Posted by: faqir | June 17, 2010

al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani on Attributing the Direction ‘Above’ to Allah

al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar states in Fath al-bari:

ولا يلزم من كون جهتي العلو والسفل محال على الله أن لا يوصف بالعلو لأن وصفه بالعلو من جهة المعنى والمستحيل كون ذلك من جهة الحس، ولذلك ورد في صفته العالي والعلي والمتعالي ولم يرد ضد ذلك وإن كان قد أحاط بكل شيء علما جل وعز

The fact that the two directions of “above” [‘uluw] and “below” are inapplicable and impossible for Allah does not preclude His being described with the attribute of elevation (`uluw), for such description is only from the standpoint of the meaning of elevation, not that of sensory perception. And this is stated in the case of His attributes of al-`Aali and al-`Ali and al-Muta’ali and not the opposites of these and his knowledge encompasses everything, Azza wa Jal.
Arabic Text Source

Elsewhere Ibn Hajar says:

قال الكرماني قوله ‏”‏ في السماء ‏”‏ ظاهره غير مراد، إذ الله منزه عن الحلول في المكان، لكن لما كانت جهة العلو أشرف من غيرها أضافها إليه إشارة إلى علو الذات والصفات،

Al-Kirmani said: “The outward meaning [dhahirahu] of the saying: “He Who is in the heaven” (man fi al-sama’) is not meant. Allah is transcendent above immanence and place. However, because the direction of aboveness [jiha al-uluw] is nobler than any other direction, Allah linked it to Him to indicate the loftiness of the Essence and the Attributes.
Arabic Text Source

And again, the Imam says:

وقد حكى البيهقي عن أبي بكر الضبعي قال‏:‏ العرب تضع ‏”‏ في ‏”‏ موضع ‏”‏ على ‏”‏ كقوله ‏(‏فسيحوا في الأرض‏)‏ وقوله ‏(‏ولأصلبنكم في جذوع النخل‏)‏ فكذلك قوله ‏(‏من في السماء‏)‏ أي على العرش فوق السماء كما صحت الأخبار بذلك‏

[…]

إلا حديث ابن عباس فليس فيه إلا قوله ‏”‏ رب العرش ‏”‏ ومطابقته والله أعلم من جهة أنه نبه على بطلان قول من أثبت الجهة أخذا من قوله ‏(‏ذي المعارج‏)‏ ففهم أن العلو الفوقي مضاف إلى الله تعالى، فبين المصنف أن الجهة التي يصدق عليها أنها سماء والجهة التي يصدق عليها أنها عرش كل منهما مخلوق مربوب محدث، وقد كان الله قبل ذلك وغيره، فحدثت هذه الأمكنة، وقدمه يحيل وصفه بالتحيز فيها والله أعلم‏.‏

Bayhaqi mentioned Abu Bakr al-Dab`i’s saying that the Arabs use “in” (fi) in place of “over,” as in Allah’s saying: “Roam over (fi) the earth” and “I shall crucify you over (fi) the trunks of the palm-trees.” Likewise, Dab`i says, “In the heaven” means “Over the Throne above the heaven, as stated in the sound reports

[…]

And by including the hadith of Ibn `Abbas containing the words: “Lord of the mighty Throne” into this chapter, Bukhari warned those that might predicate spatial elevation to Allah (`uluw fawqi) that both the direction in which the heaven is believed to be and that in which the Throne is believed to be are created, lorded over, and brought into existence by Allah Who existed before all that and before everything else. Thus these places were created, and his existence, being eternal without beginning, precludes reference to him as being bounded by them. And Allah knows best
Arabic Text Source

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