The True Creed of Salaf Regarding Allah’s Istiwa’ & Elevation above His creation {Part 1 }

part 1 pakkaThe creed of the pious predecessors and As-hab Al-Hadith (Ahl Al-Athar), whom are Ahl As-Sunnah wal-Jamaa`ah, with regards to the Attribute of the Istiwa’, and Allah’s Elevation above His creation.
The creed of the Pious Salaf, Ahl As-Sunnah in this matter:

1. Allah Almighty is above the throne, above the heavens, above all of His creation.

Evidence from the Qur’an

– Allah says – translation of the meaning- :
{The Most Gracious Rose (Istawa) above the Throne} [20:5]
And the Throne is the highest of all creation, as it is above the heavens and all of creation, it is the roof of creation.

– {They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded} [16: 50]
{From Allâh, the Lord of the ways of ascent. The angels and the Rûh ascend to Him in a Day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years} [70:3-4]
And ascension is: Rising, meaning: the angels rise to Allah Almighty because He is above.

– {And because of their saying, “We killed Messiah, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allâh,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture.For surely, they killed him not. But Allâh raised him up to Himself..} [4:157-158]

– {Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven, will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake?} [67:16]
Abu Bakr Ahmad As-Sibghi (d. 342 H.) said: «The Arabs would sometimes use the word ‘fi’ to mean ‘alaa’ (on; above). Allah the Exalted said: {So travel ‘fi’ the earth} [9:2] and {I will crucify you ‘fi’ the trunks of palm trees} [20:71]. The meaning is ‘on the earth’ and ‘on the trees’. The phrase ‘fi as-samaa’ is used in the same way, meaning: on the throne, above the heavens, as it has authentically been reported from the Prophet peace be upon him.» (1)
For more clearification regarding this, please see the article on the meaning of “fi as-sama” .

– {He is the First and the Last, the Most High and the Most Near. And He is All-Knower of every thing} [al-Hadid: 3]
The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said: ”When any one of you intends to go to sleep, he should lie on the bed on his right side and then say: “O Allah. the Lord of the Heavens and the Lord of the Earth and Lord of the Magnificent Throne, our Lord, and the Lord of everything, the Splitter of the grain of corn and the datestone (or fruit kernal), the Revealer of Torah and Injil (Bible) and Criterion (the Holy Qur’an), I seek refuge in Thee from the evil of every- thing Thou art to sieze by the forelock (Thou hast perfect control over it). O Allah, Thou art the First, there is naught before Thee, and Thou art the Last and there is naught after Thee, and Thou art Adh-Dhahir and there is nothing above Thee, and Thou art Al-Batin (Innermost) and there is nothing dunak. Remove the burden of debt from us and relieve us from want.“
Dunak in this hadith means: near, meaning nearer in knowledge.

Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 310 H.) said: “and His saying {Adh-Dhahir}, He is saying: And He is dhahir over everything below Him, and He is High above everything, nothing is higher than Him. {Al-Batin} He is saying: and He is the batin of everything, nothing is nearer to anything than Him, as He said: {And We are nearer to him than his jugular vein} [50:16].” (2)
At-Tabari says in the Tafsir of that ayah [50:16] : “With knowledge of what his own self whispers to him.”
Ibn Abi Zamanin (d. 399 H.) said: “ Adh-Dhahir is the High above everything He created, and Al-Batin is His inward knowledge of His creation (i.e His knowledge of the hidden), {And He is All-Knower of every thing} [Al Hadid: 3].” (3)

Evidence from the Sunnah (Hadith):

1. – Hadith of the slave girl:

Mu’awiyah as-Sahmi reported: «I had some sheep which I kept between Uhud and Juwaniyyah with a slave girl to look after them. One day, I went out to check on my sheep and discovered that a wolf had devoured one of them. Since I am just a human, (I became angry) and struck the girl. Later on, I came to the Prophet -Sallallahu alahi wa Sallam- and reported to him the incident. He terrified me with the gravity of my action. I said, “Messenger of Allah! Shall I free her (as an expiation of my sin.) He said ”Call her over.“

When I did, he asked her: ”Where is Allah?“ She said: “fi as-sama (above the Heavens)”

Then he asked her, ”Who am I ?“ She said: “The Messenger of Allah -Sallallahu alahi wa Sallam-“.

Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah -Sallallahu alahi wa Sallam- ordered me, ”Free her for she is a believer.“

[Saheeh Muslim , English reference: Book 4, Hadith 1094; Sahih Muslim Arabic reference: Book 6, Hadith 1227)

2. – In the of the farewell pilgrimage (Hajj), the Prophet –Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- said: ”I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray. And you would be asked about me (on the Day of Resurrection), (now tell me) what would you say?“

They (the audience) said: “We will bear witness that you have conveyed (the message), discharged (the ministry of Prophethood) and given wise (sincere) counsel.” He (the narrator) said: “He (the Holy Prophet) then raised his forefinger towards the Heaven, and pointed it at the people (saying) : ”O Allah, be witness. O Allah, be witness,“ saying it thrice. (Sahih Muslim English reference: Book 7, Hadith 2803; Sahih Muslim Arabic reference: Book 16, Hadith 3009)

Comment:-Had Allaah (swt) been everywhere, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not have particularly raised his finger towards the sky.And we Shorten the Hadeeth for the convinence of the readers.

In this hadith, the Messenger of Allah was testifying Allah Azza wa Jal at that moment, and not making duaa for one to say that he pointed above because it is the qiblah of duaa.

As for the statements of the pious predecessors and scholars of Sunnah, these are compiled in the second and third parts of this article, please refer back to them.

2. That Allah Istawa (Rose) over/above His throne.

Allah Almighty says –translation of the meaning-:
{Ar-Rahman above the Throne Istawa} [20: 5]
{Then He Istawa over the Throne} [7:54], [10:3], [13: 2], [25:59], [32:4], [57: 4]

The Meaning of Istiwa’ :
The Tabi`ee Mujahid (d. 102 H. said: “ Istawa (meaning) : Rose (`alaa) above the
Throne.” (4)

Bishr bin Umar Az-Zahrani (d. 207 H.) said: “I heard more than one of the commentators (scholars of tafsir of the Quran) say: {Ar-Rahman above the Throne Istawa}: Ascended (Irtafa`a).” (5)

The linguist Abu Al-Abbas Tha`lab (d. 291 H.) said: {Istawa over the Throne} Rose above (`alaa).” (6)

Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d. 310 H.) said in his commentary (tafsir) regarding the first verse [20:5] : “Ar-Rahman above His Throne Ascended and Rose (Irtafa`a wa `alaa).

And said regarding the meaning of the second verse in the second verse said “Meaning: Rose (`alaa) above it.”

3. That Allah Almighty Rose (Istawa) over His Throne because He {(He is the) Doer of whatsoever He wills} [85:16], and not because He is in need of the Throne, for Allah is independent from the Throne and other than the Throne.

Allah said –translation of the meaning-:
{Verily, Allâh stands not in need of any of the `Alamîn (mankind, jinn, and all that exists)} [29:6]
{He is Rich (Free of all needs). His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth.} [10:68]
{O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allâh. But Allâh is the Rich (Free of all needs), the Worthy of all praise} [35:15]
Abu Ja`far At-Tahawi (d. 321 H.) said in his famous Aqeedah (creed) : “And He is independent of the Throne and what is below it, He encompasses everything, and is above it.”

4. Allah is separate (ba’en) from His creation:

Meaning: Nothing of Allah’s Essence is in His creation, nor any of His creation is in His Essence. Nothing from His creation encompasses Him.
Allah Ta’la said: {Ar-Rahman above the Throne Istawa}
And all of His creation is below the Throne, and Allah is above the Throne.

