Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed – and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.” (Qur’an 7:33)
Once I was approached by a Muslim in a Masjid who asked me,
“Brother where is Allah?” I thought this was a very strange question to ask but I asked him “what time it was“. He seems puzzled but told me the current time. I thereby responded, “Allah is in London, England!”
He rapidly started to stroke his beard repeatedly repeating “istaghfirullah!'” “‘istaghfirullah!” “Allah forgive you!” “Allah forgive you!”
This seemed like very neurotic behavior so I offered the following mutawatir hadith.
“Our Lord – Blessed and Exalted is He! – descends every night to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night and says: Who is supplicating Me so that I may answer him? Who is asking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?”
Source: (Narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Malik, and al-Darimi. It is narrated from twenty-three Companions, as stated by al-Kattani in Nazm al-Mutanathir.)
I don’t see what was so wrong with saying that Allah was in London, England considering that it was around 4:45 a.m London time (which would be the last third of the night).
I guess that was not the answer he was expecting. He was visibly upset as he said, “But brother Allah is in the highest heaven.” “What?!” I responded. I thought this was very strange for how could Allah be in London England and inheaven at the same time! Surely this man does not believe that Allah is multi-present? Could it be that he believed that Allah (swt) was in many places simultaneously?
“Who said Allah is in heaven?” I asked.
“Firaun (Pharoah) said Allah is in heaven.” the brother offered.
“Where does he say this?” I demanded!
The brother quoted the following,
“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.”(Qur’an chapter 40:37)
I was simply shocked by this! “Brother,” I said, “I do not think we need to be taking our Aqidah (belief) from Fir’aun (Pharaoh)! We do not need to build a tower of babel to reach heaven.“
This was a real conversation that happened between me and a Malay Salafi brother in Singapore while in a Masjid in Singapore. Needless to say, I feigned ignorance of the subject and admittedly baited the brother because I am all too familiar with these topics.
But keep in mind he did approach me first.
However, I did advise him that in the future he may wish to use the hadith of the blind woman pointing upwards into heaven or when asked, ‘Who said Allah is in the heaven‘ perhaps he could say, ‘Allah himself says this.’ I am quite sure that our Salafi brothers continue to improve their techniques.
Yet the problem remains. The issue of Allah (swt) presumably being over the throne and descending down into the lowest part of the earth every night of course (in a way that befits his majesty) …..of course.
Now the Ashari and Maturidi among our Sunni brothers are quite sensible on this issue. However, those Sunni Muslims from the Salafi, Hanbali, Athari can get quite agitated over this very sensitive issue.
So sensitive that they basically tell you to just shut up and accept it! Blind faith!
You can’t make taqlid to a legal school but you damn well better make taqlid to their belief system!
Don’t worry yours truly has screenshots of the entire Q & A as many people make web sites, articles, and entries that disappear in a flash!
So here we go… I’ll highlight the text of interest.
When asked, “Where is Allah ?”
I reply “Above the seven Heavens and the Arsh”
But taking the Hadith regarding that Allah descends to the lowest heaven in the latter part of the night.
If someone asks where is Allah and they state it is the latter 3rd of the night now. What reply should you give? Another point is that some people say it is the latter part of the night all the time (somewhere on the earth at a particular point in time) From this they conclude that Allah is not above His Arsh.
Praise be to Allaah.
Firstly, we have to know the ‘aqeedah (belief) of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah concerning the names and attributes of Allaah. The belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah is to affirm the names and attributes which Allaah has affirmed for Himself, without distorting or denying them, discussing how they are or likening them to anything else. They believe that which Allaah has commanded them to believe, for Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer”
Allaah has told us about Himself. He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Indeed, your Lord is Allaah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose over (Istawaa) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty).
My comments: “The Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty)…” So now they are going to say no one knows how but then use the word ‘really’. Interesting.
“The Most Gracious (Allaah) rose over (Istawaa) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty).
and there are other ayats which mention that Allaah rose over His Throne.
The rising of Allaah over His Throne, which means that He Himself is High and above the Throne, is of a special nature which befits His Majesty and Might. No one knows how it is except Him.
This was proven in the saheeh Sunnah, where it is narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that Allaah descends during the last third of the night. It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Our Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when the last third of the night remains, and He says, ‘Who will call Me that I might answer him, who will ask of Me that I might give him, who will ask My forgiveness, that I might forgive him?’” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-Tawheed, 6940; Muslim, Salaat al-Musaafireen, 1262)
According to Ahl al-Sunnah, the meaning of this descent is that Allaah Himself comes down to the lowest heaven in a real sense, as befits His Majesty, and no one knows how that is except Him.
Comments: I thought that the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunnah according to the Hanbali, Salafi, and Athari is that no one knows how? So how are they saying tongue in cheek, “comes down to the lowest heaven in a real sense, as befits His Majesty.”
“But does the fact that Allaah comes down means that He vacates the Throne or not? Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said concerning a similar question: we say that this question is based on unnecessary and excessive questioning and that the one who asked this is not to be thanked for his question. We ask, are you keener than the Sahaabah to understand the attributes of Allaah? If he says yes, we tell him, you are lying. And if he says no, we tell him, then be content with what they were content with. They did not ask the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘O Messenger of Allaah, when He comes down, does He vacate the Throne?’ Why do you need to ask this question? Just say, He comes down. Whether or not the Throne is vacated is not your business. You are commanded to believe the reports, especially concerning the essence of Allaah and His attributes, for this matter is above rational thought.”
Comments: I have read many of Shaykh ‘Uthaymeen’s legal verdicts and this is as close to ‘Shut the hell up‘ as I have ever seen the Shaykh get. The whole of his response is about intimidation and shutting down the inquiry of the questioner.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen, 1/204-205
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said concerning this matter:
“The correct view is that He descends and that He does not vacate the Throne. A person’s soul remains attached to his body night and day until he dies, but when he is asleep it ascends… It was said, night varies, and the last third of the night comes sooner in the east than in the west, so the descent of Allaah to the lowest heaven, of which His Messenger spoke, happens in the east first and then in the west…”
My comments: Whoa there Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah! Hold your horses! Are you now likening the descent/ascent of Allah (swt) to a human soul leaving the body? Furthermore are you saying that Allah (swt) has division with him self? A part of him that travels and a part of him that remains? By saying that Allah (swt) does not ‘vacate‘ the throne you are in fact establishing a ‘how’ for Allah swt! Authubillah min dhalik!
See Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah, 5/132
Rising over (istiwaa’) and descending are two of the practical attributes which have to do with the will of Allaah. Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah believe in that, but in this belief they avoid likening Allaah to any of His creation or discussing how He is. It cannot occur to them that Allaah’s descending is like the descending of any of His creatures or that His rising over the Throne is like the rising over of any of His creatures, because they believe that there is nothing like unto Allaah and He is the All-Hearer, All-Seer. They know on rational grounds that there is a great difference between the Creator and His creatures, in their essence, attributes and actions. It cannot occur to them to ask how He descends, or how He rose over His Throne. The point is that they do not ask how His attributes are; they believe that there is a ‘how’, but it is unknown, so we can never imagine how it is.
My comments: Respected Shaykh Taymiyah you said, ‘we can never imagine how it is’ and yet you also say in the paragraph above, A person’s soul remains attached to his body night and day until he dies, but when he is asleep it ascends.
“We know for certain that what is narrated in the Book of Allaah or the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is true and is not self-contradictory, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Do they not then consider the Qur’aan carefully? Had it been from other than Allaah, they would surely, have found therein many a contradiction”
My comments: Well, you see 4:82 actually is a reference to the Qur’an. It is not a reference to hadith, sunnah, fiqh, ijtihad of imams, or anything else. How you lump the sunnah in with the Qur’an is anyone’s guess.
“because contradictions in the reports would mean that some of them were showing others to be false, and this is impossible in the case of that which Allaah and His Messenger tell us.
Whoever imagines that there are any contradictions in the Book of Allaah or the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), or between the two, it is either because of his lack of knowledge or because he has failed to understand properly or to ponder the matter correctly, so let him seek further knowledge and strive to think harder until the truth becomes clear to him. Then if the matter is still not clear to him, let him leave it to the One Who is All-Knowing and let him put a stop to his illusions and say, as those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say, “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:7 – interpretation of the meaning]. Let him know that there is no contradiction in the Qur’aan and Sunnah and no conflict between them. And Allaah knows best.”
My comments: Well, you see 3:7 actually is a reference to the Qur’an. It is not a reference to hadith, sunnah, fiqh, ijtihad of imams, or anything else. How you lump the sunnah in with the Qur’an is anyone’s guess.
