Indeed we “see” God not with our eyes, but with our intellect that prompts us to ponder over the wonders of creation, (Foto:Onislam)
Indeed we “see” God not with our eyes, but with our intellect that prompts us to ponder over the wonders of creation, (Foto:Onislam)

by Shahul Hameed*

Indeed the knowledge of Allah Almighty given to us through the revelations to our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the most beneficial knowledge we can have.

Because, it is this knowledge that enables us to know our Lord and worship Him in the manner He should be worshipped.

Without God allowing us to drink a drop from the Boundless Ocean of Knowledge, we would have been completely lost. But God is All Merciful. So He communicated with man:

 فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنْبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ

So know that there is no god but Allah, and, ask protection for your fault and for the believing men and the believing women; and Allah knows the place of your returning and the place of your abiding.(QS: Muhammad:19)

 قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ, Say: He, Allah, is One.(QS:Al-Ikhlas:1), اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ, Allah is He on Whom all depend.(QS: Al-Ikhlas:2),  لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَد,(QS:Al-Ikhlas:3), وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ, And none is like Him.(QS: QS:Al-Ikhlas:4),

In the above chapter, Allah is called “as-Samad”, which is rendered by the famous Quran translator Muhammad Asad as “the Eternal Uncaused Cause of All Being.”

The term “as-Samad” is used in the Quran only once, and it stands for an Independent and Eternal Creator who originated everything and on whom everything depends for its existence.

The verses,  Say: He, Allah, is One.(QS:Al-Ikhlas:1), Allah is He on Whom all depend.(QS: Al-Ikhlas:2), (QS:Al-Ikhlas:3), And none is like Him.(QS: QS:Al-Ikhlas:4),

فَاطِرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ جَعَلَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمِنَ الْأَنْعَامِ أَزْوَاجًا ۖ يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ ۚ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ ۖ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

The Originator of the heavens and the earth; He made mates for you from among yourselves, and mates of the cattle too, multiplying you thereby; nothing like a likeness of Him; and He is the Hearing, the Seeing. (QS:Asy-Syuura:11)

Underscore the fact that God is one and unique in every respect.

For this reason, any attempt on our part to describe God through the use of similes or symbols may verge on blasphemy. The maximum we can do is to quote the Quran and the Sayings of the Prophet that deal with God and His attributes. Because God is far above the phenomenal world He has created; and consequently He is beyond the scope of human perception familiar with the material world.

Hence the question, “Why can’t we see God?” is a meaningless one. Because, the laws of physics, for instance, that govern the workings of the universe do not govern transcendental existence. It is God who created this world within the bounds of space and time and for that reason the laws He has set for this world do not apply to Him:

 لَا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ ۖ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ

 Vision comprehends Him not, and He comprehends (all) vision; and He is the Knower of subtleties, the Aware. (QS:Al-An’am :103)

 Since Allah is entirely different from all things created and far above His creation, His attributes cannot be like the attributes of any of His creation. And yet, in our imperfect language when we try to speak of the Transcendence of God, we are constrained to use the same expressions we use to describe limited mundane beings. Certainly this is likely to create some confusion; but when we read or speak about God, we must bear in mind the huge difference between the Creator and the created.

For instance, we may read in several places in the Quran that:

اللَّهُ يَصْطَفِي مِنَ الْمَلَائِكَةِ رُسُلًا وَمِنَ النَّاسِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ

Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men; surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing.(QS:Hajj:75)

We too can hear and see. But our seeing and hearing are limited by the limitations of our eyes and ears. Allah Almighty can hear millions of people praying at the same time in hundreds of languages from every corner of the earth and understand each of their prayers; and what is more, if He wants, He can see and hear them even before they pray. But we cannot see or hear beyond a particular distance, and if two persons speak to us simultaneously we can listen to only one of them.

The foregoing means that Allah Almighty’s ability to see and hear is nothing like our seeing and hearing.

Allah Almighty says in His Qur’an what means:

 هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things. (QS:Al-Hadiid:3)

 وَإِنَّا لَنَحْنُ نُحْيِي وَنُمِيتُ وَنَحْنُ الْوَارِثُونَ

 And most surely We bring to life and cause to die and We are the heirs. (QS:Al-Hijr:23)

It is clear from the above verses that all beings and things subject to our sensual perception have only a fleeting existence in this ephemeral world and that the Ultimate Reality is Allah alone.

The responsibility of humans who are endowed with the power of observation and inference is to acknowledge and accept the Ultimate Reality of Allah Almighty. Genuine Iman demands a faithful affirmation of the Ultimate Transcendent Reality, made out of conviction supported by reason. And so the Holy Qur’an urges its readers to observe and ponder over the natural phenomena visible in the world around us as the “Signs of Allah Almighty”:

 إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنْفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ مَاءٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخَّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

 Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand.(QS:Al-Baqarah:164)

 And Allah says what means:

 هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

 He is Allah the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner; His are the most excellent names; whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares His glory; and He is the Mighty, the Wise.(QS:Al-Hasyr :24)

The Most Beautiful Names of Allah actually stand for His attributes of perfection and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said in a well-known hadith, Narrated Abu Huraira:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْيَمَانِ، أَخْبَرَنَا شُعَيْبٌ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الزِّنَادِ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ لِلَّهِ تِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ اسْمَا مِائَةً إِلاَّ وَاحِدًا مَنْ أَحْصَاهَا دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ ‏”‏‏.‏

“Verily, there are ninety-nine names of God, one hundred minus one. He who enumerates them (and believes in them) would get into Paradise.” (H.R Al-Bakhari )

The Creator, “the Evolver” and “the Bestower of Forms” refer possibly to three aspects of Allah’s Creative Act which simultaneously take place. (Allah knows best.) We know that humans usually undertake their ‘creative’ efforts in a long and tedious process: They conceive an idea in the beginning; plan and design it and then look for the necessary resources for it and then slowly and laboriously work to execute its production. But Allah’s act of creation is a matter of His Will: He says in the Holy Quran what means:

 بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth, and when He decrees an affair, He only says to it, Be, so there it is. (QS:Al-Baqarah :117)

  إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَنْ يَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is. (QS:Yaasiin : 82)

 إِنَّمَا قَوْلُنَا لِشَيْءٍ إِذَا أَرَدْنَاهُ أَنْ نَقُولَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ

Our word for a thing when We intend it, is only that We say to it, Be, and it is. (QS:An-Nahl :40)

 Allah Almighty says what means:

 هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

 He is Allah, besides Whom there is no god; the King, the Holy, the Giver of peace, the Granter of security, Guardian over all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of every greatness Glory be to Allah from what they set up (with Him). (QS:Hasyr :23)

Indeed we “see” God not with our eyes, but with our intellect that prompts us to ponder over the wonders of creation and exclaim:

 الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقْتَ هَٰذَا بَاطِلًا سُبْحَانَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ

Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire. (QS:AL-Imran:191),  (T/Imt/R03)


Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

 Taken from Onislam