[Ibn SalaH said:] A muftee should not, when asked for a fatwaa on a creedal issue [fi-shay' min al-masaa'il al-kalaamiyyah], issue a detailed fatwaa. Rather he
should forbid the one requesting the fatwaa, and all other members of the
non-expert, Muslim populace [saa'ir al-`aammah], from discussing such a
matter; and order them to restrict themselves to belief in a general and
total fashion, without detailed exposition. He should (further) order them
to hold the position that--on this issue and the potentially confusing (mutashaabihaat) Qur'aanic aayaat and Prophetic transmissions--the correct position is that which is consistent with the Majesty of Allah and His Absolute Perfection and
Holiness; that such a position is our belief; and that we are not required
to examine such matters in detail and with precision; nor is such a course
of study appropriate for us. Rather we entrust the detailed knowledge of
such things to Allah [Sanctified and Exalted is He!] and divert our hearts
and tongues from delving into such matters.
This, and its like, that [have been transmitted] from the pre-eminent
muftees, is the correct stance on this issue; and it is the methodology of
the Early Muslims [wa-huwa sabeel as-salaf], the Imaams of the madhaahib
of note and the greatest of the fuqahaa' and righteous; and it is the most
correct and safest for the non-expert general populace and their
like--whose hearts will be corrupted by delving into such matters. Those
who hold a false belief because of such a detailed exposition are in
this way diverted therefrom--which is easier, simpler and safer.
If the authorities were to punish one who goes to extremes in deviating
from such a methodolgy, they would be emulating `Umar b. al-KhaTTaab (may
Allah be pleased with him) in his punishment of Dubay` b. `Isl, who used
to ask about the mutashaabihaat. (Even) the speculative theologians
[al-mutakallimeen] in our madhhab confess that this is the proper
methodology, in that it is safer for the one that it protects.
Al-Ghazaalee, who was one of these (mutakallimeen who held such a
position) towards the end of his life, was intense in his propagation of
this methodology and and in providing proof for its correctness. His
teacher, Abu l-Ma`aalee mentioned in his book <
Imaam was as anxious as can be imagined to unify the populace in assuming
the methodology of the Salaf in this matter. Al-Ghazaalee was asked about
Kalaam Allaah (Sanctified and Exalted is He!) and he said, in part: As for
discussion about Kalaam Allaah, whether it is with voice and utterance
[Sawt wa-Harf] or not, this is bid`ah. Any one who invites the non-expert
populace to partake in discussion about it is not an Imaam of the Deen,
rather he is one who leads others astray...
<<Fatawaa wa-Masaa'il Ibn al-SalaaH fi l-Tafseer wa l-Hadeeth wa l-Usul
wa l-Fiqh: Accompanied by Adab al-Muftee wa l-Mustaftee.>> Edited and
commented on by Dr. `Abd al-Mu`tee Ameen Qal`ajee. Bayrut, 1:84.