The Reality of Ilhaad?
Question 44: What is Ilhaad–concerning Allaah’s Names and Attributes?
The Answer: The basic meaning of the term Ilhaad i.e. in the Arabic language, it means inclination. And from this is the Saying of Allaah, The Most High:
The tongue of the man they incline to is foreign, while this (the Qur’aan) is a clear Arabic tongue.
[Qur’aan, soorat an-Nahl (16): 103].
And from it is the lahd in the grave, for it is called lahd because of its inclination towards a side of the grave. One cannot know the meaning of Ilhaad except by knowing the meaning of Istiqaamah (uprightness), since, as it is said, “Things become clear and distinct by the [meaning] of their contraries.” So, the Istiqaamah (uprightness) with regard to the subject of Allaah’s Names and Attributes is that we conform to their true and real meanings which befit Allaah, The Most Mighty and Most Majestic, without Tahreef (changing or twisting their wording and meanings), without Ta’teel (denying or divesting Allaah of His Attributes), without Takyeef (asserting how they are), and without Tamtheel (likening them to those of the creation), just as it has passed before in the foundation pertaining to this subject and which ahlus-Sunnah wal-jamaa’ah adhere to. Thus, if we know the meaning of al-Istiqaamah regarding this matter, then its is opposite is al-Ilhaad. And already the people of knowledge have mentioned several kinds of Ilahaad concerning the Names of Allaah, The Most High, which may be comprised by saying that it is deviating from the right course, with respect to that which is obligatory to believe in regarding them.
So, the first kind is for someone to deny some of the Names or any of the Attributes denoted by them. Like to deny the name Ar-Rahmaan as one of the Names of Allaah, just as the people of Jaahilyyah did; or to affirm the Names but deny the Attributes it comprises. Like the saying of some innovators: “Allaah, The Most High, is Ar-Raheem (The One Who Bestows Mercy) but without Rahmah (Mercy), Samee’ (all- Hearer) but without Sam’ (Hearing), al-Baseer (all-Seer) but without Basar (Seeing),” and so forth.
Second Kind: He designates names to Allaah with which He did not Name Himself. The basis that this is considered Ilahaad lies in the fact that Allaah’s Names are contingent upon Revelation (tawqeefiyyah) so that it is not permitted for anyone to designate a name to Allaah with which He did not Name Himself. Since this is considered of saying things about Allaah of which one has no knowledge of, and also because it is a transgression against Allaah (Azza wa Jal) and His Right. And this is similar to what the philosophers have done, for they have designated the name “Active Cause” for “God”. And likewise with the Christians, for they have given the name “the Father” to Allaah, The Most High,–and so forth.
Third Kind: He believes that these names denote attributes similar to those of the creation. Accordingly, he makes them indicative of Tamtheel. The basis that this is considered Ilahaad is that whoever believes that the Names of Allaah (Azza wa Jal) denotes likening of Allaah to His Creation, then he has made the Words of Allaah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) infer unbelief. Because likening of Allaah to His Creation is unbelief, for it’s a denial of Allaah’s Saying:
There is nothing like Him, and He is The All-Hearing, The All Seeing. [Qur’aan, soorat ash-Shura (42): 11], and of His Saying: Do you know of any who is similar to Him? [Qur’aan, soorat Maryam (19): 65].
Na’eem bin Hammad and al-Khuzaa’ee, the Shaykh of Imaam al-Bukhaaree, said: “Whoever likened Allaah to His Creation, then he has disbelieved, and whoever denied the Attributes by which Allaah qualified Himself with, then he has also disbelieved. And the Names by which Allaah Named Himself as well as the Attributes by which He qualified Himself, will not be called Tashbeeh (declaring Allaah to be like His Creation).” 
The Fourth Kind: He derives from the Names of Allaah, The Most High, names for idols. Like the derivation “al-Laat” from al-Ilaaah, “al-‘Uzzaa” from “al-‘Azeez,” and “minaat” from “al-Mannaan.” The basis that this is considered Ilahaad, is that Allaah’s Names are particular to Him. So it is not allowed to ascribe the meanings denoting these Names to any created being for the sake of offering him (her, or it) that which only Allaah deserves from worship.
These are the types of Ilhaad concerning the Names of Allaah, The One free of all imperfection, The Most High
 Shaykh al-Albaanee, may Allaah’s Mercy be upon him, said that the Isnaad of the narration from Hammad is saheeh [ath-Thahabee’s al- ’Uluw], p. 184. After reporting the above statement of Hammaad in Siyar ‘Alaam An-Nubalaa’, Imaam ath-Thahabee, may Allaah’s Mercy be upon him, commented, “This statement is true…”
Posted from eBook : Understanding Worship – Fiqh ul-‘Ibadah – QA Format – Ibn Uthaymeen – Translated by Dr Saleh as Saleh