It could be said:
Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, may Allaah raise the rank of Prophet Muhammad and his kind Al and Companions and protect his nation from that which he fears for them.
At-Tirmidhiyy in his book, Al-Jami^, Ibn Hibban, in his book, As–Sahih, and others narrated a sahih hadith from the route of Sulayman Ibn Yasar and the route of ^Abdullah Ibn Dinar–both from ^Abdullah the son of ^Umar that he said:
عَن ابنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا قالَ: خَطَبنَا عُمَرُ بالْجَابِيَةِ فقالَ: يَا أَيَّهَا النَّاسُ! إِنِّي قُمْتُ فِيكُمْ كَمقَامِ رسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِينَا؛ فَقَالَ: ((أُوصِيكُمْ بِأَصْحَابِي، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمْ، ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ يَلُونَهُمُ، ثُمَّ يَفْشُو الْكَذِبُ حَتَّى يَحْلِفَ الرَّجُلُ وَلاَ يُسْتَحْلَفُ، وَيَشْهَدُ الشَّاهِدُ وَلاَ يُسْتَشْهَدُ، أَلاَ لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلاَّ كَانَ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشّيْطَانُ، عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْجَماعَةِ، وَإِيّاكُمْ وَالْفُرْقَةَ، فَإِنَّ الشّيْطَانَ مَعَ الْوَاحِدِ وَهُوَ مِنَ الاثْنَيْنِ أَبْعَدُ، مَنْ أَرَادَ بُحْبُوحَةَ الْجَنّةِ فَلْيَلْزَمِ الْجَماعَةَ، مَنْ سَرّتْهُ حَسَنَتُهُ وَسَاءَتْهُ سَيّئتُهُ فَذَلِكُمْ المُؤْمِنُ)).
which means: ^Umar Ibnul Khattab stood among us at al-Jabiyah, addressing us and he said the Prophet stood among us and he said: “I recommend my companions and then those who come after them and then those who com after those to you. It is the case that when any man is left alone with a woman (in a khalwah) the devil would be the third of them. Adhere to the jima^ah (to the group of the Muslims) and beware of disunity, and know that the devil affects the individual person, the one who is on his own, and he is less effective when there are two people together. The one who wants to enjoy the wide rewards of Paradise, let him adhere to the Creed of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. If one is delighted about the good deed that he performs, and feels saddened for the bad doing that he would do, this reflects his state of belief.”
At-Tirmidhiyy, may Allaah raise his rank, said: “This hadith is classified as hasan sahih. This hadith shows important matters. First, it shows the importance of following the companions. Because they are the ones who conveyed the religion to those who came after them. If it had not been for them, we would not have known what is the accepted religion by Allaah. They are the ones who conveyed the Qur’an to us. They were the ones who were present when he Prophet received the Revelation. They related to us the doings and the sayings of the Prophet. They are the most knowledgeable among this nation of the meanings of the verses of the Qur’an and the meanings of the sayings of the Prophet.
The second matter is that the khalwah’ is forbidden. That is, for the man to be left alone with a marriageable woman. That is, it is forbidden for a man to be left alone with a woman (i.e., if the woman is not mahram or what is similar to that, like being his wife.) That is, if a third person does not see them. The Prophet in his hadith told us the reason for which this is a forbidden matter. He said:
لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ فَإِنَّ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ
which means that the devil would be the third among them, this is why it is forbidden. That is, because this leads a lot to fornication or adultery. When a man stays alone with a woman as such, his devil would act strongly on him to drag him to commit adultery or fornication. It is easier for the devil to drag the people into committing zina when the man and the woman are in khalwah and it is not as easy for him to do that if they were not in that situation.
