The Arabic phrase bi-la kayfa, also bilā kaifa, (Arabic: بلا كيف) is roughly translated as "without asking how", or "without how" which means without modality. It was a way of resolving theological problems in Islam over apparent questioning in ayat (verses of the Qur'an) by accepting without questioning.
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 as mugassima ("corporealist") or mushabbih ("anthropomorphist").
Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (c. 873–936) originated the use of the term in his development of the orthodox Ash'ari school 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 why. This view was held by the vast majority of Sunni Muslims from the first generations of Islam.
Nuh Ha Mim Keller states that both ibn Hanbal and al-Ash'ari held the same creed of and consisted of accepting the words of the mutashabihat "unapparent meanings" of the Qur'an and hadith as they have come without saying how they are meant.
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. For example, Imam Ahmad was asked about the hadiths mentioning "Allah's descending", "seeing Allah", and "placing His foot on hell"; and the like, and he replied: "We believe in them and consider them true, without 'how' and without 'meaning' (bi la kayfa wa la ma‘na) and with firmly believing that these words have a meaning that Allah knows, and that literal meaning isn't meant".
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