The Necessary Being is other than the possible beings

Being may be taken to mean as such (al-wujud al-mutlaq), which will comprehend the Necessary Being as well as the possible being. In this sense being is a common universal which does not exist except in mind or in word. Or it may be taken to mean the being which is ascribed to the Necessary or to the possible. Being in this sense is specific to the thing to which it is ascribed. Hence the being of the Creator is other than the being of the world; similarly, the being of Zayd is other than the being of `Umar, and there is no being which is common to any two things.

Some people think that things which we predicate of the world are only predicated of the Creator as a metaphor including the word `thing’ (shayy) itself. This is the opinion of Jahm and the Batin yyah who agree with him on this point. They refrain from calling God as existing (mawjud) as a thing or by any other name.

Others hold just the opposite view: everything predicated of God is predicated in the real sense, whereas it is predicated of the world as a metaphor. This is the view of Abu Al-`Abbas An-Nashi”Z from among the Mu’tazilah.

People in general believe that things are predicated of both God and the world in the real sense, and for most of them they are predicated of both unequivocally in the broadest sense of the term, or equivocally if that is distinguished from the former. The latter is certainly different from special unequivocal predication in which the meanings are similar while the words are cognate. Only a small group of later thinkers have regarded them to be homonymous as against the majority and the most popular thinkers. Ar-Razi has attributed this view to Al-Ash’ari, but it is not correct, for Al-Ash`ari and for his followers in general, wujud, or being, is a general term divisible into the eternal and the contingent. He, however, believes that the existence of everything is identical with its essence which is the view of all rational people, Muslims as well as non Muslims. Some people such as Al-Amidi”Za have wrongly inferred from this that the term is a homonym. We have discussed this at length elsewhere for everyone to find out the truth.

To one who says that wujud may either refer to the essence or to an attribute over and above the essence we would put the following question: Do you mean by wujud being as such’, which may be eternal and may be possible, or do you mean by it a particular being, whether the Necessary Being or the possible beings We have three terms here. When we say the wujud of a man, his self (dhat), essence or reality, it is specific to him, referring to his own self qualified with his own attributes. Similarly when we say the wujud of the Lord, His self, His essence, His reality, they all refer to what is specific to Him, which is His self qualified with His attributes. Hence, in reply to Al-Amidi’s statement that the term wujud refers either to the essence of God or to an attribute over and above it, we say that if you mean by the term `being as such’, which comprehends both necessary and the possible beings, then it does not refer to something which is specific either to the Necessary or to the possible being; it rather refers to a universal concept only exist in mind or in word. There is nothing out in reality there which is something universal as well as real… However, if you mean by wujud that which refers to both, as in the in the phrase `all beings, the necessary and possible’, or `being, necessary and possible’, then it refers to what is specific to each, as when we say the being of the necessary and the being of the possible. In short, it either means being as a universal concept which is divisible, or it means a particular being such as the being of the necessary or the being of the possible, or both, as when we say `all beings, necessary and possible’, or `beings, necessary and possible’, without implying in any case that it is common to both.

Al-Amidi has said that if wujud refers to the Essence (of God), the divine Essence will be opposed by all other beings. We would point out that wujud as such, which is divisible, does not refer to what is specific to God. But when we take it in the sense of particular beings, it does refer to God; similarly, when we take it in a general sense and say `being, necessary and possible,’ it also refers to what is specific to God, even though it is opposed by other beings. It is just like saying `the divine self’ nd `the human self’ since each refers to what is specific to itself, even though the reality of one is opposed to the reality of the other. The word wujud refers to God and to the world in a similar way, even though they are two different realities.

It may be said that since the reality of one being is different from the reality of the other, the word being (wujud) will be a homonym. This, we will say, is a mistake which has given rise to other mistakes. Different realities are called by a general name which refers to them unequivocally or equivocally. For example, the word color applies to black, white, and red, even though they are different colors; similarly, the words attribute, accident, and concept apply to knowledge, power, life, taste, color, and smell, even though they are different realities. In the same way, the word animal applies to human beings and cattle even though they are different realities. This is all the more true of the word wujud.

Diverse realities may have something common between them which may be referred to by a word such as color. Later on it may be qualified in order to refer to every particular reality. For example, we may say black color or white color. Similarly, we may say the being of God and the being of man, even though we are using a general term which applies to all its particular instances. We say color or colors, animal, accident or being, which apply to everything that comes under them, even though they may be different realities; this is because these terms comprehend them as does any other general term, even though individual realities differ in another sense from these general terms.

If, on the other hand, the term wujud stands, Al-Amidi says, for an attribute that means one and the same thing in the case of the Necessary and the possible, it will follow that the necessary is possible and the possible is necessary, or else the term has to be treated as a homonym. To this objection we respond in this way. We ask if you mean by the term wujud `being as such’ or a particular being referring to one thing or the other, as when we say the wujud of the necessary or the wujud of the possible. if you take the term in the first sense then we will say that it means one and the same thing, but it will not follow thereby that their wujud is similar. Even if their ideas in mind may be similar, it does not follow that they are similar out there. The only thing that follows is that the term applies to both, just as any other term unequivocal or equivocal. When we say black, it may refer to the blackness of pitch or of ink even though they are not similar; or when we say white or red it may refer to many things which are white or red in various degrees. Similarly, the term living applies to the angels, the people in Paradise, the fly and the mosquito, even though their lives are completely different. If this is the case, how can the wujud of God or His knowledge or power be like the wujud of the possible or its knowledge or power, even though the word wujud as such or knowledge as such or power as such comprehends them both.

But if Al-Amidi says that he means a particular being, such as the being of the Necessary or the being of the possible, we will say that what being denotes in one case is different from what it denotes in the other case. That is why it is qualified. We say being of the one or being of the other. This qualification rules out similarity between the two beings, which is by no means necessitated by the commonness of the term, for in this case the difference lies in the term wujud itself, and the qualification through ascription only enforces it, in whatever form we express it, whether `the being of the Lord’ or the `Necessary Being’, on the one hand, and the being of the object created or `the possible being’ on the other.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Fatawa 20:441-447] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

 

Approaching God through the Prophet

The wasilah, the means which God has asked us to take in order to approach Him, only means that we should perform obligatory and supererogatory works. It means nothing else. Furthermore, what obligatory duties and what supererogatory works we should engage in has been defined by the Prophet. Hence, to take the wasilah means nothing but to follow what the Prophet has taught. As for approaching God through the Prophet (tawassul bi al-nabi), it is, first of all, through belief in him and obedience to his commands. Next, it is through his prayers and his intercessions, the former in this life and the latter on the Day of Judgment. Both are perfectly right, and completely agreed upon among the Muslims. But if it is taken to mean adjuring God in the name of the Prophet or beseeching Him in his name, none of his Companions ever did that in his life or after his death.
Wasilah and tawassul are ambiguous terms and have been used in different senses. To do justice to them we have to define various senses in which they have been used. We have to see how they have been used in the Quran and the Sunnah and what they have meant there, what the Companions have meant by them and how they have practiced them, and finally what they have come to mean in our times. Much of the confusion people have with regard to these terms is due to their ambiguous nature as we have said. The result is that they are not able to find out what the truth is.

Wasilah occurs in the Quran in the following verses: “You who believe! Do your duty to God, seek the means of approach unto Him” (5:35); and, “Call on those besides Him whom you fancy. They have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them. Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access (wasilah) to their Lord, even those who are nearest. They hope for His mercy and fear His wrath, for the wrath of your Lord is something to take heed of' (17:56-7).

