Question # 510: Assalamualaikum Wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. I wanna ask question, Shaykh. I currently reading Aqeedah of Ahl-Sunnah-Wa-l-Jamaah by Ibn Uthaymeen. I always listening to his old tape lectures. I was excited when about read this book. But, when I read this book, there is something that make me shocked. He said that “we believe that Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has Two real Eyes” . He based the proof of “He is one-eyed, and your Lord is not one-eyed”. but it doesn’t mean that Allah has two eyes, indeed? Isn’t this be included as major sin and kufr?? What if he misleading people? Allah is different with His creation. I’m just layman and not knowledgeable than Ibn Al-Uthaymeen Rahimahullah. Jazakillahu Khairan.
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: According to the consensus of the scholars Ahlu Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah (which includes Imam Muhammad bin Salih al-‘Uthaymeen), we should believe and affirm the existence of every attribute of Allah, what He affirmed for Himself, or His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) affirmed for Him, without describing its manner just like we affirm the existence of Allah’s self (His Essence) without describing its manner (i.e., without asking how or without seeking its meaning). Such an affirmation is in a manner that befits His Majesty (in accordance with the revelations and sound intellect) without any likeness to His creation, for there is nothing like Allah in His essence, Attributes, and actions. Although we say that Allah has hands, eyes, face, we do not say that His hand implies such and such or that His seeing implies such and such. Moreover, we should not give metaphorical meanings to any of His Attributes or resort to an interpretation that differs from the apparent meaning, for example, when He says “He is constantly watching us”, this does not mean His knowledge, else watching has no meaning.
As for Allah’s having two eyes, the scholars’ interpretation is based on the hadith mentioned in the question, where Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) described Dajjal as one-eyed and your Lord is not one-eyed. If Allah had more than two Eyes, stating that when clarifying the matter (in the hadith) would be clearer than saying one-eyed. This is because if Allah had more than two Eyes, he would have said: “Your Lord has Eyes,” since if He had more than two eyes, that the Dajjal is not the Lord becomes even clearer. And also, if Allah had more than two Eyes, that would be from His perfection. Therefore, not mentioning it will be considered a form of neglecting to praise Allah, because a large number indicates power, perfection, and completeness. If Allah had more than two Eyes, the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would have explained it, so that the belief in this perfection will not elude us.
Long Answer: Before we delve into this sensitive topic, we need to understand certain terminologies as a preamble discussion.
The attributes of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) can be broadly categorized into three types:
- As-sifa adh-dhatiyyah: These are the attributes that describe the essence of some something; for example, Allah describes Himself as having two hands, two eyes, a face, fingers.
- As-sifa al-ma’nawiyyah: These are the attributes of essence that describe a concept or refer to a meaning; for example, Attribute of knowledge, ability, power, life, capacity, will.
- As-sifa al-fi’liyyah: These are the attributes that refer to an action or are related to a consequence (consequential attributes). Under this category, Allah has many attributes; for example, He descending, ascending, creating, sustaining – When Allah wills He perform these actions.
Next, the definition of Tawhid al-Asma wal-Sifat is “to single out Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) with His most beautiful Names and most exalted Attributes mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and to have emaan in their meanings and rulings.” In this regard, a concise definition of the following terms is noteworthy:
- Tahreef: Changing a text in wording or meaning.
- Taʹteel: Denying the Names and Attributes of Allah, or denying some of them.
- Takyeef: The belief or notion of “how” Allahʹs Attributes are.
- Tamtheel: The belief or notion that something is equal to something else, usually referring to the idea that something is equal to Allah.
- Tashbeeh: The belief or notion that something is similar to something else, usually referring to the idea that something is equal to Allah.
- Tajseem (Anthropomorphism): The affirmation or notion that Allah has a body.
- Ta’weel: Figurative interpretation, that is changing the meaning of the words and interpreting them in a way that does not conform to their literal meaning.
In short, whoever negates the Attributes of the Lord and renders them void has in effect made His tawhid (of Allah) untrue by virtue of his act of ta’til (nullification of these Attributes), and whoever likens Allah to His creation or declares Him to be something of His creation has likewise made His tawhid (of Allah) untrue by virtue of his act of tashbih and tamthil (likening), and tajseem.
Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s mentioned three Ayat regarding the affirmation of the two Eyes for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى):
- First Ayah: “So, wait patiently (O Messenger of Allah) for the Decision of your Lord, for verily, you are under Our Eyes”(Soorah At-Tur 52:48)
The above ayah is addressed to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم); he was patient with the decrees of Allah [when the people of Ta’if tortured him and hurled] …stones at him, until they made his heel bleed so much that he fainted… [Allah then revealed the above ayah.]
