Monthly Archives: November 2013
Allah is Above the Throne – From the Sunnah
It is narrated from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (SAW)said, “Two groups of angels come to you, one group in the night and one group in the day, they gather at the times of Fajr and Asr. The ones who spent the night rise to Allah and Allah asks them whilst he knows fully aware, “How did you leave my slaves.” The angels reply, “They were praying when we reached them and they were still praying when we left them.” (Humaam ibn Munabeh in ‘Saheehfah as-Saadiqah’ (p.89), Ahmad in his ‘Musnad’, Ibn Khuzaimah in ‘Kitaab at-Tawheed’ (p.78) Uthmaan Daarimee in ‘Radd Alal-Jahmiyyah’ (p.30))
Imaam adh-Dhahabee (rh) narrates from Abu Hurairah (ra), the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said that Allah will say, “For the reason of my might, where are the people who love each other, today I will give them the shade of my Throne. Where there is no shade apart from my shade” (Hadeeth Mutawaatir). This establishes that the Throne is in fact real, and not something ‘metaphorical.’
Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Be merciful to those on earth, so that the One above the heavens will be merciful to you” (Bukhari/Muslim).
Zaynab (ra), the wife of the Prophet (SAW)used to claim excellence over the rest of his wives by telling them, “It is only your parents who gave you in marriage to the Prophet (SAW)while it is Allah Who gave me in marriage to him from above the seven heavens” (Bukhari).
Narrated Abu Huraira, “I heard Allah’s Apostle (SAW)saying, Allah divided Mercy into one-hundred parts and He kept its ninety-nine parts with Him and sent down its one part on the earth, and because of that, its one single part, His creations are Merciful to each other, so that even the mare lifts up its hoofs away from its baby animal, lest it should trample on it” (Bukhari).
Jabir ibn Abdullah said, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said in his speech on the day of Arafah, ‘Did I convey (the message)?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ While raising his finger to the sky and then pointing at them, he said, ‘O my Lord, be a witness.’” [Muslim]
Abu Sa’eed said that the Messenger of Allah (SAW)said, “Do you not trust me when I am trusted by Him Who is above the heavens? Revelation comes to me day and night.” (Bukhari/Muslim)
- Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrated that the Messenger said (SAW)“Allah does not sleep and he ought not to. He descends the Qist (justice) and raises it up. Deeds of the night are ascended to Him before the day. His veil is Light, if He unveils it, the light of His Face will burn everything that sight reaches” (Muslim).
- ‘Abdullah. Ibn ‘Abbas reported: A person from the Ansar who was amongst the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (SAW)reported to me: As we were sitting during the night with Allah’s Messenger (SAW)a falling star gave a dazzling light. Allah’s Messenger (SAW)said: What did you say in the pre-Islamic days when there was such a shot (of meteor)? They said: Allah and His Messenger know best (the actual position), but we, however, used to say that that very night a great man had been born and a great man had died, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: (These falling stars) are shot neither at the death of anyone nor on the birth of anyone. Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, issues Command when He decides to do a thing. Then (the Angels) supporting the Throne sing His glory, then sing the dwellers of heaven who are near to them until this glory of God reaches them who are in the heaven of this world. Then those who are near the supporters of the Throne ask these supporters of the Throne: What your Lord has said? And they accordingly inform them what He says. Then the dwellers of heaven seek information from them until this information reaches the heaven of the world. In this process of transmission (the jinn snatches) what he manages to overhear and he carries it to his friends. And when the Angels see the jinn they attack them with meteors. If they narrate only which they manage to snatch that is correct but they alloy it with lies and make additions to it (Muslim).
Narrated Salman al-Farsi: The Prophet (SAW) said: Your Lord is munificent and generous, and is shy to turn away empty the hands of His servant when he raises them to Him (Abu Dawud).
Mu’awiyah as-Sahmi reported: “I had some sheep which I kept between Uhud and Juwaniyyah with a slave-girl to look after them. One day, I went out to check on my sheep and discovered that a wolf had devoured one of them. Since I am just a human, (I became angry) and struck the girl. Later on, I came to the Prophet (SAW)and reported to him the incident. He terrified me with the gravity of my action. I said, ‘Messenger of Allah!’ Shall I free her (as an expiation of my sin.) He said ‘Call her over.’ When I did, he asked her, ‘Where is Allah?’ She said, ‘Above the heavens.’ Then he asked her, ‘Who am I?’ She said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (SAW)Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) ordered me, ‘Free her. She is a believer’” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, and others).
