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There is a question that we hear from time to time, which is, "where is Allah?" In fact, for some people it has become a way to test other peoples’ belief, whereas other people consider it to be a Bid’ah question to ask.

So what is the Hukm of asking "where is Allah?" Bearing in mind that Allah sent the messengers as a mercy and warner and sent the messenger Muhammad (saw) as a Nur for this Ummah until the Day of Judgment.

He sent him in a time when the weak were eaten by the strong and the women were humiliated or buried alive, He sent him as a mercy for mankind to distinguish between the truth and the falsehood; so then how can we not follow his Sunnah? Especially in the Tawheed?

That is why there will always be Ulemaa in this Ummah who will always rise to fight any Bid’ah that rises and to purify the book of Allah from any distortion and from those exaggerators or distorters and also from the ignorant who want to interpret it the way they like.

The people are always arguing about the book of Allah, about Allah’s attributes and his sayings and a lot of people speaking about Allah without knowledge and so the Ulemaa will be obliged to rise to answer those questions in the same way that the Sahabah and Tabi’een and Tabi' Tabi’een rose and were keen never to allow people to continue being confused. They would come out to explain the issues to the people and the prophet (saw) said,

"The best people are my generation, then those who come after them and then those who come after them and then there will be a people who will give testimony before he is even asked …”

As for this notorious question, the response of some people will be to become angry and say that it is not allowed to ask this question, some people will say 'I don’t know’, some will say 'Allah is everywhere' and others will say 'he is in the heaven'; but we first need to know what is the Hukm to ask this question?

We need to remember that we are following those whose saying agrees with the book of Allah and the saying of the prophet (saw) because we follow only what the prophet (saw) brought to us, Allah (swt) says,

"Whatever the prophet gives you take it and whatever he forbids you leave it" [EMQ 59:7]

And Allah (swt) says,

“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you differ about any matter, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.” [EMQ 4:59]

Allah (swt) did not say, "refer to so and so sheikh", rather he said refer to Allah and his messenger and we know that whoever obeys the messenger, obeys Allah, Allah (swt) says,

“Whoever obeys the Messenger; he indeed obeyed Allah and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them" [EMQ 4:80]

So even the prophet (saw), Allah declared that if they differ with the decision of the prophet, they will have punishment

“But no! By your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find any hardship in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission” [EMQ 4:65]

And Allah (swt) says,

“Do not hold the Messenger's calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other; Allah indeed knows those who steal away from among you, concealing themselves; therefore let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or there befall them a painful chastisement.” [EMQ 24:63]

So anybody who doesn't want to follow what Allah and his messenger decided he will be misguided and go astray. Allah (swt) says that we have no choice or freedom

“And it is not allowed for a believing man or a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he surely strays off a manifest straying.” [EMQ 33:36]

Those Ayat and others like them indicate that in any matter, in any dispute or in any problem, that we must arbitrate to Allah and his messenger (i.e. to the Qur'an and the Sunnah) according to the understanding of the Sahabah and those who follow them bi Ihsaan. So what did the prophet and his companions say about this issue of "where is Allah?" Was there any dispute about it in their time or did this dispute come later?

In fact we find that there was never any dispute about it among the Sahabah but rather it all came later in the theological books that were translated into Arabic, which some people started to take as the school of interpretation and started to interpret the Qur’an without to take the understanding of the Sahabah.

Furthermore, we know the principle "there is no Ijtihad when there is clear-cut text". So any topic that has an answer in the text, why do you want to make Ijtihad? Verily, the Sahabah were the closest to the revelation and the best in knowledge and understanding and for the question is "where is Allah?" Their answer is that "Allah is in (i.e. above) the heaven [Innallaha Fissamaa’]". That is the answer of Ahl Al Sunnah Wal Jama'ah.

