Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Their Belief: “In The Sky & Above"


A man came to Imam Malik at the masjid, as narrated in al-Asma’ and As-Sifat by al-Bayhakiy from the route of Yahya son of Yahya, and he said to him: “O Abu Abdullah,
الرحمن على العرش استوى كيف استوى Allah Istawa over the throne, so how is His Istiwa’? So Imam Malik got angry and started to sweat, and said to him: “Allah “Istawa” as He mentioned one cannot say “How”, and Allah is clear of the how (kayf). I see that you are an innovator!” and he ordered that he be taken out of the masjid.
This is the methodology of the Salaf, and the path of Asharis whom were among the Salaf.
As for the methodology of the Khalaf, they mainly used to do an explicit ta’weel (explicit interpretation, by assigning a specific meaning to such verse).
The scholars said: “There’s no harm in following this method when one is concerned about the trembling of the Aqeedah. Because some laymen if you leave them without interpretation, there will come those who will teach them tashbeeh (likening Allah to the creations).
So the scholars said: “It’s permissible to say that the meaning of the Ayah “Allah istawa on the throne” that Allah subjugated the throne. What does it mean He subjugated the throne?
It means Allah preserved it in its place and controlled it from falling onto the skies and from destroying them.
This is as Imam Aliy said: “Allah created the throne as a sign of His power, and not to take it as a place for Himself”.



The throne is the largest of the creations in size. If Allah subjugated the throne, then more so anything smaller ought to be subjugated by Allah. That’s what Imam Qushairiy said in ar-Risalah al-Qushairiyah

“Allah istawa on the throne, He preserved it, He subjugated, and controlled it. As for sitting, all of Ahlus-Sunnah clear Allah from it. Because the sitting is the description of the creation. Sitting cannot be except to the one who has an upper body and lower body. And Allah praised Himself by saying “Allah istawa on the throne” and if istawa was interpreted with sitting then it would not be a praise. Because sitting is common between humans and animals. Allah is clear from this. Nothing resembles Him”.


As for the second Ayah in Suratul-Mulk
أأمنتم من في السماء أن يخسف بكم الأرض ’A’amintum Man Fissama’I ‘ay-yakhsifa bikumul-‘Ard”.
The Salaf used to say: “أمروها كما جاءت بلا كيف ولا تشبيه ولا تمثيل Mention those verses as they came without kayf (how), and without tashbeeh or tamtheel (likening or comparing).
While believing in Tanzeeh, clearing Allah from being in a place and from time lapsing on Him. He is not contained in the sky.
As for Khalaf, they said we clarify a specific meaning for it to understand and keep away bad thoughts. So they said: “the meaning of “man Fissama’, it is Jibril peace be upon him, whose assigned to cause a quake.
Because if Allah ordered Jibril to quake the earth under the idol worshippers, he would do it. 
But to claim “fis-Sama’” that it is about Allah being in the sky, it’s untrue because all Ahlus-Sunnah reject it because the sky is created and filled with angels.
Imam at-Tirmidhiy narrated from Abu Dhar that the Messenger of Allah (s) said,
أَطَّتِ السَّمَاءُ وَحُقَّ لَهَا أَنْ تَئِطَّ مَا فِيهَا مَوْضِعُ أَرْبَعِ أَصَابِعَ إِلاَّ وَمَلَكٌ قائم أو راكع أو ساجد
This Hadith means: “The heaven has squeaked, and it has right to do so. There is not a space of four fingers in which there is not an angel who is standing, bowing or prostrating to Allahso it’s impossible to attribute to Allah being crowded with the angels in the space of four fingers.
Allah also revealed the Ayah: ‏ونُفِخَ فِي الصُّورِ فَصَعِقَ مَنْ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَنْ فِي الأَرْض
This Ayah means {And the Horn will be blown, and whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth will fall dead}. So whoever is in the sky they will die, and that’s the Angels they will die.

Had Allah been in the heavens, then He would have been attributed with dying as such, but Allah is greatly clear from that. This is what the ‘Ash^ari scholars said and this is how they clarified this ayah.
Similarly the hadith known by people:
ارْحَمُوا مَنْ فِي الأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ، أي الملائكة
This Hadith means: “Be merciful on to those on earth, and you will be shown mercy from Who’s in heaven that is the Angels because the messenger of Allah
(s) in another narration said:
ارْحَمُوا أَهْلَ الأَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ أهل السَّمَاءِ
Hadith means: (show mercy to those who are on the earth (Ahlul-‘Ard), and the ones in heaven (Ahlus-Sama’) will show mercy to you). And It’s not permissible to call Allah “Ahlus-Sama’”. So in both verses they cleared Allah from resembling the creations, and they clarified a meaning to them.


