Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

7. Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_Divine Actions

The Creator and the Actions of His Creation_

al-Fiqh al-Akbar[1]

Section: Fiqh al-Akbar:wa jami` af`al al-`ibad… wa la bi-amrihi.”

Notes:

[1] All actions (whether motions [al-harakah] or stillness [al-sukun]) are in reality an agent’s ‘acquisition’ (kasb).

[2] Allah = creator (al-khaliq) of all actions.[2]

[3] Allah = creator of an agent’s will (iradah) and power.[3]

[4] All actions are through/via (bi-)[4] Allah’s

  1. Will (mashi’ah),
  2. Knowledge (`ilm),
  3. Ordainment (qada’) and
  4. Decree (qadar).[5]

Points (1) – (3): Kasb: involves two elements here in the discussion. 1. the action (fi`l) and 2. the will (iradah) or power (qudrah/istita`ah) of the agent.[6] The proper connection of (2) with (1) = the acquisition of the act.[7]

If an agent does a voluntary action, then that action will be a created one (makhluq) in so far as it is connected to Allah’s Will and Power. If an agent does a voluntary action, then that action will be an acquired one (maksub) in so far as it is connected to the agent’s will and power.[8]
Hence, an action has a dual relation, i.e. an action is related to the agent and Allah and its relation to the agent is called ‘acquisition’ and its relation to Allah is called ‘created’
  • In kasb, the agent who acquires the action (kasib) is not entirely independent.[9]
  • In khalq, the creator is entirely independent.
  • Anything Allah brings into existence without His Power connecting to or associating with the will and power of the agent is considered an attribute of the agent but not his action (e.g. an involuntary spasm, muscular movements, etc.).[10]
  • Anything Allah brings into existence connected to or associated with the ability, power and choice of the agent is described as the attribute (sifah), action (fi`l) and acquisition of the servant (kasb), e.g. a voluntary movement like lifting up one’s arm.[11]

One must note that there are differentiations within the ‘Divine Personality’ or ‘Self’. Allah has the following properties:

Category one:

–          Will (iradah)

–          Desire (mashi’ah)

–          Approval (rida’)

–          Satisfaction

–          Love (mahabbah)

–          Knowledge (`ilm)

Added to this are the following created effects, realities or determinations:

Category two:

–          Ordainment (qada’)

–          Decree (qadar)

–          Command (amr)

–          Creation (khalq)

–          Guidance (al-hidayah)[12]

Obligatory actions (faridah) and virtuous action (fadilah)[13] fall into the first and second category. Meaning they stem from them.[14] A sin (ma`siyah) is from category two (excluding the command of Allah) because sin and disobedience are never committed on the order of Allah.

Good Action

Evil Action

A good and meritorious action is praised in this world and the next and concords with or is in full agreement with Allah’s Pleasure, Satisfaction, Will, Ordainment, etc. An evil and blameworthy action is censured in this world and the next and does not concord with or is in full agreement with Allah’s Pleasure and Satisfaction[15] but is in accordance with His Will, Ordination, Decree, etc.
  • Obedience is according to accountability (al-ta`ah `ala ’l-taqah; cf. Q. 2:286).
  • Accountability rests upon the correctness and soundness of the means, causes and styles by which one may fulfil the duties to Allah, e.g. knowing Him and worshipping Him, etc.
  • Allah creates the attribute of ability (istita`ah)[16] at the moment of the action being carried out by the agent after the means have been prepared and the causes are in place.[17]
  • If an agent intends good, i.e. to do a good act, Allah creates in him the ability to do that act.
  • If an agent intends bad/evil, i.e. to do a bad/evil act, Allah creates in him the ability to do that act.[18]
  • An agent squanders the intrinsic ability (istita`ah) to do good given by Allah and hence is liable for blame, censure and punishment for it.


[1] See the commentary by al-Maghnisawi entitled Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.121 and `Ali al-Qari’s larger commentary Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.154-168.

[2] See Kitab al-Wasiyyah, art. 17-25 where if Allah is the creator of human beings, then a fortiori, He is the creator of their actions. See Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed, pp.52 & 161-183 and `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.155-157.

[3] The will and power of an agent are of his fixed attributes or properties (sifat) and not something the agent acquires like actions.

[4] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.122. All devotional acts of obedience are via/through the command, love, approval, Will, Knowledge, Ordainment and Decree of Allah whereas disobedience are through/via Allah’s Will, Knowledge, Ordainment and Decree but not through His love, approval or command (e.g. because of Q. 2:205; 39:7 & 7:28). See Ibid., p.124.

[5] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.122 & 124. Cf. the hadith in Sahih Muslim (no.4799) which says: ‘All things fall under the decree [of Allah] even incapability and intelligence.’

[6] Meaning the doer of the act.

[7] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.121. See Tritton, Muslim Theology, pp.68-69.

[8] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.121.

[9] See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.154.

[10] Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.154. Meaning Allah is the original source of that action, i.e. its Creator but the actual action of the spasm does not connect to the will or power of the agent, i.e. the agent did not direct his will to his body in order to bring about the spasm.

[11] See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.154. Meaning Allah is the original source of that action, i.e. its Creator and the actual action of raising the arm connects to the will or power of the agent, i.e. the agent directs his will to his body in order to bring about the movement.

[12] Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.165-166.

[13] But the virtuous actions are not from the command [second category] of Allah otherwise they would be obligations.

[14] From the Kitab al-Wasiyyah of Abu Hanifah (RA), art. 6 as in Wensinck’s, The Muslim Creed, pp.142-147. See also al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.124.

[15] Based on Q. 39:97. Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.165-166.

[16] Which is the actual dispositional power and energy Allah creates at the point of the action which enables the agent to execute the action. See Tritton, Muslim Theology, pp.67-68.

[17] See the Kitab al-Wasiyyah, art. 15 as cited in Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, pp.156-158. Here there is no mention of the term kasb (acquisition).

[18] See `Ali al-Qari, Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.167-168.

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