Muhammad Al-Ghazali(b. 1917) on Ibn Taymiyya

The commentator is saying that “the coming” is not explained as “the coming of the order,” rather it is explained as a coming which befits the majesty of God without anthropomorphic imagery nor suggestion of modality (min ghayri tashbeeh wa la takyeef). That is, he is establishing that there is a body that moves by coming and by returning (ay annahu yuthbitu jisman yataHarraku bi al-majee’i wa al-rujoo`), however, he does not declare it openly as a bodily entity (la yuSarriHu bi al-jismiyya). And this is the Salafi madhhab.

From ‘Daf` al-shubuhaat `an al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali’ [The Refutation of False Arguments Made Against the Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali] (Cairo: Maktabat al-kulliyyaat al-azhariyya, 1410/1990) p. 57-58.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn SaaliH al-`Uthaymeen says that Allah is in the heaven in person or with His Essence (bi dhaatihi) and that despite this he draws near to the servant during the latter’s prayer, *just as the sun is in the heaven, while its rays reach creatures on earth.*

[Note #1: Ibn Taymiyya establishes this clear-cut case of similitude (tamtheel) for Allah's Attributes of knowledge, watchfulness and protection in the ' `Aqeeda waaSiTiyya ' (Salafiyya ed. 1346/1927 p. 20): "The phrase'and He is with you' (cf. 57:4) does not mean that He is mixed in (mukhtaliT) with creation... Nay the moon... one of the smallest of God's creations, is both placed in the heaven (mawdoo`un fi al-samaa') and present with (wa huwa ma`) the traveler and the non- traveler wherever they may be, and [a fortiori] He, the Exalted, is over (fawq) the Throne (but) as a watchful guardian of His creatures; He is their protector and is cognizant of them”.]

[Note #2: Ibn Taymiyya elsewhere denies this simile as valid for attributes according to Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah in 'Kitaab al-RooH' (Madani ed. 1984 p. 59): " [The soul's movement] is unrelated to the body, for it rises until it reaches what is above the heavens (taS`adu ila ma fawq al-samaawaat) then it alights back on earth between the time that it is seized and that of the body’s burial in the grave — and that is a brief time — whereas the body neither rises nor alights like it. Similarly its ascension from and return to the body during sleep or wakefulness. Some have compared it to the sun and its rays, for the sun is in the heaven (fa innaha fi al-sama’) while its rays are on earth (shu`aa`uha fi al-arD). But our shaykh (Ibn Taymiyya) said: “This example does not apply, because the sun itself or in its essence (fa inna nafs al-shams) does not descend from the heaven, and the radiance that is upon the earth (`ala al-arD) is neither the sun *nor its attribute* (laysa huwa al-shamsu wa la Sifatuha), but merely a nonessential, contingent accident (`araD) which happens to take place because of the sun, and because of an (earthly) body facing it; whereas the soul itself (al-rooHu nafsuha) ascends and descends.’”]

Ibn `Uthaymeen says (‘SharH al-`aqeedah al-waasiTiyya’ p. 44):

“The proof that Allah is (directly) in front of the person who prays is the Prophet’s (s) saying: If one of you stands in prayer, let him not spit in front of him (qibala wajhihi) for Allah is in front of him (fa inna Allaha qibala wajhihi)’; and so this confrontation (muqaabala) is established for Allah literally (thaabitatun lillahi Haqeeqatan), in the way that befits Him. Nor does it contradict His elevation (`uluwwahu), for what reconciles the two matters is that with respect to the creature (fi Haqq al-makhlooq) both can be put together, just as the sun at its rising (kama law kaanat al-shamsu `inda Tuloo`iha) is facing him who faces the East (fa innaha qibalu wajhi man istaqbala al-mashriq), at the same time being in the heaven (wa hiya fi al-samaa’). And if this is true for created things, then it is more rightfully so for the Creator.”

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