How Can Allah Be Above the Throne and in Front of a Person Praying at the Same Time?

Answered by Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael

Question: Assalam alaykum,

In Sahih Muslim there is a Hadith which says that Allah is in front of a person who is Praying. Does it go against the belief that Allah is above His throne (Arsh)?

Answer: Dear questioner about the presence of Allah, Assalam alaykum.

Allah is perfect

The people of Sunna say that Allah has not been created and has always existed, before there was anything created. Thus they say, Allah does not share time and space with creation. He is not subjected to time and space. Allah was The Elevated and most High before creation existed. Meaning that these names were not linked to a direction or space of to any form of creation. He was and will always be perfect.

Allah is not subjected to time or place

When we say that Allah is in front of the one that prays, it can impossibly mean that He is literally in front of them, it means that He listens to them and sees them and their need. That is what someone does when he is in front of you. He sees you and hears you and will help you if you are in need of help.

Allah rules over the ‘Arsh

We believe that Allah rules over the arsh exactly like He rules over everything else. But we do not say that Allah resides above the Arsh. He created the Arsh to show His kingdom not as a place where He resides or sits or any other characteristic that is human.

A lack of understanding the Arabic language is the cause of wrong interpretations

It is a lack of understanding of Arabic language that caused people to give wrong interpretations of the verses and prophetic narrations about Allahs names and attributes. I strongly advice people to translate the book of ibn Jama’a: Eedah ad daleel into the English language as the book is very easy to grasp and is one of the best works written on this subject.

Wal hamdu lillah Rabbil ‘alameen

Wassalam
[Shaykh] Sulayman Van Ael

Shaykh Sulayman Van Ael
received ijazah from various luminaries in the ten Qur’anic readings, in Ihya Ulum al-Din, in the major books of hadith, in different texts in Guelph classical Islamic sciences–including grammar, tafsir, fiqh, and usul.

What Is the Nature of Destiny? [Video]

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

What is the nature of destiny?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Is It Disbelief to Say That Allah Is Everywhere or That Allah Is in My Heart?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: In our schools children are taught that Allah is everywhere so that they know that Allah is seeing them wherever they go and He knows whatever they do. Is this statement disbelief?

If a person says: “Allah is in my heart” meaning by that that faith is in his heart, is he a disbeliever?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

This statement is certainly not disbelief, nor does it make one a disbeliever, and nor is it problematic as generally understood by Muslims.

The Qur’an itself states in reference to God that, “He is with them wherever they are” (58:7) and “He is with you wherever you are.” (57:4). There is agreement amongst the exegetes that this refers to the knowledge of God. These verses demonstrate that the Qur’an did use such expressions but their context clearly indicates that this relates to knowledge and not God being present everywhere in His essence. [al-Tabari, Jami al-bayan; al-Razi, Mafatih al-ghayb]

Therefore, it would be permitted to use the expression, “God is everywhere” provided that it does not lead to confusion or unsound beliefs. In situations where it may, one should simply clarify the statement in the manner scholars of the past did.

The same ruling would apply to an expression such as “God is in my heart.” Rather, the metaphorical intent behind this expression is almost immediately known to most people since it is rare and odd for one to believe that such a statement is expressed by someone to indicate that God is literally in his heart.

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Is It Absurd to Believe That God’s Attributes Are Not Identical to God’s Essence?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Is this belief: “the attributes of Allah are not the essence of Allah, but they are not other than Allah” illogical?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

This formulation is not illogical.

At the outset, you should note that a number of discussions concerning the attributes of God are not from the fundamentals of faith. For this reason, scholars have had extensive and heated debate on the issue without this effecting the Islam of any of them.

The classical position of Sunni scholars is that the attributes of God, such as power, will, and knowledge, are not identical to God’s essence nor are they separate from it. Their being non-identical returns to the manner in which each is rationally conceptualized in the mind: the reality of an essence is not the same as the reality of an attribute. The attribute of power that subsists through the essence of X is not identical to the essence of X. Rather, the mind conceives of a particular meaning for an attribute that is distinct to that which it conceives for an essence. It is from this perspective of how the meaning of an attribute and essence is conceptualized in the mind that scholars formulated the statement that an attribute is not the same as an essence.

At the same time, an attribute is not other than the essence in the sense of being separate from it, which refers to:

(a) an attribute not subsisting on its own i.e. it always requires an essence through which it subsists.

(b) an attribute being innate to the essence i.e. in the external realm of existence an essence cannot exist without attributes.

In conclusion, the phrase “the attributes of God are distinct to His essence” relates back to the manner in which the mind conceives of an ‘attribute’ and an ‘essence’, while the phrase “the attributes of God are not other than His essence” refers to attributes always requiring an essence to subsist through and the fact that attributes/essence are inseparable in the external realm of existence as opposed to purely rational conceptualization.

(Note: Technically, it is not accurate to state that the attributes of God are “not other than God”. Rather, the correct expression is that the attributes of God are “not other than the essence.” This is because the expression God does not refer merely to an essence but to an essence ascribed with specific attributes as Shaykh Saeed Fawda clarifies.)

