Q. Is Allah with us wherever we are?
A. Yes, Allah is with us wherever we are.
Allah Ta’ala says, “No three hold a secret meeting but their fourth is Allah, nor five but their sixth is Allah, nor less than that or more, but He is with them wheresoever they maybe. Then He will inform them, on the Day of Qiyamah, of what they had done. Surely Allah has full knowledge of everything.” (Surah Mujadala 58:7)
“Allah is with you wherever you are” is mentioned in many verses of the Quran.
His qurb (closeness) is mentioned in other verses:
“When my servants ask you about me, I am near” (Surah Baqarah)
Allah Ta’ala says “We are closer to him than his jugular vein” (Surah Qaaf)
When Allah Ta’ala Himself has said He is with His creation and He is near, there is nothing wrong in using these terms.
Some people say He is confined to the Arsh and try to establish physical distances between Allah and His creation. It has become their obsession to bring such topics up in every conversation and to debate on this issue. However, this is not the way of the Salaf.
Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahullah) said, “Allah’s nearness and distance are not by way of length and shortness of distance, but in the meaning of honour and disgrace. An obedient person is close to Him without modality (kayf) and the disobedient is far from Him without (kayf)” (Al-Fiqh al-Akbar).
Just as we cannot understand His Istiwa on the Arsh and His other attributes like seeing, hearing, speaking, etc, we cannot fully explain His qurb and mai’yyat ie. His proximity and being with us. But we accept it, as Allah Ta’ala has informed us in His Book.
It was the way of the Salaf to do tasleem (accept) and tafweedh (consign the meaning) of such issues.
It was only the later scholars who had to do some Ta’weel of certain texts. They felt it necessary to do so, because deviant sects were attracting the uneducated towards there beliefs of either Tajseem (attributing a physical body to Allah with physical limbs) or Ta’teel (totally denying the attributes).
Since there are so many arguments in this day and age, I feel we should adopt the way of Khayrul quroon and the earlier generations of not interpreting these words and leaving qurb and Ma’iyyat along with istiwaa to its intended meanings by Allah. Read the verse and move on to the following one. A Muslim is not obliged to engage in debates on these issues nor be subject to interrogation by people who want to ask “how do you believe in these verses?” Imam Malik (rahimahullah) clearly referred to such questioning as Bid’ah (innovation).
Sufyan Ibn Uyayna (rahimahullah) said, “Whatever Allah described Himself within His Book, its commentary is to recite it and to maintain silence regarding it.”
(كل ما وصف الله من نفسه في كتابه فتفسيره تلاوته والسكوت عليه)
When Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rahimahullah) was asked about certain hadiths regarding Allah Ta’ala descending every night to the lowest heavens etc., he replied, “We believe and affirm them, without modality (kayf) and [establishing a] meaning (ma’na), and we do not reject any of them.”
(نؤمن بها ونصدق بها ولا كيف ولا معنى ولا نرد منها شيئا)
Our belief should be as Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) said, “I believe in Allah and what has come from Allah according to the meaning intended by Allah, and I believe in the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam and what has come from the Messenger of Allah according to the meaning intended by the Messenger of Allah.”
At the same time, the benefit of realising His qurb, is that one always thinks of Him, remembers Him, invokes Him, shows humility in worship and behaves properly. Whereas if one keeps saying “He is sitting on the Arsh and LITERALLY AND PHYSICALLY comes down to the earthly sky before dawn and goes back to the Arsh later” – may Allah protect against such a belief – , it makes one unaware and unmindful of His presence, and then lessens the gravity of sinning.
This is why the best form of Iman, Yaqeen and belief, is mentioned in one Hadith, where Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam says:
«ﺇﻥ ﺃﻓﻀﻞ اﻹﻳﻤﺎﻥ ﺃﻥ ﺗﻌﻠﻢ ﺃﻥ اﻟﻠﻪ ﻣﻌﻚ ﺣﻴﺜﻤﺎ ﻛﻨﺖ»
(المعجم الأوسط للطبراني)
“The best form of Imaan is that you know for certain that Allah is with you wherever you may be”
Ie. It is to have Istihdhaar (consciousness) of Allah at all times.
Too much talking about Istiwaa and discussing with people regarding its exact nature takes away this consciousness.
Don’t get me wrong! There is a huge difference between hulool (incarnation) and between ‘being with us’ & ‘being close to us’.
Only the Christians or idol worshippers believe that He gets into bodily forms. No sane Muslim would have such beliefs. What the Ahlullah (friends of Allah) say is that He has special qurb (closeness) with His creation, which cannot be explained in words. It is up to us to be aware of that qurb and to behave appropriately. The more we realise that qurb, the more pleasurable our life will become.
Similarly, where we abandon that realisation, we turn away from Him, neglect Him and fall in to the trap of nafs and shaytan.
May Allah give us correct belief and give us His istihdhaar and realisation of His presence at all times.
In fact having this istihdhaar, was one of the main reasons why all prophets were ma’soom (sinless), because they always had the qurb of Allah in their minds, which kept them away from all forms of disobedience.
Written by Abdul Raheem
Edited by mufti Javed Iqbal (hafidhahullah)