Allah (s.w.t.) is Beyond Directions

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Hujjat al-Islam, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (r.a.), in his ar-Risalah al-Qudsiyyah, wrote, “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.  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 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 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 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 necessarily 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 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.  For verily, the Most High is above all things by His Omnipotence.”


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