The Addition of "Bi-Dhatihi" When Speaking About Allah's Uluw and Istiwa
الخميس 9 / جمادى الآخرة / 1437 هـ - الموافق 17 / مارس / 2016 م

The Addition of "Bi-Dhatihi" When Speaking About Allah's Uluw and Istiwa

Prepared by:
Um Abdullah al-Misawi

The Objection:
"The additional wording 'bi Dhatihi' (by/with His Essence) when speaking about Allah's Uluw and Istiwa, such as saying, 'Allah did Istiwa upon the Throne bi-Dhatihi' or 'Allah is above His Throne bi-Dhatihi' and such, is invalid and an innovation that is not found in the Quran nor the Sunnah nor the statements of Righteous Predecessors (Salaf)."

The Answer:

Firstly: Simply because a word has not been used in the Qur'an and Sunnah does not mean that it is false or unacceptable. As long as its meaning is correct, in accordance with the Islamic text (i.e. Quran and Sunnah) with the understanding of the pious Salaf, does not include a false meaning, and there was a need for its use, then there is no harm in using it.
There are words or phrases which have been transmitted from the pious Salaf in regards to the matters of creed (Aqeedah) which are not found in the Qur'an nor in the Sunnah but they are correct in meaning. An example is their saying: "The Qur'an is not created". The word "not created" is not mentioned in the Qur'an nor the Sunnah but it is understood and derived from the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Secondly, the word "bi Dhatihi" (by his Essence) or "bi-Nafsihi" (by Hisself) has been used by some of the Salaf, and both have the same meaning. Examples from their statements:

- Abu Sa'eed Uthman Al-Darimi (d. 280 H.) said:
«Because He has said in many verses that He is above His Throne, above the Heavens, thus it is like that, there is no doubt about it. So when He said that He is with every secret conversation, we said His Knowledge and His Sight are with them and He is bi-Nafsihi (Himself) is on the Throne in His Perfection as He described.» (1)

- Muhammad Abu Ja'far bin Abi Shaybah (d. 297 H.) said:
«He is above the Heavens and above the Throne bi-Datihi (by His Essence) free from His creation, separate from them. His Knowledge is in His creation, they cannot leave His Knowledge.» (2)

- Al-Harith Al-Muhasibi As-Sufi (d. 243 H.) said:
«As for His saying: {The Most Gracious Istawa (Rose) over the Throne} [20:5], {And He is the omnipotent, above His slaves} [6:18], {Do you feel secure that He Who is over the heaven...} [67:16] …» he mentions a number of ayat, then he says: «This necessitates that He is above the Throne, above the things, transcendant from entering His creation, nothing is hidden from him, for He has clearified in these ayat that Dhatuhu bi-Nafsihi (He by Hisself) is above His slaves because He said: {Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven ..} [67:16], meaning above the Throne, and the Throne is above the heavens.»(3)

And a number of Imams who came after the Salaf have attributed this saying in meaning to the Salaf:

- Abu Umar At-Talamanki Al-Maliki (d. 429 H.) said in “Al-Wusul Ila Ma`rifat Al-Usul”:
«The Muslims from Ahl As-Sunnah are upon consensus that the meaning of His saying: {And He is with you wheresoever you may be} [57:4] and what is similar to it from the Quran is by His Knowledge, and that Allah Ta`ala is above the Heavens bi-Dhatihi, Mustawen (i.e. Done Istiwa, Has Risen) above His Throne however He willed.» (4)

- Abu Nasr As-Sijzee Al-Hanafi (d. 444 H.) said in “Al-Ibanah”:
«Our Imams such as Sufyan Ath-Thawri, Malik, Hammad bin Salamah, Hammad bin Zayd, Abdullah bin al-Mubarak, Al-Fudail bin `Iyad, Ahmad bin Hanbal, and Ishaq bin Rahwaih, are upon agreement that Allah -Subhanahu wa Ta`ala- is bi-Dhatihi above the Throne, and His Knowledge is everywhere.» (5)

