Ahl al-Sunna Refutations of Those Who Attribute a Direction to Allah

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  • Imam Bukhari (d. 256 AH) believed that Allah exists without a place as stated by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari. Ibn Hajar repeats in many places that Allah is clear of places.
  • Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 311 AH) said in his commentary on the Qur’anic verse (2:29) ثُمَّ اسْتَوَى إِلَى السَّمَاء “Then turned He to the heaven,” Thumma istiwā ilá al-samā’i:

The meaning of istiwá in this verse is height and elevation… but if one claims that this means displacement for Allah, tell him: He is High and Elevated over the heaven with the height of Sovereignty and Power, not the height of displacement and movement to and fro.

  • Imam al-Ash`ari (d. 324 AH) said in the authentic version of his Ibana published by Dar al-Ansar and edited by Fawqiyya Husayn Mahmud:

Allah is established on the Throne in the sense that He said and the meaning that He wills, with an establishment that transcends touch, settlement, location, immanence, and displacement. The Throne does not carry Him, rather the Throne and its carriers are carried by the subtleness of His power, subdued under His grip, and He is above the Throne and above everything down to the extremities of the lower earth, with an aboveness that does not make Him any closer to the Throne or to the heavens. Rather, He is as exalted high over the Throne as He is exalted high over the lower earth, and together with this He is near every creature, and He is nearer to His servant than his jugular vein, and He is witness over everything.

  • Shahrastani (d. 548 AH) relates that Imam Ash`ari also said:

The vision of Allah does not entail direction, place, or form, or face to face encounter either by impingement of rays or by impression, all of which are impossible.

  • Mulla `Ali al-Qari states in Sharh `ayn al-`ilm:

It is obligatory that you believe that your God… is not contained in any place or direction.

He states in Sharh al-fiqh al-akbar:

Allah is not located in a place, whether above or below, or any other than these, and time is inapplicable to Him, unlike what the mushabbiha and mujassima and hululiyya or incarnationists believe.

He also cites in Sharh al-Mishkat al-hafiz Zayn al-Din al-`Iraqi’s statement that all Four Imams agree that anyone who believes Allah lies in a specific direction has committed disbelief.

  • Al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam does not declare those who attribute a direction to Allah to be disbelievers but only innovators:

The correct position is that the one who holds belief in Allah’s direction is not declared a disbeliever, because the scholars of Islam did not bring such as these out of Islam, rather, they adjudicated inheritance from Muslims for them, burial in Muslim grounds, sanctity of their blood and property, and the obligation to pray over their remains. The same is true of all the upholders of innovations.

  • Imam Ghazali said in his al-Iqtisad fi al-i`tiqad:

The Hashwiyya asserted direction for Allah while guarding themselves from divesting Allah of His attributes (ta`til), falling thereby into likening Allah to creation (tashbih).

Allah has granted success to Ahl al-Sunna in establishing the truth. They have recognized the proper goal in establishing their method, and understood that direction is denied and disallowed for Allah because it pertains to bodies and complements them; while vision of Him is firmly established because it directly follows knowledge and attends it as its perfecting component.

  • Ibn al-Jawzi says in his Daf` shubah al-tashbih:

Some claim the verses (35:10):

إِلَيْهِ يَصْعَدُ الْكَلِمُ الطَّيِّبُ

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