We believe that Allah is One (wahid), Alone (ahad), Peerless (laysa kamithlihu shay'), Eternal (qadim),without Beginning or End; He is the First and the Last (al-awwal wa al-akhir). He is the All-Knowing (al-alim), the Wise (al-hakim), the Just (al-'adil), the Living (al-hayy), the Omnipotent (al-qadir), Independent of all things (al-ghaniy), the All-Hearing (as-sami'), the All-Seeing (al-basir). He is not to be likened to His creatures, therefore He has neither body nor appearance nor substance nor form; He is neither heavy nor light, neither moving nor motionless; He has no place nor any time, and no-one can point to Him as there is no-thing like Him. Nothing is equal to Him, nor has He any opposite. He has no wife, no child, no partner and there is none comparable to Him. Vision does not perceive Him, yet He perceives everything. Anyone who likens Him to His creatures, for example one who supposes that Allah has a face, hands and eyes, or says that He comes down to the lowest heaven, or that He will appear to the people of paradise like a moon, and so forth, he is as one who does not believe in Allah and is ignorant of the true nature of Allah, Who is above all deficiency. Yet everything we imagine will be a creature like ourselves. As Imam Baqir (A.S.) said:
He is far greater than the explanation of the wise,
and far beyond
Similarly, one who believes that He will be seen by His creatures on the Day of Judgement is an unbeliever. even though he does not liken Allah to anyone in appearance. Such pretenders have merely accepted the letter of the Qur'an and the hadith without using their intelligence. Indeed, they have chosen to ignore their intelligence, for they have not taken note of the use of figures of speech which the nature of language necessitates. Thus they have misunderstood the true meaning of the Quar'an and the hadith.
We believe that the Unity of Allah (tawhid) must be in all respects, just as for His Unity of Essence (tawhid dhati) we believe that Allah must be One in His Essence and in the .Necessity of His Existence (wujub alwujud). Secondly, His Essence must be one with His various attributes, as we shall explain below. Likewise, nothing is similar in its attributes to Him. His Knowledge and Ability are unparalleled and He has no partner in Creation nor in Providing for His creatures; therefore none is like Him in any of His Perfections. Thirdly, His Unity must exist in the worship of Him, and worship of any other than Him is not permitted. Nothing must be made a partner to Him in worship, whether the worship be obligatory (e.g. salat) or not (e.g. du'a'). One who ascribes a partner to Him in worship is a polytheist, like one who pretends to be worshipping for the sake of Allah but is in fact worshipping for the sake of some other being. In the eyes of Islam he is akin to an idolator, and both of them are polytheists.
However, pilgrimages to sacred place, such as the
graves of the Holy Prophet (S.A.) or the Imams (A.S.),
and mourning are not kinds of polytheism, as some people
who have attacked the Shi'a have alleged.
And whosoever venerates the rites of the religion, that is of the godliness of their hearts. (22;32)
It has been shown in the law (shar') that these acts are mustahabb. If a man performs these actions with the intention of pleasing Allah, he deserves to be rewarded for them.
We believe that Allah's primary, positive attributes (as-sifat
ath thubutiyyah al-haqiqiyyah), which we call the
attributes of Beauty and Perfection (al-jamal wa
al-kamal), such as Omniscience ('ilm),
Omnipotence (qudrah), Self-Sufficiency (ghina),
Divine Will (iradah), Everlasting Life (hay'ah),
are identical with His Being and are not in addition to
Him, and that His attributes are not apart from His
However, the positive attributes other than the attributes of perfection (the secondary, positive attributes, as-sifat ath-thubutiyyah al idafyyah), such as those of being the Creator (khaliqiyyah), the Provider (raziqiyyah), being Without Beginning (taqaddum) and being the First Cause ('illiyyah), are all contained within one attribute which is His Self-Subsistence (qayyumiyyah), and we extract these other attributes from the central attribute when we observe the several effects (at har) of its manifestation (e.g. when we observe His Self-Subsistence in its Creating aspect, we call Him the Creator).
In contrast to this, negative attributes, which are called attributes of Majesty (jalal), are contained in only one negative attribute which is the negation of the possibility (imkan) of these things. This means that He has no body, no appearance, no movement, nor is He motionless; He has no heaviness, nor any lightness, etc.; in reality He has no imperfection. The result of the negation of these possibilities is a return to the Necessity of His Being (wujub al-wujud), which is one of the positive attributes of perfection. So the negative attributes of Majesty ultimately refer back to the positive attributes of perfection, and Allah is One in all respects; there is no number in His Holy Existence, and there is nothing compound in His Essence.
It is not surprising that some persons, accepting that the positive attributes are, as it were, reflected in the negative attributes, but failing to understand that Allah's attributes are One with His Essence, have imagined, in order to reassure themselves of the Unity of Allah, that the positive attributes depend on the negative ones. However, in this they have committed a great wrong, for they suppose that Allah's Essence, which is Absolute Being without the possibility of imperfection, is complete negation and therefore non-existence.
