Abu Jafar Al Tahawi- The last Hanafi leader from Egypt.

An Account of the Life of One of the Greatest Traditionist, Jurisprudent and Theologian of the Hanafi School.

Abu Ja‘far Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Salamah Al Azdi, Al Hajri, Al- Tahawi, was born at Taha, a village in upper Egypt. His forefathers came from the Yemen to Egypt and settled there after it had come under the Muslim rule. There is a considerable difference of opinion as to the year of his birth. The years 229/843, 230/844, 238/852 and 239/853 are mentioned by different biographers. Al-Sam‘ani asserts that he was born in 229/843 and this is correct. He died in Egypt in 321/933.¹
Al Tahawi was mainly interested in Hadith and Fiqh, and was regarded as one of the greatest Muhaddithin and fuqaha’ of his time. According to Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi, he was the last leader of Hanafi Fiqh in Egypt.² He began to study Shafi‘i Law under his maternal uncle abu Ibrahim Isma‘il Al-Muzani (d. 264/878), the most celebrated pupil of Imam Al Shafa’i, and then leaving his school he took up the study of Hanafi Law under Al Shaykh Abu Ja‘far Ahmad bin Abi Imran (d. 285/898), who became the Chief Qadi of Egypt in 270/883. Different versions are given by his biographers of his conversion to Hanafi school, but the most probable reason seems to be that the system of Imam Abu Hanifah appealed to his critical insight more than that of Imam Shafa‘i. 
Al Tahawi went to Syria in 268/882 for further studies in Hanafi Law and became a pupil of Qadi Abu Khazim ‘Abd al-Hamid bin Ja‘far, the then Chief Justice of Syria. He learnt hadith from a large number of Shaykh’s especially from those who visited Egypt at his time, and had also many pupils of distinction. He is a distinguished author of many important works of which the following may be mentioned here: 
1) Sharah Maa’ni Al Athar. 
2) Mushkil Al Athar.
3) Ahkam Al Qur’an.
4) Ikthilaf Al- Ulama.
5) Al-Nawddir Al-Fiqhiyyah.
6) Kitab Al-Shurut al-Kabir.
7) Al Shurut Al-Ausat.
8) Sharh Al Jami Al Saghir.
9) Sharh Al-Jami Al Kabir.
10) Al Mukhtasar.
11) Manaqib Abu Hanifah.
12) Tarikh Al Kabir.
13) Al Radd Ala Kitab Al Mudallisin.
14) Al Radd Ala Abi Ubayd.
15) Al Radd Ala Isa bin Abban.
16) Hukm Aradi Makkah etc.
His original contribution to Hadith literature, so far as we can estimate, is that he introduced a new system of collecting legal traditions, developed a new method of interpreting and harmonizing the conliicting traditions, and adopted a new criterion for criticizing them. His predecessors and contemporaries, the authors of Al Sihah Al Sittah (the Six Canonical Compilations) collecting traditions according to their own standards and principles, left out a large number of genuine traditions. Al Tahawi made a strenuous effort to collect all the genuine legal traditions of the Prophet, narrated by different authorities on a particular subject, together with the opinions of the Companions of the Prophet, their Successors and the distinguished jurisprudents. He then scrutinized traditions (ahadith) and showed by evidence which of them were authentic, strong, weak, unknown, or such as might be supposed to have been repealed. Thus, his collection provided for the scholars an unprecedented opportunity to judge for themselves the merits or demerits of a particular tradition. The criterion for judging the genuineness of a tradition, according to the Traditionists in general, was the Isnad (chain of the narrators), and so they paid greater attention to the scrutiny of the isnad than to the scrutiny of the text (mam) of a tradition. But Al-Tahawi, while scrutinizing a tradition, took into consideration the main as well as the isnad of the tradition. He also aimed at a harmonizing interpretation in case of conflicting traditions. 

Al Tahawi, like Al Maturidi, was a follower of Imam Abu Hanifah (d. 150/ 767) in jurisprudence as well as in theoloy. He wrote a. little treatise on theology named Bayan al Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah, generally known as ‘Aqidat Al Tahawiyyah. In the introduction to this treatise he says he will give therein an account of the beliefs of the Ahl al-sunnah wal jama’ah according to the views of Imam Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf, and Muhammad Al- Shaybani the well-known jurisprudents of the community. So the importance of his creed lies in the fact that it corroborates the views of Imam Abu Hanifah, the founder of the school, that have come down to us from different sources. Al-Tahawi made no attempt to explain the views of the Imam or to solve the old theological problems by advancing any new arguments. His sole aim was to give a summary of the views of the Imam and to show indirectly that they were in conformity with the traditional views of the orthodox school. 

