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6 Reasons Why a Muslim Should Not Listen to Music

1. Allah has forbade it

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The interpretation of the Sahaabah and Taabi’in, that ‘idle talk’ refers to singing, is sufficient. This was reported with saheeh isnaads from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas’ood. Abu’l-Sahbaa’ said: I asked Ibn Mas’ood about the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

‘“And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks.”

[Luqmaan 31:6]

He said: By Allaah, besides Whom there is no other god, this means singing – and he repeated it three times. It was also reported with a saheeh isnaad from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that this means singing. There is no contradiction between the interpretation of “idle talk” as meaning singing and the interpretation of it as meaning stories of the Persians and their kings, and the kings of the Romans, and so on, such as al-Nadr ibn al-Haarith used to tell to the people of Makkah to distract them from the Qur’aan. Both of them are idle talk. Hence Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Idle talk” is falsehood and singing. Some of the Sahaabah said one and some said the other, and some said both. Singing is worse and more harmful than stories of kings, because it leads to zinaa and makes hypocrisy grow (in the heart); it is the trap of the Shaytaan, and it clouds the mind. The way in which it blocks people from the Qur’aan is worse than the way in which other kinds of false talk block them, because people are naturally inclined towards it and tend to want to listen to it. The aayaat condemn replacing the Qur’aan with idle talk in order to mislead (men) from the path of Allaah without knowledge and taking it as a joke, because when an aayah of the Qur’aan is recited to such a person, he turns his back as if he heard them not, as if there were deafness in his ear. If he hears anything of it, he makes fun of it. All of this happens only in the case of the people who are most stubbornly kaafirs and if some of it happens to singers and those who listen to them, they both have a share of this blame. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/258-259)

2. The Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has forbade it

The Prophet sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam said,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. And there will be some people who will stay near the side of a mountain and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 5590
In-book reference : Book 74, Hadith 16
USC-MSA web (English) reference : Vol. 7, Book 69, Hadith 494

It was narrated that Naafi’ (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Ibn ‘Umar heard a woodwind instrument, and he put his fingers in his ears and kept away from that path. He said to me, O Naafi’, can you hear anything? I said, No. So he took his fingers away from his ears and said: I was with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he heard something like this, and he did the same thing. (Saheeh Abi Dawood). Some insignificant person said that this hadeeth does not prove that musical instruments are haraam, because if that were so, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would have instructed Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) to put his fingers in his ears as well, and Ibn ‘Umar would have instructed Naafi’ to do likewise! The response to this is: He was not listening to it, but he could hear it. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Shaykh al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyah) (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Concerning (music) which a person does not intend to listen to, there is no prohibition or blame, according to scholarly consensus. Hence blame or praise is connected to listening, not to hearing. The one who listens to the Qur’aan will be rewarded for it, whereas the one who hears it without intending or wanting to will not be rewarded for that, because actions are judged by intentions. The same applies to musical instruments which are forbidden: if a person hears them without intending to, that does not matter. (al-Majmoo’, 10/78).

Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: the listener is the one who intends to hear, which was not the case with Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both); what happened in his case was hearing. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) needed to know when the sound stopped because he had moved away from that path and blocked his ears. So he did not want to go back to that path or unblock his ears until the noise had stopped, so when he allowed Ibn ‘Umar to continue hearing it, this was because of necessity. (al-Mughni, 10/173)

Al-Qaasim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Singing is part of falsehood. Al-Hasan (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: if there is music involved in a dinner invitation (waleemah), do not accept the invitation (al-Jaami by al-Qayrawaani, p. 262-263).

3. The 4 Schools of thought have forbade it

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The view of the four Imaams is that all kinds of musical instruments are haraam. It was reported in Saheeh al-Bukhaari and elsewhere that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that there would be among his ummah those who would allow zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments, and he said that they would be transformed into monkeys and pigs… None of the followers of the imaams mentioned any dispute concerning the matter of music. (al-Majmoo’, 11/576).

Al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The four madhhabs are agreed that all musical instruments are haraam.(al-Saheehah, 1/145).

