We start with the Name of Allah, we praise Him, and we ask Allah to raise the rank of our dear and beloved master MuHammad, sallallaahu ^alayhi wa sallam, and protect his nation from that which he feared for them. Aameen.
The Qur’an informs us in Suratush-Shura, 11:
“There is absolutely nothing like Allah whatsoever.”
This Verse contains the meaning that Allah absolutely and categorically does not resemble any of the creations. This means that Allah is not similar to the humans, the jinn, the Angels. Allah is not similar to the heavens, the celestial bodies, the earth, Paradise, or anything that exists therein.
Likewise the Qur’an informs us in Al-`Ankabut, 6:
“Certainly, Allah is absolutely free of needing any of the creations.”
Allah does not require the existence of any of the creations in order to exist. Allah’s Existence is not contingent upon what is created. Allah does not need our worship; Allah does not need food; Allah does not need to be cared for. Allah does not need the Heavens or the Earth. Allah does not need space. Allah has existed eternally. Allah was and space was not, and after Allah created space, Allah did not transform and materialize in space—Allah did not become dependent upon what He created.
From this, it is readily understood that Allah is not an object or a spatial entity. The object, by its very nature requires a given amount of space to exist. Space is not a requisite for Allah’s Existence. Allah is greater than requiring space—or any other creation—to exist. When the Muslims recite Suratul-Ikhlas, and they say: “Qul: Huwallahu ‘Ahad,” they are mentioning the Name of Allah, Al-Ahad, which means that Allah is One without a partner; Allah is Unique without a similarity; Allah is One in being indivisible and not composed of pieces or parts. Allah is not something that could be potentially subject to division or composition, for Allah is not a body.
Furthermore, the blessed `Ulama’ (scholars) of this Ummah, such as, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, have said:
“The names of things are derived from the Sacred Law and the Arabic language. The scholars of the Arabic language have used this word [jism, i.e., ‘body’] for something that has height, breadth, thickness, construction, form, and composition; whereas Allah, the Supremely Glorious, is clear of all such attributes. Allah must not be referred to as a ‘body’ because Allah is clear of any aspect of embodiment. This [term: body/jism] has not been conveyed by the Sacred Law, and so it is rejected.”
(It is important to note here that what is meant by the term “body” doesn’t merely refer to solid dense (katheef) bodies, such as, stone, wood, or flesh, but any sort of entity that requires space. As Imam Ahmad mentioned, Allah is clear of all forms of dimensionality. This means that Allah is not also not a subtle or ethereal (lateef) body, such as, the air, fire, energy, a jinn, or the soul. Allah is Eternal; Allah is absolutely Incomparable. Allah is not a temporal or spatial being.)
Imam Ahmad also said:
“Whoever claims Allah is a body even if unlike other bodies disbelieves.” (And of course, if one says Allah is a body like other bodies it is also blasphemy, for to claim that Allah is like anything else is itself disbelief.)
Similarly, Imam Ash-Shafi`iyy said:
“The mujassim [corporealist—those who believe Allah is a spatial entity] are disbelievers.”
Abu Hasan Al-Ash`ariyy also said: “Whoever believes Allah is an object is ignorant of his Lord and is a disbeliever in Him.”
Imam an-Nawawiyy said: “Those who claim Allah is a body are disbelievers.”
Given what has been mentioned, it should be adequately clear that one cannot ascribe to Allah the characteristics of bodies, such as, having a shape, having a mass, or a color, or being in motion or at rest, for all such attributes are inextricably related to being a body and having a size and occupying space. Objects are creations. Allah does not resemble the creations. Objects are in need of space. Allah does not need space. This is the true belief in Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
Allah is not in a Direction
“Direction” entails a relationship between the position of one object and the position of another object. If someone were to make a cell phone to cell phone call and ask the person on the opposite end (with no reference to each other’s whereabouts): “In what direction are you?” We would know that such a question is absurd. Similarly, we would consider it absurd to ask a person: “In what direction do you exist in relation to yourself?” The former question is absurd, for in order to know the direction, one has to know the position of the two objects. The latter is absurd, because, one cannot talk about direction without comparing two objects. Consequently, one cannot say that Allah is in a literal direction, for Allah is not in a position, and Allah is not an object. In the many Verses and Hadiths that refer to the `Uluw (Exaltedness) of Allah, it is a reference to the greatness of Allah’s status, and that Allah is gloriously and sublimely clear of being blemished by any created characteristics (such as, being is space, direction, or time). These Verses and Hadiths do not mean that Allah has a literal position somewhere above our heads, and this was made clear by Ibn Hajar Al-`Asqalaniyy in his famous exegesis of the Sahih Hadiths of Al-Bukhari known as Fathul-Bari. He said:
“Ascribing ‘aboveness’ (fawqiyah) to Allah is a matter of status, and the impossibility lies in it being physical.”
That is so, because literal “aboveness” would entail corporeality and being in space, and Allah is clear of such attributes.
