which comprises such anthropomorphism (tajseem), then he has made Him like the [created] bodies which are other than Him, [considering] Him to be greater in status [in this tajseem], and this is clear and manifest falsehood from both a rational and sharee'ah point of view. And such people are the Mushabbihah (Anthropomorphists) whom the Salaf have criticised. And they (the Salaf) said: "The Mushabbih is the one who says: Seeing like my seeing, and Hand like my hand and Foot like my foot", and so this is making resemblance in the genus (jins) [of a thing], even if that being attributed with resemblance is greater in status than that to which it is being resembled.
And he says in Dar' al-Ta'aarud (10/306):
The leading Imaams of the Sunnah and Hadeeth never differed in anything of the foundations of their religion. For this reason, not a single one of them said, "Allaah is a jism (body)" and nor "Allaah is not a jism", rather they rejected the negation when the Jahmites from the Mu'tazilah and others innovated it, and they also rejected the negation of the Jahmites of the attributes, alongside their rejection of those who resembled His attributes with those of His creation. In fact, their rejection of the Jahmiyyah Mu'attilah was greater than their rejection against the Mushabbihah, because the disease of ta'teel is greater than the disease of tashbeeh...
Note that this last statement of Ibn Taymiyyah is also said by al-Ghazali and al-Razi, that ta'teel is worse than tashbeeh, and it is far better to leave a people upon belief in Allaah with something of tashbeeh than have them fall into complete denial and atheism (see here and here).
And he says in Dar' al-Ta'aarud a little later, (10/308):
So it is said to the one who asked about the word "jism" (body): What do you mean by your saying? Do you mean that He is of the genus (of things) found in the creation? If you mean that, then Allaah, the Exalted, has explained in His Book that there is no likeness (mithl) or equal (kofu) or rival (nidd) for Him, and He said, "Is one who creates like one who does not?" (16:17). Hence, the Qur'an indicates that nothing is like Allaah, neither in His essence (dhaat) nor in His attributes and nor in His actions. So if you mean by the word "jism" that which comprises likeness to anything from the creation, then Allaah is purified of that, and your answer is in the Qur'an and Sunnah, and when Allaah [in His essence] is not like of the genus of water, or air, and nor the soul that is blown into us, and nor from the genus of Angels, or the celestial orbits, then that He should not be from the genus of the body of man, his flesh, his bones, nerves, flesh, hand, foot, face and other such organs and limbs is even more the case and more befitting. And this type of (affirmation) and its likes which is referred to as tashbeeh and tajseem, all of it is denied in the Book and the Sunnah, and there is not in the Qur'an, a single verse which indicates, neither textually, (nassan) nor apparently (dhaahiran), the affirmation of any of that for Allaah...
This is only a small sample of literally hundreds of statements which can be found across all of Ibn Taymiyyah's works. For the sake of completion, we should cite statements of Ash'ari and Maturidi scholars on the usage of the word "jism", and if purely for argument's sake, Ibn Taymiyyah permitted the use of the word "jism" (which is completely untrue and false), then what is the most that could be said? The following quotes are documented in this article:
From al-Eejee in his al-Mawaqif:
...So the Karraamiyyah, that is, some of them, said, "He is a jism (body), meaning, existent (mawjood)". And (another) people amongst them said, "He is a jism (body), meaning established by Himself (qaa'imun bi-nafsihi)". So there is no dispute with them upon [either] of these two explanations except in the naming, meaning in the application of the word "al-jism" to Him.
And from Sullam ul-Wusool of al-Mutee'i:
...As for the one who said, "He is a jism (body) but not like the [created] bodies", then he has negated [from Him] the necessities (lawaazim) of the [created] bodies, such that nothing remains from them [in relation to Allaah] except the mere naming [with al-jism]. So this, as our Shaykh has said, there is no angle for any differing in this, because nothing remains except merely naming Him with [the word] al-jism (body).
And from Sharh ul-Aqaa'id al-Adhudiyyah of al-Dawwaaniyy:
...And in this manner does such a one negate from Him all of the special [qualities] of a [created] body (jism) until nothing remains except the mere label (ism) of a al-jism. And these [people] are not declared disbelievers, as opposed to those who are explicit in affirming jismiyyah (i.e. a body like the created bodies).
And from the Hanafi Ash'ari scholar, Abu Ja'far al-Simnani (d. 444H), and is cited by al-Dhahabi in al-Siyar (17:540), who in turn is citing from Ibn Hazm (d. 456H):
[Ibn Hazm]: He is Abu Ja'far al-Simnani al-Makfuf, he is the greatest of the companions of Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, and the forerunner of the Ash'arites in his time. And from his statements are: "Whoever labelled Allaah a "jism" for the purpose (of explaining) that He has attributes in His essence, then he is correct in the meaning, but has erred in the labelling (tasmiyah) only."
So if - even just for argument's sake - we assert the validity of the false claim that Ibn Taymiyyah said Allaah is a "body (jism)", then the affair would not go beyond what these Ash'ari and Maturidi scholars have stated, but we do not even need to go there, as is clear.
The Jahmites - [an umbrella term to refer to the schools of kalaam, all of whom founded their creed upon a kalaam cosmological argument taken from the Sabean Philosophers (see here) whose conceptual tools and terminology are taken straight from Aristotelian Metaphysics (see here)] - are like scorpions. They lie waiting in the sand until the opportunity to strike presents itself.