Ibn Hajar’s Commentary on the Meaning of `Arsh

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

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Ibn Hajar writes in his commentary on the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Tawhid in Sahih al-Bukhari:

Bukhari named the Chapter on the Throne: “Chapter entitled: His Throne was on the water, and He is the Lord of the mighty Throne.” In this way he mentioned two parts of two verses, (11:7) 

Kna `arshuhu `alá alm’


it is good to state this second part after the first one, to respond to those who misunderstood the hadith: “There was Allah, and there was nothing before Him; and His throne was on the water,” mistakenly thinking that it meant that the Throne was always alongside Allah (i.e. existing without beginning). This is an incorrect position, as is the belief of some thinkers that the Throne is the Creator and the Maker! Perhaps those who held this, such as Abu Ishaq al-Harawi, used for evidence the hadith of ibn Abbas… narrated through Sultan al-Thawri: “Allah was on His throne before He created anything; the first thing He created was the pen,” and this “first” is interpreted as the creation of Heavens and Earth and their contents.

`Abd al-Razzaq mentioned in his commentary on Allah’s saying: “And His throne was on the water” that this (the Throne) was the beginning of His creation before He created the heaven, and that His Throne was made from a red emerald. Thus Bukhari’s mention of “The Lord of the mighty Throne” alludes to the fact that the Throne is a servant and that it is lorded over.

He ends his chapter with the hadith: “And there I saw Musa holding the leg of the Throne.” By confirming that the Throne has legs, the author proves that it is an object put together, having constituent parts. Any such object must have been created. Al-Bayhaqi in his al-Asma’ wa al-sifat said:

All the sayings of the Qur’anic commentators concur that the Throne is a seat or bed, and that it is an object created by Allah, Who ordered that the angels should carry, glorify, and circumambulate it in the same manner as Allah has created on earth a house and ordered the children of Adam to circumambulate it and face it during daily prayers. It is proven by the above-mentioned Qur’anic verses (i.e. those which Bayhaqi cites) and Hadith literature that their understanding is correct.

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