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AQD039E: al-'Uluw - Refutation of False Claims: “We do not ascribe to Allah a place" (Part 3)

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Refutation of False Claims: “we do not ascribe to Allah a place; above the sky or ‘Arash/Throne as we glorify Him with utmost glorification”

Continued from AQD038E: al-'Uluw - Refutation of False Claims: “We do not ascribe to Allah a place" (Part 2)

E. Refutation of the False Philosophical Claim: “We do not ascribe to Allah a place” – a logical approach.

Here, we will use “logical approach” to refute this deviated statement of logic – i.e. “sound, correct and righteous logic” vs “blasphemous, heretic and erroneous  logic”.

Firstly: Whatever we see with our sight, at times can be deceiving. As how we would see: a mirage on the road, image of a broken pen in a glass of water.

Thus, our senses can be deceived and mistaken, yet our mind helps us to correct the wrong information sent by our senses. Nevertheless, our mind too was confused at the first instance.
In conclusion, we cannot depend and rely solely on our senses nor our mind, since both have the possibilty of falling short to wrong judgment. Therefore, we cannot depend solely on them in matters of Belief.

Secondly: There are many things in existence but we do not see them or sense them with our senses yet we are certain and convinced they do exist.

We believe that there are countries like Brazil. We are certain that World War 1 and 2 occurred. We believe in them because we believe in the sources of the information. We believe in them as the truth because we get the information from trusted sources.

Hence “certainty” or “belief” as how it can be achieved by means of the senses, as they say: “seeing is believing”, it can also be attained from reliable, trustworthy and authentic reports and informers, although we did not see, hear or witness the event. By the same token, we believe in all that the Messenger of Allah informed us in al-Quran and authentic narrations or hadis in matters of belief which are beyond the capacity of our senses to sense them.

Thirdly: To what extent can we gain knowledge and certainty by our senses? Can our senses sense everything in existence?

Our heart is like a prisoner in a dark cell high up on a tower, with only some peepholes to see the world outside. These peepholes are like our senses.

Does every single sense, senses everything of it’s sphere of sense? In the eg, can the prisoner see a river from it’s source/origin to it’s end? No, he can only see a part of it.

Likewise when we see, our sight cannot see all the colours, not even germs or bacteria.
We cannot hear the voices/sounds of the ants, though they do communicate and have voices.
Could it be that there exists things within the sphere of sight but we cannot see them, within the sphere of sound but we cannot hear them?

In the silence of your room, there are various sounds roaming around.  They are in the form of soundwaves, your ears cannot sense but a radio can pick them up.

They exist but we cannot sense them due to our limitation.

Therefore, in our world of existence, there are many other things in existence but we are unable to sense them with our senses and they are beyond our ability to sense them, because they are not colours to be seen, not sounds or voices to be heard, not things to be touched, not smell to be sniffed and not sweet or salty to be tasted.

Do we have the right to reject their existence? Can we, based on our limited senses and incapacity, refuse to accept their presence?

Are our senses perfect? No they are imperfect or inadequate.

We have the 5 senses plus the nerve sense (nervous system), our feelings, the “sense of balance” and probably many more yet to be discovered.

We have no right to reject their existence and presence just because we are incapable to sense them with our limited imperfect senses. As an example, we cannot see, hear, touch or smell an angel (malaikat), although they are always with us.

Fourthly: Our senses are limited, yet Allah granted us with the power of imagination. However, our imagination is limited as well. I am only able to perceive with my imagination within the limits of my senses.

There are 2 types of Imagination:

  1. Reactive – it’s like a flashback.
  2. Creative – what an artist would imagine


The imagination of these artists, is just a combinaton of things present in real life; the Assyirian sculpture for example; body of a lion with wings to it’s sides, and a head of a man. However, if we use our imagination exaggeratedly, we will discover that imagination itself cannot relate to the exaggerations in the combination of things. eg: a fragrant song!. “a melodious scenery”, “a beautiful dish/meal”, “I smell a salty scent”, “I heard a sour sound”.

