Splendid Pearls

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

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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.”

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