Hanafi

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The madhhab of Abu Haneefah is the strictest in this regard, and his comments are among the harshest. His companions clearly stated that it is haraam to listen to all musical instruments such as the flute and the drum, even tapping a stick. They stated that it is a sin which implies that a person is a faasiq (rebellious evil doer) whose testimony should be rejectedThey went further than that and said that listening to music is fisq (rebellion, evildoing) and enjoying it is kufr (disbelief)This is their words. They narrated in support of that a hadeeth which could not be attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). They said: he should try not to hear it if he passes by it or it is in his vicinity. Abu Yoosuf said, concerning a house from which could be heard the sound of musical instruments: Go in without their permission, because forbidding evil actions is obligatory, and if it were not allowed to enter without permission, people could not have fulfilled the obligatory duty (of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil). (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).

Maliki

Imaam Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about playing the drum or flute, if a person happens to hear the sound and enjoy it whilst he is walking or sitting. He said: He should get up if he finds that he enjoys it, unless he is sitting down for a need or is unable to get up. If he is on the road, he should either go back or move on. (al-Jaami’ by al-Qayrawaani, 262). He (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The only people who do things like that, in our view, are faasiqs.” (Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 14/55).

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: With regard to the view of Imaam Ahmad, his son ‘Abd-Allaah said: I asked my father about singing. He said: Singing makes hypocrisy grow in the heart; I do not like it. Then he mentioned the words of Maalik: the evildoers (faasiqs) among us do that. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan).

Shafi‘i

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, explaining the view of Imaam al-Shaafa’i: His companions who know his madhhab (point of view) stated that it is haraam and denounced those who said that he permitted it. (Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1/425).

Hanbali 

Ibn Qudaamah, the researcher of the Hanbali madhhab – (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Musical instruments are of three types which are haraam. These are the strings and all kinds of flute, and the lute, drum and rabaab (stringed instrument) and so on. Whoever persists in listening to them, his testimony should be rejected. (al-Mughni, 10/173). And he said (may Allaah have mercy on him); If a person is invited to a gathering in which there is something objectionable, such as wine and musical instruments, and he is able to denounce it, then he should attend and speak out against it, because then he will be combining two obligatory duties. If he is not able to do that, then he should not attend. (al-Kaafi, 3/118)

4. The Sahabah, the Tabi’een and the Atba at Tabi’een have forbade it

Some people even have the nerve to suggest that the Sahaabah and Taabi’een listened to singing, and that they saw nothing wrong with it!

 Al-Fawzaan (may Allaah preserve him) said: We demand them to show us saheeh isnaads going back to these Sahaabah and Taabi’een, proving what they attribute to them.  Then he said: Imaam Muslim mentioned in his introduction to his Saheeh that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Mubaarak said: The isnaad is part of religion. Were it not for the isnaad, whoever wanted to could say whatever he wanted to.

Some of them said that the ahaadeeth which forbid music are full of faults. No hadeeth was free of being criticized by some of the scholars. Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: The ahaadeeth which were narrated concerning music being haraam are not full of faults as has been claimed. Some of them are in Saheeh al-Bukhaari which is the soundest of books after the Book of Allaah, and some of them are hasan and some are da’eef. But because they are so many, with different isnaads, they constitute definitive proof that singing and musical instruments are haraam.

All the imaams agreed on the soundness of the ahaadeeth which forbid singing and musical instruments, apart from Abu Haamid al-Ghazzaali, but al-Ghazzaali did not have knowledge of hadeeth; and Ibn Hazam, but al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) explained where Ibn Hazam went wrong, and Ibn Hazam himself said that if any of (these ahaadeeth) were saheeh, he would follow that. But now they have proof that these reports are saheeh because there are so many books by the scholars which state that these ahaadeeth are saheeh, but they turn their backs on that. They are far more extreme than Ibn Hazam and they are nothing like him, for they are not qualified and cannot be referred to.

