Ruling on Ta’wil (Figurative Interpretation) of Allah’s Attributes
Q 4: What is the ruling on ta’wil (allegorical interpretation) of Allah’s Attributes?
A: Ta’wil of Allah’s Attributes is Munkar (disapproved of by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) and is not permissible. In fact, it is obligatory for the Attributes of Allah to be accepted as stated, according to their apparent meaning that befits Allah’s Glory (Glorified and Exalted be He), without Tahrif (distortion of the meaning), Ta‘til (denial), Takyif (describing how), or Tamthil (likening His Attributes to those of His Creation).
Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) informs us of His Names and Attributes, saying: [There is nothing like Him]; and [He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer]. As Muslims, we have to accept them as they are, according to the opinion of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body). They advise Muslims to acknowledge Allah’s Attributes as they are, without Takyif. They should be accepted as they are, without Tahrif, Ta’wil or Takyif. Muslims should attest to Allah’s Attributes as they were revealed, according to their apparent meaning and as befits Allah’s Stature, without any Takyif or Tamthil. For example, Allah says: [The Most Gracious (Allâh) rose over (Istawâ) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty)]. In this Ayah (Qur’anic verse) and similar ones, we are told that Allah rose over the Throne, which is in a manner that suits His Majesty and Grandeur, and the manner of this cannot be compared to that of any of His creatures. The scholars who follow Al-Haqq (the Truth) see this as signifying His Highness and Exaltedness.
The same applies to other Attributes of Allah, such as His Eye, Hearing, Sight, Hand, Foot, and other Attributes that are authentically reported in Nas (Islamic texts from the Qur’an or the Sunnah). All of these Attributes are as befits Allah (Exalted be He) and are not comparable to those of any creature. This is the opinion of the scholars from among the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) and those after them from the Imams (initiators of a School of Jurisprudence), such as Al-Awza‘y, Al-Thawry, Malik, Abu Hanifah, Ahmad, Ishaq, and other Muslim Imams (may Allah be merciful to them all).
Allah says, when relating the story of Prophet Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him): [And We carried him on a (ship) made of planks and nails, Floating under Our Eyes] He (Glorified be He) also says when relating the story of Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him): [in order that you may be brought up under My Eye]. Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah explained the Ayah where Allah says: Floating under Our Eyes by saying that He (Glorified be He) let the ship float under His Care until it rested on Mount Judy. Similarly, when Allah says: in order that you may be brought up under My Eye. they say that He (Glorified be He) means that Musa (peace be upon him) will be brought up under His Care and with His Guidance to those in charge of raising him.
In the same manner, when Allah (may He be Praised) says to the Prophet (peace be upon him): [So wait patiently (O Muhammad Sallalaahu Alahi wa Sallam) for the Decision of your Lord, for verily, you are under Our Eyes] He means that Muhammad is under Allah’s Protection and Care. These interpretations do not fall under the prohibited Ta’wil; rather, they fall under Tafsir (explanation/exegesis) well-known in the Arabic language and its styles.
A third example is in a Hadith Qudsy (Revelation from Allah in the Prophet’s words)where Allah (Glorified be He) says: “[Anyone who comes nearer to Me by a span, I come nearer to them by a cubit; and anyone who comes nearer to Me by a cubit, I come nearer to them by a fathom; and anyone who comes to Me walking, I come to them running].” These words are accepted as they were revealed from Allah (may He be Praised and Exalted) without Tahrif, Takyif, or Tamthil, but in the way that is wanted by Allah. The same thing can be said about Allah’s Descent at the end of the night, His Hearing, Sight, Anger, Pleasure, Laughter, Happiness, and other authentically established Attributes of Allah. They all must be accepted as they were revealed, in the manner that befits Allah, without any Takyif, Tahrif, Ta‘til or Tamthil. This is because Allah says: [There is nothing like Him; and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer]. and many Ayahs to the same effect.
As for Ta’wil of Allah’s Attributes and diverging them from apparent meaning, this is the methodology of those who follow Bid‘ah (innovations in religion), such as the Jahmiyyah and the Mu‘tazilah (deviant Islamic sects), and those who follow them. Their Madh-habs (Schools of Jurisprudence) are Batil (null and void), and have been denied and renounced by Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah, who have warned people against their promoters. And Allah is the Grantor of success.
Source: alifta.com – Fatwas of Ibn Baz