Question: Dear brothers, Assalamu alaykum. Many people quote a hadith about a black slave woman that was mute and the prophet asked her "aynallah" and she said fi sama'. What is the meaning of this hadith?
Answer: Know that Allah is clear from "alkayf" (the manners of beings). So as Imam Aliy Radiallahu ^Anhu said: It must not be said when was He, WHERE WAS HE, or how was He. He exists without a place.
As to the hadith known as "hadith al-Jariyah" or the hadith of the slave woman, when the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, asked the black slave woman the question: "Aynallah?", the scholars said this meant he was asking her about her belief in the status of Allah. She answered: "Fis-sama'" which has the meaning that Allah has the highest status.
Also Imam al-Bayhaqiy said "hadith al-jariah is Mudtarib (inconsistent because it has five different narrations), and if it was sahih, it would mean that the Prophet is asking her about her belief in Allah and she indicated that Allah has a very high status, because Allah is clear from being in a place".This ta'weel of Imam al-Bayhaqiy has to do with the Arabic language and is interpreted in accordance to the arabic language and according to what befits the Islamic belief and the logic.
Yet the mushabbihah (those who liken Allah to the creations) insist on taking the literal meaning--saying that the Prophet asked her about the place of Allah, and that she said, "In the sky," meaning that the sky is a place for Allah. But it's agreed among Salaf and Khalaf that the Mutashabih Ayat and Ahadith cannot be taken literally.
Copying from Imam al-'Ash^ariyy, Imam al-Bayhaqiyy, in his book, Al-Asma' was-Sifat, page 488, said: "Allah,ta^ala, is not in a place. Movement, coming to rest, and sitting are among the attributes of bodies."
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbaliyy explained the term al-istiwa', in SuratTaha, ayah 5: الرحمن على العرش استوى as al-istila', which means subjugating. When al-istila' is used to explain this ayah it means that Allah subjugated the ^arsh with a subjugation that is without a beginning, like all of the attributes of Allah. If the ayah is explained in this manner, it means that Allah was attributed with subjugating the ^arsh before the ^arsh was created in the same way that Allah was attributed with being the Creator before anything from the creation existed. In this context, the scholars have used the term al-azal, which means the status of existing without a beginning. Thus it can be said that Allah subjugated the ^arsh in al-azal, meaning that Allah subjugated the ^arsh with a subjugation which is without a beginning. Yet the mushabbihah insist on taking the literal meaning, and they say istiwa' means Allah 'sits' on the throne and 'firmly establishes' Himself on it.
In his book, Al-Mu^taqad, Imam al-Bayhaqiyy related in a chain back to al-'Awza^iyy and Imam Malik and Sufyan ath-Thawriyy and al-Layth Ibn Sa^d that when they were asked about the ayat and the ahadith that are mutashabihat, they said:
"أمروها (صفات الله) كما جاءت بلا كيف"
which means: "Accept them as they came without applying a 'how' to them." This is because if one asked the question 'how?' the answer would be, 'Like this or that.' Everything other than Allah is His creation so to say 'like this or that' would mean 'like this or that created thing' and Allah is not like His creation. Anything a person can imagine, Allah is different from it. When the scholars said: "... without applying a 'how' to them," they meant that Allah is clear of being attributed with sitting, resting, moving, limbs, bodies, and parts. They did not mean that His istiwa' over the throne has a 'how' of which we are ignorant. On the contrary, the scholars completely negated that a 'how' could be applied to Allah. So the statement of those who say "Allah sits on the throne but we do not know how," is rejected on the basis of what these scholars said.
Anyone with a sound mind knows that sitting, no matter how it is, is an attribute of bodies. Occupying places necessitates a 'how' and applies to bodies. Furthermore, color and touching are attributes of bodies and 'how' applies to them. All of that is impossible to apply to Allah.
Likewise, the hadith of the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam:
means: <<If you are merciful to those on earth, the angels, who occupy the heavens, will bring onto you the mercy of Allah.>> Yet, the mushabbihah insist on taking the literal meaning--saying the hadith means: "Allah, Who occupies the heavens, will be merciful to you."
It's an Ijma^ that Allah does not reside in a place and it's logical as well. For, before the places, Allah existed without a place, and after creating the place he is as he was without a place because he does not need anything. Imam ^Aliyy (Radiallahu ^anhu) said: "Kanallahu Wala makan, Wahuwa-l`ana ^ala ma ^alayhi kan" that is without a place.
This is the ^aqidah of the Muslims the salaf and the Khalaf.
معنى فثمَّ وجه الله أي فهناكَ قبلة الله أي أن الله تعالى رخَّصَ لكم في صلاة النفل في السَّفر أن تتوجَّهوا إلى الجهةِ التي تذهبون إليها هذا لمن هو راكبٌ الدابة، وفي بعض المذاهبِ حتى الماشي الذي يصلي صلاةَ النفل وهو في طريقه يقرأ الفاتحةَ.
Allah knows best.