Imam Abu Hanifa (RA)View all articles by Imam Abu Hanifa (RA)
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In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful
The root of the affirmation of God's unity, and that which is correct conviction, consists of this, that one says:
1. I believe in God, and His angels, and His books, and His messengers, and resurrection after death, and that the good and evil of destiny are from God Most High. I believe too in the accounting and the scales, hell and paradise. All the foregoing is reality.
2. God is One, not in a numerical sense, but in the sense that He has no partner – "Say: He is God, One; God the Eternally Subsistent and Besought; He begets not, nor was He begotten; and there is none like unto Him." He resembles nothing among His creation, nor does anything among His creation resemble Him. He has been, unceasing, and He is, unceasing, with His names and attributes, both those relating to His Essence and those relating to His acts. As for those relating to His Essence, they are life, power, knowledge, speech, hearing, sight, and will. As for those relating to His acts, they are creativity, sustenance, originating and fashioning ex nihilo, making, and other active attributes.
He has been, unceasing, and He is, unceasing, with His attributes and names; neither attribute nor name was created. He has always and unceasingly been a knower, by virtue of His knowledge, and His knowledge is a pre-eternal attribute. He has always and unceasingly been powerful, by virtue of His power, and His power is a pre-eternal attribute. He has always and unceasingly been speaking by virtue of His speech and His speech is a pre-eternal attribute. He has always and unceasingly been a creator, by virtue of His creativity, and His creativity is a pre-eternal attribute. He has always and unceasingly been an agent, by virtue of His activity, and His activity is a pre-eternal attribute; the object of His activity is creation, and His activity is uncreated. His attributes existed in pre-eternity, without being created or called into existence at a particular moment. Whoever says that they are created or summoned into existence at a particular moment, or is uncertain about the attributes and doubts them, is an unbeliever in God Almighty.
3. The Qur'an is the Word of God Almighty, written on collections of leaves (masahif), preserved in men's hearts, recited on men's tongues, and sent down to the Prophet, upon whom be God's peace and blessings. Our uttering of the Qur'an is created, and our recitation of the Qur'an is created, but the Qur'an itself is uncreated.
That which God Almighty mentions in the Qur'an as a narration from Moses and other of the prophets - peace and blessings be upon them - and also from the Pharaoh and Iblis, all of it is God's word, and constitutes a report concerning them. God's word is uncreated. It is the Qur'an which as the word of God Most High is uncreated, not their words, Moses, upon whom be peace, heard the Word of God Almighty, as God Almighty says: "God addressed Moses in speech." Thus God Almighty was the speaker, and Moses, upon whom be peace, did not speak. God Most High was a creator in pre-eternity, even without having brought creation into existence: "there is naught like unto Him; He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing." When God addressed Moses He did so with His word that was, like all of His attributes, an attribute existing from pre-eternity, unlike the attributes of created beings.
4. God knows, but not as we know; He has power, but not as we have power; He sees, but not as we see; He hears, but not as we hear; and He speaks, but not as we speak. We speak by means of the speech organs and sounds, whereas God Most High speaks with neither organs nor sounds. Sounds are created, and the word of God Most High is uncreated. He is a thing, but unlike other things; by saying "thing," we intend merely to affirm His reality. He has neither body nor substance, neither accidental property nor limit, neither opposite nor like nor similitude. He has a hand, a face, and a self (nafs); the mention that God most High has made of these in the Qur'an has the sense that these are among His attributes, and no question can be raised concerning their modality (bila kayf). It cannot be said that His hand represents His power or His bestowal of bounty, because such an interpretation would require a negation of an attribute. This is the path taken by the Qadarites and the Mu'tazilites (two theological sects in early Islam that deviated from the path of Ahl as-Sunna - trans.) Rather, His hand is an attribute, of unknowable modality, in the same way that His anger and pleasure are two attributes of unknowable modality God Most High created things out of nothing, and He had knowledge of them in pre-eternity, before their creation.