[al-Dardir, Kharida al-Bahiyya (90); al-Bajuri, Jawhara al-Tawhid (91-2)]

قال الشيخ سعيد فودة في تعليقاته على الدرة الفاخرة: وكثير من الناس يطلقون اسم [الله] على مجرد الذات العارية عن الصفات، فيقولون: الله وصفاته كما يقولون الذات والصفات، فيقيمون [الله] مقام الذات المجرد فقط، ولكن هذا الاستعمال عندي غير صحيح وعارٍ عن الدقة، بل الله هو الذات الموصوفة، وليس مجرد الذات المرادة من المفهوم من الذات عند إطلاقها عقلا. وقد سبق توضيح ذلك

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

How Does Oneness Relate to God’s Attributes?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: 1. Are Allah’s attributes one in the sense of that all of them are one?

2.Are all of Allah’s actions one?

3. Is Allah’s attribute of will according to his knowledge?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

1. Oneness as it relates to God’s attributes refers to two things:

(a) that there is nothing that possesses attributes like God’s attributes.
(b) that the attributes of God are not multiples in the sense of His possessing two attributes of power, two attributes of knowledge, and so forth.

2. God’s actions are one in terms of no one possessing acts as He does. Otherwise, the actual acts themselves are a multitude, such as giving life, death, sustenance, and so forth.

3. Yes. The will of God accords to His knowledge. An important point to note here, however, is that the will of God does not follow His knowledge in the sense that God knows something and then He wills it. Such order does not apply to the eternal since God is free of change but only to created beings.

[al-Bajuri, Sharh Jawhara al-Tawhid (70, 96)]

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

Does Allah ‘Pray on the Prophet’ (peace be upon him)?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam aleykum,

Does Allah ‘pray on the Prophet’ (peace be upon him)?

Answer: Assalamu ‘Alaykum,

I pray that you are well.

The Qur’an reads, Allah and his angels bless the Prophet [Qur’an; 33.56]. If one were to translate the verse literally from the Arabic, it would sound like: Allah and his angels pray on the Prophet. The intention is most certainly not that Allah or the angels are literally praying on the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Likewise, when we ask Allah to “pray on the Prophet,” by saying, Allahumma salli ʿala Muhammad, we are actually asking for Allah to bless, venerate, and reward the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, in this world and the next. In Arabic, that meaning is simply conveyed in a manner that sounds incongruous when literally rendered in English.

Wassalam,
Shuaib Ally

Photo: Osama Saeed Bhutta

Is Losing Hope in Dua a Sign That I Am Not a True Believer?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Is losing hope in dua a sign that I am not a true believer?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Hope and Fear

“Let no sin reach such proportions in your eyes
that it cuts you off from having a good opinion of God
for, indeed, whoever knows his Lord
considers his sin as paltry next to His generosity.” (Aphorism of Ibn Ata’illah)

Dear sister, never despair in the Mercy of Allah. Losing hope in dua is a sign that you are in need of spiritual nourishment. Increase in your obligatory acts of worship, as well as your supererogatory acts of worship. Seek out the company of those who remind you of the Mercy of Allah. Work on cutting down on things in your life which displease Allah. Ask Allah to grant you the blessing of having a good opinion of Him.

Remember that Allah tests those whom He loves. Spiritual struggle is therefore a sign of His Love for you.

I pray that Allah increases your hope in Him, and helps you see His Mercy and Love.

Please see:

The Door of Repentance and Return to Allah is Always Open

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Omar Chatriwala

Is My Faith Valid Even If I Can’t Answer All Doubts?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: My Mother is dealing with someone at work that is dedicated to making her doubt Islam by trying to find contradictions between Hadith and empirical science. What’s your advice to her?

Most “contradictions” are very specific and would need specialists in those fields to determine accuracy.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

Obligatory Faith

We are obligated to believe everything that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – delivered to us from God, and that he was truthful in transmitting what he did.

Does Failing to Resolve Apparent Contradictions Negate this?

Someone may point out apparent contradictions between certain narrations and empirical science, in an attempt to demonstrate the unreliability of the former. A Muslim’s faith is not impugned if they do not know how to resolve these apparent contradictions, or how others have sought to resolve it, even if they do nothing to find out.

Reasons for Faith Remaining Intact

This is for two reasons. One is that, as you have mentioned, many such resolutions require specialist knowledge, or at least a familiarity with Islamic or other disciplines. A layperson is not obligated to know such information for their faith to be sound.

The second is that a person is obligated to believe in a general framework that is internally coherent; this is the belief that I mentioned above, that the Prophet – peace and blessings of God be upon him – transmitted to us truthfully from God.

With that as the default, singular confusions or lack of understanding of the interpretation of specific traditions attributed to the Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, cannot be said to render the entire framework of belief untrue.

This understanding of knowledge accords with the manner in which we normally see and operate in the world. For example, a person can have a general belief in the idea of gravity, which may be as unsophisticated as believing that things are supposed to fall down. That, as a default belief, is based on good evidence, namely, the vast majority of a person’s life experience. If, however, one comes across something that seems to militate against this – say, something that rises instead of falling down – one wouldn’t discard their belief in the general applicability of gravity, even if they don’t understand precisely how this exception fits into the entire system, or never bothers to find out.

