Where is Allah? Answered by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah

The Question:

Is it allowable for one to ask where Allah is? Is Allah (May He be exalted) above His servants?

And is that understanding representative of anthropomorphism?

Also, what is our position towards those who say that such a question is not permissible and that Allah (swt) is above any place or location?

The Answer:

Affirming Allah’s Exalted Status

Indeed, Allah (swt) describes Himself as being The Most High: “Praise the name of your Lord The Most High.” And, “He is The High.” and, “He is the High the All Powerful.” (Based on these verses) it is not allowed for anyone to dispute (the truth) of this attribute, nor is it allowable for any Muslim to differ regarding it.

As for enquiring about the nature (of this attribute/ meaning the kayf (how), then this is not something that you are obliged to deal with, nor is it something sought from you.

There is the hadith of the slave woman who was brought to the Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) with her master so she could be freed and the Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) asked her, “Where is Allah?” However, this hadith is ahad1, and, there is no other narration of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) where he (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asks someone this question.

Nor is it related that any of our pious ancestors asked such a question.

Interacting with such texts

It is important to note that questions like this are not sought after nor desired from you. However, when approached with such issues you should do the following:

First, you should read the verse that affirms Allah’s highness.

Second, you should read the verse that negates anything being like Him.

Finally, you should avoid delving into the deeper meaning of the verse (meaning the how related to Allah’s attribute but just simply affirm it and negate its likeness to creation or vice versa).

This is important (to not delve into this/nor make it a bigger issue than it is) because it is not a matter related to actions, and on the Day of Reckoning Allah (May He be exalted) is going to ask you about your actions not His essence.

And this (methodology) is the way of the first 3 generations of saints and scholars of the Muslim nation of which there is no uncertainty. Imam Al-Tufi (May Allah have mercy upon him) said: “The way of Imam Ahmed2 (may Allah have mercy upon him) and the rest of the scholars of the early generations was to affirm these attributes without commenting on them.”

Therefore, when it came to these attributes, they would (affirm them) and say nothing. And this was the way of Abu Nua’yim (may Allah have mercy upon him) the teacher of Al-Bukhari3 (may Allah have mercy upon him).

Ibn Kathir4 (May Allah lighten his grave), in his explanation of the verse, “Then He rose upon the throne” states: “We allow this verse to pass as it is while eliminating any anthropomorphic elements from Allah existence. Exalted is He from what the intellect suggests.”

And these where the words of Abu Nua’yim, the teacher of Al-Bukhari, the teacher of Imam Ahmed and Yahya ibn Ma’in5 (May Allah have mercy upon all of them).

Thus, differing about this issue and arguing about time and place (with respect to the Divine) is not something from the actions of the early generations and is in contrast to what they were upon.

Therefore (when encountering verses like this), you should say nothing and read the verse as it is.

Hence, what is necessary is for you to believe as the early generations believed without adding or deducting (anything). And this is what is required of you so do not dispute (with others) about it.

And Allah knows best.

Sh. Abdullah bin Bayyah (May Allah preserve him)

TheTranslators 2007

Footnotes:

1 This is a hadith term that means the narration has been transmitted by only one narrator at some point in the chain.

2 Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hanbal Abu `Abd Allah al-Shaybani died 241 AH.

3 Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn al-Mughirah Ibn Bardiziyeh al-Bukhari died 256 AH.

4 Abu Al-Fida, ‘Imad Ad-Din Isma’il bin ‘Umar bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi died 774 AH.

5 Abu Zakarya Yahya ibn Ma’in died 233 AH.

Source: TheTranslators Blog

15 Replies to “Where is Allah? Answered by Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah”

  1. Shaikh Naveed’s response:

    As salaam ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu,

    Jazaakum Allahu khairan for translating this. I believe it’s a fairly neutral response, that generally should appease the mass audiences insha Allah.

    I do however have a couple of observations on this, and they are the following:

    1- The scholars of hadeeth mention that the Prophet (SAW) asked at least two different slave girls as to “where is Allah?” A lot of people, especially those not specialized in hadeeth, tend to confuse the narrations and think it is only one. There are scholars who have mentioned that it was up to four different times.

