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Interpretation of the Verse(الرَّحمَنُ عَلَى العَرشِ استَوَى) PDF Print Email
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015 06:36

Interpretation of the Verse(الرَّحمَنُ عَلَى العَرشِ استَوَى)

It is necessary that the interpretation of this verse be other than dwelling, sitting, and the likes of that, and whoever believes that blasphemes. It is obligatory to leave out carrying this verse by its apparent meaning; instead, it is carried by a meaning that is acceptable to the intellect. Therefore, the expression istiwa is taken to mean subjugation. In the Arabic language it is said:

اسْتَوَى فُلانٌ عَلَى الْمَمَالِكِ

[which means] “So-and-so had istawa over the kingdoms,” if he possessed the keys of rulership and had dominion over the people. That is like the saying of the poet:

قَد اسْتَوَى بِشْرٌ عَلَى العِرَاقِ    مِنْ غَيْرِ سَيْفٍ وَدَمٍ مُهْرَاقِ

[which means] “Bishr conquered [istawa] ^Iraq without a sword or bloodshed.”

The benefit of specifically mentioning the ^Arsh is that it is the greatest creation of Allah the Exalted in size, therefore the inclusion of what is less than that is more so known. Imam ^Aliyy said, “Certainly Allah the Exalted created the ^Arsh as a demonstration of His Power, and He did not take it as a place for Himself.” This was narrated by the Imam, Muhaddith, Faqih and Linguist, Abu Mansur At-Tamimiyy in his book At-Tabsirah. Or it is said that He Istawa with an Istiwa that He Knows, and He is Exalted from the istiwa of the creations, like sitting and dwelling.

Know that it is obligatory to warn against those who validate Allah sitting upon the ^Arsh or dwelling upon it by interpreting the Saying of Allah the Exalted,

﴿الرَّحمَنُ عَلَى العَرشِ استَوَى﴾

as sitting or being parallel from above, claiming that no existing thing is conceived unless it is in a place. Their evidence is invalid. They also claim that the saying of the Salaf,Istiwa without a how,” is in agreement with that. They did not know that the Salaf were negating sitting, dwelling, containment in a place, being parallel, and all created attributes, such as motion, stillness, and emotions.

Al-Qushayriyy said:

What invalidates their fallacy is that it would be said to them, “Before creating the world, was He Existing or not?” By the necessity of the mind, they would say, “Indeed.” Hence, one of two matters is imposed on them: either to say that the place, the ^Arsh, and the world are eternal, or else to say that the Lord is an event, and this is the result of the saying the ignorant speakers of nonsense.  The Eternal is not an event and the event is not eternal.

Al-Qushayriyy also said in his book At-Tadhkirah Ash-Sharqiyyah: “If it were said, ‘Does Allah not Say:

﴿الرَّحمَنُ عَلَى العَرشِ استَوَى﴾

while it is obligatory to take the apparent meaning?’, we say to them, ‘Allah also Says :

﴿وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كُنْتُمْ﴾

[which translates literally as “He is with you wherever you are,”] and the Exalted Says:

﴿أَلآ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىءٍ مُّحِيطٌ﴾

[which translates literally as “Is it not true that Allah encompasses everything”]? Then, according to you, it would also be necessary to take these verses by the apparent meaning, so that all at once He would be on the ^Arsh, and with us, and encompassing the world, surrounding it by Himself.’”

Al-Qushayriyy said, “It is impossible that the One Who is Indivisible would be, at one time, in every place by himself.” Al-Qushayriyy [also] said, “They said: ‘His Saying,

﴿وَهُوَ مَعَكُمْ﴾

means “by Knowledge” and

﴿بِكُلِّ شَىءٍ مُّحِيطٌ﴾

it means, “Encompassment by Knowledge.”’”

He means that they have made ta’wil for these verses and did not carry them by their apparent meanings, so how would they blame others for making ta’wil for the verse of al-istiwa by explaining it as subjugation? What is this capriciousness?

