Thursday, 14 April 2011

Hearing Seeing Hand

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Now Allah is Al-Sam’ but the meaning is All-Hearing that He Hears unlike our Hearing right? But we still use the same word ‘Hearing’ unlike our hearing so why not ‘Hand’ just only the word but unlike our hands ? Both meanings apply to humans ? Why don’t we do tafweed of all Allah’s Attributes ?

The problem with saying “hand unlike our hands” is that it gives the impression that it is a limb, just an unfamiliar one.

The word hearing, on the other hand, does not have such a problem. Those who make tafwiid for the meaning of “yad”, do it because the meaning (other than limb-which is not befitting) is not well known, so to specify a meaning that is befitting involves some amount of uncertainty. This is not allowed when one is ascribing something to Allaah, and that is why most scholars did not assign a particular meaning to the word “yad” when referring to Allaah. Some did, however, as they felt sure enough about their interpretation.

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Why is saying Allah has Hand unlike the creation tashbeeh and why isn’t not when saying Allah Hears unlike the creation ? Salafi’s then say the way you apply that Allah’s attributes are unlike the creation then apply this rule to all attributes like Hand etc.



It is not necessarily tashbiih to say, “Allah has a Hand unlike the creation.” It is only tashbiih if the one who says that means that it is a limb.

This is a translation of the equivalent Arabic expression, which is used by Ahlu-s-Sunnah, and that is why I wouldn’t consider it tashbiih. The mistake is to translate “yad” as “hand” and then say “unlike the creation.”

What he should have said was “yad unlike the creation.” The reason is that when one translates “yad” then one has already engaged in ta’wiil,because the range of plausible meanings for “yad” in Arabic is different from those of “hand” in English.

It is haraam to say “Allah has a Hand unlike the creation,” because in English the word “hand” in such a context is understood usually as “limb.”

This translation is therefore misleading, and therefore sinful. In fact, it sounds almost as if it is saying “a limb unlike the creation,” which would definitely be tashbiih and kufr.

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{{Why is saying Allah has Hand unlike the creation tashbeeh and why isn’t not when saying Allah Hears unlike the creation}}

Is this confusion due to the translation of the verse into ”Nothing is like unto Him”… (Shura 11) instead of Nothing is like His likeness”

This is a wrong translation, because the scholars said that Allaah does not have a mithl, or likeness, and that the aayah is not meant to imply that. In other words, you cannot say “His likeness.”

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why is it wrong to say Allah ‘Sees’ unlike our ‘Seeing’?

Is this going against the saying of Imam Tahawi who said ‘Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.’ I know that Hand is a limb but a ‘Seeing’ is a meaning which applies to humans so how comes this is allowed ?

Because when we say, “Allaah sees unlike our seeing,” or “Allaah sees everything without an instrument or sequence,” then we do not imply a need for specification for the seeing itself, and when there is no specification implied, then there is no beginning implied or meaning of being created. This is unlike a limb, such as a hand, because is has a physical specification, and therefore needs to be specified by other than itself (how it is to be, because a limb has a shape.) That is why saying “limb not like the limbs of creation,” is still kufr, because a limb needs specification, since it is a shape.

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Isn’t the concept and act of hearing also physical? You hear because of vibrations picked up by the auditory system in your ears, therefore hearing has a meaning.

Can you please explain hearing as I have described above in comparison then to your explanation of the rejection of “Yad” as Hand.

If “Yad” cannot mean “Hand, unlike anything in creation” because “Hand” still has a meaning then surely as the original questioner asked “Hearing” too has a physical meaning.

It is essential to keep in mind that it is the vibration that is physical, while hearing is not necessarily physical.

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I’m a bit confused. Doesn’t the faculty of hearing imply the necessity of a specialised sensory organ, just as a hand implies a limb?

No, in fact it must be the case that it is not, because a sensory organ needs a creator to specify how it is to be, and Allaah’s hearing is not created. Note that the word “hand” does not IMPLY a limb, it IS a limb.

Hearing, however, is not a limb, the ear is a limb, and the ear is a limb that implies hearing in created things, because that is the rule that Allaah has willed for His creation, not because it is necessarily so in the minds eye, and could not have been any other way.

Hand has to mean a limb, but what about the argument when some say:

‘well what about describing a clock as having hands, these hands are not limbs.’

Is the weakness of the argument still implying that the hands of the clock are still PARTS?


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Salafis like sh Muhammad Khalil al-Harras, Allah sees with eyes:

روى أبو داود في ((سننه)) عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن النبي e قرأ هذه الآية: ) إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا ( ( )، فوضع إبهامه على أذنه، والتي تليها على عينيه( ).
ومعنى الحديث أنه سبحانه يسمع بسمع، ويرى بعين، فهو حجة على بعض الأشاعرة( ) الذين يجعلون سمعه علمه بالمسموعات، وبصره علمه بالمبصرات، وهو تفسير خاطئ؛

From Abuu Daawuud and others.

