BELIEVING ALLÂH IS IN A PLACE IS KUFR AND APOSTASY
By Abu Hudhayfah
‘In shâ’a-llâh you will find in this document evidence from most reliable scholars showing that believing Allâh is in a place, such as sitting on the Throne, is kufr, disbelief.
In the second part we put the texts which will leave you without a doubt that when scholars called such an abhorrent belief kufr, they did mean apostasy (riddah), which is to stop being a Muslim and going to hell for ever if one does not repent.
In the third part we shall show what is the origin of the belief that God sits on the Throne.
Click on these headings underneath to go straight to the chapters.
Imam ^Aliyy (radiya-llâhu ^anhu) said:
إن الله خلق العرش إظهارا لقدرته و لم يتخذه مكانا لذاته
“Allâh created the Throne to show His power, He did not take it as a place for himself” (‘alFarqu bayna lFiraq’ of ‘Abû Mansûr alBaghdâdiyy)
^Aliyy said: “Allâh was when there was no space and He is now as He was” (reported in ‘AlFarq bayna lFiraq” of ‘Abû Mansûr alBaghdâdiyy)
Imam ‘Abû Hanîfah (radiya-llâhu ^anhu) said in “alWasiyyah: “If He needed to sit or establish Himself, where would He be then before the creation of creation. Allâh is much too great to have anything to do with this”.
Imam ‘Ahmad arRifâ^iyy alKabîr (radiya-llâhu ^anhu), who lived around the year 600 after Hijrah, said:
which means: “The ultimate knowledge about Allâh is to be certain that Allâh exists without a how or a place”
In ‘alFiqh al’Absat’, Imam ‘Abû Hanîfah (radiya-llâhu ^anhu) excommunicated (kaffara) whomever claimed that Allâh is in a place. In this book he wrote: “Whoever says, ‘I do not know whether my Lord is in heaven or on earth’ has committed kufr. The same applies to the one who says, ‘He is on the Throne and I do not know whether the Throne is in Heaven or on earth’”.
(From ‘alFiqh al’Absat’, within a collection of Imam ‘Abû Hanîfah’s epistles checked by alKawthariyy)
It is reported that the Imam and mujtahid ‘Abû Hanîfah anNu^mân ibn Thâbit: “What do say if you are told ‘Where is Allâh?’. He answered: “We say (to this person): ‘Allâh ta^âlà was when there was not space, before creating creation. Allâh ta^âlà was when there was no ‘where’, no creation, nothing and He is the Creator of everything” (Extract from alFiqh al’Absat among a collection of epistles of ‘Abû Hanîfah, checked by alKawthariyy).
al^Izz ibn ^AbdisSalâm (d. 660 H.) agreed with the Imam when he said in ‘Hallu rRumûz’: “Because this statement allows imagining that the Truth is in a place. Whoever deludes himself into believing that the Truth is in a place is a mushabbih”. A mushabbih is a person who compares Allâh with His creatures, this type of kufr is called ‘tashbîh’ (comparison).
Mulla ^Aliyy alQârî, the famous Hanafi scholar, agreed with that, for he wrote: “and there is no doubt that al^Izz ibn ^AbdisSalâm is one of the most august scholars and one of the most reliable, so it is a duty to rely on what he reported”.
Shaykh Shihâbuddîn ‘Ahmad ibn Muhammad alMisriyy, who was a Shâfi^i and ‘Ash^ari scholar known as Ibn Hajar alHaytamiyy (d. 974 H.), wrote: “Know that alQarâfiyy and others reported from ashShâfi^iyy, Mâlik, ‘Ahmad and ‘Abû Hanîfah (radiya-llâhu ^anhu) that people who say that God is in a direction or has a body commit kufr, and they competent to declare that”.
Mulla ^Aliyy alQârî (d. 1014 H.) said: “Who is more unjust than the person who lies about Allâh, who makes a specific and comprehensive statement declaring that He is in a place, that He has an appearance/shape, is in a direction such as opposite, declaring that He is affected by distances and similar things. Such a person necessarily becomes a disbeliever”
The august scholar, muhaddith and faqîh ‘Abu lMahâsin Muhammad alQâwqajiyy, of the Hanafi school, from Tripoli in Lebanon (d.1305 H.) wrote in ‘al’I^timâd bil’I^tiqâd’: “Whoever says ‘I do not know I do not know whether Allâh is in heaven or on earth, commits kufr, because he has stated that one of them is a place for Him.”