As for the hadith, I will suffice by mentioning two hadiths. 
A popular hadith used by those who oppose Ahlus-Sunnah, using it as the main reliable proof for their beliefs. This hadith is known as Hadithul-Jariyah (The hadith of the slave woman). This hadith was narrated with many narrations that do not share a common meaning (rather very different meanings). The Ash^aris have two methods in this hadith, some they authenticated it but with ta’weel as Imam al-Bayhaqiy did in his explanation of Sahih Muslim.
The hadith is that a man came to the messenger of Allah (s) and said to him: O messenger of Allah, I had sheep and this slave used to herd them so the wolf came and ate one of them so I hit her. Now I would like to set her free if she’s a believer. So it’s narrated that the Prophet (s) said to her “’Aynallah” so she said: “Fis-Sama’” then he said “set her free she’s a believer”. 

Imam Al-Bayhaqiy said this question here is about the status of Allah and not where is Allah. Because the word ‘Ayn is used for the place and for the status. And it is impossible that our Prophet
(s) had asked her about a location for Allah. Because Allah is the creator of the place and He existed before the place. So then the proper interpretation is about the status. As for her saying “Fis-Sama’”, it means “Allah has a high status”. This is known to Arabs. That’s why Nabigha al-Ja^diy in front of our messenger (s)said:
بلغنا السماء مجدنا وسماءنا وإنا لنرجوا فوق ذلك مظهرا
فقال له النبي إلى أين المظهر يا أبى ليلى قال إلى الجنة إن شاء الله، فقال: أجل إن شاء الله.
Which means: “we have reached the skies in our majesty (high status), but we wish for a rank beyond that. Then the messenger
(s)said: Where to O Abu Layla? He said to Paradise insha’Allah, the messenger (s) said: Yes indeed insha’Allah”. So here the statement (Balaghnas-Sama’a) refers to reaching a high status. It does not mean that Allah is contained in the sky. How could the creator be contained in something that He Created, that’s not possible.
As for the other group of Ash^ari scholars they said: 
This hadith cannot be used to refer to the attributes Sifat because the messenger (s) mentioned in (another) hadith which narrated by both Bukhariy and Muslim and it is a Mutawatir hadith, narrated by 15 companions that the Prophet (s) said: “I was ordered to fight the people until they testify that no one is God except Allah”. So he clarified that for one to become a believer he must utter the two testifications and so it’s impossible for the messenger (s) to consider a person as a Muslim for just saying Allah is in the sky. 
This hadith that is in Sahih Muslim has this narration too so those scholars did not accept it and they said the correct narration is the narration of Malik in al-Muwatta’, Imam Malik narrated that our Prophet (s) said to her: “Do you testify that no one is God except Allah”? she said “Yes”. He said “Do you testify that I’m the messenger of Allah”? She said “Yes”, so he said “Set her free she is Muslim”.This narration agrees with the Islamic principles.

Imam Shafiy^iy said: “If a hadith is mentioned, then Malik is the star”. 
Imam Abu Bakr al-Khatib al-Baghdadiy who was described as “the expert authors of Hadith are beginners compared to his books”. The sahih Hadith is not accepted if it opposed the Mutawatir hadith when it cannot be interpreted properly. So for the hadith of slave woman, we either interpret it as we mentioned, or we say as the other Ash^aris and Maturidis said that it’s an inconsistent hadith and cannot be used in Aqeedah. That’s why Imam Nawawiy did not mention it under the chapter of Eman, rather he mentioned it under “the chapter of prohibition of speaking in prayer” to show that it cannot be used in Aqeedah.


As for the other hadith, it’s an authentic hadith narrated by al-Bukhariy in his sahih that our messenger said
:". ينزل ربنا (أي يُنزِل ملائكة بأمره) كل ليلة إلى السماء الدنيا في النصف الأخير
"Yanzilu (or Yunzilu) Rabuna Kulla Laylatin ilas-Sama'id-Duniya fin-Nisfil-‘Akhir"
which means: “an Angel descends by the order of Allah to the lower sky and says: Your Lord says: “Is there any one who is making supplication so that I will answer his supplication? Is there anyone who is asking me for forgiveness so that I will forgive him? Is there any one who is asking for things so that I will give him? Until fajr is up”.