That is because Allah (swt) is the highest and hence Allah (swt) is the highest in his place. That is not about saying that he has a place or is holding onto the sky, nor that the sky is shaped around Allah or that it can hold him nor does it imply that Allah is dependant on the sky etc, all of that contradicts the mind and the Fitrah

“Allah (swt) is in the heaven” means that he is “above the heaven”, the term “fee” does not mean "in" it means “over”, like in the Ayat that Allah (swt) says,

“So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers” [EMQ 9:2]

and Allah (swt) says,

“… go, then, about the earth and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth!” [EMQ 16:36]

Fee here does not mean literally ‘in’ the land but rather ‘over’ the land. Allah (swt) is the highest over everything and the highest thing is the sky and Allah is over the sky. This is clear in the Ahadith and the sayings of the salaf and Allah (swt) says about himself,

"Say: Allah is one, he is Al Samad, he does not have children nor is he begotten ..." [EMQ 112: 1-3]

Everything that Allah created is outside of his zaat; it is not part of Allah not inside Allah. Furthermore, “Above” is the opposite of “below” and to be below is a dispraise because whatever is under and below is usually the place of iblees and his soldiers, however the attribute of al 'uluw (highness or being above and the highest) is the attribute of perfection and kamaal.

It is essential to affirm that attribute of 'uluw. So where is the evidence that Allah is above (fawq)? Allah (swt) says in many Ayat that he is above his creation and among them, the heavens are also his creation and he is above and higher than all his creation. Allah (swt) says,

"They fear their Lord above them and do what they are commanded.” [EMQ Nahl: 50]

And Allah (swt) says,

"And He is the Supreme, above His servants; and He is the Wise, the Aware.” [EMQ An’aam:18]

Allah (swt) used this explicit term Al Fawqiyyah “to be above” and it has been mentioned explicitly in the text and Allah (swt) also says,

"The angels will go up towards Him (swt)"

Al 'uruj is to go up without any dispute Allah (swt) says,

"the angels and the Ruh will go up ('uruj) in a day the measure of which is fifty thousand years.” [EMQ Ma’aarij: 4]

And Allah (swt) also explicitly says that the good things will go up towards Allah (swt) and that the people will fear Allah above them, similarly the angels will go up towards him and Allah (swt) says,

“Whoever desires honour, then to Allah belongs the honour wholly. To Him do ascend the good words; and the good deeds, lift them up, and (as for) those who plan evil deeds, they shall have a severe chastisement; and (as for) their plan, it shall perish.” [EMQ Fatir: 10]

And Allah (swt) says,

“No! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.” [EMQ Nisa: 158]

And Allah (swt) says,

“And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so l will decide between you concerning that in which you differed.” [EMQ 3:55]

And another evidence that Allah is the highest and above everything, in his honour, his status and position etc is that Allah (swt)

"Allah is the highest and greatest" [EMQ 22:62]

And Allah (swt) says,

"He is the highest, mightiest" [EMQ 2: 255]

If he is the highest, that means everything is under him and that is why whatever he reveals to the creation, he sends it down to them, Allah (swt) says,

"He is the one who sends down the Qur’an; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding.” [EMQ 3: 7]

Moreover, Allah (swt) spoke about those closest to Allah,

“Surely those who are with your Lord are not too proud to serve Him, and they declare His glory and prostrate in humility before Him.” [EMQ 7: 206]

“And whoever is in the heavens and the earth is His; and those who are with Him are not proud to serve Him, nor do they grow weary.” [EMQ anbiyaa: 19]

So the ayah distinguishes between those who are in the heavens and earth and those who are the specific servants from the angels who are close to him. It is narrated in Tirmizi and Nasaa’i from Nu'man bin Basheer that the prophet (saw) said,

"Allah has decreed from before he created the heavens and the earth 2000 years, and he is above the throne, and he sent down two verses that will never be written in any house three nights except that the Shaytaan will not be near to them"

And Allah (swt) says,

“Are you secured from the one in the heaven that He should not make the earth to swallow you up? Then lo! It shall be in a state of commotion” [EMQ Mulk: 16]

“Fee” in this ayah without any dispute means “'alaa” i.e. above, though some people tried to make interpretation that the ones who are above the heavens are the angels and not Allah but all the Ahadith disprove them. It is narrated in Musnad Imam Ahmed, Abu Dawood and Tirmizi that Abdullah ibn Amru narrated that the prophet (saw) said,

"Those who are merciful, Allah will be merciful with them, be merciful with those who are in the earth and the one who is above the heavens will be merciful with you."

