A Basic Overview On Dhahir, Haqiqa, Majaz, and T’awil
The reason for this study, inshallah is to clarify the matter for those who maybe ignorant and wish to learn, to make a detailed account of how to correctly assess theological data in a coherent manner without being obfuscated by polemicists or simply being put off by mere confusion, and to aid that which is congruent with the Sunnah.
The concept of dhahir (obvious), in the language of theology in Islam has gross misconceptions about it which has lead certain polemists to claim inaccurate statements about the creed of their opponents of which they are originally confused and in ignorance about.
What further adds to the complexity of misunderstanding is that pretty much most, if not all, of the ahlul-kalam have taken a non Arabic outlook into the subject. What does that mean? It means that they have conceived of this affair of understanding God’s Attributes and have judged it on the basis of western languages and not upon foundational Arabic.
This confusion has lead many of them to interpret the statements of the imams regarding an interpretation of an ayah, and through their misconception, they have called what they explained as “t’awil” and claimed that their interpretations were “majaz” (metaphorical) when in fact it is just that they have no grasp of the Arabic language and its construct of dhahir.
The Commonly Used Understanding of Dhahir
The Arabic word “dhahir” has been commonly translated since what I like to call “the Englishization of Islamic dawah” in the western hemisphere as “literal”. I do not know if the Arabs of that time understood the implications of this mistake, but nonetheless, it is a mistake by which we seek forgiveness on all those who came before us. The reason why this is a mistake is due to several reasons
1. The Arabic equalivalent of “literal” is “haqiqi” and not “dhahir, which would mean that the Arabic term “dhahir” actually encompasses much more than what was translated as “literal”
2. The English or western understanding of the term ‘literal” has certain connotations, much of it having a negative overtone to it. In other words, when the English speaking person encounters the term literal, there are two views he can grasp from it
A. how it actually is
B. Someone who is dry in intellectual thought i.e. a person who has not gotten it (meaning the context of some speech or articulation of words)
With regard to revelation and divine scriptures, the English speaking person always has, or almost always, has the second implication stated above when it comes to religous scriptures. In other words, within the English speaking world, if you claim to understand a text literally, then that implies to us that you are intellectually devoid (stupid) and you cannot grasp the overall contextual meaning of whatever passage in question and thus you’re intellectually deficient.
With this factual reality in mind, it does more disservice to Islam and the ummah when those who do not understand how the western Englishman views “literal” without any hesitation employs the term “literal” when trying to translate the Arabic phrase the orthodox sunni theologians mandated the Muslim ummah to believe in Allah’s Attributes, that phrase being “ala-dhahiran”.
So the question arises, what is the foundational understanding of Dhahir?
The Foundational Understanding of Dhahir
I will use two very significant statements, both of whom are representatives of the sunni school of creed, the Athari school in the nomenclature of Islamic theology.
Ibn Qudama al-Hanbali says in his famous Dhamm at-Ta’wil:
فإن قيل فقد تأولتم آيات وأخبارا فقلتم في قوله تعالى ( وهو معكم أين ما كنتم ) أي بالعلم ونحو هذا من الآيات والأخبار فيلزمكم ما لزمنا
قلنا نحن لم نتأول شيئا وحمل هذه اللفظات على هذه المعاني ليس بتأويل لأن التأويل صرف اللفظ عن ظاهره وهذه المعاني هي الظاهر من هذه الألفاظ بدليل أنه المتبادر إلى الأفهام منها وظاهر اللفظ هو ما يسبق إلى الفهم منه حقيقة كان أو مجازا
‘If it is said: ‘You made ta’wil of verses and reports, for instance, you said with respect to Allah’s statement: ‘He is with you wherever you are’, meaning: with His knowledge, and the like of these verses and reports, and therefore, your arguments are as much applicable to you as us.
We say: We did not make ta’wil of anything, for to hold such texts in these meanings is not at all ta’wil, because ta’wil is to change the meaning of a word from its dhahir, and what we say here is the dhahir of the wording, that is, what comes first to the mind from that text, irrespective of whether it is haqiqa or majaz.’
