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Bila Kayf

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The Arabic phrase Bila Kayf, also pronounced as Bila Kayfa, (Arabic: بلا كيف) is roughly translated as "without asking how", "without knowing how or what",[1] or "without modality"[2] which means without considering how and without comparison.[3] Literally, "without how" but figuratively as "in a manner that suits His majesty and transcendence".[4] It was a way of resolving theological problems in Islam in āyāt (verses of the Quran) by accepting without questioning.[3][5] The concept is referred as Quranic literalism or Islamic literalism.[dubiousdiscuss][citation needed]

An example is the apparent "contradiction" between references to God having human characteristics (such as the "hand of God" or the "face of God") and the concept of God as being transcendental. The position of attributing actual hands or an actual face to God was known in Arabic as tajsim or tashbih (corporealism or anthropomorphism).[6][7][8]

Another was the question of how the Quran could be both the word of God, but never have been created by God because (as many hadith testified) it has always existed.[9][10]


Al-Ashʻarī (c. 873–936) originated the use of the term in his development of the orthodox Ash'ari theology against some of the paradoxes of the rationalist Muʿtazila. Instead of explaining that God has a literal face, which would anthropomorphize God, he explained that the earliest Muslims simply accepted the verses as they stand - without asking how or what.[10]

Another source credits Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) as the original creator of the doctrine.[11]


The term "bi-la kayf" is the belief that the verses of the Qur'an with an "unapparent meaning" should be accepted as they have come without saying how they are meant or what is meant, i.e. not attributing a specific meaning to them.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aaron W. Hughes (2013). Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam. Columbia University Press. p. 193. ISBN 9780231531924.
  2. ^ Reuven Firestone (2001). Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims. KTAV Publishing House. p. 92. ISBN 9780881257205.
  3. ^ a b Kadri, Sadakat (2012). Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 187. ISBN 978-1-4668-0218-6.
  4. ^ Zulfiqar Ali Shah (2012). Anthropomorphic Depictions of God: The Concept of God in Judaic, Christian and Islamic Traditions: Representing the Unrepresentable. International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). pp. 399–400. ISBN 9781565645752.
  5. ^ Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2009). The Intellectual Legacy of Ibn Taimiyah. Pinnacle Technology. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-61820-648-0.
  6. ^ Opwis, Felicitas; Reisman, David (2011). Islamic Philosophy, Science, Culture, and Religion: Studies in Honor of Dimitri Gutas. BRILL. p. 458. ISBN 978-90-04-20274-0.
  7. ^ Izutsu 井筒, Toshihiko 俊彦 (1984). Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts. University of California Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-520-05264-2.
  8. ^ نور, مكتبة. "Detailed Response to Ash'aris (pdf)". www.noor-book.com (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  9. ^ Wensinck, A J (2013). The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-135-03009-4.
  10. ^ a b Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2009). The Intellectual Legacy of Ibn Taimiyah. Pinnacle Technology. pp. 74–5. ISBN 978-1-61820-648-0.
  11. ^ Akhtar, Shabbir (2007). The Quran and the Secular Mind: A Philosophy of Islam. Routledge. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-134-07255-2.

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