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Allah is in the heaven, and His knowledge is everywhere [Refutation of seekingIlm.com’s article]


بسم الله

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Allah is above the Throne, and His knowledge exists at evry place

Imam Ahmed narrated from Surayj bin Nu’man from Abdullah bin Nafe’, he said: Imam Malik said, “Allah is in the heaven and his knowledge is at every place and nothing is devoid of it”.

Some people[1] have tried to weaken this report based on the narrator Abdullah bin Nafe’ As-Sa’igh. We shall analyze their claim in this article, Insha Allah, but before that what should be noted is that these people atleast realized and even confirmed this report is against their well famous creed regarding the Uluww of Allah, and all the praises due to Allah. That is why Shaykh Kawthari said regarding the statement of Dhahhaak (same as Malik’s statement), “If he had been following the evidence, then he would have said ‘Istawa alal Arsh’ not ‘innahu alal arsh’(He is above the Throne), and between them there is huge difference”[2].

As for the content of the report from Imam Malik then its highly reliable then Imam Ahmed, who narrated this report of Imam Malik, himself held the same view as in his “Ar-Radd ‘ala Al-Jahmiyyah”[3], and similar type of statement was narrated by Hanbal bin Ishaq from Imam Ahmed in his “As-Sunnah”, as quoted by Shaykhul Islam in “Majmoo’ Al-Fatawa” (5/496).

And all of the salaf of this Ummah held similar view. Ibn Abdul Barr mentioned agreement of scholars from among Sahaba and Taba’een on it, as in “At-Tamheed”.[4] Al-Aajurri said that this was the view of Muslims and that is how scholars interpreted the verses regarding nearness of Allah, Exalted is He, as in the book “Ash-Sharee’ah”.

Imam Tabari interpreted it in the same way as Imam Malik, as in his Tafsir (Surah Mujadilah, verse 7)[5].

And this same Tafsir is reported from Dhahhak and Muqaatil bin Hayyan.

The statement of Dhahhak was reported by Tabari (23/237), Ibn Abi Hatim in his Tafsir[6], Abdullah bin Ahmed in “As-Sunnah” (no.592)[7], Al-Bayhaqi in “Al-Asma wa Al-Sifaat” (p.398, Kawthari ed.) etc through the route of Nuh bin Maimoon from Bukair bin Ma’roof  from Muqaatil bin Hayyan from Dhahhaak bin Muzahim.

Al-Dhahabi said: Reported by Abu Ahmed Al-‘Assal, Abu Abdullah Ibn Battah and Ibn Abdul Barr with a good chain (bi isnadin jayyid), and Muqaatil was trustworthy and an Imam.[8]

However, Shaykh Al-Kawthari has some problem with this. He said, in his footnote on Al-Asma wa Al-Sifat (p.398): “(Regarding Bukair bin Ma’ruf) Ibn Mubarak said that he was accused. And Ibn Khuzaimah did not take Muqatil bin Hayyan as hujjah[9]. And Yahya bin Sa’eed used to weaken Dhahhaak.” – End Qoute –

Bukair bin Ma’roof : Muslim narrated from him in his Saheeh. Bukhari, Abu Hatim and Abdullah bin Ahmed, all of them reported from Imam Ahmed where he said, “there is no problem with him” and in report of Bukhari, “I do not see problem with him”. And similarly said by Abu Hatim himself. Nasa’i and Abu Dawud said, “there is no problem with him”. Marwan bin Muhammad At-Taatari[10] said, Trustworthy (Thiqah). Ibn Hibban listed him among trustworthy narrators. [See, Tahdheeb (1/434), Al-Jarh wa Al-Ta’deel (2/406)]

As for the statement of Ibn Mubarak and what was narrated by Abu Bakr Ibn Baaluyah from Abdullah bin Ahmed from Imam Ahmed that he was ‘Dhaahib Al-Hadith’, then these type of jarh carries less weight in opposition to what has already been established because these criticism are unexplained.

As a whole Bukair was Sadooq, Hasan Al-Hadith with some softness in him, as concluded by Hafiz Ibn Hajar in “Taqreeb” (1/138).

