The ruling on attributing tiredness and boredom to Allaah
Fatwa No: 309022

  • Fatwa Date:4-1-2016 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 24, 1437
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Question

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Does Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen attribute boredom and tiredness to Allaah? Is it not blasphemous to hold such beliefs? Following is the fatwa of Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen; when he was asked whether Allaah gets tired or bored, as is recorded in the following hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him: “Allaah does not get bored/tired/wearied until you people get bored/tired/wearied.” Among the scholars are those who said that this hadith is proof that boredom/tiredness/weariness is affirmed for Allah. However, the boredom/tiredness/weariness of Allah is not like the boredom/tiredness/weariness of the creatures.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him did never attribute any imperfection to Allaah, The Exalted - Allaah forbids that he did so - rather, he was only affirming what Allaah, The Exalted, affirmed for Himself or what was affirmed for Him by His Messenger, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, as befits Him. Different views from Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen were reported regarding the tiredness mentioned in the hadeeth narrated by ʻAa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her where she said, “A woman from the tribe of Bani Asad was sitting with me, and the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, came to my house and said, ‘Who is this?’ I said, ‘She is so-and-so; she does not sleep at night because she is engaged in prayer.’ The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Do (good) deeds within your capacity; Allaah never gets tired (of giving rewards) until you get tired (of doing good deeds).’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

On some occasions, Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen cited the different views in this regard and did not declare any of them preponderant. He was once asked, "Is tiredness (or boredom) an established Attribute of Allaah?"

He answered:

As for the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ some scholars held that this hadeeth serves as proof that the attribute of tiredness (or boredom) is affirmed for Allaah. However, the tiredness (or boredom) of Allaah is not like that of the creature. The tiredness of the creature is an imperfection, while that of Allaah is free of any imperfection. This is similar to all other attributes that we affirm for Allaah as an aspect of perfection although, when attributed to creatures, they are aspects of imperfection. Some scholars held that the statement, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,' is meant to indicate that no matter how many good deeds you do, Allaah rewards you for them; so do whatever you wish for Allaah never gets tired of giving you rewards until you get tired of doing good deeds. Thus, what is meant by tiredness here is what such tiredness entails, which is stopping (to give rewards).Other scholars held that the hadeeth does not imply attributing tiredness to Allaah at all because when one says, ‘I shall not get up until you get up,’ this does not necessitate that the latter will get up. Similarly, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ does not necessitate affirming the attribute of tiredness for Allaah.In any case, it is incumbent on the Muslim to believe that Allaah is Exalted above any aspect of imperfection, be it tiredness, boredom, weariness or anything else. If it is established that this hadeeth is evidence to affirm the attribute of tiredness for Allaah, then we must believe that the tiredness of Allaah is nothing like that of the creatures.” [Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa]

On another occasion, Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him did not declare whether the attribute of tiredness is affirmed for Allaah or not. He was asked, "Can we deduce from the authentic hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,' that the attribute of tiredness is affirmed for Allaah?"

He replied:

It is known that the principle held by Ahlus-Sunnah Wal-Jamaaʻah (mainstream Muslims) is that we describe Allaah only with what He describes Himself (in the Quran or the authentic Sunnah), without tamtheel (likening Allaah to His creation) or takyeef (trying to describe 'how' an attribute is by attempting to determine the manner in which attributes of Allaah take form). If this hadeeth indicates that Allaah is described with tiredness, then it should be noted that the tiredness of Allaah is not like our tiredness; rather, it is tiredness that is free from any aspect of imperfection or deficiency. As for the tiredness of human beings, it involves imperfection because it implies psychological and physical weariness because of a burden beyond one’s ability to endure. As for the tiredness of Allaah, if this hadeeth indicates it, then it is tiredness that befits Him. It is totally devoid of any aspect of imperfection.” [Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa]

On a different occasion, he  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him did not affirm that attribute for Allaah. He was asked about affirming the attribute of tiredness and strongly reproached the questioner. The question was, "O Shaykh! Does the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ mean that the attribute of tiredness is affirmed for Allaah?"

He replied:

I shall answer you with the very words of the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam: ‘Ruined are the hair splitters.’ He, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, repeated this thrice. Why would you investigate the affirmation of tiredness for Allaah in the first place? You know that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, addressed his companions with this hadeeth and that they were keener than all of us on knowing the attributes of Allaah; did they ask the Messenger whether Allaah gets tired or not? Or did they rather say, ‘We hear and we believe that Allaah never gets tired (of giving rewards) until we get tired (of doing good deeds)?! The imperfection that tiredness implies is for us human beings, for Allaah is perfect in His Attributes. Hence, we must stop discussing and investigating this matter any further. I say to you and to others and whoever listens to these words of mine that the Muslim must be rather cautious when addressing the topic of the Attributes of Allaah and should not go beyond the authentically reported Attributes of Allaah (in the Quran or the Sunnah). Verily, whoever goes beyond them is doomed because he shall fall into either of two things: tamtheel (likening Allaah to His creation) entailing attributing imperfection to Him, or taʻteel (denying the apparent meaning). The Companions, who amounted to one hundred and twenty-four thousand, and a greater number of Taabiʻoon (the generation that followed the generation of the Companions), and the Imaams and scholars of Islam, they all never pursued such topics; how come then that late scholars and young seekers of knowledge, who seek to delve into the Attributes of Allaah, as they claim, investigate such topics, inquiring about the number of Fingers of Allaah, or what His Eyes or Face look like? Do you not know that a man asked Imaam Maalik  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him ‘O Abu ʻAbdullaah! Allaah, The Exalted, says: {The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established.}[Quran 20:5] How is His istiwaa’ (rising above the Throne)?’ Imaam Maalik lowered his head, breaking out in sweat in awe of the gravity of this question. After a long pause, he looked up and said, ‘O You! The meaning of istiwaa’ is not unknown (in the Arabic language). How it occurs (in regard to Allaah rising above the Throne) is something that we cannot comprehend. Believing in it is obligatory, and asking about it is a bid'ah (religious innovation). I do not think that you are anything but an innovator.’ Then he ordered that the man be expelled from the mosque. Such issues, dear young Muslims, like the issues of the divine attributes, do not delve into them lest you fall into ruin. Rather, you should say, ‘We hear and we believe that there is not like Him anything, and He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing. As long as we do good deeds, then Allaah, The Exalted, rewards us, and He never gets tired of giving rewards until we get tired of doing good deeds.’ If you believe that getting tired in this sense is an imperfection in you, then do not attribute an imperfection to Allaah. Verily, it is tiredness befitting of Him. We know that if the attribute of tiredness is affirmed for Allaah, then this entails that it is free of all aspects of imperfection. I warn you, and I warn all listeners of going to extremes and delving deeper into such a serious issue. Instead, you should preoccupy yourselves with carrying out the religious obligations and duties instead of indulging in investigating the matters that you are not obliged to investigate. You should keenly seek to learn how to perform the prayer and ablution as due and how to offer charity and leave the Attributes of Allaah to competent scholars. Accept the reported explanations and abstain from delving into it any further because the early Muslim generations, who were more knowledgeable, keener to know Allaah, and more loving to do good and seek knowledge than you, none of them discussed such matters with the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam.

In his book Sharh Riyaadh As-Saaliheen, he said that the apparent indication of the hadeeth is that the attribute of tiredness for Allaah is affirmed. He  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

This is why the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired.’ It means that Allaah rewards you according to the amount of good deeds that you perform; no matter how much good deeds you do, Allaah will reward you for them. The tiredness attributed to Allaah, as understood from the apparent indication of the hadeeth, is not like our tiredness. Our tiredness denotes laziness and weariness, whereas the tiredness of Allaah is an attribute unique to Him as Allaah, The Exalted, never suffers laziness or weariness; Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And We did certainly create the heavens and earth and what is between them in six days, and there touched Us no weariness.}[Quran 50:38] These great heavens and the Earth, as well as all that is between them, were created in six days; Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and He did not become tired in creating them in such a short time despite the enormity of their creation...” [End of quote]

In any case, regardless of the view that Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him finally adopted regarding the meaning of the hadeeth, it is no more than ijtihaad (personal reasoning) in understanding the text. He shall not - Allaah willing - be denied the reward for his ijtihaad, even if his view is incorrect. ʻAmr ibn Al-ʻAas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, “If a judge gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct (i.e. agrees with that of Allaah and His Messenger), then he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is incorrect (i.e. against that of Allaah and His Messenger), then he gets a single reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

As for the issue of takfeer (i.e. declaring a Muslim individual or group non-Muslim) based on the affirmation of the attribute of tiredness for Allaah, this is considered blameworthy and undue exaggeration. Shaykh Ibn ʻUthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that even if the attribute of tiredness for Allaah is affirmed, it does not imply any imperfection or deficiency, as is the case with attributing it to the creatures.

As for the statements of early scholars in this regard, the majority of them held that this hadeeth does not serve as evidence to affirm the attribute of tiredness for Allaah. They explained the indication of the hadeeth in many ways; the following lines shall shed light on some of them.

At-Tahaawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

Someone may ask, ‘How could you accept to attribute this hadeeth to the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, although it indicates describing Allaah with getting tired in a certain case, and this can never be an attribute of Allaah?’ Our answer is: Tiredness can never be an attribute of Allaah as mentioned, and it is not as he understood. Arabic linguists advised that the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ means that tiredness is expected from you but not expected from Allaah. This is similar to what people commonly say when they describe someone as being a good speaker endowed with eloquence and great debate skills, that ‘he does not stop and give up his argument until his opponent does,’ referring to a merit of his in this regard because if they had intended that he does stop, then they would not be affirming a merit for him since he stops when his opponent stops just like his opponent. Rather, what they really mean is that he does not stop after his opponent stops and that he remains as powerful and capable as he was before his opponent stopped. Similar to that - and Allaah knows best - is the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired.' It means that you may get tired (of performing good deeds), and stop; while Allaah, after you have gotten tired and stopped, is as He was before, never tiring and never stopping.” [Sharh Mushkil Al-Aathaar]