Imam Abu Ja`far At-Tahawiyy, whose treatise on the Sunni Doctrine, The Tahawiyy `Aqidah, has been embraced by the Islamic Orthodoxy for more than a thousand years, said:
“Allah is supremely clear of boundaries, extremities, sides, organs, appendages, and instruments. None of the six directions contain Allah, as is the case with all originated beings.”
(The six directions are: above and below, right and left, front and back. Allah is not in a dimension—Allah is the Creator of all dimensions and directions and does not need or resemble anything that exists in a dimension or direction.)
The Ludicrousness of Literalism
Some people, who hold their Lord in low regard and are deficient in common sense, insist on taking select non-literal Verses and Hadiths by their most apparent meanings. As a result, not only do they believe that the Creator of space requires that which He created, but they also believe that the Creator is a hideously grotesque and deformed shadow casting object with one literal shinbone, fingers, eyes, a smiling face, a pair of right hands, and two comparatively small feet. This object that they pray to resides below Prophet Jesus for part of the time and above the `Arsh (Ceiling of Paradise and largest single creation) for another part of the time.
Every Muslim must understand that the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) did not come to replace the terrestrial object worship of the idolatrous Arabs with the worship of a giant unidentified extraterrestrial object. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) came to forbid all forms of object worship—whether those objects are formed in one’s hands or in one’s head. It is the Prophet’s call to Tawheed—the belief in the absolute Oneness and Perfection of Allah—that liberated the people’s minds from the mental shackles of false worship. The Prophet did not call people to creation worship. To the contrary, he called people to worship Allah, the One and Only God, Who has no partners and no similarities.
Among those who misconstrue non-literal (mutashaabih) Verses and Hadiths are the likes of the pseudo-sufis, who think that Allah is a literal light, or believe that Allah is literally everywhere. The Name of Allah, An-Noor, means the One Who guides to the light of faith. It does not mean that Allah is a giant illumination. Also, Allah is not literally “everywhere.” Allah existed before the “wheres;” Allah is perfect and does not change; hence, after Allah created the wheres (i.e., places), Allah did not transform and become located inside the creations. Allah knows everything everywhere without Allah being here or there. Likewise, some people misconstrue famous Qudsi Hadiths of the Prophet, and they think that Allah runs towards the righteous Muslims or that Allah becomes the hearing, seeing, hands, and feet of the pious. Motion entails the movement through space. Allah is not an object; ergo, Allah is not in space—hence, Allah is not ascribed with motion (or stillness). Allah does not become anything. Allah is Eternal and does not change. Allah is not composed of parts or pieces; hence, Allah does not have organs or limbs—or become someone’s organs or limbs.
Among the most notorious literalists of our era are the quasi-salafis—known to the Sunnis as the “Wahhabis.” Not only does this sect pray to a giant (imaginary) extraterrestrial shadow casting object, the originators of this deviant sect deemed that the Muslims who do not follow them are not Muslims in reality, but are disbelievers who do not have the right to live. The pillaging and massacres of the Wahhabis in Ta’if, Mecca, and Madinah in the early 1800’s are well documented in the books of Islamic history. The Wahhabi fatwas legitimating suicide, murder, and mayhem are widely available. And today we are witnessing the latest incarnation of Wahhabism and its terroristic factions almost nightly in the news. Even for those Wahhabis who may not follow completely in the blood drenched footsteps of their forefathers, the essence of their belief is the same. The essence of the Wahhabi doctrine is predicated on believing that Allah is a giant spatial entity with organs and limbs. The essence of Wahhabism is kufr and disbelief, for it entails believing that Allah is somehow—in some way—similar to the creations.
It matters not how long one may have studied in the Saudi-Wahhabi institutes or what prestigious institutions one may have attended in the West, the person who believes that the Lord of the Heavens and Earth—the Lord of space and time–is in a direction or is some sort of object, does not have the belief of the Muslims. Be not fooled by the number of followers a person may have. If a person has an absurd and contradictory belief about Allah that can refuted by a ten year old, know and be certain that such a person does not have the Creed of the Prophet.
The genuine Muslim belief is plain and easy to understand—yet, it is intellectually invincible. Allah is the One and Only Creator. Everything other than Allah is a creation. Allah does not need that which He created. Space, distance, and direction, are not Allah; they are among His creations. Before space, distance, and direction existed, there was a God. After Allah created space, distance, and direction, Allah did not change and start to exist in a space, or a distance, or a direction. Any Verse or authentic Hadith that someone might distort and try to give you the impression that Allah is a directional or dimensional entity should not be taken literally. Such a Verse or authentic Hadith has a meaning that befits Allah and complies with the Arabic language. This is the way of safety and security and a means for not associating with Allah the characteristics of the creations.
May Allah enable us to die with certitude in the Oneness and Perfection of Allah, and may we never violate Allah’s Holiness by ascribing to Him any non-befitting attributes.