By Mln. Yaqub Abdurrahman
1 Introductory Note
This is an introductory resource that was compiled for seminary students studying the subject of theology (ar. ʿaqīdah). Upon observing eager learners ambitiously attempting to grasp certain concepts in the subject, it seemed prudent to provide a condensed outline that may ease attempts to negotiate the passages discussing those concepts. This is not intended to critique existing material in the discourse nor to elucidate all the details that pertain to it. Rather, the purpose is to provide one reviewing a systematic and progressive syllabus with clear and easily understandable explanations of terminology and concepts. Herein, there is a simplification of taʿalluq, which is a discussion contained in the chapter of Ilāhiyyāt.
In discussing God’s Qualities (ar. Ṣifāt Allāh), the scholars elucidated these qualities’ purposes and discussed the interactions that occur between them and what is subject to one of the three theological rulings. This discussion may be called “taʿalluq.”
2 Defining Taʿalluq
In Arabic, the word taʿalluq is Stem V’s verbal noun. Its root letters are: the ʿayn, the lām, and the qāf. The lexicographers defined it as:
(تَعَلَّقَ) الشَّوْكُ بِالثَّوْبِ وَالْوَحْشُ أَوِ الظَّبِيُ بِالْحِبَالَةِ
“The thorn snagged the garment. The wild animal was caught by the snare.”
وَعَلِقَ الشَّوْكُ بِالثَّوْبِ عَلَقًا مِنْ بَابِ تَعِبَ وَتَعَلَّقَ بِهِ إذَا نَشِبَ بِهِ وَاسْتَمْسَكَ
“The thorn snagged the garment (ʿaliqa from stem taʿiba). It attached (taʿallaq) with it, i.e., when it became attached to it and held fast.”
There is a difference of opinion on what taʿalluq is. This difference seems to reflect the types of taʿalluq. Abū al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī, and Sanūsī following him, maintained that taʿalluq is intrinsic to the Quality (ar. nafsī). They considered that this is like the Quality being “inherent” to the Essence. On the other hand, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, and thereafter Taftāzānī, said that it is an occurrence (ar. nisbah).
Abū ʿAdhabah stated that when considering the taʿalluq as nafsī, its pre-eternal manifestations are considered (i.e. ṣalāḥī qadīm and tanjīzī qadīm). While when considering that it is a nisbah, it pertains to an association with transitory beings (i.e. tanjīzī ḥādith). The terminology featured in the parentheses will be explained forthcoming, inshāʾAllāh.
The word’s lexical meaning is relevant when considering the word’s meaning as applied in the theologians’ nomenclature. A textbook definition for the theological meaning of taʿalluq is:
طَلَبُ الصِّفَةِ أَمْرًا زَائِدًا عَلَى قِيَامِهَا بِمَحَلِّهَا [أَيْ عَلَى قِيَامِهَا بِالذَّاتِ]
This definition was taken verbatim from Ḥāmidī’s commentary on Dardīr’s al-ʿAqīda al-Ṣughrā, and the explanation between the brackets is from Ṣāwī’s marginalia on Jawharat al-Tawḥīd along with the material presented in the footnotes. The two definitions were amalgamated here to lucidly explain the significance of the pronouns’ antecedents along with their annexed nouns. It is related in other sources with slight variations in wording.
Some defined taʿalluq in other words. For instance, Abū ʿAdhabah cited an alternate definition from Ibn ʿArafah along with offering one of his own. Comparing and contrasting definitions is not within the scope of this writing. Mentioning this here is mostly to note that when cross-reading in the subject, one may encounter other renderings of the definition.
3 Categorizing the Qualities that Concern Taʿalluq
Perhaps dilating on the Qualities relationship to the Essence will help clarify certain aspects of the definition. The theologians stated that the Qualities are not the Essence itself nor are they “ghayr” (lit. other than it). The word ghayr maintains a subject-specific usage here, and that is: “to be separable.” Accordingly, the Qualities are not the Essence itself, as a quality of something is describing something and it is not the exact thing that it describes. And they are not other than the Essence because they are eternally and infinitely inseparable from it.
The word qiyām in the definition pertains to this reality with considering the function of the Quality. Some of the Qualities have taʿalluq while others do not. They all have “qiyām” with the Essence, but not all have the “amr zāʾid” mentioned in the definition. Accordingly, the scholars divided the ṣifāt al-maʿānī into two:
(1) Qualities that do not have any taʿalluq.
(2) Qualities that do.
3.1 Qualities with No Taʿalluq
Ḥayāh is the only Quality with no taʿalluq. This quality does not necessitate any matter except for being inherent to the Essence. This Quality is foundational to the establishment of the others. An entity described by ability, will, etc., cannot be rationally perceived to possess these qualities except for when the quality of life is established for it. In fact, if this Quality would be negated, it would logically insinuate the negation of the others.
