Allah is exalted above being limited by directions


Hujjat al-Islam Imam al-Ghazzali, in his work named, The Jerusalem Tract (Ar-Rissalah al-Qudsiyyah), writes:

The seventh fundamental is the knowledge that the essence of Allah Most High is exalted above the notion of limitation by any direction. For direction is either up or down, left or right, front or behind, and these were created by Him through His creation of man. He created him with two extremities, the one rests on earth and is called foot, and the other, its opposite, is called head. The notion of up was originated to indicate what is above the head and the conception down to indicate what is near the location of the foot. [This is true] even of an ant creeping along a ceiling: what is down in relation to its position is still up in relations to ours. Then He created man with two hands, the one usually stronger than the other, and thus the notion of right was created and assigned to the stronger, and the notion of left to its counterpart, and thus what is on one side is called right, and on the other called left. Then He created man with two sides, the one within the range of his sight and towards which he moves, and thus [He] created the notion of front for the direction towards which man advances through movement, and the notion of behind to the counterpart.

All directions are therefore originated through the fact that man is originated. But supposing that man was created after a different fashion, such as round like a sphere, these directions would never have existed. Is it possible, then, that He was in all eternity limited by direction which is originated or that He became limited by direction after He had none? Is this possible by His creation of the universe under Him? But since the direction of under or down is related to the foot, may He be exalted above being limited by such direction, and above [the assumption] that He has a foot! All of this is impossible for the mind to conceive. For the conceivable is that whatever is limited by direction is also limited by space like substance, or is limited by substance in the same way as incidents are.

But the impossibility of His being a substance or an incident has been proved. Therefore it is impossible for Him to be limited by direction. But if by direction is meant other than these two meanings it would be wrong to use the term even though helpful for the meaning.  Again if [it is conceivable] that He is above the universe, He would also be opposite to it. All that lies opposite to a body is either equal to it in size or smaller or larger. But all these are determinants which neccesarily require a determiner to make. May the Creator, the One and Ruler, be exalted above that!

As to raising the hands heavenwards at the time of petition it is because heaven is the [usual] direction of supplication. It also indicates the supplicant’s recognition of the majesty and magnificence of the One to whom supplication is made, since the raising of hands upwards suggests His glory and most-elevated position (‘ula). For verily the most high is above all things by His omnipotent power.



  1. Mu’awiyah bin al-Hakam said . . . “I had a slave-girl who tended goats by the side of Uhud and Jawwaniya. One day I happened to pass that way and found that a wolf had carried a goat from her flock. I am after all a man from the posterity of Adam. I felt sorry as they (human beings) feel sorry. So I slapped her. I came to the Messenger of Allah, sal Allahu alayhi was salam, and felt as something grievous I said: “Messenger of Allah, should I not grant her freedom?” He said: “Bring her to me.” So I brought her to him. He said to her: “Ayna Allah (Where is Allah)?” She said: “Fee sama’ (Above the sky).” He said “Who am I?” She said: “Thou art the Messenger of Allah.” He said : “Grant her freedom, she is a believing woman.” [Muslim]

    1. ” Their greatest proof i.e. twisted proof is when the holy Prophet (saas) asked a slave girl (little knowledgeable specially in the context of those times) “He asked her, ‘Where is Allah’, She said, ‘in heavens.’ lit. Fi As-Sama.

      Now “Fi” in arabic means many things but is mainly used to denote “in”. If you ask, where is your friend, you reply he is “in” the library, i.e. “fi”. It can also be used to state abstract concept such as “i am in trouble”. It can also mean “on” among other things. Why did the misguided people had to the the literal physical meaning of “fi” meaning “on” and used it to place Allah in a place? If they have done it then they must also mean the same about this verse:

      “And He is Allah on the heavens and on earth…”(6:3)

      i.e. Allah is both on heavens and on earth literally in a place. If you interpret it without taking the literally meaning then we can also interpret the Hadith which says “Where is Allah”. The belief of the Ahl Sunnah wa Jamah is, it is not right to ask a place for Allah, and the holy Prophet (saas) did not ask a place for Allah, but asked the reality of Allah’s lordship whether He was among the idols as known among the pagans or He was the Lord who was worshiped in heavens by the residence of the heavens i.e Angels? It can also mean “The heights” because “As-Sama” can mean height/loftiness. So “Allah is in the As-Sama” would mean “Allah is in the heights”, i.e. Loftiness and Majesty unlike the idols of the pagans who are in lowliness and insult. ”

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