Why Speaking about Allah without Knowledge is more serious than Shrik: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Allah says in surah al-A’raaf:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed -, and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.” [7:33]

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen mentioned the following point of benefit during part of his discussion of this ayah in his primer on the sciences of tafsir:

مسألة : وهل هذه الآية من باب الترقي ، أو من باب ذكر الأعلى فالأعلى ؟ ـ

An issue: Is this ayah one of those whose ordering ascends from least to greatest in its listing, or is it one of those that starts with the highest matter and then moves down to the next highest?

الجواب : الأول ، يعني : أن أشد شيء أن يقول على الله ما لا يعلم . ـ

Answer: It is the first category, meaning that the most grave thing is to speak about Allah without knowledge.

فإن قال قائل : كيف يكون هذه أشد من الشرك ؟ ـ

But then someone might ask: How is that a worse offense than al-shirk?

فالجواب : لأنه لو قال على الله بلا علم لم يقتصر إفساده على نفسه ، بل على غيره ؛ لأنه بذلك أبطل الشيء ، وأحل محلها شيئا آخر ؛ ولأنه إذا قال : [إن هذا واجب] وهو ليس بواجب في الشرع ، معناه أنه رفع الحل وجعل محله الإيجاب ، لكن المشرك يضر نفسه ، وإذا اهتدى زالت المفسدة بالكلية ، لكن الذي يقول على الله بلا علم ، لو اهتدى ورجع ، وصار لا يقول إلا عن علم ، فإن إفساده الأول لا يزال باقيا ، فلهذا صار القول على الله بلا علم أشد من الإشراك بالله – عز وجل – ، وهذا – والله – معنى لا نعقله أكثر من أن نغفل عنه ، فإن أكثر من يستفتى تجده يقول : هذا حرام ، وهذا حلال ، وكأنه أكبر إمام في الدنيا ، وهذا خطر عظيم . ـ

The answer is that that is because if a person speaks about Allah without knowledge, then the negative effects of that are not limited to him alone; rather they affect others as well. That is because by doing so he may [falsely] declare one thing to be invalid and another thing to be permissible. For if he says, “This thing is definitely obligatory” while it is not in fact something obligatory according to the Sharee’ah, then this means that he has removed the permissible nature of that thing and put an obligation in its place!

On the other hand, the mushrik harms only himself, and if he were to be guided then the entire negative effect of that is removed. However, as for the one who speaks about Allah without knowledge, then even if he were to be guided and to return to the truth and become someone who only speaks about what he has knowledge of, the initial negative effects of his speaking without knowledge would still remain.

So it is for this reason that speaking about Allah without knowledge is more grave than associating partners with Allah, and – by Allah – this is a matter which most people do not realize and of which they are heedless. For you will find that most of those who issue verdicts say, “This is haram and this is halal” as if he were the greatest imam in the world, and this is an extremely dangerous matter.

فلا يستعجل الانسان السيادة ، لكن نقول : إذا كنت تريد أن تسود الناس بالعلم فانتظر حتى ييسر الله لك علما راسخا ، أما أن تجلس بين العوام وتفتهيم ، فنقول لك : اصبر ؛ لأن العوام لو جلس عندهم انسان فصيح اللسان أضلهم ولاغتروا به ، وهذا لا ينافي قوله ﷺ : {بلغوا عني ولو آية} ، لكن مع هذا نقول : انتظر ؛ لأن الامر خطير ؛ فلذلك صار خطر الذي يقول على الله ما لا يعلم أعظم من خطر الشرك . ـ

So a person should not rush to have a position of religious authority. Rather, we say: if you wish to be placed in a position of leadership over the people in terms of knowledge, then wait until Allah facilitates you to have firmly grounded knowledge. As for you sitting among the lay-people and giving them religious verdicts and rulings, then we say to you: be patient, for if some person with eloquent speech were to sit with the lay-people then he could misguide them and mislead them with his eloquent speech.

And what we are saying does not contradict the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Convey from me, even if only one ayah“, rather we add to that: wait, for this is a serious matter! So because of this, the danger of those who speak about Allah without knowledge is greater than the danger of al-shirk.

[Sharh Usool fee al-Tafseer pg. 191-192]

See also: The Fundamentals of the Prohibited Deeds – Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Disputing about Allah without knowledge: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Six Categories of Wrong-Doings: Sheikh al-Raajihi

See also: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan

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6 thoughts on “Why Speaking about Allah without Knowledge is more serious than Shrik: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

  1. Pingback: The Fundamentals of the Prohibited Deeds – Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Disputing about Allah without knowledge: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: “Do not Follow that of which you have no Knowledge”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Turning Away from the Sources of Tafsir: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: Six Categories of Wrong-Doings: Sheikh al-Raajihi | Tulayhah

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