Al-Qushayriyy [also] said:

Had what we said given the impression that He was overcome, then the Saying of Allah:

﴿وَهُوَ القَاهِرُ فَوقَ عِبَادِهِ﴾

[which means] “He is the Subduer over His slaves,” would also give that impression; that reasoning implies that He was subdued before the creation of the slaves—how preposterous!—since the slaves had no existence before He created them. In fact, had the issue been as the ignorant people imagine, that His Istiwa is by the Self, that would imply change and previous deficiency that existed before the time of that istiwa; for certainly the Creator, the Exalted, was Existing before the ^Arsh, and the one who is honest knows that saying that change occurred to the ^Arsh because of the Lord is more appropriate than saying that change occurred to the Lord because of the ^Arsh. The Lord is attributed with high Status and Greatness and He is cleared from connection or disconnection and moving or stillness. He is clear from being in a place or being parallel to things.

Al-Qushayriyy, may Allah have Mercy upon him, [also] said:

A group of ruffians showed up, and had it not been that they present to the lay people what rushes to their imaginations I would have exalted this book from staining it by mentioning them. They say, “We take by the apparent meaning; we take the verses that suggest resemblance and the hadiths that give the illusion of Allah having an organ according to the apparent meaning.” And they say, “It is not permissible for us to make ta’wil for any of that.” According to their claim, they are holding fast to the Saying of Allah,

﴿وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُ إِلَّا اللهُ﴾

[which means] “No one knows the ta’wil except Allah.”

Those people, I swear by the One Who Controls our souls, are more dangerous to Islam than the Jews, Christians, Majus, and idol-worshippers, because the misguidance of the blasphemers is apparent; the Muslim refrains from that. Those people come to the laymen from a path by which the weak people would be deluded. Those people who propagated misguidance and conveyed those innovations in the creed to others, in their hearts they have legitimated ascribing the Glorified, Worshipped One with organs and body parts, and riding, and descending and leaning, and sitting or dwelling in a place by His Self, and going back and forth in the different directions.

Whoever gives consideration to the apparent meanings, physical matters rush to his imagination. Then he would hold the ugly, shameful matters as a creed, i.e., likening Allah to the creation. Then the current would sweep him away without him realizing it.

So it became clear that the saying of those who say that interpreting the text by other than the apparent meanings is not permissible is a mistake, and is ignorance; and it is disproven by the saying of the Prophet about Ibn ^Abbas:

اللهُمَّ عَلّمْهُ الحِكْمَة وَتَأْوِيلَ الكِتَابِ

[which means] “O Allah, teach him the Wisdom [i.e., the Sunnah] and the Ta’wil of the Book.” This hadith was narrated by Al-Bukhariyy, Ibn Majah, and others, with varying expressions.

Hafidh Ibnul-Jawziyy said in his book Al-Majalis, “And there is no doubt that Allah answered this supplication of the Messenger.” Ibnul-Jawziyy was very stringent against those who denied interpreting those verses by other than their apparent meanings, and he spoke about that at length, so whoever wants additional certainty then let him read that.

The meaning of the Saying of Allah the Exalted:

﴿يَخَافُونَ رَبـَّهُم مِن فَوْقِهِم﴾

[which translates literally as “They fear their Lord from above them,”] refers to the highness of subjugation and not the highness of place or direction.

The meaning of the Saying of Allah,

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ وَالْـمَلَكُ صَفًا صَفًا﴾

[which translates literally as: “And your Lord will come and the angels will be row after row,”] is not a “coming” of motion, transfer, or moving and emptying one place and filling up another in reference to Allah, and whoever believes that blasphemes. Allah the Exalted created motion and stillness, and everything that is an attribute of the created things. Therefore, Allah would not be attributed with motion or stillness.

What is meant by the Saying of Allah:

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ﴾

[which translates literally as “Your Lord comes,”] is “the Order of your Lord comes.” This means that a trace among the traces of His Power becomes apparent. It is confirmed from Imam Ahmad that he said about the Saying of Allah,

﴿وَجَاءَ رَبُّكَ﴾

[which translates literally as “Your Lord comes,”] that it means “His Power came.” This means that the traces of Allah’s Power will become apparent. This is related by Al-Bayhaqiyy in his book Manaqib Ahmad.