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Explaining Wahdatul Wujood and do Ulama of Deoband believe that Allah (SWT) is present everywhere?

By Mufti Ebraheem Desai

Q.) I have been reading articles on the subject of Wahdatul Wujood, and have been very confused. In the Qur'an, Allah says He is above his throne... Allah fawq al-'Arsh. HE IS ABOVE HIS THRONE. This literally means He is above his throne, however he sees all. How come the Deobandis say that Allah Ta'la is actually and physically everywhere? Allah can see everything, but is He physically everywhere? This doesn't make sense. Please answer with evidence from Qur'an and Sunnah, so I can also tell my friends. Jazak'Allahu Khayr and may Allah Ta'la preserve you Ameen. [Owais Saab]

A:) Saadu-deen Taftazani has explained the aspect of 'Where is Allah?' in the following words: 'And He is not at any place'. (Sharh Aqaaid)

Imam Malik was asked about the Ayat in Surah Taha, 'Allah is above His ┴rsh', he answered: 'Being above (Istawaa) is known but the reality is unknown and - questioning that - is innovation.' Jaaluddin Suyyuti also comments on the Ayat saying, 'Istawa (being above) according to whatever is appropriate for Allah. (Jalaalayn vol. 2 p. 260).

However, the verse does not speak about the Zat (Person) of Allah being on the ┴rsh but it is to indicate the establishment and control of the Kingdom of Allah by Himself.

The Ulama of Deoband do not say that Allah Ta'ala is physically present everywhere.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Allamah Zafar Ahmad 'Uthmani has written a short explanation of the concept in the introduction of his urdu book "Al-Qawlul al-Mansur fi Ibn al-Mansur" :

Summary of the explanation of Wahdat al-Wujood by Maulana Zafar Ahmad Usmani in the Introduction of his Urdu book "Al-Qawlul Mansur fi Ibn al-Mansur" (also known as "Seerat-e-Mansur Hallaj")

Allah Ta'ala has many qualities, one of them is wujood (existence). The wujood of Allah is compulsory (Allah is 'wajib al-Wujood'). The wujood of Allah has no beginning and no end. The wujood of the creation of Allah is 'hadis' (of recent occurrence) and dependent upon Allah Ta'ala in all its aspects.

Regarding the wujood of the creation, the Ulama-e-Zahir say that the wujood of the creation is 'mustaqil' (confirmed), meaning that it is not a shadow of the existence of Allah but entirely dependent upon Allah in all its aspects. The soofia-e-kiram say that the wujood of the creation is 'ghair-mustaqil' (unconfirmed). Indeed, the wujood of the creation is 'khayali' (speculative). The real wujood is that of Allah alone. The entire creation is a testimony of the wujood of Allah. In other words, the existence of the creation is totally different than the existence of Allah. One can not make 'qiyas' (analogical deduction) of Allah's wujood with that of the creation. The existence of Allah is real and independent. Therefore, wahdat al-wujood means that Allah is one in His existence as He is one in His 'zaat' (self/identity). It is a much deeper notion of 'tawheed' (oneness of Allah). 'Wahdat as-shuhood' means that the mere speculative existence of the creation testifies the independent existence of Allah.

'Wujood-e-khayali' (the speculative existence of the creation) is of two types:

1. 'Waqi'ee' (occurring)

2. 'Ghair waqi'ee (non-occurring)

The soofia say that the creation is 'waqi'ee' (occurring) but its occurrence is limited in terms of 'makaan' (place) and 'zamaan' (time) and dependent upon Allah. It would be wrong to call the creation non-occurring and say that everything one sees is Allah, this is against the 'aqaa'id' (beliefs) of the Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah. This is where all the misunderstanding arises. In reality, the beliefs held by the 'soofia-e-kiram' in regards to the oneness of Allah are in exact accordance with Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaah and much deeper and firm-rooted than those of the 'ulama-e-zahir'. Once a person believes that the creation is only speculative then he will not think and believe that the benefits and harms being displayed by the creation are its creation but all harm and benefit is the creation of Allah. The creation only displays the orders of Allah. The 'hikmah' (wisdom) of 'wahdat al-wujood' and 'wahdat as-shuhood' is to ingrain a deep 'yaqin' (conviction) of Allah in the depths of the hearts. If a person has a hard time understanding this, he should stick to the basic beliefs and tenets of Islam as described by the 'ulama-e-zahir' because these are proven from the Quran with clarity. However, one does not have the right to criticize the 'soofia' for their beliefs just because one is unable to understand the reality of their views. One should also understand that the views of the 'soofia' regarding 'wahdat al-wujood' are not from the fundamentals of 'tassawwuf' and understanding it is not a condition for a 'saalik' (seeker of truth). Those who speak ill of the 'soofia' should fear Allah and contemplate over the following hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi WaSallam):

إملاء الخير خير من السكوت والسكوت خير من إملاء الشر رواه البيهقى فى شعب الايمان

"Speaking what is good is better than silence and silence is better than talking evil."

(Reported by al-Bayhaqi)

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