Sunni Belief

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

I would like to know: what is the belief (‘aqida) of Ahl al-Sunna? Is it correct to believe that Allah is everywhere? What is the difference between the belief of the Salafis and the belief (‘aqida) of Ahl al-Sunna?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله رب العالمين و صلى الله على سيدنا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم أما بعد

The answer to this question requires detail and explanation, and it is obligatory for the questioner to learn [h: what he or she has asked] from a trustworthy teacher according to the way of the Sunnis (Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘ah), which is [h: represented by] the Ash‘aris and Maturidis ([h: which are schools ascribed to] the two Imams, Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash‘ari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi). By doing so, [h: the questioner] will learn the belief (‘aqida) of the Sunnis (Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘ah) and also how others have gone against them in certain beliefs. If it is not possible for him or her to learn this directly [h: from a teacher], then he or she should at least read a book on the subject, such as the book “The Jerusalem Creed” (al-‘Aqida al-Qudsiyya), by Imam al-Ghazali, which is printed in the beginning of the book Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din, [1] or one may read some other book, such as Kubra al-Yaqiniyyat al-Kawniyya, by the great scholar, Dr. Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Bouti. [2] However, what cannot be completely attained should be completely left, so I say:

Sunni Belief

What is obligatory for all Muslims to believe is that Allah is perfect in his entity, names, and attributes, and that He is transcendently beyond every attribute that does not befit Him, Most High. Space and time, therefore, do not encompass Him; rather, He created them both. Neither His entity nor His attributes resemble anything of His creation. “There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.” (42:11). Neither the heavens nor the earth encompass Him, and He is not described by saying that His entity is literally above the heaven. Rather, He is above everything in His tremendous power and His magnificent wisdom. [h: That He is not literally above the heaven is proved by what] he (Allah bless him and give him peace) said in a rigorously authenticated hadith narrated by Imam Muslim narrates: “… You are the Outwardly Manifest (dhahir) so there is nothing above You, and You are the Inwardly Hidden (batin) so there is nothing below You.” [3] One may not say that Allah has a wajh (lit. “face”) or a yad (lit. “hand”) in the literal sense of these words because the literal meaning of each of these words in the Arabic language denotes a limb that is connected to the body and that could be separated from it, and our Lord is far above this.

Whatever mention of wajh (lit. “face”), ‘ayn (lit. “eye”), yad (lit. “hand”), and qadam (lit. “foot”) that has been made in certain noble verses and authenticated hadiths is interpreted according to meanings that befit Allah Most High’s entity. For example, His Most High’s saying, “Everything on it shall perish and the tremendous and mighty wajh of your Lord shall remain.” (55:26-27) [] What is meant by wajh (lit. “countenance”) in the verse is His Most High’s entity (in other words, “Everything except Allah shall perish”); nothing else can be meant by it. In the Arabic language, wajh can be used to refer to the entity. Otherwise [h: if one interpreted wajh to mean “face”, for example], it would necessitate that His Most High’s entity is divisible and that part of it shall perish. This is both rationally and legally impossible and it is not permissible for anyone to believe in it.

Another example is His Most High’s saying about the ark of our master Nuh (upon him be blessings and peace), “It sailed in our ‘ayn.” (54:14). [h: The preposition ba’ in the verse] does not connote that the ‘ayn physically contained [h: the ark]; nor does the verse mean that Allah has an ‘ayn (lit. “eye”) in the literal sense of the word and that the ark sails inside it. No one believes this except for an ignoramus who has no veneration for Allah. Rather, what is meant by the verse is that the ark sailed under Allah’s care and protection so that it did not drown like everything else did at that particular time. In the Arabic language, ‘ayn can be used to refer to protection and care.

Is it permissible to believe that Allah is everywhere?

The belief that Allah Most High is personally in every location is a completely false belief that is not permissible for anyone to hold. Rather, what is obligatory to believe (as mentioned above) is that Allah is transcendently beyond occupying space and it is obligatory to forbid anyone who says anything else, for [h: anything else] constitutes anthropomorphism [4], which is completely incorrect. An example [h: of such anthropomorphism] is what some ignorant laypeople over here say (intending to venerate Allah by their saying it), “Glory be to Him in His place.” It is obligatory to explain the mistakenness of this expression and to guide them to what is correct.

If, however, a Muslim believes that Allah is everywhere in His knowledge, thereby meaning that He (Glory be to Him) knows everything at every time and place, it is a correct belief and it what is meant by His Most High’s saying, “He is with you wherever you are,” (57:4) i.e., “He is with you in His knowledge so that nothing of His creation is concealed from him.”

