Jahmite Ash'aris Shaken and Disturbed By al-Baqillani's Statements Concerning Allah Being Above The Throne
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Tuesday, July, 07 2009 and filed under Misconceptions
Key topics: Al-Uluww Throne Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani Al-Uluww Throne Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani

In a previous article we quoted from one of the earliest and perhaps second most important figure in the formalization of the Ash'ari Madhhab, Qaadee Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, on the subject of where is Allaah, from his book "at-Tamheed".

This has disturbed the Ash'ari Jahmites, and they have started, as usual, to try and patch up the psychological comfort they need to maintain their belief in a madhhab as contradictory and confusing as the Ash'ari madhhab which is a in reality a mixture of:

  • The usool of the Mu'tazilah (the bulk of their positions are based on the usool of the Mu'tazilah by which they have been influenced - many of their differences with the Mu'tazilah are on subsdidiary issues)
  • Ilm ul-Kalaam
  • The sayings of Ibn Kullaab who preceded al-Ash'ari (amongst which is affirming the seven attributes)
  • And the adoption of much of the ta'weels of the Mu'tazilah and Jahmiyyah who preceded them, and their Imaam (chief and leader) in all of that being Bishr al-Mareesee.

And inshaa'Allaah this will be amply demonstrated on this site.

The Statement of al-Baqillani

Let's revisit al-Baqillani's statement again:

Chapter: And if someone says: Where is He? It is said to him: Asking where (al-ayn) is asking about place (al-makaan) and He is not one that a place (makaan) is permitted to enclose (yahwee), and nor [one that] places can encompass. Except that we say: Indeed He is Above His Throne, [but] not with the meaning of a body [being as such] through contact and adjacency, Exalted is He above that with a Lofty Exaltation.

Notes and Comments

First: al-Baqillani raises the issue of someone asking "Where" regarding Allaah. He kind of disapproves of the raising of this question through his next couple of sentences. Since all creation is either substance (jawhar) or accident ('arad) to the Mutakallimoon (the Jahmite, Mu'tazilite and Ash'arite theologians) - and since space or location are unessential attributes of substances (bodies), then designating space or location, necessitates, according to them, enclosure by space, and thus being a body like the created bodies.

And our approach, the sound Sunni approach is to halt at all words not used in the Book or the Sunnah. Ibn Taymiyyah said in Dar' ut-Ta'aarud (1/133):

And when these words are general, then the one addressing them (i.e. addressing those using them) should either clarify and say [to them], "What do you mean by these words". If they explain them with the meaning that agrees with the Qur'aan, they are accepted. If they explain them in opposition to that, they are rejected. And either he withholds from agreeing with them in speaking with these words, in negation or affirmation. And if he withholds himself in speaking with these words with them, they will accuse him of incapacity and severance (i.e. withdrawing). And if he speaks with these terms with them they will accuse him of applying those words that contain both truth and falsehood, and they will then make the ignorant ones to think that the application of those words encompasses false meanings from which Allaah is to be declared free of".

So we say: If it is meant by al-makaan (place) that Allaah is contained by space such as is observed in the creation, where all things are contained in space by virtue of their being within the creation, then this meaning is false. And if it is meant by al-makaan, Allaah's existence outside of the creation (where the notion of "enclosure by space" is impossible for Allaah), then we affirm this meaning and simply say, "Allaah is above the Throne".

Second: There is no one from those who affirm that Allaah is above the Throne, above the Creation - following the Salaf in that - who holds that Allaah is enclosed by space and is therefore a body. These are only things made binding in the minds of the people of Kalaam. So they make analogies for Allaah with the creation. They think that since in this creation substances (body) only exist surrounded by space, and as such they can be said to have direction or location by virtue of that, then as Allaah is not like His creation, we have to negate from Him having direction (jihah) and location (makaan).

And if anyone says "Allaah is above the Throne", they (the Jahmite Ash'aris) resemble Allaah being above the Throne to what they see and observe in the creation (of substances and bodies having attributes including space and direction), and so they say "you have attributed direction and location to Allaah and have likened him to the created bodies". So the sickness is really in their mind, but they want to project that sickness onto others.

If you (i.e. Jahmite Ash'ari) say,

Although no one verbally says this (i.e. that Allaah is enclosed by space and therefore a body), this is nevertheless, the implication of your belief that Allaah is, in reality, above the Throne

Then you have just judged the Qur'aan and the Sunnah, and hundreds of statements, if not thousands, from the Companions and their Successors, and the Salaf in general, to be speaking with what is in your view apparent kufr and shirk.

And on top of this, this is without there being even a single indication in all of those verses, ahaadeeth and statements, that Allaah is not above the Throne in a true and real sense, but only in a metaphorical sense. Rather, we find the Imaams of the Sunnah, before al-Baqillani and al-Ash'ari were born, condemning those who denied Allaah was above His Throne (with His Essence), such as the Jahmites who said He is in every place (with His Essence). And their statements in this regard are numerous. See this article for details.

