“There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” (Qur’an 42:11)
“There is no comparison to His absoluteness.” (Qur’an 112:4)
When the Athari say that Allah (swt) has hands, a foot, a shin, or a face this does not mean they are making a comparison between God and human beings.
That is IF they affirm these words without delving into the meaning. However, if they say by the apparent meaning than yes this is a comparison.
There is a difference between saying there is nothing like unto him and there is nothing exactly like unto him.
“It is from Solomon, and it is: “In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.” (Qur’an 27:30)
The verse above says that Allah (swt) is the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate. This verse in and of itself is a recognition that others can be compassionate and others can be merciful. Yet those qualities of Mercy and Compassion Allah (swt) excels any creation in this. Allah (swt) is the source of mercy and compassion.
“And He is the Most-Forgiving, the Most-Loving.” (Qur’an 85:14)
The verse above says that Allah (swt) is the Most Forgiving and the Most Loving. This verse in and of itself is a recognition that others can be forgiving and others can be loving. Yet those qualities of Love and Forgiveness Allah (swt) excels any creation in this. Allah (swt) is the source of forgiveness and the source of love.
Are we to say that because Allah (swt) shows Mercy, Compassion, Forgiveness and Love and human beings show these traits and share these attributes that we are now making a comparison between Allah (swt) and the creation?
This is why the Ashari/Maturidi fails when taking this type of approach with the adherents of the Athari/Salafi school.
The problem is that the Athari/Salafi will often use similitude to other creations to defend their position. You see insects have limbs, and animals have hands but they are not like human hands are they?
Well, the answer to that is yes and no. They are like human hands/limbs in that they are parts of a body. They are like humans in that those parts are dependent upon other parts. They are like humans in that that they are comprised of atoms/molecules. They are like humans in that they require nourishment.
They are unlike humans only in the sense that they are not exactly like the hands we have. Hence the term ‘human humans’.
So when an Athari/Salafi makes this similitude they are making a very bad case for themselves. They also negated ‘howness’ for Allah (swt) by the use of such a similitude.
The other thing that Athari/Salafi do which is extremely dishonest and an outright lie is to claim that their opponents deny Allah (swt) described himself by the use of Arabic words like ‘Hand’ ‘Hands’ ‘Eye’ ‘Foot’ ‘Shin’ or ‘Face’.
No one denies that Allah (swt) used these expressions in relationship to himself. To do so would be a blatant denial of the text of the Qur’an. So this is just willful deceit ono behalf of Athari/Salafi proponents.
The issue comes down to this.
Does the Arabic language and does the Qur’an use: idiom/metaphor/simile/hyperbole/personification/alliteration/allusion in its expression?
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him, you will be returned.” (Qur’an 2:245)
It should go without saying that Allah (swt) is not in need of a loan. There are three other places with such wording: Qur’an 57:11, 57:18, and 64:17.
“O you who believe! Be helpers of Allah, just as Jesus son of Mary said to the apostles, “Who are my helpers unto Allah?” The apostles replied, “We are helpers unto Allah.” Then a group from the Children of Israel believed and a group disbelieved. So We strengthened those who believed against their enemies, and they came to prevail.” (Qur’an 61:14)
It should go without saying that Allah (swt) does not need any help. A similar statement is found in Qur’an 3:52.
“They desire to deceive Allah and those who believe, and they deceive only themselves and they do not perceive.” (Qur’an 2:9)
It should go without saying that Allah (swt) cannot be deceived.
“The hypocrite men and hypocrite women are of one another. They enjoin what is wrong and forbid what is right and close their hands. They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them accordingly. Indeed, the hypocrites it is they who are defiantly disobedient.” (Qur’an 9:67)
It should go without saying that Allah (swt) does not forget. A similar verse is in Qur’an 59:19
“Those who hurt Allah and His Messenger — they Allah has cursed in the present world and the world to come, and has prepared for them a humbling chastisement.” (Qur’an 33:57)
Are we really to believe that Allah (swt) can be hurt?
“And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small.” (Qur’an 17:24)
An apparent reading of this text is that human beings have at least two wings one of which is the ‘wing of humility’ that we should lower to our parents from time to time.
All that the Ashari/Maturidi/Mutazali/Ibadhi School does is to understand the usage of such words hand, hands, foot, eye, shin, face, side etc. in a way that the Arabic language allows for.
Other uses of the word hand in the Qur’an.
“Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands. So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself. And he who fulfills that which he has promised Allah – He will give him a great reward.” (Qur’an 48:10)
This is a metaphorical usage of the word hand that is allowed within the context of the Qur’an itself. Will it be said that people who have no hands or people who are amputees could never make such a pledge?
“And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned, but He pardons much.”(Qur’an 42:30)
Are we to understand from the above verse that as long as we do evil with our tongues, eyes, feet that disaster will not befall us? As far as those who do not have physical hands does this verse still apply to them?
“And also prohibited to you are all married women except those your right hands possess.” (Qur’an 4:24)
Are we to understand by this verse that a person who has no right hand or a person who was an amputee would not be permitted to marry women as he has no “right hand” to possess them? Certainly not.
“Oh Prophet, say to whoever is in your hands of the captives, “If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what was taken from you, and He will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 8:70)
Are we supposed to imagine that the Blessed Prophet (saw) was a giant with little tiny people in his hands!?!
“And remember Our servants Ibrahim and Ishaq and Yaqoub, men who possessed hands and vision.” (Qur’an 38:45)
Why draw attention to the obvious? That Ishaq, Yaqoub and Ibrahim possessed hands? This is another language device.
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