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Islamic Studies

An Ideal Approach Towards Issues of Creed (Where is Allah): Answered By. Sh. Bin Bayyah

Answered by Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah (May Allah preserve him) | Translated by Suhaib Webb

 

The Question:

“Is it allowable for one to ask where Allah is? Is Allah (May He be exalted) above His servants? And is that understanding representative of anthropomorphism? Also, what is our position towards those who say that such a question is not permissible and that Allah (swt) is above any place or location?”

The Answer:

Affirming Allah’s Exalted Status:

“Indeed, Allah (swt) describes Himself as being The Most High: “Praise the name of your Lord The Most High.” And, “He is The High.” and, “He is the High the All Powerful.” (Based on these verses) it is not allowed for anyone to dispute (the truth) of this attribute, nor is it allowable for any Muslim to differ regarding it. As for inquiring about the nature (of this attribute), then this is not something that you are obliged to deal with, nor is it something sought from you. There is the hadith of the slave woman who was brought to the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) with her master so she could be freed and the Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) asked her, “Where is Allah?” However, this hadith is ahad and there is no other narration of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) where he (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asks someone this question. Nor is it related that any of our pious ancestors asked such a question.

Interacting with such texts:

It is important to note that questions like this are not sought after nor desired from you. However, when approached with such issues you should do the following:

First, you should read the verse that affirms Allah’s highness. Second, you should read the verse that negates anything being like Him. Finally, you should avoid delving into the deeper meaning of the verse (meaning the how related to Allah’s attribute but just simply affirm it and negate its likeness to creation or vice versa). This is important (to not delve into this/nor make it a bigger issue than it is) because it is not a matter related to actions, and on the Day of Reckoning Allah (May He be exalted) is going to ask you about your actions not His essence. And this (methodology) is the way of the first 3 generations of saints and scholars of the Muslim nation of which there is no uncertainty. Imam Al-Tufi (May Allah have mercy upon him) said: “The way of Imam Ahmed (may Allah have mercy upon him) and the rest of the scholars of the early generations was to affirm these attributes without commenting on them.” Therefore, when it came to these attributes, they would (affirm them) and say nothing. And this was the way of Abu Nua’yim (may Allah have mercy upon him) the teacher of Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him). Ibn Kathir (May Allah lighten his grave), in his explanation of the verse, “Then He rose upon the thrown” states: “We allow this verse to pass as it is while eliminating any anthropomorphic/thepomorphic elements from Allah’s existence. Exalted is He from what the intellect suggests.” And these where the words of Abu Nua’yim, the teacher of the teacher of Al-Bukhari, the teacher of Imam Ahmed and Yahya ibn Ma’in(May Allah have mercy upon all of them). Thus, differing about this issue and arguing about time and place (with respect to the Divine) is not something from the actions of the early generations and is in contrast to what they were upon. Therefore (when encountering verses like this), you should say nothing and read the verse as it is. Hence, what is necessary is for you to believe as the early generations believed without adding or deducting (anything). And this is what is required of you so do not dispute (with others) about it.”

And Allah knows best.

 

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  • Allah is above His throne
    Evidence from Quran

    ʺThey fear their Lord above them.ʺ [Sooratun‐Nahl, 16:50]

    “Do you feel secure that He who is above the heaven would not cause the earth to swallow you?ʺ [Surah Al‐Mulk, 67:16]

    Evidence from Hadith
    Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alahi wasallam said; ʺDo you not trust me while I am trusted by the One above the heaven? [Bukhari]

    Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Be merciful to those on earth, so that the One above the heavens will be merciful to you.” [Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim]

    Statements of the pious salaf:

    Imam ash-Shafi’i said: “The creed which I hold is the same creed the Muslims before me were holding, namely, the Testimony of Faith: “There is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah, that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, and that Allah is above His ‘Arsh, above the heavens.” [Al-Juyush al-Islamiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, p. 93]

    Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked, is Allah above the seventh heaven, above His Throne, distinct from his creation, and His Power and Knowledge are in every place?’ And he replied, ‘yes, above the Throne and His Knowledge is in every place.’[ Sharh Usul I’tiqaad Ahlus Sunnah of al-Laalikaaee (d.414AH)]

    Imam Ahmad was asked about the verse, “and He is with you where ever you are” , and the verse, “there is no secret discourse of 3 people except that he is the fourth..” – and he said, ‘(meaning) His Knowledge, He is the Knower of the seen and the unseen, His Knowledge encompasses everything, and our Lord is above the Throne. [Sharh Usul I’tiqaad Ahlus Sunnah of al-Laalikaaee]

    Imam Maalik said, Allah is Above the heaven, and His knowledge is in every place, nothing is hidden from Him. [Sharh Usul I’tiqaad Ahlus Sunnah of al-Laalikaaee]

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