This hadith the scholars of Ash^aris and Maturidis said, such as Hafidh Ibn Hajar who is the most famous scholar who interpreted Sahih Bukhariy, he said; “The scholars of Islam said this hadith cannot be taken literally that Allah descends, rather either we say as the Salaf said, such as Imam Malik bin Anas when he was asked about this hadith he said;
نزول رحمة لا نزول نُقلة
Which means: “A descent of mercy and not a physical descent” or we say as some of the Salaf said: “the Angels of Mercy descend by the order of Allah to the lower sky and will say: Your Lord says: “Is there any one who is making supplication so that I will answer his supplication? Is there anyone who is asking me for forgiveness so that I will forgive him? Is there any one who is asking for things so that I will give him? Until fajr is up”. 

What supports this tafseer is another hadith narrated by an-Nasa’iy that the Prophet (s) said: “Allah orders an angel in the last third of the night to call out: Your Lord says: Is there anyone supplicating so his supplication would be answered..”. al-Hafidh al-^Iraqiy said: “the best interpretation for a narration is by another narration”. The hadith is interpreted by another Hadith, and the Ayah by another Ayah.
Ibn Hajar reported from Imam Abu Bakr ibnul-^Aarabiy from Ibn Forak the known Ash^ariy who said: “Some of our sheikhs narrated this hadith (Yanzilu) by having a dammah on the ya’ (Yunzilu) and by this the meaning is clear (that Allah orders an angel to descend). As for the one that doesn’t accept this, which is what Ahlus-Sunnah said, and chooses to claim that Allah resides above and that He physically descends every night to the first sky.. say to him: The nights change based on the different countries. The night in Algeria is a day in another country. So if you take this hadith literally as you claim, then you rendered Allah descending to the sky and ascending to the throne, descending to the sky and ascending to the throne again at every moment in the day. And this is not said by anyone with a sound mind. So you must follow what the scholars said.


Also the Prophet (s) said in the authentic hadith narrated by Ibn Hibban in His sahih: “The seven heavens and earths in comparison to the Kursiyy, are like a ring thrown in a desert, and the Kursiyy in comparison to the Throne, is like a ring thrown in a desert”.
So the heavens in comparison to the Throne, is like a drop in an ocean.
So the one who says that Allah is physically above and descends physically, we say to him: You have two scenarios and both are impossible: Either you say that Allah shrinks and shrinks until the sky fits Him, or you say that the sky stretches! Both claims are inevitably impermissible. So then the correct belief stands according to the saying of the Ash^aris and Maturidis (that an angel descends by the order of Allah). This is the creed of Ash^aris and this is their role in defending the Islamic Shariah.


Note: Imam al-Baqillaniy (one of the great Ash^aris) said in his book al-'Insaf page 65:
"And we do not say that the ^arsh (throne) is a place of settlement or rest for Allah, because Allah existed and there was no place, and when He created the place, He did not change". He also said: "Allah is clear from being in directions, or resembling the creations, and also He is not attributed with transformation or movement, nor with standing or sitting, because such attributes are of the creations, and Allah (the creator) is clear from that".
يقول القاضي أبو بكر محمد بن الطيب بن محمد بن جعفر بن قاسم، البصري، ثم البغدادي، ابن الباقلاني.328 هـ 402 هـ المالكي الأشعري ما نصه "ولا نقول إن العرش له- أي الله- قرار ولا مكان، لأن الله تعالى كان ولا مكان، فلما خلق المكان لم يتغير عما كان" اهـ.
وقال أيضا ما نصه: "ويجب أن يعلم أن كل ما يدل على الحدوث أو على سمة النقص فالرب تعالى يتقدس عنه، فمن ذلك: أنه تعالى متقدس عن الاختصاص بالجهات، والاتصاف بصفات المحدثات، وكذلك لا يوصف بالتحول والانتقال، ولا القيام ولا القعود، ولأن هذه الصفات تدل على الحدوث، والله تعالى يتقدس عن ذلك" اهـ.
That's the creed of al-Baqillaniy who reported the creed of the Salaf and Khalaf, which is the creed of the Prophet(s) and the companions (ra).
 Qadi ^Iad praised him saying: Al-Baqillani was known as Sayf Alsunna, Lisan al-Ummah, the scholar of Kalam and Hadith..
ذكر القاضي عياض في "طبقات المالكي" فقال: هو الملقب بسيف السنة، ولسان الأمة، المتكلِّم على لسان أهل الحديث، وطريق أبي الحسن، وإليه انتهت رئاسة المالكية في وقته، وكان له بجامع البصرة حلقة عظيمة
- Dhahabiy said also:
قال الذهبي: الإمام العلامة، أوحد المتكلمين ومقدم الأصوليين. انتصر لطريقة أبي الحسن الأشعري كان سيفاً على المعتزلة والرافضة والمشبهة
The Imam and ^Allamah, the great scholar of Aqeedah and 'Usool, defender of the way of Abul Hassan (Al-Ash^ari), he was a sword on the devious Mu^tazilah, Rafidah, and Mushabbihah sects.
- Al-Hafidh Ibn ^asakr reported from ad-Damghaniy that Imam Abul Hassan at-Tamimi al-Hanbaliy said to his companions "Stick with this man (al-Baqillaniy), for he is indispensable".
- Imam al-Hafidh al-^Iraqiy
, and Imam al-Qarafiy, and Ibn Hajar al-Haitamiy, and Mulla ^Ali al-Qari, and Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthariy and others reported that the Imams of the Four Schools whom are the guide of the Ummah (Imam ash-Shafi^iy, Malik, Ahmad and Abu Hanifah Radiallahu ^anhum) all declared those who attribute to Allah the direction or the body with kufur".
نقل الإمام الحافظ العراقي والإمام القرافي والشيخ ابن حجر الهيتمي وملا علي القاري ومحمد زاهد الكوثري وغيرهم عن الأئمة الأربعة هداة الأمة الشافعي ومالك وأحمد وأبي حنيفة رضي الله عنهم القول بتكفير القائلين بالجهة والتجسيم ".
This is the belief of all the Muslims. This is the belief of the Salaf, which is the belief of the Ash^aris despite the lies of the liars like the Mushabbihah. So in reality the Salaf were Ash^aries, and below is the proof that the Mushabbihah today such as the Wahhabis or falsely called salafis oppose the beliefs of the true Salaf.


