Allah is above his throne, which is above the seven heavens
“..Indeed, Your Lord is Allah, who created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and established Himself above the Throne..”-Quran (7:54).
“..He established Himself above the Throne..”-Quran (13:2).
“..Indeed, Your Lord is Allah, who created the Heavens and the Earth in six days, and established Himself above the Throne..”-Quran (57:4).
“Indeed, Your Lord is Allah, who created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and established Himself above the Throne..”-Quran (10:3).
“..The Most Merciful is Above the Throne established..”-Quran (20:5).
“..Allah Rose toward the Heavens..”-Quran (2:29).
Prophet (ﷺ) said: “I am the Trustee of the One who is Above the Heavens..” (Sahih Al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
Prophet (ﷺ) on the day of Arafat, on his final sermon, raised his finger towards the skies and said: ‘O Allah! Bear witness!” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever is merciful, will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Whoever is merciful to those on Earth, The One who is in the Heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Sahih Muslim).
Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When Allah completed the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. He wrote on a Book which is with Him Above the Throne:
‘My Mercy overpowers My anger’.” (Sahih Al Bukhari, Book beginning of creation, Hadith 416).
Prophet (ﷺ) said: “..Allah is Above the Skies..” (Sunan Abu Dawud and others).
The Imam of the Salaf, Imam Maalik (Rahimullah) said: “Istawa is not unknown, the Kayf (how) is uncomprehendable, believing in it is obligatory, and asking about it is innovation.” [Al Asma wal Sifaat by Al Bayhaqi (Rahimullah)].
Istawa and Uluww.
Imam Maalik Ibn Anas (Rahimaullah) said: “Allah ﷻ is Above the Heavens and His Knowledge encompasses everything, nothing escapes His knowledge.” (As Sunnah, by Abdullāh Ibn Ahmad).
Imam Ash Shafi’i (Rahimaullah) said: “Allah ﷻ is Above the Throne, which is Above the Heavens and He descends to the Lowest Heavens whenever He wishes.” (Al Juyoosh Al Islamiyyah, page 93).
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Rahimaullah) said: “Certainly, He ﷻ is Above the Throne, and nothing escapes His knowledge.” (Al Juyoosh Al Islamiyyah, page 123).
Ibn Qudaamah Al Hanbali (Rahimaullah) said:
“Allāh ﷻ has described Himself with Ulūw (elevation) above the heavens, and similarly He has been described by this by Muḥammad — the Seal of the Prophets — something upon which all of the scholars from the pious Companions held a consensus, as did the Imāms from the fuqahā’. It has been massively transmitted that a level of certainty has been reached, and Allāh ﷻ has united the hearts of the Muslims upon this, and made it a natural disposition in all of His creation, and therefore you see them when some calamity befalls them that they look with their eyes towards the heavens, and raise their hands towards it, waiting for alleviation of calamity from their Lord, and they utter this with their tongues, no one denies this except a heretic, a fanatic in his heresy, or someone who is infatuated with blindly-following him and following him in his innovation.”
[Ithbāt Ṣifāt al-‘Ulūw (p. 63)]
Ali Ibn Al Hasan Ibn Al Ash Shaqeeq said, “I said to (Imam of the Salaf) Abdullaah Ibn Al Mubaarak (Salaf-Rahimullah), “How are we to know our Lord?” He said, “He is above the Seventh Heaven above His Throne and we do not say as the Jahmiyyah say, ‘He is here upon the earth.’ So that was mentioned to Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Rahimullah) and he said, “That is how it is with us.” (Al Darimi in Ar-Radd alal-Mareesee, Page 24 and 103 and Ar-Radd Alal-Jahmiyyah, page 50).
Imam of the Salaf, Muhammad Ibn Yoosuf (one of the teachers of Imaam Bukhari, May Allah have mercy on them both) said, “The one who says that Allah is not over (‘Ala) His Throne is a kaafir. And the one who thinks that Allaah did not speak to Moses is a kaafir.” (Khalq Af’aalul-’lbaad of Imaam Al Bukhari, number 66).
Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Rahimaullah) said: “We believe that Allah is above His Throne however He wishes and in whatever way He wishes, without any specific way or a description that a person can understand or describe (of How He is above the Throne). Knowledge of the Attributes of Allah has come from Him, and they are established for Him (as His true Attributes). He is as He described Himself: “No vision can grasp Him.” [6:103]” [Dar’ut Ta’aarudul ‘Aql Wan Naql, by Ibn Taymiyyah, 2/30]
Imam Al-Awza’i – Allah have mercy on him – said:
We used to say – while the Tabi’un were abundant – that Allah is above his Arsh (Throne), and we believe in what is present in the Sunnah about His attributes.
Al-Baihaqi in Al-Asma was-Sifat
Adh-Dhahabi in Siyar Alam Al-Nubala
| al-Istawaa |
Imām Harb al-Keermānī رحمه الله stated:
The Jahmīyyāh are the enemies of Allāh, and they are the ones who claim that the Qurān is created, that Allāh did not speak to Mūsā, that He will not be seen in the ākhirah (hereafter), that there is no known place (مكان) for Allāh and that He is not upon a Throne (Arsh), nor a Footstool (Kursīy) and many other things i even hate to narrate. And they are kuffār Zanādiqah (disbelievers Heretics), enemies of Allāh, so be aware of them.
[‘Uluw lil-‘Alī Al-Ghaffār by Adh-Dhahabī, al-Uluw pg. 194, also see Kitāb al-Arsh, 2/336, also Reported by al-Hafiz Abdur-Rahmān Ibn Abī Hātīm ar-Rāzīyy (d. 327 AH) in Radd ala al-Jahmīyyāh, also see Kitab as-Sunnah by Harb al-Keermani no. 96]
| Allah is Above the Throne |
Shaykh Al Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (Rahimullah) said: “..this (Allah being above the Throne) does not mean in any way that Allah is in the midst of, or surrounded by the heavens, as none of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) of this Ummah (community) or its Imams ever stated that; rather they agreed that allah is established on His Throne above the heavens and is distinguished from His creation with no similarity whatsoever between Him and His creation in terms of His Attributes, Names, or Power.
Then he quoted the saying of Al-Imam Malik that Allah is above the heavens and His knowledge encompasses everywhere and every thing, until he (Malik) said whoever believes that Allah is in the mist of, or surrounded by the heavens and that He needs His Throne or any of His creation, or that His rising above the Throne is similar to that of any of His servants sitting on a chair, then he is astray, Mubtadi` (one who introduces innovations in religion) and Islamically ignorant.
Likewise, whoever believes that Allah is not above the heavens and rising above His Throne and Muhammad was not carried to heaven or the Qur’an was revealed to him, is Mu
atil (denying Allah’s attributes), astray and Mubtadi. [Quoted from the collection of Fatwa by Ibn Taymiyyah.]
| Above the Throne | The Tabi Al Tabiun |
Al Allamah Al Muzani, a Tabi Al Tabiee, one of the closest companions of Al Shafi’i, said:
“Allah is exalted above His Throne in His Grandeur, in His Essence (bi Dhaati) and He is close to His creation with His knowledge. His knowledge encompasses the affairs and whatever He has previously decreed for His creation is fulfilled. And He is al-Jawad (the Bestower of Goodness), al-Ghafur (The Forgiver) and:
“He knows that which deceives the eyes and what the breasts conceal.” [Surah Ghafir 40:19].” (Sharh as Sunnah, page 23).
Shaykh ’Ubayd Ibn Abdullah Al Jabiree (Rahimaullah) said, “The author mentioned affairs from the affairs of the sound ’aqidah and from them is the ’Uluww of Allah above His creation, in His Essence, above His Throne. And this is a point of dispute between Ahlus-Sunnab and the innovators. So Ahlus Sunnab affirm this type of ’uluww for Allah. The ’Uluww of the Essence (dbat) is proven by the Book, the authentic Sunnah, ijma (consensus), the intellect and thefitrah (natural inclination). And Ahlus Sunnah have agreed upon this type of ‘uluww. And from the statements about this consensus is that of ’Abdur-Rahman Ibn ’Amr al-Awzai (d.157H) who said, “We used to say whilst the tdbi’tin were widespread that Allah was above His Throne, bain (separate) from His creation.” [Related by al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma was-Sifaat (p. 408).] And other than him have quoted this consensus.” (Refer to the first cassette of Shaykh ’Ubayd’s lessons on Sbarbus- Sunnab of al-Muzani).