In alFatâwa lHindiyyah, a book written by a group of Indian scholars, it is written : (a person) commits kufr by testifying that Allâh ta^âlà is in a place. If he says: ‘Allâh is in heaven’ (in Arabic) , if he just means to convey what is apparent in the hadîths, he does not commit kufr, but if he means ‘in a place’, he has committed kufr”
(alFatâwa lHindiyyah is also known as alFatâwa l^Âlamgîriyyah).
Imam ‘Abu lHasan al’Ash^ariyy (radiya-llâhu ^anhu) said in Kitâbu nNawâdir: “Whoever believes that Allâh is a body does not know his Lord and disbelieves (is a kâfir) in Him”. To say that Allâh sits on the Throne is stating that He has a body He sits with.
The Mâliki scholar, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad ^Ullaysh (d. 1299 H.), when he mentioned what makes a person fall into kufr (may Allâh protect us from it) wrote: “such as believing that Allâh has a body and is confined in a space, for this entails that He is a creation and that He needs a creator” (from Manhu lJalîl, Sharhu Mukhtasari Khalîl).
The next quotes show that the kufr of those who believe Allâh to sit on the Throne is indeed apostasy.
This quote of Imam asSubkiyy describes the legal consequences of believing Allâh to be in a place, these measures are part of the usual judgement for apostasy (riddah)
Shaykh Mahmûd ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ahmad Khattâb asSubkiyy alMisriyy (d. 1362 H.) said : “Some people asked me, who sought to know religion and the position of the scholars of the first centuries (salaf) of afterwards (khalaf) on the issue of non-explicit (mutashâbih) verses and hadîths. They said: “What do the scholarly masters say (may Allâh ta^âlà protect them) about a person who believes that Allâh ^azza wajall is in a direction, that He sits on the Throne in a particular place and says that this is the belief of the salaf and encourages people to adopt this belief and says to them, ‘Whoever does not believe that is a disbeliever (kâfir), as God said: “The Merciful One did ‘istiwâ’ on the Throne” and ‘Do you feel safe from the one who is in heaven’ (in sura alMulk)? Is this belief correct or wrong? If it is wrong, does the one who professes the aforementioned belief commit kufr? Are all previous religious deeds such as prayer and fasting deprived of rewards and his marriage to his wife invalidated? If he dies before repenting, is he to be washed and buried in Muslims’ graveyards? Are those who followed him in this belief disbelievers like him?”
“With Allâh’s help I answered: “In the name of Allâh the Merciful God, praise Allâh who guides to what is correct, may Allâh raise the rank of the one who was given wisdom et eloquence and protect his community from what he fears for them, and may He bless his family and Companions whom Allâh guided, and in whom He created the ability to obey and the correct religion. As for what you mentioned, the ruling is that this belief is wrong and is the credo of a disbeliever, by unanimity (‘ijmâ^) of Muslims scholars who considered it. The rational proof for this is the fact that Allâh has no beginning and is different from creatures. The revealed evidence is where Allâh said (what means), ‘Nothing is like unto Him and He is the One who hears and sees’. Anybody who believes that God is found in a place, some creation came in contact with Him, such as the Throne, the Pedestal (alKursiyy), heaven, earth or anything else, any such person is undoubtedly a kâfir. All his previous goods deeds, whether they are prayer, fasting, pilgrimage or anything else are deprived of rewards and his marriage to his wife is invalidated. It is a duty for him to repent immediately. If he dies with this belief, God forbid, he is not to be washed nor prayed for and he is not to be buried in Muslims’ graveyards. The same applies to anyone who adopted his belief, may Allâh protect us from our own evil and our bad deeds. As for his encouraging people to take up the same blasphemous belief and the fact that he says to them, ‘Anybody who does not believe that is a disbeliever (kâfir), this from his part is kufr and an enormous slander” (excerpt fro ‘Ithâfu lKâ’inât).
Shaykh alKawthariyy, representative of Islamic scholars under the Ottomans (d. 1371 H.), said: “Declaring that Allâh ta^âlà is in a direction is considered to be kufr by the four Imams who are the guides of this Community (‘Ummah) as al^Irâqiyy reported it from them about what is in “Sharhu lMishkâh” of ^Aliyy alQârî” (From ‘alMaqâlât’ of alKawthariyy)
Shaykh ^AbdulGhaniyy anNâbulusiyy, the Hanafi scholar, said: “He who believes that Allâh fills the heavens and earth or that He is a body sitting above the Throne (ceiling of Paradise; throne) is a kâfir, even though he claims to be a Muslim”
There is no margin for the interpretation of the kufr mentioned in these texts, they do not refer to a mere enormous sin, they, refer to a belief which actually takes out of Islam, as the following texts make it abundantly clear:
‘Abu lQâsim alQushayriyy (d. 465 H.) said in his ‘Risâlah’ : I heard Imam ‘Abû Bakr ibn Fûrak (may Allâh ta^âlà have mercy on him) say, ‘I heard ‘Abû ^Uthmân alMaghribiyy say, ‘I used to believe something about God being in a direction. When I arrived in Baghdad, this disappeared from my heart so I wrote to our companions in Mecca, ‘I have now come back into Islam’”.