We cannot imagine except 3 dimensions, not even a triangle without angles or a box without sides.
How can we then imagine the Hereafter and everything in that other life, when it is totally a different life and different reality to this World. We are not to use our imagination in matters of Ghaib, the Unseen, the attributes of Allah, the Angels (Malaikat) and so on.

Like how a foetus in the womb, if we ask what is this world? It will answer: “these 3 layers of darkness enveloping me – the foetus’ world”. If we say to it: “there are the moon, the sun, trees mountains etc in this world”, the foetus cannot understand and unable to imagine them.

Rasulullah said:
 “ليس في الجنة شيء مما في الدنيا إلآ الأسماء”
There is nothing in Paradise that is the same in this world except names…
(Sahih al-Jami‘: 5392)

It is crystal clear to us now, that we are not to use our imagination or our mind in matters of the Unseen (alGhaib) and Belief/Aqiedah, but rather to accept as how our pious predeccessors accepted. They were wisemen and knowlegable people with wisdom and they understood: We accept these explanation and information from the Revelation (Wahyu) whether the verses of the Quran or the sacred authentic Sunnah of the Messenger. We understand the meanings of these words phrases and statements linguistically but we cannot know their reality and we do not use our imagination and worse, twisted interpretation, since they are not to be interpreted or imagined. Especially when the texts mention the Attributes of Allah , since there is nothing like unto Him, it is forbidden for us to imagine Him , and we are not to reject His Words , therefore we accept everything He informed us, believe in the information and there is nothing similar to Him .

Fifthly: At the point when we see that the pen is as if broken, or the mirage, our mind is not duped by deceiving sight. When we observe a conjurer pulls out 100 pieces of kerchieves from his mouth, our mind tells us: this is just a trick. Hence the mind gives judgments and they are strong and extensive. Yet does the mind able to justify everything and without limits?

Verily the mind can only justify what is between the limits and sphere of 2 dimensions; time and place. Whenever a subject (of it’s justification) is not limited to these 2, it cannot be justified by the mind. For eg. If a history lecturer tells you: A war between Arabs and Persians ever occured but it never happened before the advent of Islam and not even after it. This is unacceptable to the mind.

By the same token, if someone says: there is a country, not to be found on earth’s surface, not on any mountain, nor a valley, not even in the sea below sea level or above it, not in the skies yet it does exist. Your mental faculty rejects it.

Therefore, matters of the soul (ruh), Allah’s Decree (Qada and Qadar), His Attributes, can never be justified by means of the mental faculty – the mind. The mind cannot justify and determine what is beyond it’s justification.

Finally, we can come to the understanding, simultaneously appreciate the wisdom and attitude or rather Belief of our Pious Predeccssors (Salaf as-Salih), in Matter of ‘Aqiedah concerning the Attributes of Allah  and where Allah is, when Allah says (as in paragraph “A” of this article): “I rose over My Throne, above the Skies, I am the Most High, I am above my servants, my creations, the Angels will rise to the Skies” and the Messenger of Allah  also said the same: “Our Lord Allah is in the Skies (above them), I was made to ascend the skies to meet Him on the Night of Mi‘raj, I saw the angels were competing with one another hurriedly to raise that supplication of yours to Allah, Our Lord Most High…”, we are to accept them as they are and not to interprete otherwise, since these are beyond our mind’s justification. Leave it to Allah  the reality, yet we understanding the meaning because Allah  revealed them to be understood, that is, literally or linguistically, their meanings not their reality which is beyond our mind’s justification and beyond imagination.  Only when there is a righteous evidence in accordance to the teachings of al-Quran ad Sunnah and the Companions, not mere philosophical, that suuports metaphorical interpretation, will we follow their way and understanding in that manner. Wallahu a‘lam.

Hence we believe in the very same belief of our Pious Predeccessors scholars, among them, the 4 Imams of the 4 most prominent Madzhabs; that is Allah  above the Skies, above His Throne.

