Sunday, 19 February 2017

Bayaniyya: Allah Wrote Upon His Limbs (6:12; 6:54)

Allah Most High says about Himself in the third person:
كَتَبَ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ
He has written Mercy upon Himself (6:12)
كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ
Your Lord has written Mercy upon Himself (6:54)

A heretic, Bayân b. Sam’ân al-Tamîmî (d. 737 C.E), after whom the Bayaniyya sect is named, reportedly interpreted these passages in the Holy Qur’an as meaning that Allah literally wrote upon His Face and Limbs “I am Merciful”:
وقالوا في قوله تعالى كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ إنّه خط على وجهه وعينه وجميع جوارحه أنه رحيم

“In regard to the exalted God’s statement, ‘He has prescribed for Himself mercy,’ they say He wrote on His face, His eyes, and all of His limbs that He is the merciful. They require washing of every one upon standing up for prayer even without having incurred impurity and they find support for this in God’s statement, ‘When you stand up to pray, wash your faces,’ (to the end of the verse). They insist there is no mention in this verse of ritual impurity but only a reference to standing up and no more. All those who pray the morning prayer and do not sit down until the time of the afternoon and have not incurred impurity are not required to perform ablutions.”
Refernece: Bab al-Shaytan min Kitab al-Shajarah Li-Abi Tammam; p. 67

Though Bayân was clearly a heretic and has no value on the scales of Ahlus Sunnati wal-Jama’ah, his intepretation of the above cited passages from the Holy Qur’an is not without merit. The grammatical structure of the Verse “He has written upon Himself…” where there occurs the article على (upon; on; over) and not لِنَفْسِهِ (for Himself) coupled with the fact that the verb كَتَبَ “He wrote” is primarily a reference to writing, gives credence to the interpretation that Allah has literally written upon His Essence that He is Merciful. Of course, we do not know the modality or كيفية of Allah writing upon Himself, and it is reprehensible that the Bayaniyya sect affirmed جوارح “limbs” for Allah without proof. To say that the Face, Hands and Feet of Allah are “limbs” is an example of gross anthropormophism at worst and speaking about Allah without knowledge even if anthropomorphism isn’t intended.

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