Difference between Sunni belief and Salafi belief

Regarding the difference between the belief of the Sunnis (Ahl al-Sunna wa’l-Jama‘ah) and the belief of the Salafis ([h: the Salafis] are a group of Muslims who claim ascription to the righteous early Muslims (al-salaf al-salih) in terms of their belief, although in reality, they go against the righteous early Muslims in some of what they claim to agree with them on, as I shall partly explain in what follows), the Salafis go against the Sunnis in some of what I have explained above, such as belief that Allah has a wajh (lit. “face”), ‘ayn (lit. “eye”), yad (lit. “hand”), and qadam (lit. “foot”) in the literal sense of these words. [h: They also go against the Sunnis by believing] that He Most High’s entity is literally above the heaven, adducing as proof certain verses and hadiths, although they are mistaken in their understanding. Rather, the position of the righteous early Muslims from among the Companions, Followers, and followed Imams is that Allah is transcendently beyond the literal meaning of the above-mentioned things because of the baseless anthropomorphism that they comprise, and because—as explained above—the verses and hadiths that have mentioned these matters are interpreted according to meanings that befit His Most High’s entity. Some of the scholars of the early Muslims (Allah be pleased with them) explicitly stated these meanings whereas others remained silent and sufficed themselves with believing that Allah is transcendently beyond such false meanings, and both approaches are acceptable.[5] As for a person’s believing that Allah is literally characterized by the above-mentioned matters, this is a completely false position and it goes against the position of the vast majority of the Imams of the Muslims in every time and place. Among the useful books about this subject are Daf‘u Shubah al-Tashbih bi-Akuff al-Tanzih, by the Hanbali Imam and hadith master, Ibn al-Jawzi, and Idah al-Dalil fi Qat‘i Hujaj Ahl al-Ta‘til, by the great Shafi‘i Imam, Badr al-Din b. Jama‘ah. Both books have been published. [6]

Amjad Rasheed
Amman, Jordan
(Translated by Hamza Karamali)

Translator’s Notes:
[1] This has been translated in Book V of the Reliance of the Traveller and also at the back of the booklet, Becoming Muslim, both by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. There is also a brief synopsis of Sunni creed in The Key to the Garden, by Habib Mashhur al-Haddad (translated by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi).
[2] This has not been translated into English, unfortunately.
[3] For a detailed explanation of why it is not permissible for Muslims to believe that Allah is literally in the sky, see Is it permissible for a Muslim to believe that Allah is in the sky in a literal sense?, by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. The article is available at
[4] Anthropomorphism (tashbeeh) means likening Allah to His creation.
[5] For an excellent and thoroughly documented account of the position of the early Muslims on the attributes of Allah, see Literalism and the Attributes of Allah, by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. The article is available at
[6] Neither book has been translated, unfortunately.

