al-Qadim as a Name of Allah

11 Jun

In his famous treatise on the Sunni creed, Imam al-Tahawi uses the word ‘al-Qadim’ to refer to Allah, meaning pre-existing or without beginning. This has attracted criticism by some contemporaries who deem such wording as baseless, with some even calling it a bid’a. Such a rash claim against as great a figure as al-Tahawi is harsh, considering the following:

In al-Hakim’s al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn we find al-Qadim listed as one of the Names of Allah (volume 1, page 239, hadith #42 in the 2014 Dar al-Ta’sil edition). Now then, all the narrators in this chain are used by al-Bukhari and Muslim, except for ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. Husayn al-Turjuman, who is considered weak by al-Bukhari, Muslim, Yahya b. Ma’in, and Ibn ‘Adi.

Another narration is found in Sunan Abi Dawud (hadith #466 in Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut’s edition) whereby Allah’s Authoratative Power (Sultanih) is described as al-Qadim. Bear in mind that Allah’s Attributes are inseperable from His Essence.

In summary, condemning al-Tahawi, one of the great hadith scholars, for using a word to describe Allah that was in currency among hadith narrators, in light of the above, long before theologians exerted their influence on the sciences, is a harsh stance to take. Rather than deeming it a baseless innovation, the best stance would be that it is at least based on a weak hadith and can be used to describe one of Allah’s attributes. And Allah knows best!

1 Comment

Posted by on June 11, 2015 in Aqidah


One response to “al-Qadim as a Name of Allah

  1. al-Ash'ari

    July 17, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    There is a difference in giving Allah our Lord a Name and an Attribute. There are more Attributes (known or revealed) than Names. This implies that we cannot name Allah based on any Attribute He truthfully posses per Scripture. It is not allowed in the Shari’a to give Allah a Name He has not given to Himself (nor an Attribute by that matter). There is no restrain in that; it is simply forbidden. So any comment of restrain by scholars is actually a soft stance. Of course, if a statement of any scholar is based on a proof text – such a Hadith – and it is weak or inadmissible, there is not much to blame. But one must not entertain the idea to go lightly with such an important issue as naming our Creator, whatever creator (Imam al-Tahawi included, may Allah raise him with the Siddiqin and Salihin on the Day of Resurrection) might have said or stated.


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