The `Uloo (Transcendency) of Allaah

By: Shaykh Dr. Saalih As-Saalih رحمه الله تعالى
Delivered on May 21st, 2005

 

Our Shaykh’s Introduction and Khutbatul-Haajah

Our Shaykh – May Allaah shower him with Mercy – began with the Name of Allaah, praising and thanking Him سبحانه وتعالى and sending the salaam and salawaat on our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions. He clarified the amount of time that he spent seeking knowledge from our Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-`Uthaymeen رحمه الله تعالى. It began as long distance at first, and then on a discontinuous basis from 1412 to 1415 after the Hijrah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and then on a regular basis from 1415 H until his death, may Allaah’s Mercy be upon him.

The title of this lecture is: The `Uloo (Transcendence) of Allaah, the Lord of all that exists: Refuting doubts and misconceptions as is evident from the Qur’aan, the authentic Sunnah, the belief of the Sahaabah and their followers, and the attestation of the ingrained nature and intellect.

All praise is due to Allaah; we praise Him and seek His Help and His Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah the Most High from the evils of our own selves and from our wicked deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides no one can lead astray and whomsoever Allaah leads astray cannot be guided. I testify that there is no true god worthy of being worshipped except Allaah Alone without partner or associate, and I further testify that Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is His Slave and Messenger. May Allaah’s salaah and salaam also be granted to the Prophet’s household and to all of his noble Companions.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُون

{O you who believe! Fear Allaah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islaam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allaah.}  [Aal-`Imraan 3:102]

 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيراً وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

{O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allaah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allaah is Ever an All-­Watcher over you.} [An-Nisaa’ 4:1]

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا {70} يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَن يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا

{O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise).} [Al-Ahzaab 33:70-71]


It proceeds that the most truthful speech is that of Allaah’s Book - the Qur’aan, and that the best guidance is that of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. The worst of evils are the newly invented matters in the Deen, and every innovated matter in the Deen is a bid`ah (innovation) and every bid`ah is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire of Hell.

 

What is the Greatest and Most Beneficial Knowledge?

The greatest, most honourable and excellent knowledge is that of Allaah the Most High - His Names, Attributes and Actions; the knowledge of His Deen and of His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, with love and magnification, being pleased with it all. The ranks of people with respect to this knowledge vary to a great extent.

  • Some people know of Allaah by virtue of His Generosity, Bounties and Favors.
  • Others know of Him through His Forgiveness, Clemency, and Pardoning.
  • Others through His Knowledge and Wisdom.
  • Others recognize Him by His Might and Majesty.
  • Others by His Mercy, Goodness, Kindness, Courtesy.
  • Others by His Subduing and Sovereignty.
  • Others by the fact that He answers their supplications, fulfils their needs and relieves their grief.

The One who is most comprehensive in His knowledge of Allaah knows of Him by means of His own words. He knows a Rabb (Lord) to Whom belongs the most majestic and perfect attributes. Far is He removed from having a parable or equal, free from all kinds of defects and imperfections, qualified with every beautiful name and every perfect attribute, doer of what He intends, what He wills, above everything - ascended the `Arsh (Throne) above the seven heavens. He encompasses everything while He is the Most High above everything; the One Who is able to do everything, the One who manages the affairs of everything. He commands and forbids; He speaks the Legislative and Universal words; He is greater than everything and He is the Most Beautiful, the Most Merciful, the All-Able, the All-Wise.

Allaah the Most High sent down the Qur’aan in order to inform His `Ibaad (servants) - mankind and jinn - about Himself so that they know of Him and of the way that leads to Him and of the status of travellers to Him after their arrival.

The most beneficial knowledge is that which deals with the Oneness and the Uniqueness of Allaah - Tawheed - being the only true God worthy of being worshipped. The knowledge of Allaah’s Names, attributes, and actions is part of Tawheed because it demands awe, reverence, and love of Allaah and it necessitates submission to Him inwardly and outwardly, worshipping none but Him. In this respect we contemplate Allaah’s command in Soorah Muhammad, verse 19:

فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ

{So know (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) that Laa ilaaha illallaah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allaah)…}  [Muhammad 47:19]

In seeking to obtain this beneficial knowledge, we remind ourselves of the invocation of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in which he said, “Ask Allaah for the beneficial kind of knowledge and seek refuge in Him from knowledge which is of no avail.”[1] This hadeeth is Saheeh as authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee رحمه الله.

