SALAFI INTERPRETATION OF THE QURAN
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
Salafis and their like minded groups have misunderstood the Quranic verses that depict Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) attributes. In their insistence to take textual/literal meanings of these verses, they conceded exclusive ‘hands, eyes, face, direction, limitations, dwelling, etc., for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).We have discussed this issue in this book and hope that the content will remove the misunderstanding of people who have been misled by Salafis.
SALAFIS BELIEVE IN A SKY GOD WHO HAS A PHYSICAL BODY AND WHO IS SITTING OVER THE SKIESTo concede a physical body and limbs for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), whatever may be the kind – exclusive / divine or creature like – is Shirk Fis Sifaat-e-Elahi, (polytheism in Allah’s عَزَّ وَجَلَّ Attributes), an unpardonable sin.
It is in Quran - قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ . اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ . لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ . وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ [ Say (O'Prophet ﷺ), Allah is one (and one all the way. His Being does not contain elements. He is not a compound). Allah is independent (everybody is dependent upon Him). He does not have children (He has not given birth to anyone). Nobody has given birth to Him. (Allah is there from the beginning and no one precedes Him). No one can match Him or can equal Him.] (Al-Ikhlas 1-4).
It is in Quran - لَيۡسَ كَمِثۡلِهِۦ شَىۡءٌ۬ۖ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡبَصِيرُ [ Nothing is like Him, and He is the Seer and Hearer (of all the things).] (Ash-Shura - 11).
His attributes of ‘seeing, hearing, speech and omnipotence, etc., have no resemblance to creatures.
The basic principle in understanding the verses of Quran and Ahadiths is that these should be understood in their most absolute, literal and apparent meanings; unless there is a proof why they should not be understood in their textual meanings. Such proofs include; other Quranic verses, Ahadith and Consensus (Ijmaa). Mere preference of taking certain verses on their textual meanings is not acceptable. This is known as Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh). The rational purpose of this rule of requiring a proof is to avoid people interpreting Quran and Hadith in any way they like.
One of the major principles of Fiqh is the recognition that, not everything in Quran can be understood literally or in its textual meaning, because that will result in one verse contradicting the other in its extracted meanings. This is the reason, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) sent Apostles to explain the actual meanings of His scriptures. In the absence of Apostles, the scriptures would have been subjected to merciless interpretations by people to achieve their political objectives.
When there are more than one Quranic verse or Hadith on the same subject and these seem to give different ‘apparent/literal meanings’, then we should not try to understand the meanings of these verses in a way that ‘we accept some at the expense of others’. This will be a great sin. If you reject a Quranic verse, or try to misinterpret some verses to prove your wrong beliefs, you will be out of Islam.
There is one more important issue. If you believe and give emphasis on the textual meaning of a Quranic verse, because Ibn Taymiyyah or Abdul Wahhab or Qasim Nanotvi or Ashraf Ali Thanvi translated it that way, and try to interpret other Quranic verses to defend their beliefs, then you will be treated as ‘ blind follower of founders of Salafism and Deobandism at the expense of 4 established Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence viz., Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Shafi’i, Imam Maalik and Iman Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
Read the following Quranic verses, it provides information about Allah’s Unity (ذاتِ الہى) and His attributes.
(i) It is in Quran - هُوَ الظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ [He is the Manifest (apparent) and the Immanent (hidden - but actually present through out the material world) and He is the knower of all things ’ . (Al-Hadeed – 3).(ii) It is in Quran - فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ [Whichever side you turn, you will find Allah. ] (Al-Baqara - 115)(iii) It is in Quran - وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ [Wherever you are, He is with you.] (Al-Hadid - 4).(iv) It is in Quran - وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ حَبْلِ الْوَرِيدِ [And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.] (Qaf - 16)(v) It is in Quran - وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ [ And Allah is in your own self, will you not then see. ] (Adh-Dhariyat - 21)(vi) It is in Hadith - Abdullah (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : 'Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is not hidden from you'. (Bukhari)(vii) It is in Hadith - Allah's Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) was asked "What is Ihsan?" He (the Prophet ﷺ) replied, 'Ihsan is to pray seeing Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), and if you are unable to see Him (unable to focus our attention towards Him because of our too much attention on worldly things), know it well that He is seeing you.' (Bukhari, Muslim – part of the Hadith).(viii) It is in Quran - وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّحِيطًا [And Allah encompasses all the things.] (An-Nisa - 126)(ix) It is in Quran - اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ [ Allah is the light (existence) of Heavens and Earth.] (An-Noor - 35)
(x) It is in Quran - وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ [ Allah is ‘Hearer’, ‘Knower. (Al-Baqara – 256).
