Sunday, 16 October 2011

The scholars of the true Salaf

The scholars of the true Salaf 

That is, the pious Muslims of the first three centuries after the Hijra of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم -- used to interpret the mutashabihat in the following way:

They refuted the unacceptable interpretations but did not specify which one of the acceptable meanings was the intended meaning of the verse or the hadith.

When Imam Malik, al-Shafi`i, and others were asked about the interpretation of the verse al-rahman `ala al-`arsh istawa in particular, and about similar verses in general, they used to say:

"Accept these verses and hadith as they were given without believing that they have meanings which pertain to a manner, such as images, descriptions related to creations, and the like."
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said: "Allah mentioned Establishment (al-istiwa') and Establishment is only what Allah mentioned about it, not what humans imagine about it."

From these quotations it is clear that the Salaf, including Imam Ahmad, rejected the meanings that imply a mode or manner (kayf) of "establishment" because specifying the manner implies a resemblance to created things.

Thus we see that the way of the Salaf was mere acceptance of expressions on faith without saying how they are meant, and without additions, subtractions, or substituting meanings imagined to be synonyms, while stressing Allah's absolute transcendence beyond the characteristics of created things in order to preclude likening Him to His creation.

To suggest or cite opinions that they added the terms: "sitting" or "in person" (bi al-dhat) or "sitting in person" or "literally" (haqiqatan) is to give the lie to their insistance on rejecting the kayf of Allah's establishment.

When forwarding their opinions on this subject, "Salafis" are fond of quoting, not the bila kayf (no-modality) opinions of the great Imams of Ahl al-Sunna, but those of the anthropomorphists that lived around them and deviated from their views, although they claimed to follow their schools.

We have already mentioned some of them, like the Hanbalis Ibn Ya`la and al-Zaghuni condemned by Ibn al-Jawzi, and the Hanbalis `Abdullah ibn Ahmad, Ibn Sa`id al-Darimi, and Ibn Khuzayma denounced by al-Razi and Kawthari:

As we said before, their assertion that the only alternative to the Jahmi belief that "Allah is in every place" is to say that "He is in one place only, above His throne" is just as false as saying He is in every place for Allah exists without place.

Yet the belief that He exists in a place is what yesterday's and today's anthropomorphists pass as the opinion of the Salaf.

However, just because someone lived in the first three centuries, it does not mean that he represented the doctrine of the Salaf. 

It will be clear from the forthcoming opinions of the Salaf and Khalaf that the correct position of Ahl al-Sunna never adds "in person" or "literally" -- which is to specify a modality -- to the mention of Allah's establishment on the Throne, and that to suggest space in the slightest manner is to leave Islam. b)

The Methodology of the Khalaf

The Khalaf scholars are those who came in succeeding generations after those of the first three Hijri centuries. They are so-named for their successorship of the inheritance of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), acquiring the knowledge and understanding and of religion.

An example of their method is in the interpretation of the verse:
yad Allahi fawqa aydihim (58:10) translated as: "Allah's Hand is over their hands."

Khalaf scholars usually give an explicit meaning to such verses. This way is acceptable insofar as there is a fear that people will otherwise interpret them anthropomorphically, likening Allah to his creations (tashbih) and begin to speak of His "Hand" as a literal (haqiqi) attribute, in the manner of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim, and the early Hanbali anthropomorphists decried by Ibn al-Jawzi.

Thus the Khalaf scholars here explain the words yad Allah (Allah's hand) in this verse as referring to `ahd Allah, that is, "the Covenant with Allah. Similarly they interpreted the word yadayy (Allah's two hands) in the verse lima khalaktu bi yadayy which is literally "for what I created with My two Hands" as "care" (al-`inaya).

The explanation of the word in other verses confirms the above meanings. The scholars have pointed out that al-yad among the Arabs also signifies strength (al-quwwa). The verse "We have built the heaven with (Our) hands" (51:47) is cited in al-Hafiz al-Zabidi's massive dictionary of Arabic "Taj al-`Arus" (10:417) as an illustration that "hands" may mean "strength."