It is an ĥadiitħ mentioning that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم put his thumb on his ear and his index finger on his eye when reading what means, “verily Allaah is All-Hearing All-Seeing”.

This is a singular narration of course, so it is not for establishing beliefs, and it is an act, not a saying, so it has no automatic general application.

Moreover, he did not teach us why he did that, so any claim in this regard is no more than an opinion.

Al-Harass thinks it means that Allaah has an eye to see with, because he believes Allaah is like a human being.

Ibn Ĥibbaan said it was to bring attention to the fact that Allaah sees without an eye, because He does not resemble anything.

Al-Bayhaqiyy and Abu Daawuud said it means that it was to point to the fact that these are attributes other than knowledge, in refutation of the Jahmiyyah, who denied these attributes altogether. Without explicit explanation from the most eloquent human that ever lived, these remain guesses. If he wanted to teach any of those thinks he is more than capable of doing so without resorting to hand gestures.

Even Abu Hurayrah, who made the observation, did not even attempt explaining it. Maybe it was for none of these reasons. Maybe there is some special secret in making this gesture. One thing is for sure: it was not intended to affirm bodyparts to Allaah, unlike what this silly Al-Harass thinks, because we already know from the Qur’aan that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation, so how could the Prophet have meant “like this ear,” or “he has an ear” or the like by his pointing? Even though the wahabis think of Aļļaah as a body, they still say about Aļļaah’s attributes “we do not know how.” So this is in complete contradiction to this saying of theirs.

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Doesn’t the faculty of hearing imply the necessity of a specialized sensory organ, just as a hand implies a limb? Isn’t the concept and act of hearing also physical? You hear because of vibrations picked up by the auditory system in your ears, therefore hearing has a [physical] meaning.

What is heard is physical, i.e. the soundwaves are physical vibrations. The hearing of them, however, is not necessarily physical. This is despite the fact that our hearing has a physical aspect. Our hearing is physical in the sense that we hear through an instrument (our ear) which senses sound by vibrating in reaction to these soundwaves. This is our way of hearing. It is hearing with a kayf, with a modality, i.e. with several steps and elements involved, or a physical description.

Allaah’s hearing, however, is without kayf, without modality, and accordingly, not based on vibrations of an instrument. Note that we say that it must be that Allaah hears everything, and at the same time that it is impossible that Allaah should have ears. It is impossible, because that would mean that He is composed of parts, and something composed needs something to put it together, i.e. it needs a creator. Moreover, Allaah’s hearing cannot be based on a reaction to the vibration of soundwaves, because reaction is imperfection. Furthermore, Allaah’s hearing is not sequential (hearing one thing after another,) because Allaah is not in time (and whenever you have sequences of events, you have time….) The explanation of why this must be so is as follows:

The nature of sequential hearing is that it is possible. That is, if a being hears something, then in the minds eye, the being’s hearing of a subsequent sound is a possibility, and not an intrinsic must. This is because the hearing of the sound did not exist previously, and whatever is not existent and then becomes existent cannot be said to necessarily exist. Rather, it must be brought into existence. In other words, in the case of sequential hearing, hearing the next sound and not hearing it are equally possible in the mind’s eye. This means that the hearing of it needs a reason to become existent, so that the possibility of hearing is no longer equal to not hearing. This again tells us that the hearing of the next sound needs a creator to provide it with existence. Therefore, since Allaah’s hearing is not created, it is not sequential.

If we were to get even deeper into this explanation, I would even contest your claim that our hearing is completely physical. Part of it is about vibration, yes, and there are electrical signals in the brain produced by the vibrations in the ear, but is that our perception of hearing itself? If it was, then a microphone would have hearing, but we do not say that a microphone, or even a recording device hears do we? In fact, a person who sleeps will have vibrations in his ears and electrical signals generated from those in his brain, but if he does not wake up from sounds, we do not say that he is hearing them do we? No, our hearing is more than that, it needs the perception of what is heard in the mind, and this perception is not physical. In fact, we do not know what this perception is exactly. The perception of what is heard itself is not vibrations, nor is it electrical signals, it is something beyond physical. It is still created, however, because it changes, develops and has sequence. Moreover, it needs specification, because we only perceive a very limited number of sounds at any point in time.