Muqatil bin Hayyan : He was  Imam, Muhaddith and a Mufassir. Ibn Mu’een and Abu Dawud both declared him Thiqah. Nasa’i said, no problem with him. Marwan bin Muhammad said, Thiqah. Daar Qutni said, Saleh Al-Hadith. Ibn Hibban listed him among Thiqaat. [Tahdheeb (10/249)]

Dhahabi said that he was Thiqah[11], while Ibn Hajar declared him “Sadooq, Righteous”[12].

As for the statement of Ibn Khuzaima that he did not take Muqatil as Hujjah, then this is just his opinion and these type of unexplained criticism are normally rejected when contradicted by established Ta’adeel. If we are going to take these type of criticism against scholars then there hardly remains any great scholar free from criticism.[13]

Dhahhak bin Muzahim: He was well known Imam in Tafsir. Sufiyan Thawri said, “Take tafsir from four: Mujahid, Ikrimah, Sa’eed bin Jubair and Dhahhaak”[14]. I don’t know why Al-Kawthari doubted this report based on the weakening of Yahya bin Sa’eed, when actually Dhahhaak is only explaining the verse. What the statement of Dhahhaak has to do with his status in Hadith, when he is not narrating anything here? The thing matters here is his status as an Imam in tafseer which is quite well known, Imam Bukhari mention his tafsir in his Saheeh and there isn’t any report based tafsir book, according to my knowledge, which doesn’t mention his views in tafsir.

In any case, Imam Ahmed considered him Thiqah and Imam. Ibn Mu’een, Abu Zar’ah, Daar Qutni and Al-‘Ijli also declared him Thiqah.[15] Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar considered him ‘Sadooq’.[16]

In conclusion, the statement of Dhahhaak is proven through good Isnad. All the narrators discussed above narrating this from their most close teachers and all of these people were also people of Tafsir. And Allah knows best.

We have mentioned this report as this is very much identical with the statement of Imam Malik. Abul Layth and co. did not indicate towards this report although it is much more famous than statement of Malik because of its existence in famous tafsir and other books. There exist some other identical statements from Salaf but most of them are either weak or it is that I am not sure about their authenticity at the moment. Next we shall be discussing the report from Imam Malik.

Statement of Imam Malik

Imam Ahmed narrated from Surayj bin Nu’man from Abdullah bin Nafe’, he said: Imam Malik said, “Allah is in the heaven and his knowledge is at every place and nothing is devoid of it”.

Allama Al-Albani said: This was reported by Abdullah bin Imam Ahmed in “As-Sunnah” (p.5) and similarly Abu Dawud in “Al-Masa’il” (p.263), and Al-Ajurri (p.289) and Al-Laalka’i (1/92/2) and its Isnad is authentic and Imam Ahmed took it as evidence in the report of Al-Aajurri…”.[17]

Regarding the statement of Al-Albani “and Imam Ahmed took it as evidence in a report of Al-Aajurri”, it was reported by Al-Aajurri in “Ash-Sharee’ah” where he said: Reported to us Ja’far bin Muhammad As-Sandaliyy who said, narrated to us Al-Fadhl bin Ziyad who said, “I heard Abu Abdullah Ahmed bin Hanbal while he was saying that Imam Malik said, Allah, ‘azz wa jall, is in the heaven and his knowledge exist at every place, and no place is devoid of it. (Fadhl said) So I asked him, “who informed you this from Malik?”…then he mentioned Isnad.

This report indicates that the report under discussion was authentically proven from Imam Malik, that is why Imam Ahmed (and he was among highest authority in the field of criticism of Hadith) attributed it to Imam Malik with jazm.

It has already been mentioned, with proof, that Imam Ahmed himself held similar view like Imam Malik and Dhahhaak, and Imam Tabari followed them in this, and there is no, and Allah knows best, statement from early scholars from salaf which contradicts this belief, that is why Imam Ibn Abdul Barr declared consensus on this and Al-Aajurri said that this was the belief of Muslims.