 

The Beneficial Knowledge and Scholastic Theology

All praise is due to Allaah who sent Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, with the guidance and the Deen of the truth in order to lead mankind out of darkness, unbelief and shirk into the light of belief in Tawheed by their Rabb's (Lord’s) Leave, to the path of the All-Mighty, the Owner of all praise. Allaah سبحانه وتعالى bears witness that He sent Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم as one who invites to Him, and as a lamp spreading light; from the instruction in the Qur’aan and authentic Sunnah, He commanded him صلى الله عليه وسلم to say:

قُلْ هَـذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللَّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

{Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "This is my way; I invite unto Allaah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allaah i.e. to the Oneness of Allaah - Islaamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge. And Glorified and Exalted be Allaah. And I am not of the Mushrikoon} [Yoosuf 12:108]

So, knowing that:

  • Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم is the lamp spreading light through which Allaah leads mankind from the darkness to the light.
  • He صلى الله عليه وسلم is the one to whom Allaah has sent the Book (the Qur’aan) in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differ.
  • Allaah commanded the believers to refer any matters of the Deen about which they differ to the Book (the Qur’aan) and to the Wisdom (i.e. the Prophet’s Sunnah).
  • He صلى الله عليه وسلم invites people to Allaah and His Way, by Allaah’s Leave, with sure knowledge (`alal-Baseerah).
  • Allaah سبحانه وتعالى has perfected the Deen for the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and for this Ummah.

Then, no one knows of Allaah better than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

The Companions who took this knowledge of Allaah from the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم related it to the entire Ummah - to the entire Muslim nation at large. Therefore, the knowledge of Allaah, by way of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the righteous predecessors - As-Salafus-Saalih, supersedes and prevails above the innovated scholastic theology which is mostly philosophical in essence, vis-à-vis, the tenets of faith in general and the attributes of Allaah the Most High in particular. The Muslim therefore, should be aware as to the sources of knowledge regarding his Deen.

Allaah سبحانه وتعالى has made Himself known; He described Himself in the Qur’aan and through His Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم so that man may know of Him as He is - qualified with the most perfect attributes. These safeguard against ascribing to Allaah any false description, especially when man’s intellect is limited in its scope and knowledge.

In light of this, and given the intentional and unintentional distortions by many deviant sects, and/or some Muslims regarding one of the noble attributes of Allaah - al-`Uloo (Transcendence), I would like to convey to you the correct belief of As-Salafus-Saalih (the Righteous Predecessors) concerning this matter based upon evidences from the following:

  1. The Qur’aan
  2. The authentic Sunnah
  3. The belief of the Sahaabah (Companions) and their followers
  4. The attestation of the ingrained nature - the fitrah
  5. The intellect

I ask Allaah سبحانه وتعالى to accept this effort as a sincere act and that He makes it a benefit for me and you in this life and in the Hereafter.

 

The Attribute of Trancendence (Al-‘Uloo)

Know, may Allaah’s Mercy be upon me and you, that the attribute of Transcendence (Al-`Uloo) of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is of two types. Our Shaykh Muhammad ibn `Uthaymeen رحمه الله said concerning these two types:

  1. The `Uloo of Adh-Dhaat- which means the Transcendence of Allaah in His Essence (in Himself).
  2. The `Uloo of As-Sifaat- which means the Transcendence of Allaah’s Attributes.

The `Uloo of Adh-Dhaat - of the Essence, means that Allaah سبحانه وتعالى, in His Essence is above everything and everything is below Him Most Majestic and Mighty is He. Regarding the `Uloo of As-Sifaat - of the Attributes, it means that Allaah is qualified with the superlative qualities as He the Most High said in Soorah An-Nahl, Verse 60:

وَلِلّهِ الْمَثَلُ الأَعْلَىَ

{…and for Allaah is the highest description…}  [an-Nahl 16:60]

 

The Reason For Classification

Every attribute which Allaah سبحانه وتعالى qualifies Himself with, is an attribute of perfection, and is in every respect free from any kind of imperfection. If you ask the questions:

  • What is the reason behind this kind of classification?
  • Do you have a proof of it from the Qur’aan or the authentic Sunnah?
  • Did you find this in the sayings of the Sahaabah?