In his commentary on Saī Muslim, the Shafi imam, Sharaf al-Dīn al-Nawawī (d. 676 /1277; Nawā, Syria) discussed the implications of the above adīth:
This is one of the adīth which concerns the attributes [of Allāh]. There are two schools of thought (madhhab) in regards to such adīth both of which I have discussed repeatedly in the chapter Kitāb al-Īmān.

The first madhhab is to believe in it without concerning oneself with its meaning, while maintaining categorically that Allāh, hallowed is He, does not resemble anything, and maintaining that He transcends the attributes of created things [which madhhab is called tafwī ].
The second madhhab is to interpret (ta’wīl) the adīth in a way which is commensurate with His greatness. Those who prefer to interpret said that in the present adīth the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] meant to examine her to see whether or not she was one of those who worships idols on the earth, or one of those who maintain the uniqueness of Allāh (muwahhidūn) and believe that the creator, the disposer, and the one who effects [all things] is Allāh, no one else. 

For when [those who maintain the uniqueness of Allāh (muwahhidūn)] supplicate [the Transcendent God], they turn [their attention, or their hands] to the sky just as when they pray [the ritual prayer] they face the Ka‘bah; yet, that does not mean that Allāh is located in the sky just as it does not mean that He is located in the direction of the Ka‘bah. Rather, they turn [their attention, or their hands] to the sky because the sky is the prescribed direction of orientation (al-Qiblah), just as the Ka‘bah is the prescribed direction of orientation (al-Qiblah) for the ritual prayer (al-Salāh). So when she said that He is in the sky, it was known that she was one of those who maintain the uniqueness of Allāh (muwahhid), and not a worshipper of idols.


After saying the above al-Nawawī quoted another great authority of Islām, the Maliki muaddith and imam al-Qāī ‘Iyā (544 / 1149; Marākish), the author of many important works in the science of adīth, including a commentary on Saī Muslim:
There is no disagreement whatsoever among any of the Muslims–their fuqahā’ (experts on the rules of the Sharī‘ah), their muhaddithūn (experts in the science of adīth transmission, and criticism), their mutakallimūn (ulamā’ of Kalām; that is, dialectic theology), their polemicists (nahār) and their ordinary followers (muqallid)–that the outward meaning of those texts [from either the Sunnah or the Qur‘ān] in which it is mentioned that Allāh is in the sky is not meant [literally]; for example, the words of the Exalted: “Are you assured that He who is in the sky will not cause the earth to swallow you up?” These and similar texts [which mention that Allāh is in the sky or seem to imply that] are not to be taken literally (‘alā āhirihī ); rather, according to them all [that is, all the Muslims and the experts of every field of the Sharī‘ah as mentioned above], they are to be taken idiomatically (mu’awwalan). 
So whoever from among the muaddithūn, and the fuqahā’, and the mutakallimūn permitted using the term of the direction up (jihat alfauq) [in relation to Allāh] without presuming any limit, or without conceiving how [He might be in the direction up] interpreted in the sky to mean over the sky [that is, He whose authority, or power is over the sky]. 

