All praise be to Allah Alone! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!
There are repeated questions about some who claim that Allah is incarnate among His creation and mingles with them. They claim that this is the meaning of the general Ma`iyyah (association or being with). They take as evidence the Ayah (Qur’anic verse): “And you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) were not on the western side (of the Mount)“ and: “You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam (Mary); nor were you with them when they disputed”. They claim that the two Ayahs denote that the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) was not with them, but Allah was there in His Self Entity, as he exists everywhere.
Since those people misunderstand the whole point and made a big mistake, opposing the true `Aqidah (creed) as shown in the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah and as adopted by the Salaf (righteous predecessors) of the Muslim nation, I think I should show the right opinion on such a false belief and what seems to be confusing about this point pertaining to Allah’s Names and Attributes.
Allah (may He be Exalted and Glorified) can be described only with the Names and Attributes with which He has described Himself and the Names and Attributes with which His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described Him, which suit His Majesty without Takyif (questioning Allah’s Attributes), Tamthil (likening Allah’s Attributes to those of His Creation), Tahrif (distortion of the meaning), or Ta`til (denial of Allah’s Attributes). This is because Allah (Exalted be He) says: “There is nothing like Him; and He is the All Hearer, the All Seer”.
As stated in the Holy Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah and unanimously agreed upon by the Salaf of the Muslim nation, Allah (Glorified be He) is above His creatures and is seated on His Throne in a manner that suits His Majesty, unlike the seating of His creation. Allah (Exalted be He) is among His creatures with His knowledge and nothing is concealed about them from Him. This is what has been proven by the Holy Qur’an with its rhetoric Ayahs and by the Prophetic Sunnah with its direct authentic Hadiths.
There are many Qur’anic proofs that Allah exists in the heavens above His creatures and is seated on His Throne. Allah (Exalted be He) says:
To Him ascend (all) the goodly words, and the righteous deeds exalt it (i.e. the goodly words are not accepted by Allâh unless and until they are followed by good deeds) ;
I will take you and raise you to Myself ;
The angels and the Rûh [Jibrîl (Gabriel)] ascend to Him ;
Then He (Istawâ) rose over the Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). The Most Gracious (Allâh)! ;
Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allâh), will not cause the earth to sink with you Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allâh), will not send against you a violent whirlwind? ;
The Most Gracious (Allâh) rose over (Istawâ) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty). and: O Hâmân! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the Ilâh (God) of Mûsâ (Moses): But verily, I think him to be a liar.
As for the proofs from the Prophetic Sunnah, there are uncountable numbers of Sahih (authentic) and Hasan (good) Hadiths, such as: the Hadith about the Prophet’s Mi`raj (Ascension to the heavens) to his Lord and the Hadith about the Ruqyah (reciting Qur’an and saying supplications over the sick seeking healing) which was reported by Abu Dawud and others: “Our Lord is Allah Who is in the heaven; Holy is Your Name, Your command reigns supreme in the heaven and the earth“.
In the Hadith about the mountain goats, the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: “..and the Throne is above this; Allah is above the Throne; and He knows your states“. (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others)
In an authentic Hadith he (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said to the bonds woman: “Where is Allah?” She replied: “In the heaven.” He (peace be upon him) asked her: “Who am I?” She replied: “You are the Messenger of Allah.” Then he (peace be upon him) said to her master: “Release her for she is a believer.” (Related by Muslim in his Sahih book of Hadith)
There are other Hadiths that were authentically reported from the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) stating that Allah’s Messenger said that Allah is above His Throne and that He is above the heavens, as naturally known by all nations, Arabs and non-Arabs both in the preIslamic period and under Islam, except those whom Satan has allured. Also, there are hundreds or thousands of statements by the Salaf on the same topic.
There is nothing in the Holy Qur’an, the Prophetic Sunnah or the statements of the Salaf, neither from among the Prophet’s Companions nor those who followed their guidance or the Imams who lived in the age of allurement and difference, that opposes what has been mentioned above whether explicitly or implicitly. None of them ever said that Allah is not above the heavens, not above the Throne, not exist anywhere in His Self Entity, all places are the same to Him, or not exist in the world nor outside it, not permissible to use your fingers, etc. to point at Him.
Contrarily, it was authentically reported in the Sahih book of Hadith on the authority of Jabir Ibn `Abdullah that on concluding a famous sermon by Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) on the Day of `Arafat in the biggest gathering attended by Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), he said: “Haven’t I conveyed Allah’s message to you, haven’t I conveyed Allah’s message to you.” They said: “Yes.” Then He (peace be upon him) raised his finger to the sky and pointed at the people and said: “O Allah! Bear witness to this.” There are many similar Hadiths on this point.
This was also discussed by Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and others who were well versed in such matters (see Al Fatawa, v., p. 14).
