The Prophet’s (s) Seating on the Throne

All the above are narrated with weak or highly problematic chains as shown by Ibn al-Jawzi,[11] al-Dhahabi, and the editors of al-Bayhaqi’s and Ibn Abi ‘Asim’s books although Ibn Taymiyya typically tries to defend the authenticity of the narration of ‘Umar which contains an explicit ascription of sitting to the Creator (swt).[12] The hadith master Ibn ‘Asakir wrote an entire monograph entitled Bayan al-Wahm wa al-Takhlit fi Hadith al-Atit (“The Exposition of Error and Confusion in the Narration of the [Throne’s] Groaning”) as indicated by Ibn Kathir.[13]

The narration of Abu Umama states that the Prophet (s) said: “Ask Allah for al-Firdaws for it is the center of Paradise, and in it is heard the groaning of the Throne (atît al-‘arsh).” Al-Hakim did not claim that it was sound (sahîh)and al-Dhahabi further stated that one of its sub-narrators, Ja‘far ibn al-Zubayr, was “destroyed” (hâlik) as a narrator; al-Tabarani’s chain also con­tains him as stated by al-Haythami in Majma‘ al-Zawa’id, who called him “fatally weak”(matrûk).

The narration of Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari states: “The kursî is the footstool and it groans like a new saddle.”[14] Its chain is weak (da‘îf) as stated by the editor of al-Bayhaqi’s al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat. Even if it were sound, is not traced back to the Prophet (s) but would be a mawqûf narra­tion halted at Abu Musa (r) furthermore it is cut up (munqati‘), as the Tâbi‘î who relates it, ‘Umara ibn ‘Umayr, did not meet Abu Musa al-Ash‘ari. Finally, the scholars of hadith agree that none of the narrations that mention the groaning is authentic.

The narration of ‘Umar states that a woman came to the Prophet (s) and said: “Supplicate Allah so that He cause me to enter Paradise.” The Prophet (s) then glorified Allah and said: “Verily, His Seat of Authority (kursî)encompasses the heavens and the earth, and it groans like the sound of the new saddle when one mounts it, due to the weight pressing down on it.” Al-Haythami’s claim that its sub-narrators are all trustworthy is incorrect, as the sub-narrator ‘Abd Allah ibn Khalifa is merely “acceptable” (maqbûl) according to Ibn Hajar, and Ma‘ruf and al-Arna’ut consider him majhûl al-hâl, which further weakens the narration.[15] This means that his narration is not retained except for the purpose of confirming an identical narra­tion with a stronger chain. Furthermore, Ibn Kathir stated there is doubt whether he actually nar­rated from ‘Umar and the hadith would then be narrated with a “cut-up” (munqati‘) chain.[16]

As for the text of the hadith itself (matn), it is considered by Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (1:31, 2:14) as a “strange” or one-chained (gharîb) narration. Ibn Kathir also states that Abu Dawud’s narration from Jabir ibn Mut‘am is “stranger yet.”

The narration of Abu Dawud from Jubayr ibn Mut‘am, from his father, from his grandfather, states:

An Arab came to the Messenger of Allah (s) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, people are in distress, the children are hungry, the crops are withered, and the animals are perishing, so Ask Allah to grant us rain, for we seek you as our intercessor with Allah, and Allah as our intercessor with you.” The Prophet (s) said: “Woe to you! Do you know what you are saying?” Then the Prophet (s) glorified Allah and he went on until the effect of his speech showed on the faces of his Companions. He then said: “Woe to you! Allah is not to be sought as intercessor with anyone. His state is greater than that. Woe to you![17] Do you know the greatness of Allah? Truly, His Throne (‘arsh) is on His Heavens like this” – and he formed with his fingers something like a dome over him – “and it groans on account of Him like a saddle groans because of its rider.” Ibn Bashshar added in his version: “Allah (swt) is above His Throne, and His Throne is above His Heavens.”[18]

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