Whereas, whoever from among the great majority of polemicists (nahār), and mutakallimūn, and the people of transcendence (asāb al-tanzīh) denied that He had any limit, and maintained the impossibility of ascribing any direction to Him, hallowed is He, they interpreted the texts in a variety of ways according to the requirement of the context. They mentioned interpretations similar to what we mentioned previously [that is, in his commentary which, however, al-Nawawī did not cite]. 

I wish I knew what exactly it is that has united the People of the Sunnah and the Truth, all of them, on the necessity of refraining from thinking about the reality (al-dhāt) [of Allāh], as they were ordered [by the Lawgiver], and the necessity to keep silent about what perplexes their intelligences (al-‘aql), and to prohibit explaining how (al-takyīf) [is the divine reality], and in what form (al-tashkīl) [is it].

They kept silent and refrained from [thinking or speaking about the divine reality (al-dhāt)] not because they had any doubt about the Existent, or about His existence [but because they recognized that His reality is beyond comprehension]. 
Their silence does not impair their belief in His uniqueness (al-tauīd); rather, it is the essence of al-tauīd [for the recognition that He is other than whatever we imagine Him to be is a requirement of the transcendent perspective of al-tauīd]. 

Some of the ulamā’ overlooked [some of the strict requirements of the divine transcendence] and indulged in using the term direction (al-jihah) [in relation to Allāh] fearing to take unwarranted liberties [in interpreting the revealed texts of the Sharī‘ah]. But it raises the question of whether or not there is any difference between explaining how (al-takyīf) [is the divine reality] and between ascribing directions to Him. No doubt, the course which offers salvation from deviation for those for whom Allāh has ordained success is to restrict oneself to using such terms as the Law (al-Shar‘) itself has used like “and He enforces His will over (fauqa) His slaves,” or the words “then He subdued [or took control; istawā] of the Throne,” while understanding such terms with reference to the verse which comprehends the universal principle of transcendence (tanzīh); namely, His word: “Nothing is like Him.” For reason can not accept anything which contravenes this universal principle of the Law.


Mulla ‘Alī al-Qārī (d. 1014 h. / 1606; Makkah), a Hanafi faqīh, a muaddith , an expert in language, a mutakallim, and a prolific author of important Islamic texts including the commentary on Abū anīfah’s al-Fiqh al-Akbar, which is a work on belief, and a ten-volume commentary on the adīth compilation Mishkāt al-MaSābī.

Commenting on the words reported from the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] “Where is Allāh?” in the adīth al-Jāriyah, he wrote:
In another version of the same adīth there is the wording: “Where is your Lord?” It means that where is His place of decision, and His order, and the place where His dominion and power are manifested. {She said: “In the sky.”} 
Al-Qāī [‘Iyā] said: “The meaning is that His command and His prohibition comes from the direction of the sky. 
The Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] did not mean to ask her about the whereabouts of Allāh, since He transcends such an attribute as place, just as He transcends the attribute of time. 

Rather, the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] intended to find out by his question to her whether she was a monotheist declaring the uniqueness of Allāh (muwaḤḤidah), or whether she was a polytheist (mushrikah) because the Arabs were worshipping idols. Each clan amongst them had its special idol, which it worshipped and revered. Perhaps some of their ignorant and stupid people did not recognize any god whatsoever; therefore, the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] wanted to ascertain what she worshipped. 

So when she said “in the sky,” or, as in another version, she pointed to the sky, he [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] understood that she was a monotheist declaring the uniqueness of Allāh.
 In other words , he wanted to preclude the gods on earth; that is, the idols. He did not mean to imply that He occupies a place in the sky, far-removed is Allāh from what the transgressors ascribe to Him in their insolence. Moreover, the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] had been ordered to speak to the people according to the extent of their intelligence, and to guide them to the truth in way which was appropriate to their understanding. 

