On the Difference Between Muhdath and Makhluq: Intermediate Readings Between Sunnism and Asharism

 

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A investigation into the sound creed of ahlu-sunnah wal-jama’ah in response to the kalam based argument that what is muhdath is ipso facto makhluq

 

• The Ash’ari Argument of Muhdath

In the view of the Ash’aris professed by the modern Mutakalimoon, muhdath is synonymous with Makhluq

To dispel this erroneous stance developed by the groups of kalam most notably among ash’aris, we quote from the famed Imam, Alamah Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri from his celebrated commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, “Fayd al-Bari” where he notes the dichotomy between hadath and makhluq

The Arabic text :

نعم، كلام المصنف ليس إلا في اللفظي، ومع ذلك تلك الحوادث القائمة ليست مخلوقة. واستبعد الحافظ: فقال: إن في إثبات حدوثها، ونفي كونها مخلوقة تناقضا، لأنه لا فرق بين الحادث والمخلوق.

قلتُ: وهذا إنما نشأ من عدم اطلاعه على اصطلاح القدماء، فإن المخلوق عندهم هو المحدث المنفصل، أما إذا كان قائما لفاعله، فلا يقال له: إنه مخلوق. وهذا عين اللغة، فإنك تقول: قام زيد، وقعد عمرو، ولا تقول: خلق زيد القيام، وخلق عمرو القعود، وذلك لأن القيام والقعود، وإن كانا حادثين، إلا أنهما ليسا بمنفصلين عن زيد، وعمرو، فالشيء إذا قام بفاعله، فهو حادث غير مخلوق.

والعجب من الحافظ حيث خفي عليه هذا الاصطلاح الجلي، فإن بين اللفظين بونا بعيدا. ألا ترى أن المحدث قد أطلقه القرآن بنفسه، فقال تعالى:

{ما يأتيهم من ذكر من ربهم محدث}…إلخ (الأنبياء:2)

وأما المخلوق، فقد نقل عن أبي حنيفة وصاحبيه: أن من قال بخلق القرآن فقد كفر، هكذا نقله البيهقي في كتاب “الأسماء والصفات”. فالمحدث ورد في القرآن، وإطلاق المخلوق أفضى إلى الكفر.

وإذا دريت الفرق بينهما، هان عليك إطلاق الحاديث على القرآن، مع نفي المخلوق عنه، ولم يبق بينهما تناقض.

The Translation:

“Yes, the statement of the author (i.e. al-Bukhari) is only about the uttered word ([kalam] Lafdhi), and even with that, those subsisting hawadith (i.e. occurrences of speech) are not created. And al-Hafidh (i.e. Ibn Hajr) ruled this out, saying:

‘In affirming its hudooth (i.e. un-eternity; having a starting point; a new occurence), and negating it being created, is contradiction, because there is no difference between what is hadeth (un-eternal; an incident/occurrence) and created’.

I (al-Kashmiri) said: This has occurred due to his unawareness of the terminology of the early scholars, because what is created, in their view, is the uneternal that is separate (al-hadeth al-munfasel), but if it is subsisting in its doer, then it is not called: created.

And this is the very essence of the [arabic] language; for you say: “Zayd stood” and “Amr sat”, and you don’t say: “Zayd created standing”, nor “Amr created sitting”, and that is because standing and sitting, although occurrences/incidents (hadeth), are not separate from Zayd and Amr. When a thing is subsisting in its doer, then it is an uncreated occurrence (hadeth ghayru makhluq).

And it is surprising from the Hafidh [Ibn Hajr] that this clear terminology was hidden from him, because between these two words there is a very big difference; do you not see that “al-muhdath” (i.e. un-eternal; new) was a term used by the Quran itself, Allah Ta’ala said: {Never cometh there unto them a new (muhdath) reminder from their Lord … } [21:2]. As for [the term] “created”, then it has been transmitted that Abu Hanifah and his two companions [said] that whoever says of the creation of the Quran, then he has disbelieved. This is how al-Bayhaqi transmitted it in the book “Al-Asma wa Sifat”.