This Hadith specifically mentions Al Rahman to have mercy on you from above the heavens and the one who forgives and grants mercy is Allah. Also, Allah (swt) told us about the bad soul and the good soul, Abu Hurairah narrated that the prophet (saw) said,

"The good soul will be taken up towards Allah (swt) and then Allah has ordered to record his servant among the highest.”

In addition, the term istiwaa' that people always argue about always came explicitly with the term 'alaa (over or above) and with mention of the throne, which is a creation of Allah. Allah (swt) says that he is above his throne and his throne is above all other creation, so when we say Allah is above his throne that doesn't mean that Allah is relying on his throne but we affirm that Allah is above all his creation and nothing is above him. When Allah (swt) says,

"Al Rahman rises above his throne" [EMQ 20: 5]

And Allah (swt) says,

“Indeed your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty). He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly, and (He created) the sun, the moon, the stars subjected to His Command. Surely, His is the Creation and Commandment. Blessed be Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)!” [EMQ 7: 54]

So Allah has Al Istiwaa' literally and not metaphorically, and the Hadith in Tirmizi and Musnad Imam Ahmed narrates that the prophet (saw) said,

"Allah is so generous and shy if a person raises his hands towards him (i.e. above) ..."

So the prophet (saw) said clearly that we raise our hands up towards Allah (swt). Allah (swt) also informed us about his descending to the heaven of the Dunya in Bukhari and Muslim, the prophet (saw) said,

"Allah descends every night to the sky of the Dunya, he will say "who is seeking help from me, I will help him and who is seeking guidance from me I will guide him"

Descending is the one who was above and then went down to what was lower than Him (swt). It is also narrated how the prophet (saw) said,

"You will be asked about me so what will you say?" they said, "we will testify that you conveyed the message, you advised us ..." and then the prophet (saw) rose his hands up towards the one who is highest and said "did I convey the message? O Allah testify."

Another Hadith which speaks about the wife of the Messenger Muhammad (saw), and how some of his wives felt proud over other wives because they were married to the Prophet (saw), and Zainab was the best to messenger (saw) because of her family, she said to them

“All of you were married to the Prophet (saw) by your parents but was married to the messenger (saw) by the one above the heavens”

Umm ul Mu’mineen Zainab affirmed that Allah is above the heavens in this Hadith.

Furthermore, when people talk about the question, "where is Allah? [ain Allah?]” This is a question with explicit terms in Arabic and cannot be interpreted to mean something else and it is narrated how the Messenger (saw) said to the servant "where is Allah?" [ain Allah?].

Despite this some people are angry from this question and they say that it causes Fitnah, but they forget that Allah declared that those who have a disease in their hearts and are weak will always try to make interpretation and make Fitnah. Allah (swt) says,

"He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except Allah, and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding.” [EMQ 3:7]

Al Mutashabihaat is that which has some similarity in their meaning with the meaning of the creation, it is mentioned in Tafseer al tabari that ibn Abbas said,

"Al Tafseer is four ways, the way the Arabs know from their words, others that nobody will have excuse because of ignorance, others nobody will know it but the scholars and others nobody will know it but Allah."

Those issues like the letters ‘alif laam meem etc’, or the time-limit and ajal or the date of the hour or when Isa will be sent down, nobody knows them except Allah and nobody can interpret them, but the other type of mutashabihaat will be elaborated by the scholars. So Allah made it clear that we have to refer to the Ulemaa and we should not try to understand it from our logic or reason.

However, some people go further than that and say that the whole Qur’an in its comprehensivity has certain tashaabuh (similarity) between the verses so therefore, they will think that the book of Allah has similarity in every word with the creation and they will wish to purify everything that Allah says implying as if Allah has never said anything pure.