This means that the wasilah which God has asked us to seek, and which He has advised His angels and prophets to seek is the performance of obligatory and supererogatory works. Everything which is obligatory or desirable is included in the wasilah, and what does not fall into these two categories is not part of wasilah, that is, things that are forbidden, undesirable or permissible. Moreover, the obligatory and the desirable are defined by the Prophet and enjoined as duty or commended by him. All this follows from faith in the Prophet. In short, the wasilah which God has asked us to seek is to approach Him through submission to what the Prophet has taught; there is no way to God other than that.

As for the hadith, the word wasilah occurs in some authentic ahadith. In one hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) says, “Pray to God to grant me wasilah, which is a particular position in Paradise reserved for a servant of God, and I hope to be that servant. Whoever of you asks it for me, shall intercede for him on the Day of Judgment.”35' In another hadith, he said, “On hearing the call for salah whoever says, `0 God, the Lord of this perfect call and this ensuing saldh, grant Muhammad wasilah and honor, and raise him to the laudable position that You have promised him; certainly You do not violate your promise,' he shall have my intercession.”352

Wasilah in this sense is for the Prophet alone; our duty is to pray to God to bless him with this honor. He has said that God will grant it to one of His servants, and has expressed the hope that he shall be that servant. He has asked us to pray to God to grant it to him and said that we shall be rewarded for that prayer with his intercession on the Day of Judgment. Since reward is usually in terms of the things calling for the reward, when we are called to pray for the Prophet we shall be rewarded with the Prophet's prayer for us, his intercession. He has said, “Whoever invokes God's blessing on me one time, God will bless him ten times.”353

In the language of the Companions, tawassul bi al-nabi means approaching God through the Prophet's prayer and intercession. But in the language of many later scholars it came to mean adjuring God in the name of the Prophet or beseeching Him in his name, as they adjure in the name of any other prophet or pious man, or one whom they consider to be pious. In short, tawassul bi al-nabi is used in three different senses; two of them are correct and agreed upon among the ummah, but the third has no support from the Sunnah. Of the two correct meanings, one is approaching God through faith in the Prophet and obedience to his commands; the other is approaching God through prayer and intercession, as mentioned above. Tawassul in these two senses is approved by all the Muslims. You may refer, for example, to the words of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab when he said “0 God! Earlier when we had drought we would approach You through the Prophet (tawassalna ilayka bi nabiyyina), and You would give us rain. Now we approach You through the uncle of the Prophet, so give us rain.”” In other words, through his prayer and intercession. God's words, “seek the means to approach Him,” mean that we should approach Him through obeying His commands as well as the commands of His Prophet, for obedience to the Prophet is obedience to God, as God has Himself has said, “He who obeys the Messenger obeys God”(4:80).

This tawassul is the heart of Islam, and no one has ever denied it. As for tawassul through the prayer and intercession of the Prophet, as is referred to by `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, it is a tawassul through his prayer, not through his person. That is why after the death of the Prophet, `Umar moved away from tawassul through the Prophet to tawassul through his uncle, `Abbas. Had tawassul through the person of any being been allowed `Umar would have referred to the person of `Abbas. So when he left the tawassul through the Prophet and took to tawassul through `Abbas, it means that what was possible in the Prophet's life was no longer possible after his death. This is why the second tawassul is different from the first tawassul, through faith and obedience to the Prophet, which is available all the time.

To sum up, tawassul may mean three different things. One is tawassul through obedience to the Prophet; this is a duty and your faith is not complete without it. The second is tawassul through his prayers and intercession; it was possible in his life and will be possible on the Day of Judgment. The third is tawassul through his person, in the sense that you adjure God in his name and ask of Him in his name. This was never done by the Companions, whether praying for rain or anything else, neither in the life of the Prophet nor after his death, neither near his grave nor away from it. Nothing of this kind is referred to in their prayers that have come down to us through authentic channels. However, in weak traditions going back to the Prophet (marfu `) stopping at the Companions (mawquf), or emerging from persons whose words carry no authority, we do have some things of this kind.

It is this third kind of tawassul which Abu Hanifah and his students have pronounced unlawful and forbidden. They have said, “God should not be prayed to in the name of any creature. Nobody should say for example, `Lord! I pray to You in the name (bi haggi) of your prophets.” Abu-Hanifah's words are, “Nobody should pray to God except in His name. I dislike that anyone should say `in the name of this or that servant of Yours (bi haggi khalgika).' Abu Yusuf has said that he disliked the words “in the name of Your prophets, or messengers, or the Sacred House (Bayt al-Haram), or Mash `ar al-Haram.”355 Al-Quduri has written, “Prayer in the name of any creature is not permissible, for no one has any right over God.”356

The verdict of Abu Hannifah, his disciples and many other scholars that God should not be prayed to in the name of any creature, be he a prophet or a messenger or anyone else, means two things: One adjuring God in anyone's name (igsam `ala Allah) for doing something. This is forbidden according to the overwhelming majority of scholars, as we have mentioned before; the same is true about adjuring God in the name of the Ka'bah, or the mashy `ir;357 scholars are also agreed on that. Second, it means praying to God in the name of someone. This is permitted by some scholars; it is also reported that some Elders have allowed it, and many people have been heard praying to God in this way. However, every report from the Prophet to this effect is without exception weak or even fabricated; we have nothing authentic from him which may be cited as an argument, except the hadith of the blind man whom the Prophet taught to pray in this way: “Lord! I pray to You, and turn to You through Your Prophet, Muhammad, the prophet of mercy.” But this hadith does not support their view; it simply means that the blind man approached God through the Prophet's prayer and intercession. He requested the Prophet to pray for him, and the Prophet instructed him to say, “0 Lord! Accept his (i.e. the Prophet's) intercession in my favor.” When the Prophet prayed for him, God gave him back his sight.358 This is counted as one of the miracles of the Prophet.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Fatawd 1:199-203.222-3]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

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Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allah
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Creation of the Universe
Allah and the 99 Names of God
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The way to knowledge of the Unseen is through prophethood

No one can dispense with the revelations to the Prophet in matters unseen. His word guarantees the truth. The experience of a mystic, or his reason cannot sit in judgment over his word.
The view held by various esoteric groups, such as the authors of the Rasa'il Ikhwan As-Safa' from among the Shi`is, Ibn Sabin, Ibn `Arabi and others from among the Sufis, and expounded by Abu Hamid343 and many others in their writings, that those who engage in spiritual exercises and purify their hearts, and adorn their souls with noble virtues know the truth about such realities as God, angels, the Books, the prophets, the Last Day, jinns and devils independently of what prophets say, and want us to believe is based upon a wrong premise. The assumption is that when one purifies one's soul, it receives knowledge from the Active Intellect or from another source.