So [the term] “al-Muhdath” was used in the Quran, and applying [the term] makhluq (i.e. created) leads to disbelief. Thus, if you know/understand the difference between them, it becomes easier for you to use the word “hadath” in the Quran, while negating creation from it, and there becomes no contradiction between them.”

what Imam Kashmiri highlighted above was a perfect breakdown in eloquence in correcting a mistaken notion that Hafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani advocated in his Fath al-Bari, which happened to be in sync with the Ash’ari school of thought.

Ash’ari Contention as expressed by Abu Adam an-Nuruiji

He says

Being an event and being created is the same

1. The Ĥuruufiyyah insist that Aļļaah’s attribute of Kalaam/Speech is sounds and letters, and has a beginning, but is not created. They have the curious idea that not all events are created. This has no basis in the Arabic language or the terminology of the Salaf; they saw no difference between saying “event” and “created.” In this regard, Al-Bayhaqiyy narrated in Al-Asmaa’ Wa-ş-Şifaat that Wakiiˆ said:

“The Qur’aan (i.e. what the Arabic words and letters refer to) is the Speech/ Kalaam of Aļļaah (i.e. His eternal attribute), and it is not created. So the one that says it is created has disbelieved in Aļļaah.” In another narration he said,

The one that says the Qur’aan is created has said it has a beginning, and the one that says it has a beginning has blasphemed [10].” The same was narrated by Adħ-Dħahabiyy [11][12]

2. What the Salaf understood from “create”

The Salaf spoke Arabic. In other words, by looking up the definition of create, we can tell what the Salaf meant when they said, “the Qur’aan is not created.” Did they mean that it is an event and was brought into existence, but not created, as the Ĥuruufiyyah claim? Or did they mean that the Qur’aan is not brought into existence, because it is not an event, thus has no need for a creator?

The authoritative imam of Arabic linguistics Ibn Faaris[2] said in Maqaayiisu-l-Lugħah: “(The root) kħ-l-q has two basic meanings (that all its derived words, such as kħalaqa – to create – come from) one of them is to specify, the other is smoothness[3].”[4]

The linguists Ibn Manţħuur[5] in Lisaanu-l-ˆArab [6], and Az-Zabiidiyy[7] in Taaju-l-ˆAruus [8] narrate from the imaam of Arabic, Al-’Azhariyy: “Among the attributes of Aļļaah is “the Creator” (Al-Kħaaliq and Al-Kħallaaq), and He is the one that brought everything into existence after it being non-existent, and the root meaning of the word kħalq is specifying, so He is in the sense of what gets existence from Him the one that specified it, and in the sense of bringing into existence according to the specification, the one that created it[9].”

In the Arabic language then, to create is to bring into existence according to specification. Clearly then, there is no difference between saying “created” or “event,” because whatever did not exist must be brought into existence to become and event. Otherwise it would remain non-existent. The Ĥuruufiyyah want to convince us that Aļļaah brings sounds into existence in Himself and then lets them out. They want to convince us that bringing something into existence with the specification of “in the world” is called “created”, while specifying in “the the Creator for this,” is called “event.” But there is no difference here except the specification, and creating is to bring into existence according to specification in Arabic, so this is a baseless claim.

 

Athari response to this jahmi absurdity is as follows

1. The first blunder that Abu Adam asserts is

The Ĥuruufiyyah insist that Aļļaah’s attribute of Kalaam/Speech is sounds and letters, and has a beginning, but is not created. They have the curious idea that not all events are created. This has no basis in the Arabic language or the terminology of the Salaf; they saw no difference between saying “event” and “created.”

He demonstrates his lack of reason in trying to make incompatibles to join together in the second part of his contention as highlighted above, so the more detailed explanation inshallah will be brought when we get to the second aspect of the Jahmi contention.

