Is Allah present everywhere? Part One
Tags: Holy Quran, Salafi, Sunnah, Tawheed, Waseelah
Some Muslims claim that Allah is not present everywhere. They maintain that Allah has a body and is seated permanently on Arsh and cannot possibly be at two places at the same time. They state that this world is anyway too small, like an ant compared to Allah, and cannot accommodate a being of Allah’s size.
To justify Quranic verses that clearly state Allah is present on the earth, closer than man’s jugular vein, etc they glibly reply that the verses refer to Allah’s angels and it is they who are present everywhere.
This is among the most ridiculous objections of this group of Muslims and underscores flaws in the basics of Tauheed. To suggest that Allah cannot be present everywhere goes against Quran, Sunnah and basic intellect. We have refuted this concocted belief in Tauheed with the apparent Quranic verses refuting which amounts to disbelief.
Allah has power over everything
To suggest that Allah cannot enter the earth because it is like an ant or because He is too big or any such ridiculous argument goes against the most decisive verses of Quran and the concept of Tauheed.
‘…surely Allah has power over all things.’ (Surah Baqarah (2): 20)
This verse with minor variations has come in the Quran no less than 28 times, more than any other verse/part of a verse except for the oft-repeated verse of Surah Rahmaan (55), which has come 31 times.
Allah is present everywhere and this verse rejects any idea or belief that it is beyond Allah’s Power to be present everywhere. These Muslims should first examine their belief in Tauheed that is challenged 28 times by just one verse (and there are plenty of more verses) which can only be described as most decisive, rather than formulating their belief based on a few allegorical verses that too without referring to reliable exegeses.
Does Allah have a body?
Before commencing discussion on this it is important to consider the 7th verse of Ale Imran (3):
‘He it is Who has revealed the Book to you; some of its verses are decisive, they are the basis of the Book, and others are allegorical; then as for those in whose hearts there is perversity they follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: We believe in it, it is all from our Lord; and none do mind except those having understanding.’
It is clear from this verse that every verse of the Quran is not mohkam (decisive), some verses are allegorical (mutashaabeh). While decisive verses have a clear interpretation (although it is important to refer to the reliable tafaseer even in this case), allegorical verses can be misleading if taken in the apparent context. For this reason, allegorical verses must be interpreted with the help of decisive verses and reliable tafaseer.
Belief in a physical body for Allah goes against the most evident verses of the Quran and is open disbelief. Tashbeeh (giving similarity to Allah with His Creatures) is the opposite of Tauheed.
Following verses clearly rule out the possibility of a physical state for Allah. It is notable that these verses are decisive according to the majority of Muslims and there is no other way to interpret them.
i) ‘…nothing is like Him…’ (Surah Shuraa (42): 11)
It is clear from the verse that Allah has no likeness with anything including His creatures so if creatures have a physical state, then it rules out the possibility for Allah to have a physique.
ii) ‘Vision comprehends Him not, and He comprehends (all) vision…’
This verse underlines that Allah cannot be seen which rules out the possibility of seeing Allah on the Day of Judgment which these Muslims claim is a reality.
iii) And when Musa came at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said: My Lord! Show me (Thyself), so that I may look upon Thee. He said: You cannot see Me but look at the mountain, if it remains firm in its place, then will you see Me; but when his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain He made it crumble and Moosa fell down in a swoon; then when he recovered, he said: Glory be to Thee, I turn to Thee, and I am the first of the believers.
Again this verse underlines the impossibility of seeing Allah even for Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) and seventy select members of Bani Israel. If it was not possible in this world for an Ulul Azm Prophet like HazratMoosa (a.s.) to see Allah, how can it become possible on the Day of Judgment for people lower in rank?
This and other clear (mohkam) verses point to an interpretation different from the unclear verses (which are mutashaabeh) that seemingly suggest that Allah has body parts – hands, calves and can be seen. Reliable exegeses indicate that the references to body parts, etc are only for ease of understanding so that people can relate to Quranic verses. And Allah can neither be seen in this world nor the hereafter, but people will see His Signs and His Prophets (a.s.) who are also His Signs.
Allah is present everywhere
There are enough decisive verses to establish Allah’s Omnipresence. These verses leave no room for doubt on the subject.
‘…and He is with you wherever you are…’(Surah Hadeed (57): 4)
‘Do you not see that Allah knows whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth? Nowhere is there a secret counsel between three persons but He is the fourth of them, nor (between) five but He is the sixth of them, nor less than that nor more but He is with them wheresoever they are; then He will inform them of what they did on the day of resurrection: surely Allah is Cognizant of all things.’ (Surah Mujaadilah (58): 7)
‘….and that Allah indeed encompasses all things in (His) knowledge.’ (Surah Talaaq (65): Verse 12)
These verses prove that Allah is everywhere – in this world and in the heavens and encompasses everything. This task is not delegated to angels and there is no mention of them in the verses.
Allah’s unique characteristics
Allah’s unique traits in which He has no peer like All-Seeing (Al-Baseer), All-Hearing (Al-Samee’), All-Knowing (Al-Aleem), All-Informed (Al-Khabeer) etc means that His Knowledge and His Presence encompass everything in the heavens and the earth. There is no scope to interpret that He knows, sees, hears and is informed through the angels. This is Shirk as according to this belief Allah is taking the help of angels to hear, see and to know of events on the earth, as He is Himself unable to do so because of His physical dimensions.
This is not the same as Allah getting work done through the angels which is a reality highlighted in several places in the Noble Quran as Allah can do away with the angels any time and perform the task Himself. While according to these Muslims, Allah cannot do away with the angels to keep Him informed about the events of the earth as He Himself is unable to enter the earth due to His physical dimensions!
Also there are many Quranic verses where it is clearly shown that Allah Himself is with the Prophets (a.s.) and has not delegated His Presence to His angels:
‘When he (Prophet (s.a.w.a.)) said to his companion (Abu Bakr): Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.’ (Surah Taubah (9): 40)
In this verse the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) consoles Abu Bakr by informing him that Allah is with them and not some angel. And Allah, not an angel, sends down tranquility on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
‘He said: Fear not, surely I am with you both: I do hear and see.’ (Surah Taaha (20): 46)
Allah repels fear from Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) by reassuring him that He (and not some angel) is with him and his brother Haroon and He sees and He hears everything.
‘He said: By no means; surely my Lord is with me.’ (Surah Shoara (26): 62)
This time Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) reassures his nation that Allah is with him.
These and many other verses show that Allah Himself was with His Prophets (a.s.) in their time of need and the Prophets (a.s.) understood as much and reassured their companions on these lines. The companions also understood that Allah is with them and not some angel. As Bani Israel is found telling Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) at the time of entering the Promised Land:
‘…go therefore you and your Lord, then fight you both surely we will here sit down.’ (Surah Maedaah (5): 24)
Bani Israel do not mean any angel over here, their taunt is very much directed at Allah.
Allah Himself performs actions
There are many verses of the Quran which highlight the fact that Allah Himself performs actions, which underline His Presence on the earth. To deny these verses on the lines that angels perform these actions and not Allah is clear disbelief.
‘He said: Fear not, surely I am with you both: I do hear and see.’ (Surah Taha (20): 46)
Allah hears and sees independent of his angels.
‘Allah has certainly heard the saying of those who said: Surely Allah is poor and we are rich. I will record what they say…’ (Surely Aale Imran (3): 181)
Allah has Himself heard the taunting of these people and does not need angels to report the same.
‘Allah hears the plea of her who pleads with you about her husband…’ (Surah Mujaadilah (58): 1)
Again Allah Himself hears the plea and not some angel.
‘So when he came to it, a voice was uttered: O Moosa: Surely I am your Lord…’
Allah, not an angel, has conversed with Hazrat Moosa (a.s.) on Mount Sinai.
‘Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that die not during their sleep; then He withholds those on whom He has passed the decree of death and sends the others back till an appointed term; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.’ (Surah Zumar (39): 42)
Allah Himself captures the soul. While angels are also delegated this responsibility in other verses, there is nothing to suggest any delegation in this verse.
‘We said: O fire! Be a comfort and peace to Ibrahim.’ (Surah Ambiya (21): Verse 69)
Allah Himself saved Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) from the blazing fire after the angel sent to rescue Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) was turned down by the latter. This proves that Allah is present on the earth since if He had relied on the angel to do his earthly chores Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) would have been scorched. Hazrat Ibrahim (a.s.) earned the title of Khaleel for relying and seeking only from Allah, not even His angels. This further proves that Allah is present on the earth else it would not have been possible for Hazrat Ibrahim to become a Khaleel of Allah i.e. in need of Allah only and not His creatures.