- Yahya Al-`Amrani Ash-Shafi`i (d. 558 H.) said:
«Ashab Al-Hadeeth and Sunnah believe that Allah Subhanahu is bi Dhatihi separate from creation, on His Throne Istawa (Rose) above the Heavens, without contact, and His Knowledge encompasses everything.» (6)

Ibn As-Salah Ash-Shafi`i (d. 643 H.) wrote on the poem about the Sunnah, attributed to Abul Hasan al-Karaji Ash-Shafi`i (d. 532 H.) :
«This is the belief of Ahl As-Sunnah and Ashab Al-Hadeeth.» (7)

And some of what came in the poem is the following:
The belief of Ashab Al-Hadeeth has risen ** by the people of Allah’s religion to the highest of ranks
Their beliefs is that The Ilah (Allah) is bi-Dhatihi ** on His Throne, with His knowledge of the matters of the unseen

Abu Zakariyah as-Sarsari al-Hanbali (d. 656 H.) wrote a poem in which he praised the belief of Shaykh Abdul-Kareem al-Athari (651 H.) after reading his book on creed "l-Mu`tamad fi al-Mu`taqad". He said in this poem, highlighting the belief of the shaykh:

And his belief in Istiwa' is that of Malik ** and the righteous predecessors, the people of grace

And he said (i.e. Abdul Kareem): He Istawa (rose) over His Throne bi-Dhatihi ** and do not say (that it means) istawla (i.e. seized) for saying that is not the truth (8)

And below is a list of Imams who were explicit in using the word "bi Dhaatihi" or "bi Nafsihi" when mentioning their aqeedah:

Abu Ahmad al-Qassab (d. 360 H.) said:
«And his saying {They fear their Lord above them} is a proof that Allah -Jal Jalaloh- is above the heavens bi-Dhatihi, and on earth there is only His Knowledge that encompasses everything.» (9)

Ibn Abi Zayd Al-Qayrawani al-Maliki (d. 386 H.) said in the intro of his famous "Risala" :
«And indeed He is above His Noble Throne bi-Dhaatihi and He is in every place with His knowledge.»

Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Mawhab al-Maliki (d. 406 H.), the student of Ibn Abi Zayd, said in his explanation of the treatise of Imam Muhammad Ibn Abi Zaid al-Qairawani:
«This is why shaykh Abu Muhammad said: "He is above His Throne" and then he made it clear that His elevation over the Throne is "biDhatihi (with His Essence) because He is separate from His creation without asking how, and He is everywhere with His Knowledge and not with Hisself.» (10)

Abu Zakariya Yahya bin `Ammar al-Hanbali (d. 422 H.) said in his treatise (Risalah) :
«We do not say what the Jahmiyyah said: 'That He (Allah), the Exalted, is combined with everything, and we do not know where He is'. But we say: He bi Dhatihi is over the Throne, and His knowledge encompasses everything; that His Knowledge, His Hearing, and His Sight is aware of everything. And that is the meaning of {and He is with you wherever you may be} [Quran 57:4] and what we said is what Allah and His Messenger said.» (11)

Abu Nasr As-Sijzee Al-Hanafi (d. 444 H.) said:
«And the belief of the people who follow the truth is that Allah, glorified is above the Throne bi Dhatihi without contact.» (12)

Sa`d bin Ali Az-Zanjani Al-Shafi'i (d. 471 H.) said in his explanation of his poem on aqeedah:
«But He has Risen (Mustawen) bi Dhatihi upon His Throne without asking How, as He informed about Himself. And the Muslims are upon consensus that Allah is the Most High, and it is stated in the Quran in the Almighty's saying: {Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High} [87:1] (13)