So speaking with what the Book and the Sunnah spoke with does not necessitate the false implications that are imposed by the Theologians and their followers who speak with the poison of the Greek and Hindu Philosophers and their Kalaam theology.

The pagan Philosophers (such as the Greeks and Hindus) who came before, attempted to classify and categorize reality according to their logic, intellect, observation and reflection and so they said that all existence is either substance (jawhar) or accident ('arad) and that accidents cannot exist in and of themselves but need substances (jawaahir). The Ash'arites simply took this philosophy, refined it a little and then used it to prove Allaah's existence by demonstrating the created, temporal nature of the universe.

But then when that became a fundamental element of their expression and explanation of their creed (it became standard in all their books), they were influenced by it in other affairs, such as Allah's uluww, Allaah's Attributes that are tied to His Will, al-Qadr and so on.

Third: However, al-Baqillani was shrewd and was more sound and coherent than the later ones, and the truth and obviousness of Allaah being above the Throne in truth and in reality is so powerful that al-Baqillani had do say: "Except that we say: Indeed He is Above His Throne...". And in his words "ghayr annaa naqoolu", "Except that we say: ..." indicates this.

Then he says straight after this:

[...but] not with the meaning of a body [being as such] through contact and adjacency, Exalted is He above that with a Lofty Exaltation

In other words we affirm that Allaah is above the Throne - as that cannot be denied - however not with the meaning of a body [being as such] through contact and adjacency. In other words he affirms Allaah being above the Throne whilst negating an incorrect meaning. And if an affirmation is made along with the denial of an incorrect meaning, it shows that there is a correct meaning: that He is above the Throne without being enclosed by space and nor being a body (jism) - since that is only characteristic of created bodies - and that does not apply to Allaah, the Creator. And if this meaning was impossible al-Baqillani would not have said, "Except that we say: Indeed He is Above His Throne...".

Fourth: Some of the confused Jahmite Ash'aris have tried to claim that al-Baqillani is denying that Allaah is above His Throne, despite him clearly and explicitly stating as such. So they have said that al-Baqillani is denying makaan and jihah (place and direction) and is denying Allaah being a body and showing disapproval of the question "Where".

However, they can't explain al-Baqillani saying: "Except that we say: Indeed He is Above His Throne...". This has really disturbed them, and they have no real answer to this. And adh-Dhahabi confirms in Mukhtasar al-uluww, that al-Baqillani affirms Allaah's aboveness (see this article) and the quote below. And likewise al-Qurtubi (considered an Ash'ari) also confirms that al-Baqillani holds Allaah to be above the Throne with His Essence (bi dhaatihi) - see this article.

Fifth: al-Baqillani said in his book "al-Ibaanah" as quoted from him by Imaam adh-Dhahabi in his Mukhtasar al-Uluww:

Then if it is said: "Do you say that He is in every place?"

It is said (in reply): "Refuge is with Allaah, rather He is ascended (mustawinn) above His Throne, just as He informed [us] in His Book, saying, "Ar-Rahmaan has ascended above the Throne", and He said, "The good word (al-kalim ut-tayyib) ascends up to Him", and He said, "Do you feel secure that He who is above the heaven ..." ... [he, al-Baqillani said]: And if He was in every place, then He would have been in a man's stomach, his mouth, and in the [public] toilets, and it would be necessitated that He increases with the increase of spaces (places) when He creates of them those that did not previously exist, and it would be correct that [people turn to Him], seeking Him towards the earth, and to behind of us, and to our right and our left. And the Muslims are agreed upon what opposes this and [agreed] upon declaring the one who says this to be erroneous..."

Finally: Refer back to the speech of Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah quoted earlier and you will see the methodology of these people. When you say, "Allaah is above His Throne", and you use the speech of Allaah and the speech of His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the sayings of the Companions, and the great Imaams of the Salaf, these Jahmites respond with: "You've affirmed makaan (place) and jihah (direction) and jism (body) for Allaah". Now, where have they taken this from?

The reason why they do this goes back to their adoption of philosophical and rational principles that are a crucial and fundamental aspect of their creed, and unfortunately, it does not remain just as a means to prove Allaah's existence, it actually affects a wider range of their views in the affairs of creed, as will be demonstrated inshaa'Allaah.

However, these statements of al-Baqillani pose a particular problem for the later Jahmite Ash'aris in that he affirms Allah is above His Throne, above the Heaven, whilst negating from Him enclosure by space and being a body (jism) - and this is besides al-Baqillani's affirmation of the attributes of Face, Hands, and Eyes for Allaah, which today's Jahmite Ash'aris would consider Tajseem (see this article). In fact, al-Baqillani went further and refuted the very ta'weels of the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah that today's Jahmites Ash'aris have adopted!