From the great book Tawheed Khaalis, Radd Alal as Sufiyyah, Al Ash’ariyyah, Al Jahamiyyah, wal Zandiqah, by Al Allamah Badi Al Din Shah ar-Rashidi as Sindi (Rahimaullah), teacher of Shaykh Muqbil (Rahimaullah) and Shaykh Rabi Ibn Hadi Al Madkhali, May Allah preserve him.
Some proofs of Istawa and It’s explanation.
Shaykh Badi-ud-Din (Rahimaullah) wrote:
“Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “O chiefs! I know not that you have an ilâh (a god) other than me, so kindle for me (a fire), O Hâmân, to bake (bricks out of) clay, and set up for me a Sarh (a lofty tower, or palace) in order that I may look at (or look for) the Ilâh (God) of Mûsa (Moses); and verily, I think that he [Mûsa (Moses)] is one of the liars.” [Al Qasas:38]
Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “O Hâmân! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, (36) “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.” Thus it was made fair-seeming, in Fir’aun’s (Pharaoh) eyes, the evil of his deeds, and he was hindered from the (Right) Path, and the plot of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) led to nothing but loss and destruction (for him).[Ghāfir: 36-37]
There are various points of benefit from these āyahs of which some are:
The prophets and messengers of previous nations also held the creed that Allāh is above the heavens.
To reject Allāh being above the heavens is to follow the way of Fir’aun the accursed.
Indeed, to reject Allāh being above the heavens is that which leads to misguidance and a removal from the straight path of guidance.
Such a baseless creed of rejecting Allāh being above the heavens makes one’s evil deeds as seem fairing to the person.
Such a creed leads a person to find ways to reject and alter the Shari’ah revealed by Allāh [as was perpetrated by Fir’aun].
However, Allāh destroys all false ways and alterations made by the person of false creed.
Imām Tahāwī states:
“Those from the Jahmiyyah sect who reject Allāh being high above are Firawnī [upon the way of Fir’aun]. Then those who affirm Allāh being high above are upon the way of Mūsa and Muhammad”.
[Sharh Aqīdah Tahāwiyyah, pg:259]
“And in the heaven is your provision, and that which you are promised.” [Adh-Dhāriyāt:22]
“You worship besides Allâh only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allâh have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allâh (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back.” [al-Ankabūt:17]
It is thus clearly established that the provision of sustenance is with Allāh and He is above the heavens.
“Do you feel secure that He, who is over [fī] the heaven (Allâh), will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake?” [al-Mulk:16]
“Or do you feel secure that He, who is over [fī] the heaven (Allâh), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My Warning.” [al-Mulk:17]
The Imām al-Bayhaqī comments:
“The word [Fī] in these ayaat means over and above. It is saying are you not afraid of your Lord who is above the heavens? Similar to this is the meaning when Allāh says in the Qurān “so travel [Fī] the earth” also ‘and I will crucify you on [Fī] the trunks of palm trees’ [which is what Fir’aun said to the magicians when they believed in Mūsa]. It is clear that the ayah of travelling upon the earth means that the thing ‘above’ is the heavens and Allāh is above them. Therefore, the meaning of these ayaat shall be ‘Are you not afraid of the one who is above His Throne’ as is established in many other ayaat”.
[Al-Itiqād of al-Bayhaqī, pg 42].
He also states:
“Abū Abdullah al-Hāfidh said the Shaikh Abū Bakr Ahmad Bin Ishāq Bin Ayūb the Jurist said that ‘The specialist linguists of the Arabic language have said that the word ‘Fī’ is used interchangeably with the word ‘alā’ [above/over] in the language. Allāh said ‘“so travel [Fī] the earth” and ‘and I will crucify you on [Fī] the trunks of palm trees’ here the word Fī in these ayaat means ‘alā’, i.e., over/above. It is likewise with this in mind we understand Allāh’s words in Quran when he says ‘Fī’ the heavens, i.e., it means above His Throne, above the heavens as has been mentioned in numerous prophetic traditions.”
[Al Asmā wa Sifāt of al-Bayhaqī, pg 299].”
Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al Uthaymeen (Rahimaullah) said:
“The Highness and Exaltedness of Allaah ﷻ above His creation, or Uluww, is from His Personal Attributes:
It is of two types:
- Uluww as‐Sifaat ‐ The Highness of His Attributes.
- Uluww Al Dhaat ‐ The Highness of His Self.
As for the Highness of His Attributes, it means that there is no characteristic of perfection except that to Allaah belongs what is more perfect and more complete, whether it is an attribute such as that of honor or overpowering, or attributes such as beauty or capability.
As for the Highness of His ﷻ Self, it means that Allaah ﷻ is personally above all of His creations. This is proven by the Qurʹaan, the Sunnah, consensus (of the scholars), the intellect, and the Fitrah, or natural disposition upon which Allaah creates every human.
As for the proof from the Qurʹaan and Sunnah: They are both filled with detailed or apparent proofs of the affirmation of the Uluww of Allaahʹs Self above His creation.
There are many types of proofs of this:
Sometimes, they mention the ‘Uluww explicitly, His Highness, His rising over the Throne, or being over the heavens, such as His statements:
ʺAnd He is the Most High, the Greatest.ʺ [Sooratul‐Baqarah, 2:255]
ʺExalt the name of your Lord, the Most High.ʺ [Sooratul‐Aʹalaa, 87:1]
ʺThey fear their Lord above them.ʺ [Sooratun‐Nahl, 16:50]
ʺThe Most Merciful rose over the Throne.ʺ [Soorah Taa Haa, 20:5]
“Do you feel secure that He who is above the heaven would not cause the earth to swallow you?ʺ [Sooratul‐Mulk, 67:16]
And the statements of the Prophet:
ʺ…and the Throne is above that, and Allaah ﷻ is above the Throne.” (See al‐Laalakaaee (3/395,659) and Mukhtasar alʹUluww (page 48) by al‐Albaanee. Adh‐ Dhahabee and Ibn al‐Qayyim authenticated it, and al‐Albaanee declared it to be acceptable. Its chain is Mawqoof)
ʺDo you not trust me while I am trusted by the One above the heaven?ʺ (Recorded by al‐Bukhaaree (4351) and Muslim (1064)
Sometimes, the proofs establish the ʹUluww by mentioning that things ascend or are raised up to Him ﷻ, such as His statements:
ʺTo Him ascends good speech.ʺ [Sooratul‐Faatir, 35:10]
ʺThe angels and the Rooh Qibreel) ascend to Him.ʺ [Sooratul‐Maʹaarij, 70:4]
ʺRather, Allaah ﷻ raised him (ʹEesaa) to Himself.ʺ [Sooratun‐Nisaa, 4:158]
And the statements of the Prophet
ʺAnd nothing but the pure things ascend to Allaah ﷻ.ʺ
ʺ…then some of those who spent the night among you are raised to your Lord.ʺ
ʺThe deeds of the night are raised to Him before the deeds of the next day, and the deeds of the day before the deeds of that evening.ʺ
Ahmad recorded it.
Sometimes, the proofs mention the descent of things from Him, such as His statements:
ʺA revelation sent down from the Lord of the worlds.ʺ [Sooratul‐ Waaqiʹah, 56:80]
ʺSay: The pure Rooh Qibreel) has brought it down from your Lord.ʺ
And the statement of the Prophet
ʺOur Lord descends to the heaven of the Dunyaa when the last third of the night remains.ʺ (Sahih Al Bukhari)
And there are many other Aayaat and Ahaadeeth that have been reported
with many chains from the Prophet (
Allaah over His creation. The chains of report are so numerous that they necessitate having certain knowledge that the actually said them about His Lord and then the Ummah learned them from him.
Continuation of Fatwa Ibn Uthaymeen:
“As for the proof from the consensus: The Companions, those who followed them in righteousness, and the Imaams of Ahulus‐Sunnah were all unanimously united upon the belief that Allaah ﷻ is above His heavens on His Throne. Their statements are filled with this belief either word‐for‐word, or from the evident meaning. Al‐Awzaaʹee said, ʺWe used to ‐ while the followers of the Companions were many among us ‐ say that Allaah mentions Himself being above His Throne. And we believe also whatever has come in the Sunnah of the Attributes.ʺ Al‐Awzaaʹee said this after the appearance of the methodology of Jahm (ibn Safwaan) who used to deny the Attributes of Allaah ﷻ and His ʹUluww. He (al‐Awzaaʹee) said this so that the people would know that the methodology of the Salafis in complete opposition to that of Jahm.