Abu Ismail al-Harawi al-Hanbali (d. 481 H.) in his book “As-Sifat”:
«Chapter: Proving the Istiwa' of Allah over His Throne, above the seventh heaven, separate from His creation; from the Quran and Sunnah.» In which he mentioned the proofs of that from the Quran and Sunnah, and then said: «It is in many reports that Allah Azza wa Jal is above the seventh heaven, over the Throne bi Nafsihi (by Himself), and He sees what you are doing; His Knowledge, Ability, Hearing, Sight, and Mercy, are everywhere.» (14)

Thirdly, Its meaning is correct. And that is that Allaah is above the Arsh (Throne) and that Al-Istiwaa is with the Dhat (Essence) in a manner befitting of His Majesty which we do not know. And His Istiwa is not like the istiwa of the creation. And He is not in need of the Throne and He has made istiwa upon it because He is {the Doer of whatsoever He wills} [Quran 85:16] and {He is not questioned about what He does} [Quran 21:23].

Also, this meaning is what is understood and derived from the Islamic texts and the statements of the scholars of the Salaf who didn't use this word; examples:

See the evidence from the Quran and Hadith HERE

- The Sahabi Abdullah Ibn Masud May Allah be pleased with him said: «Between the lowest heaven and the one after it is the distance of five hundred years, and between every two heavens is the distance of five hundred years, and between the seventh heaven and the Kursi is the distance of five hundred years, and between the Kursi and the water is the distance of five hundred years, and the Throne (Arsh) is above the water, and Allah the Almighty is above the Throne (fawqa Al-Arsh). And nothing is hidden from Allah of your deeds.» And in another narration «He knows what you are upon» (15) Its grading is: hasan.

- Ibn Al-Mubarak (d 181 H.) :
Ali Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Shaqeeq reported: I asked Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak: “How are we to know our Lord –Azza wa Jal-? ”
He replied: «He is over the seventh Heaven over His Throne. We do not say as the Jahmiyyah say: that He is here on the earth.» (16) Sahih.

- Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d. 241 H.) :
Abu Yusuf bin Musa Al-Qattan said: "It was said to Abu Abdullah Ahmad ibn Hanbal:
'Allah -Azza wa Jal- is above the seventh Heaven on His Throne separate from His creation, and His Ability and Knowledge is everywhere ? '
He replied: «Yes, (He is) over the Throne, and no place is free from His Knowledge»." (17) Sahih

- Abu Isa At-Tirmidhi (d. 279 H.) said in his "Sunnan":
«Allah’s Knowledge, Ability, and sovereignty is everywhere, and He is on the Throne as He described Himself in His Book (i.e. The Quran) ». (18)

Fourtly, words such as these which weren't used in Shar'i text (i.e. Quran and Sunnah) but were used by some of the Salaf and those after them when speaking about matters of creed, were used in reply to the people of bidah (innovation) who distorted the words of Allah and His messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), as they made taweel of the texts and negated its apparent meaning. For example, in the issue of the Speech of Allah and creation, the Jahmiyyah said that Allah's Speech is created, so the Salaf had to reply to them and say, «Allah's Speech is not created». And that is what happened in the issue of Istiwa, in which some of the people of innovation said, "Allah did Istiwa upon His Throne with His Ability and sovereignty, and Allah is everywhere with His Essence." And others said, "Allah's Istiwa is His istila (seizing; conquering) of the Throne". So the Salaf and the Imams of Sunnah, who came after them, replied back saying that Allah is everywhere with His Knowledge and sovereignty, and above His Throne with His Essence.

So the use of such additional words which weren't used in the Quran and Sunnah was for a need. Thus the use of such words are judged by their meaning, and should not be used except when there is a need and when replying to the people of bidah. If the listener understands its meaning without the use of such words, especially laypeople whose fitrah has not been distorted, then it is better to not use it and to stick with the words used in the Quran and Sunnah, for it is sufficient.