Hafidh adh-Dhahabi says in al-‘Uluw:
المتأخرون من أهل النظر قالوا مقالة مولدة ما علمت أحدا سبقهم بها قالوا هذه الصفات تمر كما جاءت ولا تأول مع إعتقاد أن ظاهرها غير مراد فتفرع من هذا أن الظاهر يعني به أمران
أحدهما أنه لا تأويل لها غير دلالة الخطاب كما قال السلف الإستواء معلوم وكما قال سفيان وغيره قراءتها تفسيرها يعني أنها بينة واضحة في اللغة لا يبتغى بها مضائق التأويل والتحريفوهذا هو مذهب السلف مع إتفاقهم أيضا أنها لا تشبه صفات البشر بوجه إذ الباري لا مثل له لا في ذاته ولا في صفاته
الثاني أن ظاهرها هو الذي يتشكل في الخيال من الصفة كما يتشكل في الذهن من وصف البشر فهذا غير مرادفإن الله تعالى فرد صمد ليس له نظير وإن تعددت صفاته فإنها حق
“The latter ones from the speculative theologians (ahl al-nadhar) invented a new belief, I do not know of anyone preceding them in that. They said: ‘These attributes are passed on as they have come and not interpreted (la tu’awwal), while believing that the apparent meaning is not intended (dhahiruha ghayr murad).’
This follows that the apparent meaning (dhahir) could mean two things:
First; that it has no interpretation (ta’wil) except the meaning of the text (dilalat al-khitab), as the Salaf said: ‘The rising (al-Istiwa) is known’, or as Sufyan and others said: ‘Its recitation is in fact its interpretation (tafsir)’ – meaning, it is obvious and clear in the language, such that one should not opt for interpretation (ta’wil) or distortion (tahrif). This is the Madhab of the Salaf, while they all agree that they do not resemble the attributes of human beings in any way. For the Bari has no likeness, neither in His essence, nor in His attributes.
Second; that the literal meaning (dhahir) is what comes to imagination from the attribute, just like an image that is formed in one’s mind of a human attribute. This is certainly not intended, for Allah is single and self-sufficient who has no likeness. Even if He has multiple attributes, they all are true, however, they have no resemblance or likeness”
These two statements are mountains in the implication of their speech.
According to Ahlu-Sunnah, the meaning of dhahir is what is most obvious of the meaning of any phrase or construction of words i.e. what comes first to mind. This is essential to understand because in this definition, this can include a literal interpretation OR, and here is the myth breaker, a metaphorical interpretation. Which type of interpretation it can carry DEPENDS on the entire construct of the phrasal clause being used in the Arabic conveyance. In other words, the meaning is not tied to a word in and of itself in the way that English words may behave. Rather, the meaning of a word is directly tied to the correlation of other words used in a sentence that then isolates the meaning of a word from the range of possible meanings it did hold if it was just used singularly on its own, like for example in a dictionary. One example among the entire Arabic language, and a word directly tied down to this topic of aqida is the Arabic word “istawa“. Many people ignorant in the science will like to quote the famous statement of Qadhi Abu Bakr al-Maliki, the Ash’ari, in which he states “Istawa has 15 different meanings in the Arabic language”, yet somehow overlook that when the word “ala” is added after “istawa”, those 15 meanings are now reduced down to four meanings, which are 1. irtifa’a 2. istiqrar 3. sa’uda and 4. ala all of which mean “rising above” or “settling over”. This is why Arabic terms CANNOT be isolated from the context in which it was conveyed as the phrasal clause in which it was relayed will pinpoint and isolate the meaning from all other general meanings that word once had on its own merit.
It is for this comprehensive definition that it truely reveals that using the English term “literal” is nothing less than a misrepresentation of the Arabic term ‘dhahir’ because you have cut the meaning into half, not to mention de-contextualizing the Arabic construct of the implications of words. That is, how they are used in conjunction with other words that help specify the meaning of a particular word from the range of meanings it has on its own.
Lastly, before moving on, what makes adh-Dhahabi’s elucidation airtight is that he knocks two birds with one stone. His statement also proves that our ithbat (affirmation) of the Attributes of Allah are upon their apparent meaning BUT according to the rules of Arabic language (elucidated in his first point) and NOT according to someone’s imaginations or predilections of dhahir elucidated in his second point. So mistaken bandwagon Ash’aris who like to use the mistakes of the laymen as somehow proof to delegitimize the orthodox methodology of sunni Islam as a means to legitimize their own heterodox ideology will not work here.
So if “literal” is not an accurate depiction of the term “dhahir”, then what is? There are two English words that DO do some justice to the Arabic term “dhahir” and they are
These two words much more accurately describes the intention of the Arabs when they try to translate dhahir rather than using the term “literal”.
In Arabic, metaphor (majaz) has no place. when the construction is
وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ
“and lower to them the wings of humility”
That, to the Arab mind, is quite obvious, and anything that is obvious, for them, is called apparent (dhahir) or what they sometimes mistranslate as “literal”, and such a reality is not called figurative for them, while in English, this is typically viewed to be figurative.