Moreover, not one of the Salaf ever said that Allaah is not over the heaven, or that He is everywhere. Nor did they say, ʺAll places are the same in regards to Him,ʺ nor that ʺHe is not inside the world, nor outside of it, nor part of it, nor separate from it…ʺ Moreover, they did not say that it is impermissible to imagine and indicate where He is. Rather, the most knowledgeable of creation indicated where He is during his Farewell Hajj on the Day of Aʹrafah among a great audience. He raised and pointed his finger to the sky and said:
ʺOh Allaah, bear witness.ʺ
He was asking Allaah to bear witness to the acknowledgement of his Ummah that he indeed conveyed the message of his Prophethood.
As for the proof from the intellect: Every sound intellect bears witness to the fact that Allaah ﷻ is high above His creation. This is from two perspectives:
Firstly: Uluww is a characteristic of perfection and perfection is attributed to Allaah in all ways. So Uluww must be affirmed to Allaah.
Secondly: Uluww is the opposite of being low and being low is a characteristic of deficiency. Allaah is far above being described with any characteristics of deficiency so He must be free from being low. The opposite is then affirmed to Him, which is Uluww.
As for the proof from the Fitrah: Allaah ﷻ has made all of the creations, the Arab and non‐Arab, even the animals, upon the natural disposition of believing in Him and His ʹUluww. There is no servant that turns toward His Lord with supplication or worship except that he finds within himself a sense of requesting from One high above. He turns with his heart towards the sky, not to the right or left. And no one deviates away from this reality except someone who has been corrupted by Shayateen and desires.
Aboo al‐Maʹaalee al‐Juwaynee used to say in his gatherings ʺFirst, there was Allaah ﷻ and nothing else. And now He is upon what He is upon.ʺ He sarcastically means by this the denying of Allaahʹs rising over His Throne. So Aboo Jaʹfar al‐Hamdaanee said:
ʺSay we leave off mentioning of the Throne ‐ because it is established by the legislation anyway ‐ and inform us about this sense that we find within out hearts. No one with knowledge has ever called, saying, ʹOh Allaah!ʹ except that he finds in his heart a natural sense of seeking from One high above. He does not turn to the right or left. So how do we repel this natural sense in our hearts?ʺ
So, Aboo al‐Maʹaalee cried out struck his head and said, ʺAl‐Hamdaanee has confused me! Al‐Hamdaanee has confused me!ʺ (See Siyar ʹAlaam an‐Nubalaa (18/475) by Imaam adh‐Dhahabi)
So these are five proofs (the Qurʹaan, Sunnah, consensus, intellect, and the Fitrah), each confirming that Allaah, Himself, is indeed above His creation.
As for Allaahʹs statements:
ʺAnd He is Allaah ﷻ in the heavens and in the earth. He knows your secrets and what you make public.ʺ [Sooratul‐Anʹaam, 6:3]
And His saying:
ʺIt is He who is (the only) God in the heaven, and on the earth (the only) God.ʺ [Sooratuz‐Zukhruf, 43:84]
The meaning of both of these Aayaat is not that Allaah is on the earth as He is above the heavens. And whoever imagines this or reports this from one of the Salaf, then he is mistaken in what he imagines and lying in what he reports.
The First Aayah affirms Allaahʹs ﷻ right of being the only god that exists in the heavens and on earth. Everyone in them ‐ He is their only god and they worship Him. It is also said that it means that the first part is saying that Allaah is in (above) the heavens. The second part would then begin with ʺAnd on the earth, He knows your secrets and what you make public.ʺ Meaning, that His ʹUluww above the heavens does not prevent Him from still knowing your secrets and what you make known on the earth.
The Second Aayah means that Allaah ﷻ is the only god of the heavens and the only god of the earth. His right of being worshipped is a duty in both, even while He is above the heavens. Similar to this is the saying, ʺSo and so is the governor of Makkah as well as Madeenah.ʺ Meaning, that his leadership is in control over both cities, even if he happens to be in only one of them.