For more statements from the Pious Salaf and the Imams of Sunnah in regards to Allah's Elevation and Istiwa, please see the following articles:

Belief In Allah's Elevation & Istiwa on the Throne (2) : Statments of the Salaf

Belief In Allah's Elevation & Istiwa on the Throne (3) : Scholars After the Salaf

Related Articles:

Are the Statements of the Pious Salaf -on Allah's Elevation- About Status?

(1) "Ar-Rad Ala Al-Jahmiyyah" (Replying to The Jahmiyah) by Ad-Darimi (p. 44)
(2) "Al-Arsh Wa Ma Ruwiyah Fihi" by Abu Jafar bin Abi Shaybah (p. 291-292)
(3) "Fahm al-Quran wa Ma'anih" by Al-Muhasibi (p. 349-350)
(4) "Al-Uluw" by Ad-Dahabi (p. 246); "Ijtima' al-Juyush al-Islamiyah" by Ibn al-Qayyim (p. 142) Tahqiq: Awwad Abdullah al-Metiq.
(5) "Kitab Al-Arsh" (2/341) and "Siyar A'lam An-Nubala" (17/656) both by Ad-Dhahabi.
(6) "Al-Intisar fi Ar-Rad Ala al-Mutazila al-Qadariyah al-Ashrar" by al-Amrani (2/607)
(7) Kitab Al-Arsh by Adh-Dhahabi (2/342), Ad-Dhahabi said – after mentioning the verses of poetry by Al-Karaji on Allah’s Elevation on the Throne - : “Currently there are copies of it there, from it is a copy with the handwriting of Shaikh Taqi Ad-Deen Ibn As-Salah, at the begining of it is written: ‘This is the Creed of Ahl Assunnah and Ashab Al-Hadeeth’, with his handwriting – Rahimahullah-.”; Adh-Dhahabi mentioned something similar in his book “AL-Uluw” when speaking about the poetry of Al-Karaji
(8) “Waq` al-Qarid” by Yahya al-Sarsari (p.22)
(9) "Nukat al-Quran" by al-Qassab (2/68-69)
(10) “al-Uluw” by Adh-Dhahabi (p.264); and “Ijtima’ al-Juyush” by Ibn Al-Qayyim (2/187-190)
(11) “Al-`Uluw” (p.245), and “al-'Arsh” (2/340,348) both by al-Dhahabi. Part of it is also in “al-Hujjah fi Bayan al-Mahajah” by Ismail al-Asbahani (2/107)
(12) “Risalat al-Sijzy ila ahl Zabeed fi al-Rad 'ala Man Ankar al-Harf wa al-Sawt” (p.126) – Tahqiq Muhammad Bakareem, Dar al-Rayah, 1414H.
(13) Ijtima` A-Juyush Al_Islamiyah `Ala Ghazu Al-Mu`atilah wal-Jahmiyah by Ibn Al-Qayyim (pg. 197-198) tahqiq: `Awad al-Me`tig.
(14) “al-'Arsh” (2/364) and Siyar A'lam al-Nubala' (18/514) both by Al-Dhahabi.
(15) "Al`Adhamah by Abu Ash-Shaykh Al-Asbahani (2/688-689); Al-Mujalasah wa Jawahir Al-`Ilm by Ahmad ad-Daynuri (6/406); An-Naqd by Ad-Darimi (1/422); Sharh I`tiqad Ahl AsSunnah wal Jama`ah by Al-Lalikai (3/395-396); Ithbat Sifat Al-Uluw by Ibn Qudamah (p.151-152) and others.
(16) “As-Sunnah “ by Abdullah bin Ahmad (1/111) with a sahih chain
(17) "Sharh I`tiqad Ahl AsSunnah" by Al-Lalikai (3/402); And it was narrated by al-Khalal in “As-Sunnah” from his Shaykh Yusuf bin Musa Al-Qattan, as is mentioned in “Kitab al-Arsh” by Adh-Dhahabi (2/247), and “Al-Uluw” (p.176), so the chain is sahih.
(18) "Al-Jame` Al-Kabir" (known as Sunan At-Tirmidhi) (5/327)


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