    2- An excellent book on this subject was a study done by a Sudanese shaikh by the name of Saadiq Saleem Saadiq. It was published by Dar At Tawheed in Riyadh in 1427-1428. He brings about all of the narrations pertaining to the different instances that the Prophet (SAW) posed such a question, along with their various wordings.

    3- In the footnote 1 you mention:

    “This is a hadith term that means the narration has been transmitted by only one narrator at some point in the chain.”

    This is incorrect. The generally accepted definition of an ahad hadeeth is any hadeeth that doesn’t reach the level of tawaatur. So they agree that this includes the ghareeb (which at one point in the chain will have one narrator), the ‘Azeez (Which at one point in the chain will have only two narrators), and the Mash-hoor (which at one point in the chain will have three or more narrators) are all part of the ahad category. Sometimes you can have 5 or 6 narrators in each level of the isnaad and the scholars will still consider this to be an ahad hadeeth. So that footnote should be mended insha Allah. Baaraka Allahu feekum.

    3- In footnote 3 you mention the name of Imam Al Bukhari, and instead of saying “Bardazbah” you said “Bardiziyeh”. More than likely just a type, but insha Allah should be rectified. Akramakum Allah.

    Jazaakum Allahu khairan for sharing this fatwa once again. I pray Allah continues to grant you the tawfeeq in producing that which benefits the ummah. Aameen.

    Take care, and all the best.
    Was salaam ‘alaikum wa rahamatullah
    ~Navaid Aziz

  2. Alhamdulillah that I pasted that there, because the admin has now removed the comments of Sh. Naveed!

    Not to mention my criticism of the article was conveniently removed as well.

    This, after all the talk of unity. What complete rot.

    BTW, this is what I posted (I hope br. MR is courageous enough to let this stay):

    ———

    As Salamo alaikum

    “It is important to note that questions like this are not sought after nor desired from you. However, when approached with such issues you should do the following:”

    Why not? Who are YOU to stop me from asking the very same questions that the Rasool [saws] asked (and not just asked, he [saws] used it as a criteria for establishing the emaan of Muslims!!!), that the Tabioon clarified (e.g. Imam AlAwzai stating as such in front of the Tabioon) and the great luminaries of Ahl-e-Sunnah fought for and gave their blood and sweat to defend?

    “First, you should read the verse that affirms Allah’s highness.

    Second, you should read the verse that negates anything being like Him.

    Finally, you should avoid delving into the deeper meaning of the verse (meaning the how related to Allah’s attribute but just simply affirm it and negate its likeness to creation or vice versa).”

    Ma sha Allah, how convenient. So I should close my eyes and not delve into a deeper meaning? Remember, delving into a deeper meaning is not equal to asking the howness of Allah’s Attributes, it’s asking WHAT the verse actually means.

    “This is important (to not delve into this/nor make it a bigger issue than it is) because it is not a matter related to actions, and on the Day of Reckoning Allah (May He be exalted) is going to ask you about your actions not His essence.”

    Subhan Allah, I want to laugh at this. What an unbelievable statement. So Allah will not ask me about my beliefs (aqeedah), only about my actions? Because Allah’s essence is the essence of aqeedah!

    Moreover, are you saying that Imam Ahmad’s [ra] standing up to the mu’tazila tyrants was useless because Allah will only ask us about our actions? After all, the heretics didn’t have a problem with Imam Ahmad’s fiqh, only his beliefs!

    “And this (methodology) is the way of the first 3 generations of saints and scholars of the Muslim nation of which there is no uncertainty. Imam Al-Tufi (May Allah have mercy upon him) said: “The way of Imam Ahmed2 (may Allah have mercy upon him) and the rest of the scholars of the early generations was to affirm these attributes without commenting on them.”

    Therefore, when it came to these attributes, they would (affirm them) and say nothing. And this was the way of Abu Nua’yim (may Allah have mercy upon him) the teacher of Al-Bukhari3 (may Allah have mercy upon him).”

