Ahmadiyya Priangan Timur


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Concept of ‘Arsh in Islam

The Holy Qur’an has made it clear that on the one side God has a close relationship with His creatures and that He is the life of every thing living and the support of every being. On the other side, to safeguard against the error lest anyone should conclude from the relationship between God and man, that man himself is God, as do the Vedantists. It is also stated that He is above everything
and is beyond everything and that His station is ‘Arsh (the Throne). The ‘Arsh is not something that has been created or something material. It is the name of the transcendental station which is beyond the beyond. It is not a throne on which God is to be imagined as being seated. It is the station which is beyond of beyond from creation and is a station of transcendence and holiness. As the Holy Qur’an says, after establishing the relationship of Creator and created with everything, God settled Himself on the ‘Arsh. That is to say, despite all relationships He remained apart and did not mix with His creation.

God's being with everyone and comprehending everything is His attribute of resemblance. He has mentioned this attribute in the Holy Qur’an to demonstrate His nearness to man. His being beyond of beyond from all creation and being above all and higher than all and farthest of all and being at the station of transcendence and holiness, which is far from creation and is called ‘Arsh, is the attribute of transcendence. God has mentioned this attribute in the Holy Qur’an so that He should establish His Unity and His being without associate and having withdrawn from the qualities of creation. Other people have either adopted God's attribute of transcendence and have called Him Nirgun, or they have accepted Him as Sargan and have attributed such resemblance to Him as if He was the very creation itself. They have not combined these two attributes, but God Almighty in the Holy Qur’an has shown His countenance in the mirror of both these attributes and this is His perfect Unity.

[Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 97-99]

It is not the belief of the Muslims that the ‘Arsh is a physical or created thing on which God is seated. You may go through the Qur’an from the beginning to the end and you will not find it stated that the ‘Arsh is something limited and created. God has repeatedly said in the Holy Qur’an that He is the Creator of all things that have any existence. He is the Creator of heaven and earth, and souls and all their faculties. He is Self-Existing and everything exists because of Him. Every particle that exists is His creation. He has nowhere stated that the ‘Arsh is something physical of which He is the Creator.... Wherever the word ‘Arsh has been used in the Holy Qur’an its meaning is the Greatness and Majesty and Supremacy of God. That is why it is not included among created things. There are four manifestations of the Greatness and Majesty of God Almighty. The Vedas call them four gods, but according to the idiom of the Holy Qur’an they are angels.

[Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol.19, pp. 453-456]

In the Holy Qur’an by ‘Arsh is meant the station which is higher than the rank of resemblance and is superior to every world and is beyond of beyond and is the station of Holiness and transcendence. It is not anything which is made of stone or brick or any other thing on which God is seated. That is why it is described as uncreated. As God Almighty says He manifests Himself to the heart of a believer, in the same way He says that He manifests Himself upon the ‘Arsh. He affirms clearly that He supports everything and has not said anywhere that anything supports Him. The ‘Arsh which is a higher station than the whole universe, is a manifestation of His attribute of transcendence.

We have explained it several times that since eternity, Divine attributes are of two kinds: the attribute of resemblance and the attribute of transcendence. As it was necessary to set out both attributes in His Word, for the declaration of His attribute of resemblance, He mentioned His hand and eye and love and anger in the Holy Qur’an, and then to remove the suspicion of resemblance He stated at one place:
‘There is nothing whatever like unto Him.’—al-Shura, 42:12
and at other places it is said that He settled Himself on the ‘Arsh as, for instance, in the verse:
Your God is the One Who raised up the heavens without
any pillars, as you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne.
al-Ra‘d, 13:3

From the literal meaning of this verse, it would seem to follow that God was not settled on the ‘Arsh before. The explanation of this is that the ‘Arsh is nothing material, but is a state of being beyond of beyond which is God's attribute. God created heaven and earth and all other things and bestowed upon the sun and the moon and stars light from His own light by way of reflection and created man, metaphorically speaking, in His Own image and breathed into him His Holy attributes. He thus created a resemblance unto Himself. But as He is free from any resemblance He described His transcendence by the expression of ‘settling on the Throne.’ Despite having created everything He is not His very creation itself, but is apart from everything and is at a station which is beyond the beyond.

[Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 276-277]

Another objection which is sometimes raised is that it appears from the Holy Qur’an that on the Day of Judgement eight angels will bear aloft the ‘Arsh, from which it is concluded that in this world four angels bear the ‘Arsh aloft. Here a question arises that God Almighty is above having His Throne borne up by anyone. The answer is as you have just heard that the ‘Arsh is nothing material which can be borne up or is capable of being borne up. The station of transcendence and Holiness is ‘Arsh and that is why it is described as uncreated. A material object cannot be outside the creation of God. Whatever has been stated with regard to the ‘Arsh is by way of metaphor. A reasonable person can understand that this objection is baseless.

The truth is that when God Almighty withdraws to the station where His attribute of transcendence covers all His other attributes and makes Him beyond of beyond and hidden of hidden, which station, in the idiom of the Holy Qur’an, is called ‘Arsh, then God rises above human reason and reason cannot reach Him. Then four of His attributes which have been named four angels which have been manifested in the world, disclose His hidden Being.

The first of these is His Rububiyyat through which He perfects man physically and spiritually. The manifestation of the body and soul is in consequence of the demand of Rububiyyat. In the same way Divine revelation and the manifestation of extraordinary signs are in consequence of the demand of Rububiyyat.

The second attribute which has been manifested is His Rahmaniyyat whereby He has provided numberless bounties for man without any action having preceded from man. This attribute also discloses His hidden Being.

The third attribute is His Rahimiyyat. That means, that at first He bestows upon righteous people by virtue of His Rahmaniyyat the capacity for righteous action and then, as demanded by His Rahimiyyat, He enables them to perform righteous actions and thus safeguards them against calamities. This attribute also discloses His hidden Being.

The fourth attribute is Malik-i-Yaum-id-Din. This also discloses His hidden Being as by virtue of it He rewards the righteous and chastises the wicked. These four attributes bear aloft His ‘Arsh. That is to say, His hidden Being is recognized in this world through these attributes. This recognition will be doubled in the hereafter, that is to say, eight angels, instead of four, will bear aloft the ‘Arsh.

[Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 278-279]

The Unity of God is a light which illumines the heart after the so-called outer and inner deities are totally negated, and it courses through every particle of man's being. It cannot be acquired by anyone on his own, but only through God and His Messenger. Man's function is that he should impose a death upon his ego and should discard the satanic vanity that he is a learned person. He should deem himself ignorant and should be occupied with supplication. Then the light of Unity would descend upon him from God and would bestow new life upon him.

[Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, p. 148]

As ever since the creation of the world the recognition of God is tied up with the recognition of a Prophet, it is impossible that the knowledge of Unity could be obtained except through a Prophet. A Prophet is a mirror for the beholding of God. It is only through this mirror that the countenance of God may be seen. When God Almighty desires to manifest Himself to the world, He sends a Prophet into the world who is the manifestation of His Powers and to whom He displays His Rububiyyat. Then the world realizes that God is.

It is a part of the Unity of God to believe in those who have been under the eternal law of God appointed as a means of the recognition of God. Without this belief, faith in the Unity of God cannot be perfected. It is not possible to achieve faith in the pure Unity of God, which is created from the fountain of perfect certainty, in the absence of heavenly signs and wonders which are displayed by the Prophets whereby they lead people to full understanding. They are a group that points to God and through whom God, Whose Being is imperceptible upon imperceptible and hidden upon hidden, manifests Himself. That hidden Treasure, Whose name is God, has ever been recognized through the Prophets. The acquisition of faith in the Unity of God, which is estimated as true Unity by God Himself, except through a Prophet, is as much opposed to reason as it is contrary to the experience of all seekers after God.

[Haqiqat-ul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, pp. 115-116]

The true Unity of God, the affirmation of which is demanded by God and upon which salvation depends, is to believe that God in His Being is free from every associate, whether it is an idol or a human being, or the sun or moon or one's ego, or one's cunning or deceit; and to conceive of no one as possessing power in opposition to Him, nor to accept anyone as sustainer, nor to hold anyone as bestowing honour or disgrace, nor to consider anyone as helper or assistant; and to confine one's love to Him and one's worship to Him and one's humility to Him and one's hopes to Him and one's fear to Him. No Unity can be complete without the following three types of particularisation. First, there is the Unity of Being, that is to say, to conceive the whole universe as nonexistent in contrast with Him and to consider it mortal and lacking reality. Secondly, the Unity of attributes, that is to say, that Rububiyyat and Godhead are confined to His Being and that all others who appear as sustainers or benefactors are only a part of the system set up by His hand. Thirdly, the Unity of love and sincerity and devotion; that is to say, not to consider anyone as an associate of God in the matter of love and worship and to be entirely  lost in Him.

[Siraj-ud-Din ‘Isa’i ke Char Sawalon ka Jawab, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 12, pp. 349-350]

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