Wahabi claims Pharaoh’s saying: “O Haman! Build me a tall building so I that I might reach the paths of the skies, and look upon Moses’ God,” (Ghaaafir, 36-37) proves that Moses believed Allah is placed in the Sky.

They also supply some hand picked quotes from scholarly works in support of this idea.  The answer is as follows:

First, it is just not possible to establish an irrefutable Islamic belief based on what the kaafir Pharao says. The fact the Pharao believed that the god Moses spoke of is placed in the Sky does not necessitate that Moses has said this to him, because whatever Pharao says about the “God of Moses” could be something Pharao falsely assumed or misinterpreted.

Second, quotes from books about what other than a Prophet said also does not prove a belief to be true. You need a highly authentic ĥadiith or a Quranic statement (other than quotes of what a kaafir says,) and you need to establish their meaning in a way that does not contradict other narrated texts, or any irrefutably established fact. See this article.

Third, the Sky is below the ˆArsħ and inside the collection of creation. To believe that Allaah is in the Sky is contrary to the “placed above the throne” belief, and pure ĥuluul (believing that Allaah is inside creation.) If they say “in the Sky” means “above the Sky,” then they have interpreted it with other than the linguistically apparent meaning, and chosen an interpretation that contradicts with “He does not resemble anything,” and the Prophet’s saying: “O Aļļaah, You are the First, so there is nothing before You, and You are the Last so there is nothing after You. You are Al-Thaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baatin, so there is nothing below you. (Muslim)” See this aricle.

Finally, and most importantly, place is an aspect of particles, or bodies of them. If Allaah was in a place He would be something with size, a particle or a body, and all particles and bodies need a creator, as they need specification. Denying this contradicts the main premise for the proof of the Creator’s existence. See this article with links.

18 Responses to Wahabi claims Pharaoh’s saying: “O Haman! Build me a tall building so I that I might reach the paths of the skies, and look upon Moses’ God,” (Ghaaafir, 36-37) proves that Moses believed Allah is placed in the Sky.

  1. daud says:

    Some salafies quote Imam Al-Tabari (d. 310 H):
    وقوله: ( وَإِنِّي لأظُنُّهُ كَاذِبًا ) يقول: وإني لأظنّ موسى كاذبا فيما يقول ويدّعي من أن له في السماء ربا أرسله إلي
    نا
    And Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “O Hâmân! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways, The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the Ilâh (God) of Mûsa (Moses) but verily, I think him to be a liar.”(40:37)
    Imam Al-Tabari said “Fir’awn’s saying that ‘I think him to be a liar’ i.e. he is saying that I think Musa is a liar when he says and claims that his God is above the sky, Who sent him (Musa) to me” (Tafseer Al-Tabari)

    They don’t explain what what
    al Tabari meant by above the sky.

    al-Tabari said in his commentary on the verse “Then turned He (thumma istawa) to the heaven” (2:29):
    The meaning of istiwa’ in this verse is height and elevation… but if one claims that this means displacement for Allah, tell him: He is high and elevated over the heaven with the height of sovereignty and power, not the height of displacement and movement to and fro.

    So when al Tabari said that Musa alaihi claimed that his” God is above the sky”, Imam Tabari meant above the sky with the height of sovereignty & power. But firawn like todays salafies interpreted it literally to be a location and hence built a tower to ascertain the truth of the Musa alaihi salaam’s claim.

  2. daud says:

    assalaamu alaikum

    Some followers of Pharaoh say:

    If Pharaoh’s act was based on his belief, then it wouldn’t be a valid proof, because one can’t prove someone else’s claim to be wrong through his belief ! He has to prove it through the claimer’s own belief, so it must be according to Musa’s belief, which is Allah Azza wa Jall being above the Heavens, so he built the tower to try to reach the doors of the heavens to prove to the people that Musa -alayhi assalam- is lying, as he claims.

    Rather the reason why Pharaoh built a tower must have been because Pharaoh shares the same logic of wahabi’s. Pharaoh looked at the earth and could not find a lord other than him. So he used wahabi type logic that if Allah is not on earth, than Allah must be in the sky. And if Allah is neither on earth nor in the sky, then he thought he could prove Allah does not exist.

    Moreover, Pharaoh wanted to build a tower to reach “the ways/gates of the heavens”. So Firawn was trying to prove that there is no God “in” the Heaven. Pharaoh wasn’t trying to reach above the heavens or the ends of the heavens, where the wahabis today believe that their God is located.