The third matter that was mentioned in the hadith is: “adhere to the jama^ah and beware of disunity and that the devil affects the individual, and he is less effective when there are two people together.” This is an order from the Prophet to his nation to adhere to the Creed of Ahl us sunnah wal-Jama^ah. The creed that the Prophet taught to his companions then they themselves taught it to those who cam after them, who in their turn taught it to the people who came after them, and so on until it reached our time today. This creed of the Prophet and his companions is the Creed of the most of the Islamic nation.
the Prophet advised his nation not to deviate from that creed. And praise be to Allaah, that until today, most of the nation of Prophet Muhammad adheres to this creed of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. From that time of the companions until our time today, most of the members of the nation of prophet Muhammad carried this creed. Now, if one should travel east and west, north and south, he will find the Muslims–whether scholars or not–adhering to this creed–to one creed. Indonesia has 170 million Muslims, and all of them are on this creed. They are Ash^ariyys. All of their scholars adhere to the Creed of Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama^ah, the Creed of Imam al-Ashariyy, which is the creed of the companions.
It was labeled as the Ash^ariyy creed in reference to the Imam, Abu Hasan al-Ash^ariyy who highlighted the proofs from the Qur’an and from the hadith and from the intellect to support the validity of this creed. At the time of Imam al-Ash^ariyy, people deviated from that correct belief. He took it upon himself, this great Imam, to defend the creed of Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jama^ah by producing the proofs to its validity. i.e., through producing both kinds of proofs–the textual proofs and the intellectual proofs.
This is why this creed, the creed of the companions and those who followed them was called the Ash^ariyy Creed. Then after Imam al-Ash^ariyy, the people adhering to this creed of the companions and their followers were labeled Ash^ariyys. He, Imam al-Ash^ariyy did not bring a new basis to the religion. He did not negate or contradict that which the companions believed in . Rather, he presented widely the textual and the intellectual proofs to show the validity of the Islamic creed and refute the enemies of the religion. That is, to refute the misguided groups such as the Mu^tazilah (those who deny the Destiny), the Mushabbbihah (those who liken Allaah to the creations), the Tabai^iyyin (those who say hat things happen by their nature, that is, according to them, there is no Creator who made them happen), the Dahriyyah (those who deny the existence of the Creator and say the time is what makes things change and vanish), the Khawarij, etc.
Imam Abul-l-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy produced extensively the proofs to refute such schools. He refuted their arguments and he showed that they are wrong and not reliable. Allaah gave al Imam al-Ash^ariiyy a special strength in intellect and in making others comprehend. He used this capability to refute those deviate groups among the Mu^tazilah, Mushabbihah, and others. This same creed–explained and supported by al-Ash^ariyy–is the one that hundreds of millions of Muslims today adhere to. The scholars of Indonesia are all on that creed, the scholars of Egypt, the countries of ash-sham entirely, Yaman, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, African countries like Abyssinia, Somalia, and Southern Africa and the Islamic republics of the ex-Soviet Union. All the scholars of these locations adhere to that creed. What is known today as the Ash^ariyyah creed, i.e., the creed of Imam al-Ash^ariyy.
It is the creed of the companions, their followers, and the followers of the followers, etc., until it reached our master, Abul-l- Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, and then it continued spreading and confirmed among most of the members of the nation of Prophet Muhammad until it reached us today.
This creed confirms the existence of Allaah, the One Whose Existence was never preceded by non-existence. And that everything other than Allaah was in a state of non existence and then they came into existence. The kind, the material of the universe, and the animals of the universe are creations. None of these things existed without a beginning with Allaah, ta^ala. In eternity (Azal) Allaah is the only one who existed, that is, whose existence is without beginning. And so, eternally, there was no light, no darkness, no time, and no place.
Time signifies comparing one created thing to another created thing. The existence of Allaah was never preceded with non existence. All what is other than Allaah was in a state of non existence, and then it came into existence including the time and the place. Both are created, they were not in al azal (eternity). And likewise, the light, darkness, air, etc. This is one of the essentials of the creed of Ahl us-Sunnah.
Another matter among the basics of the Islamic Creed is that Allaah does not resemble anything. Because had Allaah resembled any of the universe, he would not have been the Creator of that universe. The different creations accept—mentally—to change from on situation/status to another. Anything that changes (from one state to another) is a created thing. This is a proof that this universe is a creation, that is, it was not existing and then it existed; Thus Allaah does not change.
