Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Qadi Thana'ullah Panipati [RH] on Allah & His Attributes

Praise and glory be to Allah, who is Self-existent while all things receive their existence from Him. They have need of Him for their origination and continuation while He has no need of anything.

He is one; in His essence, His attributes, and His acts.

No one has parnership with Him in any matter. His existing and His living are not of the same category as the existing and living of created things. His knowledge bears no resemblance to their knowledge. His seeing, hearing , power, will, and speech are not similar to, and share nothing with the seeing, hearing, power, will and speech of creation. Aside from the similarity of sharing these names, there is no similarity or sharing.

His acts and His attributes, like His essence, are both without mode and without comparison. The attribute of knowledge possessed by the Almighty, for example, is an eternal attribute. It is a non-composite, active awareness such that every piece of information from the beginning to the end of time, along with its similar and contrary states, in whole and in part, each and its particular time, is known to Him all at once. Thus, for example, He knows that so and so is to be living at a certain time, and that a certain time he is to die, and so forth. In a similar manner, His speech is a non-composite speech, the particulars of which are the revealed books.

Allah most High is above bodily incarnation, hulul, and likewise, there is nothing capable of becoming incarnate in Him.

Allah most High encompasses all things and is in the company of, and is close to, everything that exists by an encompassing, accompanying, and closeness of His own; not the sort that we can comprehend in our limited minds, as that is not worthy of His sacred Being.

Creation [shaping and bringing into being] is an attribute especially His own.

All beings, their senses, actions and attributes are all created by Him, exalted is He. He has veiled His acts with causes and means yet, at the same time, these are proofs that everything is of His doing. It is the way of Allah, whenever one of His servants makes an intention to perform a certain act, that He creates that act and brings it into existence. On the basis of this semblance of will and power, the individual is called an earner, kasib, and it is on this basis that he or she is praised or criticised, rewarded or punished. It is disbelief, kufr , to suppose that something other than Allah is the true creator of any part of creation.

Allah most High is above whatever visions othe Sufis may have of Him in their meditations. Thus, it is essential to have faith in the Unseen, ghayb. What the Sufi sees in his meditation is only an image or representation. It is the teaching of Sufis themselves that all such visions should be understood as coming under and being nullified by the negative particle "la" [corresponding ot the word "No" in the testament of faith, kalimah, 'La ilaha illa'allah, There is no god but Allah'].

Then, it is our belief that the Almighty encompasses all things, and that He is indeed close by, even theough we do not comprehend the full significance of these matters. Similarly, the Almighty's settling Himself on the Throne, 'arsh', His presence in the heart of every believer, His descent to the lowest heaven in the latter part of the night, and other such things, like the mention of His hand or face, as have come to us in the Qur'an and ahadith, must not be understood in their literal (physical) sense. Neither should we attempt to find interpretations, ta'wil, for them.

We should simply have faith in these things; and in order to protect ourselves from believing true that which is in fact false, we should entrust their interpretation to the knowledge of the Almighty. Man's lot in these matters, is no more than ignorance and confusion. To deny the texts (of the Qur'an and the Sunah) is kufr, and to try to explain them is compound ignorance.

Those at the Lord's court acknowledged as seers,
Venture no further than saying that, 'He is.'

There is another kind of accompanying and closeness to the Almighty which is of a separate category and which bears no relation, other than that they both share the same name, to the closeness and accompanying that was mentioned above. This is the lot of His special servants; the angels, the prophets, and the Sufi saints. Still, the ordinary Muslim is not without a share of closeness either, as the degrees of closeness to Allah are infinite. No matter how close one comes to Allah, there will always be room for an even closer approach.

Maulana Rumi has written:

Brother the court of the Lord is an endless one.
The closer you approach, the further you find you have to go....

[Malaa Budda Minhu [Essential Islamic Knowledge], Qadi Thana'ullah Panipati [RH] (Tr. Yusuf Talal De Lorenzo)]


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