Imam Abu Hanifah directed his movement against the Kharijites, Qadarites. Mu‘tazilites, shi‘ites, Jabarites, the extreme Murji’ites, and the Hashwiyyah³, the last being a group of the orthodox people who under the influence of the converted Jews, Christians, and Magians fell into gross anthropomorphism, and ascribed to God all the characteristics of a created being.‘ He was the first theologian among the fuqaha’ who adopted the principles and method of reasoning and applied them to a critical examination of the articles of faith and the laws of the Shari’ah. That is why he and his followers were called by the ‘traditionists the People of Reason and Opinion (Ashab Al Ra’i wa-l Qiyas). This rational spirit and philosophical attitude were more consistently maintained by Al-Maturidi than by Al Tahawi. Their views on the nature of faith. attributes of God, beatitic vision, divine decree, and human freedom may be mentioned here to indicate the distinctive features of their methods. 
To All the scholars mentioned in the above article, “May Allah be pleased with you All.”
¹Al Sam’ani, Al Ansab, Leiden, 1912, Pg 368, Ibn Al Nadim, Al Fihrist, Cairo, Pg 292, Jalaluddin Suyuti, Husn Al Muhadarah, Vol 1, Pg 147, Ibn Khallikan, Waf’at Al Ayn, Vol 1, Pg 19, Al Dhahabi, Tadkirat Al Huffaz, Vol 3, Pg 28, 1915 ed.
²Al Dhahabi, Tadhkirat Al Huffaz, Vol 3, Pg 28, Jalaluddin Suyuti, Husn Al Muhadarah, Vol 1, Pg 147.
According to M.M Sharif, Abdullah Ibn Saba, a convert from Judaism introduced and propagated Anthropomorphic ideas among the Muslims during the caliphate of Ali. He quoted Al Shahrastani to support his claim.
⇛ The following article is written from the book, “The History of Muslim Philosophy- Vol 2,” Pg 268 by M.M. Sharif.




Ibn Jahbal, a celebrated Shafa’i jurist, who wrote a spectacular refution of Ibn Taymiyya’s Hamawiyya titled Al Raddu ala Man Qala bil Jiha was recently translated by one of the most influential scholar of Sunni Islam in 20th century, Shaykh Dr.Gibril Haddad. The following passages are taken from this book, which contains the explaination of one of the highly quoted verse by the anthropomorphists to establish their falsehood:

Ibn Taymiyya quotes the saying of Allah : {Have you taken security from Him Who is in the heaven that He will not cause the earth to swallow you} (67:16), restricting the meaning of “him” to Allah alone[1]. Perhaps he does not allow that its meaning is the Angels of Allah. Perhaps he denies that the angels do such things, and that Gibril عليه سلام caused the earth to swallow the people of Sodom. Consequently he used this verse for his proof, and it may be the “explicit text” he was referring to[2]. Then he followed up with the saying of Allah: {The angels and the Spirit ascend (ta‘ruju) unto Him} (70:4). Ascension (‘uraj) and ascent (su‘ud) are one and the same meaning. There is no proof in this verse that the ascension is to a heaven or to a throne or to any of the things which he has claimed whatsoever. For the literal meaning of “ascension” used in the language of the Arabs refers to the displacement appropriate to material bodies (al-ajsam). The Arabs do not know any other meaning of the word. Would that he had openly declared the material sense and relieved himself from the trouble of covering it up! 

↠The Verse of Istiwa and its interpretation:

The Arabs also understand istiwa as the straightness of the arrow-shaft and the antonym of crookedness. The Hashwiyya invoke this meaning to exonerate themselves of the charge of attributing a body to Allah. At the same time, they close the door to any explanation other than “sitting.” Yet they do not close the door when it comes to the saying of Allah: {And He is with you wheresoever you may be} (57:4) and {We are nearer to him than his jugular vein} (50:16). So you Hashwiyya should not say that Allah is with us “with His knowledge.” If you say that, then why do you allow this [interpretive method] one time and you forbid it the next? And how do you know that istiwa is not one of His acts in connection with the Throne? If they say: “This is not in the language of the Arabs,” then we reply: Neither is the meaning of istawa which you yourselves forward unless we apply it to a body[4].