We do not have the authority to “confine” Him – He is the Lord Most High – to places, spaces or time by philosophical or logical approach.

We are to believe in His Words whatever He explains to us, He  is where He is, the “place” He  has chosen for His Divine Being, beyond our imagination and analogy: “I am above My creations, above the Seven Skies and I rose over My Throne (‘Arasy)”. We are not to ask: Which sky? The sky of New York or the sky of Singapore? Since the Imams never used this approach, instead they accepted Allah’s Words, He is above the Skies. Yet, as a logical response to this rhetoric: Make yourself dress-up like a tourist, carrying a map, you ask each person that you meet around you: “Excuse me, where is the SKY?” “It’s up above you!” and you might be ridiculed by some…yes because you’ve just asked a ridiculous question. No one will answer you: “Singapore’s SKY is above you and New York’s SKY is below you!” Then why ask a ridiculous question?

We are not to confine Him  to our limited time, since “our measurement of time” is not the same as that to the Angels (malaikat) because of the different worlds and different reality. We cannot perform what the Angel of Death (Malakul Maut) is able to perform, example to take the soul of a man in Singapore at 8.45pm and the next minute, the soul of another in the US at 8.46pm (the same day, same local time) or in a split second or even “same time”. Their measurement of time is a different reality to ours. Allah gave us an indication to this:

The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years [1]

Scientifically, a day on planet Mars is not the same as a day on Earth, since according to scientists Mars is much smaller, such that a day on Mars is not 24 hours but more. Even on Earth, we have places like Alaska having 24 hours of “day time” or otherwise “night time”, every 6 months in a year, annually.

How can we then “confine” Allah , our God Most Gracious Most High, to our measurement of time? I met a person who couldn’t accept that Allah Descends every last 1/3 of the Night, every Night, to the closest Sky to the Earth. I asked him why can’t you accept that when the Messenger clearly said that in an authentic narration from him? He replied: How? It is unimaginable. If we take it that He is at the nearest sky to earth, Singapore time of last 1/3 of the Night, then we in Singapore will experience “Dawn”, but that 1/3 of the Night then will be for the people of India, because the Earth is rotating and after India, (while India is experiencing Dawn), the Arabian countries will have their turn of  1/3 of the Night. That implies He descends and never to rise again.

My response: Since the very beginning you try to figure out something beyond your capacity to figure out. You use the wrong approach to understand this (I have elaborated this in “logical approach” page 23). When we deal with matters of “His Divine Being and Attributes, His actions ”, it is not permissible for us to reject His statements or the statements of His Messenger . We are not to “confine” Him  to our measurement of time and place. The correct attitude is to believe in him , do as he  told of the excellence of doa/supplication and asking for His forgiveness, at that time. Believing that Allah is near and Hearing our doa, just like how the Companions and Pious Predeccessors took it. As to “how”, “unimaginable” and using our calculations, measurement and analogy, when it is forbidden for us to ask “how” as we have understood (the narration from Imam Malik who was asked: how Allah Istiwa?) and this is beyond our imagination and since there is nothing like unto Him, we do not use analogy or our measurement nor calculations.

Syeikhul Islam Ibn Taimiyah said:
If a person similarises Allah’s Attributes to His creations, for example saying His Istiwa’ is similar to His creations’ Istiwa’ or He Descends like the creations’ descend, then he is an innovator (mubtadi‘), deviated and led others astray, because al-Quran, the Sunnah and logic explained that Allah is not the same nor sismilar to His creations in anyway. [2]

Wallaahu a‘lam.

________________________________________________
[1] Al-Qur’an: al-Ma‘arij: 70:4
[2] Majmu‘ Fatawa: 5/252 – this also clears the “false hearsay allegation” that Ibn Taimiyah similarised Allah to himself descending the pulpit – since it was a narration by Ibn Batutah who reported it from an unknown narrator and remain a mystery until today.  
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