June 23, 2024

 

Ta'weel or Tafweedh?


Ta’weel or Tafweedh?

Author: Sajid Mahmood Ansari

What is anthropomorphism?

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics, emotions, and behaviors to Almighty Allah. In Islam, anthropomorphism is considered a major sin, as it goes against the Islamic principle of Tawhid, which is the belief in the oneness of God and that He is incomparable and cannot be limited by human attributes or physical form. The Quran repeatedly states that God is not like any of His creation and that He is beyond human comprehension.
The Islamic tradition emphasizes that God should be worshipped only in the manner that He has commanded, and any form of idol worship or anthropomorphism is strictly prohibited. The worship of anything other than God, including the attribution of human qualities to God, is considered shirk, which is considered the greatest sin in Islam.

Pagan Arabs and Anthropomorphism

Prior to the advent of Islam, many Arabs practiced a form of polytheism that included the worship of various gods and goddesses and the attribution of human-like characteristics to them. This form of anthropomorphism was prevalent in Arabian Peninsula and in the surrounding regions, and it was a common feature of the pagan religious practices of the time.

However, with the advent of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad emphasized the belief in the oneness of God and taught that God should not be anthropomorphized in any way. He also rejected the worship of multiple gods and the practice of attributing human qualities to God, which was considered a major sin in Islamic belief.

The teachings of Islam helped to reshape the religious beliefs and practices of the Arabian Peninsula and provided a clear framework for the worship of the one true God. Through the Quranic teachings and the example of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam rejected the notion of anthropomorphizing God and instead emphasized the belief in a transcendent and incomparable deity.

The Qur’anic Metaphors and Anthropomorphism

The Qur’an uses a variety of metaphorical expressions and descriptions to help convey the greatness and attributes of God. While these expressions are not meant to be taken literally, they are used to illustrate the qualities of God and to provide a deeper understanding of His nature and character.

For example, the Qur’an describes God as “the Light of the heavens and the earth” (24:35), “the Most Merciful” (1:3), and “the All-Knowing” (2:29). These expressions are not meant to suggest that God has a physical form, but rather to convey His attributes of wisdom, compassion, and knowledge.

It is important to note that while the Qur’an uses metaphorical expressions to describe God, it also emphasizes that God is beyond human comprehension and cannot be fully understood through human language or concepts. The Qur’an states, “There is nothing like unto Him” (42:11) and “No vision can grasp Him” (6:103), which emphasizes the transcendence of God and the limits of human understanding.

The Qur’an asserts that God has certain qualities and attributes, such as having a face, hands, eyes, and other human-like organs. However, these attributes should not be understood in a literal or physical sense. Instead, they are meant to be understood as metaphorical expressions that help convey the greatness and majesty of God.

In conclusion, the Qur’an asserts that God has certain qualities and attributes, such as having a face, hands, eyes, and other human-like organs, but these expressions should not be taken literally. They are meant to provide a deeper understanding of the nature and character of God within the limits of human comprehension and to convey the greatness and majesty of God in a way that is accessible to people.

Difference between Ta’weel and Tafweedh

Ta’weel and Tafweedh are two related but distinct concepts in Islamic theology. They are both related to the interpretation of the Divine Attributes of God mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadith (Prophetic traditions).

Ta’weel refers to the process of interpreting or reinterpreting the metaphorical expressions used in the Qur’an and Hadith to describe the attributes of God. The purpose of Ta’weel is to avoid anthropomorphism and to maintain the belief in the oneness of God by interpreting the expressions in a way that does not suggest physical characteristics or limitations.

Tafweedh, on the other hand, refers to the process of leaving the meaning of certain expressions or passages in the Qur’an and Hadith uninterpreted, without assigning a specific meaning or interpretation. The purpose of Tafweedh is to avoid going beyond the limits of human understanding and to acknowledge the transcendence of God and the limits of human comprehension.

In conclusion, Ta’weel is concerned with interpreting the expressions used to describe the attributes of God, while Tafweedh is concerned with leaving the meaning of certain expressions uninterpreted, in recognition of the transcendence of God and the limits of human comprehension. Both concepts are meant to preserve the belief in the oneness of God and to avoid anthropomorphism.

Ta’weel or Tafweedh?


Ta’weel and Tafweedh both aim to avoid literal interpretations of the metaphorical expressions used to describe the attributes of God in the Qur’an and Hadith. Both concepts are intended to maintain the belief in the oneness of God by avoiding anthropomorphism and preserving the transcendence of God.

The main difference between Ta’weel and Tafweedh lies in the approach to avoiding literal interpretations. Ta’weel involves reinterpreting the expressions in a way that avoids suggesting physical characteristics or limitations, while Tafweedh involves leaving the meaning of certain expressions uninterpreted, in recognition of the limits of human comprehension and the transcendence of God.

In conclusion, both Ta’weel and Tafweedh serve to avoid literal interpretations of the metaphorical expressions used to describe the attributes of God, and both are meant to preserve the belief in the oneness of God and the transcendence of God.

We have found that Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (May Allah have mercy on him) used both approaches to describe Divine Attributes. Sometimes he went with Ta’weel, and in some other cases, he preferred Tafweedh. So we can conclude that Taweel and Tafweedh both are reliable approaches, and none of these can be declared an innovation. Allah knows the best.

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