Before the creation of the Throne, there was Allah (may He be exalted) and there was nothing before Him, nothing after Him, and nothing besides Him

Posted on February 12, 2015

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Before the creation of the Throne, and before the creation of the heavens and the earth, and before the creation of directions, there was Allah, may He be exalted, and there was nothing before Him, nothing after Him, and nothing besides Him, as al-Bukhaari (7418) narrated that ‘Imraan ibn Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

I was with the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) when some people from Banu Tameem came to him and he said: “O Banu Tameem, accept the good news.”
They said: You have given us the good news; now give us something.
Then some people from Yemen came in and he said: “Accept the good news, O people of Yemen, for Banu Tameem did not accept it.”
They said: We accept it, for we have come to you to learn about the religion and to ask you how the matter was from the very beginning.
He said: “There was Allah and nothing existed before Him, and His Throne was on the water. Then He created the heavens and the earth, and He wrote all things in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz.”

Al-Haafiz (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

This indicates that there was nothing besides Him: neither water nor the Throne nor anything else, because these are things other than Allah, may He be exalted. End quote.

One of the supplications of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was that which was narrated by Muslim (2713):
Allaahumma anta al-awwal fa laysa qablaka shay’un, wa anta al-aakhir fa laysa ba’daka shay’un, wa anta al-zaahir fa laysa fawqaka shay’un wa anta al-baatin fa laysa doonaka shay’un

(O Allah, You are the First so there is nothing before You, and You are the Last so there is nothing after You. You are al-Zaahir [the greatest and highest] so there is nothing above You, and You are al-Baatin [aware of the subtlest secrets] so there is nothing closer than You).”

It was narrated that Abu Razeen said: O Messenger of Allah, where was our Lord before He created His creation?
He said: “Nothing existed but Him, with nothing beneath Him and nothing above Him. Then He created His Throne above the water.”
Narrated by at-Tirmidhi (3109), Ibn Maajah (182) and Ahmad (15755)

This hadith was classed as saheeh by at-Tabari; as hasan by at-Tirmidhi, adh-Dhahabi and Ibn Taymiyah; and as da‘eef by al-Albaani in Da‘eef at-Tirmidhi.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Allah was and there was nothing with Him, then He created the universe, so it must be one of three scenarios:

Either He created it within Himself, then He separated from it. This is impossible; Allah is far above being in contact with filth and other things;

Or He created it outside Himself, then He entered it. This is also impossible; Allah is far above entering into His creation. There is no dispute among any of the Muslims that these two scenarios are impossible.

Or He created it outside of Himself, and did not enter into it. This is the truth; no other scenario is possible and nothing but this is befitting to Allah.

End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (5/152)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) also said:

It is known that there is nothing in the text that mentions the word direction or denies it, as it mentions and affirms His being high, rising above, being above, ascending to Him, and so on. So it may be said to the one who denies the idea of direction: Do you mean by direction something that exists and is created? For Allah is not encompassed by His creation. Or do you mean by direction what is beyond the universe? For undoubtedly Allah is above the universe and distinct from His creation. Similarly, it could be said to the one who says that Allah is in a particular direction: Do you mean thereby that Allah is above the universe? Or do you mean that Allah is encompassed by any of His creation? If you mean the former, that is true, but if you mean the latter, that is false.

Allah is as the imams (leading scholars) of Ahl as-Sunnah said, above His heavens, over His Throne, distinct from His creation. End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (3/41-42)

To sum up:

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, is unique in His divinity, so there was no created entity with Him in past eternity. Rather He was Allah, and there was nothing before Him.
Then He created His creation and rose above His Throne, as He has told us in His Book, in such a manner as He willed, may He be exalted, and there is none that can dispute with Him regarding His sovereignty and He has no partner in His authority.

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