Can we see God?

A topic which has been debated for hundreds of years is the question of being able to see God, I have tried to present both sides of the argument, however there is one side that appears to be stronger, if you disagree, feel free to comment and add to the discussion.

 

As has been mentioned in the “Understanding the Quran” article, it is important to understand the language and phrases used in the Quran, I suggesting reading that article first, then this one. However, a quick example of how literalism can be misleading is the following verse:

 

22|46|Have they not journeyed in the land, and had minds to reason with, or ears to listen with? It is not the eyes that go blind, but it is the hearts, within the chests, that go blind. 

 

We all know hearts do not “see”, but in the Quran the heart refers to the inclination of the soul, so it is not what you know, but rather what you believe, that is the role of the heart, and for some people they can know what is right and wrong, but their heart may not accept it, they are “blind” to the truth that the intellect presents them. 

 

Relevant Quranic verses

 

Wanting to see God, or even considering it a possibility is not a new idea, however it is one that is heavily criticized in the Quran:

 

 

2|55|And recall that you said, “O Moses, we will not believe in you unless we see God plainly.” Thereupon the thunderbolt struck you, as you looked on.

 

4|153|The People of the Scripture challenge you to bring down to them a book from the sky. They had asked Moses for something even greater. They said, “Show us God plainly.” The thunderbolt struck them for their wickedness. Then they took the calf for worship, even after the clear proofs had come to them. Yet We pardoned that, and We gave Moses a clear authority.

 

6|103|No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is the Subtle, the Expert.

 

وَلَمَّا جَاءَ مُوسَىٰ لِمِيقَاتِنَا وَكَلَّمَهُ رَبُّهُ قَالَ رَبِّ أَرِنِي أَنظُرْ إِلَيْكَ ۚ قَالَ لَن تَرَانِي وَلَٰكِنِ انظُرْ إِلَى الْجَبَلِ فَإِنِ اسْتَقَرَّ مَكَانَهُ فَسَوْفَ تَرَانِي ۚ فَلَمَّا تَجَلَّىٰ رَبُّهُ لِلْجَبَلِ جَعَلَهُ دَكًّا وَخَرَّ مُوسَىٰ صَعِقًا ۚ فَلَمَّا أَفَاقَ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

7|143|And when Moses came to Our appointment, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, “My Lord, allow me to look and see You.” He said, “You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it stays in its place, you will see Me.” But when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He turned it into dust, and Moses fell down unconscious. Then, when he recovered, he said, “Glory be to you, I repent to you, and I am the first of the believers.”

 

The wording used by Allah here is “لَن تَرَانِي ” when Lan is used to negate a verb, it negates the present and future of the verb, so it should read “you shall NEVER see Me”.

 

 

25|21|Those who do not expect to meet Us say, “If only the angels were sent down to us, or we could see our Lord.” They have grown arrogant within themselves, and have become excessively defiant.

25|22|On the Day when they see the angels—there will be no good news for sinners on that Day; and they will say, “A protective refuge.”

 

This verse is quite significant, because it clarifies some grey areas, firstly it confirms that everyone will “meet” God, but this does not mean by seeing, but rather by having the their deeds judged and weighed. The angels will be seen, this is confirmed, but there is no mention of seeing Allah.

 

 

42|11|Originator of the heavens and the earth. He made for you mates from among yourselves, and pairs of animals, by means of which He multiplies you. There is nothing like Him. He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

 

So far it is quite clear, even the concept of seeing God is wrong, Allah calls it “wicked” and punishes people for the thought, Allah says that there is nothing like Him, He can not be seen, but He sees all.

 
 

Argument for Seeing Allah

The reason some people have felt that seeing Allah is possible, is firstly they have to either ignore, or explain away all the above verses of the Quran. This is often done making an assumption that the above verses are only applicable in this life, if this type of assumption is allowed to be added , then all sorts of innovations could happen. One could say, Muhammad is the last Prophet, yes, but only in Arabia, for India there are more after Prophet Muhammad SAW, it only takes a moment of thinking to realise that there is no value to words and communication if you ignore what it says and make assumptions. 

 

Now, here are some verses that those that subscribe to the possibility of seeing Allah use in their arguments :

 

 

75|22|Faces on that Day will be radiant.

 

75|23|Looking towards their Lord.

 

As can be seen from the verses, it does not actually say that anyone will see Allah. The context of the verse is that there will be a day of judgement, on that day there are going to be people who are happy with what they are going to receive and those who are going to be very upset by the judgement. Some have said, how have you reached this interpretation? It is clear from the use of Arabic and the apparent meaning of the verses. Firstly if we see the context of Surah 75, here is the whole surah:

 

Al-Qiyaama

1لَا أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

75|1|I swear by the Day of Resurrection.

2وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

75|2|And I swear by the blaming soul.

3أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَلَّن نَّجْمَعَ عِظَامَهُ

75|3|Does man think that We will not reassemble his bones?

4بَلَىٰ قَادِرِينَ عَلَىٰ أَن نُّسَوِّيَ بَنَانَهُ

75|4|Yes indeed; We are Able to reconstruct his fingertips.

5بَلْ يُرِيدُ الْإِنسَانُ لِيَفْجُرَ أَمَامَهُ

75|5|But man wants to deny what is ahead of him.