So when the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] found that she believed that the one who deserves to be worshipped is the God who implements His purpose from the sky to the earth, not the gods which the pagans worshipped, he was satisfied with that much from her, and he [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] did not charge her with sheer unity (Sirf al-tauīd )–the principle of transcendence (aqīqat al-tanzīh) Some [of the ulamā’] have said that the meaning is that His order and prohibition, His mercy and revelation comes from the sky. In that case, this adīth is similar [in its implications] to His word [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam]: “Do you feel secure from Him who is in the sky…?” Furthermore, in some other [authentic] versions of this adīth it comes that this girl was dumb, and for that reason [Imām] al-Shafi‘ī [d. 204 / 820; Cairo] permitted the freeing of a slave even if he is dumb. In such case, the words in the adīth “She said, ‘In the sky.’” mean that she pointed to the sky [since she could not speak, obviously; and this is just what has come expressly in another version of the adīth: “She pointed to the sky.”] [Mulla ‘Alī al-Qārī, Mirqāt al-Mafātī (Beirut, ), p. 454; vol. 6]
[Here- see page 412 in the third Word document]


Ibn al-Jauzī also interpreted the adīth al-Jāriyah in an idiomatic way. In his Daf‘ Shubah al-Tashbīh he wrote:
“The ulamā’ have realised that the sky and the earth do not contain Allāh, hallowed is He; nor does space reach Him. [As for the adīth] the Prophet [sallallahu alayhi wa sallam] understood from her sign that she revered the Creator.” [Daf‘ Shubah al-Tashbīh, p. 43 ]

Abū ’l-Faraj Ibn al-Jauzī (d. 597 /1201; Baghdad) was a veritable polymath, a historian of encyclopedic stature, a renown muaddith, a commentator of the Qur‘ān, and one of the most prolific authors of Islām–according to the contemporary expert of historical biography Khair al-Dīn al-Ziriklī (1396 / 1976; Cairo), who is the author of the biographical dictionary al-A‘lām, Ibn al-Jauzī wrote about three hundred books.
Ibn Rajab al-anbalī (795 / 1393; Damascus) in his Dhail abaqāt al-anābalah, in which he documented the histories and assessed the importance of the Hanbali ulamā’, proclaimed Ibn al-Jauzī to be “the master (shaikh) of his time, the imam of his age.”
Imām Shams al-Dīn al-Dhahabī (d.748 / 1348; Damascus) lavished praise on him in his encyclopaedia of biography, Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’declaring him “ the Shaikh, the Imam, the Scholar (al-‘alāmah), the āfih, the Commentator of the Qur‘ān (al-mufassir), the Shaikh of Islām, the Pride of Iraq.”


Is it permissible for a Muslim to believe that Allah is in the sky in literal sense?

Extracts: [...] 


The literal sense of being "in the sky" would mean that Allah is actually in one of His creatures, for the sky is something created. It is not permissible to believe that Allah indwells or occupies (in Arabic, hulul) any of His creatures, as the Christians believe about Jesus, or the Hindus about their avatars.

What is obligatory for a human being to know is that Allah is ghaniyy or "absolutely free from need" of anything He has created. He explicitly says in surat al-Ankabut of the Qur'an,
"Verily Allah is absolutely free of need of anything in the worlds" (Qur'an 29:6).

Allah mentions this attribute of ghina or "freedom of need for anything whatsoever" in some seventeen verses in the Qur'an. It is a central point of Islamic `aqida or faith, and is the reason why it is impossible that Allah could be Jesus (upon whom be peace) or be anyone else with a body and form: because bodies need space and time, while Allah has absolutely no need for anything. This is the `aqida of the Qur'an, and Muslim scholars have kept it in view in understanding other Qur'anic verses or hadiths.

Muslims lift their hands toward the sky when they make supplications (du'a) to Allah because the sky is the qibla for du'a, not that Allah occupies that particular direction--just as the Kaaba is the qibla of the prayer (salat), without Muslims believing that Allah is in that direction
Imam al-Qurtubi, the famous Qur'anic exegete of the seventh/thirteenth century, says:
The hadiths on this subject are numerous, rigorously authenticated (sahih), and widely known, and indicate the exaltedness of Allah, being undeniable by anyone except an atheist or obstinate ignoramus. Their meaning is to dignify Allah and exalt Him above all that is base and low, to characterize Him by exaltedness and greatness, not by being in places, particular directions, or within limits, for these are the qualities of physical bodies (al-Jami li ahkam al-Qur'an. 20 vols. Cairo 1387/1967. Reprint (20 vols in 10). Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, n.d.,18.216).