    The wahabis also say:
    Also, if the act of Pharaoh was against Musa’s belief, then Musa -alayhi assalam- would have refuted it by denying that he believes Allah to be above the Heaven, and he would have told him that what he is doing is a useless act, because he (Musa alayhi assalam) never claimed that his God is above the Heavens, Rather he believes that He is not there. But Musa didn’t do so.

    It is merely your guess work that Musa alaihi salaam didn’t refute them. Beliefs based upon such guess work is worthless. If such logic is used, then it would mean that Musa alaihi salaam agreed that Allah can be seen by building a tower reaching the ways/gates of the sky, because Musa alaihi salaam did not say that the tower must reach the ends or above the heavens to see Allah. Moreover, Allah did not send down any ayah correcting firawn’s attempts and suggesting firawn the need to build a tower that would reach the ends of the heaven if he wanted to see Allah.Today we have reached the skies, but we still can’t see Allah. Hence Musa alaihi salaams belief, according to you, was wrong, and the teaching of the Quran also.

    And if Pharaoh understanding of Musa alaihi salaams God was correct, Allah taala and Musa alaihi salaam would have encouraged and supported Pharaoh attempt. Rather Allah(t) said that Pharaoh deed were evil, and it led him away from the right path, and that his plots led him to his destruction.

    wa salaam

  3. Abu Abdillah says:

    Assalâmu ‘Alaykum,

    That was nice brother Daud. It’s unbelievable how much ta’weel these Salafi’s themselves apply but condemn others of it. “Fî” may mean “Alâ” sometimes which can be seen by it’s context, however Salafi’s are “forced” to make ta’weel of “Fî” in “Alâ” EVERY TIME when it is referring to Allâh Most High.

    Just look at the verse;
    {And Fir‘awn (Pharaoh) said: “O Hâmân! Build me a tower that I may arrive at the ways; The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the God of Mûsâ: But verily, I think him to be a liar.”} [40:36-37]

    I end this with the tafsîr of al-Imâm al-Tabarânî from his Tafsîr al-Kabîr under [28:38]:

    وقولهُ تعالى: { فَأَوْقِدْ لِي يٰهَامَانُ عَلَى ٱلطِّينِ }؛ أي اتَّخِذْ لِي آجُرّاً، { فَٱجْعَل لِّي صَرْحاً }؛ أي قَصْراً طَويلاً متَّسِعاً مرتفعاً، { لَّعَلِّيۤ أَطَّلِعُ إِلَىٰ إِلَـٰهِ مُوسَىٰ }؛ أي أصعدُ إليه، ظَنَّ بجهلهِ أنه يَتَهَيَّأُ له أنْ يبلُغَ بصرحهِ إلى السَّماءِ، وظنَّ أن إلهَ مُوسَى جِسْماً مشاهَداً كما تقولُ الْمُشَبهَةُ، تَعَالَى اللهُ عَنْ ذلِكََ.

    Wassalâm

    • Aţ-Ţabaraaniyy says: Pharaoh thought in his ignorance that by his tower he would be able to reach to the Sky, and thought that the God of Muusaa is a body that can be looked at, just as the anthropomorphists say. Aļļaah is greatly clear of and above that.

  4. 2tfrut says:

    As’salamu alaikum,

    How can then we respond to wahhabis who say why was there the various levels of heavens or skies mentioned in the hadith of Meraj (ascension) where the Prophet (saws) met other Prophets (pbut) and then reached tree supposed to be the highest point etc. Does it not contradict with Quranic explanation as understood by non-wahhabis? Was it a one time arrangement for that night?

    • waˆalaykumussalaam,

      Does it need a response. How does several levels of skies prove that Allaah is in a location according to them. As they say, what does that have to do with the price of fish?

  5. abdulHAQ says:

    As’salamu alaikum,

    To 2tfrut:

    The following explanation may clear the misconception about Ascension and Allah being in the sky:

    It was a supernatural event which was brought about by the unlimited power of Allah. This was a physical journey in which Allah arranged that the Holy Prophet should make observation of His Signs with his physical eyes. All the objections raised against the various details which are given in the traditions are frivolous, except two, which are plausible. Firs, if we accept these details, then we shall have to admit that Allah is confined to a certain place: otherwise there was no need that His Servant should be transported for this purpose to a certain place. Secondly, according to traditions, the Holy Prophet was enabled to observe Paradise and Hell where he saw some people suffering from torment. The objection is: why should some people be awarded punishments or rewards before the Final Judgment after Resurrection?