Abdullah bin Nafe’ As-Sa’igh

All of those who attempted to falsify this report from Malik, based their argument on the fact that As-Sa’igh had some weakness in him. No doubt As-Sa’igh had some softness in him with regards to Ahadith, but he is considered among highest authority while reporting from Malik. Apparently all those who declared the report to be weak, did not differentiate between these points, [1] Ibn Nafe’s status while narrating Hadith of Prophet (s) from other than Imam Malik, [2] His status while narrating Hadith through Imam Malik, [3] His status while narrating the views and statements of Malik.

All what Kawthari and his followers did, was to reject the report based on As-Sa’igh’s status in Hadith (1 and 2).

Look at what Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal has to say. Abu Dawud said, “I heard Ahmed bin Hanbal saying that Abdullah bin Nafe’ was most aware of the opinions of Malik and his Hadith. He used to memorize all Hadith of Malik, and hence he fall into doubts”[18].

Imam Ahmed did not criticize his narrations from Malik, rather it is apparent from above quote that As-Sa’igh entered into confusion in Hadith of other than Malik, and that is because of his taking much care of Malik’s narrations. Even if Imam Ahmed meant to criticize his Hadith from Malik (point 2) then also he did not criticize his report narrating views of Malik (point 3)[19]. And that is why he states, as reported by Abu Talib, that he was “Sahib Ra’y Malik” (صاحب رأي مالك) and not “Sahib Al-Hadith”[20].

Ibn Mu’een was asked, “who is the authority (thabt) regarding Malik”. He replied, “Abdullah bin Nafe’ is an authority regarding (narrations of) Malik”.

Abu Dawud said that he was scholar regarding Malik’s (opinions).

Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Misri said, “he was most knowledgeable regarding opinions and Hadith of Malik”. He also said, “It has reached me from Yahya that he had fourty thousands questions (verdicts) from Malik”.[21]

Qadhi ‘Iyadh Al-Maliki states:

Ibn Lubabah said, “Ahlul Hadith give priority to Ibn Nafe’ over other companions of Malik in Hadith and trustworthiness”. Ibn Ghanim said: I asked Malik, who will succeed you in this matter. He replied, “A person from my companions”, until a one-eyed person entered and he was Ibn Nafe’, so Malik said, “this one”… [Tarteeb Al-Madarik (2/205), Daarul Kutub Al-‘Ilmiyyah]

After considering all these statements from Hadith scholars, we can conclude that, As-Sa’igh was truthful except that he committed mistakes in Ahadith due to his extensive attention towards Malik’s fiqh and opinions. With regard to his status while narrating Hadith through Malik, then it is debatable, but when it comes to views of Malik then he was highly trustworthy and was among best source for this. And that is why Maliki scholars considered him among most trustworthy people for Malik’s view[22].

Qadhi ‘Iyadh states, and this was also quoted by Dhahabi in “As-Siyar” (10/371), after mentioning an incident of Suhnun with Muhammad bin Razin:

“…So Suhnun considered the necessity of mentioning it [the difference between As-Sa’igh and Az-Zubairi], even if they both were trustworthy and Imams, so that reports of both could not mixed, because As-Sa’igh was senior and most preferable and trustworthy with regards to Malik because of his long companionship of Malik, and he was the one who succeeded Malik in his majlis after Ibn Kinanah…”[23]

Also Qadhi ‘Iyadh mentioned a book of Imam Malik which was narrated from him by Abdullah bin Nafe’ As-Sa’igh alone. After mentioning its Isnad he said, “and its sanad is also Sahih, and its narrators are all trustworthy”.[24]

See also “Ad-Deebaj Al-Madhhab” (pg. 409, Dar At-Turath) by Ibn Farhun Al-Maliki, and “Shajaratan Noor Az-Zakiyyah fee Tabaqat Al-Malikiyyah” (1/55, Matba’a Salafiyya) by Muhammad bin Muhammad Makhluf. All this evidences adds to what was stated by Shaykh Al-Albani in his Mukhtasar Al-Uluww.