In the noble ayah, there is the affirmation of the Eye for Allah… but it is stated in the plural form… The eye is one of the Informative (Al-Khabariyyah) Attributes of His Essence (Adh-Dhatiyyah). It is Adh-Dhatiyyah because Allah shall eternally be described with it, and (Al-Khabariyyah) (informative) because what is named… refers to portions or parts. For us, the eye is a part of the face, while the face is a part of the body. But with respect to Allah, it is not permissible to say: It is a part of Allah, for it has preceded that this word (part) is not intended and that it will suggest splitting the Creator into parts, and it will also suggest that the part is the one which can affect the eternity of the whole with its extinction and that it (the part) can cease to exist. Meanwhile, the Attributes of Allah can never cease to exist. They will rather remain forever.
An authentic hadith from the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) has proven that Allah has only two Eyes, while he was describing the Dajjal, saying: “He is (A’war) one-eyed and your Lord is not one-eyed” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) In another wording: “He is blind in his right eye.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Some people have said that the meaning of “A’war” is one with a defect (in an eye) not one-eyed. There is no doubt that this is a form of distortion, and the feigning of ignorance of the authentic wording reported by Al-Bukhari and others that: “He is blind in his right eye as if his eye is a protruding grape.” This is crystal clear! The word A’war in the Arabic Language is not used except to express being one-eyed, but if it is said: ‘Awar or ‘Awaar it can be generally used to mean a defect.
This hadith proves that Allah has only two Eyes. The basis of using it as proof is that if Allah had more than two Eyes, stating that when clarifying the matter would be clearer than saying one-eyed. This is because if Allah had more than two Eyes, he would have said: “Your Lord has Eyes,” since if He had more than two eyes, that the Dajjal is not the Lord becomes even clearer. And also, if Allah had more than two Eyes, that would be from His perfection. Therefore, not mentioning it will be considered a form of neglecting to praise Allah, because a large number indicates power, perfection, and completeness. If Allah had more than two Eyes, the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would have explained it, so that the belief in this perfection will not elude us.
In his book, As-Sawa’iq Al-Mursalah, Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned a hadith, but it is weak due to a break in the chain of its transmission, and that is: “If a servant stands up observing Salah, he is standing between the two Eyes of Ar-Rahman…” (Al-Albani said: “Very weak, reported by Al-‘Uqaili in Ad-Du’afa’ and Al-Bazzar in his Musnad (Kashf Al-Astar).” “Two eyes” is used here, but the hadith is weak, and we depend in our creed upon the authentic hadith; the hadith discussing the Dajjal for it is clear to the one who ponders on it.
‘Uthman bin Sa’id Ad-Darami, may Allah have Mercy upon him, mentioned that in his refutation against Bishr Al-Marisi, and in the same manner, Ibn Khuzaimah mentioned it in Kitab At-Tawhid, and Abu Al-Hassan Al-Ash’ari, and Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani also related the consensus of the Salaf (pious predecessors) on it. The matter regarding this is clear. So, our creed, based upon which we worship Allah, is that Allah has only two Eyes, not more. [‘Uthmaan Ad-Daarimi (a known scholar of hadith) said: “The opposite of one-eyed is two-eyed (the one who sees with two eyes).”]
The people of Tahreef only say: “under Our looking” without affirming the Eye. The People of the Sunnah and the Jama’ah are saying: “under Our Eyes” means “under Our watch”, while still affirming the Eye. But the mention of Eye here is of a stronger emphasis and regard than the mere mention of seeing. That is why He said: “For you are under Our Eyes”
- Second Ayah: “And We carried him upon something (Dhat) with planks (Alwah) and nails (Dusr), floating under Our Eyes, a reward for him who had been rejected!” (Soorah Al-Qamar 54:13-14)
[In the above ayah, the pronoun “him” refers to Nuh (عليه السلام) and mentions about] the ship, possessing planks and nails. The intended meaning with the Eyes here is only two Eyes, as has been explained. The meaning of floating under them is “accompanied by Our watching with Our Eyes.” The particle Ba here is used to express “to accompany”. [Imam Abul-Hassan Al-Ash’ari said in his book entitled Al-Ibaanah: “Allah, The Exalted, has two Eyes, and we do not know their reality (how they look like)… The deviant sects like Al-Mu’tazilah, Al-Jahmiyyah, and Al-Qaadiriyyah denied that Allah has two Eyes despite the saying of Allah: “Floating under Our Eyes.”]