In this connection, a hadith has been related by Malik in his Muwatta' and by Muslim in his Sahih, that Muawiya ibn al-Hakam came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and told him, "I am very newly from the Jahiliyya, and now Allah has brought Islam," and he proceeded to ask about various Jahiliyya practices, until at last he said that he had slapped his slave girl, and asked if he should free her, as was obligatory if she was a believer.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) requested that she be brought, and then asked her, "Where is Allah?" and she said, "In the sky (Fi al-sama)"; whereupon he asked her, "Who am I?" and she said, "You are the Messenger of Allah"; at which he said, Free her, "for she is a believer" (Sahih Muslim, 5 vols. Cairo 1376/1956. Reprint. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1403/1983, 1.382: 538). Imam

Imam Nawawi says of this hadith:
This is one of the "hadiths of the attributes," about which scholars have two positions.
The first is to have faith in it without discussing its meaning, while believing of Allah Most High that "there is nothing whatsoever like unto Him" (Qur'an 42:11), and that He is exalted above having any of the attributes of His creatures.
The second is to figuratively explain it in a fitting way, scholars who hold this position adducing that the point of the hadith was to test the slave girl: Was she a monotheist, who affirmed that the Creator, the Disposer, the Doer, is Allah alone and that He is the one called upon when a person making supplication (du'a) faces the sky--just as those performing the prayer (salat) face the Kaaba, since the sky is the qibla of those who supplicate, as the Kaaba is the qibla of those who perform the prayer--or was she a worshipper of the idols which they placed in front of themselves?
So when she said, In the sky, it was plain that she was not an idol worshipper (Sahih Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi. 18 vols. Cairo 1349/1930. Reprint (18 vols. in 9). Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1401/1981, 5.24).

It is noteworthy that Imam Nawawi does not mention understanding the hadith literally as a possible scholarly position at all. This occasions surprise today among some Muslims, who imagine that what is at stake is the principle of accepting a single rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith as evidence in Islamic faith (`aqida), for this hadith is such a single hadith, of those termed in Arabic ahad, or "conveyed by a single chain of transmission", as opposed to being mutawatir or "conveyed by so many chains of transmission that it is impossible it could have been forged".

Yet this is not what is at stake, because hadiths of its type are only considered acceptable as evidence by traditional scholars of Islamic `aqida if one condition can be met: that the tenet of faith mentioned in the hadith is salimun min al-muarada or "free of conflicting evidence".

This condition is not met by this particular hadith for a number of reasons.

First, the story described in the hadith has come to us in a number of other well-authenticated versions that vary a great deal from the "Where is Allah?--In the sky" version. One of these is related by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih with a well-authenticated (hasan) chain of transmission, in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked the slave girl, "'Who is your Lord?' and she said, 'Allah'; whereupon he asked her, 'Who am I?' and she said, 'You are the Messenger of Allah'; at which he said, 'Free her, for she is a believer'" (al-Ihsan fi taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban, 18 vols. Beirut: Muassasa al-Risala, 1408/1988, 1.419: 189).

In another version, related by Abd al-Razzaq with a rigorously authenticated (sahih) chain of transmission, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to her, "Do you testify that there is no god but Allah?" and she said yes. He said, "Do you testify that I am the Messenger of Allah?" and she said yes. He said, "Do you believe in resurrection after death?" and she said yes. He said, "Free her" (al-Musannaf, 11 vols. Beirut: al-Majlis al-Ilmi, 1390/1970, 9.175: 16814).

In other versions, the slave girl cannot speak, but merely points to the sky in answer.

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani has said of the various versions of this hadith, "There is great contradiction in the wording" (Talkhis al-habir, 4 vols. in 2. Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya, 1399/1979, 3.250).

When a hadith has numerous conflicting versions, there is a strong possibility that it has been related merely in terms of what one or more narrators understood (riwaya bi al-ma'na), and hence one of the versions is not adequate to establish a point of `aqida.


These beliefs apparently survived for some centuries in Khorasan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the East, for Imam al-Kawthari notes that the Hanbali Ibn Taymiya (d. 728/1328) picked up the details of them from manuscripts on sects (nihal) when the libraries of scholars poured into Damascus with caravans fleeing from the Mongols farther east. He read them without a perspicacious teacher to guide him, came to believe what he understood from them, and went on to become an advocate for them in his own works (al-Kawthari, al-Sayf al-saqil fi al-radd ala Ibn Zafil. Cairo 1356/ 1937. Reprint. Cairo: Maktaba al-Zahran, n.d. 56).

He was imprisoned for these ideas numerous times before his death, the ulama of Damascus accusing him of anthropomorphism (al-Asqalani, al-Durar al-kamina fi ayan al-mia al-thamina. 4 vols. Hyderabad 134950/193031. Reprint. Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, n.d., 1.155).

