F – Ma’iyyah (being With) and Qurb (Closeness)
A’iyyah means to ‘be with’ and Qurb means ‘closeness’ or ‘close to’ (like qareeb).Ma’iyyah
These are oft-misunderstood ayaat of the Quran. Examples of these ayaat include
- Have you not seen that Allâh knows whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth? There is no Najwa of three, but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, not of less than that or more, but He is with them wheresoever they may be; and afterwards on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Verily, Allâh is the All-Knower of everything. [58:7]
- He (Allah) said: “Fear not, verily! I am with you both, hearing and seeing. [20:46]
- If you do not aid the Prophet – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down his tranquillity upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah – that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. [9:40]
- But those who knew with certainty that they were to meet their Lord, said: “How often a small group overcame a mighty host by Allah’s Leave?” And Allah is with the patient ones. [2:249]
These ayaat are misconstrued by some to mean Allah is everywhere, however, just the context of the actual ayaat themselves (I have italicized for emphasis) indicate that Allah’s Knowledge is everywhere, not Allah ‘physically’. This is also further proved by the following ayah:
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]
al-Asbahaani, a scholar who wrote a dictionary for words in the Quran, said ma’a (with) can mean coming together physically, or in time (i.e. they were born together), or to indicate help, i.e. Allah is with them. This is something that exists in the English language as well. And as mentioned, this is proven simply by the context of the ayaat.
Imam Ahmed said, “The verse started with knowledge, and ended with knowledge.”
In one extremely insightful argument, ibn Qudaamah said, when the Prophet(s) told Abu Bakr, Allah is with us, if it was meant as they said, then it would necessitate that Allah is with the Pagans outside the cave as well just as equally!
The Ash’aris claim that this is making ta’wil of these verses. al-Aajurree said this cannot be ta’wil since ma’a can have different meanings based on the context.
This is especially obvious from the context of the ayaat. ad-Dahhak, a student of ibn Abbas said, “He is upon the Throne, and His Knowledge is with them.” Sufyaan ath-Thawree said concerning His being ‘with’ that it is “His Knowledge.”
Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) said, “Whoever looks into the words of the famous Imaams from the Salaf (the first three generations of Muslim) concerning this topic will come to know that they were the most accurate in discernment regarding this topic, due to authentic texts and unadulterated intellects. He will see that their statements are established upon the texts and the intellect. Due to this, they were united, not differing, established, not deficient. Those who opposed the Salaf and the imams did not understand the reality of their statements. So they did not know the reality of the texts and the intellects, so they started to go in different directions and they began to differ about the Book, so they became opponents of the Book. Indeed Allah the Exalted said, “And Indeed those who differ about the Book are in extreme dissension” (2:176) (Dar’ut Ta’aarudul-Aql wan-Naql (2/301)).
Lastly is the ayah that is one of the most misunderstood.
And indeed We have created man, and We know what his own self whispers to him. And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein. [50:16]
Again, the context makes this ayah clear. It should also be noted that the scholars of tafseer also noted that the ‘we’ in this ayah means the angels recording the deeds, and this is understood from reading the ayaat immediately following it, ”When the two receivers receive, seated on the right and on the left” [50:17].
And when My servants ask you, concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [2:186]
This ayah is also self explanatory in this regards. It is why the scholars have said we are closest to Allah when we are in sajdah. He is Qurb to those whom He loves.
And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but he knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record. (6:59)
He knows what is in the heavens and on earth, and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal. And Allâh is the All-Knower of what is in the breasts (of men). (64:4)
Indeed Allâh has heard the statement of her (Khaulah bint Tha’labah) that disputes with you concerning her husband (Aus bin As¬Sâmit), and complains to Allâh. And Allâh hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Seer. (58:1)
Then if they disobey you, say: “I am innocent of what you do.” And put your trust in the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful, Who sees you when you stand up (alone at night for Tahajjud prayers), And your movements among those who fall prostrate. Verily! He, only He, is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. (26:218-220)
Whatever you may be doing, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur’ân, – and whatever deed you may be doing, We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom (or small ant) on the earth or in the heaven. Not what is less than that or what is greater than that but is (written) in a Clear Record. (10:61)