5. There is a specific way at specific time using a specific instrument that is permissble

The women at Eid or Wedding using the daff

The exception to the above is the daff – without any rings (i.e., a hand-drum which looks like a tambourine, but without any rattles) – when used by women on Eids and at weddings. This is indicated by saheeh reports. Shaykh al-Islam (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) made allowances for certain types of musical instruments at weddings and the like, and he made allowances for women to play the daff at weddings and on other joyful occasions. But the men at his time did not play the daff or clap with their hands. It was narrated in al-Saheeh that he said: “Clapping is for women and tasbeeh (saying Subhaan Allaah) is for men.” And he cursed women who imitate men and men who imitate women. Because singing and playing the daff are things that women do, the Salaf used to call any man who did that a mukhannath (effeminate man), and they used to call male singers effeminate – and how many of them there are nowadays! It is well known that the Salaf said this.

Young girls singing

In a similar vein is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), when her father (may Allaah be pleased with him) entered upon her at the time of Eid, and there were two young girls with her who were singing the verses that the Ansaar had said on the day of Bu’aath – and any sensible person will know what people say about war. Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Musical instruments of the Shaytaan in the house of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)!” The Messenger of Allaah had turned away from them and was facing the wall – hence some scholars said that Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) would not tell anybody off in front of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), but he thought that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was not paying attention to what was happening. And Allaah knows best. He (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) said: “Leave them alone, O Abu Bakr, for every nation has its Eid, and this is our Eid, the people of Islam.” This hadeeth shows that it was not the habit of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions to gather to listen to singing, hence Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq called it “the musical instruments of the Shaytaan”. And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of this appellation and did not deny it when he said, “Leave them alone, for every nation has its Eid and this is our Eid.” This indicates that the reason why this was permitted was because it was the time of Eid, and the prohibition remained in effect at times other than Eid, apart from the exceptions made for weddings in other ahaadeeth. Shaykh al-Albaani explained this in his valuable book Tahreem Aalaat al-Tarab (the Prohibition of Musical Instruments). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of young girls singing at Eid, as stated in the hadeeth: “So that the mushrikeen will know that in our religion there is room for relaxation.” There is no indication in the hadeeth about the two young girls that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was listening to them. The commands and prohibitions have to do with listening, not merely hearing, just as in the case of seeing, the rules have to do with intentionally looking and not what happens by accident. So it is clear that this is for women only. Imaam Abu ‘Ubayd (may Allaah have mercy on him) defined the daff as “that which is played by women.” (Ghareeb al-Hadeeth, 3/64).

“No people go astray after having been guided except they developed arguments amongst themselves.” (Saheeh)

Abyssinians playing in the mosque of the Prophet

Some of them used the hadeeth about the Abyssinians playing in the mosque of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as evidence that singing is allowed! Al-Bukhaari included this hadeeth in his Saheeh under the heading Baab al-Hiraab wa’l-Daraq Yawm al-‘Eid (Chapter on Spears and Shields on the Day of Eid). Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: This indicates that it is permissible to play with weapons and the like in the mosque, and he applied that to other activities connected with jihaad. (Sharh Muslim). But as al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: whoever speaks about something which is not his profession will come up with weird ideas such as these.

Some of them use as evidence the hadeeth about the singing of the two young girls, which we have discussed above, but we will quote what Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, because it is valuable:

Ibn al-Qayyim  on the two girl singing “incident”

I am amazed that you quote as evidence for allowing listening to sophisticated songs the report which we mentioned about how two young girls who were below the age of puberty sang to a young woman on the day of Eid some verses of Arab poetry about bravery in war and other noble characteristics. How can you compare this to that? What is strange is that this hadeeth is one of the strongest proofs against them. The greatest speaker of the truth [Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq] called them musical instruments of the Shaytaan, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) approved of that appellation, but he made an exception in the case of these two young girls who had not yet reached the age of responsibility and the words of whose songs could not corrupt anyone who listened to them. Can this be used as evidence to allow what you do and what you know of listening (to music) which includes (bad) things which are not hidden?! Subhaan Allaah! How people can be led astray! (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/493).

Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was young at that time; nothing was transmitted from her after she reached the age of puberty except condemnation of singing. Her brother’s son, al-Qaasim ibn Muhammad, condemned singing and said that it was not allowed to listen to it, and he took his knowledge from her. (Talbees Iblees, 229). Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: A group of the Sufis used this hadeeth – the hadeeth about the two young girls – as evidence that singing is allowed and it is allowed to listen to it, whether it is accompanied by instruments or not. This view is sufficiently refuted by the clear statement of ‘Aa’ishah in the following hadeeth, where she says, “They were not singers.” She made it clear that they were not singers as such, although this may be understood from the wording of the report. So we should limit it to what was narrated in the text as regards the occasion and the manner, so as to reduce the risk of going against the principle, i.e., the hadeeth. And Allaah knows best. (Fath al-Baari, 2/442-443).

If you want further evidence as to when it is permissible to beat the daff, please read: https://islamqa.info/en/20406

6. It distances you from the Quran and the Sunnah

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: How strange! What type of faith, light, insight, guidance and knowledge can be gained from listening to tuneful verses and music in which most of what is said is haraam and deserves the wrath and punishment of Allaah and His Messenger? … How can anyone who has the least amount of insight and faith in his heart draw near to Allaah and increase his faith by enjoying something which is hated by Him, and He detests the one who says it and the one who accepts it? (Madaarij al-Saalikeen, 1/485)

Shaykh al-Islam said, discussing the state of the person who has gotten used to listening to singing: Hence you find that those who have gotten used to it and for whom it is like food and drink will never have the desire to listen to the Qur’aan or feel joy when they hear it, and they never find in listening to its verses the same feeling that they find when listening to poetry. Indeed, if they hear the Qur’aan, they hear it with an inattentive heart and talk whilst it is being recited, but if they hear whistling and clapping of hands, they lower their voices and keep still, and pay attention. (Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 11/557 ff)

Some say that music and musical instruments have the effect of softening people’s hearts and creating gentle feelings. This is not true, because it provokes physical desires and whims. If it really did what they say, it would have softened the hearts of the musicians and made their attitude and behaviour better, but most of them, as we know, are astray and behave badly.

Some Q n A

How does music cause hypocrisy to grow in the heart, and not other sins?

This is one of the clearest indications of the Sahaabah’s understanding of the workings of the heart and their knowledge of diseases of the heart (i.e., spiritual diseases) and their remedies. It highlights the fact that they were indeed doctors of the heart, unlike those who deviate from their path.

It should be understood that singing has specific characteristics that affect the heart, instilling hypocrisy in the heart and causing it to grow, just as water causes plants to grow.

If a man of understanding reflects upon the condition of singers and the condition of people who remember Allah and read the Qur’an, the intelligence of the Sahaabah will become clear to him, and he will realise how much knowledge they had of spiritual diseases and their remedies. And Allah is the source of strength.

I don’t get it how it affects my heart, I don’t feel bad when I listen to music

Those who watch movies, if they had no music, would it be as interesting to watch? Every scene has a different tune playing in the background to suit the scene. If it is a horror, romantic or action scene, the music swiftly changes. This is because the music alters the mind, it puts a person into a different mood, it creates an effect on the heart and thus shaytaan uses this tool to entice us into haram.

It causes an eclipse to occur in the heart, which can’t be noticed that easily. The belief that Allah is watching us becomes overshadowed causing a person to enter into the state of ignorance, which paves the way to many more sins.

Conclusion

Perhaps – for fair-minded and objective readers – this summary will make it clear that the view that music is permissible has no firm basis. There are no two views on this matter. So we must advise in the best manner, and then take it step by step and denounce music, if we are able to do so. We should not be deceived by the fame of a man in our own times in which the people who are truly committed to Islam have become strangers. The one who says that singing and musical instruments are permitted is simply supporting the whims of people nowadays, as if the masses were issuing fatwas and he is simply signing them! If a matter arises, they will look at the views of fuqahaa’ on this matter, then they will take the easiest view, as they claim. Then they will look for evidence, or just specious arguments which are worth no more than a lump of dead meat. How often have these people approved things in the name of sharee’ah which in fact have nothing to do with Islam!