Writings were authored by scholars like
Abu Hayyan al-Nahwi (d. 745/ 1344),
Taqi al-Din Subki (756/1355),
Badr al-Din ibn Jamaa (d. 733/ 1333), al-Amir al-Sanani, author of Subul al-salam (d. 1182/1768), Taqi al-Din al-Hisni, author of Kifayat al-akhyar, (d. 829/1426), and
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974/1567) in rebuttal of his `aqida, and it remained without acceptance by Muslims for another four hundred years, until the eighteenth-century Wahhabi movement, which followed Ibn Taymiya on points of `aqida, and made him its "Sheikh of Islam." But was not until with the advent of printing in the Arab world that Ibn Taymiya's books (and the tenets of this sect) really saw the light of day, when a wealthy merchant from Jedda commissioned the printing of his Minhaj al-sunna and other works on `aqida in Egypt at the end of the last century, resurrected this time as Salafism or "return to early Islam." Here

Nawawi said in his commentary on Muslim (Kitab 5 Bab 7 Hadith 33):
This is from among the ahadith that deal with Allah's attributes and there are two schools of reading for it... The first consists in believing in it without entering into its meaning, while holding that there is nothing like unto Allah, with His elevation above the characteristics of things created. The second consists in interpreting it with what befits Him.
Whoever holds the latter position says that the meaning of the tradition is that the Prophet intended to test her: was she a believer in oneness (muwahhida) who confirms that the Creator, Disposer, and Doer is Allah alone? that He it is Who, when the petitioner invokes Him, he turns towards the heaven, and when the worshipper prays, he turns towards the Ka`ba? -- and this is not because He is circumscribed in the heaven, just as this is not because He is circumscribed in the direction of the Ka`ba; rather this is because the heaven is the orientation of those who invoke, just as the Ka`ba is the orientation of those who pray -- or, on the other hand, was she of the idol-worshippers who worship the idols that are in front of them? When she replied: "In heaven," it was understood that she was a believer in oneness and not an idol-worshipper.

Qadi `Iyad said:
"There is no disagreement among the Muslims, all without exception: their jurists, scholars of hadith, theologians, keen-sighted ones, and imitators, that the external meanings cited pertaining to Allah being "in the heaven" -- as in His saying: "Have you taken security from Him Who is in the Heaven that He will not cause the earth to swallow you?" (67:16) and the like -- are not as they appear (laysat `ala zahiriha) but rather are interpreted by all of the scholars (muta'awwila `inda jami`ihim). He among the muhaddithin, fuqaha' and mutakallimin who spoke to establish that there is aboveness in direction without specifying dimension or modality : he did so only by interpreting "in the heaven(fi al-sama') to mean "above the heaven(`ala al-sama'). And of the great multitude of the keen-sighted ones and theologians and those who establish Allah's freedom from any likeness to creation who spoke to negate the concept of limit and the inconceivability of direction with relation to Allah: they did so only by interpreting with various figurative interpretations, according to the necessity of each case.
Qadi `Iyad continues, "Some of them practiced mutual tolerance in the matter of establishing a direction for Allah (i.e. they did the latter to some extent), but only with apprehension at such tolerance: for is there any difference between asking "how" and establishing directions for Allah? However, whatever generalization the Law has made such as about Allah being the Omnipotent over (fawqa) His slaves and His establishing Himself over (`ala) the Throne, it is always with strong adherence (tamassuk) to the verse which sums up the total transcendence (al-tanzih al-kulli) of Allah above creation, "There is nothing like unto Him," without which nothing of what is conceived in the mind is sound. Such adherence is perfect protection for him to whom Allah the Exalted grants success." And this, says Nawawi, is the end of Qadi `Iyad's discourse."

`Ali al-Qari said in his commentary on Mishkat al-masabih in relation to the hadith "Where is Allah?":
Al-Qadi `Iyad said: "By asking this, the Prophet's intent was not to ask about Allah's place (makan), for verily He is above and beyond space, as He is above and beyond time. Rather the intent of his question to her was to find out whether she was a believer in oneness (muwahhida) or someone who associated partners to Allah (mushrika), because the unbelievers (kuffar) of the Arabs used to worship idols, and each tribe used to have a specific idol in its midst which it worshipped and aggrandized, and it may be that the simple-minded and ignorant ones among them did not know any other object of worship than that idol. The Prophet therefore meant to determine what she worshipped. When she said: "in the heaven," -- and another narration says that she made a sign towards the heaven -- it was understood that she was a believer in oneness. He meant by this line of questioning the disavowal of the gods of the earth (nafi al-aliha al-ardiyya) which are the idols, not the establishment of the heaven as a location for Allah, and Allah is greatly exalted from the sayings of the wrong-doers!"


The Creator is Clear from Anthropomorphism
500AH - 700AH= Part2
800AH to 900AH=Part3
1000AH - 1400AH=Part4


(Edited by ADHM)