[1] Hamawiyya (p. 216-217) Majma Al-Fatawa (5:12-13). 
[2] Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi, Tafsir (3:69): “It is the anthropomorphists who used this verse to claim that Allah Himself is in the sky.” Abu Hayyan Al-Andalusi said the some thing in his Bahr Al-Muhit (8:302) and Nahr Al-Mādd (2:1131-1132). Al-Nawawi in his commentary on Sahih Muslim agreed with Al Qadi Iyad that the words “in the heaven’ are interpreted metaphorically. Al-Zamakhshari: “From Him Whose sovereignty is in the Heaven.‘ When “Whose sovereignty” is omitted the pronoun “Him” remains instead. There are many instances of this turn of speech in the Quran: “And ask the town.” that is: “And ask the people of the town’, “And your Lord come.” that is: “And your Lord’s order came” interpreting Allah’s Words ‘He Who is in the Heaven” in Islamic Belief: and Doctrine According to Ahl Al-Sunna (p. 144-148).  
[3] Hamawiyya (p. 217), Majma Al Fatawa (5:13). 
[4]Ibn Al Jawzi in Daf Shubah Al Tashbih (1998 Al Kawthari repr.p.23): “Whoever interprets (and He is with you) (57:4) as meaning “He is with you in knowledge,” permits his opponent to interpret Istiwa as subduing (Al Qahr) or sovereignty. 

Naf’s in Islam



Naf’s is an arabic word meaning Ego or Soul. But the Sufi’s (and also many scholars) have defined “Naf’s” as Ego which is the lowest state of a persons inward nature. The scholars have always tried to classify Naf’s, and based on the revelation and Ahadith, they have classified it as follows:



1) Al Naf’s Al Amm’arah: The Naf’s which incites us to commit evil, like it is stated in the Qur’an, Al Yusuf, Verse 53, “Verily the Naf’s incites to commit Evil“.
2) Al Naf’s Al Luwwa’Mah: The Naf’s of self conscience. Due to this, the person asks for forgiveness for his sins. It is mentioned in the Qur’an, Al Qiyamah, Verse 2, “And I swear with the reproaching (disappointment in self actions) soul”.
3) Al Naf’s Al Mutma’inah: It is the Naf’s at peace. This is the most ideal state of Ego during which the person is firm in faith and leave bad manners. It is mentioned in the Quran, Al Fajr, Verse 27, “and it will be said to the righteous, O reassured Soul”.
Interestingly, The “IKHWAN AL SAFA”[1] has given a totally different classification of Naf’s. 
It is mentioned in Ra’sail Al Ikhwan As Safa, that the soul is drowned in the Sea of Matter, imprisoned in its body/physicality with its desires, pleasures and pains. The soul has three dimensions, three levels:
1) Naf’s Shehwaniyah: The lustful soul, bound by its own nature to love eating, drinking and mating/ reproduction.
2) Naf’s Ghadabiyah: The animal soul, bound by its own nature to love power, control and domination.
3) Naf’s Natiqa: The rational soul, bound by its nature to love the acquisition of knowledge and virtues, and to ascend above the physical material world.
*There are two kinds of people in the world:
1) The general masses or common people and
2) The wise men or the elite. 

The Naf’s Shehwaniyya is the dominant part of the Naf’s in the common people, who are contented with this material world and its physical pleasures. 
The Naf’s Natiqa is the dominant Naf’s in the elite, the wise men. When these wise people look at this world they see beyond it to its Wise Maker, Knowledgeable Creator and Merciful Sculptor, and attach themselves to Him and yearn for Him.
[1] Ikhwan Al Safa: Also known as Brethren of Purity, was aSecret Organisation of Muslim Philosophers located in Basra, Iraq. The Structure of this organisation and its member’s have never been clear. They wrote a total of 52 Ra’sail which greatly influenced Muslim philosophy. 

Imam Maturidi and the Hanafi School

Imam Abu Mansur Al Maturidi as the faithful successor of Imam Abu Hanifa.

