Ithna `Ashariyya‎ > ‎

al-Masa'il as-Sarawiyya

Second Issue:  Regarding the the ashbah (phantasms, apparitions), the atoms (adh-dharr), and the souls (al-arwah, pl. ar-ruh).

What is his belief – may Allah perpetuate his support – regarding the meaning of the narrated reports from the Imams of guidance (as) about the ashbah, the creation of the arwah by Allah Ta`ala prior to His creation of Adam (as) by two thousand years, and by the bringing forth of his progeny from his loins upon the forms of the dharr?  And, the meaning of the saying of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): The souls are enlisted armies, so what is acquainted from them becomes friends and what is as a stranger from them differ”?


The answer, wa billah at-tawfiq:  The akhbar that mention the ashbah differ in their expressions and vary in their meanings.  The ghulat have built upon them many absurdities, and written regarding them  books wherein they speak nonsense and rave on in what they establish from it regarding its meanings.  They attributed what the books collected of it to a group of the shuyukh of the ahl al-haqq, and by their attributing it to them they spoke falsely.  From amongst them is a book they called “The book of ashbah and shades”, and they ascribed its authorship to Muhammad b. Sinan.  We do not know the sihhat of what they have mentioned on this subject about him.  If it was sahih, then Ibn Sinan has been defamed and he is accused of ghulw.  So if they have spoken truthfully about the attribution of this book to him, then he is astray by his misguidance from the truth.  And if they have lied then they bear the misdeeds of that.

The sahih from the hadith of the ashbah is the riwaya that has come from the thiqaat (reliable narrators), that Adam (as) saw upon throne ashbah, its light glistering.  So he asked Allah Ta`ala about it.  So it was revealed to him:  They are the ashbah of the Messenger of Allah, Amir al-Mu’mineen, Fatima, al-Hasan and al-Husayn, Allah’s blessings be upon them.  And He informed him that were it not for the ashbah that he saw, He would not have not created him and not created the Heaven and the Earth.  

And the aim in what Allah Ta`la showed him of the ashbah and the forms to Adam (as) was to indicate to him their exaltation and their esteem.  And He made that as an honor to them, as a preliminary in what He made obligatory of obedience to them, and as an indication that the benefit of the deen and the dunya is not accomplished but through them.  And in that state they were not living forms, and not souls that speak, rather it was a form (made) upon the likeness of their forms in humanity, indicating what they would be in the future in terms of appearance.  And the light that was placed upon them indicated that the light of deen is through them, and the light of truth by their proofs.  And it has been narrated that their names were written at that time upon the throne, and that Adam (as) when he repented to Allah, `azza wa jalla, and when he whispered (or soliloquized) to Him to accept his repentance, that he asked by their right upon Him, and their stead with Him, so He answered him.  This is not denied by the `uqool (pl. `aql, intellect) and is not contrary to the reasonable law (ash-shar` al-ma`qul).  It has been narrated by the righteous, trustworthy, trusty (people), and its narration has been admitted by the ta’ifa of the truth, and there is no way to deny it.  wallah wali at-tawfiq. 


Section: Hadith of the Dharr.  

As to the hadith regarding the bringing forth of the progeny from the loins (or back) of Adam (as) upon the forms of atoms, the hadith has come with a difference of expressions and meanings.  The sahih is that He brought forth the progeny from his loins like atoms, so by them He filled the horizon.  And he placed a light not mixed with darkness on some of them, and on some of them darkness not mixed with any light, and on some of them light and darkness.   So when Adam (as) saw them, he was surprised by their abundance and of what was upon them of light and darkness.  So he said:  O Lord, what are these?  Allah, `azza wa jalla, said to him “These are your progeny” meaning to identify it (or him) (with) their abundance and filling the horizons with them, and that his lineage would be as plentiful as the atoms that he saw so that he might be informed of its amount, and to give him the tidings of the continuation of his lineage and their abundance.  So Adam (as) said: O Lord, what is it that I see upon some of them light with no darkness in it, and upon some of them darkness with no light mixed in, and upon some of them darkness and light?  So He, tabaraka wa ta`ala, said:  As to those from them upon whom was light with no darkness in it, then they are the My asfiya’ from your children, those who obey Me and do not disobey Me in anything of My command, so they are the dwellers of the Garden.  And as to those upon whom was darkness with no light mixed with it, then they are the kuffar from your children, those who disobey Me and do not obey Me in anything of My command, so these are the firewood of Jahannam.  And as to those upon whom was light and darkness, then these are those that obey Me from your children and disobey Me, so they blend their acts of sin with acts of goodness, so these, their affair is for Me.  If I will to punish them, then it is by My justice.  And if I will to pardon them, then it is by My grace.

So Allah Ta`ala notified him of what would be from his children, and he likened them to the atoms that He brought forth from his loins, and He made it a sign upon the abundance of his children.

It is probable that what He brought forth from his loins was the foundations of the bodies of his progeny without their souls, and that Allah only did that to indicate to Adam (as) the result from Him (or him?).  To show him of His power, His authority, and the wonders of His making, and to inform him of the existent prior to his existing, so that Adam (as) would increase in certainty of His Lord, and that that call him to profusion  of obedience to Him (or, his obedience), to adhere to His commands, and to shun that which  He has restricted.

As to the akhbar that have come saying that the progeny of Adam (as) were interrogated while (in the form of) the atoms, so they spoke, then the covenant was taken from them so they confirmed (it), then it is the akhbar of the Tanasukhiyya (upholder of the belief in reincarnation), and they have been mixed in it and mingled the truth with falsehood.  What is trustworthy with regards to the bringing forth of the progeny is what we have mentioned – not(hing) besides it – of what belief in it adheres to the `aqli indications and sam`i proofs.  It (what is other than what the Shaykh has accepted) is delirium that does not establish an effect upon what we have depicted of it.

