Interpreting Allah’s Words “He Who is in the Heaven”

Allah said: “Have ye taken security from Him Who is in the heaven that He will not cause the earth to swallow you when lo! it is convulsed? Or have ye taken security from Him Who is in the heaven that He will not let loose on you a hurricane?” (67:16f.); and in Surat al-An`am: “Say: He is able to send punishment upon you from above you or from beneath your feet” (6:65). In the former verses He therefore places first what He places last in the latter verse (i.e. a sign from beneath). Al-Sufuri says: His answer to what He put in first position in Sura 67 is “He it is Who hath made the earth subservient unto you” (67:15) and corresponds to the fact that in the very next verse (67:16) He is in fact reiterating the threat of earthly instability. As for what comes in first position in “al-An`am” (“punishment upon you from above” 6:65), His answer: “He is the Omnipotent over His slaves” (6:61) corresponds to the placing of what lies in the above direction in first position in verse 6:65 for the sake of verisimilitude.

Nawawi in his commentary on Muslim agreed with Qadi `Iyad that the words “in the heaven” in the verse “Have you security from Him Who is in the heaven” is interpreted figuratively. Fakhr al-Din Razi said in his Tafsir (3:69): “It is the anthropomorphists who used the verse ‘Have you security from Him Who is in the heaven‘ to claim that Allah Himself is in the sky.” The Qur’anic commentator Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi said the same thing in his Bahr al-muhit (8:302) and Nahr al-madd (2:1131-1132) with particular reference to Ibn Taymiyya.

Concerning the verse: “He is Allah in the heavens and in the earth. He knoweth both your secret and your utterance, and He knoweth what you earn” (6:3) it is established that everything that is in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. He said: “Say: to whom belongs what is in the heavens and in the earth? Say: to Allah.” The word “what” (ma) here indicates rational beings as well as others, as in His saying: “And the heaven and Him (ma) who built it, and the earth and Him (ma) who spread it…” (91:5-6). If Allah was literally in the heavens then He would possess Himself and this is absurd.

Moreover, taking His saying: “in the heavens” in verse 6:3 to signify “inside one particular heaven” is not permissible as it contradicts the outward sense of the verse. As for taking it to mean “inside the heavens put together,” it would be tantamount to saying that what is contained of Him in a given heaven is other than what is contained in the remaining heavens, and would necessitate from Him the qualities of complexity and combination of parts, and this is absurd. It is therefore established that it is impossible to venture upon the outward meaning of this verse. It becomes obligatory to understand it figuratively. This figurative interpretation has several aspects.

Page 2 of 3 | Previous page | Next page