In the Name of Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Capable…
As all Muslims believe, Allah has power over everything. He is al-Qadeer, the All-Capable One, as He has described Himself. Like the rest of Allah’s glorious Attributes, Muslims understand this to be a perfect and complete kind of Capability, not bound by restrictions or hindered by limits, since Allah is All-Powerful and His Authority over His Creation is unchallengeable. He, the Blessed and Exalted, has said:
إن الله على كل شيء قدير
“Verily, Allah is over all things, All-Capable” [2:20]
This unrestricted phrase and other similar phrases describing Allah clearly with all-encompassing Capability are repeated throughout the Quran over 35 times. See the following examples: 2:106, 109, 148, 259, 284, 3:26, 29, 165, 189, 5:17, 19, 40, 120, 6:17, 8:41, 9:39, 11:4, 16:77, 18:45, 22:6, 24:45, 29:20, 30:50, 33:27, 35:1, 41:39, 42:9, 46:33, 48:21, 57:2, 59:6, 64:1, 65:12, 66:8, 67:1, 85:16.
Furthermore, Allah has specifically negated the concept of an “inability” to do something, saying:
وما كان الله ليعجزه من شيء في السماوات ولا في الأرض إنه كان عليمًا قديرًا
And nothing in the heavens or on earth is beyond Allah’s Capability! Verily, he is All-Knowing, All-Capable.” [35:44]
With the clarity of such Quranic passages and the repeated affirmations of the same meaning, it is unimaginable to think that someone who claims to believe in the Quran as a Muslim would even think to say that Allah is NOT capable of all things. It should not surprise you to know who has been teaching such clear falsehood about Allah!
Adding to a long list of statements of disbelief spread by controversial American preacher Yusuf Estes, we have recently come to know of his denial of Allah’s all-encompassing and unlimited Capability to do anything. Stated Yusuf Estes (may Allah guide him):
Can God do anything? No. Don’t say yes. Don’t say yes. Cause you are going to find out something. You are going to be surprised at the answer to this one. Can God do anything? A guy goes (changes voice to sound dumb), “Yea sure, God can do anything!” Anything? Is there anything God can’t do? “Absolutely not. If he, he can do it!” Can He die? But you said He can do anything! Whup. Because when you ask a Christian, he’ll go: “Uh, yea, I guess He can die, sure, He’s on the cross, yeah! Of course He can.” Astaghfirullah. What happened to al-Hayy [the Ever-Living]?
You think God can do anything? Can He take the form of a human being and walk on the earth? A Christian is going to jump up right away: “Yeah, yup, that’s right! He did that! Oh yeah, uh-huh!”
But watch what happens if you follow this thought, watch what will happen: So God can do anything? Anything? Nothing He can’t do? Can He make a rock so big nothing can lift it? You know that – yeah sure! Even He can’t lift it? Oops. Now what are you going to do? Wait, we got this big rock out here, and now we can’t move it because even God can’t move it, now we ain’t going anywhere, we got a rock in the way. Messed up, man. No, He can move it. Wait a minute! This means: He can’t make a rock so big that He can’t move it! How are you going to answer that one?
The reason you got stuck is because you said that Allah can do anything, and that’s not the teaching in Islam. It says: Allahu ‘alaa kulli shay’in qadeer, and then they translate it: Allah can do anything. But that’s not the Arabic, is it? Allah is Capable, has the Power to do whatever He wills to do, but He would never will to not be Allah anymore. Therefore, He never wills to be dead, because He is al-Hayy [the Ever-Living]. He never wills to be oppressive, because they’ll ask you: Can Allah lie, cheat, oppress? Of course not! Because that would be against His Names: ‘Adl, which is to be totally Just and Fair, Merciful, ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem. So, we understand that Allah is perfect in all His Attributes, but He doesn’t have attributes of things that negate the other attributes. Got it?
Source: A lecture entitled, “Born Again in Islam” as found on YouTube [here, and alternatively here and here], uploaded on August 4, 2007. The above passage can be found beginning at 3:10 of Part Four.
In another lecture, his “Explanation of Khutbat al-Haajah” [available here near the end of the seventh part], Yusuf Estes taught similar misguidance.
UPDATE: He was even recorded recently in the Islamic Center of Hamtramck using this philosophy to confuse a group of young children. [At 19 minutes into this YouTube video]
Instead of simply affiming Allah’s all-encompassing Power and Ability to do anything, as Muslims do, Yusuf Estes philosophizes, and like most philosophers, is then led to reject one of Allah’s Attributes, His complete Qudrah, not limited or hindered by anything. Estes’ philosophy has also led him to affirm an attribute for Allah that He Himself has specifically negated, one entirely unbefitting to His Greatness. While Allah negates incapability with absolute negation, Yusuf Estes goes on to affirm it for Him in some situations. Glorified is Allah above the lies of Yusuf Estes.
Saying that “Allah has the Power to do Whatever He Wills to Do”
The Qadaris from the ranks of the Imamiyyah Shiite and the Mu’tazilah used to say that Allah is not All-Capable, but rather He is Capable of doing whatever He does. Yusuf Estes’ philosophy has led his statements about Allah to resemble these wretched groups of disbelievers.