However, to wipe his delusional theory to waste. Imam al-Bukhari, a member of the community of the salaf, nay the leading component of the legacy and doctrine of the salaf, the Ahlu-sunnah wal-Jama’ah says in his Sahih in explanation of the statements of Allah

بَاب قَوْلِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى { كُلَّ يَوْمٍ هُوَ فِي شَأْنٍ } وَ { مَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِنْ ذِكْرٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ مُحْدَثٍ } وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى { لَعَلَّ اللَّهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ أَمْرًا }

then al-Bukharee says in unequivocal or purely explicit terms the following

وَأَنَّ حَدَثَهُ لَا يُشْبِهُ حَدَثَ الْمَخْلُوقِينَ لِقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى { لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ }

i.e.

And the fact of the matter is, is that what occurs/emanates from Him (hadithuhu) is not like the occurrences/emanations of the creatures just as Allah says {there is nothing like Him and He is the One who Hears with Absolute Perfection and the One who Sees with Absolute Perfection}

Thus, Because of the fact that Allah, in the Qur’an Affirmed that the Qur’an was muhdath from Him, then Imam al-Bukhari affirmed that what is muhdath to Allah is UNLIKE the muhdath of the creatures based on laysa kamithlihi shay.

2. Abu Adam continues with his misguided notion by demonstrating a statement made by our own Athari Imam Wake’e ibnul-Jarrah, the Shaykh of Malik, regarding the topic. He says

In this regard, Al-Bayhaqiyy narrated in Al-Asmaa’ Wa-ş-Şifaat that Wakiiˆ said:

“The Qur’aan (i.e. what the Arabic words and letters refer to) is the Speech/ Kalaam of Aļļaah (i.e. His eternal attribute), and it is not created. So the one that says it is created has disbelieved in Aļļaah.” In another narration he said,

“The one that says the Qur’aan is created has said it has a beginning, and the one that says it has a beginning has blasphemed [10].” The same was narrated by Adħ-Dħahabiyy

I wish to focus on the second narration.

One of the sympathizers who argued in defense of what Abu Adam stated from the statement of Wake’e along with his interpretation thus we will combine the two as one (in order to knock out two birds with one stone) and then offer the proper Athari breakdown of the absurdity offered by the opponents to the Athari Aqeedah

Quote:

Original Arabic of the statement of Wakiy’:

عن وكيع ، قال : من زعم أن القرآن مخلوق ، فقد زعم أن القرآن محدث ، ومن زعم أن القرآن محدث فقد كفر

Translation of the statement of Wakiy’:

“Whoever claims that the Quran is Makhluq (created) has claimed that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) and whoever claims that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) has disbelieved”

 

The explanatoon of this sympathizer is as follows

Musa’s perception (of the Speech of Allah) was Muhdath.

But the Speech of Allah is not Muhdath, as evidenced by the statements of Ahmad and Wakiy’

and

No – in his decisive language Wakiy’ did not leave any room for alternative interpretations, as you would expect from a judgment of Takfir.

To say that he uses the terms “Makluq” and “Muhdath” synonymously doesn’t make sense, because he uses the terms in clear distinction

Athari Response

1. There is no “decisive language” in the statement of Wake’e for the simple fact that the original statement made was uttered based on the context of whom the speech is directed towards. In other words, the individuals who used  the statement of Wake’e against the people of ahlul-hadith wal-athar that Allah speaks when He wills (linguistically being muhdath) is like the erroneous deductions of Muhammad bin Yahya adh-Dhulahi and a party of those who followed him who misconstrued the fatwa of Imam Ahmad to imply that al-Bukhari believed that the Qur’an is in fact created.

