Ibn Taymiyya applies Ta’wil of Allah’s attributes.


Everyone upon the earth will perish but The face of your Lord will remain, possessor of majesty and honor.”(Qur’an 55:27)

Everything will perish except His face.” (Qur’an 28:88)

Ibn Taymiyya (r) related that Ja’far al-Sadiq’s interpretation of Allah’s “face” as meaning the Religion of Islam, and al-Dahhak’s interpretation of the face in the same verse as meaning: “Allah’s essence, Paradise, the Fire, and the Throne.”

You can imagine the kind of struggle those who say we do not apply ta’wil had when coming to the verses above. If taken at their apparent meaning it indicates that the face is the only attribute of Allah (swt) that would remain while the other attributes would perish.

You cannot have a divine being that is both annihilated and existing forever at the same time.  So what does Ibn Taymiyya do in this situation? What any other rational human being would do. Using the rules of grammar he applied ta’wil! 


As for Ibn Taymiyya himself, he interprets his face as meaning direction (jiha), so that the meaning would be for him: “Everything will perish save that by which Allah’s direction is sought.” He then adds, “This is what the vast majority of the Salaf have said.”

Source: (Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu’at al-fatawa 2:428)


Now proponents of inconsistency will exclaim “This is no ta’wil at all!” “The face is not necessarily an attribute.” Yet Ibn Taymiyya in Al-Aqidah al-Wasitiyyah has clearly stated that the face is an attribute of Allah (swt).


However, the response is that whatever made the “wajh” not necessarily refer to one of the attributes is precisely the type of ta’wil that Ibn Taymiyya has allowed for others to open the door!


In fact, if it was not for the Ta’wil which Ibn Taymiyya employed here it would not occur to anyone’s mind that the face is anything but one attribute among the other attributes of Allah’s names (asma’ al-sifat).


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4 responses to “Ibn Taymiyya applies Ta’wil of Allah’s attributes.

  1. Abdullah

    Salaam akhi,

    Agreed! I myself used to be a Salafi until I started using my brains (not applicable to most Salafi’s). I just don’t understand when they say: “you must take the apparent (Dhahir) meaning of His Attributes”. And when you ask them what is the Dhahir meaning, they say: “What comes to the mind first!”. I’m like, what?? Am I supposed to imagine that our Creator is a huge Man-like creature with 2 hands, 2 feet, 2 eyes, literally ascending/descending, etc??

    I almost lost my Islam because of these people! As you mentioned in the article, even their great Sheikh Ibn Taymiya made Ta’wil. Allah (SWT) also uses the Masculine Pronoun (He, Him, His) when referring to Himself so surely, it does NOT mean that He is a man or a male is any form! He also uses the Royal Plural (We, Us) so that also does NOT mean He is more than one! SubhanAllah!

    Then again, I don’t bother with them anymore coz I’m really over it. People can believe whatever they want to believe and Allah will judge us.

    Take care brother,

    Salaam 🙂

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