Neither is it surprising that some persons say that His positive attributes are in addition to (idafah) His Essence, therefore saying that His attributes are pre-existent like His Essence, the result being that they are partners of His Being. Similarly, others say that Allah is a compound of His attributes, but Allah is far above these things. As the first Imam, Amir al-Mu'minin, 'Ali (A.S.) said:
We believe that one of Allah's positive attributes is that He is Just beyond all injustice ('adil ghayr zalim). He does not treat His creatures without justice, nor does He rule them unfairly or cruelly, He rewards His obedient servants and punishes those who fall into sin. He does not compel His servants to do things which are not within their capabilities, nor does he punish them for more than the sins they have committed.
We believe that He does not omit to do any good act, nor does He perform an evil one, because it is 1 -n His power to do every good act and to abstain from every evil one. For, since He knows the excellence of good and the badness of evil, He is not constrained to leave what is good and to do what is evil. Again, since doing good cannot harm Him, there is no reason for Him not to do it. Moreover, since evil is not constrained upon Him, He is not forced to do evil. But Allah is Wise and His works must display His Wisdom, and they must be arranged in the best possible way.
Now, suppose that He treats a creature with cruelty or commits an evil, then it must be because of one of four reasons. (1) He is ignorant of the action, and does not know that it is evil; (2) He knows what He does, but He has been compelled to do it, and is unable to desist from it; (3) it is necessary for Him to do it, although He is aware that it is evil, but He is not compelled to do it; (4) He does it at His pleasure, without cause, or as an amusement, although He is neither ignorant of it, nor constrained to do it, and neither is it necessary for Him to do it.
Each of these is an impossibility for Allah, as each one entails a deficiency in Him. But He is Absolute Perfection; therefore we must say that He is glorified from oppression and from doing what is evil.
Nevertheless, there are Muslims who say that Allah can do evil. They say that Allah can punish the obedient and bring the evildoers and the unbelievers into paradise. They also say that Allah can order His servants to perform actions which are beyond their capabilities and endurance, and, at the same time, that He can punish them for not doing those things. In short, they say that Allah can be an oppressor, can do what is in error, can deceive His servants, and do things which are without interest, purpose or benefit, because
He is not asked about that which He has done, but they will be asked. (21;23)
Let it be known that this is blasphemy concerning Allah for He has said in His Book, the Qur'an:
Allah does not desire injustice for (His) servants. (40;31)
Allah does not love corruption. (2;205)
We did not create the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in jest. (21;16)
I have not created the jinn and mankind except to serve Me. (51;56)
and He has said similar things in other verses.
Glory be to Thee Who did not create without aim. (3;190)
We believe that Allah does not command His servants without there being evidence for the command, nor does He require them to do that which they cannot endure or which they do not understand, because it would be an injustice to give a command to somebody who is unable to do it or who has not been warned even though he had previously carried out his duties. However, somebody who is ignorant and has failed to carry out his obligations to Allah is in error for his omission and he will be punished, for it is incumbent on all mankind to learn the necessary duties of his din.
We believe that Allah has commanded his servants and given them laws for all that is in their interest to know, and that He guides them to the ways of everlasting goodness and prosperity, and that He similarly makes them tremble before that which is against their interest and that which is harmful to them. This is an example of His Grace and Mercy (lutf wa rahmah) towards His servants, who are unaware of most of what is in their interest, and do not know what is harmful for them.
Allah is the Beneficent, the Merciful in His Essence. His Mercy and His Grace are of His Absolute Perfection and One with His Essence, and it is impossible for them to be separated from Him. The disobedience of the disobedient does not cause Him to withhold His Mercy and Grace from His creatures.
The sect of the Mujabbirah maintained that Allah was entirely responsible for the actions of His creatures; that he forced them to do evil and then punished them for it, and forced them to do good and then rewarded them for it. They maintained that the actions of people were really His actions, but that they were figuratively attributed to people because humans are the locus of Allah's activity. The reason fur this view was that the Mujabbirah denied natural causes (as-sababiyyah at- tabi'iyyah) between things, and said that Allah was the real cause (as-sabab al-haqiqi). there being no other cause besides Him.
They denied natural causes between things because they supposed that this followed from the necessity of believing that Allah is the Creator without any partner. But one who has made such a claim has in truth attributed injustice to Allah.
Another sect, the Mufawwidah, maintained that Allah had given full power to His creatures for their actions, and that the power, foreordaining and decree of Allah had no part to play. The reason they held this belief was because they considered that the attribution of man's actions to Allah necessitates attributing imperfection to Him, and that all existing things have particular causes (asbab al-khasah), and that this can be traced back to the cause of causes, the first cause, which is Allah. However, those who made this claim had separated Allah from His Power, and had given Him partners in His Creation.