As Ibn Taymiyyah explained, the end result of the words of the Imamiyyah Shiite and their Qadari predecessors is to reject the clear Verses of Allah’s Book affirming that He is above all things with Power and Ability. The Muslims of Ahlus-Sunnah suffice themselves with a clear affirmation that Allah can do anything, just as Allah has said, no philosophy, no rhetoric needed. Refer to: Minhaaj As-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah (2/291-293).
Ahlus-Sunnah have always rejected the pathetic attempts of these disbelieving groups to impose limits upon Allah’s all-encompassing Power and Capability, just as they reject it today from Yusuf Estes and anyone else who speaks about Allah with such little regard.
Saying that “Allah Cannot Cheat, Lie, or Oppress”
The Muslims of Ahlus-Sunnah say that Allaah does not (not “cannot”) lie, cheat, oppress, sleep, forget, etc. They negate all attributes of imperfection and deficiency when speaking about Allah, as He is the Possessor of the most Beautiful and Perfect Names and Attributes. We do not say that Allah cannot do such-and-such, since whatever concept you could mention would place a limit on the Capability of the All-Powerful Creator of everything!
Quite simply, a man in a coma, unable to move or do anything, cannot oppress anyone. Is he now praiseworthy for not oppressing anyone? Or is he described as helpless and limited, and thus not deserving of praise due to his lack of oppression? When someone is powerful and capable of oppressing others, yet he chooses to be kind and fair with them, this is the kind of person who is praised for his fairness, not the one who is incapable of oppressing in the first place!
If Allah were “unable” to oppress, then we could not praise Him for being perfectly Just and for never oppressing anyone, as He would only be doing what His “limited capabilities” allow Him to do. Glorified is Allah above such rhetoric and its filthy results!
If Allah were “incapable” of lying (meaning: lying is beyond His Capabilities), then we could not praise Him for the absolute Truth that comes from Him, since He would not be able to do other than that. Glorified is Allah above such rhetoric!
When Allah’s limitless and unhampered Capabilities are known by human instinct, basic intellect, and an abundance of clear textual evidences, what a disgusting philosophy it is that leads someone to think that Allah can be described with limited capability and inabilities! Glorified is Allah above such deficiencies!
The Muslims throughout history have always affirmed the Attributes of Allah, as they have come in the texts, without rationalizing or subjecting them to philosophical rhetoric. Ahlus-Sunnah always stop where the texts stop, without adding details from their intellects, or specifying or exempting things without textual evidence.
The Origin of this Deviant Belief
It is in fact the deviant Qadariyyah Sect who believe that Allah is “unable” to do bad things. This foundational concept of theirs led them into denying Allah’s creation of evil things and His ordainment of any evil affairs that have occurred. As a result, they believed that Mankind create their own evil actions, and those actions were not decreed nor created by Allah, in direct opposition to what Allah Himself says:
والله خلقكم وما تعملون
“And Allah has created you and all that you do.” [37:96]
Thus, they believed in two creators – Allah, the Creator of Goodness, and the people who create their own evil actions. Based on this belief, the Muslims have always considered the Qadariyyah outside of Islam.
Rhetoric About Allah’s Inability to Perform Unreal Hypothetical Actions
It is important to pay attention to the contrived proof of Allah’s limited capability [Glorified is Allah!] brought by Yusuf Estes, that Allah is incapable of making a rock so big that He cannot move it, which he wants to use as proof to blame those who say, as Allah Himself says, that He is able to do anything. Clearly, it is an invented hypothetical situation that does not actually exist. Similar to Zakir Naik and his cursed list of 1,000 things Allah cannot do, this is the insanity that theological rhetoric leads to – that a person invents an unrealistic situation that does not exist, and then he declares Allah incapable of fulfilling it, and concludes as a result that Allah must not be able to do all things!
In reality, such hypothetical situations that have no place in reality are not even considered real “things” in the first place. This is something understood and agreed upon by all people of basic intellect, as mentioned by Ibn Taymiyyah in Minhaaj as-Sunnah (2/293). This is why the Muslims find every bit of comfort in the texts of the Quran and how Allah has described Himself. A true Muslim knows that he will never go wrong believing in Allah as Allah has described Himself in so many clear Quranic passages – Capable of all things, with no additional commentary or explanation required.
Does Yusuf Estes Know that these Statements are Rooted in Atheistic Philosophy?
Yusuf Estes has shown that he knows clearly where these kinds of thoughts come from. Sitting next to Dr. Bilal Philips, Estes remarks:
Someone could come to you with an age-old question that dates back to the times of the Romans and Greeks in their philosophies. They used to ask a question: ‘Do you believe in God?’ Now these are atheists asking believers. The believer says, ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘Well, can God do anything?’ … [Estes goes on to pose the same ‘rock so big that He can’t move it’ rhetoric!]
How clear! Yusuf Estes has adopted what he knows to be Roman and Greek Atheist Philosophy into his so-called “Islamic teachings”.
May Allah protect the Muslims from ignorant preachers who corrupt their core beliefs and lead them astray!
Muslims, be warned about the heretical teachings of this man! Stay away from the teachings of Yusuf Estes like how you would stay away from the plague!
And Allaah knows best.
Written by: Moosaa Richardson
For further reading on the topic: Exemplary Principles Concerning the Beautiful Names and Attributes of Allaah by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (TROID Publications), p.72.