Imam Ja^far asSâdiq said: “He who claims that Allâh is in something or on something or from something, commits shirk. Because if He was in something, He would be contained, and if He was on something, He would be carried, and if He was from something, He would be a creature”.
The spokesman of Mutakallims, ‘Abu lMu^în Maymûn ibn Muhammad anNasafiyy, of the Hanafi school (d. 508 H.) said: “Allâh ta^âlà rejected any likeness between His reality and everything else; so whoever testifies that He is in a place opposes the explicit text (verse 11 of sura ashShûrà whose meaning is) “nothing is like unto Him” – which does not bear any other understanding than what is obviously said – and whoever rejects a revealed text is a kâfir, may Allâh protect us from this” (from Tabsiratu l’Adillah).
Imam Zayn ad-Din Ibn Nujaym (d. 970 H.) said: “He commits kufr by declaring that Allâh ta^âlà is in a place. If he says: “Allâh is in Heaven, meaning to convey the meaning the apparent meaning of the texts, he does not fall into disbelief but if he meant a place, he has done kufr” (extract from “alBahru rRâ’iq”: chapter on rulings concerning apostates).
The Hanafi scholar Mulâ ^Aliyy alQârî (d. 1014 H.) said: “Who is more unjust than the person who lies against Allâh and makes a specific or inclusive statement testifying Allâh to be in a space, to have an appearance and a direction, that you could meet Him (in a place), declaring to him be within a distance a similar things, and thus becomes undoubtedly a disbeliever (kâfir)” (from the explanation of alFiqh al’Akbar: after the end of the explanation of arRisâlah).
The shaykh also said: “Whoever believes that Allâh does not know things before they happen is a kâfir and indeed the one who says so is considered as an innovator (min ‘ahli lbid^ah). The same applies to the person who says that He subhânahu is a body in a place subjected to time and other similar things, this is a disbeliever, for he has not actually reached the reality of faith (‘îmân)” (same source as the previous quote)
He also wrote: “Actually, a group of them (from the Salaf) and from the khalaf (later scholars) said, ‘the one who believes God to be in a direction is a kâfir, as declared by al^Irâqiyy, and he said, ‘This is what ‘Abû Hanîfah, Mâlik, ashShâfi^iyy, al’Ash^ariyy and alBâqillâniyy said’”. (from ‘Mirqâtu lMafâtîh).
The text in bold are ‘Abû Hanîfah’s own words, the rest is alBayâdiyy’s commentary.
The august Hanafi scholar Kamâluddîn alBayâdiyy (d. 1098 H.) said while explaining Imam ‘Abû Hanîfah’s sayings: “He (I.e. ‘Abû Hanîfah) said: ‘So whoever says: ‘I do not know whether Allâh is in heaven or on earth is a kâfir’ because he said that someone has somehow specified a direction for the Creator, an area and a clear defect; when anything that is in a specific direction or area needs (someone to have specified this for Him) and is necessarily created. These are words which explicitly attribute Allâh with defects. The same applies to a person who says, ‘He is on the Throne and I do not know whether the Throne is in Heaven or on earth’ because this necessarily entails that he says God is in a direction, an area and that he has an clear defect, especially when he says that He is on earth and denies God’s transcendence (^uluww). Indeed this is denying the reality of God who is clear from being confined in a space or similar to creations. This is what shows it:
First: the one who claims God has a body and is in a direction denies the existence of anything else which cannot be located by senses. Among the people who do this are those who do not accept that God is beyond that. Such a person is necessarily and undoubtedly in kufr and he showed that when he ruled that the individual becomes a disbeliever.