Generally, the corrupt belief adopted by the impairing Jahmiyyah (a deviant Islamic sect denying some Attributes of Allah, claiming they are ascribed to people and cannot be ascribed to Allah) and those following them from among the people who introduced innovations to the religion is one of the most wicked and harmful beliefs. It detracts from Allah’s Majesty we seek refuge in Allah from our hearts’ deviation from the right path! There are many pieces of evidence of such misleading and corrupt beliefs. There can be no doubt that a sound mind and upright natural disposition deny such corrupt beliefs. Besides, there is hard legal evidence that denies such corrupt beliefs. Regarding the practice of taking the above mentioned Ayahs as evidence to support their corrupt belief, it is a wicked practice, as they claim that Allah was incarnate in the earth beside Mount Sinai, taking as evidence the Qur’anic Ayahs on such an event. May Allah be Glorified and High from their grave falsehood!
Those claiming Allah is incarnate among His creation do not know that Ma`iyyah is of two types; general and private.
Examples of the private Ma`iyyah are the Ayahs:
“Truly, Allâh is with those who fear Him (keep their duty unto Him), and those who are Muhsinûn (gooddoers)”. See the footenote of V.9:120). ;
“Be not sad (or afraid), surely Allâh is with us”. and:
“I am with you both, hearing and seeing”.
There are similar Ayahs on the private Ma`iyyah that Allah (Exalted be He) is with His prophets and pious believing servants through support, help, guidance and care. This is confirmed by Allah (Glorified be He) in a Qudsi Hadith related by His Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam):
“My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) until I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears; his sense of sight with which he sees; his hand with which he grips; and his leg with which he walks”.
However, this does not mean that Allah becomes a servant’s extremities may Allah be Glorified and High from such meaning! Conversely, it denotes that Allah becomes with a servant through support and guidance, as explained in another narration of the Qudsi Hadith mentioned above:
With Me he hears, with Me he sees, with Me he grips, and with Me he walks.
In the second narration Allah explains the meaning of His saying, “I become his sense of hearing, etc.,” which implies Allah’s guidance to and support of His servants and protecting them from committing what displeases Him.
As for the general Ma`iyyah, it means perfect knowledge. Such a type of Ma`iyyah is mentioned in many Qur’anic Ayahs, such as:
“There is no Najwâ (secret counsel) of three but He is their fourth (with His Knowledge, while He Himself is over the Throne, over the seventh heaven), nor of five but He is their sixth (with His Knowledge), nor of less than that or more but He is with them (with His Knowledge) wheresoever they may be”. ;
And “He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be”. ;
Then surely, We shall narrate unto them (their whole story) with knowledge, and indeed We have not been absent.
and: Neither you (O Muhammad sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) do any deed nor recite any portion of the Qur’ân, nor you (mankind) do any deed (good or evil) but We are Witness thereof, when you are doing it.
There are many similar Ayahs on such a type of Ma`iyyah. Allah (Glorified be He) is seated on His Throne in a manner that suits His Perfection and Majesty. Also, He is All Knowing of His creation and a Witness over them wherever they exist; on land or in the sea, by night or by day, at their homes or in the open desert. All are equal with regard to Allah’s Knowledge, as He surrounds them all in His Knowledge and they all are under His Sight and Hearing that He hears their speech, sees them wherever they are, and knows their secrets and private counsel.
Allah (Glorified be He) says: No doubt! They did fold up their breasts, that they may hide from Him. Surely, even when they cover themselves with their garments, He knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Verily, He is the All Knower of the (innermost secrets) of the breasts.
Also, Allah (Exalted be He) says: It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceal his speech or declares it openly, whether he be hid by night or goes forth freely by day.
He (Glorified be He) says: that you may know that Allâh has power over all things, and that Allâh surrounds all things in (His) Knowledge. There is no god or lord but Allah.
Allah (Glorified be He) begins the Ayahs on general Ma`iyyah with knowledge and finishes them with knowledge so that His servants may know that Allah is All Knowing of their affairs, not that He is incarnate among them in their dwellings, etc. Allah is Exalted above such falsehoods.
The falsehood that the general Ma`iyyah means that Allah is incarnate among His creation is adopted by those believing in incarnation. They claim that Allah exists everywhere in His Self Entity and that He is Exalted above being seated on His Throne and existing in the heavens over His creation. They never exalt Him above being existent in the dirtiest places may Allah disgrace them all!
Great scholars from among the Salaf fought such falsehoods such as Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, `Abdullah Ibn AlMubarak, Ishaq Ibn Rahawayh, Abu Hanifah AlNu`man and others. Similarly, scholars from among the Imams of Guidance did the same such as Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, the great scholar Ibn AlQayyim, Al Hafiz Ibn Kathir and others.
Since this point has been clear, the Ayah: And He is with you (by His Knowledge) and similar Ayahs do not denote that Allah is incarnate among His creation, neither explicitly nor implicitly. The preposition “with” in these Ayahs does not mean this at all, but it only denotes Ma`iyyah and association. Such Ma`iyyah has a different meaning in each situation.