The answer is No, but the Shaykh رحمه الله said, “I found it to be necessary when it was determined that the people of negation who are themselves ahlut-ta`teel (those who negate the attributes), restrict the ‘Uloo to the qualities only.”  They said that Allaah’s Transcendence is in His attributes (sifaat) only, and not in His Essence. The people of ta`teel (تعطيل - denial and negation), themselves became divided regarding the Transcendence of Allaah’s Essence as will be discussed later.

What is important is that the Imaams of As-Salaafus-Saalih رحمهم الله and the scholars who came after, resorted to this classification out of necessity because they were tested by the people of ta`teel who denied the `Uloo of Allaah’s Essence. Thus, they were obligated to affirm the transcendence in this way. In fact, if we say, “Allaah is the Most High” and if someone from the people of ta`teel (negation) says, “the `uloo (transcendence) here relates to His attributes,” then what would the common Muslim understand? The only thing that he would understand is that Allaah is qualified with the `uloo (transcendence) of the sifaat (attributes) only. If we say Allaah is Most High in His sifaat as well as in His Essence, the common Muslim would understand this meaning. In fact, the first thing that is obvious to the common Muslim is that Allaah’s `Uloo (Transcendence) concerns His Essence. Certainly the `uloo (transcendence) of the sifaat is part of the meaning of the transcendence (`uloo).

 

Division of People of Ta`teel

In their denial of the `Ulooof Allaah in His Essence, the people of ta`teel were divided into two groups:

  • Those who said that Allaah in His Essence is everywhere.
  • Those who said that He سبحانه وتعالى is neither in `uloo (loftiness) nor in sufl- the opposite of `Uloo meaning lowness. They said He is neither inside the world nor outside it, neither to right nor to the left, neither joined nor separate.[/list] This position is in fact absolute ta`teel - absolute negation, because it is a description of al-`adam which means non-existence. Some scholars said, “If we were asked to describe al-`adam (non-existence), we would not find a more comprehensive definition than this description of theirs.” So contemplate how their negation of what has been affirmed by the way of texts and rational led them to say that which cannot be accepted - neither by sensory perception nor by text or intellect.

 

Proofs For the `Uloo (Transcendence) of Allaah

We have mentioned earlier that the `Uloo of Allaah is proven by the way of:

  1. The Kitaab - the Book i.e. the Qur’aan
  2. The Sunnah
  3. The Ijmaa’ - general consensus of the Salaf
  4. The `aql (intellect)
  5. The fitrah (natural inclination)

The proofs from the Book and the Sunnah are diverse - sometimes indicating the absolute `uloo, other times indicating al-fawqiyyah – meaning “above” -  the descent of thing from Him and their ascent to Him, and sometimes by saying that “He is in the Heavens.”

 

1. From the Qur’aan

In case of the absolute `Uloo - like in the saying of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى in Suratul-Baqarah:

وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

{And He is the Most High, the Most Great.}  [al-Baqarah 2:255]

And in Soorah al-A`laa:

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى

{Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High,}  [al-A`laa 87:1]

Others state al-fawqiyyah (الفوقية), which means Allaah’s being above His creation, as in Sooratul-An`aam:

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ

{And He is the Irresistible, above His slaves, and He is the All-Wise, Well­-Acquainted with all things.}  [al-An`aam 6:18]

What is the meaning of the name al-Qaahir? Al-Qaahir and al-Qahhaar mean that He - Allaah the Most Mighty and the Magnificent - is dominant over all His slaves, being Himself above the creation, the Ever-Living, All-Mighty, and All-Powerful. He is the One who subdued all of His creatures; everything in the upper and lower worlds is subservient to His Will and Authority. Whatever He willed to happen will certainly occur as He wanted it to be, and whatever He willed not to occur will never take place. All creatures are in need of Him. They have no control of the good or harm which they experience, nor can they control death, life, or resurrection. The most powerful creature is nothing compared to the domination and Power of Allaah the All-Mighty. The creatures which people have taken as false gods besides Allaah cannot protect themselves let alone dominate others. Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is perfect in His domination and He alone deserves to be worshipped. This all constitutes the meaning of al-Qaahir and al-Qahhaar but the point of evidence from the verse is:

وَهُوَ الْقَاهِرُ فَوْقَ عِبَادِهِ

{And He is the Irresistible, above His slaves…}  [al-An`aam 6:18]

