The Topic of al-Hikmah wal-Ta'leel is From the Loftiest Topics of Aqidah
First and foremost what do we mean by (الحكمة والتعليل في أفعال الله)? Well there are three element we have to be clear about first:
- That Allaah has actions (af'aal)
- That Allaah acts out of will and choice (ikhtiyaar)
- That Allaah has wisdoms (hikam) behind His actions
All of these three are affirmed by Ahl al-Sunnah and all three are denied by a) the Falaasifah (Greek Philosophers) and Mutafalsifah (Ibn Sina etc.) b) the Jahmiyyah and c) Ash'aris.
We will elaborate upon this matter shortly, but here we want to establish that this is from the loftiest matters of aqidah. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said (Minhaj al-Sunnah 3/39):
And this matter - the matter of objectives (behind) the actions of Allaah and His utmost wisdom (behind those objectives) is a mighty affair, perhaps it is the loftiest of the matters of divinity.
And he also said (al-Istighaathah 1/328):
... it is from the noblest of sciences
And Ibn al-Qayyim said (Miftaah Dar as-Sa'aadah 2/409):
And this is from the loftiest affairs of Tawheed connected to creation, command, legislation and (divine) decree.
Why have these great Imaams explained this to be from the loftiest topics of aqidah? Well it is because these topics penetrate into every affair of the religion and are fundamentally tied to them. Negating these affairs (Allaah has chosen actions behind which are wisdoms) means negating the entire religion and every facet of it. From the topics connected to it include Allaah's very existence, His Tawheed in His attributes, the various revealed legislations, Prophethood, the burden of responsibility (takleef) upon the creation, Allaah's justice, Allaah's promise and threat, the asbaab (ways and means) both created and legislative, the issues connected to evil, guidance and misguidance, the Final Day, eternity of Paradise and Hell and so on.
So we can understand from this the seriousness of this subject and that many fell into error with respect to it from the Ahl al-Kalaam, the Sufis, the Jabariyyah, Qadariyyah and other factions.
Implications of This Subject
Let's now go back to those three things that we mentioned earlier, a) that Allaah has actions, b) He acts out of choice and c) that there is wisdom behind His actions. Ahl al-Sunnah affirm all of these as they are evident from the Book and the Sunnah. And this makes Allaah a faa'il (doer), mukhtaar (out of choice).
However, those who were affected by ilm al-kalaam, which is in reality Greek philosophical conceptual baggage imported into Islam under the label of "ilm al-kalam," they denied these matters and this of course had an implication upon the type of deity they presented.
If we look at what the Greek Philosophers believed about the "First Cause" (that by which the existence of the universe is explained) they held that He is not "faa'il, mukhtaar," meaning that He has no will, choice and does not act out of will and choice. So they denied both things and consequently, if you deny iraadah (will, choice), then you cannot claim "hikmah" (wisdom) in that case, which means that they denied all three things we are speaking of. No will, no actions, no wisdom.
From here we can see the influence of denying Allaah is "faa'il mukhtaar" enter into the Ahl al-Kalaam, and particularly the Jahmiyyah and Ash'ariyyah. You have to remember that these factions were trying to debate the Philosophers and Atheists and trying to prove the universe is not eternal but originated. However, because they used the conceptual baggage of those Philosophers, the type of deity they put forwarded began to gravitate in many respects towards what those Philosophers held about the deity they presented as being the "First Cause" and which was described by them using a particular language.
So whilst the Jahmiyyah, Ash'ariyyah and others from Ahl al-Kalaam were trying to debate the Atheists, because of the argument and proof they were using to demonstrate the universe is originated based upon that foreign conceptual language and terminology, they held views similar to the Philosophers (even though they debated them on the origination of the universe and other affairs) and from those views were that Allah is neither faa'il (one who acts with action being ascribed to His essence) and nor one who has choice, will (mukhtaar), choosing to act as and when He pleases.