The heresiographies, remaining silent does not necessarily mean that Al-Māturīdī was entirely neglected or passed over in the pertinent medieval Literature. On the contrary, there are two other genres of sources in which observations on his doctrines are to be culled; these even provide a specific interpretive image to his name. Yet in order to properly categorize these representations of Al-Māturīdī, one must first consider the geographical and temporal Circumstances in which they emerged and were conveyed. The first remarks on our theologian naturally originate from the region in which he was active, namely, Transoxania. When reflecting on the nature of their theological tradition, scholars of that region from the fifth/eleventh century held that it had been decidedly imprinted by al-Māturīdī’s contributions. This is the sense of the testimony given by Abū l-Yusr al-Pazdawī (d.493/1100)[1] for instance, and by his younger contemporary Abū l-Muʿīn al-Nasafī (d.508/1114), who expressed the same thoughts even more pronouncedly[2]. Neither of them, intended to identify al-Māturīdī as the founder of Sunnī theology in Transoxania, however. To them he was rather an outstanding representative of the same; not as a founder, but as a thinker who masterfully laid out and interpreted a long-standing theological doctrine. Instead, they were in agreement on placing Abū Ḥanīfa (d. 150/767) at the original genesis of the school. He was remembered as having provided the correct answers to all definitive questions in matters of faith, and what he taught is supposed to have been transmitted and elaborated upon by all his successors in Bukhārā and Samarqand without detectable alteration.

In the writings of al-Pazdawī, this position is expressed in two ways. First, he calls his own school, not the “Māturīdīya,” but deliberately aṣḥāb Abī Ḥanīfa [3]. Having said this, he repeatedly endeavors to reiterate to the reader that one or another particular doctrine had, of course, already been professed by Abū Ḥanīfa[4]. Al-Nasafī’s remarks are even more explicit and systematic. He does not merely rely on the fact that the great Kufan is cited by name in northeastern Iran every now and then. His goal was to prove that Abū Ḥanīfa’s doctrine had in fact been passed on from generation to generation intact and without interruption. To that end, he used the topic of God’s attributes as an instructive example, writing what was to be understood as an affirmation of tradition and a program for the future: Al-Nasafī begins this with the statement that in the entirety of Transoxania and Khurāsān, all the leading figures of Abū Ḥanīfa’s companions (inna a⁠ʾimmata aṣḥābi Abī Ḥanīfa . . . kullahum) that followed his way in the principles (uṣūl) as well as the branches ( furūʿ), and that stayed away from iʿtizāl (i.e., the doctrine of the Muʿtazilites), had already “in the old days” held the same view (on God’s attributes) as he did[5]. In order to prove this, a historical digression follows, in which names of earlier prominent Ḥanafites of Transoxania are listed. In this presentation, al-Nasafī describes the history of the Samarqand school, running through a contiguous chain of scholars with apparently equivalent theological perspectives. This chain begins with Abū Ḥanīfa, continues with Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan (al-Shaybānī), and continues through the ranks on to al-Māturīdī and his successors[6]. Al-Māturīdī is viewed in this presentation as a member—albeit a prominent one of a homogenous series of theologians. His merit is supposed to have come from advocating theological doctrine in a particularly brilliant and astute manner; this was a doctrine, however, that all the other scholars followed in principle as well. Because of this, al-Nasafī repeats in several places that al-Māturīdī always deferred to the statements of the school founder from Kufa[7]  and when he praises al-Māturīdī it is with the honorific of “the most knowledgeable person on the views of Abū Ḥanīfa” (aʿraf al-nās bi-madhāhib Abī Ḥanīfa)[8].

It is noteworthy that we can detect an apologetic undertone with al-Pazdawī as well as with al-Nasafī. This was directed at the Ashʿarites of Nishapur, who had apparently censured the Transoxanians for allowing unacceptable innovations in their theology. At the focal point of this critique was the doctrine of divine attributes professed in Samarqand and the surrounding areas. This was denounced by the Ashʿarites as a heretical innovation of the fifth/eleventhcentury that none of the predecessors (salaf ) had adhered to[9] Such a critique, however, was obviously easy to disprove on a historical basis: It was undeniable that al-Māturīdī had been active at the turn of the fourth Islamic century, contemporaneous with al-Ashʿarī, one might add[10]. An even more convincing counter-argument aimed to antedate al-Māturīdī: If Abū Ḥanīfa stood behind the entire Transoxanian theological tradition, then the circumstances could be explained and vindicated from every doubt: in this light, the aṣḥāb Abī Ḥanīfa of Samarqand not only adhered to proper doctrine, but could maintain its legitimacy through the important Islamic principle of historical seniority. Admittedly this apologetic argument did not promulgate any entirely novel view of things, but for this same reason it must have been viewed as cogent and rather plausible, given the established custom which stood behind it. Indeed, Abū Ḥanīfa’s name had been cited in Transoxania in this manner for a long period of time. Already by the third/ninth century, texts named him as the highest authority, and al-Māturīdī, too, did not fail to demonstrate his reverence for him in many instances[11]. Thus if al-Pazdawī and al-Nasafī pointed to the great Kufan as the actual authority of Transoxanian theology, this was not decisive for Abū Ḥanīfa’s lauded status, but rather against al-Māturīdī’s, or to be more precise, against the conceivable possibility of selecting him as the new leader and eponym of the school. His emergence did not signify a break in the teachings of faith; his doctrine was in no way a new paradigm. What really mattered was the tradition itself, and by paying homage to this tradition arose the image of Abū Ḥanīfa as school founder, with Abū Manṣūr al-Māturīdī as his brilliant interpreter.

