Some guidelines regarding speaking of Allah and Islam
Fatwa No: 297244

  • Fatwa Date:1-10-2015 - Thul-Hijjah 18, 1436
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Question

Using such expressions like 'Islamic thought', 'Islamic theory' or 'Islamic view' to mean the Islamic religion causes disbelief. It is an act of disbelief to call Allah's commandments and prohibitions 'divine thoughts', 'divine views', 'divine theories', or 'divine consciousness'. The case is the same with calling the rules in the Noble Quran, 'Quranic views'. Please explain how the above mentioned things are words of kufr (disbelief), because in a normal situation people, while giving justification or argumenting over something, use these words without having any bad intention. They just want to clarify that what they want to say about Islam and what Islam or the Quran commands us to do is correct. Do these people become kafir (disbelievers) by using those words? If these words are inappropriate, then what are the appropriate words?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that the terms that you mentioned are not words of kufr by themselves, because they do not involve insulting Allah or denying Him or His Sharee'ah. It is feared that thinking that such expressions are kufr is just due to waswaas (obsessive whisperings).

The most that can be said in regard to these terms is that they are wrongly used. In general, issuing a ruling on terms and evaluating them is something that should be done carefully, because the ruling is based on the meaning of the terms themselves and on the meaning intended by those who use them, and to what extent the term includes that meaning.

In some cases, people hasten to consider many terms as wrong based on the apparent meaning of the word itself, while there is a possibility of elaborating and expanding on their use.

In any case: in respect to informing about Allah, The Almighty, then this is something on which one should be very careful in regard to the terms that he uses, even though informing about Allah is not tawqeefi (i.e. determined only by the Quran or the Sunnah, and not amenable to personal opinion) in principle, as Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The Names and Attributes of Allah are tawqeefi, but information about Him is not tawqeefi, like calling Him 'Al-Qadeem' [The Old, The Ever-Existing], Ash-Shay' [The Thing], Al-Mawjood [The Existing] and Al-Qaa'im Binafsih [The Self-Sustainer].” However, one should be careful and not hasten when informing about Allah, and one should refrain from informing about Allah with any expression that might be understood to involve deficiency (imperfectness) on the part of Allah, so it is a must to avoid informing about Allah with the following expressions: 'Divine Thoughts', 'Divine Views', 'Divine Theories', or 'Divine Consciousness'; because, through such expressions, one may understand  a deficiency or a similarity (analogy) with the creatures, and High and Exalted is Allah above all that. The phrase 'Quranic views' is understood in the same context because the Quran consists of the words of Allah, so one should avoid using this expression, 'Quranic views', as well.

As for the term 'Islamic thought', then some scholars have criticized it; Mu’jam al-Manaahi al-Lafthiyyah reads:

"Religious Thought: Islam is not a set of thoughts, but it is a revelation that was sent down by Allah in the Quran and in the Sunnah of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) who does not speak out of his whims; rather {It is not but a revelation revealed.} [Quran 53:4]

Whereas ‘thought’ is subject to discussion; it may be correct and it may be incorrect; hence, it is not permissible to call it ‘thought’, because thinking is a characteristic of the creatures, and ‘thought’ can be right or wrong, while the Sharee'ah is infallible.”

However, this expression is commonly used by many contemporary scholars and researchers. By this term (thought), they mean what is attributed to the followers of Islam among the scholars and others who may have made either Ijtihaad (personal reasoning by competent scholars in matters untackled by the Quran and Sunnah) or just gave their point of view, and not the Islamic absolute rulings themselves.

Some of them defined ‘Islamic thought’ as follows: "It is everything written by the Muslim scholars in various Islamic sciences and non-Islamic sciences, regardless of the extent to which such intellectual production is related to the principles of Islamic faith.

Based on this meaning, it is permissible to use this expression and consider that it has a deleted adjunct; for example 'the thought of the people of Islam' and the like.

As for 'the Islamic point of view', perhaps what is intended with it is the Islamic ruling on a given issue. This is an expression that some contemporary scholars use. The Fatwa of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem reads, “If we consider everybody, since you have mentioned your opinion about killing such types of animals that are not beneficial as a way of being merciful to them, because of the pain to which they are exposed, and as a way of relieving them from harm; and your will to know the point of view of the Islamic Sharee'ah about it...”

As regards the expression 'Islamic theory'; then its apparent wording involves some ambiguity and confusion. Theories include what is right and what is wrong, unless we say about it what we said about the ‘Islamic thought’, then that what is meant by it is the theories of Muslim scholars and their views, for example, in which case it is permissible to use it.

As for the expression that we deem appropriate to be used in such chapters, then it is to use the expressions that are used by the Sharee'ah; for example 'rulings', 'Commands', and 'clarification', for example, ‘the Quranic clarification about such and such issue’, and other terms that are used in the Sharee'ah.

Or attributing such terms 'thoughts', 'theories', ... to the scholars and the like without attributing them to Islam itself; for example, ‘the thoughts of the Muslims’, or ‘the theories of the scholars of Islam’, or ‘the theory of such and such according to the jurists’, for example.

Allah knows best.

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