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Vulnerability as the Pathway to Virtue – Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Join the conversation regarding sacred wisdom and pathways to non-violence at the 2016 Festival of Faith conference in Louisville, Kentucky with Dr. Ingrid Mattson  as she profoundly connects the viewer and listener to the nature of need as the true human experience and Vulnerability as its gateway.

It seems that all aspects of life stem down to the notion of power or the lack thereof.  Suffering is real; evil occurs and is experienced. What then is  our response? How do we understand and connect?

Dr. Ingrid’s response is real and compelling: “everyone will do what they will do and  my job is to learn in that situation; my job is to see the  opportunity for me to express my reliance and awareness of God’s Power ; to understand what it means to be in need of mercy, to be in need of compassion, and to be in need of justice.”
Vulnerability allows us to have the courage to go forward and try to exemplify prophetic virtues into action for the sake of all of those whose peace is being disturbed.

We are grateful to the Festival of Faith for the video. Cover photo by Bhatti Mashooque

 

Resources for the Seekers:

Allah is Shy, and Loves Shyness – Why?

Shyness is an attribute much loved in a Muslim. As Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains, it is valued not merely in our public conduct but in the way we approach our relationship with Allah.
Want to learn more? Take an online course with reliable scholars at the SeekersHub Academy, where dozens of topics are covered each term.

On Shyness and the Beauty of Modesty

Resources on Shyness and Modesty:

Shaykh Faid SaidShaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree. In Madinah, his teachers included Shaykh Atia Salem, Shaykh Mohamed Ayub (ex-imam of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace be upon him), Professor AbdulRaheem, Professor Yaqub Turkestani, Shaykh Dr Awad Sahli, Dr Aa’edh Al Harthy and many other great scholars. Shaykh Faid has ijaza in a number of disciplines including hadith, and a British higher education teaching qualification. He is currently the scholar in residence and head of education at Harrow Central Mosque, United Kingdom.
Read his articles and watch his lectures on the SeekersHub blog.

Allah’s Relationship with Time and Space

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: If Allah’s power enters time and space, such as in our lives, and Allah’s power is a part of him, then why could Allah not incarnate himself in the form of a human on this earth?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

Allah Most High is transcendent above any quality of His creation, including existing within time or space, as that would entail being limited.

Imam Tahawi states in his well-known creed, “Contrary to all created things, He is well exalted above limits, end points, pillars, or limbs; and the six directions do not encompass Him.”

Allah Himself states, “There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him, and He is all-hearing, all-seeing” (42:11), as well as “No one at all is equivalent or similar to Him” (112:4).

Divine Attributes

As for divine power (qudra), it is a timeless attribute ascribed to Allah’s entity. It is one of Allah’s seven affirmative attributes (sifat al-ma`ani), which are: power, will, knowledge, life, speech, hearing and sight.

All of these attributes are ascribed to the divine entity and are hence timeless, having no beginning or end. Therefore, they do not ‘enter’ creation or our lives. Rather, in the language of our theologians, they have what are termed ‘associations’ (ta`alluqat).

Divine power, for example, is ‘associated’ with everything conceivable: He brings into existence, or takes out of existence, whatever He wills of things conceivable. The created things are in time and space. The divine attribute is eternal, without beginning, end, or change.

How Exactly It Works

As for the nature of these associations, that is a realm the mind cannot penetrate. The exact relationship between the timeless attribute of divine power and its temporal effects in creation is one of the mysteries of the cosmos. And despite the amazing nuance of our theology, it remains a theology of humility and embracing our own limits. Trying to enter such realms causes only problems and misgivings.

As the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Reflect on creation, but do not reflect on the Creator, for verily you cannot give Him due estimation.” [Abu Shaykh]

We cannot ‘encompass’ the Divine, but the Divine fully encompasses us. As Imam Tahawi states, “Thoughts cannot reach Him, and minds cannot grasp Him.”

Or in the words of Allah Himself, “Sight cannot reach Him, but He reaches all sight. And He is ever-subtle, fully aware” (6:103).

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers and Courses:

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Islamic Beliefs for Seekers: Dardir’s Kharidah Explained

What Is Our Stance Regarding the Statement of Some That Allah “Sits” on the Throne?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalamu Alaikum. I have learned in depth about the correct aqida of Muslims, the Attributes of Allah and that He exists without a place. My belief is fine, but I want to ask about the belief of a person who says “Allah sits on the Throne.” I am guessing this is kufr? Is it permissible to seek knowledge from the books of people who state this?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Allah does not resemble creation. This is decisively demonstrated in the Qur’anic statement, “there is nothing whatsoever like Him.” (42:11) Thus, Allah is not confined within time or space, nor is He described with limits, organs, and other such characteristics belonging to created things.