Ibrahim, peace be upon him, by that analogy refuted the creed of his countrymen. He was born in Babylon, in Iraq. There, at that time, his parents and others were in a state of blasphemy. All of them were in a state of blasphemy. They used to worship the planets, the sun, the moon and the like. Prophet Ibrahim produced the proofs to negate and refute their ill creed. He told them, “These things change from one state to another. O people, you worship things which change from one state to another. The sun changes from one state to another, it rises and then it sets. The moon likewise, and the planets also. So how would the planet, the sun, or the moon deserve the status of Godhood? How would it be valid for such things to be God. These things do not deserve to be worshipped.
The one who deserves to be worshipped is the one who changes these things from one state to another. Because the mind does not accept that they have created themselves. Nor that they change themselves from one state to another. And by that, Prophet Ibrahim showed that God does not change from one state to another. Because had it been permissible to attribute change to Allaah, He would have been in need for one to change him from one state to another. And had he been similar to any of the creations, He would have been in need for one to create Him. Because the attributes of the created things tell us that those things are in need for one to create them. And had Allaah been similar to these created things, He would have been in need for one to create him also. But Allaah is clear from all that.
So the creed of Ahl us Sunnah is to clear Allaah from resembling the creation. Clearing Allaah from place, directions, and from all the attributes of the universe, including motion, rest, and other attributes.
A third matter among the basic creed of Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jama^ah is to believe that the verses of the Qur’an are of two kinds: one part of the verses of the Qur’an carry apparent meanings, that is, the meaning is clear and linguistically the verse could not bear any other meaning. The other part of the Qur’anic verses would not be interpreted by the apparent meaning, i.e., (the most used meaning of the words/expressions); that is when there is proofs that it is not correct to ascribe the apparent meaning to those verses, like in the case when apparently the meaning would imply likening Allaah to the creation. IN such a case, another meaning in compliance with the religious texts, would be inferred to such verses in a way that it would not be among the attributes of the creations.
The verse from Surat al-Fajr,
وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ wa ja’a rubbuka
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal did not take it by its literal meaning. He did not say its meaning is that Allaah left a place and occupied another place. He did not ascribe that meaning to this verse. Rather he interpreted this verse to mean that the traces of the power of Allaah appear (i.e., great signs of Allaah’s Power occur). Had Ahmad wanted to interpret the aforementioned verse according to the apparent/literal meaning (i.e., that of mobility, motion and moving from one place to another) Imam Ahmad would not have said that it means the traces of the Power of Allaah appear. He would not have ascribed this meaning to that verse. But, because it is not permissible to attribute to Allaah the motion, the movement, and moving from one place to another, like from up to down, like the angels, Imam Ahmad did not take that verse by its literal meaning. Rather, he ascribed to it a meaning that befits Allaah, so he said that the traces of the Power of Allaah appear.
It is narrated that on the Day of Judgement, numerous angels would come down from above to below, i.e., they move from abov3e to below.) Because the angels are among the creations of Allaah and as such they have the attributes of the creations; motion, rest, and moving from above to below, and from below to above are among their attributes.
As to the aforementioned verse, Imam Ahmad left out interpreting it according to the literal meaning. Why didn’t he say that the term ja’a mentioned in the verse is known, is like that of the angels. Why didn’t he take the verse by its literal meaning? Rather he turned away from that. He turned away to infer to it the meaning that the traces of the Power of Allaah appear. He did that because he knew that the creed of Ahl us Sunnah is to clear Allaah from all the attributes of the creation. (i.e., The creed that the companions had learned from the Prophet was to clear Allaah from motion and rest and moving from above to below.)
Some people, becaue of the weakness of their minds, they would question, how is that Allaah is not moving nor is he in the state of immobility. The Wahhabis pose that question. They say, “Allaah is alive. And every living being, must be moveable.” This is an absurdity on their part. And it is blasphemy. Because the living beings that move are the bodies. S to Allaah, Allaah is clear of bodies, His Life is not like ours. Our life is that of joining of body and soul. As to the life of Allaah, it is not a body or a soul like ours. And thus, the mind accepts and testifies that Allaah is clear of movement and rest.