    As regards the first objection, it is true that Allah is Infinite by Himself, but in dealing with His creation, He employs those means which suit His imperfect creation not because of any limitation of His but because of the limitations of His creation. When he desires to show some of the wonderful Signs of His Kingdom to a servant, He transports him to the place where the Signs are to be shown. It is obvious that the servant cannot see simultaneously the whole of the universe as Allah does, for Allah has no need to go to any place for this purpose but the servant has. The same applies to the appearance of the servant before the Creator. Though Allah is not confined to any locality, it is necessary to go to the place where His manifestations have been concentrated for his observation because it is not possible for the servant with his limited powers to go in His Presence in His Infinite Capacity.

    • Actually they are all frivolous. First, the author says: “if we accept these details, then we shall have to admit that Allah is confined to a certain place: otherwise there was no need that His Servant should be transported for this purpose to a certain place.”

      This assumes that there was a need to transport. What evidence is there for this assertion? No, it is not correct to say “Though Allah is not confined to any locality, it is necessary to go to the place where His manifestations have been concentrated for his observation because it is not possible for the servant with his limited powers to go in His Presence in His Infinite Capacity.” Why? Because this implies that Allaah must do something to achieve something. Just as Allaah could create the ability to see Him in a slave above the heavens, He could have created this ability in any slave anywhere else. What prevents that when we know that He is not in a place or space, because He is not something with body, shape or size? Actually, the Prophet was brought there to be present to see the wonders of the upper world.

      The author said: “Secondly, according to traditions, the Holy Prophet was enabled to observe Paradise and Hell where he saw some people suffering from torment. The objection is: why should some people be awarded punishments or rewards before the Final Judgment after Resurrection?”

      This is also extremely frivolous and has been answered in a multitude of pages here. The short answer is: it is none of our business! Why? Because Allaah is the only Judge, and we are mere creations. Tiny dots in a vast universe created by an Allmighty All-Knowing Creator. He does what He wills, and it is not for us to ask why did you do that?

      AAA

  6. maroof says:

    samaleikum

    what if someone says that the earth cannot withstand itself when Allah reveals himself, hence Prophet SAW had to be taken to the place which can withstand itself. Which I guess would be the 7th heaven ? Even jibril alaihi salaam could not go to the 7th heaven.

    And is there any explicit unrefutable proof for the 7 heavens being stacked one above another ? There is a opinion/interpretation that the heavens are superimposed.

  7. maroof says:

    Here is the translation of what Shaykh ul Islam, Imam al-Razi said regarding this:

    [QUOTE]The answer is that these ignorant are utterly humiliated and have totally deviated by the fact that they have made the statement of Pharoah the accursed as evidence for themselves to prove that their [own Aqeedah] is right.

    As for Moses, he did not mention anything extra than the attribute of ‘creation’ when defining Allah, as Moses says in Surah Taha: “Our Lord is the one who gave everything its creation, then He guided”, and in Surah al-Shu’araa’ Moses said: “… your Lord and the Lord of your previous forefathers… Lord of the east and west and whatever is between them…”.

    By this, it is evident that the definition of the Essence of God being in the heaven is the Aqeedah of Pharoah, and the definition of creation and existence is the Aqeedah of Moses. Whoever opines the first is on the Aqeedah of Pharoah, and whoever opines the second is on the Aqeedah of Moses.

    We also say: We do not accept the argument that everything Pharoah says regarding the attributes of God is what he heard of from Moses. Perhaps Pharoah was an anthropomorphist and believed that, had there been a god, he would be in the heaven. Therefore, this expression of Pharoah was from his own self, not because he heard it from Moses.

    As for when Pharoah said: “I think [Moses] is a liar”, we say that perhaps when Pharoah heard Moses say: “Lord of the heavens and earth”, Pharoah thought by ‘Lord of the heavens’ Moses meant like when we say ‘Lord of the house’, meaning the lord lives in it. So when Pharoah thought this, he related this statement from Moses [and then falsified Moses]. This scenario is not actually impossible, as Pharoah was so ignorant and so stupid that there is every chance he entertained such a thought in his head. But if the opposition cannot comprehend that Pharoah could think so stupidly, it is only befitting of them as they themselves, because they are on the Aqeedah of Pharoah, they must hold Pharoah in high esteem.

