Can things like smelling, laughing and crying be thought of related to Allah?

The Details of the Question

1. Allah has thubuti (positive) attributes like knowledge, hearing, seeing and speaking. Man also has them though their nature and realities are different. Man hears, sees and speaks. Allah has the attributes of sam’, basar and kalam though their nature and realities are different. The following thought came to my mind: man smells, touches and tastes. Can smelling, tasting and touching be thought related to Allah – God forbid?  
- Is it regarded unbelief since touching is material?
- Are the others regarded as unbelief since they can be thought of being material?
- Can it be thought though their nature and realities are very different?

2. Can things like laughing, crying, being sad and being sorry be thought of related to Allah?

3. When this thought came to my mind, I decided that they could not be thought of since they are not mentioned among dhati and thubuti attributes. Is that right?

- Is it the best to reject directly when such things come to the mind if they are not included in dhati and thubuti attributes?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1) Allah’s names and attributes can be known only through the Quran and hadiths. It is unbelief and apostasy to associate the attributes that are not in compliance with those two resources with Allah.

“The most beautiful names belong to Allah: so call on him by them; but shun such men as use profanity in his names: for what they do, they will soon be requited.” (al-A'raf, 7/180)

This issue is emphasized in the verse above.

There is disagreement among Islamic scholars whether some names and attributes that are in compliance with the meanings of the names and attributes that are included in the Quran and the Sunnah can be used or not. There are some scholars who do not accept it but some great scholars like Badiuzzaman Said Nursi accept it. For instance, Nursi uses the expression “Shams Azali” (Pre-eternal and whose existence is as clear as the sun) for Allah.

However, it is not appropriate for people like us to make up some names and attributes that are not included in the Quran and the Sunnah. It is definitely wrong to use the attributes that are fully related to matter like “smelling, tasting and touching”.

The principle that Allah is free from “leaning on anything and touching” is a fact that is unanimously accepted by all Islamic scholars.

- However, we can say that Allah knows all smells and tastes with His pre-eternal knowledge. How can He create them if He does not know them?

“Should He not know,- He that created?” (al-Mulk, 67/14)

This fact is indicated in the verse above. Since the one that creates knows whatever He creates, Allah knows what touching, smell and taste are like. However, as it is stated in the verse, He “knows them with His knowledge” because He creates them.  

2 and 3) Crying is not thought of for Allah. However, expressions that evoke “grieving, laughing and rejoicing” are used in the verses of the Quran and hadiths.

“If ye reject (Allah), Truly Allah hath no need of you; but He liketh not ingratitude from His servants: if ye are grateful, He is pleased with you. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. In the end, to your Lord is your Return, when He will tell you the truth of all that ye did (in this life). for He knoweth well all that is in (men´s) hearts.” (az-Zumar, 39/7)

The concept “rida” used in the verse above and similar ones expresses being pleased with, gladness, showing consent to and rejoicing. “Not being pleased with” expresses His "discontent and displeasure”. When used for man, discontent and displeasure express a kind of grief but it is wrong to use expressions like “Allah grieves for it.”

- It is not appropriate to use those concepts in principle. However, great Islamic scholars used some expressions like that in order to make it easier for some issues to be understood.  

According to a hadith narration, the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following -in brief:

“The most superior ones among martyrs are those who do not turn their faces away from the enemy. When they settle in the highest pavilion in Paradise, their Lord looks at them and smiles (laughs). If your Lord/Allah smiles at one of His slaves in the world, there will be no reckoning for him.” (Majmauz-Zawaid, h. no:9513)

As it is understood from the expression of the hadith, this expression shows Allah’s gladness and consent; it is a metaphorical expression.

In our opinion, expressions like laughing, rejoicing and in particular grieving and crying must not be used about Allah.

It is not appropriate to use those concepts in principle. However, great Islamic scholars used some expressions like that in order to make it easier for some issues to be understood. For instance, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi uses those concepts with the word “sacred” in order to show that they never resemble human attributes, showing his meticulousness regarding the issue.

“Activity and motion in creatures arise from an appetite, a desire, a pleasure, a love. It may be said that there is a sort of pleasure in all activity; or that activity is a sort of pleasure, even. Pleasure too is turned towards a perfection; indeed, it is a sort of perfection. Since activity indicates perfection, pleasure, beauty; and since the Necessarily Existent One, who is absolute perfection and the Perfect One of Glory, unites in His essence, attributes, and names every sort of perfection; for sure, in a manner fitting for the necessary existence and holiness of the Necessarily Existent Essence, in a form suitable to His absolute riches and essential self-sufficiency, in a way appropriate to His absolute perfection and freedom from defect, He has a boundless sacred compassion and infinite pure love."

"Of a certainty, there is an infinite holy eagerness arising from that sacred compassion and pure love; and from that holy eagerness arises an infinite sacred joy. And arising from that sacred joy, is, if the term is permissible, an infinite holy pleasure. And from this holy pleasure and from the gratitude and perfections of creatures which result from the emergence and unfolding of their potentialities within the activity of His power, arise, if one may say so, an infinite sacred gratification and holy pride pertaining to that Most Merciful and Compassionate Essence. It is these that necessitate a boundless activity.” (Mektubat, p. 86-87)

There cannot be any explanation more reasonable and more convincing as well as more decent than that one that can satisfy the apprehensive mind of this century.

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