(xi) It is in Quran - إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ [Allah is all-embracing, ‘all knowing’.] (Al-Baqara – 115).(xii) It is in Quran - إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ [ Allah, only Allah is ‘Mighty’ and ‘Wise.] ( Al-Baqara – 129)(xiii) It is in Quran – قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَـٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ [ Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman, by whatever name you call upon Him, ( it is well ), to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names’. (Al-Isra – 110).
(xiv) It is in Quran - لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ [ No slumber can seize Allah nor sleep.] (Al-Baqara – 255).
(xv) It is in Quran - كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ - وَيَبْقَىٰ وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ [All that there is in the Cosmos shall vanish. The Countenance (stand alone) of your Lord (by Himself) shall endure, the Lord of Majesty and Glory’. (Ar-Rahman – 26-27).
(xvi) إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ [Verily in the creation of the Skies and the Earth, and the differences of night and day there are signs for those who have perceptive minds.] (Aal `Imraan, 190).
The above Quranic verses and Ahadith are misunderstood by Salafis and their like minded deviant sects. We have explained these issues in many other books.
Let us read the above Quranic verses and Ahadith one more time. We will realize that, if we take literal (textual) meanings of all these verses, we will get confused. Like, one of the above Quranic verse declares that ‘no eyes can see Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ)’. But we have other Quranic verses and Ahadith commanding us to see Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
Similarly, Quran says ‘Nothing is like Him (Allah عَزَّ وَجَلّ)’. This verse negates all types of forms, shapes, body and face for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ); whether divine or creature like. If He had a divine body, He would have described for Himself ‘ Thus, we conclude that Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is free from the limitations of face, form, body, place or dwelling of all kinds. We cannot allow further discussion in this issue because this is the basic faith of Islam.
It is in Quran - وَمَنْ أَصْدَقُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حَدِيثًا [ And who is more truthful in His word than Allah.] (An-Nisa – 87).
Salafis insist that they will take the literal/textual meaning of Arabic word ‘Wajha’ in the following verse.
It is in Quran - فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ [Whichever side you turn, you will find Allah. ] (Al-Baqara - 115)
They chose to understand Quranic verses and Ahadith as per the whims and imagination. They insist upon the literal (textual) meanings of the whole Quran and Ahadith. But for some verses they ignore this practice. Look at the following verse.
It is in Quran - قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا [He (Hadhrat Jibreel - عليه السلام) said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you a pure boy." ] (Maryam – 19).
The textual meaning of this verse is ‘ Hazrat Jibreel (عليه السلام) said to Maryam (عليها السلام) ‘ I am the Messenger of Allah and ‘ the reason I have come to you is to give you a son’.
As per their standard practice, by extracting its textual meanings, Salafis should declare that Hazrat Jibreel (عليه السلام) is a Messenger of Allah. And He gave Maryam (عليها السلام) the celebrated son. But they do not make that mistake here. Since, Hazrat Jibreel (عليه السلام) brings the message of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) to His Prophets/Apostles, Salafis understand this verse like any other Muslim does. Hazrat Jibreel (عليه السلام) informed Maryam (عليها السلام) that ‘He has come from Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) to give her the good tidings of a son’. Giving a son is the work of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and conveying this good news is the work of Hazrat Jibreel (عليه السلام).
If they had kept the same spirit in understanding Quranic verses related to Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) attributes, they would have found the right path of Islam. But they do not want to follow the established principles in this context. As a matter of fact, they rebelled against all established rules of Islam. This attitude on their part has resulted in their acceptance of Hands, eyes, face, chair, dwelling for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
Since they accept that ‘there is no one like Him’, therefore they claim that Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) has hands, eyes, face, place, direction, dwelling, etc. but His body and limbs are known to Him only.
What a mess and what a misunderstanding! This confusion has led them to concede a body form for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) which has eyes, hands, face. They also claim that He uses a big chair to sit. They have even fixed a dwelling on Arsh for Him and claim that He descends from His place of residence to the first sky before dawn every night to listen to people’s prayers.
Ibn Batuta, the famous historian has mentioned that he visited Ibn Taymiyya when he was in Damascus prison. He has written that he also had an opportunity to listen to Taymiyyah's lecture in a mosque. A person questioned Ibn Taymiyyah how Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) descends to the first sky every night to listen to the prayers of the people; Ibn Taymiyyah walked down one step from the pulpit of the mosque to display to the people that "this is the way Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) descends every night to the first sky".
This depiction of Ibn Taymiyyah clearly shows that he had made a shape / body of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) in his mind though he never said so publicly.
All Quranic verses whose textual meanings indicate creature like attributes for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) have to be understood in proper perspective so that our basic Islamic faith remains intact. Since Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is like no one, and He is free from creature like attributes, then the meanings of these verses depict His omnipotence, magnanimity, and His presence throughout the skies and the material world’. With this understanding if you read all the above verses, you will get the correct understanding of Quran and right path of Islam.
Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) Unity envelops everything in this cosmos from within and outside. If you read the following Quranic verses with this understanding, you will get their correct meanings.
It is in Quran - هُوَ الظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ [He is the Manifest (apparent) and the Immanent (hidden - but actually present through out the material world) and He is the knower of all things ’ . (Al-Hadeed – 3).
It is in Quran - اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ [ Allah is the light (existence) of Heavens and Earth.] (An-Noor - 35)To concede a body and limbs for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), whatever may be the kind – divine or creature like – is plain Shirk Fis Sifaat, (polytheism in Allah’s attributes) which is an unpardonable sin. This belief has taken Salafis and their like minded groups far, far away from Islam.
Hindus also got confused in understanding Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) attributes. Hindus accept every attribute of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) as a different God with a divine body and face. The Christian accept 3 different Gods with divine bodies and faces, whose roles are different from each other. The Salafis and like minded groups accept one God, with divine (human like) body, face and Limbs.
All the above believes are outside the sphere of Islamic teachings. All these theories are philosophical, concocted/fabricated by human mind and are totally against the basic faith of Islam.
Islam says, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is one and, nothing is like Him. He is free from the considerations of ‘ form, shape, face and body of all kinds, exclusive or creature like.
Why Salafis got confused and made an Idol of God in their minds?
The answer is simple. Ibn Taymiyyah did not study Quran and Hadith under the able guidance of a prominent Shaikh of Ihsan / Wali Allah who would have explained him the true meanings of Quranic verses. He studied Quran and Hadith and other Islamic subjects on his own, understood the meanings as per his limited understanding and at the age of 19, declared himself bigger than all Imams of Islamic Jurisprudence.
Not only that, he also accused all Sufi Shaikhs of Ihsan, all Ulema of 600 years before him as polytheists / innovators / infidels and what not.
in the Preface of his book Ad-Durratu ‘l-Mudiyyah, as follows:QUOTE - “By his claims Ibn Taymiyyah innovated foul things in the usul of belief, and infringed the foundations of Islam, and in the same time covered himself under the pretext of following the Book and Sunnah, outwardly showing that he was a caller to Truth and a guide to heaven, while on the contrary he deviated from following the Book and Sunnah to innovation, and deviated from the consensus of the Muslims by infringing the ijma`.
He said what leads to the attribution of a body and of composition to the Divine Essence, and that it is not impossible that Allah is composed by parts. He said that the Essence of Allah Ta`ala contains contingent elements (hawadith) that the Qur’an is also contingent, and that Allah spoke it after it was not, that He speaks and keeps silent, and that phenomena take place in Him in the same way they take place in created beings.He crossed the limit to the point of claiming that the world is eternal, and was coherent with this assumption to the point of claiming that there is no beginning for the contingencies, Hence, he confirmed that – according to his opinion – the eternal attributes (of Allah) are contingent and the contingent created entities are eternal. None has ever joined those two opinions together in any religion. He was not among the seventy-three groups into which the Ummah is divided (i.e. he is neither a Sunni, nor a member of one of the seventy two heretic sects, but rather the founder of a new sect of his own). In spite of all of this being horrible kufr, it is little compared to what he innovated in the furu (other issues of Islam)’.” UNQUOTE
Five centuries later, Ibn Abdul Wahhab followed Ibn Taymiyyah's foot steps and created a large group of people who started believing in Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) exclusive/ special hands, eyes, face, direction, etc.
It is in Quran - “Truly, the Devil is an enemy to you, so take him as an enemy: he only calls his party to become of the inhabitants of the blaze" (Al-Fatir - 6).
In explaining the above verse, Ahmad Sawi wrote in his Hashiya commentary in Tafseer-e-Jalaaleen, as follows.
QUOTE “ It is said this verse was revealed about the Kharijites [foretelling their appearance], who altered the interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna, on the strength of which they declared it lawful to kill and take the property of Muslims — as may now be seen in their modern counterparts; namely, a sect in the Hijaz called "Wahhabis," who "think they are on something, truly they are the liars. Satan has gained mastery over them and made them forget Allah’s remembrance. Those are Satan’s party, truly Satan’s party, they are the losers" (Al-Mujaadila - 18-19). We ask Allah Most Generous to extirpate them completely" UNQUOTE
Unless Salafis and their like minded groups change their basic faith about Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), their chances of salvation on the Day of Judgment may be remote.
In Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) court that day, either you are a Muslim or Non-Muslim. If your basic faith is not correct, then you may be declared as Non-Muslim or hypocrite (Munafiq).
Salafis argue that they are accepting Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is not like His creatures. Also accepting that creature attributes cannot be associated with him. But, in the same breath they claim hands, limbs, eyes, face, and limits (Hadd) for Him and say that all these are divine, not creature like. This is polytheism in Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) Attributes (Shirk fis- Siffat-e-Elahi).
