Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge is the Foundation of All Shrik, Kufr, & Innovation: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah mentioned the following words in his famous Madaarij al-Saalikeen:

فصل القول على الله بغير علم
Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge

وأما القول على الله بلا علم فهو أشد هذه المحرمات تحريما ، وأعظمها إثما ، ولهذا ذكر في المرتبة الرابعة من المحرمات التي اتفقت عليها الشرائع والأديان ، ولا تباح بحال ، بل لا تكون إلا محرمة ، وليست كالميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير ، الذي يباح في حال دون حال . ـ

As for speaking about Allah without knowledge, this is the most strongly forbidden prohibition and the greatest of them in sinfulness. Because of that, it is mentioned in the fourth level of prohibited things, something that all the divine legislations agreed upon. It is not permitted in any situation nor can it take any other ruling than prohibited. This is unlike carrion, blood, or swine, all of which can become permissible in certain situations.

فإن المحرمات نوعان : محرم لذاته لا يباح بحال ، ومحرم تحريما عارضا في وقت دون وقت ، قال الله تعالى في المحرم لذاته قل إنما حرم ربي الفواحش ما ظهر منها وما بطن ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه فقال والإثم والبغي بغير الحق ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تشركوا بالله ما لم ينزل به سلطانا ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تقولوا على الله ما لا تعلمون فهذا أعظم المحرمات عند الله وأشدها إثما ، فإنه يتضمن الكذب على الله ، ونسبته إلى ما لا يليق به ، وتغيير دينه وتبديله ، ونفي ما أثبته وإثبات ما نفاه ، وتحقيق ما أبطله وإبطال ما حققه ، وعداوة من والاه وموالاة من عاداه ، وحب ما أبغضه وبغض ما أحبه ، ووصفه بما لا يليق به في ذاته وصفاته وأقواله وأفعاله . ـ

You see, prohibited things can be classified into two types:

  1. Things which are forbidden due to some intrinsic quality, which are not allowed in any situations
  2. Prohibited things whose prohibition is in effect in certain situations but not others

Allah spoke about those things whose prohibition is intrinsic by saying:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ 

Say: My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed …

then He moved on to those prohibitions which are even greater by saying:

وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ

… and sin, and oppression without right …

then He moved on to those which are even greater by saying:

وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا

… and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority …

and then He moved on to those which are even greater by saying:

وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

… and that you say about Allah that which you do not know. [7:33]

So this is the greatest prohibition in Allah’s eyes and the worst in terms of its sinfulness. For this sin involves:

  • speaking falsely about Allah
  • attributing unbefitting things to Him
  • changing and altering His religion
  • negating what He affirmed and affirming what He negated
  • considering what He made false to be true and what He made true to be false
  • having enmity towards those whom He embraces and embracing those whom He opposes
  • loving what He hates and hating what He loves, and
  • characterizing Him in ways that do not befit His essence, attributes, statements, or actions.

فليس في أجناس المحرمات أعظم عند الله منه ، ولا أشد إثما ، وهو أصل الشرك والكفر ، وعليه أسست البدع والضلالات ، فكل بدعة مضلة في الدين أساسها القول على الله بلا علم . ـ

So there is no type of prohibition more serious to Allah or greater in sinfulness than this one. It is the very foundation of shirk and kufr, and innovation and misguidance is built upon it. For every misguiding innovation in this religion has its foundation built on speaking about Allah without knowledge.

ولهذا اشتد نكير السلف والأئمة لها ، وصاحوا بأهلها من أقطار الأرض ، وحذروا فتنتهم أشد التحذير ، وبالغوا في ذلك ما لم يبالغوا مثله في إنكار الفواحش ، والظلم والعدوان ، إذ مضرة البدع وهدمها للدين ومنافاتها له أشد ، وقد أنكر تعالى على من نسب إلى دينه تحليل شيء أو تحريمه من عنده ، بلا برهان من الله ، فقال ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله الكذب الآية . ـ

Because of all this, the salaf and the major scholars were severe in their criticism and censure of this sin and called out those who practiced it from all corners of the globe. They warned against their fitnah with the strongest of warnings. Their criticism and censure for this sin far exceeded their criticism and censure for immoralities, injustice and enmity. That was because the harms of innovation and its ability to harm and corrupt the religion are far greater than those other things. And Allah Himself criticized those who attribute the permissibility or impermissibility of something to Allah and His religion without any proof from Allah when He said:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” to invent falsehood about Allah. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about Allah will not succeed. [16:116]

فكيف بمن نسب إلى أوصافه سبحانه وتعالى ما لم يصف به نفسه ؟ أو نفى عنه منها ما وصف به نفسه ؟ . ـ

So if that is the case, then what about someone who describes and characterizes Allah in ways that He has not described Himself, or who negates things with which He has described Himself?

ـ [ ص: 379 ] قال بعض السلف : ليحذر أحدكم أن يقول : أحل الله كذا ، وحرم الله كذا ، فيقول الله : كذبت ، لم أحل هذا ، ولم أحرم هذا . يعني التحليل والتحريم بالرأي المجرد ، بلا برهان من الله ورسوله .  ـ

One of the salaf said,

“Be careful lest any one of you says, ‘Allah has made such-and-such permissible’, or ‘Allah has made such-and-such forbidden’ and then Allah would say, ‘You have lied. I have not permitted that, and I have not forbidden that.'”

