The Annihilation of Allah

A Question and Challenge to Salafi Anthropomorphists

Sam Shamoun

In many places the Quran ascribes certain physical features and functions, as well as specific body parts, to Allah. For instance, Allah has a face with eyes:

And to Allah belong the east and the west, so wherever you turn yourselves or your faces there is the Face of Allah (and He is High above, over His Throne). Surely! Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knowing. S. 2:115 Hilali-Khan

Now await in patience the command of thy Lord: for verily thou art in Our eyes: and celebrate the praises of thy Lord the while thou standest forth, S. 52:48 Y. Ali

only seeking the Face of his Lord the Most High; S. 92:20 Arberry

He has hands and a shin:

The Jews say: "God’s hand is tied up." Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the (blasphemy) they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth… S. 5:64 Y. Ali

(Remember) the Day when the Shin shall be laid bare (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) and they shall be called to prostrate (to Allah), but they (hypocrites) shall not be able to do so, S. 68:42 Hilali-Khan

The hadith mentions the uncovering of the shin:

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri:
… Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, ‘I am your Lord,’ and they will say, 'You are not our Lord.' And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, ‘Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?’ They will say. ‘THE SHIN,’ AND SO ALLAH WILL THEN UNCOVER HIS SHIN whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him and there will remain those who used to prostrate before Him just for showing off and for gaining good reputation... (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s)

And sits on a throne carried by eight angels:

He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days and then Istawa (rose over) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). He knows what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the heaven and what ascends thereto. And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do. S. 57:4 Hilali-Khan

And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them. S. 69:17 Y. Ali

In light of the above descriptions, it should not be surprising to learn that the so-called sound hadiths state that Allah has a foot and that he even casts a shade!

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Paradise and the Fire (Hell) argued, and the Fire (Hell) said, ‘I have been given the privilege of receiving the arrogant and the tyrants.’ Paradise said, ‘What is the matter with me? Why do only the weak and the humble among the people enter me?’ On that, Allah said to Paradise. ‘You are My Mercy which I bestow on whoever I wish of my servants.’ Then Allah said to the (Hell) Fire, ‘You are my (means of) punishment by which I punish whoever I wish of my slaves. And each of you will have its fill.’ As for the Fire (Hell), it will not be filled till Allah puts His Foot over it whereupon it will say, ‘Qati! Qati!’ At that time it will be filled, and its different parts will come closer to each other; and Allah will not wrong any of His created beings. As regards Paradise, Allah will create a new creation to fill it with." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 373)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His…" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 504)

Now many Muslims would tend to understand these characteristics as metaphors or similes, but would not take these depictions as literal descriptions of Allah. However, there is a group of Muslims that goes by the name Salafis that do believe in the literal application of these characteristics to Allah. They believe that Allah truly has eyes, hands, shin, and actually sits on a throne, even though they qualify this by saying that these qualities and acts are unlike anything in creation, i.e. his eyes are not like our eyes, shin is not like our shin etc.

Our current challenge is directed to the Salafis, not to those who deny that Allah literally has eyes, hands, shin etc.

According to the Quran, Allah will wipe out everything that exists with the exception of his face:

And call not upon another god with God; there is no god but He. All things perish, except His Face. His is the Judgment, and unto Him you shall be returned. S. 28:88 Arberry

All that dwells upon the earth is perishing, yet still abides the Face of thy Lord, majestic, splendid. S. 55:26-27 Arberry

On a literal level of reading, these references plainly say that everything will perish except Allah’s face. The question that comes to mind is, what about the rest of his body? After all, the passages do not say that Allah’s hands and shin will remain, but only his face. Does this mean that Allah will eradicate his hands, toes, torso, feet, shins etc.?

Thus, our challenge to the Salafi anthropomorphists is to produce a Quranic text which says that Allah will not wipe out the rest of his body, with the exception of his face, or that his entire body endures forever.

We will be waiting to see if any Salafi anthropomorphist can meet our challenge and answer these questions from the Quran.

Further Reading

For a first Muslim response and further discussion, see here.

Articles by Sam Shamoun
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