3.2 Qualities with Taʿalluq
The second type includes the remaining ṣifāt al-maʿānī (i.e. qudrah, irādah, ʿilm, samʿ, baṣar, and kalām). These Qualities all have an “amr zāʾid,” as was mentioned in the definition. Meaning, they all do something that is additional to being inherent to the Essence.
For example, Allāh’s qudrah brings created entities in or out of existence. This function is the “amr zāʾid” specific to qudrah.
Regarding taʿalluq, there are three points. They are:
(1) The Quality (ar. ṣifah)
(2) The relationship (ar. taʿalluq)
(3) That which is connected (ar. mutaʿallaq bihi)
Regarding the first, it is readily understood. Be the taʿalluq intrinsic to the Quality or an occurrence resulting from it, in either case the Quality itself is known and understood.
Then there is the second, which is the taʿalluq. This is a nonbeing connection (ar. nisbah ʿadamiyyah) and not something that physically manifests as an existent state of action; in fact, it is impossible that it is “wujūdiyyah.” If it was, it would require that Allāh’s action and knowledge be dependent on an existence other than it, which is a fallacy. This may lead to the notion that Allāh uses or requires an intermediary through which His actions occur, which is obviously a mistaken line of reasoning. This second point is articulated in the definition of taʿalluq, namely, the wording “ṭalab al-ṣifah.”
Then there is the third, which is the “mutaʿallaq bihi,” and this is what is connected to the Quality. It may be necessary or impossible, such as the Quality of knowledge, which includes what is necessary and what is impossible. Or it may be possible, like divine knowledge encompassing all of that which is in the heavens and earth. As well, the taʿalluq for the qualities of qudrah and irādah, for example, both are associated with possibilities.
3.2 The Different Types of Taʿalluq
There are two types of taʿalluq. They are:
(1) Taʿalluq ṣalāḥī.
(2) Taʿalluq tanjīzī.
A Quality’s taʿalluq is tanjīzī when three points are found. These are termed “jihāt.” And they are: (1) the Quality, (2) the mutaʿallaq, (3) and the relation between them (which may be termed “athar al-ṣifah”).
And ṣalāḥī is when one of these is not found. In considering the three aspects to be (1) the Quality, (2) the mutaʿallaq, and (3) the nisbah, it is necessary that one categorically acknowledges that the nonmanifest aspect is not the ṣifah itself. If that would be the case, it would imply temporality regarding the Essence; and this is mistaken. As well, we could not say it is the mutaʿallaq bihi because it is a result of the ṣifah. Accordingly, it must be the taʿalluq.
This discussion is thus one that pertains primarily to the nisbah. When all three aspects are manifest, it is actualized. And the taʿalluq is termed “tanjīzī.” Otherwise, it is “ṣalāḥī.” The first is thus different from the second while it may be a condition for it.
Regarding “ṣalāḥī,” it is a “nisbah iʿtibāriyyah.” The question may arise: is it qadīm [trans. preeternal] or ḥādith [trans. spatial and temporal]? It should be clear that it must be eternal. It only depends on the presence of the ṣifah, and all the ṣifāt are eternal. Accordingly, taʿalluq ṣalāḥī is qadīm. If it would be said that it is not qadīm, but rather ḥādith, then it would imply that the ṣifah is likewise. And this is clearly mistaken.
And regarding taʿalluq tanjīzī one may ask: is it always noneternal, or sometimes eternal and sometimes noneternal?
In considering the reality of the effects of the ṣifāt, meaning if the quality produces an effect that brings something into being or out of being, so it is impossible for the taʿalluq to be eternal, i.e. qadīm. Such a line of reasoning would require considering a created entity to be eternal, which is impossible. While if the taʿalluq of the ṣifah is not related to bringing nonexistent entities into being and creation, then it is eternal.
If the effect of a quality from the perspective of taʿalluq tanjīzī relates to a matter of Allāh’s perfection, then it is qadīm. For example, the taʿalluq of Allāh’s knowledge. And if it is the effect of a quality that pertains to creation, like Allāh’s bringing into being which has taʿalluq to his qudrah or the specification that happens by his irādah, then it is noneternal.
5 The Qualities and Taʿalluq
Divine Ability or Omnipotence: Allāh can bring possibilities in and out of existence. This Quality only effects one of the three theological rulings: possible (ar. jawāz or imkān). And it does not apply to necessities or impossibilities. This Quality works in conformity with the Divine Will (ar. irādah). It has two manifestations of taʿalluq: ṣalāḥī and tanjīzī ḥādith. The first means that Allāh has forever been able to make something be or not be. And the second is regarding when He brings a possibility in or out of existence.
In the Qurʾān, Allāh says:
إن الله على كل شيء قدير
“Verily, God is over all things all-powerful.”
