Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Word of God Issue Settled Indeed!


By Sam Shamoun

I am going to be writing a series of responses to the following youtube presentation titled, “The Word of God issue Settled”, which happens to be an (failed) attempt by Muslims to refute the claim that the Islamic view of the Quran is virtually identical to the Christian concept of the Incarnation of the Logos (“Word”) of God in the Person of Christ. The errors were so glaring, so egregious, that I couldn’t just sit by and say nothing to correct the blatant distortions of what Islam actually teaches concerning this issue.

Therefore, it is vitally important that the readers first view the video presentation before consulting our refutation to the gross distortions of facts made by the Muslim producers of this clip.

MYTH 1

Muslims consider the Quran as a reflection of God’s eternal word, but not God himself. The Quran is God’s word in that it is his eternal knowledge. It is a reflection of God’s eternal knowledge.

REALITY

Islam teaches that the Quran is the actual word/speech of Allah (kalamullah), not simply a reflection of his word; nor is it the same as Allah’s knowledge (al-ilmu bil-Lah). It is a revelation of the knowledge of Allah, being a scripture which reveals those aspects or parts of his knowledge and will that the Muslim deity wanted to make known to mankind. Furthermore, Islam expects its adherents to affirm that the attributes of Allah, such as his speech, are neither him nor other than him, meaning that a Muslim cannot say that Allah’s characteristics are separate from him. Nor can they deny that these attributes are other than Allah himself, since they are the very things that make up the essence and identify of the Islamic god. Moreover, to say that the Qur’an is created, or that one’s recitation of the Quran is created, places an individual outside of the hold of Islam.

Lest we be accused of making all of this up, note what the following standard Sunni creed says:

35. The Qur’an is the Word of God that emanated from Him without modality in its expression. He sent it down to His messenger as a revelation. The believers accept it as such literally. They are certain it is, in reality, the Word of God, the Sublime and Exalted.

36. Unlike human speech, it is eternal and uncreated. (The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi (Al-Aqidah al-Tahawiyyah), translated, annotated and introduced by Hamza Yusuf [Zaytuna Institute, 2007], p. 54; bold emphasis ours)

73. We do not argue about the Qur’an. Rather, we testify that it is the Word of the Lord of the universe as revealed through the Trustworthy Spirit, who taught it to the paragon of messengers, Muhammad. It is the Word of God, the Sublime and Exalted. No mortal speech compares to it, and we do not say it is created. (Ibid., p. 64; bold emphasis ours)

Nor is this simply an isolated opinion of a solitary Muslim scholar:

Ahlul al-Sunnah declare the following: We believe that the attribute of speech [of Allah] to be Qadim al-Naw’ Hadith al-Ahad, which means that in its essence [Allah’s Speech] is Eternal, and He speaks whenever He wants the way He wants.

Saying, “Qadim al-Naw’” means that Speech is an Attribute of the Divine Essence, hence Eternal, as it exists due by His Essence, which neither has an end nor a beginning…

The following ayat establish clear incontrovertible proof of Allah’s Speech, in a manner that befits His Majesty and Supremacy, which is an eternal, everlasting and perfect Attribute of His Essence.

Allah said…

“And, indeed, Allah spoke to Musa with [direct] speech.” [al-Nisa’ (4):164]

Moreover, Allah said…

“And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [al-An’am (6):115] 

“I seek refuge in the Perfect Word from the evil of what He created”.

“nothing would harm him until he marches from that stopping place.”

All these are proof enough to affirm the attribute of Speech of Allah, Most High.

The Qur’an is the Word of Allah (Kalam Allah), which He sent down to His slave and Messenger, to remain as a source of legislation for mankind, until the Day of Judgement. He described Himself with it, by adding it [as a genitive] to His Name, in the verse… 

“And if anyone of the idolaters seek thy protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” [al-Taubah (9):6]

Therefore he who claims that the Qur’an is created is deemed a disbeliever as per the evidence established by all the aforementioned ayat.