6يَسْأَلُ أَيَّانَ يَوْمُ الْقِيَامَةِ

75|6|He asks, “When is the Day of Resurrection?”

7فَإِذَا بَرِقَ الْبَصَرُ

75|7|When vision is dazzled.

8وَخَسَفَ الْقَمَرُ

75|8|And the moon is eclipsed.

9وَجُمِعَ الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ

75|9|And the sun and the moon are joined together.

10يَقُولُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ أَيْنَ الْمَفَرُّ

75|10|On that Day, man will say, “Where is the escape?”

11كَلَّا لَا وَزَرَ

75|11|No indeed! There is no refuge.

12إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمُسْتَقَرُّ

75|12|To your Lord on that Day is the settlement.

13يُنَبَّأُ الْإِنسَانُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بِمَا قَدَّمَ وَأَخَّرَ

75|13|On that Day man will be informed of everything he put forward, and everything he left behind.

14بَلِ الْإِنسَانُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌ

75|14|And man will be evidence against himself.

15وَلَوْ أَلْقَىٰ مَعَاذِيرَهُ

75|15|Even as he presents his excuses.

16لَا تُحَرِّكْ بِهِ لِسَانَكَ لِتَعْجَلَ بِهِ

75|16|Do not wag your tongue with it, to hurry on with it.

17إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا جَمْعَهُ وَقُرْآنَهُ

75|17|Upon Us is its collection and its recitation.

18فَإِذَا قَرَأْنَاهُ فَاتَّبِعْ قُرْآنَهُ

75|18|Then, when We have recited it, follow its recitation.

19ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيْنَا بَيَانَهُ

75|19|Then upon Us is its explanation.

20كَلَّا بَلْ تُحِبُّونَ الْعَاجِلَةَ

75|20|Alas, you love the fleeting life.

21وَتَذَرُونَ الْآخِرَةَ

75|21|And you disregard the Hereafter.

22وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ نَّاضِرَةٌ

75|22|Faces on that Day will be radiant.

23إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

75|23|Looking towards their Lord.

24وَوُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَاسِرَةٌ

75|24|And faces on that Day will be gloomy.

25تَظُنُّ أَن يُفْعَلَ بِهَا فَاقِرَةٌ

75|25|Realizing that a back-breaker has befallen them.

26كَلَّا إِذَا بَلَغَتِ التَّرَاقِيَ

75|26|Indeed, when it has reached the breast-bones.

27وَقِيلَ مَنْ ۜ رَاقٍ

75|27|And it is said, “Who is the healer?”

28وَظَنَّ أَنَّهُ الْفِرَاقُ

75|28|And He realizes that it is the parting.

29وَالْتَفَّتِ السَّاقُ بِالسَّاقِ

75|29|And leg is entwined with leg.

30إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ الْمَسَاقُ

75|30|To your Lord on that Day is the drive.

31فَلَا صَدَّقَ وَلَا صَلَّىٰ

75|31|He neither believed nor prayed.

32وَلَٰكِن كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ

75|32|But he denied and turned away.

33ثُمَّ ذَهَبَ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ يَتَمَطَّىٰ

75|33|Then he went to his family, full of pride.

34أَوْلَىٰ لَكَ فَأَوْلَىٰ

75|34|Woe to you; and woe.

35ثُمَّ أَوْلَىٰ لَكَ فَأَوْلَىٰ

75|35|Then again: Woe to you; and woe.

36أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَن يُتْرَكَ سُدًى

75|36|Does man think that he will be left without purpose?

37أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِّن مَّنِيٍّ يُمْنَىٰ

75|37|Was he not a drop of ejaculated semen?

38ثُمَّ كَانَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ

75|38|Then he became a clot. And He created and proportioned?

39فَجَعَلَ مِنْهُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىٰ

75|39|And made of him the two sexes, the male and the female?

40أَلَيْسَ ذَٰلِكَ بِقَادِرٍ عَلَىٰ أَن يُحْيِيَ الْمَوْتَىٰ75|40|Is He not Able to revive the dead?

 

 As can be seen, the successful group will have their faces glowing as they are looking towards their Lord, there is no mention of seeing their Lord, or witnessing their Lord. The verb used in this sentence is “nathira”, it is a common phrase in Arabic to say I “nathira” a taxi but could not find one”, or I “nathira” the moon, but did not see it. It is not the same as seeing, but can be thought of as “expecting”, “anticipating” etc, in the Quran it is used in this way in a different surah:

 

 وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ27|35|

I am sending them a gift, and will see what the envoys bring back.

 

Here the verb “nathira” is used in the same way, a gift had been given, and the person was “nathira” the response, eg they are expecting or anticipating what it will be, it does not mean then have seen a response, or that there will even be a response. Another Ayat in the Quran that shows the usage of the verb “nathira” :

 

 

198 وَإِن تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ لَا يَسْمَعُوا ۖ وَتَرَاهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ
7|198|And if you call them to guidance, they will not hear. And you see them looking at you, yet they do not see.

 

This shows the usage of the verb, it shows that one can look but not see, or expect but not receive. 

 

This next ayat is also used by those who claim that Allah will be seen : 

 

83|15|Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord.

 

If as before we see the ayat in context of the rest of the surah :

 

Al-Mutaffifin

1وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ

83|1|Woe to the defrauders.

2الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ

83|2|Those who, when they take a measure from people, they take in full.

3وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ

83|3|But when they measure or weigh to others, they cheat.

4أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَٰئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ

83|4|Do these not know that they will be resurrected?

5لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

83|5|For a Great Day?

6يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

83|6|The Day when mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?

7كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْفُجَّارِ لَفِي سِجِّينٍ

83|7|Not at all. The record of the wicked is in Sijjeen.

8وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سِجِّينٌ

83|8|But how can you know what Sijjeen is?

9كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ

83|9|A numerical book.

10وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ

83|10|Woe on that Day to the deniers.

11الَّذِينَ يُكَذِّبُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ

83|11|Those who deny the Day of Reckoning.

12وَمَا يُكَذِّبُ بِهِ إِلَّا كُلُّ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ

83|12|But none denies it except the sinful aggressor.

13إِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

83|13|When Our revelations are recited to him, he says, “Legends of the ancients.”

14كَلَّا ۖ بَلْ ۜ رَانَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

83|14|Not at all. Their hearts have become corroded by what they used to earn.

15كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ

83|15|Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord.

16ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ

83|16|Then they will roast in Hell.

17ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَٰذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ

83|17|Then it will be said, “This is what you used to deny.”

18كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ

83|18|No indeed; the record of the righteous is in Elliyyeen.

19وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ

83|19|But how can you know what Elliyyoon is?

20كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ

83|20|A numerical book.

21يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ

83|21|Witnessed by those brought near.

22إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ

83|22|Indeed, the righteous will be amid bliss.

23عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ

83|23|On thrones, looking on.

24تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ

83|24|You will recognize on their faces the radiance of bliss.

25يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ

83|25|They will be given to drink a sealed wine.

26خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ ۚ وَفِي ذَٰلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ

83|26|Whose seal is musk—this is what competitors should compete for.

27وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ

83|27|Its mixture is of Tasneem.

28عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ

83|28|A spring from which those brought near drink.

29إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا كَانُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ

83|29|Those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed.

30وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ

83|30|And when they passed by them, they would wink at one another.

31وَإِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُوا فَكِهِينَ

83|31|And when they went back to their families, they would go back exulting.

32وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ لَضَالُّونَ

83|32|And if they saw them, they would say, “These people are lost.”

33وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ

83|33|Yet they were not sent as guardians over them.

34فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ

83|34|But on that Day, those who believed will laugh at the unbelievers.

35عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ

83|35|On luxurious furnishings, looking on.

36هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ83|36|Have the unbelievers been repaid for what they used to do?

 

 

 

 

As the other ayat, there are two groups, one is the good, who are happy and excited about what they are going to receive from their hard work as their good deeds have been accepted and their sins forgiven, the other group has not been good enough to to justify Allah’s mercy, so are screened from it and due to be punished for what they have done. So lets see the verses from the two surahs that describe the good group:

 

75|22|Faces on that Day will be radiant.

23إِلَىٰ رَبِّهَا نَاظِرَةٌ

75|23|Looking towards their Lord.

 

83|22|Indeed, the righteous will be amid bliss.

23عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ

83|23|On thrones, looking on.

24تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ

83|24|You will recognize on their faces the radiance of bliss.

25يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ

83|25|They will be given to drink a sealed wine.

 

 As can be seen, the good group are happy, their faces are happy and excited about the reward, there is nothing about seeing Allah. 

 

The second group is described from the two surahs as :

 

75|24|And faces on that Day will be gloomy.

25تَظُنُّ أَن يُفْعَلَ بِهَا فَاقِرَةٌ

75|25|Realizing that a back-breaker has befallen them.

 

83|15|Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord.

16ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُو الْجَحِيمِ

83|16|Then they will roast in Hell.

 

As can be seen, the Quran is the explanation of itself, one part explains the other. The bad group have faces of misery, because they know that they are due for punishment for what they have done.

 

Ultimately our knowledge can not comprehend God in any way, as if we were to see Him, either we would see all of him, in which case we have limited Him, or we see part of Him, in which case we have divided Him, either way is unacceptable, and Allah says in the Quran :

 

يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِهِ عِلْمًا

20|110|He knows what is before them and what is behind them, and they cannot comprehend Him in their knowledge.

 

Certainly seeing is a form of knowledge, therefore the overwhelming evidence is that the creation can not know Allah by the senses, but only via the mind and understanding His relationship with us, rather than His essence.

 

Hadith and Scholarly opinion

I have collected some references and hadiths and collated them here, essentially they are just explaining the above position, however for those that want the references or to read further, I have kept this material.

 

 

It is in Hadith – narrated by Masruq (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) – I said to Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا), “O Mother! Did Prophet Muhammad(صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) see his Lord?” Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) said, “What you have said makes my hair stand on end! Know that if somebody tells you one of the following three things, HE IS A LIAR –

“Whoever tells you that Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) saw his Lord, IS A LIAR.”  Then Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) recited the following verses: 

لَّا تُدۡرِڪُهُ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرُ وَهُوَ يُدۡرِكُ ٱلۡأَبۡصَـٰرَ‌ۖ [Meaning – Peoples’ eyes (be it physical eyes or heart eyes)  cannot see Him, He sees their eyes (them).] (Al-An’aam – 103).”;   and

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحۡيًا أَوۡ مِن وَرَآىِٕ حِجَابٍ [ Meaning – “It is not fitting for a human being that Allah (سبحانہ و تعا لی) should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil.] (Ash-Shura – 51). –

(Bukhari – Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith No. 378 – part of the Hadith). This Hadith is also mentioned in Muslim (Book No. 1 -Hadith No. 337)

Read carefully the above Hadith.  Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا) is not narrating a Hadith, rather  she is clarifying the meanings of the verses of Quran and the reasons for her observations on a narration (Hadith).  What  Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہا)  is referring is Tajalli-e-Zaati (Manifestation of Allah’s – سبحانہ و تعا لی Absolute Existence) which cannot be seen by anyone and therefore she is quoting the verses of Quran which refer to Tajalli-e-Zaati.   She is not referring to Tajalli-e-Sifaati (Manifestation of Allah’s – سبحانہ و تعا لی Attributes).  