- Third Ayah: “And I endued you with love from Me, in order that you may be produced under My Eye” (Soorah Ta Ha 20:39)
[The above ayah is directed towards Musa (عليه السلام). The eye is referred to in singular form; nevertheless, this does not contradict] …what preceded about its plural form. The reason for that, is because the singular in the [singular form] conveys a general sense, it, therefore, includes whatever is affirmed for Allah concerning Eyes. [Its generality – singular does not negate duality or plurality; for example, give me a hand implies we help with both hands, not just one.] Hence, there is no contradiction between the singular, and the plural, or the dual. [To harmonize between the plural and the dual,] the response is that if the least number considered to be plural is two, then there is no contradiction because we will say this plural refers to the dual, so it will not contradict it. But if the least number considered to be plural is three, then, three (as a number) is not intended by this plural. What is intended by it is exaltation [honor and glorification], and to conform between the pronoun of the plural, and the genitive. [When we attach plural to such organs we use only even if the organ is actual is singular or in dual. For example, Soorah Tahreem, 66:4-5 “your two hearts” for the two individuals is referred to as “Qulobukuma” (your hearts) and not “qalbaikuma” (your two hearts).]
The people of Tahreef and Ta’teel have interpreted the Eye to mean “looking” without Eye; they said: “Under Our Eyes” means “while We are watching you” but there is no eye. It is never possible to affirm the eye for Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) because the eye is a part of the body. So, if we affirm an eye for Allah, we have, by that, affirmed parts and a body for Him; and this is impossible.
He only mentioned eye to stress that He is watching. Meaning “as if we are watching you, and for Us is an eye.” And the case is not like that!
[The people of Ahlu Sunnah wal-Jama’ah say] this saying is erroneous for the following reasons:
- It opposes the apparentness of the expression.
- It opposes the consensus of the Salaf (pious predecessors).
- There is no evidence for it; that is, that the meaning of Eye is only “watching.”
- If we say it merely refers to “watching” while Allah affirmed an Eye for Himself, that will necessarily imply that He sees with that Eye; therefore, there is evidence in the Ayah that it is an eye, in reality.
The word jawarih (sing: jarihah, which means a bodily limb such as one’s hand and leg. This is the meaning of the attribute with regards to its relation to a human being. However, when the specific Attributes of Hands, Eyes, etc. are affirmed for Allah — because He himself has revealed this to us – then such an affirmation is done so in a manner that befits His Majesty without any likeness to His creation and al-Sunnah do not label such Attributes as being jawarih. The people of innovation, however, slander by saying, ‘Ahl al-Sunnah affirm limbs for Allah’. The same is the case for the word ab’aad. It is the plural of ba’d, which means some, a part or a portion of something. When Ahl al-Sunnah affirmed for Allah the Attributes He affirmed for Himself, the people of innovation slandered them by saying, ‘Ahl al-Sunnah liken Allah to His creation by affirming parts to Him.’
Ahl al-Sunnah deems it necessary for the one who wants to affirm [the various] Attributes [of Allah] and possess the belief that they are Attributes of perfection affirmed for Allah in a real sense, to observe and take into account the following points:
- To affirm the Attribute, hence, he does not negate or refute it.
- Not to overstep the specific Name given to this Attribute, rather, he must respect the Name given to this Attribute just as he respects the Attribute itself. Hence, he does not nullify the Attribute nor does he change its Name by giving it another.
- Not to [fall into Tashbeeh and Tamtheel or] liken the Attribute to that of the creations, for there is nothing like Allah in His essence, Attributes, and actions. [The consequent pitfall is Taʹteel (rejection)].
- To give up all hope of comprehending the true nature and descriptive designation of the attribute. The (sound) mind has indeed abandoned (the notion of) gaining knowledge of the true nature and quality of the attribute because none knows how Allah is except Allah Himself. This is the meaning of the declaration of Ahl al-Sunnah ‘without Takyeef (assigning any description) i.e., without any qualification which the mind can comprehend.
(The above answer is based on the excerpt from the following sources:
- The book ‘Commentary on Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s Al-‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah’ by Imam Muhammad bin Salih al-‘Uthaymeen;
- The book ‘Explanation of a Summary of al‐‘Aqeedatul Hamawiyyah of ibn Taymiyyah’ by Imam Muhammad ibn Salih al‐‘Uthaymeen;
- The book ‘Tawhid of Allah’s Most Beautiful Names & Lofty Attributes – The Belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah’ by Muhammad Dm Khalifah al-Tamimi;
- Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.