Hindus and Christians also say the same thing. What is the meaning of divine face and body? This means that you have created a shape and body for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) in your mind. You have deliberately misinterpreted Quranic verses in this context. But you do not want to accept it openly. This is hypocrisy; a greater sin than polytheism.
CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF QURANIC VERSES
All Quranic verses are truthful. When we read a verse that needs to be understood by interpreting its meanings, we should first say, "I believe in whatever Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) means" then we should strive to find out their purported meanings.
It is in Quran - وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا [ The people who strive in our way, We show and put them on the right path] (Al-Ankaboot - 69)
Let us try to understand the meanings of the following Quranic verses.
(i) الرَّحْمَـٰنُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ اسْتَوَىٰ [ (Allah) the Most Compassionate, is sitting on the Empyrean.] (Taha -5).
Sitting, standing, walking, etc., are the attributes of human beings and creatures. We cannot associate these attributes with Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). He is pure from all such considerations. If we take literal meaning of the word ‘sitting’ in this verse, then, we will have to deny many Quranic verses where Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) has said ‘His Existence in unconfined, unlimited’. Therefore, the meaning of the this verse will be ‘ The Most Compassionate, occupies the seat of power. As a matter of fact Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) occupies everything in this Cosmos. Therefore, the real (purported) meanings of this verse will be ‘Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is wielding supreme authority’.
(ii) It is in Quran - وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ [ His Chair spreads over the Heavens and the Earth.] (Al-Baqara - 255)
Chairs, tables etc., are used by human beings. We cannot associate these attributes with Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). He is pure from all such considerations. If we take literal meaning of the word ‘Chair’ in this verse, then, we will have to deny many Quranic verses that emphatically negate ascribing human attributes to Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). Therefore, the meaning of this verse will be ‘His authority spreads over the heavens and Earth’.
(iii) It is in Quran - وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ رَمَىٰ [ (O’Prophet ﷺ) ‘You did not throw, when you threw, but Allah has thrown.] (Al-Anfaal – 17).
Throwing, catching, etc., are human attributes. We cannot impose these attributes on Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). The purport of the verse is to emphasize that ‘ (O’Prophet ﷺ) when you threw handful of sand towards enemy’s armed forces, you did it on My (Allah’s - عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) behest’. The purport of this verse is to emphasize that ‘this is exactly what Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) wanted you to do.
(iv) It is in Quran - إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ [ Certainly, those who are doing ‘the promise of allegiance’ ( ba’ya ) to you, (O’ Prophet ﷺ), they are actually doing the promise of allegiance to Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). Allah’s (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) hand is upon their hand. (Al-Fath – 10).
Hands, eyes, ears, etc., are the attributes of human beings and creatures. We cannot associate these attributes with Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). He is pure from all such considerations. If we take literal meaning of the word ‘hand’ in this verse, then, we will have to deny many Quranic verses. The purport of the verse is to emphasize that when you (O’Prophet ﷺ) were taking ‘ ba’ya ’ from people, you did that ‘on My (Allah’s - عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) behest. ‘This is exactly what Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) wanted you to do on that occasion’.
(v) It is in Quran - وَاصْنَعِ الْفُلْكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا وَوَحْيِنَا وَلَا تُخَاطِبْنِي فِي الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا ۚ إِنَّهُم مُّغْرَقُونَ [ But construct an Ark under Our eyes, as we reveal and address Me no (further) on behalf of those who are in sin; for they are about to be overwhelmed (in the flood). (Hood – 37).
Hands, eyes, ears, etc., are the attributes of human beings and creatures. We cannot associate these attributes with Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). He is pure from all such considerations. If we take literal meaning of the word ‘eyes’ in this verse, then, we will have to deny many other Quranic verses which negate any form, face and limb for Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). The purport of the verse is to emphasize to Prophet Nooh (عليه السلام) to continue constructing the Ark and Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is watching you doing that. Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is commanding Prophet Nooh (عليه السلام) to concentrate in his work rather than praying for those who do not deserve to be saved.
(vi) It is in Quran - فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ [Whichever side you turn, you will find Allah. ] (Al-Baqara - 115).
The literal meaning of this verse is ‘wherever you turn, you will find the face of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). We know Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is free from the limitations of face, form, body, place and direction. Therefore, we understand the meaning of this verse as ‘Wherever you turn, you will find His presence.
(vii) It is in Quran - فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ [When you read Quran, seek protection of Allah from the evil Satan.] (An-Nahl – 98).How do we seek this protection? We say - أعوذ بالله من الشيطن الرجيم [ I take refuge of Allah from the reprobate and reproached Satan). Then we start reading Quran by saying - بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ [ In the name of Allah who is most compassionate and most merciful). Why do we do that? We do it to keep ourselves protected from the evil considerations of Satan which mislead us in our understanding of Quran and Hadith.