Part 9: Having Imān in Al-Qadar (Divine Pre-Decree), the Creation of the Throne, the Pen and the Water―The Foundations of the Sunnah of Imām Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: From the Explanation of Shaikh An-Najmī.

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Belief in al-Qadar and a Discussion of the Creation of the Throne, the Pen and the Water.

The Imām of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamā’ah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241H) stated:

الإيمان بالقدر خيره وشره والتصديق بالأحاديث فيه, والايمان بها, لا يقال لم ولا كيف, إنما هو التصديق, والامان بها, ومن لم يعرف تفسير الحديث ويبلغه عقله فقد كفي ذلك وأحكم له, فعليه الإيمان به والتسليم له

“To have Imān in the Divine Pre-Decree (Al-Qadar), its good and its evil, and to affirm the truthfulness of the narrations concerning it, and to have Imān in them, and it is not to be said [about the pre decree], ‘Why?’ Or [about Allah], ‘How?’ Rather, it is merely a matter of affirming the truthfulness of the narrations (ahādeeth) and having Imān in them. And whoever does not know the explanation of a hadeeth and his intellect does not comprehend it, then the hadeeth itself is sufficient for him, and it has been perfected for him, so upon him is to have Imān in it and to submit to it.


Imām Ahmad (rahimahullāh) prefaced his work ‘Usool us-Sunnah’ with the statement, “The Foundations of the Sunnah with are… (أصول السنة عندنا)” He then went on to list the foundations of the Sunnah that the Salaf of this Ummah agreed upon.

You should know that the Qadar is that which Allah the (Most High) has decreed for His servants and upon His servants, from good and from evil. Whether it be Imān or Kufr that is decreed, or happiness or misery that is decreed, or wealth and prosperity that is decreed, or sickness, or good health, or other than that, then all of these matters have been ordained and decreed. And this is been proven by the authentic narrations.

From them is that the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “The first of that which  Allah created was the Pen, and He said to it, ‘Write!’ The pen said, ’What shall I write?’ Allah commanded it to write everything that would take place from that time until the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by Tirmidhi, Imām al-Ājurri, Ibn Abi ʿĀsim and declared saheeh by Al-Albāni).

There occurs in another Hadeeth reported from ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAmr ibn al-ʿAas (radiyallahu ʿanhumā) collected by Imām Muslim, where Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “Allah wrote the decree for everything that would occur 50,000 years before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, and His Throne was over the Water.”

Shaikh Ibn ʿUthaymeen (rahimahullāh) discussed the affair of the creation of the Pen, the creation of the Throne and the creation of the Water―a matter which the scholars have differed over (i.e., which of them was created by Allah first?). The first thing we must understand is that this is not a difference in ʿAqeedah, because all of the Sahābah, the Salaf and the Imāms of Hadeeth from the early times have agreed that Allah created the Throne and He ascended it, they all agreed in the creation of the pen 50,000 years before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, they all agreed that the Throne is over the Water. The point of difference was over of these was created first. So, this is not a difference in ʿAqeedah but it is a difference in which one came first. The ʿAqeedah (Creed) is one, and this difference is a branch from the ʿAqeedah. If someone was to deny the creation of the Pen and the Throne, then this would be a deviation in the ʿAqeedah.

Imām Al-Bukhāri collected a Hadeeth in his ‘Saheeh’ from ʿImrān Ibn Hussain (radiyallahu ʿanhu) that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “There was Allah, and there was nothing else before Him, and His Throne was over the Water. Then Allah created the Heavens and the Earth, and He wrote everything in the Book.”

So, this Hadeeth mentions that the Throne was over the water which is why some scholars said: We do not know whether the Water was created before the Throne.

There is a hadeeth that Shaikh Al-Albāni declared to be weak but some of the scholars such as At-Tabari, At-Tirmidhi, Adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Taymiyah graded authentic. This hadeeth was reported by At-Tirmidhi, Al-Bayhaqi, Imām Ahmad and Ibn Majāh from Abu Razeen Al-ʿUqayli where he said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Where was our Lord before He created the Heavens and the Earth?’ So the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said, ‘He was above the white clouds. There was no air under Him, and no air above Him, and He created His Throne upon the Water.” In the wording of Al-Bayhaqi: ‘He was above the clouds and no air was under Him and no air was above Him. He created His Throne, then He ascended over it.’

So there are narrations that mention other things, such as the clouds (although there is a difference as regards the authenticity of this hadeeth as we’ve stated), the Pen (mentioned in an authentic hadeeth) and the ʿArsh (Throne) which is also mentioned in the Qur’ān.

Additionally, there occurs in a hadeeth reported by At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud, where the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: “Indeed, the first thing that Allah created was the Pen.” The previous hadeeth of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿAmr ibn Al-ʿAas stated that Allah wrote the Decree for everything that would occur 50,000 years before the creation of the Heavens and Earth, and His Throne was above the Water. So many scholars understood the narration, ‘The first thing that Allah created was the Pen’ to mean ‘created in this universe’ i.e., before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, but not necessarily before the creation of the ʿArsh (Throne). This means that the ʿArsh was already there above the Water, then, 50,000 years before the creation of the Heavens and Earth, Allah created the Pen. Why? Because the ʿArsh is not a part of the Heavens and the Earth; it is above the Seven Heavens, therefore the first thing that Allah created was the ʿArsh, which was over the Water. There is also an opinion of the scholars that the water came before the ʿArsh, and Allah knows best.

