People would feel strange when they see this topic. What is more strange than that is the fact that people would think it is strange when we hear it today. Because that particular question is actually based on a question that was asked by the Prophet Muhammad SAW. There is a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, and others about this. This is one of the most important aspect of Aqeedah in the Muslim's life. It is very essential that we know about these things because this deals with our knowledge of Allah. The only way the Muslims will rise again and being honoured among the other nations is when we establish our relationship with Allah. We have to return to Allah. And we cannot return to Allah unless we know who Allah is. This topic is important to be discussed because according to many Scholars, if you have wrong understandings, you may not even belonged to Islam. If someone asked you "Where is Allah?" and your answer is not following according to the teachings, it may take you out of Islam, but you are excused for not knowing it. But if we did have the wrong understandings, we must make the modifications now.
So, Where is Allah? The average answer that you hear is Allah is everywhere. That is the most common answer. But the right position is that Allah SWT is above His Creations. He is not everywhere. The evidences are from the Quran, the Sunnah, Ijma' i.e. consensus of the Sahaba, Aql i.e. the intellect and Al-Fitrah i.e. natural disposition. These five evidences will prove the believe of Ahl Sunnah Wal Jamaah is pertaining to where Allah SWT is.
Within the Quran, there are five different occasions or five different ways of how Allah is being above as mentioned in the Quran.
- Surah Al-A'la'. The first verse says, سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى "Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High". Allah SWT is the Most High.
- At the end of Ayat Kursi, the verse وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ contains "The Most High".
Some who don't understand says that this is just another Allah's attributes for being high but not necessarily Allah Himself. But let's look at the next aspect which says Him being above.
ii. Being above
Allah have said about the Angels, "They fear their Lord who is above them." (16:50)
In the Arabic languange, مِّن فَوْقِهِمْ, it means absolutely nothing except that that which we are speaking about is above in a physical sense. Now, where do Angels live? Where are their common place? The answer is in the Heavens. When Allah is above them, meaning Allah is above the Heavens.
iii. Things going up to Allah
Allah says, "To Allah goes up the goodly words, (Dzikr, Dua, recitation of the Quran) and the righteous deeds ascend to Him... " (35:10)
When the Prophet SAW was going to Isra' Mikraj, he was taken up to the Heavens. Where did he speak to Allah? Where did he run into Moses when he was given the obligatory of Solat to 50? He ran into Moses in the 6th Heavens and Moses told him to go back to Allah and ask Him to reduce the Solat. And Rasulullah SAW went back up. Where did this happen, everywhere or above the Heavens? Of course, above the Heavens.
iv. Things going down from Allah
Allah says, Verily We have sent down our Remembrance. (15:9) The word نَزَّلْنَا or tanzil means things coming down, then, why would that word be used, if Allah is everywhere. If Allah is everywhere, there will be no need for things to go up or go down.
v. He mentioned that He is above the Heavens
It is mentioned in Surah Al-Mulk. He says, " Do you feel secure that He who is above the Heavens and will cause the Earth to swallow you?" (67:16) Hence, this describes that Allah SWT is being above the Heavens.
Ironically, this is also the belief system of the Fir'aun. In Surah Al-Qashash, we have this particular incident mentioned. It is a statement from Fir'aun to his Wazir, Haman. Fir'aun said to Haman, "O Haman, build for me a construction so I may ascend in ways of the Heavens, so I could look the Lord of the Moses." (28:38) This means that Moses taught the Firaun that Allah is above His Creations and not everywhere. Otherwise, Firaun must have not made this particular statement.
There are also verses dealing with Jesus AS. We know the miracles of Jesus, whereby the Christian said that he was crucified while we know from the Quran that Allah says, " Nay, but Allah raised him up to Himself" (4:158).
The way you established the Sunnah is divided into 3 categories:
i. The statement of the Messenger of Allah SAW.
ii. The action of the Messenger of Allah SAW.
iii. The approval or the acknowledgement of Allah SWT.
i. The statement of the Messenger of Allah SAW.
a. What do you say when you do your Sujud? سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الأَعْلَى "Glory be to Allah the Most High" (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, An-Nasa'i, At-Tirmithi, Ahmad)
b. Hadith in Saheeh Muslim, the hadith of Muawiyah ibn Hakam As-Salmi. During that time, he had a girl working for him. And that girl was responsible for the sheeps, goats. Muawiyah came to the Messenger of Allah SAW asking him a number of questions. Among the things that he asked was "O Messenger of Allah, I had this girl working for me and at one time, a wolf ate of the sheeps, so I became angry with this young lady and I slapped her and I feel guilty." Now he wants expiation for this sin.
The Messenger of Allah SAW said ,"Bring her to me." When the young lady came to the Prophet SAW, the first thing he asked her was "Where is Allaah?" She said: "He is above the Heavens" (and pointing her finger to the heavens). He asked, "Who am I?" She said, "The Messenger of Allaah." So he said to her master: "Set her free, for she is a believer."
Now this young girl was uneducated, as many are, and she was a slave, but she knew that her Lord is above the Heaven and she acknowledged the Messenger of Allah. If she has made a mistake, Rasulullah SAW would have corrected her. She didn't say that Allah is everywhere. She confirmed her believe upon the 2 questions which confirm the Lailahaillallah and Muhammada Rasulullah. This is to tell us that part of that Kalimah of Tauhid is known in the Aqeedah in which what the Prophet Saw teaches and convey is about Allah.
Is it based on vague and ambiguous information? No. The Quran was being revealed in the languange which they understood and they were the Scriptures and Attributes of Allah which the Companion understood in the right context. No questions were posed during that time, but nowadays these people were trying to twist the meaning and they use their intellect to judge the Quran and the Sunnah. This is a big calamities among the Muslims. We want to be united under one roof, but then, we do not agree about Allah . This did not happen in the early generations. But now the average Muslim, when they were asked Where is Allah, they would say Allah is everywhere. This statement is very dangerous.
ii. The Acknowledgement from Rasulullah SAW
In Sahih Bukhari, Zaynab bin Jash, the wife of the Prophet SAW said she used to say to the other wives, "Your parents gave you marriage, as for me Allah gave me marriage from the above seven heavens."
In Hadith of Musaib, in Bukhari Muslim, the Prophet SAW told the companions "Do you not trust me and I am entrusted by He who is above the Heavens?"
iii. The action of Messenger of Allah SWT
In the largest gathering of Muslim before Prophet SAW passed away, he gathered all the companions, then after he delivered his Khutbah, he said, Have I not conveyed? He said it three times. Then he would point his finger to the Heavens and to the Companions and said "O Allah bear witness, O Allah bear witness". (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
It is dangerous to say Allah is everywhere because if you do, that means you have rejected all of these Sunnah.
We dont have any single statement from any of the companions or the Tabiin or the early of the Scholars and Ulama' that Allah Taala is none above the Creation. Imam Abu Hanifah mentioned that whoever denies that Allah Azzawajal is above the Heavens has disbelieved (Recorded by Ibn Abil-Ezz al-Hanafee in the explanation of “Al-Aqeedah at-Tahawiyah (p. 288)). But today, people follow him in every aspect of the minor issues of Fiqh, but when you check their belief system, you will find that their Aqeedah is in one side and that Imam Abu Hanifah's is on the other side. And this is not befitting. If you really want to follow with the Imams, the first thing that you should focus on is your belief system ie Lailahaillallah. Because the first question that we will be asked is our belief system. This is the belief of Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, An-Nasa'i, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, At-Termizi, you name them, every Scholar that you think of, their belief system is that Allah SWT is above the seven Heavens, above His Creations, above His Thrones or Al-Arsy which befits His Majesty and His Greatness. Don't say how, because we do not know how. No one knows how because Allah taught us in the Quran. There is nothing like unto Allah. A human being is unable to perceive what Allah SWT is in reality. But you do not deny the Quran and the Sunnah and the teachings of the Prophet SAW.
Things are either above or below. And being below is unacceptable to Allah, intellectually. So being above is a necessity, Another thing, it is usually the higher the person is the more respected he is. For example, in a business, you have the CEO in the highest position, then you go down where you have the manager and so on where you have a list of positions and obviously the higher you are in rank, the more honourable and respected you are with your employees, So if this is the case for something insignificant like us the Creation, then having something High and Most Praiseworthy and have the quality of perfection, then Allah SWT is the most deserving for that. We actually don't need this intellectual evidence but just as a supportive evidence to proof that even a mind is an agreement to the fact that Allah is above His Creations and not everywhere.
5. Fitrah - Natural Disposition
When someone was befalled with calamities, don't you naturally feel to ask dua by raising your hands towards the sky. It's in your nature without anyone teaching you anything, you turn towards Allah and you look up. Even for the Jews and Christians, it is confirmed with them that Allah is above His Creations. Unfortunately they have twisted their belief system. This is proven that Moses has taught that Allah is above the heavens and Fir'aun believed that as mentioned before.
These are solid proofs that Allah is above His Creations and not everywhere.