In conclusion, this report is authentic as per the view of Dhahabi, Ibn Taymiyya and Al-Albani. Imam Ahmed took it as evidence and several scholars of Hadith reported it without objecting to it until recently when Shaykh Kawthari and his followers doubted its authenticity.

Concluding this Response

As for their statement “If such was the “well-known” creed of Imam Malik, then why would only one of his many established companions narrate such? This fact shows that the weakness of Abdullah ibn Naf’i is certain”, then nothing weird about it. That creed was the creed of Muslims, and the one who reported that was an Imam and Faqeeh, and someone who was considered amongst most knowledgeable regarding Malik’s opinion such that he was called ‘Sahib Ra’y Malik’.

As for the statement of GF Haddad, quoted by Abu Layth,

–      Al-Albânî in his notes in Mukhtasar al-’Uluw (p. 140) criticized al-Kawthari for citing al-Sa’igh as weak in his introduction to al-Bayhaqî’s al-Asmâ’ wa al-Sifat (p. 0), but he himself cites him as weak in al-Silsila al-Da’ifa (2:231-232) as pointed out by Shaykh H.asan al-Saqqâf in his edition of al-’Uluw (p. 397 n. 708) –

This is, like most of the time, result of lack of comprehension. And one can see how these people are depending on Hasan As-Saqqaf, while on the other hand Saqqaf, for them, was a liar for saying that Abul Hasan Al-Ash’ari was an anthromorphist, and today’s Ash’ari do not follow him rather they follow Ghazali and his likes. The point here is, Saqqaf is a blatant liar who can go to any extant just for making an argument.

Now coming back to the allegation that Shaykh Al-Albani contradicted his own verdict regarding As-Sa’igh. In “Muhtasar Al-Uluww”, Shaykh Albani said that As-Sa’igh was trustworthy with regards to Malik, while in “Silsila Ad-Dha’eefa” he cited Ibn Hajar’s statement that ‘As-Sa’igh was trustworthy, correct while narrating from book and in his memory was softness’.  Where is the contradiction? We have already proven that As-Sa’igh was trustworthy while narrating from Malik (specially Malik’s opinions), and while narrating from others there was slight weakness in him. Besides, he mainly weakened those reports because of other narrators, however he add to it another point that As-Sa’igh had also some weakness.

Also the scan image to Al-Uluww with the taqeeq of As-Saqqaaf provided in the seekingIlm article, is irrelevant to what the author of the article actually wanted to show.

As for the statement of GF Haddad that the report was condemned and anamolous, then this is another example of sectarian bigotry. Something which was the belief of Muslim and there wasn’t anything contradictory reported against it, cannot be Munkar.

Another thing I would like to add, Shaykh Abu Ghuddah states in his notes on Al-Intiqa that Abdullah bin Imam Ahmed was alone in narrating this from Imam Ahmed. But this is not true. Besides Abdullah bin Ahmed, this was also reported by Abu Dawud and Al-Fadhl bin Ziyad[25].

It was also claimed that Imam Malik was from Waqifah who did not delve into Sifat. Firstly Imam Malik was simply affirming something obvious in Quran. Allah is in the Heaven is explicitly mentioned in the Book of Allah, and with that he added a response to the Jahmi argument that Allah is everywhere based on some verses. Where is the delving into the matter? As for him being Waqifa, then it is another false accusation on him without proof.

This is the end of this article. Note that I’ve left several similar statements from early scholars, just because I couldn’t get time to study them. I have only added those reports which were identical to Imam Malik’s statement. I’ll add more quotes some other time, Insha Allah.

و صلي الله علي نبينا محمد و علي اله و صحبه و سلم


Footnotes

[1] Al-Kawthari in his Muqaddimah of “Al-Asma wa As-Sifaat” by Al-Bayhaqi, Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah and Abu Layth followed them in this. Here is the article by Abul Layth and co. http://www.seekingilm.com/archives/982

[2] Al-Kawthari, Al-Asma wa Al-Sifat by Al-Bayhaqi, pg.398

[3] P.149, tahqeeq Sabri Salaama Shaheen, Daar Ath-Thabaat. Imam Dhahabi denied it being written by Ahmed, however Abu Ya’ala, Ibn Battah, Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Ibn Nadeem etc attributed it to Imam Ahmed.