السؤال : أريد أن أعرف ما هي عقيدة أهل السنة ؟  هل الاعتقاد أن الله في كل مكان اعتقاد صحيح ؟ وما الفرق بين عقيدة السلفية وعقيدة أهل السنة ؟ ال جواب : جوابُ هذا السؤال يحتاج إلى تفصيل وشرح ، والواجبُ على السائل أن يتعلم ذلك من شيخ موثوق على مذهب أهل السنة وهم الأشاعرة والماتريدية نسبة للإمامين أبي الحسن الأشعري وأبي منصور الماتريدي ، فيعرف بذلك عقيدةَ أهل السنة وما خالف فيه غيرهم من الاعتقادات ، فإن لم يتيسر له التعلمُ مباشرةً فلا أقل من أن يقرأ كتاباً في ذلك ككتاب “العقيدة القدسية” للإمام الغزالي ، وهو مطبوعٌ في أول كتاب “إحياء علوم الدين” أو يقرأ غيره من الكتب ، كـ”كبرى اليقينيات الكونية” للعلامة الدكتور محمد سعيد البوطي . ولكن ما يدرك كله لا يترك جله فأقول :    الواجبُ على جميع المسلمين اعتقادُه هو كمالُ الله تعالى في ذاته وأسمائه وصفاته ، وتنـزيهه تعالى عن كل وصف لا يليق به سبحانه ، فلا يحويه سبحانه مكانٌ ولا زمانٌ بل هو خالقهما ، ولا تشبه ذاتُه وصفاتُه شيئاً من خلقه ( ليس كمثله شيء وهو السميع البصير ) ، فلا تحويه السماء ولا الأرض، ولا يوصف بأنه فوق السماء بذاته حقيقة ، بل هو فوق كلِّ شيء بعظيم قدرته وباهر حكمته ، كما قال صلى الله عليه وسلم في الحديث الصحيح الذي يرويه الإمام مسلم :” … وأنت الظاهر فليس فوقك شيء ، وأنت الباطن فليس دُونك – أي : تحتك – شيء “. ولا يقال لله وجه وعين ويد وقدم حقيقة ؛ لأن حقيقة هذه الأشياء في لغة العرب تعني الجارحة التي تتصل بالبدن وقد تنفصل عنه، وحاشا ربنا من هذا ، وما جاء في بعض الآيات الكريمات وصحيح الأحاديث النبوية مما فيه ذكر الوجه والعين واليد والقدم كلُّه محمولٌ على معاني تليق بذات الله تعالى ، وذلك كقوله تعالى ( كلُّ مَن عليها فانٍ ، ويبقى وجهُ ربك ذو الجلال والإكرام ) فالمراد بالوجه في الآية هو ذاته سبحانه ، أي: سيفنى كلُّ شيء دون الله، لا يراد به غير ذلك ، والوجه يعبر به عن الذات في لغة العرب . وإلا لزم عليه تبعيضُ ذاته سبحانه وفناءُ بعضها ، وهذا مستحيلٌ عقلاً وشرعاً ولا يجوز لأحد اعتقاده ،     وكقوله تعالى عن سفينة سيدنا نوح عليه الصلاة والسلام ( تجري بأعيننا ) فليس المراد بذلك الظرفية وأن لله عيناً حقيقة والسفينة تجري فيها ، فلا يعتقد ذلك إلا جاهل عديم التعظيم لله ، ولكن المراد أن السفينة تجري برعاية الله وحفظه ، فلن يصيبها الغرق الذي أصاب كلَّ شيء وقتئذ ، والعين يعبر بها عن الحفظ والرعاية في لغة العرب .     والاعتقادُ بأن الله تعالى في كلِّ مكان بذاته اعتقادٌ باطلٌ لا يجوز لأحد القول به ، بل الواجبُ اعتقادُه كما تقدم هو تنـزيهُ الله تعالى عن أن يكون في مكان ، ويجب الإنكار على من يقول بخلاف ذلك ؛ لأنه تشبيه للحق بالخلق وهو باطل . ومن هذا قولُ بعض جهلة العوام عندما يريدون تعظيمَ الله بالكلام   ( سبحانه في مكانه ) فيجب بيان خطأ هذه العبارة وتوجيههم للصواب .    أما أن يعتقد المسلم أن الله تعالى في كلِّ مكان بعلمه ، بمعنى أنه يعلم سبحانه كلّّ شيء في كلِّ وقت وفي كلِّ مكان فهذا اعتقاد صحيح ، وهو معنى قوله تعالى ( وهو معكم أينما كنتم ) أي : هو معكم بعلمه ، فلا يخفى عليه سبحانه شيء من خلقه .    وأما الفرق بين عقيدة أهل السنة وعقيدة السلفية ( وهم جماعةٌ من المسلمين يدعون الانتساب إلى السلف الصالح في الاعتقاد ، مع أنهم في الحقيقة يخالفون السلفَ الصالحَ في بعض ما يدعون موافقتهم فيه، كما سأبين بعضه هنا ) فالسلفية يخالفون أهلَ السنةِ في بعض ما قدمته من اعتقاد الوجه والعين واليد والقدم لله تعالى على الحقيقة ، وأنه سبحانه فوق السماء بذاته حقيقة ، مستدلين على ذلك ببعض الآيات والأحاديث ، وهم مخطئون في فهمها ، بل الذي عليه السلف الصالح من الصحابة والتابعين والأئمة المتبعين هو تنـزيهُ الله تعالى عن حقيقة هذه الأشياء المذكورة ؛ لما فيها من التشبيه الباطل ، ولأن الآيات والأحاديث التي ذَكرت هذه الأمور محمولةٌ على معانٍ تليق بذاته سبحانه كما تقدم بيانه ، لكن منهم – أعني علماء – السلف الصالح رضي الله عنهم مَن يصرح بهذه المعاني ومنهم من يسكت ويكتفي بتنـزيه الله تعالى عن المعاني الباطلة ، وكلا الأمرين حسنٌ ، أما أن يعتقد الشخص أن هذه الأمور المذكورة يتصف بها الله حقيقة فهذا باطل من القول ومخالف لما عليه جماهير أئمة المسلمين في كلِّ عصر ومصر . ومن الكتب المفيدة في هذا الموضوع كتابُ الإمام الحافظ ابن الجوزي الحنبلي وهو “دفع شبه التشبيه بأكف التنـزيه” وكتابُ الإمام الكبير بدر الدين ابن جماعة الشافعي وهو “إيضاح الدليل في قطعحجج أهل التعطيل” ، وكلا الكتابين مطبوعان .

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