Abu Hamid speaks of it a lot. It is one of the points on which people have found fault with him. They have charged him with dispensing with the agency of prophethood in knowing unseen realities, and of saying that the Quran and Sunnah do not tell the real truth about them, that we cannot know from their words what they really mean, or what is to be taken literally and what is to be interpreted metaphorically as well as of claiming that when a person engages in spiritual exercises things appear to him as such; hence what agrees with his vision should be confirmed and what does not should be interpreted. That is why his writings, they say, undermine faith in prophethood. His ideas are derived from the philosophers, In his Mishkat al-Anwar and Kim iya' as-Sa `adah, for example, he simply restates their doctrines. He says, for example, that for one who engages in spiritual exercises it is possible to hear the word of God just like Moses son of `Imran (pbuh). This and other similar ideas that he has expounded on in his writings have been condemned by various Muslim scholars better aware of the Quran and the Sunnah from various schools of thought: Shafi`is, Malikis, Hanafis, Hanbalis, Sufis faithfully following the Prophet, the ahl al-hadith, and theologians of the Ahl as-Sunnah.

Some theologians and rationalists have also found fault with those ideas of Abu Hamid which are true. They have said, for example, that purification of the heart and spiritual exercises have nothing to do with knowledge. This is wrong. The truth is that piety and purification of the soul is one of the most important ways to acquire knowledge. This does not, however, dispense with faithful adherence to the Quran and the Sunnah in belief and in practice. No one can know independently by himself what the Prophet has said of the Unseen; he is indispensable in these matters. His word categorically tells the truth, and neither the intuition of a mystic nor the logic of a philosopher can be set in judgment over it. It verifies the intuition and the reason it agrees with and negates the ones it differs from. In fact, every so-called “intuition” and “reasoning” which goes against the word of the Prophet is a false reasoning and a false intuition. With regard to things like this we say, “We take shelter in God from the reasoning of the philosopher and the intuition of the mystic.”

It often happens that a person purifies his soul, but Satan drops in it different ideas. If he does not stick to the message of the Prophet, Satan takes charge of him, as God has said, “If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of (God) the Most Glorious, We appoint for him an evil one to be an intimate companion to him” (43:36). On the other hand, He has made it clear, “Whoever follows My guidance will not lose his way, or fall into misery” (20:123).

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Ar-Radd `a.la al-Mantigiyyin 509-11] / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

Infallibility of the prophets

(a) Prophets  neither  default  nor  commit  any  error  in communicating God 's revelations to the people. But they may err in judgment (ijtihad); however, they are soon corrected. They are completely innocent of major sins, but may commit some minor mistakes; however, they never persist in them. This is the view of Muslim scholars in general.
Scholars are agreed that prophets neither default nor commit any error in communicating their message; however, in forming opinions or making judgments in matters of law (ijtihad) they may err sometimes, but they are not left uncorrected. Scholars similarly agree that all the decrees which the prophets promulgate on behalf of God are to be obeyed, and all the statements they make are to be believed. They further agree that their own injunctions, commands or prohibitions have to be complied with. This is what all the schools of thought in the ummah believe. Only the Khawarij differ; they say that the prophet is infallible in whatever he communicates from God, but not in what he himself enjoins. They have been denounced for this heresy by the entire body of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah

Most of the scholars, or at least many of them rule out the commission of major sins on the part of the prophets. But they do not rule out minor faults. However, the majority which allows them and those who allow major sins say that the prophets do not persist in them. They immediately repent, and their repentance raises their status in the sight of God

As for error in judgment, there are two views on the subject; but all are agreed that the prophets are not left uncorrected, and that they are to be obeyed in what they are confirmed, and not in what is disapproved of them and rectified.

[Minhaj as-Sunnah 2:82]

Ibn Taymiyyah was asked about a person who was denounced by another as infidel (kafir) on saying that the prophets never commit major sins but they may commit minor ones, was he right or was he wrong; has any scholar said that the prophets are innocent of all sins, major and minor. What is the correct view on the subject? Ibn Taymiyyah wrote this answer:

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. The person (whom you have mentioned) is not a kafir this is agreed upon by all religious scholars. Nor is this matter a question of abusing the Prophet, on which opinions differ as to whether the abuser would be allowed to recant or not; there is also no disagreement on this issue. Qadi `Iyad” and other scholars have clearly stated it. Although they greatly stress the innocence of the prophets and call for punishing the one who abuses them, they are agreed that one who holds the view mentioned above is not guilty of abusing prophets and is not liable for any punishment, what to say of being condemned as infidel (kafir) or transgressor (/asiq), for the view that the prophets are free from major rather than minor sins is held by the majority of Islamic scholars and all the schools of thought. This is also the view of most theologians. Abu Al-Hasan Al-Amidi345a has written that this is what most Ash`aris as well as most scholars of tafsir, hadith and fiqh believe. This has been reported of the Salaf and the a'immah, the Companions, the Successors, and their Successors

The view which the great majority of scholars hold is that the prophets are not free from minor sins but they do not persist in them. They do not say that they never commit any minor sin at all.

The first group of people to uphold absolute innocence and to stress upon it greatly was the Rafidah. They even claim that the prophets never forget anything, nor make any mistake nor interpret anything wrongly. They also assert these things of the imams in whom they believe, such as `Ali and the rest of the Twelve-Imam Shi`is. The same `ismah is asserted of their imams by the Ismailis who once ruled over Egypt, and claimed to have descended from `Ali through Fatimah, even though scholars hold that they are descended from `Ubaydullah Al-Qaddah.345 The truth about them, as Al-Ghazali has written in the book he wrote in refutation of them, is that openly their religion is rafd345a but in reality it is pure faithlessness.

Qadi Abu Ya`la and many other scholars have discussed the view of these people in their writings. They and those who think like them are very much extremists; they dub as infidels those who differ from them. The truth is that these extremists themselves are infidels as Muslims in general believe. Those who condemn as infidel one who allows minor sins for the prophets are very much like these Isma`ilis, Nusayris, Rafidah, and Ithna-`Ashariyyahs. They have no support from anyone form among the followers of Abu Hanifah or Malik or Ash-Shafi`i, nor from anyone form among the theologians of the Ahl as-Sunnah, whether a follower of Abu Muhammad `Abdullah Ibn Said Ibn Kullab.” or Abu Al-Hasan `Ali Ibn Ismail Al-Ash`ari, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Karram,341 or any other, nor even from any renowned commentator of the Qura'n, muhaddith or Sufi. None of them has charged any person with faithlessness on this account. Hence, if anyone does so he should be asked to recant; if he recants he should be left alone; otherwise he should be punished severely so that it may deter him as well as others from repeating the charge. Certainly if anyone commits a thing which is faithlessness, or zandaqah, he will be charged accordingly. Similarly, if anyone calls fasiq, transgressor, the holder of the view in question he will also be chastised after he is shown that he is mistaken for his stand amounts to charging all the a'immah of Islam with transgression. [Fatawa 4:319-21 ]

(c) Opinions differ as to whether a prophet may say something

which is incorrect and which God would correct afterwards and would not leave him to persist therein. It has been claimed that the Prophet once said about the gods of the Makkans, “These are great stars, and their intercession will be acceptable.” Thereupon God repudiated these words which Satan had put in the mouth of the Prophet, and made him reaffirm the words that He had revealed to him.348 Some scholars do not allow for such things while others do, since they think that it does not involve anything repugnant, and since God has Himself says, “Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before you, but when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire. But God will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and God will confirm His verses, for God is full of knowledge and wisdom, that He may make the suggestions thrown in by Satan simply a trial for those in whose hearts is a disease and who are hardened of heart. Verily the wrongdoers are in schism far (from the truth)” (22:53-54). However, all of them agree that prophets are not left to continue in their error or fault. They are not prepared to attribute anything to them which is not consistent with their duties and their mission as the preachers of God's messages. Moreover, the majority of those scholars who allow for the commission of minor sins on their part say that they do not persist in those sins. They soon repent; hence their sins do not reduce their status. A tradition says that David was better than before after he had repented. God certainly loves the penitent and the pure in heart; sometimes one does an evil which paves the way for entry into Paradise.