And also in Allaah’s saying in Sooratun-Nahl,

يَخَافُونَ رَبَّهُم مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ

{They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.}  [an-Nahl 16:50]

And in Soorah Aal-`Imraan,

إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَاعِيسَى إِنِّي مُتَوَفِّيكَ وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ وَمُطَهِّرُكَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَجَاعِلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوكَ فَوْقَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَى يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

{And (remember) when Allaah said: "O 'Eesaa (Jesus)! I will make you sleep and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that 'Eesaa (Jesus) is Allaah's son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (monotheists, who worship none but Allaah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allaah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, 'Eesaa (Jesus), Moosaa (Moses), or in His Holy Books, e.g. the Tauraat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Qur'aan] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute.}  [Aal-`Imraan 3:55]

Allaah’s saying in this verse, and raising you to myself (وَرَافِعُكَ إِلَيَّ) indicates that the One to whom `Eesaa is being raised is qualified with the attribute of `uloo (transcendence). Our Shaykh `Uthaymeen رحمه الله commented on this verse by saying, “If someone says that what is intended here is that Allaah is raising him in rank then our response is that this is incorrect because the raising here has been followed with the letter kaaf (ك ) which is specific to the process of raising, raising the body of `Eesaa عليه سلام not the raising of his rank.” So this is a proof for Allaah’s transcendence of al-fawqiyyah (being above creation).

Some verses mention the su`ood - the ascent of things to Him, as in Soorah Faatir where Allaah سبحانه وتعالى says,

إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ وَالْعَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ يَرْفَعُهُ

{…To Him ascend (all) the goodly words, and the righteous deeds exalt it (i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allaah unless and until they are followed by good deeds) …}  [Faatir 35:10]

Also in Sooratul-Ma`aarij:

تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ

{The angels and the Rooh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] ascend to Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years..}  [al-Ma`aarij 70:4]

Sometimes the Qur’aan mentions the descent of things from Him سبحانه وتعالى as in Sooratus-Sajdah:

يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ ثُمَّ يَعْرُجُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّونَ

{He arranges (every) affair from the heavens to the earth, then it (affair) will go up to Him, in one Day, the space whereof is a thousand years of your reckoning (i.e. reckoning of our present world's time).}  [as-Sajdah 32:5]

And as in Sooratul-Hijr:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

{Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'aan) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).}  [al-Hijr 15:9]

In the Noble Qur’aan there is also the affirmation that Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is above the Heavens. Allaah سبحانه وتعالى says:

أَأَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاء ِأَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الأَرْضَ

{Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allaah), will not cause the earth to sink with you...}  [al-Mulk 67:16]

In addition to the above verses that have been mentioned, there are many other references in the Qur’aan which affirm the `Uloo of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى.

 

2. From the Sunnah

Similarly, the Sunnah affirms Allaah's ‘Uloo in His Essence by way of saying, action, and approval. The affirmation in the saying is as in the statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم,  “Our Rabb is Allaah Who is above the heavens.”[2] and in his actions when he صلى الله عليه وسلم pointed towards the heavens when he said: “O Allaah be witness.” [3] saying it thrice before the greatest assembly of Muslims then. As for his approval, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم asked a slave girl: “Where is Allaah?” She replied: “Above the heavens.”  He صلى الله عليه وسلم then ordered her master, “Grant her freedom because she is a believer.”[4]

So this slave girl knew that her Rabb – Allaah, is above the heavens, while the misguided of the children of Aadam deny that Allaah is above the heavens. They say that He is neither above the world nor below it, nor to the left or the right, or that they say He is everywhere. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم not only accepted her answer but also affirmed that she was a believer based on her correct response. This is a clear response to those who say that Allaah is everywhere. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used the term “where”. Think about it, he used the term “where” and the girl’s answer was “above”; “Where?” and “Above!”

Those who say that Allaah is exalted (far from being ascribed) above any particular direction are to be asked, “What do you mean by direction?” If they deny that Allaah is above the creation because it would mean that He is in a “particular direction,” then they are wrong, because there is no one from the creation who exalted Allaah more than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and yet he صلى الله عليه وسلم affirmed that Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is above the heavens and pointed skyward because it is a direction of `uloo - of transcendence. This direction of `uloo does not limit, contain, or envelope Allaah the Most Great. Nothing is above Him – the Most High.

