Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

1. Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_notes on Tawhid and Iman

The Fundamentals of Tawhid and Iman

_Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar – pp.31-33

Section: Fiqh al-Akbar: “asl al-tawhid… kullu haqq.”


  • This is a section on the reality of Divine Oneness.[1]
  • Tawhid, non-technically, means to declare something is ‘one’ and to know it is one.
  • Technically, it means to expunge the Divine Essence (tajrid al-dhat al-ilahiyyah) of all that the intellect thinks about Allah or delusional, fanciful and whimsical notions of the mind about Allah.[2]
  • Allah is ‘One’ negates the divisibility of His Essence (dhat) and negation of His attributes (sifat).
  • The term i`tiqad here means: a) = knowledge (`ilm) that is a definite judgment that does not allow for doubt (hukm jazim la yaqbalu al-tashkik). It can also mean: b) definite judgment that does allow for doubt; c) = synonymous with opinion (zann); d) = synonymous with mere belief and e) preponderant opinion (zann al-ghalib) without an opposition or antithesis (naqid).[3]

Point: Abu Hanifah gave no proof for the existence of Allah. This is because he felt the matter was so conclusive and undeniable as echoed in Q. 2:164; 14:10 and 31:25.[4] Perhaps it was also because proofs, i.e. arguments for Allah’s existence did not feature in the doctrinal and theological discussions of the day in order for it to be reflected in the text.

Point: According to the Maturidi’s, one does not require Revelation (wahy) to prove the existence of Allah. This implies that one is still obligated to or is held accountable for the belief in Allah from inferring His existence. It does not, however, imply that the person is obligated or must uphold and adhere to the Shari`ah of Muhammad (SAW).

  • All Prophets and Messengers were sent to firmly establish tawhid.
  • Prophets and Messengers did not come to prove that Allah exists, i.e. come to give proofs for His existence.
  • Prophets and Messengers came to change the object of religious worship form idols, humans, animals, one’s own conception and fanciful image of Allah, etc. to Allah (SWT).[5]

The basic and extremely summarised argument for the existence of Allah is:

[1] The universe is originated (hadith).

[2] The Universe came out of nothingness (min `adam/min la shay’).

[3] The Universe needs an Eternal Creator who preceded it to bring it into existence.[6]

  • Allah is the Necessary Being (wajib al-wujud).
  • Allah cannot fail to exist.
  • Allah is Eternal and Everlasting.

Negating Attributes

(sifat salbiyyah)[7]

Affirmative Attributes

(sifat thubutiyyah)

qidam = Pre-eternality without beginning.

baqa’ = everlastingness

wahdaniyyah = Oneness.

mukhalafat al-hawadith = radically different from created things.

qiyam bi ’l-nafs = self-subsistence.[8]

hayat = life.

`ilm = knowledge.

iradah = will.

qudrah = power.

sam` = hearing.

basar = sight.

kalam = speech.

The Personal Attribute (sifat nafsiyyah or thubutiyyah according to Imam Abu Hanifah[9]) is one which is existence (wujud).
  • According to Abu Hanifah, iqrar (verbal affirmation or confession of one’s testification) is obligatory and part of iman.[10]
  • Debates over whether iqrar is a shart (condition)[11] or shatr (pillar).[12]
  • The opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah and al-Maturidi is that belief in the heart (qalb) is sufficient for the mu’min[13] and verbal confession is only necessary for a person to be treated as a believer in this world.

Point: According to `Ali al-Qari, Abu Hanifah’s statement in the Fiqh al-Akbar implies that the testimonial formula ashhadu (‘I bear witness…’) is not a necessary condition. One can say other testimonial formulas such as la ilaha illa Allah (‘there is no deity but Allah’).[14]

  • Obligatory to believe in Angels.
  • Angels are subtle bodies (ajsam latifah).
  • Angels can assume different shapes and forms.
  • Angels are of two types: a) those absorbed in the knowledge of Allah (ma`rifah) and continuously sing His praises and chant His glorification[15] and b) those deployed in executing the Will and Desire of Allah whether in the Heavens or the earth.[16]
  • Obligatory to believe in scripture.
  • It means to have firm conviction that they are the words of Allah.
  • Total number of scriptures (suhuf) revealed to the Messengers is 104. 10 revealed to Adam, 50 to Shith, 30 to Idris, 10 to Ibrahim, 1 to Musa, 1 to Dawud, 1 to Christ and 1 to Muhammad.[17]
  • Obligatory to believe in the Messengers (rusul).
  • A Messenger (rasul) was endowed with a shari`ah as well as a scripture.
  • Prophets and Messengers are usually differentiated (the latter not being given a sacred law).[18]

Point: There is a structural point here. The mentioning of Angels first is because they are emissaries of Allah that bring the revelation to the Prophets and not a matter of importance or superiority.[19]

  • Obligatory to believe in the Resurrection after the death.
  • The very body parts will be assembled together.
  • The souls (arwah) will be returned back to the individuals.[20]
  • The soul does not transmigrate.
  • The souls return to the initial body that is resurrected.
  • The resurrection takes place from a piece of the original body.[21]
  • Belief in Destiny (qadar) is obligatory.[22]
  • Belief in good and evil is obligatory.
  • Good and evil from Allah.
  • The Reckoning (al-hisab), the Scale (al-mizan) Paradise (al-jannah) and Hellfire (al-nar) are all real and true.[23]

[1] See the Kitab al-Wasiyyah, art. 1; Fiqh al-Akbar I, art. 3 and Fiqh al-Akbar II, srt. 1 in Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed, pp.131-138, 102-124 and 197-204 respectively.

[2] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.63.

[3] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.63.

[4] See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.50-51. Hence the reality of Allah is established in our primordial nature (fitrah) as in Q. 30:30.

[5] Regarding this, see Q. 39:3; 10:18 as well as others. Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.50.

[6] As mentioned in `Ali al-Qari’s Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.52. Cf. Q. 39:62 and 7:54.

[7] Meaning those attributes of Allah’s attributes that negate and mutually exclude (or preclude/cancel/deny) their opposites. Thus, the opposite of qidam is huduth (origination); the opposite of baqa’ is fana’ (end/destruction/termination); the opposite of wahdaniyyah is ta`addud (multiplicity); the opposite of mukhalafat al-hawadith is muwafaqat al-makhluqat (similar to creation) and the opposite of qiyam bi ’l-nafs is hajah ila shay’ (being in need of something). Cf. al-Ghawji, al-Ta`liq al-Muyassar, p.53.

[8] See al-Ghawji, al-Ta`liq al-Muyassar, p.53.

[9] al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.66.

[10] In addition to iqrar, there must also be tasdiq (conviction and certitude). Cf. also the hadith in the Sahih of Muslim, Book of Iman, no. 9. Cf. al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.66.

[11] I.e. whether or not the confession of iman is a condition of iman relevant for the laws of Islam to apply to the person in this world.

[12] i.e. whether or not the absence of verbal confession leads to the loss of faith. Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.53.

[13] Cf. Q. 58:22.

[14] `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.54.

[15] Also known as the `illiyun (lofty ones) and the muqarrabun (intimate ones). al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.67.

[16] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.67.

[17] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.67.

[18] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.68.

[19] Otherwise the belief in the Scriptures would have come first after Allah being his eternal Speech (SWT). See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.55.

[20] See Q. 28:85.

[21] Which is said to be the lower portion of the backbone (`ajb al-dhanah). See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.57.

[22] See Fiqh al-Akbar I in Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, pp.107-109.

[23] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.69. See also Fiqh al-Akbar II, art. 6-7 in Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed, 210-216.

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