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

  1. It means the disposal-and-direction (tadbir) of the heavens, as when it is said: “So-and-so is in such-and-such a matter,” that is, he is engaged in disposing and directing it.
  2. The words “He is Allah” are a complete statement. Then He continues with another statement: “In the heavens and in the earth, He knoweth both your secret and your utterance.” That is: He knows the secret of the angels and their utterance, and He likewise knows the state of whoever is in the earth.
  3. There is a precedence (taqdim) and a post-position (ta’khir) in the verse. The meaning implied thereby is: “And He is Allah, He knows in the heavens and in the earth your secret and your utterance.”
  4. Imam al-Qurtubi (d. 671) said the following in his commentary on verse 67:16 (“Have ye taken security from Him Who is in the heaven…“):This may mean: “Do you feel secure that He Who is the Creator of whomever is in the heavens will not make the earth swallow you, as He did Korah?” The more exacting hold that “in the heavens” signifies: “Do you feel secure from Him who is over the heavens,” just as Allah says: “Journey in the earth” (9:2) meaning over it; not over it by way of physical contact or spatialization, but by way of omnipotent power and control. Another position is that it means: “Do you feel secure from Him Who holds sway over (`ala) the heavens,” i.e. just as it is said: “So-and-so is over Iraq and the Hijaz,” meaning that he is the governor and commander of them. The hadiths on this subject are numerous, rigorously authenticated (sahih), and widely known, and indicate the exaltedness of Allah, being undeniable by anyone save an atheist or obstinate ignoramus. Their meaning is to dignify Allah and exalt Him above what is base and low, to characterize Him by exaltedness and grandeur, not by being in places, particular directions, or within limits, for these are the qualities of physical bodies. The hands are only raised skyward when one supplicates because the sky is from whence divine revelation descends and rains fall, the place of purity and the wellspring of the purified ones of the angels, and that the works of servants are raised to it and over it is the Throne and His Paradise, just as Allah has made the Ka`ba the direction of supplication and prayer. He created all places and has no need of them. He was without space or time in His beginningless eternality before creating space and time, and is now as He ever has been.
  5. Ibn Hajar says in the commentary on the chapter devoted to `uluw (#23) in the book of tawhid which is the last book of Sahih al-Bukhari:Bayhaqi mentioned Abu Bakr al-Dab`i’s saying that the Arabs use “in” (fi) in place of “over,” as in Allah’s saying: “Roam over (fi) the earth” and “I shall crucify you over (fi) the trunks of the palm-trees.” Likewise, Dab`i says, “In the heaven” means “Over the Throne above the heaven, as stated in the sound reports… And by including the hadith of Ibn `Abbas containing the words: “Lord of the mighty Throne” into this chapter, Bukhari warned those that might predicate spatial elevation to Allah (`uluw fawqi) that both the direction in which the heaven is believed to be and that in which the Throne is believed to be are created, lorded over, and brought into existence by Allah Who existed before all that and before everything else. Thus these places were created, and His existence, being eternal without beginning, precludes reference to Him as being bounded by them. And Allah knows best.

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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