Nevertheless, Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamāʿah affirm that the ʿArsh, the Kursi (Footstool), the Pen and the Water are all created by Allah (the Most High). As for which one was created first, then Allah knows best. That which seems more apparent is that the ʿArsh was the first creation, and Allah knows best.

There occurs in a hadeeth reported by Imām Ahmad in his Musnad and by Imām At-Tirmidhi in his Sunan and others, declared authentic by Shaikh al-Albāni, that the Sahābah (radiyallahu ʿanhum) said:

“O Messenger of Allah, that which we do [of deeds]―are they not already written, decreed and settled upon?” So, he replied: “Yes, it has already been decreed and settled.” They then asked: “Should we not leave off doing deeds and just rely upon that which has been written for us?” The Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) said: ‘Rather perform (good) deeds, verily that for which you were created will be made easy for you.”

This narration affirms the fact that everything has already been decreed, but we must still strive and do what we have been commanded to do. That which has been decreed for you will take place and that which has not been decreed for you will not take place.

It is obligatory to have Imān in the Pre-Decree and to submit to it and whoever abandons having belief in the Pre-Decree, then he has no share of Islām. For this reason there occurs the hadeeth of ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar (radiyallahu ʿanhumā) narrated from Yahyah bin Yaʿmar (from the Tābiʿeen) who said: “The first person to speak about Qadar (i.e., denying it) was Maʿbad al-Juhani in Basra. So I left from Basra with Humayd bin ʿAbdur-Rahmān Al-Himyari for the purpose of performing Hajj or ʿUmrah. We said that if we meet anyone from the companions of Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) then we shall ask him about what these people are saying in the affair of Al-Qadar. So we came across the companion ʿAbdullah ibn ʿUmar (radiyallahu ʿanhumā) as he was entering the masjid. So we accompanied him, one of us on his right-hand side, and the other on his left-hand side. My companion left the talking to me, so I said: ‘O Abu ʿAbdur Rahmān. There have appeared in our land people who recite the Qur’ān and who are known for knowledge. However, they say that there is no Pre-Decree and the affairs come about newly, just as they occur.’ Ibn ʿUmar replied: ‘If you come across them, then inform them that I have nothing to do with them, I am free of them and they are free of me. By Him by who ʿAbdullah ibn ‘Umar swears, if they were to give in charity in gold equal to the size of the mountain of Uhud, it would not be accepted from them until they believe in the Pre-Decree.’” He then mentioned the hadeeth from his father ʿUmar ibn Al-Khattāb when Jibreel (ʿalaihis-salām) came to the Prophet (salallāhu ʿalaihi wasallam) asking him about Islām, Imān and Ihsān, and the signs of the Hour, and this hadeeth mentioned belief in the Qadar.

The Qadariyyah and the Jabriyyah

Those who went astray in the affair of Qadar fell into two camps:

1. The deniers of the Pre-Decree claim that the person himself is the creator of his own actions. They are the Qadariyyah and Muʿtazilah. However, Ahlus-Sunnah believe that Allah created us and all that we do (See Surah Sāffāt 37:96).

2. Those who go into exaggeration and extremes in affirming Qadar such that they say that a person is compelled to do what he does―they are the Jabriyyah and Jahmiyyah.

Both of these groups are upon bidʿah and extremes. Ahlus-Sunnah, however, believe in the Pre-Decree and they believe that the servant works himself to earn the reward or the punishment, and he has a choice to choose between right and wrong. This has been affirmed by Allah the Most High Himself in His saying:

لِمَن شَاءَ مِنكُمْ أَن يَسْتَقِيمَ
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

“To whomsoever among you who wills to walk straight. And you cannot will unless (it be) that Allah wills-the Lord of the ʿalameen.” (Surah at-Takwir 81:28-29)

Shaikh al-Fawzan (hafidhahullah) mentions that the first verse is a refutation of the Jabriyyah because in it Allah (the Most High) affirms a will for mankind whereas the Jabariyyah say mankind has no will or choice. The second verse is a refutation of the Qadariyyah as it affirms the Will of Allah. So, the choice of the servant does not exit the Decree of Allah. We cannot do anything except what Allah has willed us to do, but within this, Allah has given us a choice. Another proof of this is the saying of Allah (the Most High):

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا

“And by the soul (of Adam and his offspring) and Him Who perfected him in proportion. Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him.” (Surah Ash-Shams 91: 7-8).

This proves that Allah (the Most High) shows mankind what is right and what is wrong so that they can choose what is right, and leave off what is wrong. Therefore, both the Qadariyyah and the Jabriyyah go to extremes and are deviated. Some scholars refer to both groups as the Qadariyyah because both of them deviate from the affair of true Qadar.

والحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين.

سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك أشهد أن لا إله إلا أنت، أستغفرك وأتوب إليك

Abu Khadeejah Abdul-Wāhid.
Copyright 2023.

This article was transcribed by Umm Maryam (may Allah reward her) from the classes of Abu Khadeejah ( Please share it with others.

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