Al Ghazzali Chastises Those Who Worship a Body

Al Ghazzali explains how narrations and ayats which may appear to have corporeal interpretation are to be handled. His warning to those who stray into anthropomorphism is dire indeed…

‘Likewise, these literal indications that give a false impression have been deflected from the false imagination by reason of those many contexts, some of which are the knowledge…One of them happens to be the knowledge that they have not bee ordered to worship physical idols, and that whoever worships a material object has worshipped a physical idol, whether the material happens to be small or large, ugly or pretty, descending low or high, above the Earth or on the a Throne. And the negation of the state of being a material object and the negation of their inseparable characteristics was known by all of them (i.e the Salaf – these are the people Al Ghazzali is referring to in this section) with certainty or without reflection, because Allah’s Messenger (SAW) gave notice that one is to out of his way in declaring God’s transcendence above imperfection on the basis of His statement ‘He has no compliment’ [112:4], His statement, ‘And do not make rivals to Allah’ [2:22] and with other such statements too numerous to count-in addition to the unequivocal contexts which cannot be reported.

Such [folk] knew these things with a degree of certainty that removed all doubt. That was sufficient to acquaint them with the impossibility of the re being a ‘hand’ which is a body part composed of flesh and bone, or of another material object. Such is the case with respect all the rest of the literal indications, since they would indicate no more than the character of a body and it’s accidents were he to make mention of a material object in an unqualified fashion. So when he made mention of something which was not a material object in an unqualified fashion, the listener knew without reflection that it’s literal meaning was not intended. Rather, another meaning that is possible regarding Allah [was intended]. Perhaps that [other unstated] meaning may be the specific intent, and maybe it is not the specific intent, but this is what removes any problem or confusion.

So if it is said, ‘then why did he not mention them in clear words that are not subject to interpretation such that their literal indications would not give the impression of something ignorant, and not to the layperson or the young child?’ To this we would say, because he only spoke to people in the language of the Arabs-and there are no words in the Arabic language that clearly indicate those meanings without being subject to interpretation. So how could there be clear expressions in the language, while the inventor of the language does not understand those meanings?”

‘A Return To Purity In Creed’ (literally ‘Restraining Ordinary Men From Thoelogy’), Chapter 3, fifth example. Imam Al Ghazzali.

-Interestingly, this is the very last book Imam Al Ghazzali wrote, in the month of his death, so it shows the absurdity and deception of the False Salafis who claim that he altered his Ashari position before his death.

-The harsh equivocation of worshipping a material body of any kind (even a ‘Hand but without a how’ or a ‘Body unlike bodies’) with nothing less than the anathema of idol worship should be a cue to serious introspection for Ibn Tamiyya’s (numerous) devotees.

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