As for forgetting in salah or outside salah, it does happen with the prophets, and may serve some good purpose, namely that their followers may learn what to do in such cases. Malik has noted in his Muwatta that the Prophet said “I forget or I am made to forget so that I may show them what to do in such cases.”349 He is also reported to have said, “I am a human being; I forget as you do, hence remind me when I forget. ,3'0 This has been recorded by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Minhaj as-Sunnah 1:13 0]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

The authority of the prophet

The way to truly obeying God passes through the Prophet. He is infallible in whatever he conveys from God; he must be believed in whatever he says; and must be obeyed in whatever he commands. All other authorities, religious and political, are to be obeyed so long as they do not enjoin anything which goes against the command of God, and no one other than the prophet is infallible.
Our duty is only to obey God, but there is no way to know His words and commands except through His messengers. Whoever speaks on His behalf, conveys His words and His commands, is, therefore, to be obeyed in whatever he says. Others are to be obeyed sometimes and sometimes not. Political authorities, for example, are to be obeyed within their jurisdictions so long as they do not order anything contrary to God's commands. Similarly, religious scholars are to be obeyed by common men in the injunctions they issue, since they either communicate from God or find out His will in matters which come up, and tell them; their verdicts are binding on people. The same position is enjoyed by spiritual leaders (mashayikh) in religious matters, and worldly authorities in secular affairs, such as the imams in prayers or in hajj, or the commanders in battle, or officers in government, or preceptors in spiritual matters: their orders are to be carried out and their precepts are to be followed.

The point I am making is that whoever sets up an authority and follows his words without any restriction in matters of belief or practice is wrong. Imamite Shi`is set up an infallible imam whose orders they say must be carried out. They are certainly wrong, for there is no infallible authority other than the Prophet, whose orders have to be followed in every matter. The imams who they have set up from among the family of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt) were of different statures. One of them, `Ali, was a rightly guided caliph; he was to be obeyed just like any other rightly guided caliph before him. Some of them, such as `Ali Ibn Al-Husayn, Abu Ja`far Al-Bagir, Ja'far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq were religious scholars and leaders; to them we owe what we owe to any other religious scholar and leader. others rank even lower than them.

Similarly wrong are those who preach absolute and unqualified submission to a preceptor (shaykh) in a Sufi tarigah exalting him over other preceptors like him, such as Shaykh `Adiy,338 Shaykh Ahmad,339 Shaykh `Abdul-Qadir,340 Shaykh IIayat,34' or who enjoin the following of any particular religious scholar such as any one of the four imams in all that he says, enjoins or forbids without exception, or who preach obedience to kings, governors, judges, and officials in whatever they command to do or not to do without any reservation or qualification. Of course, they do not regard these authorities to be infallible, except for some extremists among the disciples of the Sufi masters like Shaykh `Adiy and Sa'd Al-Madini Ibn Hammawayh342 and the like who believe them to be infallible, just as the extremists among the followers of the of Banu Hashim believe their imams to be. Some even claim them to be superior to the prophets, and ascribe to them a kind of divinity.

Most of the followers of a religious scholar or a preceptor do not differ in their feelings and wishes from their friends who believe that people must submit to their leader; they only do not say it openly, or assert it as a matter of belief. Their practice does not tally with their faith just as we have in the case of the sinners; however, they are better than those who believe that submission to their leaders is obligatory. The case with the followers of kings and rulers is no different. God has depicted their condition in these words: “We obeyed our chiefs and great men (blindly) and they took us away from the right path” (33:67). They follow their instructions, and obey their commands without taking it as an article of faith; however, some of them consider it as a part of faith.

Submission to the prophet depends upon knowledge of his teachings and the power to act upon them. When that knowledge and power vanishes it is the time of fatrah – interregnum. Before our Prophet (pbuh), whenever such a time came a new message was revealed and a new prophet was sent. Think over this statement; it is very important.

The philosophers, theologians and Sufis who elevate analogy, reason or intuition (dhawq) into an absolute principle, and give precedence to the leaders of kalam, logic, philosophy, or mysticism over the Prophet are just like those who submit absolutely to a personality. Let it be clear that absolute submission is due only to the Prophet.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Fatawa 19:69-71]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

Approaching God through the Prophet

The wasilah, the means which God has asked us to take in order to approach Him, only means that we should perform obligatory and supererogatory works. It means nothing else. Furthermore, what obligatory duties and what supererogatory works we should engage in has been defined by the Prophet. Hence, to take the wasilah means nothing but to follow what the Prophet has taught. As for approaching God through the Prophet (tawassul bi al-nabi), it is, first of all, through belief in him and obedience to his commands. Next, it is through his prayers and his intercessions, the former in this life and the latter on the Day of Judgment. Both are perfectly right, and completely agreed upon among the Muslims. But if it is taken to mean adjuring God in the name of the Prophet or beseeching Him in his name, none of his Companions ever did that in his life or after his death.

Wasilah and tawassul are ambiguous terms and have been used in different senses. To do justice to them we have to define various senses in which they have been used. We have to see how they have been used in the Quran and the Sunnah and what they have meant there, what the Companions have meant by them and how they have practiced them, and finally what they have come to mean in our times. Much of the confusion people have with regard to these terms is due to their ambiguous nature as we have said. The result is that they are not able to find out what the truth is.

Wasilah occurs in the Quran in the following verses: “You who believe! Do your duty to God, seek the means of approach unto Him” (5:35); and, “Call on those besides Him whom you fancy. They have neither the power to remove your troubles from you nor to change them. Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access (wasilah) to their Lord, even those who are nearest. They hope for His mercy and fear His wrath, for the wrath of your Lord is something to take heed of' (17:56-7).

This means that the wasilah which God has asked us to seek, and which He has advised His angels and prophets to seek is the performance of obligatory and supererogatory works. Everything which is obligatory or desirable is included in the wasilah, and what does not fall into these two categories is not part of wasilah, that is, things that are forbidden, undesirable or permissible. Moreover, the obligatory and the desirable are defined by the Prophet and enjoined as duty or commended by him. All this follows from faith in the Prophet. In short, the wasilah which God has asked us to seek is to approach Him through submission to what the Prophet has taught; there is no way to God other than that.

