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Allaah is above the Heavens, not “in” the Heaven

Allaah is above the Heavens, not “in” the Heaven

When the early generations (salaf), the leading scholars (imams) and all the Sunni scholars say that Allah is “above the Throne” or that He is “in heaven [fi’s-samaa’], above all things”, they are not saying that there is something that encompasses Him or contains Him, or that there is some place where He is, , glorified and exalted be He far above that. Rather He is above all things, and He has no need of all things; rather all things are in need of Him. He is far above all things, and He is the One Who is holding the Throne and the bearers of the Throne, by His might and power. Every created being is in need of Him, and He has no need of the Throne or of any created being.

With regard to what we see in the Qur’an and Sunnah of the words Do you feel secure that He who [is] in the heaven would not …”[ al-Mulk 67:16], and the like, some may understand from it that the word samaa’ (heaven) refers to the lofty created things, the Throne and everything beneath it, so they say that the phrase “in  heaven (fi’s-samaa’)” means “above the heaven (‘ala’as-samaa’)”, similar to the verse (interpretation of the meaning), “Say, Travel in (fi) the land” [al-An‘aam 6:11] meaning travel on the land.

There is no need for all this discussion; rather the word samaa’ refers to anything that is high or lofty, and it does not refer to any specific physical entity. The phrase fi’s-samaa’ [translated as “in heaven”] refers to being up or above, as opposed to being down or beneath.

So Allah is the Exalted, the Most High, and His is all highness and exaltedness; He is above the Throne, and there is none but Him, the Exalted, the Most High, glorified and exalted be He.

Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (16/100-101)Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

What is meant by Allah being in heaven [fi’s-samaa’] is that He is above the heavens, so the word fi (lit. in) in this instance means ‘ala (above), as is seen in the verse in which He, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Say, Travel in (fi) the land” [al-An‘aam 6:11]. Here fi (in) means ‘ala (on).

It may be that fi (in) refers to time or place; in this case the word samaa’ (translated above as heaven) refers to being high or exalted. In that case, what is meant is that Allah is on high.

The meaning of time or place is not appropriate in the phrase fi’s-samaa’ if what is meant by samaa’ is the physical entity or firmament, because that may give the impression that the sky or heaven (as-samaa’) is encompassing Allah, and this meaning is wrong, for Allah is too great to be encompassed by anything that He has created.

Majmoo‘ Fataawa ash-Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen (4/283)