It is important to remember that whatever the Prophet (SAW) said about the religion is the truth. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an, Your companion has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration (revelation) that is inspired (revealed). (53:2-4)
The last hadith listed here is the most important. It establishes the validity and importance of not only asking the question where is Allah, but more importantly, the correct answer to it. To give any answer other than this is to oppose the Sunnah. It also shows that the Prophet (SAW)established that the girl was a ‘true believer’ based simply on her answer to these questions. This is because it establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that her conception of tawheed was correct, and in opposition to the tawheed of the Arabs of jahiliyyah.
There is another narration of a similar hadith, except the girl was unable to speak. So when he asked her where is Allah, she pointed at the heavens, and when he asked, ‘Who am I?’ she pointed at the heavens and pointed at him, indicating you are the one sent by Him.
Lastly, there is a passage from Nudhmul Faraa’id of al-Albaanee also explaining the issue,
On the authority of Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (radi Allaahu ‘anhu), on the authority of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi was-sallam) that he said, “The Most Merciful of those who give mercy is Ar-Rahmaan – Blessed and Exalted is He. Show mercy to those on earth, and the one above the heavens will show mercy to you. And ar-Rahm (the womb) is derived from Ar-Rahmaan, so whoever keeps good relations with it, Allah keeps good relations with him, and whoever cuts it off, Allah cuts him off.
And he said in this hadith “fee” and its meaning here is above (a’laa), just like Allah saying “Say: travel fee (upon/in/on) the land…” [6:11]. So the hadeeth is from the many evidences about Allah – the Exalted – being above (fawq) all of the creation. And “fee” is that which al-Hafidh adh-Dhahabee utilizes in his book al-’Uluww. And indeed this is what I concluded from the summarization of it near me. And I put that down in my explanation of the introduction. And I took from it ahadeeth and athaar (narrations), and I put them above the weak reports. May Allah make it easy for it to be published. And all praise is due to Allah.
1 – And (remember) when Allâh said: “O ‘Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that ‘Iesa (Jesus) is Allâh’s son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieve till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.” (3:55)
2 – And He is the Irresistible, above (fawq) His slaves, and He is the All-Wise, Well¬Acquainted with all things. (6:18)
3 – They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded. (16:50)
Whosoever desires honour, power and glory then to Allâh belong all honour, power and glory. To Him ascend (all) the goodly words, and the righteous deeds exalt it, but those who plot evils, theirs will be severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish. (35:10)
4 – From Allâh, the Lord of the ways of ascent. The angels and the Rûh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] ascend to Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years (70:3-4)
5 – Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allâh), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)? (67:16)
6 – Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allâh), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My Warning? (67:17)
7 – Say (O Muhammad SAW Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)] has brought it (the Qur’an) down from your Lord with truth, that it may make firm and strengthen (the Faith of) those who believe and as a guidance and glad tidings to those who have submitted (to Allâh as Muslims). (16:102)
8 -lorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High (87:1)
These ayaat clearly indicate that Allah is the Creator, and we are the creation. The two are separate and distinct, and not the same.
Additionally, these ayaat show that Allah is the All-Knower of everything, and disposes of all affairs. His being over the Throne does not negate this. Notice how they say, for example, “They fear their Lord above them” and they do not say, “They fear their Lord beneath them,” or “around them,” or “inside them,” or “the One in no direction.”
It is therefore clear from the repetition of this in the Qur’an that this is an important issue. In fact, it is the message that the Prophets all came with. This is proved by the following verse,
And Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “O Hâmân! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, “The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the Ilâh (God) of Mûsa (Moses) but verily, I think him to be a liar.” Thus it was made fair-seeming, in Fir’aun’s (Pharaoh) eyes, the evil of his deeds, and he was hindered from the (Right) Path, and the plot of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) led to nothing but loss and destruction (for him). (40:36-37)
It is sad, that Fir’awn understood our aqeedah better than the Ash’aris and mutakallimoon.