Allah says: "And make mention of our bondmen, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, men of parts (literally of two hands) and vision" (38:45) meaning, "men possessing strength."
It also means ownership (al-mulk) as Allah said: "Lo! the bounty is in Allah's hand" (3:73).
It also means favor, as it is said: "So-and-so has a hand over so-and-so," to mean that he owes him a favor. It also means a kind of link, as Allah said: "Or he agrees to forego it in whose hand is the marriage tie" (2:237).

As Nawawi said in the passage already quoted from his commentary on Muslim, many of the Salaf also applied such figurative interpretation (ta'wil) of Allah's "Hand," as shown from the explanation of aydin (Hands) as meaning "strength" in the verse:
"We have built the heaven with (Our) hands" (51:47)
Ibn Jarir al-Tabari said in his Tafsir: Ibn `Abbas said: "It means: with strength." He reports an identical position from Mujahid, Qatada, Mansur, Ibn Zayd, and Sufyan al-Thawri.1

This is also Imam al-Ash`ari's explanation according to Ibn Furak in the latter's recension of Ash`ari's school.2

These interpretations are all acceptable and they do not imply the slightest denial of any of Allah's Attributes on which there is consensus. We should nevertheless obligatorily believe that the word yad (hand) does not mean an organ as we know it, in accordance with the verse already cited:
"There is nothing like Him whatsoever" (42:11) and that the word yad does not imply a resemblance to creatures.

As for the Prophet's saying: "The Black Stone is Allah's right hand," if it is established as true, then the mind witnesses that Allah is not spatially confined anywhere and is not divisible; and the senses witness that the Black Stone is not literally the right hand of Allah, rather, that it consists in prosperity and blessing.3

Yet we see the excesses of the anthropomorphists at work here also: Ibn Rajab relates in Dhayl tabaqat al-hanabila that Ibn al-Fa'us al-Hanbali gave the hadith a literal meaning:
"He used to say: The Black Stone is Allah's Right Hand literally (haqiqatan)."4

Ash`ari's biographer Abu Bakr ibn Furak writes that he embarked on a study of kalam (theology) because of this hadith according to Subki in Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya.5

1 Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tafsir 7:27.
2 Abu Bakr ibn Furak, Mujarrad Maqalat al-Ash`ari (Beirut, 1987) p. 44.
3 This hadith on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and others is related by Ibn Abi `Umar al-Ma`dani in his Musnad, Tabarani, Suyuti in his Jami` al-saghir 1:516 (#3804-3805), Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq 15:90, 92, and others. It is considered da`if (weak) by Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn `Adi, and Albani. Ibn Qutayba in Gharib al-hadith (3:107(1)) says that it is a saying of Ibn `Abbas.
4 Ibn Rajab, Dhayl tabaqat al-hanabila 7:174-175.
5 al-Subki, Tabaqat al-shafi`iyya 3:53.

"Al-Qurtubi al-Maliki (d.671) said, "and not a single person from the righteous salaf rejected that His Istawaa upon His Throne was literal, and He specified the Throne because it is from the greatest of His creation. And they were ignorant of the kayfiyyah of His Istawaa.and Imaam Maalik said, -al-Istawaa is known' meaning in the language, -and the nature is not know known, and to ask about (how) is a bid'ah'" [ -al-Jaami lil Ahkaam al-Qur'aan' of al-Qurtobee under the verse -then He rose over His Throne', see -Mukhtasar al-Uluw' (pg. 286).]"


The above is cut-and-paste and a lie against the great Ash`ari Maliki Imam al-Qurtubi.

The authentic position of al-Qurtubi from his Tafsir is thus:

1. The original quote from al-Qurtubi in al-Dhahabi's `Uluw [full edition, 600 pages edited by Hasan al-Saqqaf] here states (p. 574):
"for its reality cannot be known." This is also what is found in al-Qurtubi's Tafsir. This tampering is one among many examples of the mendacity of al-Albani and his followers!
The reason for this particular tahrif is that when the Salafiyya were faced with the reality of Tafwid (committal) among the Salaf, they invented the subdivision of Tafwid al-Kayfiyya ('committal of modality'!) so as to deny that the Salaf actually practiced Tafwid al-Ma`na ('committal of meaning'!) which is pure and unadulterated nullification (ta`teel).
So when proof to actual committal of meaning comes up, they deny it or manipulate it, as in this case.

