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Where Was God Before the Creation of the Universe?

One of the questions that intrigues many people but is rarely discussed because it seems taboo is the question Where was God before the universe was created? 

This question was asked to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ so we know the answer. In a hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, it is stated:

God willing ُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، أَيْنَ كَانَ رَبُّنَا عَزَّ وَجَلَّ قَبْلَ أَن ْ يَخْلُقَ خَلْقَهُ؟ قَالَ: «كَانَ فِي عَمَاءٍ مَا تَحْتَهُ هَوَاءٌ، وَمَا فَوْقَهُ هَو َاءٌ، مَّ خَلَقَ عَرْشَهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ

"From Waki' bin Udus, from his uncle, Abu Razin, he said: I said: "O Messenger of Allah, where was our Lord, the Most Glorious, before creating his creatures?". The Prophet said: "Allah is in the Ama', below it, there is no air and above it there is no air, then Allah created his Throne above the Water." (HR. Ahmad)

So the answer is that Allah is in Ama'. But what is Ama'? Imam al-Hafidz Ali al-Qari explains the meaning of Ama' above as follows?

قَالَ الْقَاضِي: الْمُرَادُ بِالْعَمَاءِ مَا لَا تَقْبَلُهُ الْأَوْهَامُ وَلَا تُدْرِكُهُ الْعُقُولُ وَالْأَفْهَامُ، عَبَّرَ عَنْ عَدَمِ الْمَكَانِ بِمَا لَا يُدْرَكُ وَلَا يُتَوَهَّمُ، وَعَنْ عَدَمِ مَا يَحْوِيهِ وَيُحِيطُ بِهِ الْهَوَاءُ، فَإِنَّهُ يُطْلَقُ وَيُرَادُ بِهِ الْخَلَاءُ الَّذِي هُوَ عِبَارَةٌ عَنْ عَدَمِ الْجِسْمِ، لِيَكُونَ أَقْرَبَ إِلَى فَهْمِ السَّامِعِ


"The Qadli said: What is meant by Ama' is something that cannot be accepted by imagination and cannot be grasped by reason and understanding. The Prophet demonstrated the absence of place with something incomprehensible and unimaginable. And it also shows the lack of anything that contains it or the air surrounding it. This term absolutely means pure emptiness (khala'), which is the term for the lack of jism (matter). [This is] so that it is easier for the listener to understand" (Ali al-Qari, Mirqath al-Mafatih, IX, 3661)

With this, it can be understood that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ wanted to show that Allah was not located anywhere because, at that time, there was only Allah Himself. This understanding is by other words of the Prophet as follows:

كَانَ اللهُ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ شَيْءٌ غَيْرُهُ

"Allah already exists, and at that time, there was nothing but Allah" (HR Bukhari).

Our minds cannot reach the existence of God alone without anything because it is beyond human understanding. Man cannot imagine total solitude without that time and place. The meaning of the word Ama' in this context, as the thin clouds we see daily in the sky, is entirely incorrect because the clouds are creatures. The word Ama' in everyday conversation is indeed a light cloud, but that is clearly not what the Prophet Muhammad meant in this context. Wallahu a'lam.

Ustadz Abdul Wahab Ahmad

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