Mujaahid reported that Istiwaa means He rose over it. There are 7 ayaat in the Quran that specifically mention Istiwaa:
1 – Indeed your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty). He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars subjected to His Command. Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)! (7:54)
2 – Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six Days. Then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). The Most Beneficent (Allah)! Ask Him (O Prophet Muhammad SAW), (concerning His Qualities, His rising over His Throne, His creations, etc.), as He is Al-Khabir (The All-Knower of everything i.e. Allah). (25:59)
3 – Allâh is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then, He Istawâ (rose above) the Throne. He has subjected the sun and the moon (to continue going round)! Each running (its course) for a term appointed. He regulates all affairs, explaining the Ayât (proofs, signs) in detail, (so) that you may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord. (13:2)
4 – Surely, your Lord is Allâh Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days and then Istawâ (rose over) the Throne, disposing the affair of all things. No intercessor (can plead with Him) except after His Leave. That is Allâh, your Lord; so worship Him (Alone). Then, will you not remember? (10:3)
5 – The Most Beneficent (Allâh) Istawâ (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne. (20:5)
6 – Allâh it is He Who has created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them in six Days. Then He Istawâ (rose over) the Throne. You (mankind) have none, besides Him, as a Walî (protector or helper etc.) or an intercessor. Will you not then remember (or be admonished)? (32:4)
7 – He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days and then Istawa (rose over) the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). He knows what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the heaven and what ascends thereto. And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do. (57:4)
One need to do nothing more than look up these Ayaat and read them in context to see the true meaning of istiwaa. Some of the groups of kalam tried to claim that istiwaa actually means istawlaa (to conquer) and this is incorrect for a number of reasons. It is not the understanding of any of the first generations of Islam, and there is no evidence to suggest that it is the correct meaning. Allah also specifies thumma (then), i.e. He created the heavens and then He istiwaa over the Throne. The early scholars of Arabic language also rejected it. In fact, ibn al-’Araabee refuted it by saying that istawlaa occurs only when you have an enemy to fight.
Some of the scholars of kalam also tried to use a line of poetry to show istiwaa meant to conquer. However, this line of poetry was fabricated and was found in none of that author’s works (who by the way was a Christian poet). Also, it is incorrect methodology to ignore the explicit evidences in the Quran and Sunnah and turn to some obscure line of poetry. Lastly, poetry is used to help understand exotic words, not to distort obvious ones.
It should also be noted that the early Ash’aris actually affirmed istiwaa (e.g. Bayhaqi, Abul-Hasan, Baqilanee) and the later ones rejected it. This is yet another indication that their creed has changed over time, and is therefore incorrect.
Another argument some groups try to use to deny this Lofty Attribute of Allah is to say that istiwaa has over 15 meanings, so we do not know which one was intended. This is just like their making tafwid. This is akin to saying that the Quran is vague and we do not know what it means, the Quran may as well have just said “alpha beta chi” here and it would carry the same meaning for these groups of kalam.
Notice how vile this claim is, it destroys all spirituality of Allah’s Names and Attributes. Instead of knowing Allah is above us, He is Majestic, over His Mighty Throne, the same Throne that will shade some people on the day of judgment, from above the heavens, Allah is protecting us, from above the heavens He sent down the revelation to us, to guide us, to worship Him, and glorify Him Most High (subhaana Rabbi al-A’laa), they have stripped this from the Noble Attributes of Allah. They have destroyed this meaning and turned it into some sort of intellectual puzzle that no one can decipher, Audhubillah.
The first incorrect opinion regarding this Attribute is the saying that Allah is everywhere.
- Hulooliyyah ‘Aamah – (Hulool means to occupy a space, or be around). This is like the saying of Jahm ibn Safwan (the first to reject Allah’s ‘Uluww) that Allah is like the air, i.e. all around us.
- Hulooliyyah Khaasah – the belief that Allah is in a certain person’s surroundings, or in certain places only, e.g. idol worship.
- Ittihaadiyyah ‘Aamah – to believe that Allah is everywhere, inside of everything, and there is no existence other than Him. This is the belief of the heretical sufis.
- Ittihaadiyyah Khaasah – to believe that Allah is manifest inside a specific person, e.g. the Christian’s belief in Jesus.
Muslim groups mostly fell into the first and third of those mentioned.
The second opinion is that of the mujassimah who say Allah(swt) is enclosed in a space, or is physically sitting on the Throne. As a side note here, it must be mentioned that some English books on Aqeedah, specifically some translated works of ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) have incorrectly translated his works to say “sitting on the Throne” (i.e. saying jalasa instead of istiwaa) when this is not found in the Arabic. It is a mistake in the translation, may Allah (swt) forgive us for our shortcomings.
The third deviant opinion is what is held by people of kalam (and most modern day Ash’aris) that Allah cannot be described with a direction. That is, He is neither to the left of us, the right of us, under us, over us, etc. This is in direct opposition to the way of Ahlus Sunnah because they have employed detailed negation and concise affirmation. While in the Quran it is found numerous times that Allah is above us, they claim that we should begin describing Allah by saying “He is not below us, He is not to the left, He is not…, He is not…, He is not…” and this is in clear opposition to the Quranic method.
The Ash’aris argued basically that this makes it appear Allah “needs” a Throne to sit on, that having a direction necessitates having a body, and that a being characterized by direction must ‘occupy space’ (tahayyuz) and have a directional relationship vis-a-vis other objects, thus implying a created being.
These assumptions are all based in Aristotelian logic, and contradict the rules established for Allah’s Names and Attributes. The simple response is that there is no basis for their assumptions, and the implications they assume are unfounded. We affirm what Allah says, and do not question the ‘how’. It is by delving into the ‘how’ that they made these assumptions and deviated.