2. Al-Qurtubi stated verbatim: "Istiwa' is one of the Attributes of acts (min sifat al-af`al) according to the majority of the explanations." Al-Qurtubi, Tafsir (18:281). This is is the exact same position of Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari RadyAllahu `anh and the position of the entirety of the Ash`ari School.
There is no disagreement over the fact that istiwa' is real.
Anyone that denies it is a kafir since it is in the Qur'an. What is rejected is vulgar, meddlesome, ignorant literalism and the attribution of istiwa' to Allah SWT as an attribute of the Essence as if the Throne existed without beginning, like the Essence!

3. The continuation of al-Qurtubi's words quoted in Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 286) states:
"And He mentioned His Throne specifically because it is the greatest of His creations. However, they actually did not know the modality or howness of his Istiwa' for its haqiqa cannot be known."
This shows that al-Qurtubi understood the modality of istiwa' to be the same as the actuality of istiwa'. Why do the Hashwiyya (gross anthropomorphists) not mention this when they cite from Mukhtasar al-`Uluw?

4. Then al-Qurtubi continues, in his Tafsir (al-A`raf 54): "I SAY: the `Uluw [exaltation] of Allah Most High and His irtifa` [elevation] are an expression of the `uluw of His Majesty, Attributes, and Dominion. Meaning: There is nothing above Him whatsoever in the sense of Majesty and its qualities, nor with Him as a partner. Rather, He is the Most High in absolute and unconditional terms - exalted is He!"

Why do the Hashwiyya not mention this when they cite from Tafsir al-Qurtubi?
5. To cite Imam al-Qurtubi in support of literalism and anthropomorphism in the Attributes is the height of ignorance and impertinence, as his strong Ash`ari position is clear as the sun in his book on the Names and Attributes of Allah SWT titled al-Asna fi Sharh al-Asma', in print in two volumes. But it is the historical proof against the Mujassima of Ahl al-Bid`a that just as their predecessors lied, they have no choice but to lie also. The examples of Tahreef and distortion in their books today are simply beyond count.
See the introduction and appendices to our translation of Sayyid Yusuf al-Rifa`i's Nasiha to the Ulema of Najd for many examples of such tampering and misreprentations of the Ulema of Islam and their books.

Al-Qurţubiyy (the famous mufassir) said: “It is said to them [the anthopomorphists who believe Aļļaah is in a place or direction, etc.]: “If Allaah was specified by a specification, formed by a form, limited by a limit and end, existing in a specific direction, [or] changing by emergent [previously non existing] attributes in Himself, then He would have been emergent and specified by whatever He was specified with in terms of quantity and form, and [thus] requiring a specifier [for the quantity and form], and if He required a specifier, then He would have been in need and emergent. And if this is invalid, then it is true that He is without a limit or an end, and that He is Self-existent in the sense that He does not need a place to confine Him or a body to be in, or something to hold Him, or another that He gets help from. His attributes of His self do not change by His actions or leaving them (Al-Asnaa, 2/21).”

Wahabi says: “Disassociating the unknown ‘how’ from Allah’s Attributes is silly. We shall all learn of the ‘how’ of things like the Ru’yah of Allah in Jannah, Insha’allah. Moses learnt of the ‘how’ of Allah’s speech when he talked to Him. Or is all this done without a ‘how’, according to you? Imam Malik said: “Kayf is Majhul” (unknown). He did not say: “Kayf is Ma’dum” (non-existent).

