Rebuking of innovators in matters of Attributes.
In his book “Fadlul ilm as-salaf alal khalaf” (p 31, darussunnah in english) ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said:
“Some astronomers used their knowledge to reject the hadith of Descent at the last third of the night by saying: “The last third of the night occurs at different times in different countries so it’s not possible that this Descent occur at one time”. The repugnance of this claim is known in the religion by necessity. If the Messenger (sallalahu alaihi wa ala alihi wa sallam) or the Rightly-Guided caliphs were to have heard such claims, not only would they haven’t listened to them, but they would have rushed to punish these people or would have considered them amongst the rank and file of the deniers and hypocrites”.
On ilmul-kalam and other innovated knowledge
And he also said (p 33):
“As for those sciences that were invented after the time of the companions, whose proponents claim that they are true knowledge and that whoever isn’t aware of them is either an ignorant or misguided, all of them are innovations and are to be counted amongst the newly invented affairs that have been prohibited”.
And in other place (p 51), he said:
“As for delving into the words of the speculative theologians (mutakalimin) and the philosophers, this is pure evil! Rare is it to find one who delves into them without being sullied by some of their filth. Ahmad said: “None delves into speculative theology (kalam) except that he takes on board the ways of Jahm (ibn Saffan)”. He, as well as the other imams of the Salaf, used to warn against the People of speculative theology (ahlul-kalam) even if their intention be to defend the Sunnah.
As for what is to be found in the words of those who love this rhetoric and follow its adherents in censuring those who don’t excel in disputation and debate, accusing them of ignorance and Hashw – or that they don’t have gnosis of Allah, or that they don’t possess true understanding of this religion – all of this is from following the footsteps of Satan. We take refuge with Allah from such a person”.
On faith in Attributes of Allah.
And he also said (p 36):
“Those who negate much of what is reported in the Book and Sunnah concerning the Attributes due to the implication, in their view, of a likeness between the creation and Creator. From amongst these ate the Mutazila who said: “If He can be seen, He must be a body because ne requires a direction in which to see”; “If His speech can be heard, He must be a body”. Those who negated His istawa did so by means of the same reasoning. This is the path of Mutazila and the Jahmiyah about whom the Salaf were agreed as to their being innovators and misguided. This path of theirs has been traversed, in some matters, by many of those who attributed to the Sunnah and Hadith amog the latter generations”.
And he continued (p 37):
“The correct position in all of this is the position of the Righteous Salaf in their leaving the verses and ahadeth concerning the Attributes as they came without explanation, asking how, or likening them to creation. There is nothing at all contravening this position that is authentically reported from them, especially Imam Ahmad. Neither is anything reported from them proving that they probed into their meanings or propounded analogies and similitudes for them. This, even though there were some who lived close to the time of Ahmad who did some of this, following the way laid out by Muqatil, but they aren’t to be followed in this. Those who should be followed ate the Imams of Islam such as ibn al-Mubarak, Thawri, Awzai, Shafi, Ahmad, Ishaq, Abu Ubaid and their likes.
One will not find anything in the words of those mentioned above that bears resemblance to the words of the speculative theologians (mutakalimin) le alone the words of the philosophers, indeed this is not to be found in the words of anyone who has not been censured or disparaged. Abu Zurah ar-Razi said: “Whoever possesses knowledge, yet his knowledge isn’t refined, and as such requires speculative theology (kalam) to spread it, you should have nothing to do with him”.