Ibn Al-Mubarak (d. 181 H.) : It was related that Ibn Shaqiq said to Ibn Al-Mubarak: “How do we know our Lord?”
He said: «By (knowing) that He is above the 7th Heaven over the throne, that He is separate from His creation.» (7)
Ishaq Bin Rahwaih (d. 238 H.) : Harb Alkaramani said to Ishaq: “In regards toAllah’s saying: {There is no Najwâ (secret counsel) of three but He is their fourth…} [58:7], What would you say (about its meaning) ?
He said: «Wherever you may be, He is closer to you than your jugular vein, and He is separate from His creation.» Then he related what Ibn al Mubarak said: «He is over His Throne, separate from His creation.» Then Ibn Rahwaih said: «The highest and most clear thing in that is His (Allah’s) saying: {Ar-Rahman over the Throne Istawa (Rose)}.» (8)

5. The Istiwa of Allah Almighty does not resemble the istiwa of creation, rather, we believe that Allah istawa over His Throne in a manner befitting His Majesty, not like that of creation.

Allah said –translation of the meaning- : {There is nothing like Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer} [42:11] and {And there is none coequal or comparable to Him} [112:4]

6. The kayfiyyah (reality; how-ness) of Allah’s Istiwa is unknown to us, as Allah has not informed us, nor did His Messenger –sallallahu alayhi wa salamm-, on the details of this matter, and it is not permissable to ask about the kayfiyyah of His Attributes. Allah Almighty alone knows how He Rose (Istawa) over His Throne, and our duty is to believe and submit.

Imam Malik (d. 179 H.) said in his famous statement, answering someone who asked him “How did He (Allah) Istawa?”:
«The Istiwa is not unknown, the how-ness is not comprehendible, asking about it is an innovation, and believing in it is compulsory.» This saying of his is famous amongst scholars.
Wakee` bin Al-Jarrah (d. 197 H.) said regarding the Hadiths about Allah’s Attributes: «We accept these Hadiths as they came, and we do not say: ‘How is this?’ nor ‘Why this came?» (9)
Abu Bakr Al- Isma`ili (d. 371 H.) said: “… and that He, Almighty, Has Risen (Istawa) over the Throne without (asking) how, for Allah Almighty has stopped at Him Rising over the Throne and did not mention how His Istiwa was.” (10)

Part 2 :  Link : The True Creed of Salaf Regarding Allah’s Istiwa’ & Elevation above His creation { Part 2 }

Part 3 :  Link : The True Creed of Salaf Regarding Allah’s Istiwa’ & Elevation above His creation { Part 3 }



(1) “Al Asmaa was Sifaat” by Al Baihaqi (p.324). He said: “Abu Abdillah Al
Hafidh said: The Shaikh Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Ishaq ibn Ayyub al Faqeeh said: …”
and then he mentioned his statment. The chain is saheeh.
(2)Tafsir At-Tabari [Jami` Al-Bayan] (23/168)
(3) “Riyadh Al-Jannah bi-Takhrij Usool As-Sunnah” by Ibn Abi Zamanin Al Maliki (p.61)
(4)Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab “At-Tawheed”, chapter {And His Throne was over water}
(5) Musnad Ishaq bin Rahawaih (d. 238 H.), as is reported in “It-haf Al-Maharah” by Al-Busairi (1/186), and “Al-Matalib Al-`Aliyah” by Ibn Hajar (12/570); the chain is sahih. It was also narrated by Al-Lalika’i in “Sharh I`tiqad Ahl-Assunnah wal-Jama`ah, with a chain to Ishaq bin Rahwaih (3/396).
(6) “Sharh Usool Ahl AsSunnah by Lalika’i (3/399); its chain is saheeh.
[7] “Ar-Rad `ala Al-Jahmiyyah” by Ad-Darimi (39-40) with a hasan chain; “AsSunnah” by Abdullah bin Ahmad (p. 175), and others.
[8] “Al-Uluw” (p.178); “Siyar A`lam Nubala (11/370); and “Kitab Al-Arsh” (2/244), all by Adh-Dhahabi.
(9) Kitab As-Sunnah by Abdullah bin Ahmad (1/267) with a sahih chain; it is also reported in “kitab as–sifat” by Ad-Darqutni (p.71)
(10) “I`tiqad Ahl AsSunnah” by Abu Bakr al-Isma`ili (p. 36)



Via :  Um Abdullah al-Misawi

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