Divine Will: When bringing possibilities in and out of existence, Allāh can do so in any way He wills. When it comes to possibilities, they may be subject to one of the following six: (1) existence or nonexistence, (2) a specific time, (3) a specific place, (4) a specific amount, (5) a specific direction, (6) and a specific description. Essentially, the norm is that Allāh will bring something into being within spatially and temporally qualified dimensions, and with specific attributes. Like qudrah, irādah has two manifestations of taʿalluq: ṣalāḥī and tanjīzī ḥādith. Allāh has been forever able to bring something into existence or out of existence in any way He wills. When He does so, no other being can change how that happens; He creates as He wills. Some scholars considered a third taʿalluq for irādah: tanjīzī qadīm. This would be His intention to bring a possibility into being in a specific way.
In the Qurʾān, Allāh says:
فعال لما يريد
“He does what He wills.”
Knowledge or Omniscience: Allāh knows the reality of everything in a way that does not maintain any possibility for the opposite to be. Allāh’s knowledge is all-encompassing and perfect. He is aware of everything. His knowledge is connected, in a way the theologians would term taʿalluq tanjīzī qadīm, with all three theological rulings, i.e. that which is necessary, impossible, or possible. Allāh knows the reality of His Essence, His Qualities, and His Names. He knows that a spouse, offspring, partner, or any quality of deficiency is impossible for Him. And He knows all possibilities along with those possibilities’ details.
In the Qurʾān, Allāh says:
إن الله بكل شيء عليم
“God is aware of all things.”
5.4 Samʿ & Baṣar
Hearing & Seeing: These two Qualities disclose everything in existence. They have a similar function, but samʿ is different than baṣar. It may be said that the first pertains to that which is hearable and the second to that which is seeable. These Qualities only have taʿalluq with existent entities and not nonexistent entities. They have three manifestations of taʿalluq: ṣalāḥī, tanjīzī qadīm, and tanjīzī ḥādith. The first means that these Qualities have eternally had the potential to disclose anything and everything pertaining to any possibility. The second means that in all matters pertaining to Allāh they have always done so. And the third, that when any created being is brought into existence, they disclose everything about it.
In the Qurʾān, Allāh says:
إن الله سميع بصير
“Verily, Allāh is all-hearing, all-seeing.”
Speech: The kalām of Allāh is pre-eternal. It is expressions that differ from any modes or qualities of our speech. It is not comprised of letters or sounds. This Quality has one taʿalluq: tanjīzī qadīm. This Quality informs and conveys information; accordingly, it is associated with each of the three theological rulings.
In the Qurʾān, Allāh says:
وكلم الله موسى تكليما
“Allāh spoke to Moses.”
And Allāh knows best.
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 The three theological rulings are: (1) wujūb [trans. necessary], (2) jawāz [trans. possible], and (3) istiḥālah [trans. impossible]. The “necessary” is that which must exist. For example, Allāh being perfect. The “possible” is that which may or may not exist. For example, the universe. And the “impossible” is that which cannot exist. For example, Allāh being deficient. (Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 10; Tahdhīb Sharḥ al-Sanūsī, 27-28)
 al-Muʿjam al-Wasīṭ, 644.
 al-Miṣbāḥ al-Munīr, 2:425.
 Jurjānī defined a nisbah as: إيقاع التعلق بين الشيئين. (Taʿrīfāt, 241)
 Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 37-38.
 “A matter” may be more clearly defined depending on the Quality that the taʿalluq pertains to.
 Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 23; Hāshiyat al-Ṣāwī, 197.
 Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 40.
 Ḍawʾ al-Maʿālī, 49-50.
 Ḍawʾ al-Maʿālī, 49-50; Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 30.
 The ṣifāt al-maʿānī are: (1) qudrah [trans. divine ability, omnipotence], (2) irādah [trans. divine will], (3) ʿilm [trans. divine knowledge, omniscience], (4) ḥayāh [trans. life], (5) samʿ [trans. hearing], (6) baṣar [trans. seeing], and (7) kalām [trans. speech].
 Kubrā al-Yaqīniyyāt al-Kawniyyah, 130.
 Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 37-38.
 Saʿīd Fūdah’s introduction to Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 6-7.
 Saʿīd Fūdah’s introduction to Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 5-17.
 Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 40-41; Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 26-27; Sharḥ al-Ṣāwī, 169.
 Kubrā al-Yaqīniyyāt al-Kawniyyah, 120; Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 24-27; Tahdhīb Sharḥ al-Sanūsiyyah, 46.
 Kubrā al-Yaqīniyyāt al-Kawniyyah, 120; Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 42; Sharḥ Tahdhīb al-Sanūsiyyah, 50-51.
 Kubrā al-Yaqīniyyāt al-Kawniyyah, 122-23; Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 42; Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 28; Sharḥ Tahdhīb al-Sanūsiyyah, 52-53.
 Natāʾij Afkār al-Thiqāt, 42; Sharḥ al-Ḥāmidī, 28; Sharḥ Tahdhīb al-Sanūsiyyah, 52-53.