Monday, December 28, 2009

The Mosquito Analogy: An Example of Gross Anthropomorphism

Ibn Taymiyya and the Mosquito

Excerpt from `Uthman Ibn Sa`id al-Darimi al-Sajzi's book al-Naqd `ala al-Jahmiyya, p. 75:

"If He so willed, He could have settled on the back of a gnat and it would have carried Him thanks to His power and the favor of His lordship, not to mention the magnificient Arsh."

This is a risible, ugly, astonishing combination of tajsim, takyif, tashbih, and tamthil. In a word, the author's premiss for inferring that the object of his worship can settle on top of a gnat is his understanding that Allah physically settles on the Arsh. One of the greatest indications of Ibn Taymiyya's anthropomorphist views is that in advocating the interpretation of istiwa' as istiqrar or settling -- absolutely condemned by the Salaf, as we mentioned -- he does not hesitate to reproduce the above statement verbatim. It is ironic that he does so in his Ta'sis, an attack on al-Razi for a book the latter wrote in refutation of anthropomorphists:

Ibn Taymiyya, al-Ta'sis fi al-radd `ala asas al-taqdis 1:568.



This topic was discussed in a forum a while ago and, in the end, somebody asked the following question:

"And what would Ibn Taymiyya say to a Christian who believes 'If Allah so wills he can become a human being and die on a cross'?"

Later, I noticed an article, written by some writer named "Christopher Howse" in the UK. Apparently, this person is a Christian.

A few passages from this article:

The celebrated question of how many angels may dance on a pinhead was not once ever raised in the Middle Ages. That it characterised scholastic theology is a myth. But I am surprised to find Sunni Muslims saying that Ibn Taymiyya's opinion was that God could have settled on a mosquitos's back and the creature would have found him light.

This opinion is adduced to prove that Ibn Taymiyya was a heretic. This is something that matters, because Ibn Taymiyya is a hero of the Wahhabis, the sect that rules Saudi Arabia in alliance, for now, with the royal family.
The traveller Ibn Battuta heard Ibn Taymiyya preach and suggested that he was slightly bonkers – that he had "some kink in his brain" as H.A.R. Gibb translated it in 1929.
I'm not sure where mosquitos come in. But if God could settle on a mosquito's back, why could he not take flesh and dwell amongst us?

My comment: Mr. Howse's last statement -if he is serious- is obviously invalid. Two reasons for the invalidity of his analogy are actually indicated in his own article:

1. As Ibn Battuta rahimahullah stated, "Ibn Taymiyya had some kink in his brain."

2. Sunni Muslims regard Ibn Taymiyya as a heretic.

Mr. Howse seems to be saying the following: "When compared to what Ibn Taymiyya said, a belief such as 'Allahu ta'ala can take flesh and dwell amongst us' is not such a strange and absurd belief after all."

However, we firmly hold that what al-Darimi and Ibn Taymiyya stated was absurd and heretical (and that the strange beliefs and statements of these two men do not represent Islamic creed); and of course a statement such as "Allahu ta'ala can take flesh and dwell amongst us" is certainly absurd and heretical.

Imam al-Kawthari rahimahullah responded to al-Darimi's (and Ibn Taymiyya's) statement involving the mosquito with the following words:

This is his word about Allahu ta'ala. As if it is already established and accepted that his God can sit on the back of a mosquito, he is using this as evidence for Allahu ta'ala's settlement on the Arsh which is much wider than the back of a mosquito! Allahu ta'ala is exalted beyond this with a very great exaltedness. I do not know anybody who uttered such nonsense and stupid statements before this al-Sajzi and al-Harrani [Ibn Taymiyya] and the followers of these two. Who doesn't know that Allahu ta'ala's will does not connect [taalluq] to the impossible [muhal]? This is like saying "If He wills, of course He can eat, drink, get married, create another like Himself" and other impossible things. Allahu ta'ala is exalted beyond all of these.

Source: Maqalat al-Kawthari, 301.

