How can we explain certain hadiths that go against the most basic points of faith?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
Whenever we read a hadith that is confusing, we should first ask if the hadith has been translated properly and whether or not we are reading it correctly. Not every translation is loyal, and sometimes our own limited grasp of Arabic deceives us. The next step is to question whether or not the hadith is authentic.
If we go through this process properly, we will never find any conflicts between hadiths, and we will never have any doubts about our faith.
With regards to the hadith in question, it means that Allah was alone and that there was nothing else besides Him. When it says, “He was above the clouds, below which was air, and above which was air,” (Tirmidhi and Ahmad) it is just a figurative way of saying that there was not anything else besides Him. “Cloud” and “air” just mean nothing. This is how it was explained by Yazid ibn Harun who was one of the greatest hadith narrators and one narrator of the hadith in question. [Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi, Mubarakpuri]
It seems like it was just another way of phrasing the hadith “Allah was and there was nothing besides Him.” [Bukhari and others]
So, in sum, there is no confusion at all.
I pray this helps.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.