Ibn ʻAbd Al-Barr  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

With regard to the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ the adjective ‘tired’ in this context is used to oppose the weariness on their part. It is well-known that Allaah, The Exalted, does not get tired regardless of whether people got tired or not, and nothing or nobody causes Him to get tired; Exalted is He above such imperfection. The hadeeth used a common style in the Arabic language, called mujaanasah, which means that if they (the Arabs) use a word as an answer and reward for another, it is the same as the original word though different in meaning. Examples on this style are clear in the verses that read (what means):

- {And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it...} [Quran 42:40]

- {So, whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you.} [Quran 2:194]

In the first example, the second word 'evil' is merely for mujaanasah i.e. it does not convey its original meaning; it is only the same as the first. Of course, the reward of evil is not a similar evil, and retribution is not an assault because it is a due right.

The same applies to the following verses:

- {And the disbelievers plotted, but Allaah plotted. And Allaah is the best of plotters.} [Quran 3:54]  

- {...they say, "Indeed, we are with you; we were only mockers." (But) Allaah mocks them and prolongs them in their transgression (while) they wander blindly.} [Quran 2:14-15]

- {...Indeed, they are planning an evil plan, but I am planning an evil plan.} [Quran 86:15-16]

The Arabic words for plotting, mocking, and evil planning used in the verses as the actions of Allaah are merely used for the sake of mujaanasah. Verily, Allaah, The Exalted, is above mocking, plotting, and planning evil; rather, the terms are used to indicate that Allaah shall punish them for their mockery, plotting, and evil planning. The same applies to the hadeeth that reads, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired;’ the adjective 'tired' used for Allaah is merely used for the sake of mujaanasah..." [At-Tamheed]

Ibn Rajab  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

As for the hadeeth, ‘Allaah never gets tired until you get tired,’ and the other version reading, ‘Allaah never gets bored until you get bored,’ the boredom and tiredness of doing a good deed entail ceasing to do it. So if the slave gets tired or bored of doing a good deed and stops doing it, Allaah, The Exalted, stops giving him the reward of that deed. The servant is rewarded according to the deeds that he does; whenever he stops, his reward ceases, unless he stops because of a sickness, travel, or old age.

Calling the cessation of giving reward tiredness and boredom on part of Allaah is in return for the servant's tiredness and boredom. It is similar to the verse that reads (what means): {...They have forgotten Allaah, so He has forgotten them (accordingly)...} [Quran 9:67] Allaah called His forsaking them 'forgetting them' in return for their forgetting Him. This is the most likely correct view in this regard. This is evidenced by the hadeeth narrated on the authority of ʻAa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her in which the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, 'Do of good deeds that which you are able to perform, for Allaah does not grow weary of giving reward until you grow weary of doing good deeds.’ It was cited by Baqiyy ibn Makhlad and its chain of narration included Moosa ibn ʻUbaydah.

It was said that the word 'hatta' (until) is used as a subordinate conjunction; however, this is refutable because, as a conjunction, it is used to connect words and not sentences, as known to Arabic grammarians, although some of them held otherwise. It was also said that 'hatta' in this context means 'when', which is an unknown usage. Ibn Qutaybah claimed that the hadeeth means ‘Allaah does not get tired whenever you get tired.’ He claimed that this usage is known to the Arabs. It was also said that 'hatta' in this hadeeth is used as the proclitic preposition 'li-' (meaning ‘so that’), known as laam at-taʻleel, i.e. the laam of justification. Hence, the intended meaning is that Allaah does not get tired for rewarding your good deeds so that you would get tired of doing them. However, this may be quite far-fetched; if this was the intended meaning, then the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, would have said: ‘...so that you do not get tired,’ underlining that Allaah does not get tired of rewarding them, so informing them of that would entail urging them to carry on doing good deeds and never to grow tired or bored of it.

It may also be said that this statement attributes tiredness and boredom to Allaah based on the rule of mafhoom al-ghaayah (i.e. restricting the meanings of things using the word 'hatta [untill]'. Those who hold that such a rule is not applicable in this context negate this indication of the hadeeth in the first place. On the other hand, those who maintain that the rule of mafhoom al-ghaayah is applicable hold that as long as the evidence indicates the negation of such an attribute for Allaah (which is understood by applying the rule mafhoom al-ghaayah), then it is not intended by the context. All evidence has proved that all aspects of imperfection are not conceivably attributable to Allaah, including the attributes of tiredness and boredom.....” [Summarized from Fat'h al-Baari by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali]

We have sufficed with citing the statements of the scholars who followed the methodology of Ahlus-Sunnah in addressing the topics of the Names and Attributes (of Allaah). We did not cite the explanations of the commentators who were influenced by the scholars of Scholastic Theology regarding the Names and Attributes so that no one would think that not affirming the attributes of tiredness and boredom constitutes blameworthy figurative interpretation in this regard.

Allaah knows best.

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