All the scholars and exegetes specializing in Jurisprudence and hadith agree by consensus that whoever says that the Qur’an is created is a disbeliever. The majority of scholars also stated that whoever says that his utterance of the Qur’an is created is an innovator [as opposed to other scholars who declared such a person to be a disbeliever]. As for those who sit on the fence regarding this issue – they neither state that the Qur’an is created but nor do they affirm the Qur’an as being the Word of Allah – they are classified as innovators as well.

Imam Ahmad [ibn Hanbal] and Ahlu’l-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah were firm about this issue, showing no tolerance to anyone who did not take a firm position on this matter. Moreover, they abandoned those scholars who stated their utterance of the Qur’an was created, and also discouraged and warned people from learning or taking knowledge from them. The reason for their strong reaction and firm stance against these scholars as to close the door to ill-hearted people who would exploit such a statement in order to manipulate the Qur’an. This is because the utterance in this case is a double-edged sword; on the one hand it is an action performed by a person, and from another aspect, the utterance includes the Qur’an itself, which is the Word of Allah.

This is why Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal told people not to visit or take knowledge from al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali al-Karabisi, and forbade Dawud al-Zahiri, who had not taken a stance in this matter, from entering upon him; he dealt similarly with Ya’qub al-Dawraqi, and other scholars who had the same attitude. This is the reason why the author stated, “[It is also required] that the Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, it is neither (makluq) created to eventually vanish nor the (sifah) attribute of something created which must therefpre come to an end (yanfadh).” (The Creed of Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani: being a translation of Muqaddimah al-Risalah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, by Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abdullah Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani [310 – 389 AH], with commentary by Shaikh Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Najmi [d. 1429 AH] [Dar As-Sunnah Publishers, Birmingham, U.K.: First edition, 2012], pp. 68-73; bold emphasis ours)

Sunni Muslim writer, GF Haddad, in addressing Shia claims to the contrary, provides a list of quotes from renowned Muslim scholars regarding the Quran's uncreatedness, some of which include:

Ahl al-Sunna agree one and all that the Qur'an is the pre-existent, pre-eternal, uncreated Speech of Allah Most High on the evidence of the Qur'an, the Sunna, and faith-guided reason.

In a rare instance of classic kalâm reasoning, Imam Malik gave the most succint statement of this doctrine:

"The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah, the Speech of Allah comes from Him, and nothing created comes from Allah Most High." Narrated by al-Dhahabi in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala' (Dar al-Fikr ed. 7:416).

Hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir said in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (Dar al-Jil ed. p. 150-151):

"The Mu`tazila said: 'the Speech of Allah Most High is created, invented, and brought into being.' The Hashwiyya, who attribute a body to Allah the Exalted, said: 'The alphabetical characters (al-hurûf al-muqatta`a), the materials on which they are written, the colors in which they are written, and all that is between the two covers [of the volumes of Qur'an] is beginningless and pre-existent (qadîma azaliyya). Al-Ash`ari took a middle road between them and said: The Qur'an is the beginningless speech of Allah Most High unchanged, uncreated, not of recent origin in time, nor brought into being. As for the alphabetical characters, the materials, the colors, the voices, the elements that are subject to limitations (al-mahdûdât), and all that is subject to modality (al-mukayyafât) in the world: all this is created, originated, and produced."

Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi said in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat (al-Kawthari ed. p. 265; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18) with a sound chain:

"Something Ibn Shaddad had written was handed to Abu Bakr al-Marwazi which containing the phrase: "My pronunciation of the Qur'an is uncreated" and the latter was asked to show it to Ahmad ibn Hanbal for corroboration. The latter crossed out the phrase and wrote instead: "The Qur'an, however used (haythu yusraf), is uncreated."

"In another sound narration, Abu Bakr al-Marwazi, Abu Muhammad Fawran [or Fawzan], and Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal witnessed Ahmad rebuking one of his students named Abu Talib with the words: "Are you telling people that I said: 'My pronunciation of the Qur'an is uncreated'?" Abu Talib replied: "I only said this from my own." Ahmad said: "Do not say this - neither from me, nor from you! I never heard any person of knowledge say it. The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah uncreated, whichever way it is used." Salih said to Abu Talib: "If you told people what you said, now go and tell the same people that Abu `Abd Allah [Imam Ahmad] forbade to say it."" End of al-Bayhaqi's narration in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 265-266; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18).