This way of speaking is correct, both linguistically as well as culturally (Arabic), and Allaah knows best.” (Sharh Al Fatwa Al Hamawiyyah).
Refuting those who say Istawa, that Allah rose above the Throne, refers to Isteela (conquered), conquered the Throne.
Abū Ismāʿīl al-Harawī (Rahimaullah) narrates in his book ‘al-Fārūq’ with a chain of transmission from Dawūd bin Khalf that he was with Muḥammad bin Ziyād al-Lughawī when a man asked him about the ayah “The Most Gracious (Allāh) rose over (Istawā) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty) [Ta-ḥa 4].” He replied, “We accept it as he has informed us. The man said it means “he overcame and conquered [Istawlā].” al-Harawī replied, “Istawlā would only be correct if head any competitor or challenger to overcome so this cannot be correct.”
Muḥammad bin Aḥmad bin Naḍr al-Azdī (Rahimaullah) transmits that he heard from Muḥammad bin Ziyād Al-Lughawī who said that “Aḥmad Bin Dawūd enquired of me whether I could investigate whether the word “Istawā’ [he rose] has ever been recorded in the Arabic language as “Istawlā [He conquered]? I replied, “I swear by Allāh that I searched for this and could not find it in any place.” [Fath al-Bārī of Ibn Ḥajr [17/177]
Also, the Hāfiẓ Ibn Qayyīm (Rahimaullah) has recorded in his monumental work ‘As-Sawāʿiq al-Mursalah’ over 42 replies to rebut the fact that ‘Istiwā’ in this verse does not mean ‘He conquered or overcame’. From amongst these are:
“The third response is that al-Khattābī mentions in his book ‘Shiʿār ud-Dīn’ that, “Some have considered that Istiwā here means he overpowered basing this on some lines of poetry and these are not such that they can be used an evidential basis. If it meant as they say that he overpowered/conquered then this would render the verse confusing as Allāh’s knowledge and power is all encompassing then why would he need to ‘conquer’ his Throne whilst this is the case? The word ‘istawlā’ he overpowered would only be used for one who was stopped from something and then through struggle he achieved success by overpowering. So what is it that they say was ‘stopping or restricting’ Allāh? So these are the words of Al-Khattābī who was from amongst those who were known as a linguist.”
“The fifth response is that to say as they say falls under the forbidden action of explain the Qurān based on one’s own intellect. No Companion OF Muhammad, a successor of theirs or any scholar of the Muslims [mufassirs] have explained as they have. Let them know that Muhammad the prophet said that ‘let him take a seat in the fire of hell who explains the Qurān with his own opinion.”
“The tenth response is that the words ‘istawā’ and ‘istīlā’ have not been considered interchangeable in use by the scholars of the Arabic language and this is due to the reason that they both have distinct and separate features and meanings. Those who claim other than this are lying. Research the Qurān, Sunnah and Arabic language and syntax and you will never find that the word ‘istawā’ has come in the meaning of or interchangeable with ‘istīlā”
“The fifteenth response is that Imam Abūl Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī has recorded a consensus that to take ‘istawā’ with the meaning of ‘istīlā’ is wholly incorrect.”
“The twenty seventh response is that the one amongst the creation who knows most about his lord is prophet Muhammad who has described in numerous traditions that Allāh is high and above and these traditions are an evidence of the explanation of such ayat” [Mukhtaṣar as-Sawāʿiq al-Mursalah, Muhammad al-Mawṣalī [2/321-326]
| Refuting those who say Istawa means Isteela |
Some have figuratively attempted to explain (Tāwīl) the fourth ayah and said that ʿAla is the action (Fʿil) and ar-Rahman is the one who does the act (Faʿil) and the Faʿil of Istawa is the ʿArsh.
Zarkashī refutes this (Tāwīl) and says, “This is refuted from two angles the first is that the mu’awil (the one who did the tāwīl) made the attribute into an action and all of the scripts of the Qurān in Shām, ʿIrāq and Ḥijāz have ʿAla as a harf and if this was Fʿil (ie action) it would have been written with a Lām and ālif like for example at another instance it says, “Walʿalā Baḍuhum ʿala Bʿaḍ. The second reasons is the mu’awil rendered ʿArsh as marfū whereas none of the reciters ie Qura recite it like this.” [Zarkashī, al-Burhān Fī ʿUlūm al-Qurān [2/81]
And the third reason is that it will contradict the other ayahs.