Secondly: charging with infidelity the person who compares God with creatures or believes Him to be confined in a space. This is shown by the aforementioned ruling against the one who utters such words. This is what Imam al’Ash^ariyy chose when he said in ‘anNawâdir’: “Whoever believes that Allâh is a body does not know his Lord because he (really) denies His existence, as it is mentioned by ‘Abu lQâsim al’Ansâriyy” (from ‘’Ishârâtu lMarâm)
Shaykh ^AbdulGhaniyy anNâbulusiyy, the Hanafi master (d. 1143 H.) said: “As for the types of disbelief (kufr), there are three kinds of them from a religious point of view and all kinds of kufr are included in them. These are tashbîh (comparison), ta^tîl (denying Allâh’s attributes) and takdhîb (contradicting the revealed texts) … as for tashbîh, it is to believe that Allâh is like anything in His creation such as those who believe Allâh ta^âlà to be a body above the Throne, or they believe Him to have two hands in the meaning of “limbs”, or they believe Him to be in somebody’s image or somebody’s condition (kayfiyyah), to imagine Allâh to be a light reason can picture, or that He is in Heaven or one of the six directions, in some place or in all places, that He fills the Heavens and the earth, that He is incarnated  in something or in all things, that He is united with something or with all things, that things or something emanated from Him. All of these are explicit cases of kufr and we seek protection from Allâh ta^âlà. The cause of it is that the person is ignorant of what he follows and goes into extremes. (From alFathu rRabbâniyy walFaydu rRahmâniyy)
The muhaddith and faqîh ^Abdullâh alHarariyy said in ‘asSirâtu lMustaqîm’ : “It is also kufr for a person to believe that Allâh ta^âlà is confined in space, that Allâh is something like air or a light filling a space, a room or a mosque. We do not call mosques “houses of Allâh” because Allâh inhabits them but because they are places where Allâh is worshipped. It is also kufr to say, “Allâh lives in th heart of His saints” if the person believes that He actually is inside (hulûl). The meaning of alMi^râj (the Ascension) is not that the Prophet arrived to a place where the limit of Allâh ta^âlà’s existence was – anyone who believes that commits kufr , what is meant by the Mi^râj is (that the purpose of this journey is) to honour the Messenger (salla-llâhu ^alayhi wasallam) by giving him access to marvels in the superior world, to show the greatness of his rank and to let him see the Divine Reality with his heart without this Reality being in space”
In the Bible they wrote :
‘(9) And when the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to Him Who sits on the throne, to Him Who lives forever and ever, (10) the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him Who sits on the throne, and will worship Him Who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, For Thou hast maintained my just cause; Thou dost sit on the throne judging righteously.’Psalms 9:4”.
“God reigns over the nations, God sits on His holy throne.” Psalms 47:8
“…I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.” Isaiah 6:1
Isaiah Chapter 6, it is written :
“1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
In the book called Revelation 19:1-10 they wrote:
“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.”
The Vision of Rabbi Ishmael
Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 7a:
It was taught:
“Said Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha: Once I entered into the inner sanctum to offer incense.
And I beheld Akatriel Yah LORD of Hosts sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.”
The quotes from Islamic scholars from the first centuries (Salaf) and later generation (khalaf) in this document are only a few from a collection of at least 269 texts which establish beyond doubt the unanimity of the Muslim scholars all along Islamic history, that attributing a place to Allâh, such as claiming He sits on the Throne, is apostasy, leaving those who profess it outside the fold of Islam.
 “Hâfiz” is an abbreviation for “Hâfiz alHadîth”, i.e. a scholar of Hadîth who has reached the top level of Hadîth science through talaqqî (learning from an authorised person) and memorising. At that level only such a scholar may give opinion on the reliability of Hâfiz Hadîths.
 A faqîh (jurist) is an expert in fiqh, Islamic laws, rules, rituals and rites.
 Expert in Hadîth science through talaqqî (learning from an authorised person) and memorising. Not every muhaddith reaches the level of Hâfiz alHadîth.
 I.e. Prophet Muhammad, ^alayhi ssalâtu wassalâm.
 Against religion.
 Transcendence (^uluww) means that Allâh has no limits, is not in space nothing is like Him.
 Imam ‘Abû Hanîfah.
 Incarnation (hulûl) means to be inside something.
 Emanating means they believe something to have come out of Allâh or for creation to be some kind of expansion of Allâh.
 Actually the shaykh is “Hâfiz alHadîth”, i.e. a scholar of Hadîth who has reached the top level of Hadîth and is abilitated to give opinion on the reliability of Hâfiz Hadîths.
 Expert in fiqh, Islamic Law and rituals. He is also mufti in the four Sunni schools, qâri’ in all the readings of the Qur’ân, etc.
 Hulûl means ‘incarnation’.
 I.e. The Messenger (salla-llâhu ^alayhi wasallam) did not reach a place where God was.