Thus, the way that adh-Dhuhali either misconstrued or deceptively construed the statement of Ahmad which was

whoever says that the recitation is created is a Jahmi

to mean that “the actions of the slaves are created” which was the statement of al-Bukhari and which was the basis for adh-Dhuhali to declare al-Bukhari a Jahmi, is LIKE how these Jahmis, and their sympathizers misconstrued the statement of Wake’e regarding his statement on muhdath.

lets map it out real quick for easier understanding

the statement of Ahmad

Whoever says that the recitation is created is a Jahmi

Context= Ahmad believes that the actions of the servants are created and he also knows that our recital is an action, thus, his fatwa is NOT to be understood that the one who declares the recitation is a Jahmi but rather his statement is ONLY to be aimed at those who ALREADY believe the Qur’an to be created and who used a scape goat argument which was the “the recital” known as “the issue of al-Lafdh” to escape criticism, but their statement means in their view that the Qur’an is created, thus it is applicable to the one who views the Qur’an is created ONLY, and not the one who believes that the Qur’an is uncreated.

The statement of Wake’e

“Whoever claims that the Quran is Makhluq (created) has claimed that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) and whoever claims that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) has disbelieved”

Context= Wake’e believes, like the typical athari that he is, that Allah speaks when He Wills, which is linguistically called in the arabic language, “muhdath”. Yet, when the Jahmiyyah utilized “muhdath”, they intended with this “makhluq” just as they intended with “lafdhi” i.e. my recitation as “created” intending by this the Qur’an. Thus his statement, like Ahmad’s, can ONLY be applicable to the one who believes in the createdness of the Qur’an, not the one who views the Qur’an to be uncreated.

Thus, the claim “his statement does not leave room for alternative interpretations” is nothing more than a delusion set up by the sympathizer to prove a superficial form of atharism unfounded and unaccepted by Atharis as a whole.

2. Moreover, what further delineates the ignorance of the Jahmi sympathizer in concluding that the statement of Wake’e was somehow “decisive” in its language regarding the judgment of takfir, for the takfir was clearly based on the wasf (situation). In other words, a general ruling is made by which tafsil (specification) has to be administered in order to weed out what does not fall into the hukm FROM that which DOES fall into the hukm that Wake’e gave.

3. Furthermore, the ultimate repudiation is demonstrated here with regards to lack of brain usage by the Mutakalimun and their sympathizers. the mutakalim problem is one of irrationality. The way their interpretation is set up is in understanding the statement of Wake’ee in reverse. Let us demonstrate the absurdity of their reasoning.

Wake’ee Ibnul-Jarrah LITERALLY said this

: من زعم أن القرآن مخلوق ، فقد زعم أن القرآن محدث ، ومن زعم أن القرآن محدث فقد كفر

i.e.

“Whoever claims that the Quran is Makhluq (created) has claimed that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) and whoever claims that the Quran is Muhdath (with beginning) has disbelieved”

and this is the position of the Atharis.

However, for Jahmis and their sympathizers, they understood the narration in reverse as if Wakee’e was trying to say (according to their delusion)

من زعم أن القرآن محدث ، فقد زعم أن القرآن مخلوق ، ومن زعم أن القرآن محدث فقد كفر

i.e.

“Whoever claims that the Qur’an is MUHDATH (emergent) has claimed that the Qur’an is MAKHLUQ (created)”

In actuality, Wake’ee is stating here in his original phrase that when someone views the Qur’an as being muhdath from the aspect of being makhluq, then he has committed kufr. This is demonstrated by the fact that Wake’ee initiated the refutation of the Jahmi argument with their own statement beginning with “makhluq” and NOT “muhdath” for it is a theological impossibility to initiate the statement by saying “whoever views the Qur’an as muhdath has viewed the Qur’an to be Makhlooq”. Yet, this is how the Jahmis and their sympathizers went about in understanding his statement and hence proceeded to bash the people of the Sunnah based on this faulty premise.