Those Wahhabis say Imam Ahmad is our imam. This is not true. Their path is different then Imam Ahmad’s path. They say that Allaah moves from one place to another, from above to below, and from below to above. As for Ahmad, he said; “The traces of the power of Allaah appear.” So truly, and in very basic matters, they contradict the creed of Imam Ahmad.
The mind of the creatures cannot imagine something that is not in motion and not in rest, and yet, one is obligated to believe that Allaah is neither moving nor resting because the mental and textual proofs imply that. Among the creatures there are things that we cannot imagine in our minds. Light is a creation. It is an obligation on us to believe in that. And darkness also is a creation. Allaah said:
وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ۖ (wa ja^ala adhdhulumati wan-nur)
This verse means that both light and darkness are created by Allaah. Should one of us try to imagine a state where there is no darkness and no light, one would not be able to. One cannot imagine of a time when there was no darkness and no light. And despite of that, one is obligated to believe in that. That is, it is obligatory on us to believe that there was a time when there was no light and no darkness. Both of them were not existing and then after that, Allaah brought them into existence.
The Prophet told us that the first of the creations was neither light nor darkness. The first of the creations of Allaah was water. And so it is obligatory on us to believe that there was a time when there was no light nor darkness. Although the human mind cannot imagine that time.
Likewise it is obligatory to believe that Allaah exists without motions and without rest. Without occupying places. Without occupying one place or all places. Without being in a direction nor in all directions. Without being in a direction of above, below, in front, behind, to the left, or to the right.
Although we cannot imagine that existence in our hearts. And this is why Dhu Nun al Misriyy and Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said: “Whatever you can imagine in your minds, Allaah is different from it.” This means Allaah is not a light, a darkness, at rest, moving, having a very big volume, bigger then the ^Arsh, or having a small volume because all of those are issues which the mind can imagine them. One needs to understand this so that he can live adhering to the creed of Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jama^ah, the creed that conforms to the sound intellect and to the Qur’an, the one who adheres to this creed shall win greatly in the Hereafter.
That is, the one who adheres to that Allaah is attributed with all the perfect attributes that befit Him and is clear from all the attributes of the creations. Jus as Allaah said in the Qur’an
لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
Which means: Nothing resembles Allaah by any way.
Had Allaah bee in one of the directions, he would have had many similar, and likewise, had he been in one of the places, he would have had many similars. We have places and likewise do the animals, the jinn, and the angels. Also, the sun, moon, stars, and planets have a place which is the space. So had Allaah had a place, he would have had many s8imilars.
Had Allaah been a body a some people falsely imagine, it would have been permissible for the sun to be God (which is impossible of course). The one who believes that Allaah has limits and bodily attributes would be unable to defeat the sun worshiper. Because if the sun worshipper says, “the one I worship (i.e., the sun) benefits the people, the animals, the plants…etc in an apparent way. And everyone can see it and notice that benefit, so this is why it is God,” How would the one who claims that Allaah is a body and has limits be able to refute him? If he says, “The sun does not deserve Godhood, the sun worshiper would ask “Why”, so if the other person replies, “Because the sun is a body having limits, thus it is in need to someone who specified it with those limits,” the sun worshiper would answer, “So does the one you worship, because he has limits too.” As for the one carrying the correct creed of Ahl us Sunnah, he would be easily able to refute the sun worshiper by saying, “the one you worship has limits, thus it is in need to someone who specified it with those limits, as for my Lord, he is not a body and is not attributed with limits, and thus He is the Creator who is not in need to anyone.
The person has to adhere to the creed of Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. This is why the Prophet told us in his hadith that the one who wants the highest parts of Paradise, let him adhere to the Creed of Ahl us Sunnah wal-Jama^ah. We ask Allaah to make us firm on that creed. To make us live adhering to that creed, and make us die adhering to that creed. And to facilitate for us spreading and propagating that creed and to teach it and to defend it.
And Allaah knows best.