 

 

It is in Hadith – Narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ)  – I asked the Messenger of Allah ( صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) – Did you see your Lord? He (the Prophet – صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said “He is light, how can I see Him. (Muslim, Book 1, Hadith No. 341).

 

 

 

“Some faces on that day (i.e., the Day of Judgment) will be radiant, looking towards their Lord. (75:22-23)”
According to Arabic lexicon, the word “Nadhira” that is used in the above verse does not necessarily imply “seeing”. The Imams (AS) have used other verses of Quran to support the definition of the word “Nadhira” in this verse as similar to the meaning of “Muntadhira”, which means expecting, waiting, or looking forward to. On the commentary of this verse, Imam Ali (AS) said:
“… The verse means looking forward to what Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, has promised them. And the word ‘Nadhira’ sometimes means ‘expecting/waiting/looking forward’ (‘al-Muntadhira’). Haven’t you heard the saying of Allah: ‘(But I am going to send him a present) and I am looking forward (Nadhira) to what (answer) the ambassadors will return (27:35).’ This means I am waiting (al-Muntadhira) for what the ambassadors will return. As for the verse: ‘For indeed he saw him at a second descent. Near the Lote-tree of the uttermost boundary (53:13-14)’, it means when Muhammad (S.A.W.) was near the Lote-tree of the uttermost boundary which none of His creations has passed it (saw Gabriel). It is His saying in the followed verses: ‘(His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong! For truly did he see one of the great signs of his Lord! (53:17-18)’, he saw Gabriel in his shape twice. Verily Gabriel is a great creature and is from amongst the spiritual entities whose creation and shapes are not fully understood except by the Lord of the Universe.”
– al-Ihtijaj, v1, p243
– Bihar al-Anwar, v90/93, p101, Hadith #1
In Arabic, often it is said: “Nadhartu Ilal-Hilal Falam Arahu” which means, “I looked towards the new moon (crescent) but I did not see it.” Therefore, even according to the general Arabic usage of the term, the verse does not necessarily imply that they will see Allah.
In another Hadith on the commentary of the verse “Some faces on that day will be brilliant, looking towards their Lord”, Imam Ali Ibn Musa al-Reza (AS) said:
“It means (their faces) are radiant and they are looking forward to the reward of their Lord.”
– al-Ihtijaj, v2, p409
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p116, Hadith #19
– al-Amali, Shaikh Saduq, p409, Hadith #1
– al-Bihar, v4, p28, Hadith #3
Moreover, on the impermissibility of seeing the Essence of Allah, Quran states:
“Visions can not reach Him while He reaches to all visions. (6:103)”
The word “visions” is not limited to solely seeing by eyes. It covers all types of vision and perception as it is used in a plural form in the verse. On the impossibility of seeing, visualizing, imagining, describing, or even cogitating Allah, Abu Hashim al-Ja’fari narrated:
About the verse “Visions can not reach Him and He grasps all visions (6:103)”, Imam al-Reza (AS) said: “O Aba Hashim! The thinking/imagination of the mind is more delicate than the vision of the eyes. By your imagination, you can reach to India and other places that you have not entered and your eyes have not reached. Thus, when the thinking of minds can not reach Him, then how could the visions of eyes do so?”
– al-Kafi, v1, p99, Hadith #11
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p113, Hadith #12
– Bihar al-Anwar, v4, p39, Hadith #17
Similarly, he narrated:
Imam al-Ridha (AS) said: “Verily the imagination of the mind is more (powerful) than the vision of the eyes. Thus (the verse means) minds can not reach Him, and He reaches to all minds.”
– al-Kafi, v1, p98, Hadith #10
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p112, Hadith #11
– Bihar al-Anwar, v4, p39, Hadith #16
Sulaiman Ibn Khalid narrated:
Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said: “Avoid pondering over (the Essence of) Allah, because pondering over (the Essence of) Allah would only increase deviation/error. Verily Allah cannot be reached by the sight (of minds) and cannot be described by proportion.”
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p457, Hadith #14
– Wasa’il al-Shia, v16, p197, Hadith #21334
– Bihar al-Anwar, v3, p259, Hadith #4
Moreover, it is narrated:
The Leader of the Faithful (AS) said: “Whosoever ponders on the Essence of Allah, becomes an infidel (Zindiq).”
– al-Kafi, v8, p22
– Tuhaf al-Uqul, p196
– Bihar al-Anwar, v74, p287
About the verse “Now there have come to you Visions (Basa’ir) from your Lord. Thus, he who become more insightful (Absara) it will be for (the good of) his own soul, and he who becomes blind, it will be to his own (harm) (6:104)”, Abdullah Ibn Sanan narrated:
Explaining the verse, “Visions can not reach Him…”, Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said: It is (more generally) about the grasping/encompassing/comprehending (of Allah) by the mind. Haven’t you seen His saying ‘now have come to you Visions (Basa’ir) from your Lord?’ This does not mean the vision of the eyes. And (His saying) ‘he who become more insightful (Absara) it will be for his own (benefit)’, does not mean sight by eyes, and (His saying) ‘and he who becomes blind, it will be to his own (harm)’ does not mean blinding the eyes. Verily it means encompassing by mind just as we say a person is insightful (Basir) in poetry, and the other person is insightful (Basir) in Fiqh… Verily Allah is most exalted to be seen by eyes.”
– al-Kafi, v1, p98, Hadith #9
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p112, Hadith #10
– al-Ihtijaj, v2, p336
– Bihar al-Anwar, v4, p33, Hadith#6
Seeing Allah is impossible when the mind cannot encompass Him. In another Hadith, Ibrahim al-Karkhi narrated:
I said to Ja’far Ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (AS): “There is a man who claims to see Allah in dream. How is this possible?” He (AS) replied: “That man has no religion. Verily Allah can be seen neither in awareness, nor in dream, nor in this world, nor in the Hereafter.”
– al-Amali, Shaikh Saduq, p610, Hadith #5
– Bihar al-Anwar, v4, p32, Hadith#7
Although the Hereafter may operate with different laws, there will be neither any change in the Essence of Allah, nor any change in the fact that everything other than Him is His creation and has no similarity to His Essence. That we cannot perceive Him will not change by our moving from this world to the Hereafter, as the Creator will not be limited by His creations, and His creations will not be able to violate the limits of the creation. If someone claims that he will be able to see his “god” in the hereafter by his eyes, it will mean that he will be able to bring his god to the level of creation. Either his eyes will catch the whole god, or he will see a part of his god. The former implies that his god is limited and the latter implies that his god has different parts and organs. Both cases are in contradiction with the Islamic belief that Allah, the Exalted, is Unlimited, and has no part or organ.
There is a very long but interesting Hadith from Imam Ali (AS) in our reliable sources from which I only quote those parts that are related to our topic. Abi Mu’ammar al-Sa’dani narrated:
A person came to Imam Ali (AS) and said: “I have become doubtful about the book of Allah as I have found some of its verses contradict others.” (He then quoted some of the verses of Quran that he thought contradictory.) Imam Ali (AS) replied: “Verily in the Book of Allah each part confirms the other, and does not contradict one another, but you have not been granted the wisdom that benefits you… Avoid interpreting Quran by your opinion and you should obtain deep understanding of it from al-Ulamaa (i.e., the Imams of Ahlul-Bayt (AS)). Verily there exist many revealed verses whose wordings have similarity with the saying of humankind, but since they are the saying of Allah, their interpretation (Ta’wil) do not have any similarity with the (interpretation of the) saying of humankind. Nothing in His creation is like Him. Moreover, His action has no resemblance with any actions of any human, and also, His saying has no similarity with the saying of any human… Thus do not liken the saying of Allah to the saying of any human or else you will perish and will go astray. (Then Imam Ali (AS) explained to him the verses that he found contradictory among which are:)
In addition, His saying: ‘Nor is hidden from thy Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom on the earth or in heaven (10:61)’ proves nothing is hidden from our Lord. How could the creator of the things know not what He has created? And ‘He is the (supreme) creator with (infinite) knowledge (36:81).’ However, about His saying ‘(Allah) does not look (Nadhar) on them in the Day of Rising (3:77)’ (which seems to be contradictory the previous verse) informs that He does not let any goodness reach them. When the Arabs say ‘Fulan does not look upon us’, they mean ‘No goodness reaches to us on his side.’ Thus, the ‘Nadhar’ (looking upon) from Allah to His creation is His Mercy for them. Also about the verse, ‘Nay! Verily, that day they shall be veiled from their Lord (83:15)’, it verily means that day they shall be veiled from the reward of their Lord.
As for His saying ‘Do ye feel secure that He Who is in Heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes (as in an earthquake)? (67:16)’ and His saying ‘And He is Allah in the heavens and on earth (6:3)’ and His saying ‘The (Commands and Plans of the) Most Gracious is established on the Throne (20:5)’ and His saying ‘(He is) the Evident and the Hidden (57:3)’ and ‘And He is with you wheresoever ye may be (57:4)’ and His saying ‘We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein (50:16)’ Such is Allah, increased is His Blessing and is the most High. He is purified and exalted that anything should happen to Him from whatever happens to the creations, and He is subtle, well-aware, the Most Glorious, and the Most High … (Verily the above verses mean) He is witness to all secret conversations, and He has authority over all affairs, and He is illuminator of everything, and planner of all the things. He, the High, the Great, is much exalted to than be on His throne.
And about His saying: ‘And thy Lord cometh, and His angels, rank upon rank (89:22)’, and His saying: ‘And now you have come to us alone as We created you for the first time (6:94)’, and His saying: ‘Will they wait (Yandhurun) until Allah comes to them in shades of clouds, with angels (2:210)’ and His saying: ‘Are they waiting to see if the angels come to them, or thy Lord comes, or certain of the Signs of thy Lord comes (6:158)’, verily these are truth as Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, said. However, the coming of Allah is not like the coming of His creation. You realized that there are many verses in Quran whose interpretations are different from their revealed appearance and are not similar to the saying of any human. I now inform you one aspect of (such a case) that will be sufficient for you, In-Shaa-Allah. It is regarding the saying of Ibrahim (mentioned in Quran:) ‘I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me! (37:99)’ Ibrahim’s ‘going’ to His Lord is his turning to worship and his striving in obedience to achieve proximity to Allah. Don’t you see that its interpretation is other than (the appearance of) its revelation? Also Allah said: ‘and We sent down Iron, in which is great might (57:25)’ which means weapons and other similar things, and His saying: ‘Are they waiting to see if the angels (of punishment) come to them’ is because they did not acknowledged Allah and His Apostle (S.A.W.) ‘or thy Lord comes, or certain of the Signs of thy Lord comes (6:158)’ means the punishment (of Allah) comes to them in this world as He punished the ancient nations, and this is the news that the Prophet gave about them. Then Allah states: ‘the day that certain Signs of thy Lord do come, no good will it do to a soul to believe in them if he believed not before or if he did not earn good (deeds) in his (state of) faith (6:158)’ Here ‘before’ means before the coming of His sign, and the sign is rising of sun from the west. It is sufficient for the people of understanding to know this would happen when the veils are removed and ‘when they see that which was promised (of punishment is fulfilled) (19:75; 72:24)’ and in another verse: ‘But Allah came to them in such a way that they did not expect (59:2)’ means Allah sent them (unexpected) punishment. And such is the bringing of their structures by Allah, as He said: ‘Thus Allah brought forth their structures from their foundations (16:26).’ This means sending the punishment… Thus, content yourself with what I described for you instead of what has occupied your mind due to (misunderstanding of) what Allah has described in His Book, and do not consider His saying like the sayings of any human, as He is the Greatest, the Most Glorious, and is Higher than what the describers describe, except for that which He has described Himself in His saying: ‘Nothing is like Him and He is who hears and sees (42:11).’
As for His saying: ‘Nay, they deny the meeting (Liqaa) with their Lord (32:10)’, meeting means resurrection and Allah has named it Liqaa (meeting/getting together). Such is when He mentions the believers: ‘Those who bear in mind the certainty that they are to meet their Lord (2:46)’, which means they are certain that they shall be resurrected, shall be gathered, shall be accounted, and shall be recompensed by reward or punishment. The word ‘Dhann’ here means certainty. The same goes for His saying: ‘whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him do good (18:110)’ and His saying: ‘Those whose hopes are in the meeting with Allah (should know that) the term appointed by Allah is surely coming (29:5)’, which means those who believe they shall be resurrected (should know that) verily the promise of Allah in terms of reward and punishment is coming. Thus, here Liqaa (meeting) does not mean “seeing”; rather, it means “rising”. Therefore, know that in all places in the Book of Allah where Liqaa is used it means resurrection. Such is again the verse: ‘Their salutation on the Day they meet Him will be: Peace! (33:44)’ It means the faith does not leave their hearts on the Day of Judgment.”
The questioner said: “May Allah relieve you, O Commander of the Believers, as you relieved me. You, indeed, resolved my problem.”
– Kitab al-Tawhid, pp 254-267, Hadith #5
– Bihar al-Anwar, v90/93, pp 127-140, Hadith #2