I believe much of this misconstruing, at its core, is the result of one group of people who when they see the word “literal”, then to them it is devoid of any spirit and something taken literally is something “just as is” .
The other group (the Arabs) when they use the word “literal”, they have in mind “that which is clear” and not what the English mind or western mind views as ‘verbatim”. To the Arab, the word literal simply means obvious and clear. With that meaning in mind, even if the meaning of a text seems figurative to the westerner, that same text to the Arab, is quite obvious which is why they use the word literal.
Now, how does this relate to the polemic between the Sunnis and bandwagon Ash’aris.
It is related insomuch as the fact that the Jahmis , their theological forefathers, as well deceptively used the mistaken translation for further validation of their invalid deductions.
So now that we have laid down the established Sunni belief that the term “ala dhahiruha” or “upon its apparent/obvious meaning”, then how does this correlate to Haqiqa and Majaz?
Haqiqa wa Majaz
As is clearly stated by Hafidh Shaykhul-Islam Ibnul-Qudamah al-Hanbali above that he stated the full extent of dhahir is that which comes obvious to the mind IRRESPECTIVE of whether it is haqiqa (literal reality) or majaz (figurative/metaphor).
In other words, the dhahir meaning of an ayah can lead to both a literal reality or a figurative metaphorical usage in the language.
In the Arab thought process, “Haqiqa” in their view is the literal reality, or simply “real”. So when the early Imams stated that the Istiwa of Allah was Haqiqiyyah, then they meant that this actual action of Allah was a true reality i.e. that it actually happened, and they countered the jahmiyyah with this phrase because the ahlul-kalam were saying it was never something that happened, rather it means, and then went on extraneous tangents that made no sense in the context of the Arabic usage employed based on the fact that such words had those meaning in its dictionary-isolated basis. But this is the result of their own ignorance of the Arabic language because words on their own do not give meaning to what is said, rather the entirety of a phrase is what contextualizes words into the meaning that is understood into the Arab mind.
In the modern Arabic language, the concept of “majaz” i.e. metaphor does exists but after it has been laid down by later linguists as to what it pertains to since the early Arab Grammarians and Linguists clearly established that there was no such thing as “majaz” in the Qur’an or in Arabic language as this was a foreign concept that came into the language after the inquisition of neo-platonic thought.
According to the early original Arab Linguists, the original Arabs did not have something called “majaz”. They denied that there was such thing as “majaz” in the language, and thus the Qur’an. The meaning of majaz was interpolated into the language, but the Arabs did not have this in mind early on. Here is a slight yet fundamental reason as to why.
There is a difference between metaphoric words and metaphoric constructs (sentences, phrases)
1) Metaphoric words (majaz).
2) Metaphoric sentences (not majaz).
For example, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, we do not mean: Zaid is an actual fox, the animal. From the context we understand that we are only giving a metaphor of how cunning Zaid is.
This is a metaphoric sentence. This exists in the Quran in abundance. For example:
“And, out of kindness, lower to them (your parents) the wing of humility …”.
Obviously, humility does not have a wing to lower. But from the context we understand: be kind to your parents … etc.
This is not Majaz. from a western point of view, it can be construed as “metaphor”, but it was never understood in the Arabic traditions conveying a “metaphor”. It is not the point of dispute between people of Sunnah and people of Bid’ah.
Metaphoric words (not Majaz):
Again, when we say: “Zaid is a fox”, notice that the word fox does not mean anything other than: fox; the animal. The word fox does not mean cunning in and of itself. The entire sentence means: Zaid is cunning. But the word fox still means: fox; the animal.
In the example of: “lower the wing of humility”, we see that the word “wing” does not mean anything other than the well known wing, (as in a bird’s wing).
What people of Bid’ah say is that the words themselves have an apparent meaning, and multiple differing meanings (majazi meaning). This is to help them in saying things such as “Yad” means: ability, self … etc.
Ahlu-Sunnah disagree, words can only have one or several meanings, and a set meaning can only be dictated by the construction of a group of words that imply a certain context. That is why in the ayah where Allah says about His Hands (bi yadahu)
“….Nay, they are both widely outstretched” then its MOST OBVIOUS MEANING is its English figurative rendering of it, which is that of His bounty is unlimited.
