Believing in Allaah's Omnipresence

QIs it wrong to say that Allaah is present everywhere? Is it Shirk and Kufr to say that He is present everywhere? Is it that Allaah is not present everywhere but His knowledge is present everywhere? Does saying ‘Allaah is present everywhere’ imply that He is present even in dirty places like toilets?

ABismillaahi walĥamdulillaahi waŝŝalaatu wassalaamu ‘alaa rasoolillaahi
Let us first understand a few basic facts. The fact is that we, human beings, are finite and we can properly understand only matters that are finite. Also, we cannot understand, visualize or imagine anything that we have not personally perceived or experienced in the past. It is also a fact that Allaah SWT is infinite. Our finite minds can neither comprehend His infinity or His nature, nor can we fully understand or specifically define his image, appearance or attributes. We can know about Him only what He Himself tells us in terms of His attributes. Even for the attributes He reveals about Himself, we cannot be very specific. We just get a general idea about Him through the attributes He Himself reveals, but His specifics are totally beyond our comprehension.

Considering these facts, Muslims must accept His attributes as they are mentioned in the Qur-aan. We must never attempt to define the specifics about His attributes or discuss His attributes through human examples or draw similarities between Him and the things of this world. Thinking of Allaah in human terms or devising similitude for Him from worldly phenomena is very dangerous. This is because in order give a valid example or appropriate similitude, full knowledge of both of the entities is necessary, and we do not have knowledge of the exact nature of Allaah’s infiteness. Allaah can give examples for Himself because he knows the true nature of everything, but we cannot. Hence, Allaah commands:
Do not devise similitudes (examples) for Allaah. Allaah certainly knows, but you do not know. An-Nahl 16:74

Coming to the questions raised, there is no direct mention of Allaah being Omni-present in the Holy Qur-aan. However, the Qur-aan tells us:
He is with you, wherever you are. Al-Hadeed 57:4

There is neither a gossip among three except that He is fourth of them, nor among five except that He is the sixth of them; nor less or more than these numbers except that He is with them wherever they are. Al-Mujaadilah 58:7

He also told us that He is closer to us than our jugular vein (Qaaf 50:16) and that when someone is dying, He is there, but we cannot see (Al-Waaqiah 56:85).

We cannot determine the exact nature of His being with everyone or being closer to jugular vein. All we can surmise is that He is around everyone everywhere in some way that we cannot understand. Hence, on the basis of these verses of the Qur-aan, it not Kufr or Shirk to say that Allaah is everywhere. However, it is better to say, as the Qur-aan has said, that He is with everyone, wherever a person is.

As far as His being present at dirty places is concerned, it is an extrapolation that we should refrain from using because Allaah has prohibited us from doing so due to the lack of our knowledge and understanding.

The expression that Allaah’s knowledge is present everywhere is a meaningless phrase. Indeed Allaah’s knowledge is perfect, ultimate, infinite and eternal and it covers everything in the universe, but it is with Allaah, not residing anywhere separately from Him. It does not seem to make any sense to say “His knowledge is present everywhere”. We should not devise our own phraseology for Allaah. Let us use only the expression Allaah uses for Himself, such as: “His knowledge encompasses everything”; “He is knower of everything”.

However, there is one concept that is really a concept of Shirk and Kufr which has, unfortunately, found its way into beliefs of some sections of Sufis. That concept is called “Wahdatul-wajood” or a theory of ‘single entity’. It is described as, “Everything is Him”. According to that misleading, false and Satanic theory, everything in this universe is part and parcel of Allaah SWT – part of a single entity which is Allaah. Everything we see, everything that exists, including ourselves, is constituted of Allaah himself.

This theory contradicts the very basic tenets of Islam and essentially renders all Islamic teachings meaningless. The concept of good, bad, reward and punishment all become non-sensical because according to this way of thinking any concept of recompense would mean Allaah rewarding and punishing Himself. It also negates Allaah’s creative powers because it suggests that Allaah has apportioned himself in different shapes, not really created them. The fact Allaah has very clearly told us is that He has created everything from nothing, quite distinct from His own Being.

March 23, 2002
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