Section: Objection regarding the speaking of the atoms. 

If one clings to what pertains to the His saying, tabarak ismuh, “And when thy Lord took from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their progeny, and made them testify concerning themselves, 'Am I not your Lord?' They said, 'Yes, we testify'-- lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, 'As for us, we were heedless of this’” then it is supposed that the literal meaning of this saying verifies what the Ahl at-Tanasukh, and the Hashawiyya, and the `Aama (Sunnis) have narrated regarding the speaking of the progeny and their oration, and that they were alive (and) speaking.  So the answer to it is that this ayat is from the allegorical (usage) in language like what is what is similar to it as an allegory and metaphor.  Its meaning is that Allah, tabaraka wa ta`ala, took from every mukallaf (responsible person) who have been brought out from the loins of Adam and from the loins of his progeny, the covenant of His Lordship from when he completed their `aql, and indicated it by the effects of His making upon their being contingent.  And that there is for him an originator that originated him that is not similar to him, and who is deserving of worship due to His blessings upon him.  So that is the covenant that was taken from them.  And the effect of the creation in them, it is its attestation for them upon themselves that Allah ta`ala is their Lord.  And His, ta`ala, saying “They said yes” means that they do not (cannot?) deny from the necessity of the effect of the workmanship within them and the necessary indications of their contingency for them.  And upon them being the proof of the `aql with regards to the establishment of their maker, then it is as though He, subhanahu, of what He necessitated for them the proof  by their `uqool upon their contingency and the existence of their originator, that He said to them “Am I not your Lord?”  So in what they are not able to deny from the necessity of the indications of their contingency, it is as though they were saying “Yes, we testify.”

And (as to his) His, ta`ala, saying “lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, or lest you say, 'Our fathers were idolaters aforetime, and we were a progeny after them. What, wilt Thou then destroy us for the deeds of the vain-doers?'” do you not see that He has remonstrated them  by that which they are powerless to give an explanation for their rejection of it on Yaum al-Qiyama and they cannot?  He, subhanahu, has said “(Hast thou not seen how to Allah prostrate all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth) the sun and the moon, the stars and the mountains, the trees and the beasts, and many of mankind? And many merit the chastisement;” but He does not mean that the aforementioned prostrate like the sujud of the person in salat.  He only means that it is unable to resist the act of Allah, so it is like the obedient to Him.  And it is demonstrative of it being (as) one who does sujud.

<discussion on poetry – not translated>

And His, ta`ala, saying “Then He directed Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth, "Come willingly, or unwillingly!" They said, "We come willingly."”.  He does not address the heaven with speech, and the heaven  did not say a saying (that was) heard.  He only meant that He turned to the heaven, created it, and its making was not hard for Him, for when He, subhanahu, created it, He said to it and the Earth “Come willingly or unwillingly” so when they were influenced by His power there were as the one who says: We come willingly.

Likewise is His, ta`ala, saying “Upon the day We shall say unto Jahannam, 'Art thou filled?' And it shall say, 'Are there any more to come?'”  Allah is more glorious than (that He would) address the Fire.  It is inconceivable and is not spoken.  It is only an expression about its capacity and that it is not constricted by whoso it allows (i.e. to be in it) from the punished.  All of that is (in accordance) with the madhhab of the people of language and their habit with regards to allegory. 

<More poetry discussion>

There are many examples of that in the prose and poetry of the speech of the Arab, and they bear testimony to what we have mentioned in the ta’wil of the ayat.  wAllah ta`ala nas’al at-tawfiq.

Section:  Regarding the creation of the souls and bodies.

As to the khabar that Allah ta`ala created the souls two thousand years prior to the bodies, it is from the solitary akhbar (akhbar al-ahad).  The `Aama (Sunnis) have narrated it as has the Khassa (Shi`a) related it.  And with that, it is not of what is positively affirmed about Allah (?), subhanahu, of its sihhat.  Its narrators have only transmitted it due to a good opinion of it.  If the saying is established, then the meaning of it is that Allah ta`ala ordained the souls in His knowledge prior to the creation of the bodies.  He created the bodies then He created for them the souls.  So, the creation of the souls prior to the creation of the bodies is an ordational creation (khalq taqdir) in the knowledge as we have mentioned of it before, and it is not a creation of their essences, as we have described it.  The creation of it (the soul) is by origination and creation after the creation of the bodies and the forms that the souls administer.  Were that not so, then the souls would be able to exist by themselves, and not have need of vessels to bear them, and we would be cognizant of what came before us from the states prior to the creation of the bodies, as we know our states after the creation of the bodies.  And this is impossible, its corruption is not hidden.

The souls are enlisted armies.

As to the hadith that (says) “The souls are enlisted armies, so what is acquainted from them becomes friends and what is as a stranger from them differ” then the meaning in it is that the souls – which are elemental substances – mutually assist with the genus and  become weak by the accidents.  So what is acquainted from it by concordance of view and desire becomes friends, and what is as a stranger from it by contradiction of view and desire differ.  This exists perceptively and viewed.  The intent of that is not that what is acquainted in the dharr becomes friends, as the Hashawiyya believe.  As we explained it, that there is not knowledge for mankind of a state that he was upon prior to his appearance in this world, and were he reminded of every thing, he does not remember that. So it has become manifest that the intent of the khabar is what we have elucidated of it.  wallah al-muwaffiq li‘s-sawab.