Strive to learn your Islam from the Book of your Lord and the Sunnah of your Prophet. Do not say, So-and-so said, for you cannot learn the truth only from men. Learn the truth and then measure people against it. This should be enough for the one who controls his whims and submits himself to his Lord. May what we have written above heal the hearts of the believers and dispel the whispers in the hearts of those who are stricken with insinuating whispers. May it expose everyone who is deviating from the path of Revelation and taking the easiest options, thinking that he has come up with something which  none of the earlier generations ever achieved, and speaking about Allaah without knowledge. They sought to avoid fisq (evildoing) and ended up committing bid’ah – may Allaah not bless them in it. It would have been better for them to follow the path of the believers.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There will appear people in my community, who will hold adultery, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be lawful.” (Bukhari)

Isn’t the warning from the hadith above enough for us.  It’s clear that fatwas on music are already here making it permissible, I don’t think we are too far away from the time when fatwas on alcohol and zina start coming in. Today it might be unimaginable for even  someone who thinks music is not haram or is makruh that how alcohol and zina would be halal too but Prophet Sallahu Alayhi wa Sallam has not lied and he said the truth. It’s coming!

May Allah guide our affairs and lead us to the straight path. Ameen.

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Resources used to compile this article:

Ruling on music singing and dancing: islamqa.info/en/5000
Harms that songs do: islamqa.info/en/122790
When is it permissible to beat the duff islamqa.info/en/20406

A Muslims Reflection on Hawking and the Likes…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

As a student of Astrophysics, I have always found myself plunging into studying the cosmos. Lately I have also started reading about particle physics. In short I can describe my experience as breath-taking! I am stunned by the creation of Almighty.

At the same time, I always wonder, why the likes of smart people, highly intelligent, like Hawking (Theorotical Physicist – highly known for his work on Black Holes and Hawking Radiation, who died today), Ed Witten (proposer of M-theory) etc. did/do not receive guidance to believe in a Superme Creator..

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(Hawking has produced some amazing research on Black Holes. Hawking Radiation describes the process on how a black hole slowly evaporates and loses its existence)

I found my answer in the Nobel Qur’an, where Allaah عز وجل says,

وَعَادًا وَثَمُودَ وَقَدْ تَبَيَّنَ لَكُمْ مِنْ مَسَاكِنِهِمْ ۖ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ فَصَدَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَكَانُوا مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ

“And ‘Ad and Thamud (people)! And indeed (their destruction) is clearly apparent to you from their (ruined) dwellings. Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and turned them away from the (Right) Path, though they were intelligent.”

-Sura Al-Ankabut, Ayah 38

For anyone who knows the history of the people of ‘Ad and Thamud, it becomes apparent that they were highly intelligent, strongly built, carved homes in sand hills – a feat which requires planned engineering (refer Tasfir ibn Kathir). This becomes explicit in the ayah,

أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَيَنْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَشَدَّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً وَأَثَارُوا الْأَرْضَ وَعَمَرُوهَا أَكْثَرَ مِمَّا عَمَرُوهَا وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ كَانُوا أَنْفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

“Do they not travel in the land, and see what was the end of those before them? They were superior to them in strength, and they tilled the earth and populated it in greater numbers than these (pagans) have done, and there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs. Surely, Allah wronged them not, but they used to wrong themselves.”

-Sura Ar-Rum, Ayah 9

Going back the former ayah in Surah al-Ankabut, Allaah عز وجل uses the word مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ to describe the people of ‘Ad and Thamud – that means they were given baseerah – they were a people with deep insights. That’s why, Dr. Muhsin Khan and Taqi ud Deen al-Hilali (May Allaah have mercy upon both of them) interpreted the word مُسْتَبْصِرِينَ as ‘they (people of ‘Ad and Thamud) were intelligent’.

So it becomes explicit now, people with high intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be guided. Why aren’t they guided then?

Dr. Muhsin Khan and Taqi ud Deen al-Hilali mentioned the five reasons why people fall into major disbelief in the appendix of their interpretation of the Noble Qur’an,

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(To understand what a true Muslim believes and what are the six articles of faith, please download the concise thirteen page book here – Belief of a Muslim)

So basically, it is one of the reasons above, the well known scientists today persist in their disbelief and hence lack guidance towards the ultimate truth.