If you mean by its “how” its reality, or “kunh,” then this is agreed. If you mean by “how” a modality, then this is unacceptable.
There are many narrations from Maalik about when asked about the meaning of the istawaa ascribed to Aļļaah. One of them states that he said, “Al-Kayf marfuuˆ”, and yet another “Al-Kayf ghayr maˆquul.” These statements mean that the kayf is impossible, i.e. istawaa cannot have a modality, because Aļļaah’s attributes do not have a modality. These narrations are stronger than the one that says “the kayf is unknown,” and agree with the famous saying of the Salaf “bilaa kayf,” which means “without a how,” i.e.without a modality.
قال القرافي: ومعنى قول مالك الاستواء غير مجهول أن عقولنا دلتنا على الاستواء اللائق بالله وجلاله وعظمته وهو الاستيلاء دون الجلوس ونحوه مما لا يكون إلا في الأجسام. وقوله والكيف غير معقول معناه أن ذات الله لا توصف بما وضعت له العرب لفظ كيف، وهو الأحوال المتنقلة والهيئات الجسمية..فلا يعقل ذلك في حقه لاستحالته في جهة الربوبية (ج.13/ص.242).
Al-Qaraafiyy, who is among the greatest scholars in history, and an expert on the school of Imaam Maalik in particular, said:
“The meaning of Maalik’s saying “the istiwaa’ is not unknown” is that our minds guided us to the istiwaa’ that befits Aļļaah and His Majesty and Greatness, which is istiilaa’ (control), and not sitting or the like, which cannot be for other than bodies. As for Maalik’s saying “the kayf is impossible,”it means that Aļļaah Himself is not attributed with what the Arabs used the word “kayf” for, which are temporary states and bodily appearances, and this is impossible, because it is impossible that Aļļaah should be attributed with such meanings (Dħakħiirah, 13/243).”
Note that the word kayf and kayfiyyah later came to be used in the sense of “reality of,” which is synonymous with “kunh,” and does not mean “modality.” Az-Zarkashiyy said in Al-Baĥr Al-Muĥiyţ:
وَأُجِيبُ بِأَنَّ الْمُرَادَ بِالرَّاسِخِينَ في الْعِلْمِ الرَّاسِخُونَ في الْعِلْمِ بِاَللَّهِ وَمَعْرَفَتِهِ وَأَنَّهُ لَا سَبِيلَ لِلْوُقُوفِ على كُنْهِ ذَاتِهِ وَصِفَاتِهِ وَأَفْعَالِهِ بِغَيْرِهِ كما حَكَى عن الصِّدِّيقِ أَنَّهُ قال الْعَجْزُ عن دَرْكِ الْإِدْرَاكِ إدْرَاكٌ وقد قِيلَ:
حَقِيقَةُ الْمَرْءِ ليس الْمَرْءُ يُدْرِكُهَا فَكَيْفَ كَيْفِيَّةُ الْجَبَّارِ في الْقِدَمِ

“The answer is the what is meant by firm in knowledge is the one’s that are firm in knowledge of Aļļaah, and knowing Him, and that there is no way to comprehend the
kunh (reality) of His Self, attributes and actions by other than Him, as in the saying of (Abu Bakr) Aş-Şiddiiqinability to reach comprehension, is comprehension” and it has been said:
The ĥaqiiqah of a person is not comprehended by a person So how about kayfiyyah of Al-Jabbaar who has beginningless existence (1/368)”
As one can see, Az-Zarkakshiyy uses ĥaqiiqah and kayfiyyah as synonyms to mean reality or “kunh.” Accordingly, whenever a respected scholar says “the kayf is unknown” then we should understand that he means by it this figurative usage, namely “reality,” and not “modality.”
Al-Qaraafiyy. Adħ-Dħakħiirah. 1st ed. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Gharb Al-Islaamiyy, 1994.
Az-Zaraksħiyy. Al-Baĥr Al-Muĥiiţ. 1st ed. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 2000.

Um Abdullah M. says:
Assalamu alaykum
I was always taught by my Salafi shuyukh that kayfiyyah is the “haqiqah” and “kunh” of the attribute. Its also mentioned in Salafi scholars’ books.
So there is no dispute between us on this.
As for it meaning “modality”, I can’t comment on that because I don’t really know what it means.