    That is because the heretics of this ummah (who are considered within the fold of “Sunni Islam”) only came after the death of Imam Ahmad! Put the statements in context, and you’ll realize that they were refuting the mu’tazila who refused to believe in ANY of Allah’s N&As.

    I would suggest to the admin, with all due respect, to stop translating such nonsense. If you do translate material on Asmaa’ was Sifaat of Allah by scholars who are Asharis, then to be fair and to maintain the much-maligned unity of the Muslims, translate the material from the scholars of mainstream Sunni Islam. Moreover, if that is beyond that administration, then please resist the temptation to post this kind of material.

    Jazakum Allaho khair.

  3. Salams,

    While one can truly appreciate Br. Navaid’s ‘Izah, I find it strange that in most of his post he is constantly correcting others and say, “A mistake.” I would have to differ with a numner of your contentions and find many of them reflective of a surface level based knowledge. But, perhaps the most glaring, is your misunderstanding of the concept of tawatur. Dear brother, can you provide a definition for tawatur? It is well known that there is a great difference on the subject. I felt that the translator was doing it to make it easy on the readers.

    BB

  4. I’d like to let everyone know Shaykh Navaid is a Salafi scholar who gives lectures for QSS. So please don’t try to refute or condemn him. Let’s try to stick to the pledge, inshaAllah.

    Aarij, you know me, I only delete spam and comments that physically threaten the commentator or me.

  5. as-Salâm ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah to everyone,

    With all due respect to the brothers who have posted comments thus far, I wonder what in brother Navaid’s comment to the Translators’ translation can be “refuted”? As well as what possible differences one can have with his “contentions”? I mean, he pointed out a couple of mistakes mentioning facts to support his observations, suggested a book, and corrected an error in spelling one of Imam al-Bukhârî’s great grandfathers’ name. What’s there to refute in that?

  6. Rasheed Gonzales on October 28, 2007 at 12:41 pm said:

    as-Salâm ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah to everyone,

    With all due respect to the brothers who have posted comments thus far, I wonder what in brother Navaid’s comment to the Translators’ translation can be “refuted”? As well as what possible differences one can have with his “contentions”? I mean, he pointed out a couple of mistakes mentioning facts to support his observations, suggested a book, and corrected an error in spelling one of Imam al-Bukhârî’s great grandfathers’ name. What’s there to refute in that?

    Rasheed, welcome to my blog. I’m not sure if you have been here before, but somehow or the other Muslims can turn anything into a fiqh/aqeedah issue. And it does happen on my blog leading to a post talking about hanbali fiqh resources to 100+ comments talking about ashari vs. salafi aqeedah.

    That’s why I said we should all try to stick to the pledge, inshaAllah.

  7. Mujahideen Ryder on October 28, 2007 at 6:28 pm said:

    Rasheed, welcome to my blog. I’m not sure if you have been here before, but somehow or the other Muslims can turn anything into a fiqh/aqeedah issue. And it does happen on my blog leading to a post talking about hanbali fiqh resources to 100+ comments talking about ashari vs. salafi aqeedah.

    That’s why I said we should all try to stick to the pledge, inshaAllah.

    Jazâkallah khaira, brother MR, for the welcoming.

    What you mention is all fine and dandy. The thing I was asking about, however, is that in the comment brother Navaid (who happens to be a dear friend of mine) posted to the Translators’ blog, there was nothing that could really be refuted. 1. He stated a fact (that some of the scholars of Hadîth mention that there were at least two slave girls asked “Where is Allah?”, not just one), 2. he suggested a book that they could refer to in order to verify what he said, 3. he pointed out an error in the definition they gave for what constitutes a lone (âhâd) hadîth (which can be verified by checking any book on Hadîth terminology, such as those written by Ibn as-Salâh, Ibn Hajar, Ibn Kathîr, etc.), and 4. he pointed out a mistake in the spelling of a person’s name.

    While I agree, there are those (genuinely wicked people) who can turn just about anything into fight under the pretenses of jurisprudential or credal differences, I fail to see how the post he made violates the pledge that some of you have agreed to uphold.

