6.Transcendence (Rising Above)

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6. Transcendence (Rising Above):
This Attribute is referenced in the Saying of Allah Most High, {The Most Beneficent (Allah) rose over the Throne.}[Taha 20: 5]
     We should know before all else that the 'rising' of Allah (Glorious & Exalted) over His Throne does not resemble the rising of the created over things, for there is nothing like unto Allah (Glorious & Exalted).
     We should also know that the Throne is one of the greatest of Allah's creations. Allah (Mighty & Majestic) glorified it Himself, and honored it by rising over it; indeed, He is the Lord of the Throne. He says, {Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above all (the lies) they attribute to Him!}[Al-Anbiyaa' 21: 22]
     The rising of Allah Almighty over the Throne means that He (Noble & Sublime) ascends in a special way befitting His Glory and Grandeur. This ascendance is an established fact about Allah Almighty in a real sense.
     Allah (Glorious & Exalted) ascends to the Throne in a way befitting Him (Mighty & Majestic). It does not resemble the rising of a human being onto his bed, nor does it resemble ascendancy in astronomy or anything else.
     As for those who interpret the rising (istiwaa') as taking possession (istilaa'), these have fallen into gross error, for that is a deviation of the word from its place. It is contrary to that which was agreed upon by the Companions of Allah's Messenger (pbuh) and those who followed them in truth. Such a false interpretation has corrupt consequences, so no believer should utter it.
     Taking possession of a thing can only be in a case in which there is an opposite. Whichever of the two overcomes the other becomes the possessor of that thing. As such, this interpretation is corrupt and incorrect. May Allah be exalted above the idea of having an opponent to vie with over His kingdom!
     The truth is that the istiwaa' of Allah (Mighty & Majestic) over His Throne is rising and actual ascendancy. It is a rising that befits His Glory and Grandeur, in accord with the Saying of the Most High, {There is none like unto Him.}[Al-Shura 42: 11]
     This is the meaning that is true to the term, for the Holy Quran was revealed in the Arabic language, and the principle in determining the meaning of words in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) is that it remains on the exact meaning in the Arabic language.
     When Imam Malik was asked concerning the Verse, {The Most Beneficent (Allah) rose over the Throne}[Taha 20: 5]: how is the istiwaa'? He replied (may Allah be merciful to him), "The istiwaa' (rising) is known, but the 'how' is unknown; belief is obligatory, and the question about it is innovation (bid`ah)."
     As we have now established, the rising of Allah (Mighty & Majestic) over His Throne is an ascendancy befitting His Glory and Grandeur, and this rising does not resemble the rising of a created human being, onto his bed or otherwise, and that there is nothing like unto Allah Almighty. This now leads us to an important question, which is: Where is Allah?
     Allah (Noble & Sublime) has informed us that He is in the heavens, ascendant over His Throne. The Most High has said, {Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, then behold it shakes (as in an earthquake)?}[Al-Mulk 67: 16]
     The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) told us that His Lord (Noble & Sublime) is in the heavens. He said, "Do you not believe me, when I am trusted by He Who is in the heavens, and news comes to me morning and evening?" [Sahih al-Bukhari]
     Indeed, Allah's Messenger (pbuh) testified to the faith of the slave-girl when she told him that Allah is in the heavens [or: sky].  In Sahih Muslim, Mu`awiyah ibn al-Hakam struck a slave-girl of his, due to some shortcoming in protecting his sheep, but then he regretted it, so he came to Allah's Messenger (pbuh) asking his permission to set her free. So, Allah's Messenger (pbuh) called for her and asked her, "Where is Allah?" She replied, "In the sky." He asked, "Who am I?" She replied, "You are the Messenger of Allah." He said, "Set her free, for she is a believer." [Reported by Muslim]
     We would like to point out that, in saying that Allah (Noble & Sublime) is in the heavens, we do not mean that He (Mighty & Majestic) is present within the heavens. What we mean is that Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is above the heavens. He is High above His creation, not connected to them, and that His Ascendancy (Noble & Sublime) is that of Being, Position, Honor, and Force; indeed, it is one of His Essential Attributes.
     What we have said can be confirmed in the Holy Quran and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
     What we have indicated can be clarified by Allah's Words in the story of the Pharoah, when he said to those who believed Moses (Musa, peace be upon him) in the Quran, {…and I will surely crucify you on the trunks of palm trees…}[Taha 20: 71]
     In this Verse, Pharoah threatens those who believed in the God of Moses (peace be upon him) that he would crucify them on the trunks of palm trees, but not in them, since the preposition, "fi," in the Noble Verse gives the meaning, "on," [though its more common meaning is "in"].  
     Additionally, the Existence of Allah Almighty above the heavens is a matter known by the natural tendency of man's pure nature, just as it is known by sound and reliable reason. This is shown in the answer of the slave-girl.