However, in another ayah using the same word “yad” in bi yada’a, Allah says
“…….whom We have created with My Hands”
the obvious meaning in this ayah clearly points to its “literal” actual meaning and rendering of it, that Allah created Adam with His actual i.e. Hands, and not through “power” as Ash’aris like to assert, for it thats what it did mean, the Iblis would have had a valid argument against Allah wa iyadhubillah. Had the meaning been distorted to “power”, or any other figurative meaning that Ash’aris assert, then Iblis could have responded back to Allah “but you created all things through your power“. But that was NOT the point of the verse Allah is informing us about His conversation with Iblis. The point of Allah demonstrating to Iblis of why Adam held such a lofty station enough to mandate him to prostrate to among creation DIFFERENT from His other creatures was to demonstrate that the difference was that He created all creatures with the power of “kun fayakun” i.e. “be, and it is”. Whereas with Adam, it was not just that simple, rather Allah took special care of Adam to literally fashion him Himself with His Own Hands, thus making him worthy of receiving prostration. So, if the Ash’aris were right in their misguided belief that the verse alluded to His “Power”, then all of this precise argument Allah had against Iblis would have been negated and Iblis would have actually a valid argument against Allah! However, coming back to the point of all of this is, how the meaning changed is PRECISELY locked in the rules of Arabic sciences!
This is a major reason that caused Imam ash-Shafi’ee (d. 204H) saying, as reported by as-Suyuti in Sawn al-Mantiq (1/47-48):
ماجهل الناس ولااختلفوا إلا لتركهم لسان العرب وميلهم إلى لسان ارسطوطاليس
“The people did not become ignorant and nor differ (with each other) except due to their abandonment of the language of the Arabs and their inclination to the language of Aristotle”
The entire point of Shafi’is statement here is magnificent in that he is presenting a paradigm shift that occurred due to the introduction of alien ideology in the realm of language. Ignorance did not become an issue except that the result for this ignorance was differing and the cause of that ignorance was in people departing the orthodox method of understanding the Qur’an through its own language and rules and adopted an alien ideology to interpret the Qur’an. This is what we view the people of Kalam as adopting.
The definition of t’awil in the language of the theologians is different than the language of the Fuqaha. This definition is VITAL because it is the key to one of the most common mistakes in theology held today by bandwagon Ash’aris. In the language of the Fuqaha, t’awil simply means to derive an explanation of a stated speech, pretty much synonymous to the term “tafsir”.
The problem here lies in the ignorance that bandwagon Ash’aris have of this concept. We as well have a problem among some Salafis who have a mistaken notion that the extent of Ash’arism is mere t’awil itself.
T’awil in the language of the theologians is just as Hafidh Ibn Qudamah stated above which is
“to change the meaning of a word from its dhahir meaning“
In other words, it is to distort (tahrif) the meaning of a word from its most obvious established meaning in the Arabic language and apply far-fetched or baseless meanings that the Arabic language did not establish for such terms.
Now, someone might contend with this definition and argue against us that “this is coming from Ibnul-Qudamah who was an Athari. He cannot be relied upon to delineate or convey Ash’ari doctrine precisely. That is fine. But this idea, to the dismay of bandwagon Ash’aris comes directly from top Ash’ari mutakalimun themselves. We do not need to rely on Ibnul-Qudamah for this.
The great Ash’ari mutakalim Sayfu-Deen al-‘Amidi explains what t’awil means in the science of Ash’ari doctrine
صرف اللفض من الاهتمال الراجه إلى الاهتمال المرجوه
“Ta’wil is (It means): ‘The diversion of an expression from the preponderant – or probable – interpretation to the outweighed – or improbable – interpretation”.
al-Amidi, al-Ihkam 3:279
If one understands and knows theological sciences, one reading this will be floored. What al-‘Amidi is admitting to here, is that t’awil is the business of taking the apparent meaning of what Allah is saying in the Qur’an and to then go off on a tangent to an improbable and UNLIKELY interpretation of what Allah actually meant. THIS is the NATURE of t’awil, kalam t’awil that is! What many bandwagon Ash’aris commonly get mistaken is that they think offering a t’awil is merely offering an “interpretation”. That is the non theological meaning that is understood in other Islamic sciences, but has no place in the science of theology (aqida).