As for the hadith, the word wasilah occurs in some authentic ahadith. In one hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) says, “Pray to God to grant me wasilah, which is a particular position in Paradise reserved for a servant of God, and I hope to be that servant. Whoever of you asks it for me, shall intercede for him on the Day of Judgment.”35' In another hadith, he said, “On hearing the call for salah whoever says, `0 God, the Lord of this perfect call and this ensuing saldh, grant Muhammad wasilah and honor, and raise him to the laudable position that You have promised him; certainly You do not violate your promise,' he shall have my intercession.”352

Wasilah in this sense is for the Prophet alone; our duty is to pray to God to bless him with this honor. He has said that God will grant it to one of His servants, and has expressed the hope that he shall be that servant. He has asked us to pray to God to grant it to him and said that we shall be rewarded for that prayer with his intercession on the Day of Judgment. Since reward is usually in terms of the things calling for the reward, when we are called to pray for the Prophet we shall be rewarded with the Prophet's prayer for us, his intercession. He has said, “Whoever invokes God's blessing on me one time, God will bless him ten times.”353

In the language of the Companions, tawassul bi al-nabi means approaching God through the Prophet's prayer and intercession. But in the language of many later scholars it came to mean adjuring God in the name of the Prophet or beseeching Him in his name, as they adjure in the name of any other prophet or pious man, or one whom they consider to be pious. In short, tawassul bi al-nabi is used in three different senses; two of them are correct and agreed upon among the ummah, but the third has no support from the Sunnah. Of the two correct meanings, one is approaching God through faith in the Prophet and obedience to his commands; the other is approaching God through prayer and intercession, as mentioned above. Tawassul in these two senses is approved by all the Muslims. You may refer, for example, to the words of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab when he said “0 God! Earlier when we had drought we would approach You through the Prophet (tawassalna ilayka bi nabiyyina), and You would give us rain. Now we approach You through the uncle of the Prophet, so give us rain.”” In other words, through his prayer and intercession. God's words, “seek the means to approach Him,” mean that we should approach Him through obeying His commands as well as the commands of His Prophet, for obedience to the Prophet is obedience to God, as God has Himself has said, “He who obeys the Messenger obeys God”(4:80).

This tawassul is the heart of Islam, and no one has ever denied it. As for tawassul through the prayer and intercession of the Prophet, as is referred to by `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, it is a tawassul through his prayer, not through his person. That is why after the death of the Prophet, `Umar moved away from tawassul through the Prophet to tawassul through his uncle, `Abbas. Had tawassul through the person of any being been allowed `Umar would have referred to the person of `Abbas. So when he left the tawassul through the Prophet and took to tawassul through `Abbas, it means that what was possible in the Prophet's life was no longer possible after his death. This is why the second tawassul is different from the first tawassul, through faith and obedience to the Prophet, which is available all the time.

To sum up, tawassul may mean three different things. One is tawassul through obedience to the Prophet; this is a duty and your faith is not complete without it. The second is tawassul through his prayers and intercession; it was possible in his life and will be possible on the Day of Judgment. The third is tawassul through his person, in the sense that you adjure God in his name and ask of Him in his name. This was never done by the Companions, whether praying for rain or anything else, neither in the life of the Prophet nor after his death, neither near his grave nor away from it. Nothing of this kind is referred to in their prayers that have come down to us through authentic channels. However, in weak traditions going back to the Prophet (marfu `) stopping at the Companions (mawquf), or emerging from persons whose words carry no authority, we do have some things of this kind.

It is this third kind of tawassul which Abu Hanifah and his students have pronounced unlawful and forbidden. They have said, “God should not be prayed to in the name of any creature. Nobody should say for example, `Lord! I pray to You in the name (bi haggi) of your prophets.” Abu-Hanifah's words are, “Nobody should pray to God except in His name. I dislike that anyone should say `in the name of this or that servant of Yours (bi haggi khalgika).' Abu Yusuf has said that he disliked the words “in the name of Your prophets, or messengers, or the Sacred House (Bayt al-Haram), or Mash `ar al-Haram.”355 Al-Quduri has written, “Prayer in the name of any creature is not permissible, for no one has any right over God.”356

The verdict of Abu Hannifah, his disciples and many other scholars that God should not be prayed to in the name of any creature, be he a prophet or a messenger or anyone else, means two things: One adjuring God in anyone's name (igsam `ala Allah) for doing something. This is forbidden according to the overwhelming majority of scholars, as we have mentioned before; the same is true about adjuring God in the name of the Ka'bah, or the mashy `ir;357 scholars are also agreed on that. Second, it means praying to God in the name of someone. This is permitted by some scholars; it is also reported that some Elders have allowed it, and many people have been heard praying to God in this way. However, every report from the Prophet to this effect is without exception weak or even fabricated; we have nothing authentic from him which may be cited as an argument, except the hadith of the blind man whom the Prophet taught to pray in this way: “Lord! I pray to You, and turn to You through Your Prophet, Muhammad, the prophet of mercy.” But this hadith does not support their view; it simply means that the blind man approached God through the Prophet's prayer and intercession. He requested the Prophet to pray for him, and the Prophet instructed him to say, “0 Lord! Accept his (i.e. the Prophet's) intercession in my favor.” When the Prophet prayed for him, God gave him back his sight.358 This is counted as one of the miracles of the Prophet.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Fatawd 1:199-203.222-3]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

False prophets

False prophets and how their experiences differ from the experiences of the friends (awliya') of God.

Some experiences are devilish.         `Abdullah Ibn Sayyad who appeared at the time of the Prophet had some such experiences on account of which some companions of the Prophet thought that he was the anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal). The Prophet himself watched his case for sometime, till he came to the conclusion that he was not the anti-Christ, but only a diviner (kahin). He hid something in his hand and asked him to tell him what it was. Ibn Sayyad said, “Ad-Dukh, Ad-Dukh,” but could not say that it was the Surat Ad-Dukhan of the Quran, which the Prophet had held in his hand. Thereupon the Prophet said, “Down with you! You can never go beyond your limits.”328 That is to say, he could not do more than what a diviner does. Every diviner of that time had an agent from among the devils who used to tell him of things unknown since they could steal some information (from the heavens) and mix them with false ideas of their own. Al-Bukhari has recorded in his Sahih that the Prophet said, “Angels come down to the clouds and talk about things that are decided upon in the heavens. The evil ones steal some of this information and pass them on to the diviners, adding to them hundred things of their own fabrication. 329

Muslim has another hadith reported by Ibn `Abbas, “One day the Prophet was sitting with the Ansar when all of a sudden a small comet shot through the air and there was light all around. The Prophet asked the p

How philosophers interpret prophethood and revelation

The view of Ibn Sind and Al-Fdrabi regarding wahi and prophethood, its refutation.
A number of people who say that they believe in the Prophet and the prophets before him and in what has been revealed to them have an element of hypocrisy in them. To be sure, they do not belie the Prophet in everything he said; on the contrary, they hold him in honor, and believe that they should obey some of his commands, though not others. Of these those who are farthest removed from the prophetic religion are the so-called philosophers, esoterics and heretics. They do not recognize prophethood except insofar as it is common between the prophets and the non-prophets, namely dreams. Aristotle and his students did not speak on prophethood. Al-Farabi335 treated it as a form of dreams; that is the reason he exalted the philosophers above the prophets.

Ibn Sina336 had a greater regard for prophethood. To him a prophet must have three characteristics. First is that he gets knowledge without learning. He calls this a holy faculty (al-qawwah al-qudsiyyah), and identifies it with intuition (al-qawwah al-hadsiyyah). Second, the prophet conjures in his mind images of various things he knows. He can see within himself bright forms and hear voices just as one sees in sleep figures who speak to him and whom he hears. They exist in his mind rather than out there. In short, for these people what the prophet sees or hears without anyone around perceiving it, he just sees only within himself and hears only within himself. He is no different from a person under hallucination.

Third, the prophet has the power to work wonders in the world. This is what the miracles of the prophets mean to them, for in their view all that happens is caused by a spiritual, angelic or physical power, such as the souls of the heavens or of human beings, the spheres, and the natural forces that reside in the four elements and their compounds. They do not believe that beings above the heavens can do or produce anything, or speak or move in any

sense, be they angels or non-angels. The Lord of the World is obviously farthest removed from these things. The intelligences which they posit have no movement from one state to another, whether in terms of will, speech, action or anything else. The same is true of the One, the First Cause. Hence, all that the prophets receive comes from the Active Intellect.

This is in essence the doctrine of the philosophers. However, when they learn the teachings of the prophets they try to reconcile them with their doctrines. They take the words of the prophets and use them in their discourses and writings, so that those who are not aware of what the prophets meant by them think that they have only used them in the prophetic sense and thus go astray. This may be found in the writings of Ibn Sind and those who have taken their ideas from him. Al-Ghazdli has referred to this fact when he states their doctrines and has often cautioned people against them. However, some of their ideas have also found their way into his writings, such as Al-Madnun bihi `ald Ghayr Ahlihi and others.

Even in the Ihyd' he uses concepts like al-mulk, al-malakut, and al jabarut by which he means the worlds of physical bodies, souls, and intelligences respectively, as we have in the philosophers. Similarly, he mentions the Preserved Tablet (al-lawh al-mahfuz) and identifies it with the Universal Soul; and so on and so on. We have discussed these things elsewhere in detail, which may be consulted. It is strange that in the Tahafut and other works he taxes the philosophers with faithlessness, but in Al-Macdnun Bihi he expounds on their own doctrines, even their view of prophethood and God.

The three qualities which the philosophers mention as distinctive qualities of prophethood are also found in the nonprophets, even in infidels from among the pagans and the People of the Book. We have among them people who are distinguished for their knowledge and devotion, by virtue of which they have extraordinary intuitions and insights not found in common people. As for the imaginative faculty, all human beings have it; that is why they have dreams. What distinguishes the prophet is the fact, they say, that he “sees” while awake what others see in dreams. But this quality is also found in many non-prophets who also see many things an ordinary person sees in dreams. They themselves admit it when they attribute it to sorcerers and men who are possessed. The only difference, they point out, is that the motive of the sorcerer is not good, and the man possessed by a jinn is not in control of his reason. Thus, according to them, the prophets belong to the same class as sorcerers and the insane. This is what the infidels have always said about the prophets as God has mentioned: “Similarly, no messenger came to the people before them, but they said (of him) in like manner (that he is) a sorcerer or one possessed” (51:2).

To these people the visions which the prophet sees and the voices which he hears are similar to what the sorcerers and the insane see and hear. The only thing in which they differ is that whereas the prophet preaches good, the sorcerer preaches evil, and the insane has lost his reason. But in this respect not only the prophets but also ordinary men and women differ from the sorcerers and the insane. Hence the prophets would have no distinction in their view; they would be on a par with all other believers.

Similarly, the power to influence the ordinary course of events which the philosophers attribute to the prophets is also available to sorcerers and others. Since they do not recognize the existence of jinns and devils, they attribute the strange things that happen in the world they know of to some power of the human soul. Hence the miracles of the prophets and the wonders of the sorcerers and diviners, and the information which a possessed person gives, are the work of some power in the human soul. The soul gets information from its contact with the Universal Soul which they call al-lawh al-mahfQz, the Guarded Tablet, and effects changes in the course of events through its own psychic powers. When Ibn Sina was told of wonders which he could not deny he tried to explain them in the light of these principles. In the Ishardt he writes that at first he did not recognize these events, but when he ascertained that such things did happen in the world he tried to find out the cause.

Aristotle and his students were not aware of these wonders, hence they did not discuss them or the miracles of the prophets. But magic and sorcery were present in their society, and they knew them, however, they were the least knowledgeable people on such matters. Other peoples such as the Indians, the Turks, and many others who believed in a variety of gods, worshiped idols, and engaged in talismans and spells were more knowledgeable on these matters; they knew that they were caused by jinns and demons at the hands of the sorcerers and the diviners who were in contact with them. These people, on the other hand, did not know that; that is why they believed that prophethood was something within the power of men. No wonder then, Suhrwardi Magtul337 aspired to be a prophet, as did Ibn Sabin and others.

True nubuwwah, or prophethood, is a favor from God. It is a revelation from God to a servant of His choice; the prophet is one whom He chooses to receive the revelations, and the revelations come to him from none but God. The revelations of the non-prophets, on the other hand, come from the evil ones; and their recipients are false prophets like Musaylamah the imposter, and many others even worse than they, for Musaylamah and the like were in contact with spirits who would speak to them and tell them of unseen things, and who were out there, not inside them, a fact which these people do not know. Jinns and devils exist out there, and their words have been heard by countless numbers of people. The same is true of those whom they have possessed and from whose mouths they have spoken.

The difference between a prophet and a sorcerer is even greater than the difference between day and night. The prophet gets his revelation from an angel whom God appoints to communicate His message; the sorcerer gets his messages from the evil one whom he asks what to do or not to do. God has said, “Shall I inform you (people) on whom it is that the evil ones descend? They descend on every lying, wicked person (into whose ears) they pour hearsay vanities, and most of them are liars” (26:221-3). One message is not like the other message, nor is one command like the other command; similarly, one communicator is not like the other communicator, nor is one commander like the other commander; again one recipient of messages is not like the other recipient. That is why speaking of the agent who brought the Quran to Muhammad (pbuh), God has made it clear that he is an angel existing in himself, separate from the Prophet and not an idea in the latter's mind as philosophers think. His, words are, “Verily this is the word of a most honorable messenger, endued with power, with rank before the Lord of the Throne, with authority there (and) faithful to his trust. And (people,) your companion is not one possessed; without doubt he saw him in the clear horizon. Neither does he withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen, nor is it the word of a spirit evil and accursed. Then whither go you? Verily this is no less than a message to (all) the worlds (with profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight. But you shall not will except as God wills, the Cherisher-Lord of the Worlds” (81:19-29). Thus the Quran is the word of a messenger whom God and not the Evil One has sent, who is an angel, honorable and powerful, with a position of honor with the Lord of the Throne, who wields an authority and is obeyed, and who is faithful and trustworthy. His commands are obeyed by those who constitute the Grand Assembly to which the evil ones have no access. `Iblis, too, did not have entry into it after he was driven out from it.

These so-called philosophers could not form a correct view of prophethood and went astray. A group of Sufis who boast to have true knowledge, such as Ibn `Arabi, Ibn Sabin and many others also went astray. They took up the philosophers' ideas and put them in their own mystical language. This is why Ibn `Arabi claimed that saints were better than prophets, that the prophets and saints took their theological doctrines from the Seal of the Saints, and that he in turn received them from the same source from which the angel would receive them and pass them on to the prophets. The angel, in his view, is the imaginative faculty (khayal) of the soul which is subject to the authority of the intellect. This is what he thinks Gabriel is. To these people the Prophet receives from his khayal whatever voice he hears within himself. That is why they say that Moses was addressed from the heaven of his intellect, and the voice that he heard came from within him and not from outside. Some of them even claim superiority over Moses, just as Ibn `Arabi claims superiority over Muhammad, since he receives, he says, directly from the Intelligence from whom the prophet's khayal receives its ideas, for him the khayal is the Angel from whom the Prophet receives his revelations. That is why he has said that he receives from the same source from which the Angel receives what he reveals to the prophets.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [An-Nubuwwat 168-72]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

Revelation and its forms

Wahi means fast and secret communication. Sometimes one sees a light or hears a voice which does not come from anywhere outside the viewer, but only from within himself. This form of wahi is given to prophets as well as non-prophets. Another form of wahi is that the voice one hears comes from outside oneself, from God through any of His angels or through something else. The third form of wahi is that God Himself speaks to the recipient from behind a veil. The last two forms of wahi are the privilege of the prophets; no one else shares in them.