A deviant question might then be asked: If Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is described as being high, does this Attribute of Ascendancy mean by definition that He is confined—that He exists in a place of fixed dimensions? Or, alternately, would the Almighty be described as being everywhere?
     We will answer by saying first that Allah (Mighty & Majestic) is characterized by Ascendancy without limitation, and that He (Noble & Sublime) cannot be described as being everywhere.
     First we would like to address the second issue: that Allah (Noble & Sublime) is not to be described as present everywhere. That is because man's pure, good nature and his sound, reliable reason both deny such corrupt statements, and there is no evidence for such a claim in the Holy Quran or in the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). In fact, it would be impossible for the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) to say anything of the sort.
     The Holy Quran is the truth. Our Lord (Blessed & Exalted) sent it down upon His messenger, Muhammad (pbuh), to deliver man from darkness into the light. Thus, it cannot contain anything but the truth, in accordance with the Saying of the Most High, {And with truth We have sent it down (i.e., the Quran) and with truth it has descended. And We have sent you (oh Muhammad, pbuh) as nothing but a bearer of glad tidings and a warner.}[Al-Israa' 17: 105]
     The truth is that Allah (Mighty & Majestic) is Great. He is vindicated of any defect or imperfection in His Being, or His Attributes and Names. This is what man's good nature and sound reason indicate, since they could not accept that it is from the Attributes of Allah (Mighty & Majestic) that He be present in an impure or filthy place, or in places of actual impurity or filth, and these would be included in "everywhere."
     It is impossible to accept a description that locates Allah (Mighty & Majestic) in any impure animal, such as a pig or anything else of the sort.
     High Exalted is Allah (Noble & Sublime) above having His Attributes tainted by the likes of such an absolute claim, "everywhere." That is because it would mean containing the Divine Being, which is something impossible to imagine, as we have shown.
     To comment further on this claim, we say that Allah (Mighty & Majestic) is with us through His Attributes: He sees us anywhere we are, in accordance with the Saying of the Most High, {I am with you both, Hearing and Seeing.}[Taha 20: 46]
     In fact, He (Noble & Sublime) knows what is concealed and what the hearts hide, in accord with His Saying, {Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal.}[Ghaafir 40: 19]
Here we move on to answer the first issue: that Allah (Mighty & Majestic) is described as being without limitation. We will clarify this response as follows:
     Before Allah (Mighty & Majestic) created creation, there was no time or place; there was nothing but Allah (Glorious & Exalted).
     Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is Eternal and Everlasting. He is the Originator of all things, the Creator of all that is created.
     Time and place were both created by Allah (Mighty & Majestic) for His creation after He created them from nothing, for He (Glorious & Exalted) does whatever He pleases, in accordance with His Absolute, Ultimate Wisdom. He (Glorious & Exalted) is Able to do anything, and there is none like unto Him.
     Time and place are both creations of Allah (Mighty & Majestic).
     Therefore, Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is unlimited by place, nor does He exist within the bounds of time.
     Before time and place existed, nothing existed except God, the Creator (Glorious & Exalted).
     As such, the Ascendancy of Allah (Glorious & Exalted) above His creation and above the heavens He created is an Ascendancy of Being, Position, Honor, and Force, encompassing them, without being connected to them, and without limitations.
     To represent this logically with what Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said, as a hypothetical example: He (may Allah have mercy on him) said, "If a man had, in his hand, a vessel of clear glass, in which was a clear liquid, his human sight could encompass the vessel without him being inside the vessel. Thus, Allah—to Whom belongs the ultimate example—encompasses all His creation without being inside any of it. 
     In addition, if a man constructed a building with all its amenities and then shut the door and went outside, it would not be unknown to this man how many homes were in this building, and how big each house was, without this owner being present inside the building. Thus, Allah—to Whom belongs the ultimate example—encompasses all His creations. He knows their secrets and their exteriors, without being inside anything He created. 
     This was a logical representation of what we have presented, in order to bring the meaning closer to the mind, for that is what the honest, straightforward mind accepts.
Let us now contemplate the great extent to which Muslims glorify their God, the Supreme Creator, in the Final Legislation with which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came, which vindicates Him (Noble & Sublime) of all charges of imperfection in His Being, His Attributes, and His Names.
     How perfectly synchronized is the Muslims' glorification of Allah Most High with the sound, pure nature with which man was made by his God and Creator!
     How harmonious is the Muslims' glorification of Allah Most High with the honest, straightforward reason which Allah (Blessed & Exalted) granted human beings in order to know His Supreme Attributes (Noble & Sublime) and testify to them, so as not to accept or be pleased with anything that faults them or detracts from their quality or status.
     Allah (Noble & Sublime) is not glorified to the extent that He is rightfully due, except in the religion of Islam, with which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came. This we will now prove (by the Will of Allah Almighty), by way of clarifying some of that which has been attributed to Him by adherents of false religions and the previous divine messages that were corrupted—Christianity and Judaism—in terms of attributes which blame and humble God, the Creator (Noble & Sublime).
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