Now we have to be careful here because the Ash'ariyyah play word games, that is what their theology is built upon - word games - they do not affirm action for Allah as it is understood in the language of the Qur'an and the Arabs and no do they affirm will, choice for Allaah (iraadah) as it is understood in the language of the Qur'an and the Arabs. They will say "we believe Allaah acts and that He has choice." We do not want to digress here, but rest assured they do not believe that a) Allaah has actions attributed to His essence and b) that Allaah acts out of His will and choice through an iraadah (will) that is known, affirmed and understood from the language of the Qur'an and the Arabs. They deny these matters because affirming them clashes with their Aristotelian slogan that Allaah is "outside of time" and what they really mean by this is that Allah does not speak or act out of will and choice, and they refer to such speech and actions (arising through will and choice) as "hawaadith" (events) and their version of Tawheed (taken from Aristotle's Metaphysics) requires that Allaah is free of "hawaadith" (events) otherwise it would render Allaah a body (jism) and thereby negate the proof they were using to establish the universe is originated.
From here, this leads us then to the implications of denying that Allaah acts out of choice and denying that Allaah has wisdoms behind His actions or has objectives behind His actions. Now, if we keep in mind that the Ash'arites pretend to affirm actions for Allah (they say these actions are events taking place in the creation but they are not actions ascribed to Allaah's essence, this being from their word games) then all of this means that Allaah's actions to these people are totally neutral. There is no reason, objective, wisdom behind these actions. It is just pure iraadah taking effect.
A Distorted Creed Upon a Distorted Perception Upon False Premises
It is from here we start seeing the distortion this has on other areas of creed and likewise distortion of the Qur'an.
Firstly, this totally undermines the purpose of creation, and whatever legislation Allaah reveals. Because if Allaah does not do something for something (i.e. act for a reason and wisdom) then it means He did not create them so that He would be worshipped, and thus He cannot have sent Messengers so that He would be worshipped (through His revelations). They claim Allaah does not have "goals, wisdoms, objectives" and they consider this to be opposed to Tawhid, just like they say Allaah cannot have attributes and actions, because this is opposed to their version of Tawhid. The Ash'aris claimed that wherever Allaah says in the Qur'an ("in order that", "so that") using the laam (ل) of purpose (ta'leel) that it is in reality, referring only to the outcome, not to the reason. In other words, this would mean, that Allaah did not create men and Jinn so that He would be worshipped, but it was simply a consequence of their creation that they worship Him. In other words, Allaah did not have a prior reason, purpose, objective, wisdom behind their creation. So they explained all wisdoms, reasons, etc. as simply being outcomes and not things which are actually desired, intended by Allaah. And this applied to all things, so effectively, to the Jahmiyyah, Ash'ariyyah, Allaah never does something for something (i.e. reason, wisdom, purpose). The argument of the Ash'aris is that if Allaah had a reason, purpose to do something, it means that He would attain perfection by way of it, and hence, it implies He was imperfect prior to doing it. This is false reasoning and we do not have the time to deal with it in this article. But that is their reasoning. We simply say in brief that Allaah is free of all need (al-Ghaniyy) and He does not need anything, however He is al-Hakeem (all-Wise) and He does things for wisdoms, not that He is need of them, but this is from His actual perfection.
Secondly, the Ash'aris did not distinguish between iraadah and mahabbah and they treated them to be the same. So whatever takes place is loved by Allaah because He willed it to be. This now feeds into the bid'ah of al-Jabar, which the Ash'aris took from the Jahmiyyah. Once it is said that Allaaah's actions have no wisdom behind them, it is just pure iraadah (will), then it means that everything that takes place is loved by Allaah.
This is different to Ahl al-Sunnah who distinguish between iraadah and mahabbah and also distinguish between iraadah kawniyyah (creative will) and iraadah shar'iyyah (legislative will). On account of these distinctions which are established in the Book and the Sunnah, the creed of Ahl al-Sunnah is that Allaah loves Tawhid, obeying the Messengers and righteousness and hates Shirk, Kufr and disobedience, and He requests the former and prohibits the latter through His revelations as this is what He wishes and wants from His servants for their benefit and in order for Him to manifest His mercy (which is from His perfection). However, He wills shirk, kufr and disobedience without being pleased with it, and He wills them for particular reasons and wisdoms that serve to reach far-reaching lofty goals. On account of this clarity, Ahl al-Sunnah hold certain clear views such as it being impossible therefore, that Allaah would punish someone unjustly or wrongly because that is impossible for Allaah as it is not from His perfection to do so.