Once this decision was taken, it gained credency in times to follow. It is thus unsurprising that we commonly read in later literature about the Abū Ḥanīfa-school of northeastern Iran. Ibn al-Dāʿī, for example, a Shīʿite author of the sixth/twelfth century, relates that the theologians of Transoxania of his time are Ḥanafites with determinist leanings[12]. Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī (d. 771/1370) described the doctrine of the Māturīdīya two hundred years later, saying that it was the doctrine of aṣḥāb Abī Ḥanīfa[13]. Even the Ottoman scholar Kamāl al-Dīn al-Bayāḍī (d. 1078/1687), committed without a doubt to al-Māturīdī’s ideas, also rotely cited the same tradition: His main theological work bears the title Ishārāt al-marām ʿan ʿibārāt al-imām, and states after just a few lines that the foundation of all religious knowledge is to be found in the articulations of the “leader of leaders” (imām al-a⁠ʾimma), i.e., Abū Ḥanīfa[14].

[1] Abū l-Yusr Muḥammad al-Pazdawī, K. Uṣūl al-dīn, ed. Hans Peter Linss (Cairo, 1383/1963), 2.-2ff. Hereafter cited as Uṣūl.

[2] Abū l-Muʿīn Maymūn b. Muḥammad al-Nasafī, Tabṣirat al-adilla, ed. Claude Salamé (Damascus, 1990–93), vol. 1, 358.15 ff. Hereafter cited as Tabṣira.

[3] Uṣūl, 190.9.

[4] On the doctrine of attributes (ibid, 70.11f.); on  human capability for action (ibid., 115.14ff.); on the concept of belief (ibid., 152.6ff.).

[5] Tabṣira, vol. 1, 356.6–8.

[6] Ibid., vol. 1, 356.8–357.9.

[7] For example, ibid, vol. 2, 705.9ff. And  829.1f.

[8] Ibid., vol. 1, 162.2f

[9] Ibid., vol. 1, 310.8ff. compare also al-Pazdawī’s reaction, Uṣūl, 69.10ff. and 70.5ff. On this General theme, see Rudolph, “Das Entstehen der Māturīdīya,” ZDMG  147 (1997): 393–404.

[10] The chronological comparison with al-Ashʿarī must have played a role in the polemic, as Tabṣira, vol. 1, 240.8ff. shows, where it is explicitly stated that al-Māturīdī adhered to a particular doctrine that was only later adopted by the Ashʿarīya.

[11]  Cf. Abū Manṣūr Muhammad  b. Muḥammad al-Māturīdī, K. al-Tawḥīd, ed. Fathalla Kholeif (Beirut, 1970), 303.15, 304.1, 369.21, 382.19 [ hereafter cited as Tawḥīd]; idem, Tawīlāt al-Qurʾān, ed. Ahmet Vanholu (Istanbul, 2005), vol. 1, 81.8, 105.7, 121.8, 158.10, 193.8, 231.1, 343.11, 354.4, 369.14, 393.2, 408.5 and many others (cf. the indices of the other volumes) [hereafter cited as Taʾwīlāt].

[12]  In Ibn al-Dāʿī, K. Tabṣirat al-ʿawāmm fī maʿrifat maqālat al-anām, ed. ʿAbbās Iqbāl (Tehran, 1313/1934), 91.9: “Ḥanafiyān-i bilād-i Khurāsān u-kull-i mā-warāʾa-nahr u-Farghāna u-bilād- Turk jabrī bāshand.

[13]  See the following section.

[14] Kamāl al-Dīn al-Bayāḍī, Ishārāt al-marām min ʿibārāt al-imām, ed. Yūsūf ʿAbd al-Razzāq (Cairo, 1368/1949), 18.5f. with an enumeration of works attributed to Abū Ḥanīfa (in this edition, page 18  is the first page of text of theIshārāt).

→Note:- The above passages are taken from the book, “Al-Māturīdī and the Development of Sunnī Theology in Samarqand” by Sir Ulrich Rudolph, Pg 7-9.

