For this reason [concerning] the saying that Allaah is not inside the universe nor outside it, Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy on him, said describing two groups both of whom are upon misguidance, with one being more misguided than the other, [he said] that the one who likens Allaah to some of His creation [mushabbih] worships an idol, he worships something present, but he has likened Him to the idols which the polytheists would worship instead of Allaah.
The one who likens Allaah to His creation worships an idol. And the mu’attil worships something nonexistent.
Who is the mu’attil? It is the one who says that Allaah, ‘… is not inside the universe nor outside it.’
The one who says that He is inside the universe is a mushabbih [someone who has likened Allaah to His creation], and such a person is upon misguidance [since], ‘… there is nothing like unto Him …’ [Shuraa 42:11]
And the one who says that, ‘Indeed Allaah the Mighty and Majestic is not inside the universe nor outside it,’ has denied the very existence of Allaah the Blessed and Most High, such a person is more astray than the first.
Now listen to the detailed explanation given by some of them about the statement, ‘Allaah is not inside the universe nor outside it,’ I want to end with this so that you can be upon clear guidance about the fact that everyone who opposes the creed of the Book and the Sunnah and the methodology of the pious predecessors is upon manifest misguidance.
Their proponent from the scholars of rhetorical speech says that, ‘Allaah is not described as being above, nor below, nor to the right, or the left, not in front, nor behind, not inside the universe nor outside it, not connected to it nor separate from it.’
Tell me, by your Lord, is this not the description of something nonexistent?
Al-Albaani: If any intellectual person who has been given some understanding, intelligence and eloquence was asked, ‘Describe a nonentity to us, something which is nonexistent, something which is not real.’
It will not be possible for him to describe such a nonentity with more than what these people have described the one they worship with, when they said, ‘He is not above nor below, not to the right nor the left, not in front nor behind, not inside the universe or outside of it, not connected to it nor separate from it.’
As for us then we say, ‘… there is nothing like unto Him …’ [Shuraa 42:11] ‘The Most Gracious rose over the [Mighty] Throne [in a manner that suits His Majesty],’ [Taa Haa 20:5]
Interjection: Following on from the first question, what is the explanation of His Saying, ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …’ [Al-Hadeed 57:4] and ‘Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see?’ [Taa Haa 20:46]
Al-Albaani: Before answering this question, and its answer is short inshaa Allaah, I want to remind you of the principle that I mentioned in the previous statement: we must interpret the Quraan with the Quraan, then the Sunnah, then the sayings of the Salaf.
So whoever wants to find out the meaning of this aayah, ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …’ he should study the Salafi tafsirs some of which I cited to you as examples: the tafsir of Ibn Jarir at-Tabari, that of Ibn Kathir the Damascene and whoever followed their example.
Interjection: Al-Qurtubi, O Shaikh, he is asking about al-Qurtubi.
Al-Albaani: I know your question. It is sufficient for me to say whoever followed their example.
Naturally, it is not upon every Muslim to be a scholar, but if he is not a scholar then he must be someone who asks, as is the case now with the previous questions [that were asked in this sitting] and those that followed them and the question we are asking right now.
I want to make mention of the fact that my answer now will be based upon this principle regarding tafsir. So without exception the scholars of tafsir [in interpreting this aayah], ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …,’ said, ‘i.e., with His knowledge,’ ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …’ ‘… with His knowledge,’ i.e., nothing whatsoever is hidden from Him in the earth nor in the Heavens. For this reason, Imaam Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak, may Allaah have mercy on him–and he is one of the unique and rare Imaams of the Salaf, from the hadith scholars and faqihs … he said, ‘Allaah the Blessed and Most High is above His Throne bi dhaatihi [in His Essence].’
This is a topic whose explanation has preceded in some detail. So he [i.e., Ibn al-Mubaarak] mentioned three matters whose meaning, at the very least, it is obligatory upon every Muslim to be well-grounded in, using his intellect and then his heart with which he believes, [and those three matters are]:
- Firstly that, ‘Allaah the Blessed and Most High is above the Throne in His Essence.’
- Secondly, ‘That he is separate and distinct from His creation,’ which strikes down the aforementioned fallacy of Him being present in all things, no, rather He is, ‘… separate and distinct from His creation,’ i.e., He is free and self-sufficient from all the worlds according to the text of the Noble Quraan, this is the second point.
Let me repeat and say it again: Allaah the Blessed and Most High–and I am not the one saying this, I am quoting what Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak said–so I say that he said, ‘Allaah the Blessed and Most High is above His Throne in His Essence,’ this is the first point. ‘Separate and distinct from His creation,’ i.e., not inside it but rather outside and free from having any need of the creation.
- The third, and here is that which establishes the point [we are discussing now], ‘And He is with them in His Knowledge.’ Namely, the the previous question [about the aayah], ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …,’ [is that He is] with them in His Knowledge, not that He is with them everywhere in His Essence, that is falsehood according to the Legislation and the intellect.
Thus it is not fitting that [the idea that Allaah is with them] in His Essence/Himself should rush to the mind of the questioner [when hearing], ‘… and He is with you wherever you are …,’ i.e., this is a meaning which a Muslim is far removed from thinking in his dreams let alone while awake.