And he was talking about ruling things to be permissible or forbidden based merely on one’s own opinion without any proof from Allah or His Messenger.

وأصل الشرك والكفر هو القول على الله بلا علم ، فإن المشرك يزعم أن من اتخذه معبودا من دون الله ، يقربه إلى الله ، ويشفع له عنده ، ويقضي حاجته بواسطته ، كما تكون الوسائط عند الملوك ، فكل مشرك قائل على الله بلا علم ، دون العكس ، إذ القول على الله بلا علم قد يتضمن التعطيل والابتداع في دين الله ، فهو أعم من الشرك ، والشرك فرد من أفراده . ـ

The very foundation of shirk and kufr is speaking about Allah without knowledge. For the mushrik claims that whatever he has taken as an object of worship alongside Allah brings him closer to Allah, intercedes with Allah on his behalf, and fulfills his needs by acting as an intermediary just as one might act as an intermediary with a ruler. So every mushrik speaks about Allah without knowledge, without any exception. But speaking about Allah without knowledge also includes denying Allah’s attributes and innovating in His religion, so it is broader than just shirkshirk is just one of the many forms of speaking about Allah without knowledge.

ولهذا كان الكذب على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم موجبا لدخول النار ، واتخاذ منزلة منها مبوءا ، وهو المنزل اللازم الذي لا يفارقه صاحبه ، لأنه متضمن للقول على الله بلا علم ، كصريح الكذب عليه ، لأن ما انضاف إلى الرسول فهو مضاف إلى المرسل ، والقول على الله بلا علم صريح افتراء الكذب عليه ومن أظلم ممن افترى على الله كذبا . ـ

That is why speaking falsely about Allah’s Messenger results in entering the hellfire and taking up residence in it, an inevitable residence which its inhabitant cannot escape. For speaking falsely about Allah’s Messenger involves speaking about Allah without knowledge. It is as if he were lying about Allah directly, because whatever is attributed to a messenger is attributed to the one who sent the messenger. And speaking about Allah directly without knowledge is fabricating a lie about Him.

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا

And who is more unjust than one who fabricates a lie about Allah? [6:21]

فذنوب أهل البدع كلها داخلة تحت هذا الجنس فلا تتحقق التوبة منه إلا بالتوبة من البدع . ـ

So all the sins of the people of innovation fall into this category, and therefore repentance from these sins cannot truly be achieved without repenting from one’s innovation.

وأنى بالتوبة منها لمن لم يعلم أنها بدعة ، أو يظنها سنة ، فهو يدعو إليها ، ويحض عليها ؟ فلا تنكشف لهذا ذنوبه التي تجب عليه التوبة منها إلا بتضلعه من السنة ، وكثرة اطلاعه عليها ، ودوام البحث عنها والتفتيش عليها ، ولا ترى صاحب بدعة كذلك أبدا . ـ

But what about repenting from innovation for a person who does not know that such-and-such act actually is an innovation, or he thinks that it is a sunnah and therefore calls others to it and promotes it? As for him, he will not become aware of this sin of his which requires him to make tawbah unless and until he becomes familiar with the sunnah and frequently refers back to it and continuously looks into it and checks himself against it. But you will never see a person who calls to innovation doing such things.

فإن السنة بالذات تمحق البدعة ، ولا تقوم لها ، وإذا طلعت شمسها في قلب العبد قطعت من قلبه ضباب كل بدعة ، وأزالت ظلمة كل ضلالة ، إذ لا سلطان للظلمة مع سلطان الشمس ، ولا يرى العبد الفرق بين السنة والبدعة ، ويعينه على الخروج من ظلمتها إلى نور السنة ، إلا المتابعة ، والهجرة بقلبه كل وقت إلى الله ، بالاستعانة والإخلاص ، وصدق اللجإ إلى الله ، والهجرة إلى رسوله ، بالحرص على الوصول إلى أقواله وأعماله وهديه وسنته فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله ومن هاجر إلى غير ذلك فهو حظه ونصيبه في الدنيا والآخرة ، والله المستعان . ـ

The sunnah by its very nature does away with innovations, it does not support them. When the sunnah rises in a person’s heart like the rising of the sun it dispels all the fog and mist of innovations from his heart and removes the darkness of every misguidance. For darkness holds no power where the sun reigns.

But a person will not be able distinguish between the sunnah and innovation nor will he will be able to extricate himself from the darkness of innovation to the light of the sunnah by anything other than following the way of the Prophet, by always making hijrah to Allah with his heart, by asking Allah for His assistance and singling Him out for worship, by sincerely seeking refuge with Allah, and by making hijrah to His Messenger through being eager to learn his statements, actions, guidance, and his sunnah.

So however makes hijrah to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah is to Allah and His Messenger. But whoever makes hijrah to something else, then that is his share and his lot in this life and the next. And Allah’s aid is sought.

[Madaarij al-Saalikeen 1/378-379]

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

See also: “Do not Follow that of which you have no Knowledge”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani

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

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

See also: A Comprehensive Statement regarding Bid’ah: Imam al-Sa’di

8 thoughts on “Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge is the Foundation of All Shrik, Kufr, & Innovation: Ibn al-Qayyim

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

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

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

  5. Pingback: The First Innovation: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani | Tulayhah

  7. Pingback: The Grave Sin of Slandering the Believers: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  8. Pingback: “Those Who Have Divided Their Religion and Become Sects”: Tafsir al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

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