Imâm-i Rabbânî Mujaddid-i Alf-i thânî rahimahullah wrote:
Allâhu ta'âlâ is not with time, with place or with direction. He is not at a
place or at any side. He created time, places and directions. An ignorant
person thinks that He is up on the Arsh. .... He created all these afterwards.
Can something which has been created afterwards ever be a place for One who is
eternal and always exists?...
Allâhu ta'âlâ is not a substance, an object or a state. He is not limited; He
does not have dimensions. He is not long, short, wide or narrow. We say that He
is Wâsi, that is, wide. But this wideness is different from what we know and
understand. He is Muhît; that is, He surrounds everything. But this surrounding
is not like what we understand. He is Qarîb; that is, He is close to us,
together with us, but unlike what we understand from it! We believe that He is
wâsi, muhît, qarîb, and together with us. But we cannot know what these
attributes mean. We say that everything which comes to the mind is wrong.
Maktubat, volume 2, letter 67.
Know that Allâhu ta'âlâ is neither inside nor outside the âlam. He is neither
separated from nor adjacent to the âlam. Allâhu ta'âlâ exists. But He is not
inside or outside, adjacent to or separated from it.
Volume 2, letter 34.
Allama Ibn Hajar al-Haytami rahimahullah writes:
"When a Jew asked Sayyidina Ali radiallahu ta'ala anh:
"Since when is the existence of our Allah?"
Sayyidina Ali's color changed and he said:
"He existed without how when there was no makan and nothing. He does not have a "before" or an "end" with respect to time. Everything other than Him comes to an end."
Source: Al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, Section on Imam Ali's virtues (Section 9, Part 4: The part on Sayyidina Ali's Karamats, Judgements, Knowledge, Wisdom and Zuhd). Translated from Turkish.
Al-Hakim al-Samarqandi, Abu'l-Qasim Ishaq b. Muhammad (d.342/953) rahimahullah stated:
The following is the correct position on this issue: One must know that Allahu ta'ala is not in a makan [place], that He does not need a makan, and that Arsh stands only with His power; one must not ascribe attributes like going and coming to Him. This is because going and coming are considered from three perspectives:
1. A person goes near something which he is unable to see from a distance.
2. One comes near an activity when he is unable to do something from a distance.
3. One approaches towards a sound when he is unable to hear that sound.
Thinking like these about Allahu ta'ala is kufr.
Source: Al-Sawad al-A'zam 'ala Madhhab al-Imam al-A'zam Abu Hanifah.
Imam al-Sharani rahimahullah (d. 973/1565) writes:
"Allahu ta'ala does not have a limit and He does not have directions."
Source: Al-Uhud al-Qubra, cf. two sections titled "Not to look upwards when praying" (285th Promise) and "Not to raise our eyes towards the sky when praying (314th Promise)."
Shaykhulislam Ebussu'ud Effendi (the 13th Shaykhulislam, d. 982/1574) wrote:
876. Matter: How should one believe? Allahu ta'ala exalted beyond makan, in the skies, or what else? Answer: It is necessary to believe that Allahu ta'ala is exalted beyond [being in a] makan [place], and that the skies and the grounds are under His dominion and ilm [knowledge] and power. Directing the hands towards the sky during prayer is due to the fact that the upper direction has been made the qibla of prayer.
Source: Mecmu'a-î Fetevâ (The original is in Turkish and has been published by M. Ertuğrul Düzdağ, Enderun Publishing House. A digital copy may be found in the web).
From the famous basic aqida and fiqh book Miftahu'l-Janna known as "Mızraklı İlmihal" and widely distributed and read during the Osmanlı (Ottoman) times:
"If somebody says that there is no place empty of Allah or Allah is in the sky, he becomes kafir [apostate]."
Source: Miftahu'l-Janna, Bedir Publishing, Istanbul, p. 116. (*)
Imam Birgivi (d. 981/1573) rahimahullah states:
"If a person says (Allahu ta'ala is my witness in the sky) he/she becomes kafir. Because, Allahu ta'ala is exalted beyond [being in a] makan [place]."
Source: Vasiyyatname of Birgivi, Bedir Publishing, Istanbul, p. 52. (*)
(*) Note: The importance of these last two books is, they have both been very widely used by the people, and distributed and approved by ulama [scholars] in the Osmanlı [Ottoman] lands over several centuries.
Imam Ash-Shafi'i (d. 204/820) rahimahullah has stated:
"If it is said that "Allahu ta'ala said "Rahman did istiwa over Arsh,"" then the following response is given:
These (types of) ayats are among the mutashabihat that perplex those who don't have the desire to achieve depth in ilm when answering these and others like them. That is, they should accept these ayats as they are and they should refrain from research and talking about them. This is because, one cannot ensure avoiding doubt and danger when he does not have rusukh [deep understanding] in ilm. He must believe in Allahu ta'ala's attributes as we have mentioned. No makan can contain Allahu ta'ala. Time does not pass over Him. He is exalted beyond having limits and end points; He is mustaghni [independent] from makan and directions. "There is nothing like Him." (42/11)"
Source: Imam Ash-Shafi'i, al-Fiqh al-Akbar, 17. Quoted by: Dr. Ebubekir Sifil, Milli Gazete [daily newspaper in Turkish], Jan 8, 2006. Dr. Sifil states: See Kashf al-Zunun, II, 1288. Katib Chalabi points out the doubt about the attribution of this book to Imam Ash-Shafi'i. However, Professor Fuad Sezgin reports that a copy of this book written in the year 292 is present in the al-Azhar Library and states: "If this date is correct, the doubt about the attribution of this book to Imam Ash-Shafi'i is removed." (Tarihu't-Turas, I, 491)
Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (d. 333/944) rahimahullah stated:
"To suggest a place for Allah is idolatry."
Source: Dr. G. F. Haddad, Translation of "The Refutation of Him Who Attributes Direction to Allah" by Ibn Jahbal, Aqsa Publications, Birmingham, UK, 2008, p. 16.
Imam al-Ghazzali rahimahullah says:
"One who thinks of Allah as jism [material thing] that consists of organs will have worshipped an idol. One who worships an idol is kafir according to the ijma [unanimous agreement] of the imams of the salaf and the khalaf."
Source: Iljam al-`awam `an `ilm al-kalam.
Al-Qari said in Mirqat al-Mafatih (1892 ed. 2:137 = 1994 ed. 3:300):
"A whole group of them [the early Muslims], as well as later scholars, said that whoever believes Allahu ta'ala to be in a particular physical direction is an unbeliever, as al-`Iraqi has explicitly stated, saying that this was the position of Abu Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafi`i, al-Ash`ari, and [Ibn] al-Baqillani."
Al-Qari reiterates this fatwa in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar (1984 'Ilmiyya ed. p. 57) and Sharh 'Ayn al-'Ilm (1989 ed. 1:34).
Source: Footnote #432 on p. 253 of the translation of Ibn Jahbal's "The Refutation of Him Who Attributes Direction to Allah" by Dr. G. F. Haddad, Aqsa Publications, Birmingham, UK, 2008.
(Several similar quotes will be added, inshaAllahu ta'ala)