Now our belief in this matter follows the teachings of our Imams, that the reality is between these two extremes, a middle way between the two opinions, something which cannot be understood by these disputants in theology (ahl al-kalam) who have gone some to one extreme, some to the other. Knowledge and philosophy were unable to clarify this matter until after many centuries, so it is not surprising that those who are not familiar with the wisdom of our' Imams (A.S.) and their sayings suppose that our belief comes from an investigation of the most recent western philosophers, whereas the truth is that our Imams were ahead of them by ten centuries in this matter.
Imam Sadiq (A.S.) truly said in clarifying the middle way that:
There is no compulsion (jabr) (from Allah), nor is there absolute delegation of power (tafwid) (from Allah to man), but the real position is between the two extremes.
What marvellous significance lies in this saying, and how exact is its meaning! It points out that our actions are, from one angle, really our own actions, and we are the natural cause so that they are under our control and subject to our free choice; and from another angle they are decreed by Allah and are subject to His Power, because it is He Who gives existence. He does not compel us in our actions in such a way that He wrongs us by punishing us for evil deeds, for we have the power and the choice in what we do. But He has not delegated to us the creation of our actions so that they become beyond His Power, for to Him belongs Creation, Judgement and Command. He is Powerful over all things, and He has complete authority over people.
For, after all, our belief is that predetermination (qada')
and Divine decree (qadar) are one of the secrets
of Allah, and if someone can understand them as they
should be understood, without going to either of the
extremes, he is correct. Otherwise, it is not necessary
for him to force himself to understand them exactly, for
he may then be lead astray, and his belief may be
corrupted. It is one of the most difficult topics in
philosophy which can only be understood by a few people,
and because of this many theologians (mutakalimun)
have been led astray.
The meaning of bada' for a man is this: the appearance (bada' literally means 'appearance') of an idea about some action which the man did not have previously, in such a way that it changes his intention to do that action. That is to say that something happens which alters his understanding and knowledge about that action, so that he conceives the intention of leaving the work after he had previously intended to do it. This is due to man's ignorance concerning what is of benefit to him, and because he comes to regret doing or having to do what he had intended to do.
Bada' in this sense is impossible for Allah, because ignorance and imperfection are the cause of it, and this is impossible for Allah. The Imamites do not believe in this. Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said:
Someone who supposes that bada' occurs to Allah about some matter, causing Him to regret, is considered by us to be an unbeliever in Allah (kafir).
And he also said:
I will keep at a distance from me someone who supposes that bada' occurs to Allah about some matter which He had not realised previously.
Some traditions have been related from our Imams which have caused people to suppose that we believe in bada' in the sense described above. For example, Imam Sadiq (A.S.) Said:
There was no bada' for Allah like the bada' in the case of my son Isma'il.
Because of such traditions, some writers of certain Islamic sects have accused the Imamites of belief in bada', attacking our group and the way of the Household of the Prophet (ahl al-bayt), and using this supposed belief to denounce the Shi'a.
The correct aspect of this question is according to what Allah revealed in His Book:
Allah blots out, and He establishes whatsoever He will; and with Him is the Essence of the Book (13;39)
And the meaning of this is that Allah makes something appear on the tongue of the Prophet or his wali or in some other way according to the situation because of some benefit which calls for this revelation, then he abolishes that revelation so that it becomes other than what it was before, although Allah knew about this from the beginning. We can see an example of this in the incident of Isma'il when his father Ibrahim saw in his dream that he was slaughtering his son. The meaning of the saying of Imam Sadiq is that Allah has not revealed any matter as He had done in the case of Isma'il (the son of Imam Sadiq), by taking his life before He took his father's. This was so that people would understand that Isma'il was not the Imam, although it had appeared in the situation as if he were, because he was thc eldest son.
And similar to this meaning of bada' is the abrogation of previous shara'i' (pl. of shari'ah) by the arrival of the shari'ah of our Prophet (S.A.), and even the abrogation of some of the commandments which were brought by Muhammad (S.A.)
We believe that Allah has sent His ordinances in the
interest of His servants: that whatever is greatly to our
advantage he has made incumbent upon us (wajib);
that whatever is to our disadvantage he has forbidden to
us (haram); and that whatever is to our advantage,
but not greatly so, He has made mnustahabb, and
has recommended us to do it.
It is clear that Allah must give His commandments to coyer any eventuality, and that nothing can be found which is outside the scope of His commandments, although we may not be in a position to understand this.
We also say that it is impossible for Him to order something of which a part is evil, or to prohibit something of which a part is good. But some Muslims say that evil is what Allah prohibits, and good is what He commands, and that therefore there is no intrinsic good or evil in the acts themselves.
This is not in accord with reason, however, as the same people also say that Allah can do things which are evil; thus He can order what includes evil and prohibit what includes good. It has previously been mentioned that this opinion is erroneous, because it requires that Allah is ignorant and unable to do certain things; far be He glorified and exalted above what they say!
In short, the correct belief is that there is neither interest nor benefit to Allah in His commandments to us, but that the interest and benefit is entirely for ourselves. It is impossible for Allah to command what is without interest or benefit, or to forbid that which contains no evil, because none of His laws are without aim, and He has no need of His servants.