This is a sound narration also found in Salih ibn Ahmad's book al-Mihna (p. 70-71), Ibn al-Jawzi's Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad (p. 155), and Ibn Taymiyya in Majmu` al-Fatawa (12:360, 12:425).

The Proof of Islam and Renewer of the Fifth Hijri Century, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali said in his "Foundations of Islamic Belief" (Qawa`id al-`Aqa'id) published in his Rasa'il and his Ihya' `Ulum al-Din and partially translated in Shaykh Nuh Keller's Reliance of the Traveller and by Mrs. Ahmad Darwish on the Mosque of the Internet:

"The Qur'an is read by tongues, written in books, and remembered in the heart, yet it is, nevertheless, uncreated and without beginning, subsisting in the Essence of Allah, not subject to division and or separation through its transmission to the heart and paper. Musa - upon him peace - heard the Speech of Allah without sound and without letter, just as the righteous see the Essence of Allah Most High in the Hereafter, without substance or its quality." End of al-Ghazzali's words.

And Imam al-Tahawi said of the Qur'an in his "Creed of Abu Hanifa and his Companions": "It is not created like the speech of creatures." (The Uncreatedness of the divine speech the glorious Qur'an; bold emphasis ours)

And:

Allah says, {Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, 'Be!' and it is!} -Yasîn 82

Ibn `Uyayna explains, "Allah has differentiated his Creation from his Command. His command is "Be" (Kun)."

Allah says, {Verily! Our Word unto a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: "Be!" and it is.} - Surah An-Nahl 40

Shaykh `AbdulQadir al-Jilani (Rahimahullah),* explaining that the word of Allah is not created says, "Allah (subhanehu Wa ta'ala) said, {Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the Command}; (Allah) has differentiated his Creation from his Command, If His Command which is "Be" (Kun) that He creates His creation (with) is created it would be a repetition that has no benefit - as if He (Allah) said 'Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the creation'; Allah (subhanehu Wa ta'ala) is far removed from doing such a thing." From the book Al-Ghunya li-Talibiy Tariq al-Haqq, volume 1 page 59 (Ibid.)

Speaking of the attributes of Allah, Mr. Haddad quotes:

The `Aqida of the People of Truth is:

sifaatu-l-Laahi laysat `ayna dhaatin
The Attributes of Allah are neither the very Essence,

wa laa ghayran siwaahu dha-nfisaali
NOR OTHER THAN HIMSELF, nor separate.

sifaatu-dh-Dhaati wa-l-af`aali turran
And all the Attributes of the Essence and of the Acts

qadiimaatun masuunaatu-z-zawaali
are pre-existent and without end.
[From the poem Bad' al-Amali by the Maturidi master, Siraj al-Din `Ali ibn `Uthman al-Ushi (d. 569).] (Ibid.; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Wahhabi Polemicist Jalal Abualrub writes:

The Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, not Created

The Qur’an is the speech of Allah, revealed, not created, regardless of how it is recited, written, and any way or anywhere it is recited. What is written from the Qur’an is just that, i.e., Quran, what is read from the Qur’an is just that, i.e., Quran, what is recited from the Qur’an is just that, i.e., Quran. The Speech of Allah is qadim, not created, regardless of the way and the form in which the Qur’an is presented. It is the Speech of Allah, not created, or new, or made, or a physical entity, or a physical reality, or a material entity. Rather, it is an attribute from the attributes of Allah’s essence. It is not similar to any created thing.