Are they more eloquent in speech than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? Are they more sincere with respect to the teachings of this Deen than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? Certainly they are not! The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم did not intend confusion to his followers. Had there been any false meaning implied by affirming the ‘Uloo of Allaah the way the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم affirmed, he would have made it clear. The texts however, do not imply the false conclusions made by those who deny the ‘Uloo of Allaah in His Essence above the creation. Neither in the Qur’aan nor in the authentic Sunnah does the affirmation of the ‘uloo imply that Allaah is contained in a place or that He is a compounded body (jism) or “within limits” for He is above everything and there is no creation above the ... (word unclear), there is only Allaah above everything.

 

3. From the Ijmaa’

As for the ijmaa’ (consensus), it is acknowledged that the Salaf - may Allaah’s mercy be upon all of them - are in agreement that Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is above His `Arsh. No one among them ever said that He is everywhere or that He is neither above the world nor below it, or that He is neither to the right nor to the left, or that He is neither separated from the world nor associated with it, or that it is not permissible to physically point to Allaah i.e. in the upward direction.

 

4. From the `Aql

On the other hand, the proof of the `aql (intellect) is from two angles:

  • The `uloo is an attribute of perfection and as such, necessitates that it is an affirmed attribute of Allaah because Allaah is qualified with the attributes of perfection from every angle.
  • For the sake of argument, if we say that “Allaah is either above the world, or under it, or on its right or left,” then which of these descriptions denotes perfection? The answer is, “Allaah is above the world,” because if He is “under it,” then He would be less perfect than the created; and if He is in the same place as the created then Allaah سبحانه وتعالى would be equal to creation in perfection. Thus, it is necessitated that Allaah سبحانه وتعالى is above everything. In addition, there is no doubt that Allaah - the Most Magnificent, the Most Mighty - is not “below” or amongst us because this would necessitate that some of His creation is above Him or with Him. So if this is impossible, then by all means, to Allaah belongs the perfect transcendence above creation and the perfect rank and complete authority.

 

5. From the Fitrah

Finally, as far as the fitrah (natural inclination or disposition) is concerned, each person naturally acknowledges the fact that Allaah is above the heavens and that is why whenever a person supplicates to his Lord – Allaah, he or she takes refuge towards the direction of the sky i.e. upward.

In this regard it is noteworthy to mention that because Abul-Ma’aali al-Juwayyni - may Allaah bestow His mercy upon him and forgive him, denied the ascending of Allaah above the `Arsh (Throne) and the ‘Uloo of Allaah in His Essence, he decided that, “Allaah was, and there was nothing, and He is now as He ever has been,” denying the istiwaa - ascension of Allaah above the `Arsh.

One of his students by the name of Abul-`Alaa al-Hamadaani - may Allaah bestow His mercy upon him – said, “Teacher, there is no need to mention the `Arsh, just tell us about this necessity which we find within ourselves: whenever one who knows of Allaah says ‘Yaa Allaah’ he finds within his heart a compelling intent aspiring upward.”

Al-Juwayyni snapped his hands against his head screaming: “Al-Hamadaani rendered me perplexed! Al-Hamadaani rendered me perplexed!”

He was unable to respond, because the matter is natural and cannot be denied. The strange thing is that those who deny the transcendence of Allaah themselves raise their hands upwards in the direction of the heavens when they invoke Allaah.

I don’t know of the situation of the person who believes that Allaah is everywhere in His Essence, or that He is not inside the world nor outside it, or He is neither above nor below, how is he going to face his Rabb on the Day of Resurrection?

 

Clarification of Some Verses

In Sooratul-Mulk, Allaah سبحانه وتعالى says:

أَأَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاء ِأَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الأَرْضَ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَمُورُ {16} أَمْ أَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاء أَن يُرْسِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ حَاصِباً فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ كَيْفَ نَذِيرِ

{Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allaah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake). Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allaah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My Warning?}  [al-Mulk 67:16,17]

In the verse, the One who is fis-samaa’ (في السماء – over the heaven) is Allaah. This is evidence that Allaah Himself is above the heavens. It remains to be clarified that the preposition “fee” (في) is linguistically a term in Arabic that denotes something called dharfiyyah (ظرفية) - the quality of denoting place or time adverbially by a noun implying the meaning of the preposition - “fee” in this case; also according to some, “by a noun together with that preposition.”