4 Seeing Allah by Heart
Unlike the mind and the eyes, the heart can ‘see’ Allah. Seeing Allah by heart is defined as recognizing Allah through His created signs such as His mercy, sovereignty, glory, etc. Once we recognize the signs of Allah in our heart and through our conscience, we have recognized Allah in our heart. This type of vision does not limit Allah since we do not perceive His Essence, and His Essence is not disclosed to us in any way. We only find in our conscience that, due to His signs, He is not non-existent and is not absent from us. Hisham narrated:
Mu’awiya Ibn Wahab asked Imam al-Sadiq (AS): “O son of the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.)! What do you say about the narration that states ‘the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) saw His Lord in anyway he saw’, and the narration which states ‘people in paradise shall see their Lord in Paradise in anyway they shall see.'” He (AS) replied: “Verily Muhammad (S.A.W.) did not see His Lord by the sight of his eyes. Verily seeing is of two types: seeing by eyes, and seeing by heart. Thus, (in the mentioned traditions) if one considers it seeing by heart, then it is correct. However, if one considers it seeing by eye, then he has certainly disbelieved in Allah and in His signs. This is because the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) said: ‘He who likens Allah to His creations has indeed become a disbeliever.’ Indeed, my father narrated me from his father from al-Husain Ibn Ali (AS) who said, the Commander of Believers (AS) was asked: ‘Have you seen your Lord?’ He (AS) said: ‘How could I worship the one I do not see? Eyes can not see Him in an eye-witnessing process, but the hearts can see Him through the reality of faith.'” Then the Imam (AS) continued: “Any thing that the eye could reach is a created (being) and any created being needs a creator. Thus, (if one could see his Lord by his eye) the eye has made Him a created being, not eternal. He who likens Him to His creatures has indeed taken associates with Allah. Woe onto them! Haven’t they heard that Allah said: ‘Visions can not reach Him, and He reaches to all visions, and He is Subtle well-aware (of all things) (6:103)’ and His saying: ‘By no means canst thou see Me; But look upon the mount; if it abides in its place, then shalt thou see Me. When (the created light of) his Lord manifested to the Mount, He made it as dust (7:143)’ Verily He revealed just an amount of His (created) light that could pass through the eye of a needle, which struck the mountain. ‘And Moses fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses he said: Glory be to Thee! To Thee I turned’ from the saying of he who thinks you can be seen, and returned to my understanding of you that the sight can not reach you ‘and I am the first to believe (7:143)’ means the first to confess that you see and you are not seen.”
– Kifayatul Athar, p260
– al-Bihar, v4, p54, Hadith #32

