Mulla `Ali Qari on Istiwa

Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullah

Translated by Sidi Abu Hasan. This represents the Maturidi position on tafwidh.

Álī al-Ūshī [Badyi’l Amālī]:

wa rabbu’l árshi fawqa’l árshi lākin
bilā waşfi’t tamakkuni wa’t-tişāli

The Lord of Throne is on the Throne, but –

Without the attribute of ‘holding unto’ or ‘touching’ it.


Álī al-Qārī [Đaw al-Máālī] said:

‘Lord of the Throne’ that is, the Creator and the Owner of the Throne. The association is similar to ‘Lord of the House’ [rabbu’l bayt] or ‘Lord of Jibrīl’ [rabbi jibrīl.] The Throne is the greatest thing in the creation and that which encompasses everything. Allāh táālā has said: ‘Raĥmān has made Istawā on the Throne’ [ţā-hā, v.5]

The madh’hab of the latter scholars [khalaf] is to explain Istawā’a as Subduing [istiylā’a] and the chosen position of the predecessors [salaf] is not to explain it at all. [ádamu’t ta-wīl] Rather, to believe it as it has been revealed, that it is transcendent and unqualified [tanzīh] which negates similitude [tashbīh] and to submit the matter [tafwīđ] towards Allāh and His Knowledge concerning its meaning. Just like Imām Mālik has said: ‘Istawā’a is known; it’s modality is unknown; to ask about it is heresy; to believe in it is mandatory’ [al-istawā’a málūm, wa’l kayf maj’hūl, wa’s suālu ánhu bidáh, wa’l īmānu wājib]

This is also the opinion of our Imām al-Aážam regarding this and all such abstruse verses and traditions like ‘hand’ ‘eyes’ ‘face’ among other such attributes. The word ‘upon’ [fawq] is used like ‘He is Overpowering upon His slaves’ [Al-Anáām, v.18] or ‘They fear their Lord from above them’ [An-Naĥl, v.50] Our elders did not explain the word ‘upon’ or ‘above’ [fawq] as Greatness or Exaltedness like the latter scholars did.

The author [nāžim] replaced a synonym for the word used in the Qur’ān to align it with the poetic meter and then, he clarified the position by saying in the following distich: Above, and it does not mean ‘to take hold’ or ‘to touch.’ That is it doesn’t mean ‘to rest’ or the aspect of ‘reaching’ because these descriptions are inconceivable [muĥāl] concerning Allāh táālā.

In this verse is also the refutation of Karrāmiyyah and the anthropomorphists [Mujassimah] who attest a ‘direction’ [jihah] to Allāh táālā. Thus, the Karrāmiyyah attest the direction of height to Allāh without taking hold on the Throne [istiqrār]

And the anthropomorphists – they are the Ĥashwiyyah – insist that Allāh táālā ‘took hold’ [istiqrār] quoting the verse and taking its literal meaning even though they have no proof for that. Because Istawā’a has many meanings among which is the meaning of overpowering, subduing, control etc. [al-istīylā’a] like the poet says:

qadi’stawā bishrun ála’l írāqi
min ghayri sayfin wa damin mihrāqi

Bishr has subdued and overpowered Iraq,
Without using the sword or bloodshed.

Similarly is the saying of Allāh: ‘and when he reached his youth, and reached his full strength’ [al-Qaşaş/28:14] where Istawā’a is used to mean ‘complete’ or ‘perfected’ [tamām, kamāl.] and the saying of Allāh: ‘and it settled upon the mount Jūdī’ [Hūd v.44] where it means, ‘settled.’ [istiqrār]

Therefore one cannot use this as conclusive evidence when there is a possibility of having so many different meanings.

If someone asks: ‘Then what is the reason of these abstruse [mutashābihāt] verses being revealed?’ I answer: This is to show the incapacity and powerlessness of the creation and their shortfall of their intellect in grasping the meaning of the Divine Speech of their Lord [ižhāru ájzi’l khalqi wa quşūri fahmihim án kalāmi rabbihim] and to prove their slavery and their faith. Like the most knowledgeable among them say: ‘We bear faith [in all that has been revealed.] All of this is from our Lord’

They submit [tafwīđ] to Allāh and believe in the intended meaning of Allāh without trying to understand the meaning itself. [al-iýtiqādu bi ĥaqīqati murādillahi min ghayri an yúrafa murādahu] and this is the highest perfection a slave can attain. And this is the chosen position among our elders [salaf] and they turned away from describing or elucidating the meanings of abstruse verses. However, the latter scholars chose to explain these verses without insisting or being assertive about it claiming this is how it was intended by the Lord, glorified is He.

Slavehood [úbūdiyyah] is far robust than worship; because slavehood entails ‘being pleased with what the Lord does’ and worship is ‘doing what may please the Lord.’ Surely, pleasure of Allāh [riđā] is far greater than actions and deeds [ámal.] So much so that forsaking riđā is apostacy – but forsaking action, is disobeidience and sin [fisq.] Therefore, there is an end to worship – there is no worship in the hereafter, but there is no end to slavehood [úbūdiyyah] in either of the two worlds.

It is crystal clear that the madh’hab of our elders is the safest and the learned; whereas the madh’hab of the latter ones is excellent and more accurate. [madh’habu’s salaf aslam wa aálam wa madh’hab al-khalaf aĥkam]

Allāh táālā knows best.



Filed under `Aqida

4 responses to “Mulla `Ali Qari on Istiwa

  1. Salam

    “It is crystal clear that the madh’hab of our elders is the safest and the learned; whereas the madh’hab of the latter ones is excellent and more accurate.”



  2. Salamu `Alaykum

    Mulla `Ali Qari’s commentary on the Bad’ al Amali is a must for every student of knowledge. I, unfortunately, don’t have a copy myself, although I have been looking around for one for a while.

    I did manage to find Abu Bakr al Razi’s commentary on the same work though.

    Anyway, yes, the explanation and conclusion are simply excellent!


  3. Sidi,
    Is there any way I could email you privately?


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