So in fis-samaa’, if “fee” is a term denoting dharfiyyah then this would imply that Allaah is “enveloped by the heaven”. Such apparent implication is futile since we certainly know that it is not the intended meaning that Allaah is “in heaven” because it is impossible that apparently understood meanings of the Qur’aan and/or the Sunnah are futile. So what is the answer regarding the issue? The scholars answer by either one of the following ways:

1. That the term as-samaa’ here means al-`uloo – being above, something that is not only linguistically sound, but it is mentioned in the Qur’aan with such meaning. This is one of the meanings of as-samaa’; Allaah the Most High says regarding the descending of the rain as in Sooratur-Ra`d,

أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَسَالَتْ أَوْدِيَةٌ بِقَدَرِهَا

{He sends down water (rain) from as-Samaa’, and the valleys flow according to their measure…}  [ar-Ra’d 13:17]

Meaning that is from above, since rain comes down from the clouds, not from the sky which is a safe and well-guarded roof. Also in Suratul-‘Anbiyaa’,

وَجَعَلْنَا السَّمَاءَ سَقْفاً مَّحْفُوظاً

{…And We have made the heaven a roof, safe and well-guarded. }  [al-‘Anbiyaa’ 21:32]

Therefore, the meaning of (the One who is) fis-samaa’ is the One who is above. Nothing is above or adjacent to Him. Everything is below Him.

2. That the preposition “fee” means “over”. In this case, as-samaa’ is the lofty, safe and well-guarded heavenly bodies. From the linguistic view, as well as in the Qur’aanic text, the term “fee” is used to mean “on”. In the Qur’aan, Fir’aun said to his magicians who rejected him and believed in Allaah,

وَلَأُصَلِّبَنَّكُمْ فِي جُذُوعِ النَّخْلِ

{…and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of date palms…}  [TaaHaa 20:71]

Similarly in the saying of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى,

قُلْ سِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ ثُمَّ انظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ

{Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): "Travel in the land and see what was the end of those who rejected truth."}  [al-An’aam 6:11]

Certainly the term: fil-`ardh (in the land) means “on the land.” So the meaning of (the One who is) fis-samaa’ is One who is over the heavens, and therefore after these clarifications, there should be no problem inshaa’Allaahu Ta`Aalaa.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, from these evidences it is concluded that:

  1. The knowledge of Allaah being above the creation is a matter ingrained in our fitrah (nature).
  2. Since Allaah, His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, and the righteous predecessors have affirmed the `Uloo of Allaah, then it is not accepted from anyone to come and say, “It is impossible for Allaah in His Essence to be above creation because had it been so it would imply such and such and such and such…” This is rejected because had there been any kind of false implications in the textual proofs, Allaah and/or His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم would have clarified them. But since they do not imply such arguments, then they are true and affirm the correct meaning of al-`Uloo. Therefore, the evidences refute both those who negate and those who say that Allaah is everywhere. Those who say that Allaah is everywhere are referred to as al-Hulooliyyah. They say that Allaah is not above everything but rather that He is everywhere. The second set are those who negate/deny Allaah's Attributes – they are the Mu`attilah; they say that He cannot be described as being high or low, to the left or to the right, or as being separated from or associated with His creation. All these implications and all these meanings are futile and false.
  3. The `Uloo of Allaah is eternally affirmed to Him, the Most High. He was always above everything even before the creation of the Throne. It is not imperative that not ascending the Throne is a proof of non-transcendence. He سبحانه وتعالى is always qualified with the absolute `uloo (transcendence), and after creating the heavens and the earth He rose above the Throne. The latter is a special `uloo (transcendence) and Allaah سبحانه وتعالى the most perfect in His actions, does what He wishes. This does not imply any imperfection since all of His actions are perfect.

This comprises the subject intended for discussion. May Allaah سبحانه وتعالى guide us all to His Path and may Allaah سبحانه وتعالى make this effort sincere for His Face and make it of benefit for myself and for you all.

Wal-Hamdulillaahi Rabbil-`Alameen was-Sallallaahu `ala Muhammadin wa `alaa ahlihi wa sahbihi was-sallam.

 

Questions & Answers


1. Question: There was some praise of the early Sufism, how is this understood in light of the criticism given to Sufism nowadays and that there are people who quote from some of the scholars of Ahlus-Sunnah some “words of praise to Sufism.” How is this understood altogether?

