Where is Allah?

Short Answer

Allah is beyond time and space. He does not exist in a specific location or physical direction. So using the word ‘where’ for Allah is an invalid question.

Detailed Answer

Some people say that Allah is ‘everywhere’ to avoid limiting Allah to a specific space. This is wrong because it implies that Allah occupies physical space. Some verses of the Qur’an and some Hadiths indicate that Allah is in the heavens or on His throne, but that does not mean Allah occupies a physical space.

What the Qur’an and Sunnah Say

“There is nothing at all like Him.” (Qur’an 42:11)

“And there is none like Him at all.” (Qur’an 112: 4)

“Have you become fearless of Him who is in the sky if He makes you sink into the earth, and it starts trembling at once?” (Qur’an 67:17)

“No secret consultation takes place between three, but He [Allah] is fourth of them; nor between five, but He is sixth of them; nor between fewer than that or more, but He is with them wherever they may be…” (Qur’an 58:7)

“Indeed, We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” (Qur’an 50:16)

He is with you wherever you are…” (Qur’an 57:4)

The Messenger of Allah once asked a slave-girl, “Where is Allah?” She replied, “In the sky.” The Messenger of Allah asked, “Who am I?” She replied, “You are the Messenger of Allah.” The Messenger of Allah advised her owner Mu`awiyah ibn al-Hakam, “Free her, for she is a believer.” (Sahih Muslim #537)

What the Scholars Said

Imam Abu Hanifah said: “If someone asks, ‘Where is Allah?’ It will be said to him that Allah existed when there was no place, before creating the creation. Allah existed when there was no ‘where’, no creation, nothing. He is the Creator of everything.” (Al-Fiqh al-Absat, 21)

Imam At-Tahawi said: “He (Allah) is beyond having limits placed on Him, or being restricted, or having parts or limbs. He is not contained by the six directions like all other created things.” (Al-Aqida at-Tahawiyya, point 38)

Imam An-Nasafi said: “He [Allah] is not a body (jism)…nor is He something formed (musawwar)…nor is He placed in a space (al-makan). Time does not affect Him. Nothing resembles Him: that is to say, nothing is like Him.” (Sa’d ad-Din at-Taftazani & Najm ad-Din an-Nasafi, Sharh al-Aqa’id an-Nasafiyya, 92-97)

Mulla Ali al-Qari said: “Allah does not reside in any place nor in any time, because place and time are from the created things while Allah has existed eternally when nothing from creation was in existence with Him.” (Minah ar-Rawd al-Azhar fi Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, 117)

Qadi Abu Ya’la al-Hanbali said: “Indeed, Allah should not to be described as residing in a place.” (Daf’ Shubah at-Tashbih, 43)

Imam al-Qurtubi said: “It is said that the meaning of the verse is, have you become fearless of Him whose power, authority, Throne and dominion is in the sky. The reason for specifying the sky – despite His authority being universal – is to assert that a God is One whose power is also manifest in the heavens, and not only one whom people venerate on the earth…The more exacting scholars hold that “in the heavens” is similar to Allah’s statement “Journey in the earth”, meaning over the heavens; but [not over it] by way of physical contact or spatialization, but by way of power and control. Another position is that it means, “Have you become fearless of Him who holds sway over the heavens” just as it is said, “So-and-so is ‘over’ Iraq and the Hijaz”, meaning that he is the governor and commander of them. The hadiths on this subject are numerous, rigorously authenticated (sahih), and widely known, and indicate the exaltedness of Allah; only an disbeliever or a stubborn fool would deny them. Their meaning is to dignify Allah and exalt Him above what is base and low, and to characterize Him by highness and grandeur, not by being in places, particular directions, or within limits, for these are the qualities of physical bodies.” (Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an, tafsir of 67:17)

Imam an-Nawawi said: “Those who hold this [latter] position [of figurative interpretation] say that [in the present hadith] the Messenger of Allah’s intention was to examine her to see whether or not she was one of those who worshiped idols that are before them, or one of those who believed in the Oneness of Allah and maintained that Allah alone is the creator, disposer, and one who effects [all things] – for He is the One that when a person supplicates to Him, he turns [his attention, or hands] towards the sky; just as when a person performs prayer, he faces the Ka’bah. [What is mentioned in the hadith] is not because Allah is restricted in the sky, just as He is not restricted in the direction of the Ka’bah. Rather, it is because the sky is the direction for supplication, just as the Ka’ba is the direction for the ritual prayer. So when she said that “He is in the sky”, it became known that she was one of those who believed in the oneness of Allah, and not a worshipper of idols.” (Al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim)

Mulla Ali al-Qari says: “Al-Qadi Iyad al-Maliki said, ‘By asking this question, the Messenger of Allah’s objective was not to ask about Allah’s location, because He is above and beyond space, as He is above and beyond time. Rather the intent of his question to her was to find out whether she was a monotheist or someone who associated partners with Allah, because the unbelievers of the Arabs used to worship idols, and each tribe used to have a specific idol in its midst which it worshipped and elevated. It may be that the simple-minded and ignorant ones among them did not know any other object of worship than that idol. The Messenger of Allah meant to determine what she worshipped. When she said, ‘In the heavens’ – and another narration says that she made a sign towards the heavens – it was understood that she was a believer in one God. His objective by this line of questioning was the disowning of the gods of the earth, which are the idols, not the establishment of the heaven as a location for Allah. Allah is greatly exalted from the sayings of the wrong-doers.’” (Mirqat al-Mafatih)

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Shaykh Mustafa Umar