I’d like to conclude this article by including another ayah from the Noble Qur’an and سبحان الله , this from Surah al-Ankabut again,

Allaah عز وجل says,

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).”

-Sura Al-Ankabut, Ayah 69

May Allaah عز وجل guide all those who sincerely strive to seek the truth.

– Compiled by Sarfarāz ibn Shuja

 

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Where is Allah?

This is a question that falls into the matters of ‘Aqeedah – which refers to the matters which are known from the Quran and the Prophetic Sunnah, and which the Muslim must believe in his heart, in acknowledgement of the truth of Allah and His Messenger. And because there can be no difference of opinion in the matters of ‘Aqeedah there can only be one answer to this question. And the answer is as follows:

Allah is above His Creation. To be more precise: He is above the seven heavens, above His ‘Arsh (Throne) over which our Lord rose in a manner that befits His Majesty.

Now even though it is a very simple answer that the Sahabah (the companions of the Prophet SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) and a good number of generations after the Sahabah believed in with complete conviction, there is a lot of confusion that exists amongst the Muslims with regards to it in today’s time.
Let’s make it very clear so that by the time you are finished reading this piece, there is not even a shadow of a doubt left in you about where Allah, the All Mighty and Majestic, is.

Here are the 3 views that are popular amongst the Muslims concerning where Allah is:

View number 1:  Allah is everywhere.
View number 2:  Allah is neither inside the world not outside it, neither to the right nor to the left.
View number 3:  Allah is above His Creation, above His ‘Arsh.

Now let’s compare all the views above with 4 things to see which one is correct:

1)         What the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah say.
2)         What the Scholars amongst the Salaf (our righteous predecessors) say.
3)         Common sense.
4)         Man’s innate instinct/natural inclination (Fitrah).

 
1) Let’s start with what the Quran and Prophetic Sunnah say.

The Quran describes the “exaltedness” or “highness” of Allah in different ways.

a) In terms of being high and above, Allah says in the Quran:

“… and He is the Most High, the Most Great.”

[Quran, Surat Al-Baqarah 2:255]

“Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High …”

[Quran, Surat Al-A’laa 87:1]

“And He is the Irresistible, above His slaves …”

[Quran, Surat Al-An’aam 6:18]

“They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded.”

[Quran, Surat An-Nahl 16:50]

In the Quran there is also the affirmation that Allah is above the heavens:

Do you feel secure that He, who is above the heaven, will not cause the earth to sink?

[Quran, Surat Al-Mulk 67:16]

Indeed your Lord is Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He Istawa (rose over) the Throne…

[Quran, Surat Al-A’raf 7:54]

The Most Beneficent (Allah) Istawa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne.

[Quran, Surat Taha 20:5]

 

b) In terms of things ascending to Him, Allah says in the Quran:

To Him ascends good speech, and righteous work raises it.

[Quran, Surat Faatir 35:10]

The angels and the rooh [Jibreel] ascend to Him.

[Quran, Surat Al-Ma’aarij 70:4]

 

c) In terms of things descending from Him, Allah says in the Quran:

He [Allah] arranges [every] affair from the heavens to the earth.

[Quran, Surat As-Sajdah 32:5]

Indeed, it is We Who have sent down the dhikr [the Quran].

[Quran, Surat Al-Hijr 15:9]

 

Now let’s look into the Prophetic Sunnah:

The Prophet SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam is reported to have said: “O Our Rabb! You are in the heaven, and we are on the earth…,”

[Hadeeth by Qatadah, declared hasan by Shaykh al-Albaani]

He SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam is also reported to have said: “Our Rabb is Allah Who is in the heaven…”

[Reported by Abu Daawood, Ahmad, and others]

He used to say “Subhana Rabbi al-A’ala (Glory be to my Lord Most High).”

He also used to raise his hands towards the heavens when he made du’a (supplication), as reported in many ahadeeth.