Answer:  Inshaa’Allaah we will shed some light on this because as you know, the people of innovation always try to confuse the issues and once they are verified then the reality emerges by the Will of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى. We should first consider that Sufism in the context of the early practice of Sufism refers to some who were mostly interested in leading a pious life of zuhd (asceticism‏) which is an abstentious way of life - patience, clemency, sincerity, truthfulness and the like. Overall they were close to the teachings of the Qur’aan and Sunnah although some of them exaggerated and/or introduced innovated forms of worship and concepts. In this regard I would like to leave a reference for people to check on what I am saying, refer to the words of Sheikhul-Islaam, Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله, Volume 10, pages 366-367.

Historically, the process started in Al-Basrah in Iraq at the time when the majority of Taabi'een i.e. the followers of the successors had passed away. Many of them used to wear woollen (known as souf) clothing as a sign of disassociation from the worldly life. The first to establish “a house for the Sufiyyah” was a man by the name of `Abdul Waahid bin-Zayd. In their works there is a blend of truth and falsehood - this is how it started, there was a blend of truth and falsehood. The majority of the scholars including Imaam Ash-Shaafi`ee, Imaam Ahmad, Imaam Maalik and others from Ahlul-Hadeeth criticized their ways, especially their so-called samaa` which is singing aimed at stimulating a state of wajd which is one of the Sufi terminologies meaning ecstasy and ecstasy-worship. Whatever opposes the Qur’aan and Sunnah and the way of the Salaf is to be rejected; and whatever is in agreement is accepted because it is not innovated. The acceptance is not an approval of the terminology and this is important, the acceptance is not an approval of the terminology or the essence of Sufism in any of its stages. It remains to be remembered that it is not true that every pious and zaahid Muslim is necessarily a Sufi. The zuhd of the later times were more influenced by scholastic theology, known in the  Arabic language as 'Ilmul-Kalaam, which began to creep into the ummah, following the translations of many of the philosophical concepts of the Hindus, Greeks, Romans, the Persians etc.

Consequently, they deviated from the way of the Sahaabah and their followers from the Taabi`een. It is noted that the zuhd practices developed into organised forms of hunger, poverty, self-strive, seclusion, sleeplessness, wandering, hand-clapping, dancing, going to the markets in strange ways, abandoning the interest in the knowledge of hadeeth and other extremes. Sufism further developed into a school of mysticism and corrupt creed and methodology and this is the overwhelming nature of it in our times.

This is a summary of the development of Sufism and inshaa’ Allaahu ta'aala if you go to the site you can find a complete discussion on Sufism and its origin and its objectives and concepts and this can be found on the site inshaa’ Allaahu ta'aala which is www.understand-islam.net

 

2. Question: This concerns seeking means of nearness to Allaah i.e.  tawassul. It is from a long question which mentions that there seems to be some early records indicating that it is legitimate to go to the grave of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and ask him after his death, to make du`aa and the like, calling upon Allaah سبحانه وتعالى or interceding with Him for rain etc. and some of these narrations were cited in the question.

Answer: First of all, tawassul - seeking means of nearness (to Allaah) is approved and legal in the following categories:

  1. By the names of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى and His Attributes; this is approved.
  2. By the du'aa (invocation) of the righteous person - by his du`aa, not by his person.
  3. By one’s own righteous deeds.

All these categories are proven by the Qur’aan and/or the authentic Sunnah. Some have resorted to some weak narrations which cannot stand in any way as a proof for illegal forms of tawassul by the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم after his death. These are rejected by way of text as well as actions. Whose actions? The actions of the righteous predecessors - As-Salafus Saalih. Had the righteous predecessors known that there was an approved and beneficial way after the death of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, to go to his grave and ask him when they faced difficult and harsh times (they would have done this but) none of them did so. There is a consensus amongst the Companions and the righteous predecessors on this, and therefore by their action this is a consensus on its own.

Thirdly, the “strongest” narration that they may bring to legitimize such deed - the strongest, not even mentioning the weakness in it, does not stand to face the authentic narrations which affirm the approved categories of tawassul that were mentioned earlier. But the people of desires generally cling to anything that they think may be of assistance or provide legitimacy, and we seek refuge in Allaah سبحانه وتعالى from following the lowly desires.