A similar scenario plays out for faith beliefs, such as a person’s belief in the prophecy of Muhammad – peace and blessings of God be upon him. An inability to readily explain certain narrations, or even to access scholarly discussion on such matters, does not render the entire coherent framework of belief untrue.

This easily applies at the level of the layperson, because of the lack of access to scholarship. It can also applies at the scholarly level; this is why scholars, who by virtue of being human have access to limited knowledge, may at times indicate that they are not sure yet how to fit certain traditions into the overall framework of established belief.

How Scholars Deal with Difficult Traditions

That said, if one is able to, it is generally encouraged to seek out answers to anything one thinks might impugn their faith.

To this end, it is useful to know how scholars tend to deal with traditions that, while transmitted through sound methods, appear to contradict empirical truths. They usually do this in one of two ways.

The first is to interpret the text in a non-literal fashion when possible, according to linguistic and social convention. This is a preferred method, as it allows for scholars to conserve and continue to make use of the maximum amount of available evidence, as opposed to discarding it.

When this does not appear possible, scholars may consider the tradition fabricated; a general principle is that a sign of a tradition being fabricated is that it irreparably contradicts other clear evidence, whether it be established texts or principles, or empirical truth.

Understanding that there are hermeneutical principles at play in interpreting and dealing with traditions can – God willing – assuage the layperson in remaining content in their faith, especially if one does not have the time, means, or concern to delve into the issues raised. If this is not the case, one should seek out reliable scholarship in an effort to determine how others have specifically dealt with such apparent contradictions.

Wassalam,
Shuaib Ally

Has My Father’s Joke Made Him a Disbeliever?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Once I was leading my father in prayer and I accidentally said something in English. I have since repeated the prayer but when I asked him about it he jokingly told me not to worry as Allah does not speak English. Is my father Muslim after this joke?

Answer: assalamu `alakum

Your father is certainly a Muslim. Alhamdulilah. His statement is not one that renders him a disbeliever, nor one that is disbelief.

Islam is not something that individuals can be “removed” from so casually. When someone enters Islam, that person becomes inviolable; his/her person, his/her honor, his/her wealth etc.. This inviolability is magnanimous in the eyes of God, His Prophet (God bless him), and the early Muslims. Indeed, as the Prophet, Ibn Umar and others gazed upon the Ka’aba they would state, “the inviolability of a believer is greater with God than your inviolability.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi; Sunan Ibn Majah]

Those who are quick to engage in throwing people outside the fold do not understand this inviolability. Given the various prophetic traditions in explicit condemnation of anathema (takfir), such as, “accusing a believer of disbelief is akin to killing him,” it is often surprising to see how individuals can entertain it so easily

This manner of thinking is not only contrary to the religion of Islam because it fails to recognize the rank of the believer, but it it also involves ill-opinion, false testimony, suspicion, causing division, and much more that the religion warns against. This is why we must always be cautious and circumspect when it comes to such judgments, which, for the most part, do not concern us as laymen.

For some more details on this issue, please refer too:
What Takes a Person Out of the Fold of Islam?

What Are the Consequences of an Oath of Disbelief?

Please also not that the reproachful nature of the answer is not meant to be directed at you as an individual but simply to get across the seriousness of engaging in takfir.

Salman

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Are Mawlids Promoting Wrong Beliefs?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

1. At mawlids, people believe that the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) soul will be present. Is this true?

2. In some mawlids, they say some poetry that basically means, “the provider of provision is Muhammad” Is there any truth to this?

3. Can you stand up to give salam to the Prophet (peace be upon him)?

Answer:Walaikum assalam,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

#1. The Coming of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)

This is not what is commemorated. Rather, it is a celebration of the “coming of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)” to the world—when his noble birth is mentioned.

Related to this is the spiritual notion of the “presence” of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), which isn’t a physical (rather, a metaphysical/spiritual) presence, well-established by hadiths: Can You Please Explain the Belief of The “Presence” of the Prophet?

#2. When sound, such texts indicate “means of…” — because Allah provides assistance or withholds by His love and favouring of elect servants—and the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) is His Most Beloved.

Examples from the Companions:

First Poems of Praise for Prophet Muhammad

THE THEMES IN RELIGIOUS POETRY IN THE TIME OF OUR BELOVED PROPHET MUHAMMAD

#3. Standing up for salams is simply a customary expression of love, respect, and rejoicing. Neither standing nor these emotions are wrong—and there is nothing prohibited about such standing…

This became a norm from the 8th/9th Islamic centuries, and was first performed when the great poet al-Sarsari recited lines of praise of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the lesson of Imam Taqi al-Din al-Subki (a great Shafi`i jurist, recognized as a mujtahid). Since then, it has been a widely accepted legal position (if not the predominant, historical, position) that such standing is permitted and praiseworthy.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

wassalam,
Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Touzrimounir