Aathaar of the Salaf on the Meaning of al-Istiwaa

From Imaam al-Bukhaaree's, ‘Khalq Af’aal Ebaad’

[All the narrations are authentic according to the research done on this work by the great hadeeth scholar Badr al-Badr (RH), and are from the sahaabah or those who came soon after]:

“6) Wahb bin Jareer said, ‘The Jahmiyyah are heretics, they think that He has not risen over His Throne.’

13) Ibn al-Mubaarak said, ‘we do not say as the Jahmiyyah say that Allaah is on the earth, rather He has risen over His Throne.’

14) And it was said to him, ‘how should we know our Lord?’ He said, ‘above the Heavens, over/upon (‘alaa) His Throne’

29) Sufyaan ath-Thawree was asked about the verse, “and He is with you wheresoever you are”. He said, ‘His Knowledge.’

64) Sadqa said, ‘I heard Sulaymaan at-Taimee saying, ‘if I were asked, “where is Allaah?” I would say, “above (fee) the heaven”. And if it said, “where was the Throne before the Heaven?” I would say, “over the water.” And if it is said, “where was the Throne before the water?” I would say, “I do not know.”’ [This shows that the question ‘where is Allaah’ was considered allowed by the Salaf, and how could it be otherwise when the Prophet (may Peace Be Upon Him) himself asked the slave girl, “where is Allaah” as is established firmly in the saheeh of Imaam Muslim. So do not be misguided by the Jahmiyyah of today, Saqqaaf and al-Habbashee and their likes who try to declare the above hadeeth of Muslim as weak, and make out that the above question is a bid’ah, having only the classical Jahmiyyah as their precedents.]

And Imaam Bukhaaree said, ‘and that (i.e. his answer) was because of the saying of Allaah, “and they cannot encompass anything of His Knowledge except what He wills.” i.e. except what He explains.’

66) Muhammad bin Yusuf said (one of the teachers of Bukhaaree), ‘the one who says that Allaah is not over (‘alaa) His Throne is a kaafir. And the one who thinks that Allaah did not speak to Moses is a kaafir.’

103) Ibn Mas’ud (RA) said about His saying, “then He rose over His Throne”, - ‘the Throne is over the water, and Allaah is above (fawqa) the Throne, and He knows what you are upon.’

104) Qataada said about His saying, “and He is Allaah in the Heaven and in the Earth” - ‘the One Who is worshipped in the heaven and in the earth.’”

From  ‘Sharh Usul I'tiqaad Ahlus Sunnah’ of al-Laalikaaee (d.414, pp396+ - Tahqeeq Ahmad Hamdaan)

“660) Abdullaah bin Abbaas (RA) said, ‘Verily Allaah was above His Throne before He created anything, then He created the creation and decreed what was to exist until the Day of Judgement.’

662) Bashr bin Umar said, ‘I heard more then one of the Mufassir say about the verse, “The Most Merciful istawaa upon the Throne” - istiwaa means rose above.’

665) Rabee' (one of the teachers of Maalik) was asked about the verse, “The Most Merciful rose over His Throne” - ‘how did He rise?’ He replied, ‘al-istiwaa (rising) is known, and the how is not comprehensible, and from Allaah is the message, and upon the Messenger is the preaching, and upon us is believing.’

670) Maqaatil bin Huyaan said about His saying, “and there is no secret discourse of 3 people except He is the fourth, or of 5 people and He is the sixth” - ‘He is above His Throne, and nothing is hidden from His knowledge.’

673) Imaam Ahmad was asked, ‘Allaah is above the seventh heaven, above His Throne, distinct from his creation, and His Power and Knowledge are in every place?’ And he replied, ‘yes, above the Throne and His Knowledge is in every place.’

675) Imaam Ahmad was asked about the verse, “and He is with you wheresoever you are” , and the verse, “there is no secret discourse of 3 people except that he is the fourth..” - and he said, ‘(meaning) His Knowledge, He is the Knower of the seen and the unseen, His Knowledge encompasses everything, and our Lord is above the Throne without setting limits and giving description , and His Kursi is as the expanse of the heavens and the earth with His Knowledge.’”

Imaam Abdullaah bin Ahmad quotes Abdullaah ibn Mubaarak as saying, “....I bear witness that You are above Your Throne above the seven heavens. And this is not as the enemies of Allaah say, the heretics.” [‘as-Sunnah’ of Imaam Abdullaah ibn Ahmad with tahqeeq of al-Qahtaanee]

He also quoted him as saying, “we know that our Lord is above the seven heavens over the Throne, and we do not say as the Jahmiyyah say that he is here,” pointing with his hand to the earth.

Imaam Maalik said, “Allaah is Above the heaven, and His knowledge is in every place, nothing is hidden from Him.” [Al-Albaanee said in his notes to ‘Mukhtasar’ (no. 130), “reported by Abdullaah in ‘as-Sunnah’ (pg. 5), and likewise Abu Dawood in ‘Masaa’il’ (pg. 263)…and it’s sanad is saheeh” and he includes a refutation of the lies that Kawtharee employs to try and discredit this isnaad.]

Abu Haneefah (RH) said, when asked (by Abu Mutee') of his opinion of the one who says, ‘I do not know whether Allaah is above the heavens or on the earth.’ - “He has disbelieved, because Allaah says, “The Most Merciful rose above the Throne.” , and His Throne is above His seven heavens.“ He was then asked , ‘what if he said that Allaah is above His Throne but he does not know whether the Throne is in the heavens or on the earth?’ He said, ‘He has disbelieved, because He has denied that He is above the heavens, And whosoever denied that He is above the heavens has disbelieved.

Abu Mutee' is one of the closest companion of Abu Hanifa and he is the author of the famous book al-Fiqh al-Akbar. Imam ibn Abee al-Izz al-Hanafee said "We do not look at the one who denies that among the people who associate himself with Abu Hanifa, because many isolated sects and many others who are in a disagreement with many of his beliefs."
[‘al-Uluww’ of adh- Dhahabee, also ‘Sharh Aqueedah at-Tahaawiyyah’ of ibn Abee al-Izz al-Hanafee]