What are the Arsh and Kursi of Allah? How are they different from each other?
Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,
The ‘Arsh’ translated as throne literally means an elevated seating structure that kings and emperors use to sit on. With respect to its meaning in the Holy Quran, it is a great structure which Allah has created. As mentioned by Iman Al Qurtubi, ‘The Arsh is the greatest of things that Allah has created.’ (Tafseer AL Qurtubi Vol. 8, Pg. 302-303).
The creation of the throne was not for the purpose of sitting on it. Indeed, Allah is transcendent of occupying a place and time or being similar to his creation. Allah alone knows the reality of the Arsh.
It is also known that the Arsh has posts and that the angels will carry it. In the Quran, Allah says, ‘And the angels will be on it sides, and eight will, that day, bear the throne of your Lord above them.’ (Surah 69, Verse 17).
In a hadith recorded by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (S.A.S) said, ‘Everyone will fall unconscious (on the day of Judgement). I will be the first to regain consciousness, and I will see Moosa (A.S) holding one of the posts (legs) of the Arsh. I wouldn’t know if he will recover before me, or he would be spared on account of his unconsciousness which occurred at Mount Tur?’
The Kursi which literally means ‘a chair’ is another great structure which Allah has created and is different from the Arsh, and is smaller. Like the Arsh, the creation of the Kursi was not was not for the purpose of sitting. Allah is above and beyond sitting and standing and all spatial location and placement.
While speaking about the ‘Kursi’, Allah says, ‘His Kursi extends to the heavens and earth.’ (2:225). It means that His Kursi is so great that it extends to the seven heavens and earth. While speaking about the Kursi, Abdullah Ibn Abbas (R.A) said, ‘The Kursi is the place where the Qadamain (feet) of Allah rests and the Arsh, no one knows its extent except Allah.’ (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol.1, Pg. 548 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013).
In a tradition from Abu Dharr Al Ghifari (R.A), he narrates that the Prophet (S.A.S) said, ‘By Him in whose hand is my soul, the seven heavens and seven earths in comparison to the Kursi is nothing but like a ring thrown in a desert, and certainly the hugeness of the Arsh over the Kursi is like the desert over that ring.’ (Tafseer Ibn Katheer Vol.1, Pg. 549, Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013).
The great exegete As Suddi has stated, ‘The Kursi is in front of the Arsh.’ Scholars have stated that the Kursi is the ‘Footstool’ of Allah.
Therefore, both the Arsh and the Kursi are creations of Allah, and the reality of these are known to Allah alone.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.