Further refutation to the argument: Istawa refers to conquered the Throne:
Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Salih Al Uthaymeen (Rahimullah) refuted this misinterpretation in several angels:
“If it is asked, ʺIs it permissible to explain the Istiwaa of Allaah over His Throne to mean that He conquered (Isteelaa) it, as the Muaʹttilah explain as a result of trying to avoid a false type of reasoning?
The answer is that it is not permissible and that is due to various reasons:
Firstly: If these types of reasoning are true, then they do not prevent explaining the Istiwaa with its real, actual meaning (which is rising over). If they are false, then it is not possible that they be suitable types of reasoning derived from the Qurʹaan and Sunnah. Whoever thinks they are necessary based upon something else in them (the Qurʹaan or Sunnah) then he is astray.
Secondly: Interpreting it as Isteelaa (conquering) is based upon false reasoning. It is not possible because it contradicts the consensus of the Salaf and it would then be permissible to say such things as ʺAllaah Istawaa on the earth (He conquered it),ʺ and other statements of which Allaah is far above. If He ʺconqueredʺ the Throne, it would also mean that He was, before that, not in possession of it when He created the heavens and earth.
Thirdly: The interpretation of Istiwaa (rising over) as Isteelaa (conquering) is unknown linguistically. It is a lie against it (the Arabic language) and the Qurʹaan was revealed in the language of the Arabs. Therefore, it is not possible for us to interpret it with a meaning that the Arabs do not know in their own language.
Fourthly: Those who interpreted it as Isteelaa (conquering) held the belief that it was a metaphorical meaning and a metaphorical meaning is not acceptable unless and until it meets four conditions:
- An authentic evidence that calls for the statement to be taken metaphorically, not upon its apparent, actual meaning.
- The possibility of a metaphorical meaning based upon the language.
- The possibility of a metaphorical meaning as it may pertain to that specific context. A possibility of an overall metaphorical meaning does not mean that it is acceptable in every context. The context of different, specific wordings and circumstances could prevent some meanings, which the wordings may mean if taken generally.
- The proof which indicates a metaphorical meaning must be given and explained. This is because it may also be that the meaning is actually not metaphorical, rather to be taken as the apparent, actual meaning. Therefore, it is incumbent to provide the proof that specifies one or the other, and Allaah knows best.” [Al Aqeeda il Hamawiyyah, commentary by Shaykh Ibn Utheymeen (Rahimullah)]
Dawud Ibn Ali said :
We were at Ibn Al Arabi (Rahimullah), and a man came up to him and said: “O Abu Abdullah, what is the meaning of Allah’s saying:
(Ar-Rahmanu ‘Ala Al Arsh Istawa – The Most Merciful upon the Throne Istawa) ?
He (Ibn Al Arabi) said: “He is on (‘ala) His Throne like He informed.”
So the man said: “It is not like that, It means: Istawla (conquered or took over).”
So Ibn Al-A’rabi said to him: “And what makes you know what this is?! The Arabs do not say about a man: istawla upon something unless he has an opposition in it. Then whoever of the two defeats the other, it is said: istawla; and there is no opponent to Allah, and He is on His Throne like He informed.” [Al Asma wal Sifaat by Al Bayhaqi (Rahimullah)]
Saying that He conquered the Throne is like saying It wasn’t in His possession before He conquered and there was opposition to Him due to it, and such a belief constitutes Kufr.