Before moving along, I would also like to add one more clarification Hafidh Ibn Rajb al-Hanbali made on this very point regarding Ash’ari t’awil. In his Fath al-Bari, he says
وزعموا أن ما ورد في الكتاب والسنة من ذلك – مع كثرته وأنتشاره – من باب التوسع والتجوز ، وأنه يحمل على مجازات اللغة المستبعدة ، وهذا من أعظم أبواب القدح في الشريعة المحكمة المطهرة، وهو من جنس حمل الباطنية نصوص الإخبار عن الغيوب كالمعاد والجنةوالنار على التوسع والمجاز دون الحقيقة ، وحملهم نصوص الامروالنهي على مثل ذلك ،وهذا كله مروق عن دين الإسلام
“They claimed that what has been mentioned of that in the Book and the Sunnah – as plentiful and widespread as (such texts) are – are just examples of approximate, allegorical speech (al-tawassu’ wal-tajawwuz). They are to be understood according to farfetched metaphorical explanations. This is one of the gravest forms of attack on the precise, pure Shari’ah. It is similar to the Batiniyyah’s interpretations of the texts concerning unseen matters such as Resurrection, Paradise, Hellfire as being allegorical and metaphorical rather than literal. They also interpret the texts of commands and prohibitions in a similar manner, and all of this constitutes renegading from the religion of Islam.”
So how do we convey this form of t’awil to an English audience easy for them to understand the nature of such a theological malpractice towards Islam? Well, here is an example and logic of Ash’ari t’awil brought in a comparable way to the English speaking audience.
Lets take a common idiomatic usage of today
“Come back down to earth”
figurative meaning= be real, not big headed / Literal= really, come back down to earth. Keep in mind that this breakdown is in English.
Now, lets take an Islamic concept.
“Istiwaa alal Arsh”
figurative=His Majesty and Power was established/ Literal=Really Rose Above Throne
Again, this breakdown is in English
However when their predecessors gave the explanation of it as “He took control” it does not fall into even the figurative, much less the literal.
As for the istiwaa lal-arsh and its division I mentioned above, both are to the Arab, dhahir, its apparent meaning of the verse
NOW, let me show you where this t’awil comes into play
When the Jahmis say that
“istiwa alal arsh = He took control
Then comparable to the other speech conveying the English saying
‘Come back down to earth” would = He Conquered the earth
So quite literally “He took control” is a distortion and giving an UNLIKELY meaning of “istiwaa alal arsh” just as “He conquered the earth” is a distortion of “Come back down to earth”. This is precisely the nature of Ash’ari t’awil towards the subject matter of Allah’s Attributes and their interpretations given by the mutakalimun.
No one in the English speaking world considers “He conquered the earth” to be the figurative meaning of “Come back down to earth” JUST AS no rightfully educated Arab considers “he took control” to be the figurative meaning of istiwa alal arsh, rather both parties would view such meanings to be distortions of what the text actually says and or implies.
That is because the Ash’aris and their forefathers failed to grasp the Arabic language in the manner that the Arabs had viewed.
In essence, t’awil in the language of the Sunni theologians is to give meanings to words (not sentences) to change the overall nature and meaning of versus that is not even figurative language, but meanings that don’t make sense even to Arabs. Thus t’awil in aqidah concerning sifat (The subject of Allah’s Attributes) is to land the person into a far-fetched meaning that the Quran or Sunnah did not intend to land its reader upon.
T’awil in reality becomes either one of 4 realities as is established by many of the hufadh in Islam.
1. tahrif (distortion of meanings or drifting off to a distorted tangent)
2. t’atil (negtion and denial)
3. tamdhil (believing that the attributes of Allah are like of the creatures in likeness: also similar to tashbeeh)
4. Takyif (giving a how or similitude to Allah with created things. similar to tashbih)
This is the established Sunni “Athari” conceptual breakdown of what t’awil is when applied to the textual reports concerning the Attributes of Allah. What does that mean? That means that anyone partaking to t’awil will always fall into t’atil, tahrif, tamdhil, or takyif or a combination of the four in some way or form because when people perform t’awil to the Attributes of Allah, they are actually speaking about Allah without knowledge, and when it is practiced, then it will inevitably lead the practicioner of t’awil to either distort the original meaning of the textual report, or he will negate the obvious meaning of the textual report (actually the t’atil of ahlul-kalaam is all based on their tahrif of the texts), or he will compare Allah with a similitude to something created whether it be to objects or to human theory and intellectual concepts, or he will fall into takyif in comparing Allah to actual physical beings and compare His Actions with theirs in the same form that such actions are carried out.
This is what the salaf had left their legacy to the ummah concerining the Attributes. They did not remark on “tajsim” or “tashbih” as these were later terms that could have different meanings to the one who employs them thus adding confusion to the topic.
The Blunders of making T’awil in Sifat
Ibnul-Qayyim in this Sawa’iq al-Mursala, does a superb job in explaining the theological blunders mu’awilla do with their t’awil.