This has 3 connotations, Allah is highest in 1) His Control, 2) His Power, and 3) His Essence.
In reality, this is something that does not need to be proved, but because of the statements of some deviant groups on this issue, it has become necessary.
The proofs regarding this issue are too many to enumerate. This post will serve to give a brief overview of some of the proofs and their categories. Some of the ayaat are not fully quoted here, as they will be quoted in full in later articles.
First is the explicit ayaat mentioning Allah’s rising over the Throne. Also many hadith indicate that the Throne is above the heavens.
There are references also to things being “raised” (rafa’a) to Him, such as good deeds, (35:10, 4:158, 3:55). Also there are examples of good deeds being lifted up to Him with the word sa’ada.
There are also proofs showing Allah is “fis-Samaa’” and this means above (67:16-17). It should be noted that fee can also mean in, however, in this context it means above. This is also the case in the hadith of the slave-girl. One proof for this is the ayah 20:71, where Fir’awn says he will crucify the people fee date-palms. Obviously this means on them and not “in” them. Another proof for this is Allah’s saying to “travel fil-’ard (in the earth).” No one takes this to mean to be actually in the earth, but upon the earth.
Many of Allah’s Names also indicate His Transcendence, such as al-’Alee, al-A’laa, Ta’aala, al-Muta’aal, al-Qaahir, and many others showing He is above everything in His Power and Essence.
Another clear proof is the incident of al-Israa’ wa al-Mi’raaj.
The scholars of the early generations also said there is ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus) on this issue. Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal also argued this point from a logical perspective by saying, “Either Allah created us in Him, or outside Him. If it was inside then this is a statement of kufr. If outside, then Allah would choose best the direction for Him to be – i.e. being above the creation.” (rough translation).
The most undeniable proof, however, may be that of the fitrah. It is ingrained in us to look up, or to point up, to raise our hands up to Allah in supplication. Allah created us upon this pure fitrah, and even non-Muslims point up when referring to Allah.
This is a subset of the issue of Allah’s Kalam. That is because the Quran is the Speech of Allah, it is uncreated. The Mu’tazilah and Ash’aris have deviated in their understanding of the Qur’an. The end result of the beliefs of both of these groups is that either the Quran is created outright, or that the Quran we have is a created expression of what Allah(swt) said ‘internally’.
This issue is important, firstly because it is necessary for us to have the correct understanding of Allah(swt), it is part of our Tawheed, and secondly because these claims basically make the Quran null and void. If one says the Quran is created, or is not the Speech of Allah, then it destroys its relevancy and perfection. Since we know only Allah is of the utmost perfection, and His Attributes are perfect, then if the Quran is created, it must have some deficiency in it. The Kalam of Allah is what we know everything by, and to believe as the Ash’aris believe is to make the Quran no longer Divine.
The Caliph Ma’mun of the Abbasids had adopted the belief that the Qur’an was created. Bishr al-Mirisi and ibn Abee Du’aad (one of the followers of Jahm ibn Safwan) convinced him to make it the theology of the state at the time. Many scholars were executed over this issue and some said that it was created in order to save their lives. It was due to the famous trial of Imam Ahmed that it is pretty much universally accepted by the masses of the Muslims that the Quran is the uncreated Speech of Allah. The Ash’aris came approximately 100 years after the time of Imam Ahmed, when it was accepted that the Quran is Allah’s Speech, and this explains their somewhat confusing stance on the issue. They could not adopt the view of the Mu’tazilah since it was now openly rejected, but at the same time, they were trying to reconcile with their principles of philosophy they held to.
Amr ibn Deenar (d. 126AH) stated, “I have met the Companions of the Prophet(saw), and those that came after them for seventy years, all of them said, ‘Allah is the Creator, and everything besides Him is created, and the Qur’an is the kalam of Allah, from Him it came, and to Him it will return.” The narrations like this are mutawatir and come from the Imams of the first generations of Islam.
The first person to claim that the Quran was created was none other than Ja’d bin Dirham.
Most of the proofs for the Quran being the speech of Allah was mentioned in the previous post. One extremely obvious proof though, that I did not post there was the first 3 ayaat of Surat ar-Rahman,
Ar-Rahmaan. He taught (you) the Quran. He created man. [55:1-3]
What more needs to be said other than the fact that Allah(swt) Himself made the distinction?
Though this issue seems old, and we might wonder what significance it has for us, it should be noted that even modern day ‘progressive Muslims’ use this exact argument to justify re-interpreting the Quran. And this is exactly what Imam Ahmed feared, and why he stood firm during his trial, rahimahullah.