Wayfarer's Rest

Some assorted ramblings and occasional thoughts from Talib al-Habib. Updated randomly and irregularly (if at all). Talib takes no responsiblity for anything that he may write, as responsiblity implies capacity, and capacity implies a sound mind...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

'make me one of those who will see your blessed face'

salams

a reply to a brother who emailed questioning the following lines in 'Allahu' from the album 'Songs of Innocence:'

Oh Lord of the Worlds, full of mercy and grace
Make me one of those who will see your blessed face'


Question:

Just want to ask the Nur Al Habib team.... if they know much about this artist: Talil Al Habib?.......because i have listned to one of his track and in it this Talil Al Habib says something something 'face of Allah' is that not a wahabie thing to say? by putting human like attributes to Allah? the lyirc is in Track 4 it goes: 'Make me one of those who will see your blessed face....'
Please someomne correct me if i am wrong...... i hope to hear your opinions....Jazakallah


Answer:

as salamu alaykum brother

Nur al-Habib Productions have passd this email on to me (talib) for answering. Jazakallah for your question, and for having the adab to ask it of me rather than others.

Firstly, it should be noted that the lyrics of each song - especially Allahu (which concerns aqida) - were submitted in advance of recording them (2 years ago now) to senior ulama including Shaykh Gibril Haddad (Syria - a specialist in Ahl as-Sunna aqida) and Allama Rasul Baksh Sa`idi (Birmingham, UK - my teacher) for proofing. They were also approved by Hazrat Ghulam Muhyi ad-Din Kazi al-Chishti (South Africa - my shaykh) .

To get on to your question: there are two issues here.

1. Seeing Allah
2. Allah's 'face'

In terms of the first, it is stated in the Quran that the believers will see Allah on the Day of Qiyama (explicitly) and in Paradise (implicitly). 'On that Day faces will be radiant, gazing at their Lord (ila rabbiha nazira)' (75:22-23) is the explicit reference; and 'for those of ihsan will be beauty and even more,' (10:26) where the commentators have mentioned that 'beauty' refers to Paradise and 'extra' is the vision of Allah (I heard this directly from Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqubi). Regarding the connection between the two verses, Imam Qurtubi narrates in his Tafsir al-Jami li-Ahkam al-Quran the hadith of Suhayb from Sahih al-Muslim:

" ibn Umar used to say [in commentary of the verse of Sura Yunus] that, 'the most honoured with Allah of the people of paradise are those who will look upon His 'face' (wajh) morning and evening. Then he recited the ayat, 'verily faces on that day will be radiant, gazing at their Lord.' [This was confirmed by al-Hasan and Ikrimah]. It is also said that 'gazing' means 'expectant of reward from their Lord' as related by ibn Umar and Mujahid. " This meaning is also confirmed by the hadith of ibn Umar narrated by Tirmidhi, which also specifically mentions that the people of Paradise will see the Face of Allah (yanzur ila wajhihi).

It goes without saying that the 'seeing' referred to is bila kayf (without concept of the modality or the 'how-ness' of the seeing).

In regards to the 'face' (wajh) of Allah, then this too is a phrase that recurs frequently in the Quran. Please refer to, for example: 'Wheresoever you turn, there is the Face of Allah' (2:115), 'whatever of good you give benefits your own souls, and you shall only do so seeking the Face of Allah' (2:272), and 'all upon it shall perish, save for the Face of your Lord, full of grace and majesty' (55:27).

Each of these usages, of course, indicates a sligthtly different meaning. The word 'wajh' is unquestionably among the mutashabihat (those words whose meaning can never be properly understood by the intellect). However, one does find that the phrase 'ibtigha wajh Allah' - or 'seeking the face of Allah,' is used as a metaphor to mean 'to purely seek the pleasure of Allah.' This is the sense in which it is used in the second ayat quoted, as well as throughout Islamic history.

The words in question, therefore, are both a dua to be among the people of ihsan on the Day of Qiyama, as well as to be among those who sincerely seek to earn Allah's good pleasure. By the 'wahhabi' aspect, I assume you mean the danger of tajsim (anthropomorphism). May Allah preserve us from this. It is not incorrect to attribute a 'wajh' to Allah, as He has attributed this to Himself. What is incorrect, from a doctrinal point of view is to, is to delineate human-based parameters and pre-conceived understandings to the word 'wajh,' such as explaining this as 'a round fleshy countenance with two eyes, a nose and a mouth...'

