Sheikh Ibn al-Bana al-Hanbali (d. 471H) on Tafwid

Sheikh Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan b. Ahmad b. ‘Abd Allah b. al-Bana was a renowned Baghdadi Hanbali scholar of his time. He passed away in 471 Hijra, i.e. 190 years before the birth of Ibn Taymiyya.

The book كتاب الأصول المجردة على ترتيب القصيدة المجودة is a commentary by Sheikh Ibn al-Bana to the qasida(poem) of Abu Bakr ibn Abi Dawud al-Sijistani (d. 316) on the creed of Ahlus Sunnah.

Provided below are two instances from this book where one can notice that the hanbali scholar engages in Tawfid (in the same way as Asharis do) and also clearly negates anthropomorphic meanings.

Ibn al bana on tafwid - 1


Original source for citation:

In the page cited above, he explains the below couplet:

And a Jahmee will deny His Right Hand,
While both of His Hands are giving out all kinds of bounties.

He quotes a Quranic verse and a hadith related to the above couplet, after which he says:

This attribute and other attributes mentioned in reports and verses, it is obligatory to have belief in them, attestation, acceptance and verification. If it asked, “what is its tafsir and tawil?” Say, “I do not know that”. I have not heard any of the Imams have interpreted them but instead they passed it as they heard it.  {It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah . But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.}[Q3:7]

The above demonstrates the way of the Hanbalis in adopting the methodology of tafwid in opposition to the jahmi sect. They acknowledge the attribute of Allah however they do not know the meaning and instead leave it as it has come. By quoting the verse from Quran 3:7, the sheikh is explaining that these attributes are from the “unclear” verses.

Based on the above, we note the righteous Hanbalis had essentially the same methodology of tafwid as the Asharis. But modern day pseudo-salafis who claim to follow the hanbali school in aqeeda instead reject the way of tafwid and accuse the Asharis of being a jahmee.


In the above citation, the Sheikh explains the following couplets:

And say: The Ever-Compelling descends each night,
Without a how, magnificent is the One God and most worthy of praise.

Down to the lowest heaven, granting bounties from His Grace,
As the gates of the heavens are opened and spread widely.

He says: Is there anyone seeking forgiveness who would like to meet a Forgiver?
Or anyone seeking bounties of goodness and provisions, so he could be given (what he requests)?

A group have reported this whose reports are not to be rejected,
But sadly some have went wrong and did not believe them, marring themselves.

where he quotes two narrations from the Prophet related to the nuzul of Allah, after which he says:

وهذه وما أشبهها إن حمل النزول فيها على فراغِ مكان وشغل مكان وانتقال فهو كفر

This (i.e., Nuzul of Allah) should not be likened to descent to empty space, occupying space and movements, as that is kufr

Based on the above, we note here that the righteous Hanbalis considered attributing Allah with movement as kufr and they did not shy away from stating this and negating similar anthropomorphic meanings.

However, compare the way of Hanbalis with the below fatwa from modern day scholar of pseudo-salafism, Ibn Baz:


He says:

It is known that negating the act of movement and transition involves describing without knowledge how Allah’s Attributes are. We are prohibited from going into this subject as we do not know the manner of His Attributes (Glorified be He). This is because neither Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) nor His Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us of their manner.

Our message to the Salafiyyah movement is to return back to the pure way of the hanbali school, the way of tafwid and the rejection of anthropomorphism.


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