Anyways, the delusional Jahmis see the statement in reverse and interpret the statement of Wake’e as if Wake’e is claiming that the one who views the Qur’an as Muhdath has viewed that it is Makhluq, which is a distortion of the actual statement of Wake’ee and beyond the boundaries of Wake’e’s actual intent behind the statement originally directed to uproot the Jahmi doctrine of the Qur’an being a creation.

2. Athari response to the second Jahmi contention regarding linguistics

What the Salaf understood from “create”

The Salaf spoke Arabic. In other words, by looking up the definition of create, we can tell what the Salaf meant when they said, “the Qur’aan is not created.” Did they mean that it is an event and was brought into existence, but not created, as the Ĥuruufiyyah claim? Or did they mean that the Qur’aan is not brought into existence, because it is not an event, thus has no need for a creator?

The authoritative imam of Arabic linguistics Ibn Faaris[2] said in Maqaayiisu-l-Lugħah: “(The root) kħ-l-q has two basic meanings (that all its derived words, such as kħalaqa – to create – come from) one of them is to specify, the other is smoothness[3].”[4]

This does not warrant a serious reply because his deduction here has nothing to do with muhdath. All he does is to quote the essence of khalaqa and none of the proofs brought by the grammarians he is quoting made any connection to muhdath, which is a connection that this ignorant ash’ari is trying to build together.

furthermore he tries to pull a fast one on the Muslims by further stating

The linguists Ibn Manţħuur[5] in Lisaanu-l-ˆArab [6], and Az-Zabiidiyy[7] in Taaju-l-ˆAruus [8] narrate from the imaam of Arabic, Al-’Azhariyy: “Among the attributes of Aļļaah is “the Creator” (Al-Kħaaliq and Al-Kħallaaq), and He is the one that brought everything into existence after it being non-existent, and the root meaning of the word kħalq is specifying, so He is in the sense of what gets existence from Him the one that specified it, and in the sense of bringing into existence according to the specification, the one that created it

He tries to ensnare the reader into believing that the narration of this definition, al-Azhari, is defining “khalaq” as “bringing into existence after non existence” however, this is a non pivotal phrasal clause of al-Azhari himself which is not pertinent to the actual definition he is giving which in reality is the statement in bold, and not the statement underlined.

FURTHER more, Abu Adam is simply employing deception. WHY? because the argument that Abu Adam is SUPPOSED to be advocating against us is in our argument that which is that

everything that is makhluq is muhdath, but not everything that is muhdath is makhlooq

.

In other words, the people of Sunnah, the Ahlul-Hadith wal-Athar opine that what is makhluq is indeed what is muhdath, but not all that is muhdath is as well makhluq for muhdath is general to makhluq whereas makhluq is more specific. Thus, it is of no consequence for any of us “wahabis” in Abu Adam trying to prove that khalaqa is indeed what is muhdath, for we already concede to this and is not the argument of the people of Islam as advocated by ahlul-athar.

Thus for arguments sake, even if al-Azhari is opining to the definition of khalaqa as being muhdath, there is no contention here for this is our position and he is stating this as a moot point into trying to make the reader believe that we hold the Qur’an as being created like him and his own Jahmi co-madhabists.

Abu Adam further demonstrates his irrationality by stating

In the Arabic language then, to create is to bring into existence according to specification. Clearly then, there is no difference between saying “created” or “event,” because whatever did not exist must be brought into existence to become and event. Otherwise it would remain non-existent. The Ĥuruufiyyah want to convince us that Aļļaah brings sounds into existence in Himself and then lets them out. They want to convince us that bringing something into existence with the specification of “in the world” is called “created”, while specifying in “the Creator for this,” is called “event.” But there is no difference here except the specification, and creating is to bring into existence according to specification in Arabic, so this is a baseless claim.

Either Abu Adam has a deficiency in understanding, or he is a clever liar for the truthful statement “to create is to bring into existence according to specification” is NOT THE SAME as “created” and “event” as being synonymous.