I will refer you to two excellent books on this subject:

  • Tawassul - seeking means of nearness to Allaah by Shaykh Al-Albaani, رحمه الله. It has been translated into English from the original Arabic text. It is an excellent, classical, thoroughly researched (book) and it is published and available.
  • Qaa`idah Jaleelah Fit-Tawassul wal-Waseelah (قاعدة جليلة في التوسل والوسيلة) by Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله which is called. It is in Arabic.

 

3. Question: Regarding the hadeeth, “We have returned from the lesser jihaad to the greater or major jihad (which is the jihaad of the nafs - the desire or the self);”[5] is this hadeeth authentic?

Answer: No, this is a rejected hadeeth and is therefore inauthentic. Shaykh Al-Albaani رحمه الله has concluded it is inauthentic in the weak chain of narrations (Silsilah ad-Da`eefah) under #2460 and in Dha`eef Al-Jaami` under #4080.

Commenting on this, it should be noted that the conduction of the major jihaad comes after the jihaad against one’s desires; if one is clinging to his lowly desires he could not perform the jihaad. So this is a point of benefit but it has nothing to do with the hadeeth in terms of its authenticity.

 

4. Question: Is it permissible for the woman to seek khul` (i.e. asking for dissolution of marriage) from her husband if she is in a state of menses?

Answer: The answer is yes, because according to the correct opinion the khul`  is not considered a divorce but it is called a dissolution or dissolving of the marriage.

 

This concludes inshaa’ Allaah wa ta'aala our meeting and I ask Allaah subhanahu wa ta'aala to accept it and to make it beneficial for all of us.

 

References and Notes

[1] Reported by Ibn Maajah 2/1263, Hadeeth (#3843) and Ibn Hibbaan. Shaykh al-Albaanee says Hasan. See Saheeh al-Jaami’ Hadeeth (#3635).

سلوا الله علما نافعا، وتعوذوا بالله من علم لا ينفع

[2] Reported in Sunan Abu Daawood 4/12, Hadeeth (#3892). Shaykh Al-Albaanee رحمه الله says it is Da`eef. See also Da`eef al-Jaami` Hadeeth (#5422).

ربنا الله الذي في السماء

[3] Reported as part of the very long hadeeth detailing the Farewell Khutbah in Saheeh Muslim, The Book of Hajj (كتاب الحج), Hadeeth (#1218).

فما أنتم قائلون ؟" قالوا: نشهد أنك قد بلغت وأديت ونصحت. فقال بإصبعه السبابة، يرفعها إلى السماء وينكتها إلى الناس "اللهم ! اشهد اللهم ! اشهد" ثلاث مرات. ثم أذن .ثم أقام فصلى الظهر

[4] Reported in Saheeh Muslim, The Book of the Masaajid and the Places/Times of the Prayer (كتاب المساجد ومواضع الصلاة), Hadeeth (#537).

فَاطَّلَعْتُ ذَاتَ يَومٍ فَإذَا الذِّيبُ ذَهَبَ بِشَاةٍ مِنْ غَنَمِهَا، وَأَنَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ بَني آدَمَ آسَفُ كَمَا يَأْسَفُونَ لَكِنيِّ صَكَكْتُهَا صَكَّةً فَأَتَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّه -صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَسَلَّمَ- فَعَظَّمَ ذَلِكَ عَلَيَّ.

قُلْتُ: يا رَسُولَ الله أَفَلاَ أُعْتِقُهَا؟    قَالَ: "ائْتِني بهَا".  فَأَتَيْتُهُ بِها فَقَالَ لهَا: "أَينَ اللَّه؟"      قَالَتْ: في السَّمَاءِ.         قَالَ: "مَنْ أَنَا ؟".          قَالَتْ: أَنْتَ رَسُولُ اللَّه.    قَالَ: "أَعْتِقْهَا فَإِنهَّا مُؤْمِنَةٌ ".

[5] Shaykh al-Albaanee رحمه الله graded it Munkar (rejected) in Silsilah adh-Da`eefah 5/478, Hadeeth (#2460).

رجعنا من الجهاد الأصغر إلى الجهاد الأكبر

With the following wording, Shaykh al-Albaanee رحمه الله graded it Da`eef in Da`eef al-Jaami` Hadeeth (#4080).

قدمتم خير مقدم وقدمتم من الجهاد الأصغر إلى الجهاد الأكبر مجاهدة العبد هواه ‌