Speech (kaldm) and conversation (taklim) may take place in different  ways  and  at  different  levels.  Similarly,  the communication of somebody's words to a third person or persons may occur in different forms and at different levels, each with its own characteristics. Some people comprehend only some of these forms, others comprehend only the lowest form and deny higher ones. Hence they believe in some parts of the prophetic message and deny others. Each group believes in the reality of what it itself comprehends,  and denies  the reality of what the  other comprehends.

God has described the forms of wahi in His Book. He has said, “It is not given to (mortal) man that God should speak to him except by wahi, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal, with His permission, whatever He wills (to reveal)” (42:51). At another place He has said, “We sent you wahi, as We sent it to Noah and the messengers after him. We sent wahi to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Of some messengers We have already told you the story; of others We have not; and to Moses God spoke directly” (4:63-4). At a third place He has said, “These messengers We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them God spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); to Jesus son of Mary We gave clear (signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit” (2:253).

In the last verse, God has stated that He chose someone to speak to directly (taklim); in the verse quoted before He has clearly mentioned that it was Moses to whom He spoke directly. There are also a lot of traditions to this effect. Obviously this address (taklim) with which God honored Moses, but not Noah, Jesus or any other prophet, must be different from the general taklim available to others which is referred to in the verse, “It is not given to (mortal) man that God should speak to him except by wahi, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal, with His permission, whatever He wills (to reveal)” (42:5 1).

The Elders have correctly said that this verse comprehends all the levels of taklim. Abu Nasr As-Sijzi in his Al-Ibanah, Al-Bayhagi and many other writers have noted on the authority of 'Uqbah that when Ibn Shihab319 was asked about this verse, he said that it refers to all human beings whom God has honored with His revelation (wahi). Hence the kalam which God addressed to Moses directly was from behind a veil, and the wahi which God reveals to any of His prophets (pbut), strengthening whatever He has put in his heart and which he commits to writing, is the kalam of God and His wahi. A third wahi is that which is between God and His prophets. A fourth wahi is that which the prophets preach but neither put in writing for the benefit of others nor ask anyone to write down, although they communicate it to the people and expound on it to them since they have been commanded by God to communicate it and to expound on it to them. A fifth wahi is that which God sends through any of His angels whom He wills, and the angel delivers it to the prophet whom God has chosen from among the people. There is still another wahi which God sends by an angel He chooses, and that angel reveals it as wahi to the heart of the prophet He has appointed.

I will explain. First, wahi means fast and secret communication either in waking or in sleep; the dream of a prophet is also a wahi, and the (good) dream which the Believers see is forty-sixth part of prophethood. There is a hadith to this effect in the Sa h i h collections.321 `Ubadah Ibn As-Samit, too, has reported that the Prophet said, “The dream of the Believers is a speech by which the Lord speaks to His servants in sleep.”321 With regard to wahi while awake, have another sahih hadith in which the Prophet said, “Among the people gone before you there were men who had been addressed (muhaddathun). Were there any in my ummah it would be `Umar. ,322 In another version of the hadith, also authentic, the word is mukallamun,323 those who are spoken to. In the Quran God says, “Behold! Is not wahi to the disciples (al-hawariyun) to have faith in Me and My messenger” (5:114); “I sent wahi to the mother of Moses to suckle him” (28:7); “(God) sent wahi to each heaven (telling) its duty” (41:12); and “Your Lord sent wahi to the bee” (16:68).

From these texts it is clear that this form of wahi may be sent to non-prophets, while awake as well as in sleep. Further, it may be sent in the form of a voice from “above” but inside the self of the person receiving it rather than from outside him, in a dream as well while awake. Similarly, the light that he sees may also be within him. This wahi which takes place within the self and in which the voice of an angel is not heard is the lowest form of wahi. However, it is the first form of wahi which is given to the salik, the traveler (to God). This is the wahi which metaphysicians from among the philosophers of Islam that have both Islam and non-Islam (assubu) in them have discerned. It has led them to acknowledge some of those attributes of the prophets and messengers which are common between them and others and deny the rest. That is why some of them have said that prophethood is something acquired, that one can dispense with prophets, or that non-prophets may prove better than prophets. They also claim that this was the way God spoke to Moses, that He spoke to him from the heaven of the latter's intellect, that the voice which Moses heard came from within himself, or that he heard it as an idea coming from the Active Intellect, and that it is quite possible for anyone else to attain the status of Moses.

One of these people has also claimed that he has secured a position which is above Moses, because whereas Moses heard the speech through the medium of an oracle within himself, he and his colleagues hear the words purely, without any sound. Some of them have said that Gabriel, who used to come to Muhammad (pbuh), was nothing more than a bright image appearing to him from within himself just as one sees an image in a dream. They say that Muhammad (pbuh) received the Quran from this image which people call Gabriel. That is why Ibn `Arabi, the author of the Fusus and the Futuhat Makkiyyah, has said that he receives ideas from the same source from which the angel who reveals them to the prophet receives, and that prophethood (nubawah) ranks lower than sainthood(walayah) though higher than messengerhood (risalah). This is because in their mistaken opinion Muhammad (pbuh) received revelation from this internal image which they call angel, whereas they receive ideas from Pure Intellect from whom this internal image itself gets them.

These people do not believe in the reality of God's speech, for them, He does not have an attribute of speech, nor has He ever willed to convey any word to anyone. They even say that He has no knowledge of particular things, as His knowledge and will is directed to universals not to particulars. Their basic doctrine is that God knows only the universals, and does not know the particulars except in a general way. Close or somewhat close to their view is the one that extends God's knowledge to accidents. This view, which is denounced as faithlessness by Muslims in general, has found its way into the thought of many people who have a place of honor in kalam and tasawwuf. Had I not abhorred the idea of identifying them, I would have mentioned their names.

The second from of wahi is that in which the sound one hears comes from outside; it comes from God either through the medium of an angel or any non-angelic being. This is how the Jahmiyyah, the Mu`tazilah, and some others conceive wahi. They say that this is the only way God speaks to people. But the truth is that it is just one form of wahi, only one of many ways in which God speaks to people or to His prophets. It is the second form of wahi which God has mentioned in verse 42:51 in these words: “Or He sends a messenger who reveals, with His permission, what He wills (to reveal).” This is a revelation through a messenger, a revelation which is different from the first revelation (wahi) which proceeds directly from God, and which is a form of God's address (taklim) in general.

Revelation through a messenger is also of different kinds. We have in the Sahih collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim the hadith reported by `A'ishah (may God be pleased with her) that Al-Harith Ibn Hisham asked the Prophet how revelation comes to him. The Prophet said, “Sometimes it comes to me like the ringing of a bell, and that is hardest on me; then it stops and I get what (the angel) conveys. Sometimes, the angel appears to me in the form of a man and speaks to me and I get what he says .,,124 `A'ishah (raa) adds that she saw a revelation coming down to the Prophet on a chilly day; when it stopped, his forehead burst out into sweat.325 The Prophet has made it clear that the angel would sometimes appear to him with the sound of a bell, and sometimes appear to him in the form of a man and speak to him. It is reported that Gabriel would come to him in the form of Dihyah Al-Kalbi.32' The Quran says that Gabriel appeared to Mary in the form of a man in all respects (19:17), and that angels came to Abraham (11:69, 29:3 1) and to Lot (11:77, 29:33) in the forms of human beings. God has referred to bothse forms of revelation, the delivery of a message by the angel (liga' al-malak) and his talk (khitab), as wahi, as they had an element of mystery in them, for when the Prophet saw the angel he needed to be told that it was an angel, and when he came with the sound of a bell he needed to comprehend what was conveyed along with it.