In fact there is no Tashaabuh, Allah (swt) says,

“Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. Such is the guidance of Allah. He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide." [EMQ 39:23]

So the one who says "Allah is in the heaven" he is not making any similarity for Allah to the creation. That is what happened with the servant when a man had relationship in Ramadhan, the Prophet (saw) ordered him to free a believing slave, so they brought a slave and he (saw) asked her,

"Where is Allah?" she replied, "He is above the heaven" he (saw) asked, "who am I?" she said, "You are Rasulullah" so he said to the man, "free her because she is Mu’min."

Some people say that they addressed her according to her level of mind because she didn't know Arabic well but the Hadith explained that she even pointed her finger towards the sky indicating that she knew what she meant.

Some people insist further that her pointing he finger was because she didn't speak Arabic but we know how that is not a strange phenomena, rather there are many speeches that the prophet (saw) pointed his finger towards the sky also, so that has nothing to do with speaking Arabic or not.

He (saw) asked her in order to test her Imaan and he testified that she is a believer because she said that Allah is above the sky, she did not answer that “he is everywhere” nor that “He is under the sky” and the prophet (saw) said she is a believer and he does not speak expect Wahi.

Moreover, Allah (swt) is everywhere in his knowledge but not in his zaat, he is above his throne, distant from his creation and he is not needy for it. Allah (swt) says,

“And Fir’awn said: O Haman! Build for me a tower that I may attain the means of access to the heavens, and then see if there is a god of Musa, and I surely think him to be a liar. And thus the evil of his deed was made fairseeming to Fir’awn, and he was turned away from the way; and the struggle of Fir’awn was not (to end) in aught but destruction.” [EMQ ghafir: 36-37

Moreover it is narrated in Bukhari and Muslim that the prophet (saw) informed us how he went up to his lord and down to Musa in the Mi’raaj a few times to determine the number of Salah, when he reduced it on the advice of Musa (as) from 50 Salah to 5 Salah and Allah (swt) said to him that they are 5 Salah but the reward of 50.

Moreover, another evidence is that the people of Jannah will see Allah the way that they see the sun and the moon above them, so they are going to look to Allah even in Jannah above them.

So we cannot deny Al Fawqiyyah the way that the jahmees denied seeing Allah and that He is above whereas Ahl Al Sunnah Wal Jama'ah affirm it. However, besides the Jahmies there was another people, those who affirmed seeing Allah but denied His (swt) being above, they were the people of Ta’weel. Sheikh ul Islam abu isma'eel al ansaari narrated in his book Al Farouq with isnaad mutassil to Al Balkhee, the companion of abu Hanifah that he asked Abu Hanifah

"What do you think of someone who says I don’t know if Allah is in the heaven or the earth" he said "he has disbelieved because Allah said that "Al Rahman is above his throne, and his throne is above the seven heavens" Al balkhee continued, "and if he said "I do not know if the throne is in the heavens or in the earth?" he said, "he is Kafir because he denied that Allah is above the heavens because Allah is the highest of All."

And it is mentioned by ibn Abdul birr that Imam Maalik said,

"Allah is above the sky and his knowledge is everywhere"

That is why in the books of the Usul, Imam Al Talamanki in Jami' al Usul said,

"Allah by himself sits above his throne, distant from it"

And Imam Maalik said as narrated by Imam Abdul Rahman from Imam Shafi'i,
"The saying of the Sunnah whom I follow and I adopt and my companions from Ahl al Hadith follow like Sufyan and Maalik and others is that iqraar is to testify that there is no one worthy to be worshipped except Allah and Muhammad is the messenger and Allah is above his throne above the heavens and he comes close to his creation the way he wishes and he comes down to the sky the way he wishes."