Murat Yazıcı

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Source of Ibn Taymiyya's Anthropomorphist Ideas

Abu Hamid Ibn Marzuq rahimahullah gives the following excerpts from `Uthman Ibn Sa`id al-Darimi al-Sajzi's book al-Naqd `ala Bishr al-Marisi:

1. "How can a person be guided towards tawhid [belief in unity of Allahu ta'ala] if he does not know where Allah al-Wahid is?" (p. 4)

2. "al-Hayy [Allah] does what He wills, moves when He so wills, descends and ascends when He wills,... rises and sits, for the difference between the living and the dead is movement. Without doubt, every living thing moves, every dead thing is immobile." (p. 20)

3. "There is a limit for Allahu ta'ala and there is a limit for His makan [place]. He is above the skies, above the Arsh. These are His two limits." (p. 23)

4. "Everbody knows Allah and Allah's makan better than the Jahmiyya." (p. 25)

5. "As I said, if Allah had not had two hands with which He created Adam, it would not be permissible to say "In Thy hand is the good" [3/26, English ma'al from Pickthall] in Qur'an al-Kareem. (p. 29)

6. "The ta'wil of Rasulullah's words "Surely, He is not one-eyed" is that "Allah has two eyes." (p. 48)

7. "Allah sits on the kursi and there remains only four spans vacant." (p. 74)

8. "If Allah so willed, He could have settled on the back of a gnat thanks to His power and Rubbubiyyah, not to mention the magnificient Arsh." (p. 85)

9. "Without any doubt, the top of a mountain is closer to the sky than its bottom. The top of a minaret is also closer to Allah than its bottom." (p. 100)

10. "We don't accept the claim that maf'ulat are absolutely creations. We have agreed that movement, descent, walking, running, istiwa over the Arsh and the sky are qadim." (p. 121)

Translated from: Bara'a al-Ash`ariyyin Min `Aqa'id al-Mukhalifin (p. 34 in the Turkish edition)

Dr. G. F. Haddad gives the following information when he is listing the works of Imam al-Kawthari:

Tahdhir al-Umma Min Du`at al-Wathaniyya ("Warning the Community About Those Who Call to Idol-Worship"), written in 1942, in which he [Imam al-Kawthari] lambasts al-Azhar for allowing the publication of `Uthman ibn Sa`id al-Darimi's al-Radd `ala al-Jahmiyya which contains phrases like "[Allahu ta'ala] moves if He wishes, descends and ascends if He wishes... stands and sits if He wishes"; "Allahu ta'ala has a limit... and His place also has a limit, as He is on His Throne above His heavens, and these are two limits"; "if He wished, He would have settled on the back of a gnat" and other enormities.29 This is identical to Ibn Karram's doctrine whereby "Allah has a body unlike bodies, and a limit."30 Yet Ibn Taymiyya ardently defends al-Darimi's views,31 citing them time and again in his attack on Fakhr al-Din al-Razi's Asas al-Taqdis - a refutation of anthropomorphism - entitled al-Ta'sis Radd Asas al-Taqdis,32...

29Al-Kawthari, Maqalat ( (p. 378-383, cf. 361-367, 391-406, 420).
30See `Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq Bayn al-Firaq (p. 203, 217).
31Ibn al-Qayyim in his Ijtima` al-Juyush al-Islamiyya (p. 88) revealed that Ibn Taymiyya "praised and recommended al-Darimi's two books [Naqd al-Jahmiyya and al-Radd `ala Bishr al-Marrisi] most strenuously"!
32This work was newly printed under the made-up title Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyya fi Ta'sis Bida`ihim al-Kalamiyya, 2 vols., ed. Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Rahim ibn Qasim (Mecca: Matba`a al-Hukuma, 1972). Cf. Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyya (1:426-427, 1:433, 1:443-444, 2:111, 2:157-160, 2:494-495).

Dr. Haddad also states:

Yet Ibn Taymiyya ardently defends al-Darimi's views, citing them time and again in al-Ta'sis Radd Asas al-Taqdis -an all-out attack on Fakhr al-Din al-Razi's refutation of anthropomorphism titled Asas al-Taqdis - including the gnat remark (Bayan Tablis, 1:568, 2:160).

In: Dr. G. F. Haddad, The Refutation of Him Who Attributes Direction to Allah, Aqsa Publications, Birmingham, UK, 2008, p. 83.

For further infomation, see also:

Note: `Uthman Ibn Sa`id al-Darimi al-Sajzi died in 280. He should not be confused with`Abd Allah ibn `Abd al-Rahman al-Darimi, author of the Sunan, who died in 255.

Compiled by: Murat Yazıcı