Monday, 30 April 2018

Yunusiya Heresy: "Angels Carry God"

The Twelver Shi’a praise the narrator Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman al-Qummi, who died in the early 9th century CE, as he was apparently one of the companions of Imams Musa al-Kadim and Ali al-Rida and conveyed narrations from both of them. However, the Sunni scholar and heresiographer Ibn Abd al-Karim al-Shahrastani in his al-Milal wal-Nihal mentioned the fact that Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman put forward a heresy that the Hamalat al-Arsh (Angels bearing the Throne of God) are in fact carrying the Holy Person of Allah Himself, and groan from under the weight of His magnitude. Another heresiographer, Abu Mansur Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, in his al-Farq bayn al-Firaq likewise mentions the Yunusiya subsect attributed to Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman al-Qummi, and describes his heresy: “He claimed that Allah is borne by the bearers of his throne, through He is stronger than they; just as the legs of the chair bear the chair although the chair is stronger than they.” Apparently, Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman quoted the Ayah of the Qur’an as his proof:
وَالْمَلَكُ عَلَىٰ أَرْجَائِهَا ۚ وَيَحْمِلُ عَرْشَ رَبِّكَ فَوْقَهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ ثَمَانِيَةٌ
And the Angels are at its edges. And they will bear the throne of your Lord above them, that day, eight [of them].
(Sura 69: 17)
But as al-Baghdadi points out, this Ayah only speaks of the Angels carrying the Throne, and not carrying Allah Himself. But by qualifying that Allah, despite being carried by eight Angels below Him, is nevertheless stronger than them, Yunus b. Abd al-Rahman avoided falling into outright Kufr and Ilhad in this matter, though he was still a misguided innovator for having introduced this belief hitherto unheard of among the Muslims.

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