E – Istiwaa (Rise over)
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.