As for the statement that Allah “sits” on the throne, this is unsound. Imam Bayhaqi, the great hadith scholar and theologian, stated:

“The Begininglessly Eternal (al-qadim) is elevated over his throne but neither sitting, nor standing, not in contact with, not separate from the throne… For ‘contact’ and its opposite ‘separation’, ‘standing’ and its opposite ‘sitting’, are characteristics of created bodies.” [Kitab al-Asma’ wa’l Sifat]

Ibn Hajar `Asqalani similary cites Ibn Battal stating that the belief that Allah sits on the throne is a position held by the anthropomorphists. [Fath al-Bari] This is because “sitting” entails contact between two objects and “contact” only arises between objects that possess limits and extents, which in turn is indicative of these objects being created. Thus, we find Imam Tahawi stating clearly, “He is beyond having limits placed on Him.” [`Aqida al-Tahawiyya]

From this, we can understand that the position of Ahl al-Sunna is to preclude such characteristics for Allah. As for those who hold and promote these heterodox positions, their books detailing creedal aspects should be avoided and when read should be done by qualified individuals who possess the knowledge and insight to detect such problematic positions.

Please see:

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Wassalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

A Reader on Understanding the Attributes of Allah

Allah Breathing His Spirit Into Jesus? The Possible Meanings of this Verse & The Approach of Sunni Islam Towards Ambiguous Texts

What Is Our Stance Regarding the Statement of Some That Allah “Sits” on the Throne?

The Meaning of the Angels “Ascent” to Allah

The Ash`aris & Maturidis: Standards of Mainstream Sunni Beliefs

The Necessary Attributes of God and the Logical Absurdity of Infinite Regression

What Does The Narration “Allah created Adam In His/his Image” Mean?

Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness? Emotions Influences Choices and Decisions – Would That Not be Wrong

Is There a Way to Physically Describe Allah?

The Beatific Vision

Understanding Allah’s Attributes: Love & Mercy

Allah’s Oneness (Tawhid)

Alhamdulillah: A Statement of the Oneness of God

The Virtues of Declaring Allah’s Oneness in the Marketplace (audio)

Is the Claim That There is “Blatant Shirk” in the Qasida Burda of Imam Busiri True?

Calling People of Other Beliefs to Islam

The Power of Monotheism – Abdal Hakim Murad (lecture)

Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Tawassul: Supplicating Allah through an Intermediary

Is It Permissible to Make Tawassul Through Awliya (Saints)?

Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness? Emotions Influences Choices and Decisions – Would That Not be Wrong?

Answered by Sidi Salman Younas

Question: Can Allah Feel Emotions Like Happiness and Sadness?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

There is an established principle within Sunni Islam that Allah Most High is completely dissimilar to created things. This is affirmed clearly within the Qur’an itself when it says, “there is nothing whatsoever like Him.” [42:11]

As such, Allah Most High is not characterized by emotions as emotions involve physiological changes and alterations in one’s state of consciousness. Since “change”, or moving from one state to another, is an attribute characteristic of created things, as it indicates their ephemeral nature, it is impossible to characterize Allah Most High with it.

However, at the same time, the primary texts have attributed Allah with love, mercy, anger, joy, and so forth. Thus, we affirm these meanings for Allah but we do so in a way that [a] befits Him and [b] is in accordance with the transcendence He affirms for Himself in the primary texts.

Understanding These Attributes in Light of Allah’s Absolute Transcendence

The basic principle when it comes to understanding these attributes is that, “whatever is impossible to attribute to Allah in terms of its beginning is permitted to apply to Allah in terms of its end result.”

For example, the word “mercy” (rahma) is defined as, “the softening of the heart that elicits favor and beneficience.” The beginning here is the softening of the heart. The end is the eliciting of favor and beneficience. It is impossible to attribute Allah with “mercy” in terms of “softening of the heart” but permissible to apply the meaning of “mercy” in terms of what it ultimately results in, namely “eliciting favor and beneficience.”

As such, when it is said that Allah is merficul (rahim/rahman), what is meant is that both favor and beneficience are established for Allah in terms of Him being favorful or beneficent towards creation or intending to do so.

The same methodology of understanding is employed to understand other similar attributes, such as love, joy, and anger.

Such a methodological approach continues to affirm that which Allah affirms for Himself in the primary texts while maintaining Allah’s absolute transcendence, something that a literalist approach fails to achieve. This is the balanced approach that Sunni scholars throughout centuries followed.

Related Answers

The Asharis & Maturidis: Standards of Mainstream Sunni Beliefs

Allah Breathing His Spirit Into Jesus? The Possible Meanings of this Verse & The Approach of Sunni Islam Towards Ambiguous Texts

The Meaning of the Angels “Ascent” to Allah

What Does The Narration “Allah created Adam In His/his Image” Mean?

And Allah knows best

Wassalam
Salman

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani