How Do We Understand the Hadith Stating that Allah Descends to the Lowest Heaven in the Last Third of Every Night?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Allah exists without place or space but what about this hadith – Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: ‘In the last third of every night our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) (Allah (SWT)) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; “Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?.”‘ [Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Qudsi]

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and spirits, insha’Allah.

The upshot is that there are two opinions of the scholars on this narration (hadith). Consequently, one of the ways it can be interpreted, here, is either:

[1] His mercy, command and angels descend; (t: just as we can say in English ‘the King made this town’, i.e. he commissioned for the town to be made, though the workers were the ones who actually did the job)

[2] It is a metaphor for His gentleness to those making supplication (i.e. at that time of night) and His answering them.

[Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, Fath al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari; Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Furthermore, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, the famous commentator on the Sahih al-Bukhari, Fath al-Bari, mentions a quote from Imam Baydawi in which he says that what is intended by the ‘descent’ is the light of His mercy and not His moving from one place to another (which is ‘lower’ in comparison to the first).

And Allah knows best.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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