Umm Abdullaah,
It makes little difference if they say, “it means kunh” if they believe this kunh to be bodily attributes of movement, settlement and limits, i.e. the original meaning of “kayf” as explained by Al-Qaraafiyy in the above post. Words are only interesting as far as the meanings meant by them by the speaker.

i am not able to understand the difference between kunh and modality.plz reply in detail and in simple words
Kunh means “reality”, modality basically means form.

Question: we say that the idea of “real descending unlike our descending” is self-contradictory because descending cannot other than be bodies bound by space and directions. However the wahabi says: “The meaning of Seeing is to interpret information one receives upon lights hitting one’s eyes. Will you now negate that Allah sees? You say descending cannot be other than bodies bound by space and directions then seeing cannot be done other than an eye because this is the real meaning of Seeing like you gave the meaning of descending.

Answer: If we were going to accept the notion that the real meaning of seeing is “to interpret information one receives upon lights hitting one’s eyes,” then this is the manner of our seeing, not Aļļaah’s seeing. Aļļaah’s seeing is eternal without a beginning or an end, and does not involve instruments, so we say that His seeing is unlike our seeing.
Since Allaah’s seeing is without modality (bi laa kayf), we cannot know the reality of His seeing, and we cannot describe it, because all the seeing we have a description of, is seeing with a modality.
We can, however, simply say that it is an attribute that clears Aļļaah of its opposite, namely blindness. So we say, Aļļaah sees without an eye and without a beginning or end or change, and its meaning is the opposite of blindness. This way I can know something about Allaah’s seeing without ascribing a modality. Since we are not required to know the reality of Allaah’s attributes, this is enough.

This does not work with “descending”, because descending is movement. It is a modality, and you cannot have a modality without modality, as that would be self contradictory. You cannot define it as the opposite of its opposite, such as “seeing is the opposite of blindness,” because its opposite is to ascend, as it is a movement in the opposite direction.
The opposite of ascending again, is the modality of moving in its the opposite direction. Thus you cannot get away from the notion of movement. For this reason, you have to either say that nuzuul does not mean that Aļļaah Himself is descending, and then either give a plausible interpretation, or simply affirm the nuzuul while believing it does not mean that Aļļaah is descending.

Question: 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.

Answer: 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.
Question: 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.
Answer: The literal meaning of hand is a limb, which would be equivalent to the concept of ear in the above answer, not hearing itself. You should not translate the original Arabicyad” as “hand” for this reason. Yad does not necessarily mean limb in Arabic, it could refer to ideas such as care or power.

Question: Doesn’t the faculty of hearing imply the necessity of a specialized 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.

Question: Shaykh can you please explain why isn’t wrong to say Allah ‘Sees’ unlike our ‘Seeing’? Isn’t 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 ? I fail to understand insha Allah you can enlighten me on this question, please.

Because when we say, “Allaah sees unlike our seeing,” or “Allaah sees everything without an instrument, beginning or sequence,” then we do not imply a need for specification of what is seen, nor for a how (modality) in seeing (such as by an eye,) and whatever does not need specification, and does not have a a beginning, does not have the meaning of being created. This is unlike a limb, such as a hand, because is has a physical specification, and therefore needs someone to specify how it is to be. That is why saying “limb not like the limbs of creation,” is kufr, because a limb needs specification.
We would also like to know – is it true that there are 2 stances of Ashaira on takfir of mujassima as I was told by some tulabul-ilm in my country? They say that the other stance is to leave takfir of those who say that Allah is body but not like other bodies. And that imam Al-Ashaari said before his death that he does not declare kufr on people of Qibla. Is it true? do we have to takfeer those who do not takfir them?

There is no disagreement that the one who believes that Allaah is something with a size, or shape or borders is a kaafir, as stated in the creed of Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy, because these are meanings that apply to human beings. The disagreement is regarding those who say in Arabic Allaah is ajism without a how.” It is a linguistic issue. If someone says this, does he necessarily mean that Allah is something with size or shape or borders or not?
Those who said “no” did not make takfiir, those who said “yes” did make takfir. This disagreement arose, because some people might understand “jism” to mean “existence”, and not “body.”

As for someone saying in English “body”, instead of “jism” in Arabic, this is definitely kufr, because it can’t be understood as meaning “existence”.