Moreover, reality, particularly Allah’s reality, IS NOT CONFINED to creations reality and its properties. The fact that

whatever did not exist must be brought into existence to become an event

is only an Aristotelian deduction of empirical study. We as Muslims can apply this principle to creatures, but we are forbidden to apply this principle to Allah. We do not call Allah speaking to Musa @ Mount Tur AS something brought into existence as an event by which it is created.

WHY, because Allah’s speech comes from HIM, and because He is uncreated, then this also entails that His literal speech, which the creation can literally hear, is ALSO uncreated because our athari rule based on the statement of Hafidh al-Khatib is that discussion concerning the sifat is a branch concerning discussing the Essence of Allah.

Moreover, he ends his statement with the same inapplicable deduction, that being that creating is to bring a muhdath, which is not the contention of this discussion.

Further Support from the Ahlul-Hadeeth wal-Athar from the Salaf who affirms that the Qur’an came out from Him (Allah)

Allah’s Speech comes out from His Essence, and whatever comes from Allah’s Essence is not created, because Allah is not created, exalted be He.

While muhdath that is creation does not come from Allah’s Essence, it is separate from Allah, it is a separate entity.

نقض الإمام أبي سعيد عثمان بن سعيد – (1 / 549)

وإنه لا يقاس روح الله وبيت الله وعبد الله المجسمات المخلوقات القائمات المستقلات بأنفسهن اللاتي كن بكلام الله وأمره لم يخرج شيء منها

من الله ككلامه الذي خرج منه لأن هذا المخلوق قائم بنفسه وعينه وحليته وجسمه لا يشك أحد في شيء منها أنه غير الله وأنه ليس شيء منها لله صفة

A rough not word-by-word translation of what Uthman Ad-Darmi (d. 280 AH) says in his “Naqd” (1/549) :

It, the speech of Allah, is not to be compared to the house of Allah or slave of Allah ..etc. which are creations, existing by itself, meaning that it is separate from Allah Azza wa Jal, and were created by Allah’s command and speech (i.e. Kun/Be), nothing from it came out from Him (Allah)- exalted be He- like His Speech did, which came out from Him (Allah), because this creation is a separate entity, no one doubts that it is not Allah, and nothing of it is an Attribute of Allah’s.

 

قال إسحاق بن راهويه: ليس بين أهل العلم اختلاف أن القرآن كلام الله ليس بمخلوق، وكيف يكون شئ خرج من الرب، عزوجل، مخلوقا ؟ !

Ishaq bin Rahwaih (d. 238 AH) said:

There is no disagreement between the people of knowledge that the Quran is the Speech of Allah, not created; And how can something that came out (kharaja) from the Lord -Azza wa Jal- be created?!”

(source: Uluw by Adh-Dhahabi, who transmitted it from Ibn Abi Hatim’s book “Ar-Rad ala al Jahmiyah” with an authentic chain)

So anything that comes from Allah’s Essence is not created, while what is not from Allah’s Essence, and is separate from Him Ta’ala: is created.

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal rahimahullah explained the meaning of “minhu kharaja” (from Him it emerged) saying:

منه خرج: هو المتكلم به

From Him it emerged: He is the One who Spoke it.

(Sahih; narrated by Abu Bakr al-Khallal in his book “As-Sunnah”)

Thus to conclude with the summary of the belief of ahlu-sunnah in contradistinction with the Ash’ari belief, not every muhdath (what emerges, some occurrence, incident) is created, while every creation is muhdath (has a beginning).

Further resources

The self-contradictions of the Ash`aris re: Hawaadith:

http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vb/showthread.php?t=207342

تناقضات الأشعرية (12) : في مسألة حلول الحوادث في الله تعالى

Accidents (Hawaadith) is something that even the Ash’aris must believe in by the admission of ar-Razi!

http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vb/showthread.php?t=178192

قرر الرازي أن القول بحلول الحوادث يلزم جميع الطوائف بمن فيهم الأشاعرة