What is the our belief concerning where is Allah?

Asalam Alaikum Mufti Sahib,

Q: I’ve read in a book name Elementary Teachings of Islam by Maulana Abdul Aleem Siddiqui that Allah is everywhere.
Is it correct to believe that Allah is everywhere ?
Wa Alaikum Assalaam,

A: All praises are for Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah (SAW).

With respect to what you have asked, there are two things which need to be understood. One is with respect to Allah’s being above the throne and the other is about Allah being present everywhere. With respect to Allah’s Istiwa on the Arsh (being established on the throne), this is known from the Holy Quran and every Muslim must believe in it. However, ‘Istiwa on the Arsh’ is a divine attribute of Allah, and just like other divine attributes, Allah Alone Has knowledge of the mode and manner of this.

To say or assume that it means that Allah is sitting on the Arsh is totally wrong since the mode of ‘Istiwa’ is not known. In fact, in the Holy Quran the word ‘Istiwa’ has been used several times and in different places, and their meanings differ from each other. So, the fact that Allah has made Istiwa on the Arsh is well known and accepted, but the explanation and commentary of the manner of this is not known.

Those who negate the statement that Allah is on the Arsh, do not deny the concept of Istiwa on the Arsh. They are simply negating the belief that Allah is fixed, stationed and sitting on the Arsh. In this type of belief, one is establishing a place for Allah, and likening Him to the created beings, both of which are not permissible. Allah is free from place and time, and has no need to be fixed or seated in a certain place. In fact, Imam Abu Hanifa has indicated to the correct belief of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah by saying ‘We (the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah) confess and believe firmly that Allah Has made Istiwa on the Arsh without Him having a need for it, and without Him being fixed on it. He is the protector of the Arsh and that which is besides the Arsh. If he was in need of the Arsh, then He would have not been able to bring the world into existence and to govern it. If he was in need of sitting and being fixed (on a place), then before the Arsh was created, where was Allah? (Sharh Fiqhul Akbar (Mulla Ali Qaari) pg.38).

So, the correct view is that Allah exists without having a need for any place. He exists without changes and movements. Place and time cannot contain Him, for He is the creator of place and time. Istiwa on the Arsh is well established in the Holy Quran, but the mode and manner of it is not known to anyone except Allah.

With respect to the statement that ‘Allah is everywhere’, this is not meant to be in its literal sense as one will understand of the physical and tangible things.

He is not fixed in any place, place cannot contain Him. One cannot comprehend His divine attributes and thus, should not attribute to Him such understanding that they have of physical and created beings.

So, one should not apply his understanding of a ‘Created thing being present everywhere’ to Allah. This is not permissible at all. The Holy Quran says, ‘There is nothing like Allah’. Hence, the verse that speak about Allah’s presence and closeness to us, cannot be understood, accepted and analyzed in the manner that we have of the created things. Allah is from eternity and He Alone understands the Divine attributes which He Has mentioned to us. As believers, we are required to believe in all these attributes and entrust their meanings and mode to Allah. Some of our great and reliable scholars have allowed some interpretations when they do not contradict the meaning and message of the verses.

So, Allah’s presence is not in the manner and mode of the presence of the created things. Allah hears our whispers and our speech. He is closer to us than our jugular veins, He sees all our actions. He knows what we have in our hearts. He Has full knowledge of every single thing. Nothing escapes His knowledge, His power and control. None can hide from Him. Even if we call on Him with the most silent voices, He will hear everything.

Allah does all these and much more without having the need for place and time. No increase and decrease occur with Him with respect to what He knows of His creations.

So, the correct view held by the scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah is that Allah existed from eternity, before He created place, direction and time and he remains as He always has been. He is transcendent of place, confines and direction, because He is neither substance nor accident. Direction and place are the requirements of restriction, constraints and physical beings. Such things can only be imagined in a created thing and in something which is spatial.

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.