A misconception about the interpretation of Allaah being Al-Dhaahir and Al-Baatin
Fatwa No: 290725

Question

Dear shaykh, in a hadith, it says that Mohammad, salallahu alayhi wa salam, said, "You are Al-Dhahir and there is nothing above You, and You are Al-Batin and there is nothing underneath You." (Muslim) Is this hadith an argument that Allaah is not above his throne? What is the explanation of this hadith according to the earlier scholars of Ahlu Sunnah, because some Asharis and Maturidis claim that this hadith is an argument that Allaah is not above his throne?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

Allaah, The Exalted, is established over His throne (in a manner that befits His Majesty; His throne is above the heavens; He is above all things), and He is distinct from His creation. This is affirmed by the texts of the Quran and the Sunnah and by the consensus of the early Muslim generations and righteous predecessors, as cited by Muslim scholars in their books. This is the correct Islamic belief that Al-Ashʻari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him came to believe in later on, as underlined in his books Al-Ibaanah and Maqalaat Al-Islaamiyyeen. For the sake of fairness, the late opinion that he came to hold is the one that should be attributed to him, and not the early opinion that he had changed.

Please refer to fataawa 6707 and 88421 for an examination of some of the relevant religious texts.

The hadeeth to which the questioner referred was reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him and was cited in Saheeh Muslim. The meaning of Al-Dhaahir (The Apparent or The Outward) and Al-Baatin (The Hidden or The Inward) is included in the hadeeth, and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) explained it: Al-Dhaahir means that Allaah is above all of His creation and Al-Baatin means that His knowledge encompasses His creation; nothing in relation to His creation is hidden from Him. The righteous predecessors explained this belief in the lucid and concise statement: “He is the Most High in His Nearness and the Most Near in His Highness.

Al-Aajurri  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him cited this hadeeth in his book Ash-Shareeʻah and commented:

Among the pieces of evidence that they bring forth for the purpose of deceiving the ignorant are the verses that read (what means): - {And it is Allaah Who is [the only] deity in the heaven, and on the earth [the only] deity...} [Quran 43:84] - {And He is Allaah, [the only deity] in the heavens and the earth...} [Quran 6:3]Their aim is to deceive the people and cause fitnah (temptation, tribulation). Allaah, the Exalted, says (what means): {...As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]...} [Quran 3:7]The rightly-guided scholars, on the other hand, explained the verses as to indicate that Allaah is established over His throne and that His perfect knowledge encompasses all of His creation in heaven and earth; He knows what they proclaim and what they hide within their hearts; He knows all that is said openly and all that is hidden. He says (what means): {And it is Allaah Who is [the only] deity in the heaven, and on the earth [the only] deity.} [Quran 43:84] This verse means that Allaah, The Exalted, is the deity of those in the heaven and the deity of those on earth; He is worshiped in heaven and worshiped on earth. This is how Muslim scholars explained the verse...’” [Ash-Shareeʻah]

This indicates that the meaning of the hadeeth is implied in many religious texts and that the fact that Allaah, The Exalted, is with His creation (through His knowledge) does not contradict the fact that He is High above His throne. The Muslims are enjoined to refer the verses whose indications are not clear back to the verses with clear-cut indications in order to interpret them in light of those with clear-cut indications. It cannot be suggested that religious texts contradict one another; verily, this is the habit of the misguided and deviated only.

Allaah Knows best.

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