Speech (Kalam) is an Attribute of Allah

Speech (Kalam) is an Attribute of Allah

Speech (Kalam)

Speech is an Eternal and Everlasting Attribute. He is a Speaker by this Attribute; a Commander, Forbidder, Promiser, and Threatener. It is not like the speech of another, rather it is Eternal by the Eternality of the Self. It does not resemble the speech of the creation. It is neither a sound that takes place by the passage of air or the collision of bodies nor a letter that is cut off by closing the lips or by the motion of the tongue.

We believe that Musa heard the Eternal Speech of Allah without it being a letter or sound, just as the believers will see the Self of Allah in the Hereafter without the Self being a mass[1] or a characteristic, because the mind does not deem hearing something that is not a letter or sound as impossible.

The Speech of His Self, Exalted is He, is not successive letters like our speech. If the reciter recites the Speech of Allah [i.e. the Revealed Qur’an, not the Attribute], then this recitation is of a letter and a sound; it is not eternal.

These details were conveyed by Abu Hanifah, and he is from the Salaf. He was alive during part of the first century, then he died in year 150 after the Hijrah. He said, “Allah Speaks without an instrument and without a letter, and we speak with an instrument and a letter.” So let that be understood. The issue is not as the Likeners have said, that the Salaf did not say that Allah is a Speaker with a Speech that is not of a letter, and that this is only the innovation of the Ash^ariyys. This talk from Abu Hanifah is confirmed; he mentioned it in one of his five treatises.

The word Qur’an has two usages. It is used in reference to the expression revealed to Muhammad ﷺ, and in reference to the Speech which is the Eternal Attribute; that Speech which is not a letter or a sound, neither is it Arabic language nor any other language. If what is intended by it [i.e., the word Al-Qur’an] is the Speech of the Self, then it is Eternal; it is not a letter or a sound. If what is meant by it and by the rest of the Heavenly Books is the Revealed Expression, then among them is what is Hebrew, and among it is what is Suriyaniyy. These languages as well as the other languages were not existent, then Allah the Exalted Created them and they became existent. Allah the Exalted was Existing before everything, and He was a Speaker before those languages existed, and He never ceased to be a Speaker; and His Speech, which is His Attribute, is Eternal and Everlasting, and it is One Speech. All of the Revealed Books are expressions of the Eternal and Everlasting Speech of the Self.

It is not necessary for the expression to be created that the expressed be created. Had we written on a board or on a wall “Allah” and then it was said, “This is Allah,” does that mean those scripted letters are the Self of Allah? No intelligent person is deluded about that; no one thinks that is the case. Rather, it is only understood from that that these letters are an expression referring to God, the One Who is Existing and worshipped and is the Creator of everything.

Despite that, it is not said, “The Qur’an is created.” Rather it is clarified, when teaching, that the Revealed Expression is not confirmed as an Attribute of the Self of Allah. Rather, it is Created by Allah, because the Revealed Expression is made of letters. Some of those letters precede other letters, and whatever is like that is definitely a created event; however, it is not the authoring of an Angel or a human. Therefore, it is an expression of the Speech of the Self, that Speech which is not described as being Arabic or Hebrew or Suriyaniyy. All of those Revealed Expressions are called the Speech of Allah. That is, the Attribute of Speech which is confirmed for the Self of Allah is called the Speech of Allah, and the Revealed Expression, which is an expression of that Eternal Speech, is also called the Speech of Allah.

Both usages for “Al-Qur’an” are literal usages, because literal usage will either be linguistic, religious or normal. Using the word “Al-Qur’an” for the Revealed Expression is a religious literal usage, so let that be known.  What clarifies that is that the Majestic Expression, “Allah,” is an expression that refers to the Eternal and Everlasting Self. So if we said, “We worship Allah,” then that Self is the One that is intended by our statement; and if this expression were written, and it was said, “What is this?”, it would be said “Allah”, meaning that these letters refer to that Eternal Everlasting Self, not with the meaning that those letters are the Self that we worship.

[1] I.e., a body or jawhar (indivisible particle).