A different perspective on the question "Does Allah have a shadow?" One presumes from this question that you mean "have" not in the sense of having control over "shadow" and "shade". According to 2:225 (ayat al-Kursi), all things in the heavens and the earth are Allah's, therefore we could say Allah "has" or is in possession of not only "a shadow" or a "shade" but the infinitive of shadow/ shade in both its literal and conceptual/ metaphorical (mathal) senses. If indeed the Prophet Mohammad (saaws) mentioned something to the effect of "Allah's shadow/ shade" it must have been in this sense. (My reasoning and evidence for this is below.)
Then we must consider the meaning, presumed by all parties so far, of "Does Allah have a shadow" to be about whether or not Allah the Almighty, All-Merciful, Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in and between them, has a physical or literal "shadow" or, if one considers this to be distinctly different from "shadow", a "shade." But if one looks up the meaning of these two words, their meanings are interchangeable when used in the most literal way.
When we think of "shadow" for this discussion, we apparently think of meaning #1, out of 14 possible meanings:
- a dark figure or image cast on the ground or some surface by a body intercepting light.
If indeed this is what you were thinking for this question, namely, does Allah have "a dark figure cast on...some surface by a body"—here presumably the "body" of the Almighty Allah—"by intercepting light", then you have an inherent contradiction, because Allah is, according to Ayat al-Nur (24:35), "the Light of the heavens and the earth" by which is clearly meant the infinitive and ultimate source of all light. Does it make sense for Allah (all glory to Him in the highest) to "intercept" His own light? And what does that mean, or more to the point, what would that prove?
To consider the being and nature of Allah (swt) in a way that compares Him to the nature of created things is to go down a dangerous path. Having said that, it is true that Allah (swt) in the Quran refers to Himself in 3:73 when He refers to "the Hand of Allah":
Undoubtedly the munificence lies only in Allah’s Hand (control); He
may bestow upon whomever He wills; and Allah is Most Capable, All
A "hand" is a specific physical body part of a creature, but it is understood clearly also as a metaphorical word, not solely literal, and as such implies "control", just as we control many things using our hands. So this goes under the category of mathal or "comparison/ example". The use of "shadow/ shade" in the question above is not metaphorical (as I understand the question) but literal. Even the use of "hand" would be prohibited were it to mean a physical hand, but Allah freely uses it in its commonly used metaphorical sense, as a strong word meaning "control." Even the translator felt compelled to include this parenthetically so as not to be guilty of comparing Allah directly to a human or created thing.
So in claiming that Allah has a literal shadow or shade in the sense I inferred from the discussion above, one would be insinuating, even if unintentionally, that we know, simply from reading this into a hadeeth, that this is so. This is indeed a problem of tafseer not merely of the Quran, which Muslims would do well to study in far more depth than they apparently do, but also of hadeeth. Even if "shadow" is interpreted to be "shade", one might look at definition #2 of "shadow":
- shade or comparative darkness, as in an area.
Or perhaps this definition of "shade" may prove my point:
- a shadow.
The number one definition of "shade" makes it preferable in this context because the "body" interfering with the light is not explicitly implied:
- the comparative darkness caused by the interception or screening of rays of light from an object, place, or area.
- a place or an area of comparative darkness, as one sheltered from the sun.
Yet still, physical "interception or screening of rays of light" or "a place...of comparative darkness" seem out of context used to describe Allah's actual being Himself. That He may intercept or screen whatever He wills goes without saying, the All-Capable, but this does not at all mean such resulting shade is part of His Being, but rather that it is something He does to creation, and that shade is therefore a part of creation, not a part of Him (swt).
"Shade" is usually associated with the "comparative darkness" itself whereas "shadow" has more emphasis on its being a negative effect of light associated with a body causing that effect, but again, that light is coming from a source different from the body that intercepts it. Allah is Oneand indivisible making this line of thought entirely false and opposed to Allah's singularity or Oneness.
Note also that all references in the Quran to shadow or shade are relating to things other than Allah (swt) Himself. The "shade" translations generally are included in descriptions of Paradise, although one refers also to it in Hell. The "shadow" translations are usually associated with created bodies, as in 13:15:
وَلِلَّهِ يَسْجُدُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ طَوْعًا
وَكَرْهًا وَظِلَالُهُم بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ ۩
And to Allah only prostrate all those who are in the heavens and in
the earth, willingly or helplessly – and their shadows – every morning
A similar aya can be found in 16:48. These indicate that shadows are associated with created things whereas Allah (swt) cannot be associated with anything.
There is no metaphorical justification for this usage or idea except in the possessive sense, that Allah "has" or "possesses" the power/ potency of shade and shadow, which He may grant to those He wills (as in Paradise, a shielding from excessive heat or blinding light) or of which he may deprive those He wills, or give (as in the three-pronged shade of hell) in a way that curses rather than blesses. Understood this way alone, one can gain understanding of the meaning of "Allah's shade" ("shadow" more strongly implying a darkness associated with a body than "shade" which is more of the darkness itself not implying its source).
Because the mere concept of a shadow of Allah Himself, as an essential part of His being, is so problematic logically, and skirts the borders of shirk or idolatry, we must reject the idea of Allah having a shadow in no uncertain terms. Keeping the Creator and His nature entirely distinct from His creation is central to tawheed or monotheism which is the shahadah that there is no god but Allah, which is the beating heart of Islam and indeed the universe and all creation.