The Attribute of Speech

Allah is able, and will always be able to speak. (It is not permissible to separate between the two [i.e. Allah and His Speech] in a way that negates His Attributes)12. Sometimes, it is heard directly from Allah, glorified be He, sometimes from the one who hears it directly from Allah [such as Angel Jibril]. Whoever hears it directly from Allah hears it directly, without any mediator or translator, such as our Prophet Muhammad, when Allah spoke to him directly on the night of al-Miraj. Allah also spoke to Musa when he was on Mount Tur. Similarly, whoever Allah decides to speak to from among His angels, hears His speech from Him directly. Whoever is not among the categories mentioned, they hear Allah’s qadim13 speech in truth from whoever is reciting it for them [from Allah]14. Allah’s Speech consists of intelligible letters and a voice that is heard.15

12 I could not find out precisely what the Imam meant here, but perhaps he meant that Allah’s Attribute of Speech is always present in Him, because He has been speaking SINCE ETERNITY, whenever He wills, and in any way He wills. Allah also initiates speech whenever He wills, as Allah said, Comes not unto them an admonition (a chapter of the Qur’an) from their Lord as a recent revelation but they listen to it while they play. [21:2] Ibn Kathir said, “‘Recent’, or, ‘New’, meaning, new in regards to its revelation.” Refer to, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Adhim, 3/231, published by, Mu’assasat ar-Rayyan.

13[T .N] This statement from the Imam has a different meaning to it, while scholars such as, Ibn Taimiyyah have clarified what, qadim, means when used in reference to Allah’s Speech. The author used this term in its literal form, and Allah knows best, to mean that, qadim, is that which was spoken previously. Qadim literally means, old, before, olden, previously etc.
14 [T .N] Meaning, just as Prophet Muhammad was given the Revelation. Allah spoke the Qur’an to Angel Jibril, who spoke it to Prophet Muhammad. In reality, as the Imam here says, Allah’s Messenger heard it in a qadim manner, meaning that Allah already spoke before the Prophet Muhammad heard it. (Kitab al-I’tiqad (The Book of Creed), by Imam Abu al-Husain Muhammad bin al-Qadhi Abu Ya’la al-Hanbali, verification of the text and commentary by Shaikh Muhammad bin ‘Abd ar-Rahman al-Khumaiyis (Associate Professor at Muhammad bin Sa’ud University), translated by Amr bin Jalal Abualrub [Madinah Publishers and Distributors, First edition: 2012], pp. 17-18; capital and underline emphasis ours)

And here is what a prominent Wahhabi site states regarding the Quran being the uncreated word/speech of Allah:

So it is known from the outset that this is the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah believe that the Qur’aan is the word of Allaah, and among the evidence for this belief is the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And if anyone of the Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah) seeks your protection then grant him protection so that he may hear the Word of Allaah”
[al-Tawbah 9:6] 

what is meant here is the Qur’aan, by scholarly consensus. The fact that Allaah mentions kalaam (speech, word) in idaafah (genitive or possessive construction) with Himself  indicates that the Qur’aan is His Word. 

The belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah is that the Qur’aan is the word of Allaah which was revealed, not created; it began from Him and will return to Him…  

The evidence that the Qur'aan is not created is the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

"Surely, His is the creation and commandment" [al-A'raaf 7:54]

So Allaah describes creation as one thing and commandment as another. The conjunction implies that the second thing mentioned is different, and the Qur'aan is part of the commandment because of the evidence of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

"And thus We have sent to you (O Muhammad) Rooh (a revelation, and a mercy) of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Qur'aan) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will"
[al-Shoora 42:52]

If the Qur'aan is part of the command or commandment, which is different from creation, therefore it is not created, because if it were created, this division of categories would not be correct. This is the evidence from the Qur'aan. (Islam Question and Answer,10153: The Qur'aan was revealed by Allaah, not created)

The foregoing citations, which are taken from Islam’s greatest scholars and theologians, plainly refute the assertion that the Quran is merely a reflection of Allah’s word. Rather, the Quran is the very eternal, uncreated speech of Allah which is not other than him. This means that, contrary to the assertions of the producers of this video, Allah has instantiated his very essential attribute, and therefore himself, all throughout his creation in multitudes of copies of the Quran, copies that are impure and corruptible. More on this point in the next part of our rebuttal.

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