However, if we operate upon the ideas of the Jahmiyyah and Ash'ariyyah, because they do not make these distinctions, and they do not affirm wisdoms behind Allaah's actions, and in the case of the Ash'arites they treat Allaah's iraadah (in the innovated way that they affirm it) and His mahabbah to be the same, then it means that everything becomes totally neutral. In otherwords, if Allaah punished the Messengers with the Fire and rewarded Iblis with Paradise. Those are totally neutral actions and there is no injustice or oppression in either of these two acts. They say that these matters are permissible for Allaah (whereas Ahl al-Sunnah say they are impossible) and all of this would be obligatory to accept because it is pure iraadah (will) of Allaah. Because they deny wisdom in Allaah's actions, in that Allaah does not "do something for something" then all of what takes place is good and there is no injustice. Thus, if a man killed a child, this is the action of Allaah, and witnessing it to be the action of Allaah (devoid of wisdoms, goals, reasons) and denying that the man had any real choice in his action, then to witness this as an act of Allaah and being pleased with it is from Tawhid according to them. It is for this reason that many of the people of Wahdat ul-Wujood who are Jabariyyah see that all shirk and kufr and sin taking place in the creation is something good, because it is arising out of pure mashee'ah (will) of Allaah. This is the Tawhid of the Jabariyyah, "There is no doer (faa'il) except Allaah" - whilst noting of course that when they say Allaah is a "doer" they do not mean one who acts out of will and choice, but they affirm this in their own innovated way (outside the scope of this article to discuss this matter).
Allaah and oppression
So far we have seen how those initial underlying doctrines of the Jahmiyyah and Ash'ariyyah lead to confusion and misguidance that penetrate into the arena of al-Qadar, and from all of these considerations, the Jahmiyyah and Ash'ariyyah had a statement which is:
If Allah willed, He could punish the Believers with Hell for no apparent sin and could reward the Disbelievers with Paradise despite their disbelief and in doing so, He would not be unjust at all.
Now, this statement is made upon all of the considerations we mentioned earlier, it is upon the basis that Allaah has no wisdoms behind His actions, and thus rewarding disbelievers with Paradise and punishing Messengers and Prophets and Believers with Hellfire are the same, they are neutral, what counts is Allaah acting out of pure iraadah (will) alone and nothing else. So both of these actions are perfection and in line with their version of Tawheed, the Tawheed of the Jabariyyah "there is no (faa'il) doer except Allaah" and thus all of what is permissible for Allaah to do (including punishing the mu'min with eternal Hellfire and rewarding the mushrik with eternal Paradise) is free of injustice.
Now, as Ahl al-Sunnah, when we untangle this confusion, we say that it is impossible for Allaah to punish the mu'min and reward the mushrik, and this is because He is al-Hakeem in all that He does, and hence, He created man, gave him a heart, ears, eyes, tongue and limbs, then sent Books and Messengers showing him the right way and wrong way, and ordered him and prohibited him, in order to test him and thus when man acts or speaks, he is the doer (faa'il) of the speech and act, and Allaah is its creator, since He gave man the faculties to do so. Allaah is the khaaliq (creator of man and his faculties) and man is the responsible faa'il (doer). From here the responsiblity (takleef) is established and hence, reward and punishment now becomes a matter of deserving justification (istihqaaq) - man deserves to be punished on account of his actions and rewarded on account His actions (after the mercy of Allaah) and this is total justification. And after all of this, after we have affirmed wisdom in Allaah's actions, it is impossible thereby that Allaah would punish those without sin and reward those with the greatest of sins. This is a matter impossible upon Allaah. However, if Allaah was to punish, it is only because they deserve it, and in that case, Allaah would not be unjust to them.
So here we see understandings that are based upon certain precepts in belief, that Allah has actions, that He acts out of will and choice, that man has faculties through which He chooses and acts, establishing responsiblity, that Allaah has wisdom in all that He does. So all of this gives a clear perception as we have indicated in the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah, and all of this is connected to the greatest subjects in the religion, the Tawheed of Allaah, al-Qadar (decree) and ash-Shar' (legislation).
The Context is Set
From what has preceded we are now ready to look at the speech of Allaamah al-Safaareenee and the commentary of the Yahya al-Hajuri al-Haddaadi upon it, and we will contrast that with the speech of Shaykh Ibn al-Uthaymeen and Shaykh al-Fawzaan, so we can see the difference between true scholars and those who - in comparison to those great scholars - do not "know their knees from their elbows."