Note that it is not the vibrations that create our perception of what we hear. Vibrations do not have such power. The recognition of these sounds is caused by the sounds in the sense that they provide something hearable that vibrates in the ear and then becomes electrical signals. Again, however, our perception of them in ourselves are not these vibrations or electrical signals themselves, but something that belongs to the abstract world of the mind and meaning. These vibrations provide a bridge between our minds and the world outside, but this is a created bridge, because we need Allaah to create for us the perception of them in our minds. Vibrations cannot do that by themselves. The ear then, is not a necessity for hearing, but a normal prerequisite. That is, Allaah has created the ear as a sign for the ability to hear, and as a prerequiste for it, in created beings, but He could have created our perception of hearing without any of them.

Since we do not know excactly what our hearing is, beyond the observation of soundwaves and electrical signals, which are actually just observations of what is heard in different forms, and not hearing itself, which is the perception by our minds, it is no wonder then, that we do not know the reality of Allaah’s hearing. We cannot know what the reality of Allaah’s hearing is, all we can know is that He hears everything without modality, sequence, reaction, or an instrument, and that His hearing is a necessary attribute, and not merely a possibility. That is, Allaah’s hearing is not an act, or an ability, as our hearing is, but a necessary attribute of His. In other words, it absolutely must be that Allaah hears everything without an instrument.

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As for wajh, which he has a again translated into a misleading word, namely face, is not said to be an attribute by all sunnis. Many said that wajh means the deeds that are done for Aļļaah’s sake. Other’s said that it refers to Aļļaah Himself, and not an attribute of His.

The translation of wajh as face is even worse than the translation of “yad” as “hand”. “Face” has no meaning in English I can think of that befits Aļļaah, whereas “hand” sometimes means “power” or “control” such as in “the decision is not in my hands.”

Add to all this that non-literal meanings of words are interpreted according to context. I.e. the linguistic tool for knowing whether a literal or figurative meaning is meant is to look at the context. So if I say “the guy is a lion,” you know I am speaking figuratively, because a “guy” is a human being, and thus the meaning of “lion” here is something like “fierce” or “brave.” On the other hand, if I said “lions are a type of cat,” you know I am speaking literally. So when one translates “yad” as “hand” then one has strongly implied that the literal meaning of “yad” is meant, by the contextual clue of this translation, and this adds to the danger of being misleading.

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Allaah’s hearing and seeing are not in themselves physical, not dependent on rays or vibrations, and not through an instrument, and are not sequences of events or change. We are not accountable to know more than that.

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Allaah’s hearing is not His knowledge and His knowledge is not His hearing.

Allaah sees without an eye and without the intermediary of light.

Allaah sees the sun just as He sees a black ant, walking on a black rock in a dark night.

This is because Allaah does not see with an eye and nor does He see with the intermediary of light.

Likewise Allaah does not hear with ears and nor does He hear with the intermediary of vibrations.

Rather Allaah sees all seeable things and hears all hearable things. It might be helpful to understand this issue better by noting the fact that had Allah willed, we would see with our ears and hear with our eyes, this is a proof that to hear it is NOT a must for one to have ears and to see it is NOT a must to have eyes. More so, in relation to Allaah – Allaah sees without an eye, hears without an ear and knows without a mind.

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Al-Tahaawi mentions a number of things, but for now, to deny any of the following would be plain kufr:

1. Know that Allah is Necessarily Existent without a beginning or an end; non-resemblant to anything or anyone in any sense; Self Existent and does not need a specifier for Him or His attributes, or something to be in; One without a partner, part or like in His Self, attributes or actions.

2. Only He can create, and all that happens is according to His Will and Predestination.

3. Sound reason tells us that He must be attributed with the Power to bring anything possible into existence, the Will to specify how it is to be, and Knowledge of all that is now, has been in the past, and will be in the future, as well as all that must be, cannot be, or may be.

4. His attribute of Life is without beginning, end, body, soul, change or development.

5. He must be All-Hearing and All-Seeing, not by ability, but by necessity; without instruments, such as eyes or ears; or needs, such as sound waves or light rays; or events, such as hearing or seeing one thing and then another.

6. He must also have Speech that is not created and is therefore not language, sounds, letters, sequence, or a capacity; for all such attributes must have a beginning, and therefore a creator.

7. It is impossible that Allah be attributed with the opposites of any of the above, such as being a body, in a place, or having a limit or a weakness, such as ignorance, death, deafness, blindness or speechlessness.

8. It is possible, however, that Allah creates anything that can exist, or leaves it. He is the creator of all beings, things and actions and thus the Absolute Owner of everything.

9. It is impossible that He could be unjust or unfair, as He has no creator, and therefore no judge. In addition it would be plain kufr to say that it is possible for Prophets to lie, or that they might commit mean acts, such as desiring other men’s wives, or even contemplating adultery.

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Edited by ADHM