The third kind is speech from behind a veil, just as God spoke to Moses (pbuh) That is why God has used the terms nida ', calling from a distance, and nija', conversing for it. His words are, “But when (Moses) came to the Fire, a voice called out (nudiya): Moses! I am your Lord! Therefore put off your shoes; you are in the sacred valley (of) Tuwa. I have chosen you. Listen, then, to what is revealed (yuha)” (20:11-3). This kind of address is granted to some messengers only. God has said, “These messengers we endowed with gifts, some above others: with some of them God conversed” (2:253); or, “When Moses came to the place appointed by Us, and His Lord addressed him” (7:143). Again, after mentioning that He has sent revelations (iyha ) to many prophets, God says, “We conversed with Moses directly” (4:164). A group of people include this conversation in the first form of wahi. We have in this group some philosophers as well as some writers on Sufism who take this line. You may find it in works like Mishkat al-Anwar327 and Khal ` an-Na `layn).327a The author of the Fusus and other monists take the same line. That this view goes against the Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars, as well as against reason is quite clear.

Mistaken, too, are those who say that God's conversing with Moses was a kind of inspiration (ilham) and revelation (wahi), and that they themselves hear God's words just as Moses heard them. They belong to the Jahmiyyah, the Kullabiyyah and to groups like them. It is also quite clear that they are absolutely mistaken.

The terms wahi and kalam are used in the Quran in a wide sense, as well as in a narrow sense. When wahi is used in a wider sense, it includes kalam; and, just the reverse, when kalam is used in its wider sense it includes wahi. An example where wahi is included in taklim, in its wider sense is the verse 42:1 under discussion; on the other hand, the verse where taklim is included in wahi in the wider sense is this: “Listen to what is revealed (yuha)” (20:13). However, when taklim is used in its limited and perfect sense, wahi in the wider sense of secret communication given to prophets and non-prophets is not part of it. Similarly, when wahi is used in its general sense common to prophets and others, taklim in its limited and perfect sense is not a part of it. Look at the words which God first said to Zacharias, “Your sign shall be that you shall speak to no man for three nights, although you are not dumb,” and what He said next, “He (Zacharias) came out to his people from his chamber and told them by signs (awha) to celebrate God's praises” (19: 10-11). It is clear from these two verses that iyha ', to give wahi is not part of taklim, speaking. At another place God has said, “Your sign shall be that you shall speak to no man for three days, but with signals” (3:41). If the clause beginning with “but” (illa) is taken as a separate sentence, taklim in both verses 19: 10 and 34:41 will mean the same; but if it is taken as an exceptional clause, taklim will mean what it means in verse 42:51, that is, in its wider sense. The way God spoke to Moses was a special way of speaking, speaking in its perfect sense; that is why He has referred to it in these words: “There is one to whom God spoke directly” (2:253), though we know that God sent wahi to every prophet and spoke to him in the wider sense of the term. We also know that God has distinguished between His speech to His prophets and His revelation (iyha) to them. The same is the case with taklim when used as infinitive. We further know that He has not included taklim from behind a veil in iyha ', but has rather mentioned it separately. This is supported by many ahadith of the Prophet and various sayings of his Companions which limit God's speech (taklim) to Moses. They underline the fact that God spoke to him with a voice which Moses heard. This is stated in a number of sayings of the Elders and the a'immah of Islam which are in perfect agreement with the Quran and the Sunnah.

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [Fatawa 12:396-403]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

The meaning of nabi and rasul

A nab! – prophet – is one to whom God reveals a message to communicate to his people. If he is sent to a people who are non-believers and pagans he is a rasul – messenger. but if he is sent to those who have faith already, he is a nab!. It is not necessary that a rasul be given a new shari `ah   code.

A nabi, prophet, is one to whom God communicates a message, and he communicates that message to the people. If he is sent to those who are opposed to the religion of God that he may give them His message, he is rasul, a Messenger. But if the people already follow a shari `ah given earlier, and he is not sent with a particular message to anyone, he is a nabi, not a rasul. God has said, “We never sent a rasul or a nabi before you, but when he formed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire…” (22:52). Here both rasul and the nabi have been mentioned to have been sent, but only one has been called rasul, for he is the envoy (ar-rasul al-mutlaq), who is commissioned to convey God's message to the people who are opposed to His religion. Noah was rasul in this sense. It is said of him in an authentic hadith that he was the first rasul to be sent to people on the earth.315 Many nabis had gone before him such as Shith and Idrls, and of course Adam whom God had addressed. Ibn `Abbas said that between Adam and Noah ten generations had passed all of whom had faith in Islam. Everyone of these prophets received revelations from God telling him what he should do, and what he should command the faithfuls of his time to do. To be sure, they had faith in them just as the followers of a Sharl'ah believe in what its scholars tell of their rasul. The same was the case with the prophets of Israel; they were asked to expound the law of the Torah. They did sometimes receive revelations in particular cases; but with regard to the shari `ah of the Torah they acted just as a scholar from among us who has insight into the Quran acts. An example is the insight which God gave to Solomon in the case that came up to him and David. Hence a nabi is one to whom God communicates something, whether an imperative to do or not to do something, or information about some reality, and he in turn communicates that information to those who would believe in what God has communicated to him.

But when they are sent to non-believers, they are asked to call people to believe in one God, to worship Him alone, without associating anyone with Him. What usually happens in this case is that a group of people denies them and belies them. God said, “Similarly, no messenger (rasul) came to the people before them, but they said (of him), in like manner, `a sorcerer or one possessed”' (51:52); or, “Nothing is said to you that was not said to the messengers before you” (41:43). The messengers (rasul), therefore, are sent to the people of opposing beliefs, some of whom usually reject them… The words, “We did not send before you a rasul or nabi but,” show that a nabi is also sent, but he does not enjoy the title of rasul for he is not sent to people who are unaware of God's message. The nabi preaches to the believers what they know to be true, just as their scholars do. That is why the Prophet said, “The scholars (`ulama) are the successors of the prophets.”316

It is not necessary for a rasul to give a new shari `ah. Joseph was a rasul; but he followed the shari `ah of Abraham; and David and Solomon were rasuls, but they followed the shari'ah of the Torah. Proof of the former is the verse, “And to you there came Joseph in times gone by, with clear signs, but you ceased not to doubt of the (mission) for which He had come. At length when he died, you said: `No messenger will God send after him”'(40:34). And proof of the latter is the verse, “We have sent you revelation as We sent to Noah and the prophets after him. We sent revelation to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron and Solomon, and to David we gave the Psalms. Of some messengers (rasul) We have told you the story; of others We have not; and to Moses God spoke direct' (4:163- 4).

Author: Ibn Taymiyyah

Islamic Topic: PROPHET AND PROPHECY

Source: Book: [An-Nubuwwah 172-4]  / Also mentioned in “Ibn Taymiyyah Expounds on Islam

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