Posted by: faqir | May 30, 2010

Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani on the Hadith of Descent

فتح الباري، شرح صحيح البخاري، – للإمام ابن حجر العسقلاني
الحديث: -1145-حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مَسْلَمَةَ، عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ وَأَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ الْأَغَرِّ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ:
يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا حِينَ يَبْقَى ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ الْآخِرُ يَقُولُ: مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ مَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ مَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ.
الشرح: قوله: (عن أبي سلمة وأبي عبد الله الأغر، عن أبي هريرة) في رواية عبد الرزاق، عن معمر، عن الزهري، ” أخبرني أبو سلمة بن عبد الرحمن وأبو عبد الله الأغر صاحب أبي هريرة، أن أبا هريرة أخبرهما”.
قوله: (ينزل ربنا إلى السماء الدنيا) استدل به من أثبت الجهة وقال: هي جهة العلو، وأنكر ذلك الجمهور لأن القول بذلك يفضي إلى التحيز تعالى الله عن ذلك.
وقد اختلف في معنى النزول على أقوال: فمنهم من حمله على ظاهره وحقيقته وهم المشبهة تعالى الله عن قولهم.
ومنهم من أنكر صحة الأحاديث الواردة في ذلك جملة وهم الخوارج والمعتزلة وهو مكابرة، والعجب أنهم أولوا ما في القرآن من نحو ذلك وأنكروا ما في الحديث إما جهلا وإما عنادا.
ومنهم من أجراه على ما ورد مؤمنا به على طريق الإجمال منزها الله تعالى عن الكيفية والتشبيه وهم جمهور السلف، ونقله البيهقي، وغيره عن الأئمة الأربعة والسفيانين والحمادين والأوزاعي والليث وغيرهمومنهم من أوله على وجه يليق مستعمل في كلام العرب.
ومنهم من أفرط في التأويل حتى كاد أن يخرج إلى نوع من التحريف، ومنهم من فصل بين ما يكون تأويله قريبا مستعملا في كلام العرب وبين ما يكون بعيدا مهجورا فأول في بعض وفوض في بعض، وهو منقول عن مالك وجزم به من المتأخرين ابن دقيق العيد
قال البيهقي: وأسلمها الإيمان بلا كيف والسكوت عن المراد إلا أن يرد ذلك عن الصادق فيصار إليه، ومن الدليل على ذلك اتفاقهم على أن التأويل المعين غير واجب فحينئذ التفويض أسلم

The hadith of descent from Sahih Al-Bukhari:

Abdullah bin Maslamah narrates from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Abu Salamah and Abdullah Algharr both of whom narrate from Abu Huraira that:

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

‘Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, descends every night to the nearest Heaven when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”‘

Ibn Hajar’s comments from Fath al-Bari :

Those who assert direction for Allah have used this hadith as proof that He is in the direction of above-ness (uluww). The vast majority of the scholars reject this, because saying such leads to establishing boundaries for Him and Allah is exalted above that.

And so there is disagreement regarding the meaning of ‘Nuzool’ upon the [following] sayings (i.e. of the scholars):

  • So from them are those who hold that that it is upon its Thaahir (apparent) and its Haqeeqi (real literal) meaning, and they are the Mushabbihah (those who make tashbeeh which is to liken Allah to his creation), exalted is Allah from their sayings.
  • Some reject the validity of the ahadith cited in that chapter altogether. These are the Khawarij and the Mutazila and this view is highly contentious. What is strange is that they interpret figuratively what is related to this in the Qur’an, but they reject what is in the ahadith either out of ignorance or out of obstinacy.
  • Some have taken them as they have come, believing in them without specificity, declaring Allah to be transcendent above modality (kayfiyya) and likeness to creation (tashbih): these are the vast majority of the Salaf. That position is reported by Al-Bayhaqi and others from the four Imams, Sufyan ibn ‘Uyayna, Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Hammad ibn Salama, Hammad ibn Zayd, Al-Awza’i, Al-Layth, and others.
  • Some interpreted them in a way that befits the linguistic usage of the Arabs.
  • Some have over-interpreted them to the point that they almost tampered with the text (tahrif).
  • Some have made a difference between a kind of interpretation that is likely and current in the linguistic usage of the Arabs, and another kind which is far-fetched and archaic, interpreting in the former case and committing the meaning to Allah in the latter. [I.e. if the Arabic equivalent is sensible and befitting to Allah’s majesty it would be accepted but if the Arabic usage opposes the majesty of Allah then tafwid is practised]. This is reported from Malik, and among the later scholars (mutaakhkhirun) it is asserted decisively by Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id.

Al-Bayhaqi said: “The safest method is to believe in them without modality, and to maintain concerning what is meant except if the explanation is conveyed from the Prophet himself, in which case it is followed.” The proof for this is the agreement of the scholars that the specific interpretation is not obligatory, and that therefore the commitment of meaning to Allah (tafwid) is the safest option.



  1. we only interpret that which the prophet and the salaf did (as they followed the prophet). otherwise we take the apparent meaning and we do not say how. The narrations are so many so how can you say they have another meaning that they are just majaaz. Allah commands us to when we differ to return everything back to Him and the messenger, if there is nothing to return back to then we take the apparent meaning because Allah would not leave us to differ when his messenger has explained to us everything including how to go to the toilet. If there is nothing to turn back to and you say that there is still another meaning to the ayaat on the sifaat of Allah then you are saying this verse and command is redundant. fear Allah. Stop where the salaf stopped or you will be an innovator. The salaf said to translate the hand to the power or bounty of Allah is ibtaal and so is not correct. Stop with your bida now. The ones who call to this are also the same people who say praying to the people in the grave is not shirk.

  2. Its sad that you should imply that Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani is guilty of shirk. His own words are self explanatory and do not require your commentary.

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