The most astounding hadeeth of all is an example of an approval of the Prophet SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam which indicates that Allah is Exalted and High. It is the hadeeth concerning the young slave girl.
Once, the Prophet SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam asked a young slave girl: “Where is Allah?” She replied: “Above the heavens.” He asked, “Who am I?” She replied, “The Messenger of Allah.” He SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam then ordered her master, “Grant her freedom, because she is a believer.”

[Reported by Imam Muslim, Abu Dawood, and others]

This young girl was uneducated, as many are, and she was a slave, but she knew that her Lord is above the heavens.

Hence according to the above, View number 3 is the truth.

 

2) Now let’s move onto what the Scholars amongst the Salaf (our righteous predecessors) say.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen, a great scholar of Islam who followed the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, writes the following in his Tafseer (explanation) of Ayat Al-Kursi:

‘As for the ijmaa (general agreement), it is acknowledged that the salaf are in agreement that Allah is above His ‘Arsh. No one among them had ever said that He is everywhere or that He is neither above the world nor below it, or that He is neither to the right nor to the left, or that He is neither separated from the world nor associated with it.’ (End of quote.)

The word ‘Salaf’ refers to the companions of Allah’s Messenger SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam and the Imams of guidance from the first three generations of whom the Messenger of Allah SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam testified for as to their superiority when he said: “The best of mankind is my generation (the generation of the Sahabah), then those who come after them, then those who come after them.” [Reported by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad, Al-Bukharee and Muslim]

Once again, we can confirm that View number 3 is the truth.

 

3) Now let’s move on to see this in terms of our common sense.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen writes the following in his Tafseer (explanation) of Ayat Al-Kursi about View number 2:

‘This position is absolute negation because it is a description of non-existence. Some scholars said, “If we were asked to describe ‘non-existence’ we would not find a more comprehensive definition than this description [View number 2].’ (End of quote.)

He also writes: ‘If we say that, “Allah is either above the world or under it or on its right or left,” then which of these descriptions denote perfection? The answer is, “Allah is above the world,” because if he is “under it” then He would be less perfect than the created! And if He is in the same place as the created, then Allah would be equal to him in perfection. Thus it is necessitated that Allah is above everything.’ (End of quote.)

And so it becomes even more clear why View number 3 is the truth.

 

4) Finally, let’s move on to see this in terms of our own innate instinct/natural inclination (Fitrah).

Think about it! When something troubles you, or when you want to ask Allah for something do you look in all the directions or do you look towards the heavens?

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen writes: ‘Each person naturally acknowledges the fact that Allah is above the heavens. That is why whenever a person supplicates to His Rabb (Allah) he/she takes refuge towards the direction of the sky (i.e. upward).’ (End of quote.)

He also writes: ‘The strange thing is that those who deny the Transcendence of Allah themselves raise their hands upward in the direction of the heavens when they invoke Allah.’ (End of quote.)

And so View number 3 is the absolute truth.

 

A common misconception

There is a common question that arises that if Allah is above His Creation, above His ‘Arsh, then why did Allah say, “We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” [Quran 50:16] Or why did He say in relation to when someone is on his deathbed that, “We are closer to him than you, but you do not see.” [Quran 56:85]

The answer to this is simple. When Allah says ‘We are closer to him’, He refers to His angels whose task it is to record people’s deeds. Those who said that it means that He is near explained it as meaning that He is near by His knowledge.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir in his explanation of the Quran says the following concerning the ayah ‘We are closer to him than his jugular vein’:

“It means His angels are nearer to man than his jugular vein.” And Ibn Kathir also says, “Allah did not say, ‘And I am closer to him than his jugular vein.’ Rather, He said, ‘And We are closer to him than his jugular vein.’ just as He said in the case of dying persons ‘But We are closer to him than you, but you do not see’ in reference to His angels (who take the souls).” (End of quote.)

The problem in understanding these Ayaat for most Muslims comes because they do not understand it like the way our Salaf understood it according to the teachings of Prophet Mohammed SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam. This is why it is very important that we interpret everything in our religion only according to the way it was taught to us and practiced by the Prophet SallAllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam and not according to our own logical reasoning.

 

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Resources used to compile this answer: