Knowledge

Where is Allah?

Question:

Where is Allah according to the Qur’an and Sunna?

Answer:

Islamic Theologians are of the consensus that Allah is not confined or restricted to a direction or space in any shape or form. When analysing the sacred texts we find that Allah has described himself as being above his creation and stationed on his throne. The true nature and condition of this is only known to him as this is derived from the ambiguous texts (mutashäbihät) and no one is aware of its interpretation except Allah. Hence our stance in such matters is that we believe in such texts as is without investigating its details. Allah states, “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allāh. But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.” [3:7]

Allah is unique and there is nothing that resembles him. Hence to attempt to understand Allah based on our personal intellect is in essence failing to understand him. Allah says, “There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [42:11]

In another place he instructs, “So do not assert similarities to Allāh. Indeed, Allāh knows and you do not know.” [16:74]

It is for this reason Imam Malik ibn Anas said very angrily when being asked about the nature of Allah’s being stationed on his throne, “The nature is inconceivable, his stationing is known, believing in it is obligatory and asking about it is an innovation.”

He then said to the questioner, “I fear you are deviant.”

He then instructed his men to escort the individual out and hence he was taken out. [Al Durr Al Manthōr p.170 vol. 3, Jaläluddën Al Sayuti, Dar Al Kotob Al Ilmiyah, Beirut, Lebanon, 2004]

In light of this information we assert that Allah is stationed on his throne above his creation in a manner that befits his sublime and transcendent essence. This assertion is based on the following verses of the Qur’än,

  1. Indeed, your Lord is Allāh, who created the heavens and the earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne, arranging the matter [of His creation]. [10:3]
  2. The Most Merciful is above the Throne established. [20:5]
  3. They fear their Lord above them… [16:50]
  4. To Him ascends good speech… [35:10]
  5. Do you feel secure that He who is in the heaven would not cause the earth to swallow you and suddenly it would sway. [67:16]

As for hadëths that imply that Allah is above his creation in a manner that befits him, they are more than can be enumerated. Among them are;

  1. Mu’äwiya ibn Al Hakam Al Sulami reported, “…I had a slave girl who would take my flock of sheep towards Uhud and Jawwäniyya to graze. One day I checked up on her [and saw that] a wolf had run off with a sheep from the flock. Now I’m a man from among the children of Adam. I am saddened just as they are saddened, hence I [went to the girl and] gave her a slap. I [later] went to Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم [and told him what happened, for] this matter had put under stress. I then proposed, “O Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, shall I free her?”

He replied, “Bring her to me.”

So I brought her and he asked her, “Where is Allah?”

She answered, “In the sky.”

He asked, “Who am I?”

“Allah’s Messenger, “she said.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then instructed, “Free her for she is a believer.” [Muslim:1199]

  1. Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “The angels of the night and the day rotate among you and get together during the Fajr prayer and the Asr prayer. The angels who spent the night with you ascend [to their lord] and he asks them- even though he is more aware of his servants than them, “What state were my servants in when you left them?”

They reply, “We left them while they were praying and came to them while they were praying.” [Bukhäri: 555]

  1. Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم delivered a sermon to the people on the day of the sacrifice…He then raised his head [towards the sky] and expressed, “O Allah! Have I conveyed? O Allah! Have I conveyed?” [Bukhäri: 1739]

As for the texts that imply Allah is with us such as;

  1. And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein. [50:16]
  2. And We are nearer to him than you, but you do not see. [56:85]
  3. Have you not considered that Allāh knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is in no private conversation three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that and no more except that He is with them wherever they are. Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allāh is, of all things, Knowing. [58:7]

They refer to Allah’s knowledge as Islamic theologians have explained. This is how the famous exegete and hadëth scholar, Jaläluddën Al Sayuti has interpreted these verses in his renowned tafseer, Jalälain.

And Allah Knows Best

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