[4] At-Tamheed (7/138,139). He said: Indeed the scholars from among the companions and those who followed (Taba’een), from whom the tafsir of Quran is taken, said regarding the meaning of these verses, “He (SWT) is on the Throne and His knowledge is at every place”. And no one, whose statements are taken, contradicted them in this. — end quote —

[5] Tafsir At-Tabari (23/237). He said: And the meaning of ({He is fourth of them}) is, He (SWT) seeing them through His knowledge, and He is above His Throne. – end –

[6] As quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah with Isnad in his “Majmoo Al-Fatawa” (5/495)

[7] (1/304), Tahqeeq – Muhammad bin Sa’eed Al-Qahtani, Aalamul Kutub.

[8] Al-‘Uluww lil ‘Aliyyil Ghaffaar (p.98-99), Al-Maktaba As-Salafiyyah Madeenah.

[9] And since when you are taking Ibn Khuzaima as Hujjah, O Shaykh!

[10] Siyar A’lam An-Nubala (9/510), Mu’assasah Ar-Risalah

[11] Siyar (6/340)

[12] Taqreeb (2/10)

[13] This is quite well known issue of Jarh and Ta’deel and mention in the books on science of Hadith. Also Taaj As-Subki has written regarding the issue which is in his “Tabaqat Ash-Shafa’iyyah” under the biography of Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Misri. This was published as a separate treatise along with other three treatises with the tahqeeq of Shaykh Abu Ghuddah as “Arba’ Rasa’il fi Ulum Al-Hadith”.

[14] Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah (9/249)

[15] Tahdheeb At-Tahdheeb (4/398)

[16] Siyar (4/598), Taqreeq (1/444)

[17] Mukhtasar Al-‘Uluww, p.140

[18] Tahdheeb (6/48)

[19] He stated initially that As-Sa’igh was most aware of Malik’s (1) opinions and (2) his hadith. Then he made his comment on his Hadith from Malik.

[20] Al-Jarh wa Al-Ta’deel of Ibn Abi Hatim (5/184)

[21] All these quotes could be found in “Tahdheeb At-Tahdheeb” (6/48)

[22] And this is not something special with As-Sa’igh. No matter how much Hadith scholars criticize Muhammad bin Hasan Al-Shaibani as a Hadith narrator, but still he remains best source for Abu Hanifa’s views.

[23] Tarteeb Al-Madarik (1/11), Ilmiyya

[24] (1/109)

[25] In the report of Al-Aajurri and ‘Masail’ of Abu Dawud, as referenced earlier.

  1. Bassam Zawadi
    September 1, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Assalamu Alaykum,

    Brother are you able to address Abu Layths points in his comments section where he responded back to your arguments?

    Thanks,

    Bassam

  2. Bassam Zawadi
    September 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Brother, how do we deal with the statement of Ibn Adi that Al Saigh narrated oddoties from Malik?

    Also, Abu Hatim said: ليس بالحافظ ، هو لين فى حفظه and Bukhari said فى حفظه شىء

    They kept on saying that he is reliable when narrating from books.

    They made these claims in a general way and didn’t limit it to hadeeth?

    Isn’t there any way we could prove that Surayj bin Num’an narrated from Al Saigh before Al Saigh’s memory became bad later on in his life? It’s surprising that Surayj died in 217 A.H. while Al Saigh before 125 A.H. and no one declared this chain to be disconnected, don’t you think?

  3. September 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Wa’alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah…

    Bro Bassam, at the moment i am miles away from my pc. Im in my village… I’ll b back few days after Eid, on 16th. Then i’ll try to respond asap. I’v seen Abu Layth’s replies and some of his points are laughable. If u read this article carefully u’ll find answer to most of his counter arguments. But anyways i’ll try to respond later on.

  4. Bassam Zawadi
    September 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Jazakallah khayr, please email me at b_zawadi@hotmail.com when you do?

  5. September 19, 2010 at 12:07 am
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