  8. Akhi Rasheed, the only reason why I mentioned the word “refute” was becuase as you know, there are Muslims (trouble makers) from all sides (all the -is) who won’t start any ‘beef’. Hope that clears it up.

    I read what Shaykh Navaid said, and all I see are some corrections as you have stated and a suggestion. I don’t know why the brothers of TheTranslators blog took it down, but they must have a reason.

    Allah knows best.

  9. Here is thetranslator’s response to why the comments were deleted:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    We are not interested in getting into the latest Net war. We’ve been through enough and have enough battle scars to know that it leads to no end. We are very appreciative of advice and the rigor brought by our teachers to this blog. However, we would like to remind everyone that we are very busy, post when we can and have no real time to edit things in a timely manner. Thus, we ask for sabar and ‘uthur from our fellows. We are not equal to any of you in ‘ilm nor hilm. However, relax, take a deep breath and exercise more sabar in dealing with your brothers. Let’s take a few steps back, clean our hearts and relax. All comments were removed that we felt could be used to create strife and difficulties amongst the Muslims. If there is any offense taking we are truly sorry and hope for greater understanding and maturity from each other when dealing with each other.

    thetranslators

  10. Zubair on October 28, 2007 at 11:06 pm said:

    Here is thetranslator’s response to why the comments were deleted:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    We are not interested in getting into the latest Net war. We’ve been through enough and have enough battle scars to know that it leads to no end. We are very appreciative of advice and the rigor brought by our teachers to this blog. However, we would like to remind everyone that we are very busy, post when we can and have no real time to edit things in a timely manner. Thus, we ask for sabar and ‘uthur from our fellows. We are not equal to any of you in ‘ilm nor hilm. However, relax, take a deep breath and exercise more sabar in dealing with your brothers. Let’s take a few steps back, clean our hearts and relax. All comments were removed that we felt could be used to create strife and difficulties amongst the Muslims. If there is any offense taking we are truly sorry and hope for greater understanding and maturity from each other when dealing with each other.

    thetranslators

    JazakAllah khair for the clarification!

    I knew they had good intentions! 😀

  11. [I want it to be known that I have no animosity or hatred in my heart for our brothers at the Translators blog. I believe them to be good and sincere brothers who are seeking knowledge of this deen, wa laa nuzakki ‘ala Allahi ahada. And like anyone who is seeking knowledge and is active in spreading it they are bound to make mistakes, whether it be a result of a lapse in knowledge and understanding or a lapse in their implementation. So by no means should anyone think that I have anything in my heart against them or want any evil to befall them. But rather when I made those comments on their blog it was to advise them and to help them improve the quality of that which they are producing. As this ummah is not in need of mass translations with low quality, but rather few translations with accuracy (of content and intent) along with quality would be a lot more beneficial. May Allah grant us and them the tawfeeq to produce such material and benefit the english speaking ummah. Aameen. So please let it be known, that I love the brothers and respect them and wish them all the best.]

    The above is a portion of an email sent out by Br. Navaid Aziz to some brothers who questioned him about what took place with the translators blog.

  12. As-Salaam ‘Alaykum
    Just some food for thought:
    In another version(of the hadith of the slave girl) , related by Abd al-Razzaq with a rigorously authenticated (sahih) chain of transmission, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to her, “Do you testify that there is no god but Allah?” and she said yes. He said, “Do you testify that I am the Messenger of Allah?” and she said yes. He said, “Do you believe in resurrection after death?” and she said yes. He said, “Free her” (al-Musannaf, 11 vols. Beirut: al-Majlis al-Ilmi, 1390/1970, 9.175: 16814).

    and

    One of these is related by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih with a well-authenticated (hasan) chain of transmission, in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) asked the slave girl, “‘Who is your Lord?’ and she said, ‘Allah’; whereupon he asked her, ‘Who am I?’ and she said, ‘You are the Messenger of Allah’; at which he said, ‘Free her, for she is a believer'” (al-Ihsan fi taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban, 18 vols. Beirut: Muassasa al-Risala, 1408/1988, 1.419: 189).

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