Under the section of false t’awils
The First: [A ta’wil] that the word cannot plausibly allow on account of the way it is composed (in the sentence), such as making ta’wil of his (ﷺ) saying, “…until the Lord of Honor places His Foot (Rijlahu) over it…” “it” meaning the hellfire. [Sahih: Bukhari (8/595 – Fath ul-Bari), Muslim (4/2186,2187)], that the word “ar-rijl” refers to “a group of people”, since this is not known at all in the language of the Arabs.
The Second: [A ta’wil] that the word cannot allow on account of its specific construction in the dual or plural form – even though it may allow it in its singular form, such as the ta’wil of His saying, “…to whom I have created with both My Hands” (Sad 38:75), to mean “qudrah” (power).
The Third: [A ta’wil] that the word cannot allow on account of it’s sequence and composition (in the sentence) – even though it may allow it in a different sequence (in a sentence), such as the ta’wil of His saying, “Do they wait for anything other than that the Angels should come to them, or that your Lord should come, or that some of the signs of Your Lord should come…” (al- An’aam 6:158), that the coming (ityaan) of the Lord means the coming of some of His signs (aayaat), which are actually His command (amr). However, the sequence of the sentence rejects this completely, for it is impossible for it to be carried to mean that, on account of the division, repetition, and categorisation that occurs in the verse (i.e. that the Angels, and Allah, and the Signs will come, and the word “come” being repeated for all three).
And like the ta’wil of his saying, “Verily, you will see your Lord with your eyes, just like you see the full moon on a clear night, without there being any clouds, and just like you see the sun on an afternoon, without there being any clouds”[sahih: Bukhari (13/419,420,421 – Fath ul-Bari), Muslim (1/167) – and the hadith has been reported by 30 companions]. So making ta’weel of the vision (the seeing) that has been mentioned in this particular sequence of words with something that opposes its reality, and its apparent meaning is completely impossible, and it is in reality rejection and denial (of the text) but which is being concealed as “ta’wil” by the one who does this.
The Fourth: That [ta’wil of a word] whose usage has never been authored (i.e. written) with that particular meaning in the language of the speaker, even though it may have been authored (with that meaning) due to a later convention. And this is a matter in which many people have erred, and in which their understandings have strayed, in that they made ta’wil of many of the words that occur in the texts with a meaning that has never been written for that word at all in the language of the Arabs, even though it may have been used in the convention of the later scholars. And this is something that needs to be pointed out as much lying has been made against Allaah and His Messenger on account of it.
So for example, a group made ta’wil of His saying, “…but when it (the star) set (afala)…” (al-An’aam 6:76), to mean “harakah” (movement), and then they said, “He (i.e. Ibrahim) argued that on account of its movement (harakah) it cannot have Ruboobiyyah (i.e. be the Lord) [since harakah (movement) is not permitted for Allah]. And this is completely unknown in the language in which the Qur’an was revealed – not even in a single place [in the body of oral and written Arabic tradition, has it occurred] that ufool (setting) is actually harakah (movement).
Likewise, the ta’wil of “al-Ahad” (the One) to mean that it is the thing, one part of which cannot be distinguished from another. Then they said that if He (Allah) was above the Throne, He would not then have been One (Ahad). So the ta’wil of “al-Ahad” with this particular meaning is not known to a single Arab, and nor to the people of the language, and nor has its usage with this meaning known to have occurred in a single place in the language of the people, rather it is the convention of the Jahmiyyah, the Philosophers and the Mu’tazilah and whoever agreed with them.
And also like the ta’wil of His saying, “…then he ascended (istawa) over the Throne” (al-A’raaf 7:54), that the meaning is “he then embarked upon (turned to) creating the ‘Arsh”, for this is not known in the language of the Arabs, rather not in the language of any of the other nations, that when someone “turns to something” that it is said “he made istiwa (ascension) over it”. So it is not said to the one who stood to embark upon a journey, “he has made istiwaa over it”, and nor to the one who embarked upon any action, such as reading or writing, or constructing something, that “he made istiwaa over them”, or to the one who turned towards food that “he made istiwaa over the food”. So this is the language of the people, and their words and their customs are present, and yet none of this (type of speech) exists at all.
We will not discuss the topic of Tafwid in this piece as that topic is by itself a gargantuan matter that may be longer than this brief synopsis of the matter at hand. We will dedicate a separate study, possibly multiple articles to tackle the confusion tied with it even within sunni circles.