Can we see Allah? – An Ashari Perspective.


⇸Imam Abu Musa Al Ashari wrote a master piece named “Al Ibanah An Usul Ad Diyanah”. In that book is the Chapter containing the Kalam to Prove the visibility of God to sight (absār) in the next world.” He Writes,

God has said, “ On that day shall faces beam with light,” -meaning “shall shine,”—“ looking towards their Lord,”—“meaning “seeing.” The vision can be only one of the following kinds: (a) God means the regard of scrutiny as when He says, “ Can they not look up to the clouds, how they are created? or (b) He means the regard of expectation, as when He says, “They await but a single blast”,[1] or (c) He means the regard of sight. Now God cannot mean the regard of reflection and scrutiny, because the next world is not the abode of scrutiny, and He cannot mean the regard of expectation, because, since “vision” and “face” are mentioned together, “vision” means the vision of the eyes, which are in the face (just as, when the lexicographers mention the vision of the heart and say, “Look upon this thing with thine heart,” its meaning is not the vision of the eyes) and if this is true, since “vision” and “face” are mentioned together, “vision” does not mean the regard of expectation that is in the heart. Besides, surely the regard of expectation does not exist in Paradise, because expectation is accompanied by misgivings and uncertainty, while those who dwell in Paradise possess there such peaceful, pleasant, enduring life as neither eye has seen nor ear heard, and since this is so, they cannot be in a state of expectation, for whenever they think of anything, it is theirs by the very thought. Since that is true, God cannot have in mind the regard of fellow-feeling (ta‘attuf)[2] because creatures cannot entertain this sentiment towards their Creator. Since three kinds of vision fail to answer the purpose, the fourth kind is certain, namely, that the meaning of His words “looking towards their Lord” is that they are seeing, they see their Lord. 

Among the things that invalidate the belief of the Mu’tazilah that God meant, by His words “looking towards their Lord,” the regard of expectation, is the fact that He said “looking towards their Lord,” whereas the regard of expectation as they understand it cannot be connected with His use of the word “towards,” because, among the Arabs, it is not correct to say “towards ” with reference to the regard of expectation. Do you not agree that God, when He said, “They await but a single blast,” did not say “towards,” since His meaning was expectation! He has quoted from Bilqis: “and await what my envoys bring back” and thus, since she meant expectation, she did not say “towards.” 

Imru’ ‘l-Qays says: 

If you two will await me but an hour,  Beside Umm Jundub you’ll afford me time)” [3]

Therefore, since he meant expectation, he did not say “towards.” Hence, since God said “looking towards their Lord,” we know that He did not mean expectation, but meant only the regard of sight; and since God connected the vision with the mention of the face, He meant the vision of the eyes that are in the face, just as He has said, “We have seen thee turning thy face towards every part of heaven; but We will have thee turn….” [4] and thus He mentioned the face, but meant only the turning of his eyes towards heaven in expectation of the descent of the angel upon him, when God shifted him from the Qiblah of Jerusalem to the Ka‘abah. 

If anybody says, “Why do you not say that, by His words ‘looking towards their Lord,’ He meant only ‘looking towards the reward of their Lord?,” the answer is: The reward of God is something other than Himself. God said “looking towards their Lord,” but He did not say “looking towards something other than Himself.” The Qur’an is to be understood literally, and it is not for us to understand it in any other way, except by proof; otherwise it is to be understood literally. Do you not think that, since God said, “Pray to Me and serve Me,” nobody can say He meant something other than Himself and understand these words in any but a literal way? Wherefore, if that is so, since He says “looking towards their Lord,” we cannot, without proof, understand the Qur’an in any but a literal way. Furthermore, it may be said to the Mu‘tazilah: If you may think that by God’s words “looking towards their Lord,” He meant only that they were looking towards something other than Himself, why not somebody else say that by His words “ The eyes do not reach Him,”[5] God meant “They do not reach something other than Himself,” and did not mean that they do not reach Him! And this is a distinction they have not the capacity to make.  n

⇸Note:- Mutazila believe that God will not beheld by sight but they disagree as to whether or not He will be beheld by the hearts. Abu’l Hudayl and most of the Mutazila say, “We shall see God with our hearts, in the sense that we shall know Him through our Hearts.”
[1] Al Qur’an, 36:49.
[2] Affection.
[3] Diwan Al Shafa’i.
[4] Al Qur’an, 2:139.
[5] Al Qur’an, 6:103.