Imam al-Baji al-Maliki (d. 474 AH) on God’s descent to the nearest heaven in the last third of the night

Imam al-Baji al-Maliki (403 AH – 474 AH) states in al-Muntaqa Sharh al-Muwatta’ 1:357, in explanation of the hadith of Allah’s descent to the nearest heaven in the last third of the night:

“The Prophet’s — Allah bless and greet him — saying that our Exalted Lord descends every night to the nearest heaven is to inform us that supplication at that particular time is answered, petitioners are given what they request, and those who ask for forgiveness are forgiven. It warns us as to the great merit of that time and strongly encourages us to make abundant supplication, petition, and contrition at that time. It was narrated from the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — in similar terms that Allah Almighty and Exalted said: “If My servant comes near Me one hand-span I come near him one cubit. If he comes near Me one cubit I come near him an arm’s length. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”He did not mean by this hadith a coming-near in terms of distance, for such is impossible and inexistent. All he meant was the servant’s coming-near in terms of good works, and Allah’s coming-near in terms of answer and acceptance. In the same sense one says “So-and-so is near So-and-so,” and they say of the leader “He is near his people” if he helps them a lot and welcomes them. This is well-known in the language of the Arabs.”

2 thoughts on “Imam al-Baji al-Maliki (d. 474 AH) on God’s descent to the nearest heaven in the last third of the night

  1. Anon

    As salamu Alaykum, I thought the correct approach is to believe the attributes without trying to describe them and liken them to creation, i read your other post and read fiqh al Akbar Abu Hanifah says it should not be said his hand refers to power as this is negating the attribute, pls correct me if am wrong then how can we take these attributes as they are but change the meaning of this ( descent)? Does Allah descend?

    1. Wa-‘Alaikum as-Salām,

      – How do we understand the Attributes of God:

      We know and we believe, that there is nothing like unto God; His essence is not like our essence and His attributes are not like our attributes; yet He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, All-Seeing. He does not need eyes to see, ears to hear, a tongue to speak; He is not in need of an organ, like us. Because He is nothing like His creation, He is free from such imperfections.

      Just like He is the All-Hearing and All-Seeing without an ear or an eye, similarly “He, The Most-Merciful, is established over the Throne – Ar-Rahmanu ‘Alal ‘Arsh istawa’” without occupying a place and directionality (the six directions do not contain Him), because He is not a body or a particle. He is as He ever was before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. We consign the meaning and modality of these attributes to God, who knows what we know not.

      This is our ‘Aqeedah (Creed) as conveyed to us by the majority of rightly guided scholars of this religion.

      – As for your question ‘Does Allah descend’, then please re-read the post above.

      I hope this helps.
      was-Salam

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