Q: What is the meaning of Allah’s `Arsh (Allah’s Throne)?
A: According to Muslim scholars, and the Arabic language, `Arsh means a throne or a throne belonging to a king.
The `Arsh of Allah is an extremely large and great Throne; it is the greatest thing created by Allah. It has four legs, and is carried by Angles. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) is above the `Arsh as He (Glorified and Exalted be He) says about Himself: <<The Most Gracious (Allâh) rose over (Istawâ) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty)>> (Surah Taha 20:5). And: <<Indeed, your Lord is Allâh, Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and then He rose over (Istawâ) the Throne (really in a manner that suits His Majesty)>> (Surah Al-A’raf 7:54).
Thus, it is a significantly large `Arsh; none knows how great the size of its magnificence is except Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) Who created it (but we are told by the Prophet that it is very large). This `Arsh is like a dome stretching over the entire universe; it is the ceiling of the whole universe. It is also the ceiling of Paradise; nothing is above it except Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).
Thus, `Arsh in Arabic is a very large throne, and the thrones of kings are called `Arsh. It is mentioned in the Qur’an that the hoopoe told Sulayman (Solomon) that Bilqis (the Queen of Saba [or Sheba] in Yemen, who ruled during the lifetime of Prophet Sulayman): <<and she has a great throne>>(Surah Al-Naml 27:23). Yet, Allah’s `Arsh is unique; there is no similarity between Allah’s `Arsh and those of His Creatures. In general, we know from Arabic that `Arsh is a generic name standing for a throne. However, none knows the essence, nature, substance, or greatness of Allah’s `Arsh except Allah Himself (Glorified and Exalted be He). Yet, authentic Hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are our authority in this matter. If an authentic Hadith mentions something about it, we must believe it, and accept it without doubt. The Prophet (peace be upon him) does not utter any untruth. Thus, we must believe in what we are told about the `Arsh in the Qur’an and the authentic Hadiths without further questions. There is no authentic Hadith to tell us what it is made of. However, it is established that it is a very large, and great `Arsh created by Allah and carried by some Angels. Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: <<And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them>> (Surah Al-Haqqah 69:17). The day meant here is the Day of Resurrection.
However, it is known from the Hadiths that four Angels carry the `Arsh now, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be eight Angels. It is reported that Umayah ibn Abu Al-Salt composed a poem, which the Prophet approved, to this effect, namely that four Angels carry the `Arsh of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) now. It reads:
On the right side, one in the shape of a man, and the other in the shape of an ox
On the left side, one in the shape of a vulture, and the other in the shape of a lion
This means that now four Angels carry the `Arsh; one in the shape of a man, another in the shape of an oxen, the third in the shape of a vulture, and the fourth in the shape of a lion. These four Angels were created by Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) exclusively to bear the `Arsh. Yet, it is reported on the authority of Al-`Abbas ibn `Abdul Muttalib that on the Day of Resurrection eight Angels in the shapes of ibexes will carry the `Arsh. These Angels are so giant, and extremely tall. However, this Hadith has some weakness in relation to its chain of narrators. But, another evidence for this is the Qur’anic verse mentioned above, that is <<And the angels will be on its sides, and eight angels will, that Day, bear the Throne of your Lord above them>>(Surah Al-Haqqah 69:17). which states that this will be on the Day of Resurrection. To sum up, they are now four angels, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be eight. Allah (Glorified be He) is the One sought for help, and He knows best.
Source : alifta.net – Fatwas of Nur `Ala Al-Darb