As said by Abu `Umar Al Tallamanky (may Allah be merciful with him), Muslims from among AhlulSunnah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body) unanimously agree that the meaning of the Ayah: And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. and similar Qur’anic Ayahs is that Allah is with His creation by His knowledge and that He, may He be Exalted, is established on His Throne above the heavens.
Also, great scholars and Imams from among the Salaf were of the opinion that Allah is established on His Throne above the heavens.
Abu Nasr AlSijzy said our great Imams, such as Sufyan AlThawriy, Malik, Hammad Ibn Salamah, Hammad Ibn Zayd, Sufyan Ibn `Uyaynah, AlFudayl, Ibn AlMubarak, Ahmad, and Ishaq unanimously agree that Allah (Glorified be He) is established on His Throne by His Self Entity and everywhere by His Knowledge.
Abu `Umar Ibn `AbdulBar said: “Great scholars from among Sahabah (Prophet’s Companions) and Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet) known for Ta’wil (allegorical interpretation) were of the opinion that the Ta’wil of the Ayah: There is no Najwâ (secret counsel) of three but He is their fourth (with His Knowledge, while He Himself is over the Throne, over the seventh heaven) is that Allah is seated on His Throne above the heavens in His Self Entity and that He exists everywhere by His Knowledge. It is worth mentioning that no notable scholar opposed their opinion.
Al Hafizh Ibn Kathir (may Allah be Merciful with him) said, “The Ayah: ‘And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And Allâh is the All Seer of what you do’. means that Allah is a witness of our deeds wherever and whenever we exist; on land or in the sea, by night or by day, in our homes or in the open desert, as we are all equal with regard to Allah’s Knowledge because He surrounds us all with His Knowledge. We are all under His Sight and Hearing that He hears our talk and sees us wherever we are, and knows our secrets and private counsels. Allay (Glorified be He) says: No doubt! They did fold up their breasts, that they may hide from Him. Surely, even when they cover themselves with their garments, He knows what they conceal and what they reveal. Verily, He is the All Knower of the (innermost secrets) of the breasts. Allah (Exalted be He) also says: It is the same (to Him) whether any of you conceal his speech or declares it openly, whether he be hid by night or goes forth freely by day. There is no God or lord but Him. Regarding the Tafsir (explanation) of the Ayah quoted from Surah AlMujadalah in which Allah says: “There is no Najwâ (secret counsel) of three he said that there are no three persons with a secret but He is their fourth (with His Knowledge, while He Himself is over the Throne, over the seventh heaven), nor of five but He is their sixth (with His Knowledge), nor of less than that or more but He is with them (with His Knowledge) wheresoever they may be”. that He is AllKnowing of their affairs, hearing their talk and knowing their secrets and private counsels.
Also, Allah’s messengers write down people’s private counsels though Allah is All Knowing of such private counsels and hears them. Allah (Glorified be He) says: “Know they not that Allâh knows their secret ideas, and their Najwa (secret counsels), and that Allâh is the All Knower of things unseen”. and: “Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private counsel? (Yes We do) and Our messengers (appointed angels in charge of mankind) are by them, to record”. As said, many scholars reported consensus over the meaning of this Ayah is that Allah exists among His creation by His Knowledge. There can be no doubt with regard to this point. In addition, His hearing as well as His Knowledge encompasses them. Moreover, they are under His Sight, as He (Exalted be He) is All Knowing of the affairs of His creation.
There can be no doubt that the statements of the Salaf about such a point are too many to be counted. Therefore, the belief that Allah is incarnate among His creation, the claim that Allah exists among His creation in His Self Entity according to the Ayah: And He is with you (by His Knowledge) and that it is not permissible to point at Him are totally wrong and false as shown from the many direct proofs mentioned here and the consensus of Muslim scholars.
Consequently, it becomes clear that those who say that Allah is incarnate among His creation and those who follow them are not right at all. Rather, they ascribe to Allah what does not suit His Majesty. In addition, they give the Ayahs on Ma`iyyah explanations that are different from those given by great scholars.
May Allah protect us from disgrace and from ascribing to Allah that which does not suit Him, out of ignorance! We ask Allah (Glorified be He) to make us adhere to the right path, as only He is Able to do all things! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and Companions!
( Part No : 1, Page No: 139-145)
Source: English Translations of Collection of “Majmoo al Fatawa of Ibn Baz”, Volume 1. By: Sheikh `Abdul `Aziz Bin `Abdullah ibn `AbdulRahman ibn Bazz (May Allah forgive and reward al-Firdouse to him and his parents). He was The Mufti of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the Council of Senior Scholars, and Chairman of Department of Scholarly Research and Ifta’.
This English Translation is collected from alifta.net, Portal of the general Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta’
The Transcendence of Allaah & Ma’iyyah