They say: Allah said: “He rules all affairs from the Heaven to the Earth” (32:5).

We say: This is true, but it does not provide any proof for your innovation.

They say: All the firm believers in the Oneness of Allah raise their hands to the Heavens when supplicating him, and if Musa had not said to Pharaoh: “My Lord is in the Heaven,” Pharaoh would not have said: “O Haman… set up for me a lofty tower in order that I may survey the god of Moses” (28:38).

We say: You are lying about Musa (as), he never said that. But your conclusion shows that you are indeed the followers of Pharaoh, who believed that the Creator lies in a certain direction, and so he desired to climb up to Him on a ladder. He congratulates you for being among his followers, and he is your imam.

They say: What about Umayya ibn Abi al-Salt who said: “Glory to Him Whom creatures are unable to know in the way He deserves to be known, Who is on His Throne, One and One Alone, Sovereign and Possessor over the Throne of Heaven, unto Whose Majesty faces are humbled and prostrate”? And he – Umayya – had read the Torah, the Bible, and the Psalms.

We say: It is just like you, in your ignorance, to cite as proof, first Pharaoh, then the discourse of a pre-Islamic Arab supported by the Torah and the Bible, which have been distorted and changed. Of all of Allah’s creation the Jews are the most knowledgeable in disbelief and in likening Allah to creation.38

What we must believe is that Allah existed and nothing existed with Him; that He created all creation, including the Throne, without becoming subject to disclosure through them, nor did a direction arise for Him because of them, nor did He acquire a location in them; that He does not become immanent, that He does not cease to be transcendent, that he does not change, and that He does not move from one state to another.

Istiwa‘ in the Arabic language has fifteen meanings both literal and figurative. Some of these meanings are suitable for Allah and the meaning of the verse (20:4) is derived from them. The other meanings are not accepted under any circumstances. For example, if it is taken to mean being fixed in a place (tamakkun), settling (istiqrar), connecting (ittisal), or being bounded (muhadhat): then none of these are suitable for the Creator Almighty and Exalted and no-one should try to find His likeness in His creation.

One may refrain from explaining the verse, as Malik and others have said: “Istiwa‘ is known” – he means: its lexical sense- “and its modality is unknown” (wa al-kayfu majhul)39 – that is: the modality of whatever is suitable for Allah among the senses of istiwa‘: therefore who can specify such modality? – “and asking about it is innovation” – because, as we have just made clear, probing this matter is looking for dubious matters and that is asking for fitna.

Hence, from what the Imam of Muslims Malik has said, we can conclude that the istiwa‘ is known; that what is suitable for Allah is left unspecified; and that He is declared transcendent above what is impossible for Him. As for specifying what is not suitable for Him, it is not permissible for you, since you have completed the declaration of oneness and belief by negating likeness for Allah and by negating whatever it is absurd to believe concerning Him. There is no need for anything beyond that, and we have already explained this in detail.

As for the phrases: “He descends, He comes, He arrives,”and similar ones whose meanings it is impermissible to apply to His Essence: they refer to His actions… Al-Awza`i explained this when he said, about this hadith: “Allah does what he wishes.”40 It suffices to know or simply to believe that Allah is not to be defined by any of the characteristics of creatures and that there is nothing in His creation that resembles Him and no interpretation that can explain Him.

They said: We must say “He descends” without asking how. We say: We seek refuge in Allah from asking how! We only say whatever Allah’s Messenger — Allah bless and greet him — has taught us to say and what we have understood from the Arabic language in which the Qur’an was revealed. And the Prophet said: “Allah says: O My servant, I was ailing and you did not visit me, I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink…”41 None of this is suitable of Allah whatsoever, but He has honored all these actions by expressing them through Him. In the same way, the saying “Our Lord descends” expresses that His servant and angel descends in His name with His order pertaining to whatever He bestows of His Mercy, gives out of His generosity, and showers His creation out of His bounty.

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