The Nirgun-Sargun conundrum Part 1 - 5

By Abu Adeeba & Abu 'Abdur-Rahman


This is interrelated with the previous argument. Allaah tells us in the Qur'an:

"Had it been from other than Allaah, they would most certainly have found in it many Ikhtilaaf (contradictions/ discrepancies/ inconsistencies)."  (Qur'an 4:82) 

He also says: 

"Allaah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful message in the form of a Book consistent with itself." (Qur'an 39:23) 

Reflect for a moment over this saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: 

"A disbeliever will be asked: suppose you had as much gold as to fill the earth. Would you offer it to ransom yourself (from the Hell-Fire)? He will reply, "Yes." Then it will be said to him, "You were asked for something easier than that (to join none in worship with Allaah by accepting Islaam, but you refused.)" 

Humankind will be asked something easy not something overly difficult, let alone impossible! Collecting all the gold in the world is not essentially impossible although it may be practically so. However, demanding the affirmation, with certainty, of an impossible concept is mental oppression and it is, unlike collecting all the gold in the world, essentially impossible. Imagine God demanded of His creation that they pray to Him in a non-human language; to breathe without breathing; to stand without standing; to stand and sit at the same time without standing or sitting; to believe that God is unattributed (Nirgun) and attributed (Sargun). All of this is impossible to do and, thus, unreasonable to ask. 

In the Islamic worldview, this is considered: "burdening a soul with more than it is capable of enduring" let alone burdening it with that which is impossible to endure. Allaah from His infinite Mercy says: 

"No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear." (Qur'an 2:233)

An alternative translation of the meaning (from Pickthall) is "no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity":  

"We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability." (Qur'an 6:152) 

"No burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear."  (Qur'an 7:142) 

"On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear: before Us is a record which clearly shows the truth: they will never be wronged." (Qur'an 23:62) 

Allaah does not burden a soul with more than it can bear in a practical and physical sense. We ask: what about in a spiritual or mental sense? Or is it that oppression is only restricted to the physical realms? The Prophet related from his Lord that Allaah said: 

"O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another." [1] 

With Allaah further saying in the Qur'an:

"Allah does not desire injustice for (His) servants" (Qur'an 40:31) 

"Verily, Allaah enjoins Al-'Adl (i.e. justice and worshipping none but Allaah Alone) and Al-Ihsaan [2], and giving (help) to kith and kin and [Allaah] forbids Al-Fahsha' [3], and Al-Munkar [4], and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed." (Qur'an 16:90)


[1] This is a 'hadith qudsi'; speech attributed to Allaah in the words of the Prophet, thus, is deemed different from the Qur'an in that respect.
[2] To be patient in performing your duties to Allaah, totally for Allaah's sake and in accordance with the Sunnah.
[3] All evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, lying, giving false witness, taking the life without just cause, etc.
[4] All that is prohibited by Islaamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deed, etc.


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