Bila Kayfa

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The Arabic phrase bilā kayfa, also bilā kaifa, (Arabic: بلا كيف‎) is roughly translated as "without asking how", or "without how" which means without modality.[1] It was a way of resolving theological problems in Islam over apparent questioning in āyāt (verses of the Quran) by accepting without questioning.[1][2]

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 مجسمة mujassimah "corporealist" or مشبه mušabbih "anthropomorphist".[3][4]

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.[5][6]


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 why.[6] This view was held by the vast majority of Sunni Muslims from the first generations of Islam.[citation needed]

Another source credits Ahmad ibn Hanbal, founder of the Hanbali school of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) as the original creator of the doctrine.[7]


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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2009). The Intellectual Legacy of Ibn Taimiyah. Pinnacle Technology. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-61820-648-0.
  3. ^ Opwis, Felicitas; Reisman, David (2011). Islamic Philosophy, Science, Culture, and Religion: Studies in Honor of Dimitri Gutas. BRILL. p. 458. ISBN 90-04-20274-9.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Wensinck, A J (2013). The Muslim Creed: Its Genesis and Historical Development. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 1-135-03009-X.
  6. ^ a b Rafiabadi, Hamid Naseem (2009). The Intellectual Legacy of Ibn Taimiyah. Pinnacle Technology. pp. 74–5. ISBN 978-1-61820-648-0.
  7. ^ 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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