And There is no evidence in the Quran and Sunnah whatsoever, to suggest that Istawa refers to Conquering, so by interpreting it this way, they speak without any evidence and that is speaking without knowledge, and speaking without knowledge is a grave sin and It is haram:
Shaykh Al Islam Ibn Al Qayyim (Rahimullah) said:
“..And indeed Allah -Glorified be He – prohibited speaking about Him without knowledge in giving fatwaa and issuing judicial rulings, and He made it from the greatest of the muharramaat (the prohibited matters). Rather, He placed it in the highest level from them. So He said- Ta’aala :
“Say (O Muhammad): ‘(But) indeed the things that my Lord has forbidden are al-Fawaahish (lewd, evil sins of every kind) whether committed openly or secretly, al-Ithm (sins of all kinds), ath-Thulm (unrighteous oppression), joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has sent down no authority for, and that you speak about Allah that which you have no knowledge of.’” [al-A’raaf: 33]
So He arranged the muharramaat in four levels, and He began with the least of them, and it is al-Fawaahish (lewd, evil sins of every kind) then secondly He followed with what is more severe than it in prohibition and it is al-Ithm (sins of all kinds) and ath-Thulm (unrighteous oppression), then mentioned thirdly what is greater than them in prohibition and it is shirk with Him. Then He followed fourthly with what is more severe in prohibition than all of that, and it is speaking about Him without knowledge. And this is general to speaking about Him without knowledge in His Asmaa’ was-Sifaat (Beautiful Names and Perfect Attributes) and His Af’aal (Actions), His Deen, and His Shar’ (legislation)
“And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: This is lawful and this is forbidden, so as to invent lies against Allah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allah will never prosper.” [Surah Nahl: 116]
Allah poses a threat to those who lie on Him and His rulings. His statement are for those who say something is prohibited when Allah never prohibited it, and for those who make something permissible when Allah never permitted that thing.This is clear that it is not permissible for one to say that this is “halaal” or this is “haraam” except with knowledge that Allah indeed made such a thing halaal or haraam.” (Ilaam Al Muwaqqi’een 1/38)
And by interpreting Istawa as Conquering, they are claiming that Allah did not rise above the Throne, and that Allah is not above the Throne. Their belief is totally wrong and saying such a thing is inventing lies against Allah, that He didn’t rise above the Throne, while He did (Quran 7:54, 32:4, 13:2, 2:29, 10:3, 57:4, 20:5).
So their inventing lies against Allah, is of grave sin, as Allah states:
“And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allaah or denies the truth, when it comes to him?”-Quran (29:68).
“If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to Allah, they are indeed unjust wrong-doers.”-Quran (3:94)
“Who doth more wrong than he who inventeth a lie against Allah or rejecteth His sings? But verily the wrong-doers never shall prosper. (Surah Al-Anam, 21)
“Who doth more wrong than such as forge a lie against Allah, or deny His Signs? But never will prosper those who sin. (Surah Yunus, 17)
“Those who invent a lie against Allah will never prosper.” (Surah Yunus, 69)
“Who doth more wrong than those who invent a life against Allah.They will be turned back to the presence of their Lord, and the witnesses will say, “These are the ones who lied against their Lord! Behold! the Curse of Allah is on those who do wrong!- (Surah Hud, 18)
And when these deviant sects interpret Istawa as conquering, without any evidence whatsoever, they are seeking what they have no sure knowledge of, and that is haram.
“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.”-Quran (17:36).
And by committing Tahreef, they’re doing Ilhaad (deviation) in the Asma (Names) and Sifaat (Attributes) of Allah, and Allah commands to abandon those who deviate concerning His Names and attributes:
“..and abandon those who deviate concerning His Names (and attributes too, as every name encompasses an attribute).”-Quran (7:180).
They’re also doing Ilhaad in the verses of Allah, by denying their apparent meaning, by misinterpreting them, attaching figurative means to them, and that is grave sin:
“Indeed, those who inject deviation into Our verses are not concealed from Us. So, is he who is cast into the Fire better or he who comes secure on the Day of Resurrection? Do whatever you will; indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.”-Quran (41:40).
And by falsely interpreting the Istawa to conquering, they are introducing a new belief in religion, and introducing anything new in the religion is known as Bid’ah, which is haram, so this belief of theirs too is classed as a bid’ah and It’s haram.
Bid’ah is a very serious sin.
Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “..and avoid every bid’ah, for every bid’ah is going astray and every going astray is in the the fire.” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4607.)
Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “..and most evil of their affairs is a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is an error.” (Sahih Muslim).
Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Every Bid’ah is going astray and every going astray is in the fire.” (Sunan An Nasa’i).
Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever Innovates or accommodates an Innovator, then upon him is the curse of Allah, His angels and all of the people.” (Sahih Al Bukhari).
Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “..Allah has prevented repentance from every person of Innovation.” (Silsilah as Sahih).
And Allah knows best.