    As for the argument that ‘the Fitrah of Pharoah testified that if there was a god, he would be in the heaven’, then we [say]:
    We do not deny the fact that most people think that this is correct, especially those who are as stupid as Pharoah.
    Therefore, it has been proven that this Kalam is baseless.[END QUOTE]

  8. Ahmad-Qadri says:

    These people should read Surah Nazi’aat where it is clearly stated that their master, the pharaoh was misguided and did not know his Creator, and that Moses was commanded to teach and him regarding Allah:

    اذْهَبْ إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُ طَغَى

    79:17 (Y. Ali) “Go thou to Pharaoh for he has indeed transgressed all bounds:

    فَقُلْ هَل لَّكَ إِلَى أَن تَزَكَّى

    79:18 (Y. Ali) “And say to him, ‘Wouldst thou that thou shouldst be purified (from sin)?-

    وَأَهْدِيَكَ إِلَى رَبِّكَ فَتَخْشَى

    79:19 (Y. Ali) “‘And that I guide thee to thy Lord, so thou shouldst fear Him?'”

    So much for their claims of “if he was wrong, why didn’t Moses correct him?”… the Quran testifies to the fact that he was misguided and that Moses offered to teach him regarding Allah.

    If they say the pharaoh could have said this to haman after Moses taught him regarding his Creator, then why is it that the pharaoh is still called a kafir even after accepting belief in Allah as taught to him by Allah’s Prophet Moses (alaihis salam)?

    They can’t get out of this stalemate!!

    —-

    This is all besides the point that, as the Sheikh said, the words of a kafir, EVEN IF reported in the Quran, don’t count for aqidah of Muslims. The Quran even reports the pharaoh to have said:

    فَقَالَ أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَى

    7:24 (Y. Ali) Saying, “I am your Lord, Most High”.

    Alhamdulillah ‘ala ni’matil ‘aql. Allaahummahfazna min fitnatil mujassimeen. Aameen bi jaahi nabiyyikal ameen.

  9. ahmed12321 says:

    Salam Sheikh

    I have a question. That if the salaf practiced tafwid al ma’nah then how could they use the verse of istiwa as a refutation of the jahmi view that Allah is everywhere. Would the jahmi not have easily replied that you don’t know the meaning of the verse then how can you use it to refute us?

    Wasalam

    • Waˆalaykumussalaam,

      First let us remember that beliefs are not established by singular narrations from the Prophet, let alone any of the salaf. That being said, Jahm ibn Safwaan argued that Allaah is everywhere based on the aayah which could be literally translated as “He is with you wherever you are.” If taken literally this would mean that Allaah is everywhere, but such an interpretation contradict a literal interpretation of “istawa,” so what he claimed as a proof is not a proof. That is why the aayah of istawa presents a proof against his claim. In addition, some of the salaf understood “istawa ˆala-l-ˆArsh” to mean that Allaah is not in a location, because there is no creation beyond the ˆArsh. In other words, they understood the expression “above the throne” as a denial of being in a location below it, NOT as an affirmation of location above it, unlike what the Wahabis claim. This is like when we say “before time,” which is a denial of time, not an affirmation of a time before time. Such confusing expressions come about due to the limits of language, because the main purpose of language is to speak about daily affairs, not metaphysics. Another expression of this kind that you may run into is “separate from creation,” which simply means “not mixed with or in contact with,” and does not mean a separation of space or body, unlike what the Wahabis think. Finally, many of the Salaf, such as Aţ-Ţabariyy, understood “istawa ˆalaa” to mean “above in ownership and power,” this is what the Salaf mean by “aboveness.” This is very close to the meaning I first mentioned, and highly compatible with it, as we could say “He is above the throne in power and ownership, not in location.” Then many of them would simply say, “above” without further explanation, because it was understood that this is without “kayf,” or modality, so it is not in the sense of location.

  10. ahmed12321 says:

    Jazakallah Sheikh

    That makes a lot of sense. I honestly believe that your style of refuting (that is based on basic rationality) is the best way to refute the ‘salafis’. Getting into athaar and narrations becomes very confusing for those who are not well versed in usool ul hadeeth and other sciences of Islam which just comes down to the most eloquent as winning the discussion.
    I also think what needs to be elaborated more is the similarity of the salafi aqeedah of literalism and the Christians who literally believe in the trinity. That this has even led to certain ‘salafis’ agreeing that the Christian aqeedah is logical (basically ithbat of the trinity in its literal sense without ‘how’) but just wrong in a historical and scriptural sense.
    (I think the ‘salafis’ may have to revolutionise some of their da’wa techniques).
    Wasalam

  11. ahmed12321 says:

    Jazakallah Sheikh

    I read these before and will try to print them out and circulate as much as possible (as I know you allow it). The Scholars have written much in the Arabic language but you are doing a great job for the English speaking audience. And is much needed.

    May Allah help you in your cause.

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