And Imam Al Khallal in Kitab Al Sunnah that Abdullah ibn Ahmed said,

"I asked Imam Ahmed about the one who said that Allah being above the throne is not known ... Imam Ahmed said, "All their sayings is going around the Kufr"

And also been mentioned by one of the scholars of the salaf,

"I asked Imam Ahmed about the saying of Allah,

"whenever three are alone, Allah is the fourth with them ..." he said, "they take the last of the ayah and leave the beginning, Allah (swt) says,
Seest thou not that Allah doth know (all) that is in the heavens and on earth? There is not a secret consultation between three, but He makes the fourth among them, - Nor between five but He makes the sixth,- nor between fewer nor more, but He is in their midst, wheresoever they be: In the end will He tell them the truth of their conduct, on the Day of Judgment. For Allah has full knowledge of all things.” [EMQ 58:7] ... Allah (swt) is with them in his knowledge"

Moreover, there are many incidents like this among the salaf. Abu Yusuf (rh) was the student of Abu Hanifah and when he heard bishril muraysi saying in the Sujud "subhana Rabbiyal asfal" instead to say "a'laa" he said, "This man denied "glorify the name of your lord the highest"" and he wanted to implement the hudud upon him.

And when Abdullah ibn Mubarak was asked,

"Where is Allah?" he said, "Allah is above the heavens by his Zaat and he is distant from his creation but he is with them with his knowledge"

Allah is not needy from his creation, he is Ghani and he is above all his creation and the highest of his creation is his throne and he is above that too. Ibn khuzaymah in taareekh naysabur mentioned as narrated by Saalih ibn haani that

“imam al a'immah Abu Bakr ibn khuzaymah said, "the one who does not confess that Allah is above his throne above the seven heavens and that he is distant from his creation, he is Kafir and must repent, if he repents it is good and if he rejects we will strike his neck and whoever denied seeing Allah in the hereafter is more evil than the Jews and Christians and majoos"

All the Ulemaa of the salaf said the same, Imam Al Tabari in taareekh al Sunnah mentioned it also and in Aqeedah al waasitiyyah, ibn Taymiyyah said,

"Allah is above his throne above his heavens and he is with his creation wherever they are in knowing what they are doing. Allah (swt) says,

"he is the one who created the heavens and the earth in six days then he sat above his throne and he knows everything that comes in and out of the land and what comes down from the sky, everything and he is with you where you are, knowing what you are doing" [EMQ 57:4].

The example of how Allah is above his throne and with us wherever we are in his knowledge at the same time, is how we see the moon and that is one of the creation of Allah, it is so small in the sky and yet it is with the traveller wherever he is, visible. Allah better and higher than the moon and is with you wherever you go, monitoring all of his creation, He knows whatever they are doing and that is all the meaning of Al Rububiyyah.

When Allah says that he is above the throne, that is Haq and there is no need for interpretation and the Tafseer narrated by Abu Haatim that ibn Abbas said on the ayah,

“"Allah is with you wherever you are" that he knows what you are doing wherever you are."

Allah (swt) also says,

“And He it is Who is in the heavens the Lord and in the earth the Lord; and He is the Wise, the Knowing.” [EMQ zukhruf: 84]

The Tafseer of which was mentioned,

“That is that those in the heaven and the earth are servants of Allah, worshipping him and he knows your inner and outer and knows what you are doing."

There is no reason for people to leave the interpretation of the salaf when they are the best people to know, Abdullah ibn Mas’oud said,

"whoever wants to follow, follow the one who passed away before, because the one who is alive there is no protection from the Fitnah coming to him, ... the companions of the messenger are the best so follow them and do not innovate."

It is also narrated by uday ibn haatim,

"I came to the prophet with a cross of gold on my neck" he said, "o uday throw this wathn from your neck" so I threw it, he was reciting Surah baraa'ah "they took their rabbis and priests as lords instead of Allah" I said "we did not worship them" he said "didn't they make Haram what Allah made Halal and Halal what Allah made Haram and you followed them?" I said "yes" he said "that is how you used to worship them..." [Tirmizi]

We do not want to follow the scholars who contradict Allah and His (swt) Messenger (saw), who change the Aqeedah and leave the text to follow ration and philosophy. So if anyone asks you “where is Allah?” Say without to hesitate that “Allah is above his throne, above the seven heavens, distant from his creation and his knowledge is everywhere wherever you go.” Declare it loudly and proudly and if you do not want to debate it, then go to your Fitrah, the Imaan of the children and you will know that Allah is the highest above everything else or even ask any child “where is Allah?” you will find him looking up to the sky.
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