“See Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 3/237-238
Imagining that there is a conflict between Allaah’s descending to the lowest heaven and His having risen over the Throne and His being high above the heavens stems from making a comparison between the Creator and the created being. For man cannot imagine the unseen things of His creation, such as the delights of Paradise, so how can he imagine the Creator, may He be glorified and exalted, the Knower of the Unseen. So we believe in what has been narrated of His rising over (the Throne), His descending and His being High and Exalted. We affirm that (and state that it is) in a manner that befits His Majesty and Might.”
My comments: So there you have it. ‘Uthaymeen basically telling a person to shut up. Ibn Taymiyah basically resorted to blatant Tashbih and Tamthil. (Making resemblance and drawling parallels to) the creation.
Being accurate and circumspect in our beliefs. So the next time someone ask you, “Where is Allah?”’ in order to answer the question accurately one would need to ask the person back. “Do you believe Allah is the creator of all things?” “Do you believe Allah is the creator of space and time?”
Because apparently Allah (swt) is separate and distinct from his creation. Who said that? This website affirms that Imam Ahmad (r) said that.
“So Yoosuf bin Moosaa al-Qattaan, the Shaykh of Abu Bakr al-Khallaal, said: It was said to Abu Abdullah (Ahmad bin Hanbal): “Allaah is above the seventh heaven, over His Throne, separate and distinct (baa’in) from His creation, and His power and knowledge are in every place?” He said:
Yes, He is over His Throne, and nothing escapes His knowledge.”
If the answer is yes you have to wonder if the throne is a creation or not. If the throne, space, and time are all creations you have to wonder at the question: “Where is Allah?” before the creation of the throne.
We also have this interesting verse. This has to be taken into consideration since some of our brothers from Ahl Sunnah say that Allah (swt) will “come in ranks with the angels.”
“And your Lord comes and also the angels in ranks..” (Qur’an 89:22)
“Lo! those who swear allegiance unto thee (Muhammed), swear allegiance only unto Allah. The Hand of Allah is above their hands. So whosoever breaks his oath, breaks it only to his soul’s hurt; while whosoever keeps his covenant with Allah, on him will He bestow immense reward.” (Qur’an 48:10)
We also have to take into account this hadith:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The Hellfire and Paradise disputed each other. Hellfire said: The arrogant and the tyrants will dwell in me. Paradise said: What is the matter with me that only the meek and humble of the people will enter me? Allah said to Paradise: You are my mercy with which I show mercy to those of my servants whom I will. Allah said to Hellfire: You are punishment with which I punish those of my servants whom I will, and both of you will be full. As for Hellfire, it will not be filled until Allah puts his foot over it and Hellfire will say: Enough! Enough! All of its parts will be filled together and Allah will not wrong any of his creatures. As for Paradise, Allah will create a new creation with which to fill it.”
Source: (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 4569, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2847)
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHERE IS ALLAH AND WHEN IS ALLAH?
So what does all this mean? Especially if it is admitted that Allah (swt) is separate and distinct from his creation?
It means that the true answer of an Athari, someone who takes the apparent meaning of a text, that the true answer to the question “Where is Allah?” is to respond by saying:
Allah is as he is before space/time. While also being over the throne, while also coming down in the third part of the night (depending upon the time) and coming with rows of his angels. Allah’s foot is on the hellfire. His hand is over their hands. All of that in a way that befits his majesty.
Because here is the point. I challenge anyone to show me where the Blessed Messenger (saw) or any of the companions disputed any of those points above?
Why is ‘Allah being over the throne’ THE DEFAULT POSITION? Again I challenge anyone to show me where the Blessed Messenger (saw) or the companions made ‘above the throne’ as the default position to the exclusion of the other text/positions? Thus, making everything else like ‘coming down’ or ‘existing as he was before creation’ or ‘coming in rows’ relational to that?
Because keep in mind the person is asking you, “Where is Allah?” They are not asking you, “When is Allah?” They are not asking you ‘Where is Allah now?” Because ‘now‘ does not apply to Allah (swt).
Who gave them the authority to make ‘the throne’ the default position? So yes, when someone asks, “Where is Allah?” You could reply, “London England” depending upon what time of day/night it is where you are.
Those who say that Allah (swt) is over the throne bi dhati (in essence) have made a reprehensible innovation because we have nothing reliably transmitted to us on this account.
This is the state of these people who want to police the beliefs of the Muslims and do actually approach people in the Masjid and ask random people, “Where is Allah?” With beliefs like this no wonder, they go around asking such a question, because it certainly seems they have lost their Lord.
May they find him.