As mentioned, it is not supposed to be taken in this context, for Allah is glorified beyond all mortal understanding, but rather as explained above. I trust that this explanation meets with your approval, and I sincerely seek forgiveness from Allah if what I have said is incorrect.


wa ma taufiqi illa billah
jazakallah khayra jaza'

was salam
talib al-habib

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is incorrect, from a doctrinal point of view is to, is to delineate human-based parameters and pre-conceived understandings to the word 'wajh,' such as explaining this as 'a round fleshy countenance with two eyes, a nose and a mouth

-The problem is, the word 'face' is exactly this in the english language, ''a round fleshy countenance with two eyes, a nose and a mouth'

Although words like 'hands' can be taken metaphorically in the english language e.g 'he has a hand in everything', I've not heard or known of the word 'face' to be taken metaphorically.

4:50 PM  
Blogger talib said...

salams

sidi, you are correct.

However, a word can have literal and metaphorical meanings in Arabic just as well as in English. So, for example, as you mentioned, 'hand' can take the meaning of 'a part in' in English. Similarly, however, 'yad' in Arabic can have the metaphorical meaning of 'power.'

'The word 'wajh' in Arabic also has the sense of 'essence,' 'presence,' 'pleasure' and others besides. In English, on the other hand, it does not. This presents a difficulty when attempting translation of metaphorical usages of Arabic words. Becasue of this, I have since heard that Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqubi recommends leaving these words untranslated; so for example, saying, 'the Yad of Allah is above their hands.'

The other issue, of course, is that with the mutashabihat - those words used to describe Allah - neither the literal or the metaphorical meaning can be positively attributed to Him. For Allah is glorified beyond all boundaries of human speech.

Language conveys shared meaning, or shared understanding. As Allah is necessarily beyond comprehension, so too words can never encompass understanding of Allah.

For a useful discussion about literalism and the Ahl as-Sunna understanding of Allah's attributes, see:

http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/littlk.htm

was salam

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jazakallah for your reply and just wanted to say barakallahu feekum for your work, me and my friends enjoy listening to the nasheeds you produce.

god bless.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Saneaah said...

Assalamu Alaykum,

To clarify everything, can we just know who you follow as in school of thought because there's different schools of thought and each say they own thing so there's no point in debating/discussing over nothing isn't it?

Jazakallah

Wassalam

7:37 AM  
Blogger talib said...

salams

jazakallah for the comments. May Allah bless you all and forgive me.

To answer Saneah: I am Maturidi in aqida, Hanafi in madhab and Chishti in tariqa, alhamdulillah.

In the context of this specific discussion, it is only the aqida aspect that could possibly play a role. In this case, however, there is - as far as I am aware - agreement among the various streams of aqida extant today. The position that Allah could not be seen was classically that of the Mu`tazila (rationalists).

was salam
talib

11:54 AM  
Blogger talib said...

just an addition:

of course, it is absolutely true that this is not a matter worth getting into debates over! Our responsibility is to do what is expected of us as believers and attain the pleasure of our Lord.

talib

11:56 AM  
Blogger Furqan said...

Just a question... Are those musical instruments you use in your songs or just Daff?

12:01 AM  
Blogger talib said...

salams Furqan

Daff only sidi... though of course the daff is a musical instrument - but let's not go there!

was salam
talib

12:06 AM  
Blogger Niqabi said...

As'salaam Wa'alikum,

I hope this finds you in the best of Health and Imaan

how can you be chasti and be another madhab..when it's a sect in itself( if I understood the info i read on it, in breif, correctly.)
i looked it up, but i don't understand how one can have a madhab but follow another sects tariqa ( ways)

i'm asking just to know in general, because i've never learned of such until reading it in one of your replies.

May Allah bless you
Wa'alikum As'salaam.

7:42 PM  
Blogger talib said...

wa alaykum salam Niqabi

Don't worry - it can be slightly difficult to understand if you're unfamiliar with the delineation of the Islamic sciences. Being Chishti in tariqa has nothing to do with following the Hanafi madhab in fiqh, or adopting Maturidi positions in aqida.

It is similar to saying, 'I am Indian in origin, British in nationality, and a graduate of Oxford University.' Each one is self-sufficient and capable of combining with the others.

Check out www.sunnipath.com - they have articles on this like 'the Way of Sunni Islam' for more information. Allah bless you also.

was salam
talib

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assalaamualikum Brother,
I just want to thank you for producing your beautiful and thought-provoking nasheeds. They are the best I've ever heard and move me to tears everytime, especially Allahu. May Allah continue to bless you and your family,
Waalikumasalaam,

4:56 AM  

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