Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
I have been living my life as a muslim without knowing many things about Islam, Allah, His Throne, and i have been very anxious about seeking knowledge because of the fact that I might discover that I have been believing misconceptions about Islam or that I have been ignorant about certain things. I hope you can help me out.
Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayran for your question
What makes a person a Muslim is that they simply testify in their heart that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Whosoever testifies that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Allah has made the Fire unlawful for him’. [Muslim]
This belief makes a person a Muslim. Therefore, do not doubt your faith or anyone else’s.
Beyond this testification which makes a person Muslim, there are matters that are obligatory for each Muslim to know in order to make their basic belief sound and complete. These matters are some details relating to what is termed the ‘Six Articles of Faith’. These are: Belief in Allah Most High, His angels, His prophets, His books, the Day of Judgment, and divine decree.
While knowing some details about these matters is obligatory (to the extent possible given each individual’s ability and situation) not knowing them does not negate a person’s basic testification which makes them a Muslim, so long as they do not knowingly negate anything that is necessarily known to be part of the religion, such as the obligation of the five pillars.
Not included in obligatory matters one must know is the nature or reality of God’s ‘Throne’ or related theological issues and exegetical discussions. A person will not be asked on these matters in the grave or on the Day of Judgment, but they will be asked about their basic belief in Allah, his Messenger, and held accountable for his works.
I highly recommend taking a basic, structured ‘aqida course which will give you the obligatory knowledge that each individual should know. However, to answer your specific question on the meaning of Allah Most High being above or elevated over His throne, the following brief points suffice for now:
1. God is absolutely dissimilar to creation, for Allah Most High has said, ‘There is nothing like unto Him’ [42:11]. He does not possess a corporeal body and is not defined by time and space.
2. Some of the early Muslims did not delve into the meaning of this verse (or similar verses), but rather contented themselves with assigning the meaning to Allah Most High, while at the same time negating that Allah Most High is anything like creation.
3. Some of the early Muslims, such as Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both), and later scholars, explained ‘Allah is above His throne’ as meaning that Allah is established in Authority and Power over His dominion. This explanation is supported linguistically, is reinforced by the context of the rest of the verse(s) and by other verses of the Quran, and again, negates any concept of corporeality.
Though there is much more to the discussion, a simple example of this explanation from a linguistic point of view is the statement, ‘The king was on his throne for 10 years’ which clearly does not mean the king was physically sitting on his throne for a period of 10 years, but rather he reigned over his kingdom/subjects for 10 years. Even at this basic lexical level, the meaning is clearly understood by all.
The simplest things in life are most often the most profound and the most beautiful. The most beautiful and profound thing in life is faith. Keep it simple and guard it.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.