The Pseudo-Salafi says Allah has a "Sura – Form/Shape"
By Abu Layth
The “salafi” commentator of Imam Al-Bayhaqi’s “Asmaa’i was-Sifaat” writes, “As for our Lord, we affirm that He possesses a Sura (form) .” In another place: “As for us, we affirm a sura (form) for Allah unlike other forms.”
Similar was said by the deviant Karramiyya of old, “Allah has a body unlike bodies.”1 So what does Ahlus Sunnah say regarding Allah having a form? Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi said in his Dafa’ Ash-Shubah,
“You should know that it is compulsory for every Muslim to believe with respect to God, glorified and exalted be he, that it is impossible that the “form” which happens to be a shape and a composition applies to God. Abu Sulayman Al-Khattabi said, ‘The meaning of ‘then God ta’alaa will come to them’ is that ‘He will remove the veil for them until they see Him with their eyes, just as they used to identify Him in the world through empirical evidences (kamaa kaanu ‘arafoohu fid-dunya istidlaalan).’ So seeing Him after they have not seen him is analogous with the arrival of the visitor who has not been seen before.” [...]Imam Ibn ‘Aqil said, “The form literally applies to lines and shapes. But those are some of the characteristics of physical entities. And what diverted us from [determining] Him to be a physical entity or body is His saying, : “There is nothing like unto Him.” [...]
Further down interpretation is offered as follows: “So the evidence compels us to assign a meaning to “form” whose possessive form applying to God would be befitting Him and proper. And that is to demand that it means the “state” upon which [Arabic] linguists used sometimes synonymously with “form”. They say, “What is your form (“state”) like with fulaan?” as well as “fulaan is on a form (“state”) of poverty.” [...]
“As for His essence it is exonerated from change. We take refuge with God from having the hadith taken according to the understanding of those that ascribe bodily characteristics to God, and [their understanding] that the “Form (sura)” refers to His being. That is to deem it possible for change to befall His attributes. In spite of that, they referred to Him as being a “form.” If that is meant literally, then it is an impossibility, and, if it sosmething [they] will imagine, then it is undoubtedly not as they would believe. He will show them something other than Himself.”2
Al Hafith Al-Bayhaqi stated,
“It is impermissible that the Creator be attributed form (sura), nor does He possess form, because form is variegated (mukhtalifa) and appearances are mutually contrasted (al-hay’at mutadaadda). Because of their mutual contrast He cannot be described as having them in general; likewise, he cannot be described as having one of them in particular.
What is obligatory for us and every Muslim to know is that our Lord is not endowed with a form nor a physiognomy (laysa bi dhi sura wa la hay’a). For form requires modality, which is precluded from Allah and from His attributes. About the Prophet’s (‘alayhis salam) hadith: “On the day of ressurection, Allah shall come to the people in the form (sura) that is familiar to them.”3 This can be interpreted to mean that He shall come to them in the attribute (sifa) that is familiar to them…what confirms this interpretation is that Prophet’s (alayhis salaam) saying in the narration of ‘Ataa ibn Yasar from Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: “Then Allah will come to them in a form lower (adnaa’) than the one wherein they had seen Him.”4 whereas they had not seen Him at all prior to this. One understands therefore that the meaning of “form” here is “attribute“.”
The upshot to all of this is that Ahlus Sunnah deny the “literal sura” for Allah ta’alaa. Two interpretations have been offered, that one is the manifestation of attribute, and the other “state” as stated by Ibn Al-Jawzi. Both methods are established in the language. And peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad, his family, and followers.
1.quoted by Adh-Dhahabi in his Siyar ‘Alam An Nubalaa’ [↩]
2.See the “Attributes of God” translated by Sidi Abdullah ibn Hamid Ali I have added some transliteration [↩]
3.Bukhari and Muslim [↩]