5 Visiting Allah
The Ahlul-Bayt (AS) have also provided an in-depth interpretation regarding the topic of Visiting Allah. Here, I quote a number of traditions in this regard. In a very interesting tradition from Imam al-Ridha (AS), which is widely reported in our Hadith literature, Abu Salt (RA) narrated:
I asked Ali Ibn Musa al-Reza (AS): “O son of the Apostle of Allah! What do you say about that which is narrated by the people of Hadith that the believers will visit (Ziyarat) their Lord (Rabb) from their houses in Paradise?” He (AS) said: “O Aba Salt! Verily Allah gave His Prophet, Muhammad (S.A.W.), superiority/excellence over all His creatures from the Prophets to the Angels. He made/defined obedience to him as obedience to Him, pledging oath to him as pledging to Him, and visiting (Ziyarat) him in this world and in the Hereafter as visiting Him. Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, said: ‘Whoever obeys the Apostle, he has indeed obeyed Allah (4:80)’ and ‘Verily those who pledge allegiance to you, they have indeed pledged allegiance to Allah; the Hand of Allah is over their hands (48:10)’. And the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: ‘He who visits (Ziyarat) me in my life or after my death has indeed visited Allah.’ In fact, the degree/level of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in the paradise is the highest (of all), and thus he who visits him in his degree from his house in Paradise has indeed visited Allah.”
I further asked the Imam: “O son of the Apostle of Allah! What is the meaning of the Hadith that (people) narrate: ‘The reward of saying, there is no God but Allah, is looking toward the face of Allah.'” The Imam (AS) replied: “He who attributes Allah a face like faces, has become a disbeliever. The face of Allah is His Prophets, His Apostles and His Proofs, peace be upon them, by whom people are attracted to Him and His religion and get to know Him. Allah, the Mighty and the Majestic, said: ‘All that is over it shall perish, but shall remain the face of thy Lord, to Whom belong Majesty and Honor. (55:26-27)’ Further Allah said: ‘Everything shall perish but His face. (28:88)’ Thus (the above Hadith means) looking toward the Apostles of Allah, His Prophets, and His Proofs in their degrees is a great reward for the believers in the Day of Judgment. And verily the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: ‘He who hates my Ahlul-Bayt and my progeny, he shall not see me (i.e., shall not see my mercy) nor shall I see him (i.e., nor do I pay attention to him) on the Day of Judgment.’ He (S.A.W.) also said: ‘Verily amongst you are people who shall not see me after my departure.’ O Aba Salt! Verily Allah cannot be described by place and cannot be captured by eyes or by thinking/imagination.”
– al-Ihtijaj, v2, p408
– Uyun Akhbar al-Ridha, v1, p115, Hadith #3
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p117, Hadith #21
– al-Bihar, v4, p31, Hadith #6
We have numerous traditions stating that the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (AS) are the “face” of Allah, His “eye”, His “tongue”, and His “hand”, etc. Allah is exalted beyond having organs, as He is the creator of the face, eye, tongue and hand. Whatever is other than Allah falls into the category of His creation, including what is called the “face of Allah”, and Allah does not need any of His creation. Anywhere in the Quran where these words have been used for Allah actually refer to the best creation of Allah, and does not refer to His Essence. In fact, it is narrated that Imam Ali (AS) unequivocally stated:
Imam Ali (AS) said: “Any verse in the Book of Allah where any of the words ‘eye’, ‘face’, ‘hand’, or ‘side’ is mentioned (for Allah) refers to al-Wali.”
– Bihar al-Anwar, v25, p172
The word al-Wali means the friend of Allah who is authorized by Him over His creations. Thus, visiting Allah in this world and in the Day of Judgment is defined as seeing the face of Allah, that is, the light of Prophet Muhammad and his family, peace be upon them. The face is the means of identification. Thus, to know Allah, one should look at His face! This means that the proofs of Allah were the means of attraction towards Allah, and only through them, one could properly recognize Him. The meaning of the word “al-Hujja” (the Proof of Allah) refers to the same fact.
The verse 28:88 of Quran that was mentioned in the Hadith of Imam al-Ridha (AS), “Everything shall perish but His face”, does not prove eternity for the face of Allah. It rather gives evidence to the fact that the role of the Proofs of Allah does not come to end by the death of their bodies. In the commentary of the above verse, Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said:
“It means everything shall perish but His religion. The Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) and the Commander of Believers (AS) were His religion and His face, and His eye amongst His servants, and His tongue by which He spoke, and His hand over His creatures. And we are the face of Allah by which (people) are turned/directed toward Allah. We are always present to His servants so long as Allah wishes to keep them, and afterwards Allah shall take us towards Himself and shall do with us what He pleases.”
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p151, Hadith #7
– al-Bihar, v4, p7, Hadith #14
The fact that the light of Prophet Muhammad and his family (peace be upon them all) was the first creation of Allah is even acknowledged by the Sunnis. Of the traditions they have narrated in this regard is the following Hadith on the authority of Salman al-Farsi (RA) who said:
I heard the Apostle of Allah (S.A.W.) saying: “I and Ali were one light in the hands of Allah fourteen thousand years (14,000) before He created Adam (AS). When Allah created Adam (AS) He divided that light into two parts, I being one part and Ali being the other.”
Sunni References:
– Mizan al-I’tidal, by al-Dhahabi, v1, p235
– Fadha’il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p663, Tradition #1130
– al-Riyadh al-Nadhira, by Muhibbuddin al-Tabari, v2, p164, v3, p154
– History of Ibn Asakir
As mentioned in the previous section, seeing Allah by the heart means recognition/identification (Ma’rifa) of Allah through the heart. Now, according to the following traditions, the recognition of Allah is defined as the recognition of the light of Prophet Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt, peace be upon them. Salman al-Farsi (RA) and Abu Dhar (RA) both narrated:
The Leader of the Faithful (AS) said: “Certainly, no one’s faith becomes complete until he knows me by the recognition of my light. Once he knows me by such recognition (Ma’rifat), his heart has passed Allah’s test for (perfect) faith and Allah has opened his bosom for submission and has become cognizant (Arif) with vision. He who falls short of such recognition will (remain) doubtful. O Salman! O Jundab! Recognition (Ma’rifat) of my light is recognition of Allah (SWT), and recognition of Allah (SWT) is recognition of my light.”
– Bihar al-Anwar, v26, p1, Hadith #1
Note that, the light of Allah is His creation. However, since we have no way to understand the Essence of Allah, and that the recognition of His Essence can only be purifying Him from anything that we understand, Allah has “defined” His recognition as the recognition of His greatest sign, that is the recognition of His light. This is as much as we can observe, and we are not able to see beyond this created light. This light, the first creation of Allah, is the light of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (AS). A person who reaches to this light has reached to the climax of understanding Allah since he has recognized His greatest sign. Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS) said:
Imam al-Reza (AS) said: “Allah is known/recognized by the signs and is proven by the indications.”
– Tafsir Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS), p50, Hadith #24
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p47, Hadith #9
– Bihar al-Anwar, v4, p303, Hadith #31
The greater the sign, the greater the recognition. A person who has recognized the greatest sign of Allah (i.e., the light of the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his Ahlul-Bayt (AS)), has attained the greatest recognition (Ma’rifat) of Allah. Muhammad Ibn Muslim narrated:
Imam al-Baqir (AS) said: “Avoid pondering on (the Essence of) Allah. However, when you intend to look towards His majesty, then look towards His greatest creation.”
– al-Kafi, v1, p93, Hadith #7
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p457, Hadith #14
– Wasa’il al-Shia, v16, p195, Hadith #21327
Moreover, Salama Ibn Ataa narrated:
Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said: al-Husain Ibn Ali (AS) said: “O People! Certainly Allah, the Glorious, created the servants so that they recognize/know Him, and when they recognize Him they serve/worship Him, and when they worship Him they will have no need to worship other than Him.” At this time someone asked: “May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Son of the Apostle of Allah! What is the recognition (Ma’rifat) of Allah?” He (AS) replied: “The recognition of the Imam of the time whose obedience is obligatory to People.”
– Ilal al-Sharaye’, part 1, p9, Hadith #1
– Kanz al-Fawa’id, v1, p328,
– Bihar al-Anwar, v23, p83, Hadith #22
– Tafsir Nur al-Thaqalain, under Verse 51:56
In another Hadith, Abi Basir narrated:
Imam al-Sadiq (AS) said: The Commander of Believers said: “I am the Guide, and the Guided, … I am the leader of Believers towards Paradise. I am the Strong Rope of Allah, the trustworthiest handhold, and the word of Taqwa. I am the eye of Allah, His truthful tongue, and His hand. I am the side of Allah about whom (Allah) sates: ‘Lest the soul should (then) say: ‘Ah! Woe onto me that I neglected (my duty towards)/abandoned/abused the side of Allah (39:56).’ I am the outstretched hand of Allah in Mercy over His creation, and I am the door of forgiveness. Whoever recognizes me and recognizes my rights has indeed recognized His Lord, because I am the Wasi of His Prophet on His Earth and His Proof over His creation. No one would deny this but he who has denied Allah and His Apostle.”
– al-Ikhtisas, p248
– Kitab al-Tawhid, p164, Hadith #2
– Ma’ani al-Akhbar, p17, Hadith #14
– Bihar al-Anwar, v24, p198, Hadith #27
When something is very close to a person it will be on his side. Imam Ali is called the ‘side’ of Allah as he has become ‘close’ to Him through obedience so much so that neglecting his right would mean neglecting Allah’s right, forsaking him would mean forsaking Allah, and recognizing him in heart would mean recognizing Allah in heart.
Moreover, they being the “eye” of Allah mean that the light of Prophet (S.A.W.) and his family are witness to mankind. Nonetheless, this does not mean Allah is in need of them for watching over the creation. Allah has full knowledge and is witness over all His creation. This rather means Allah has chosen them to be also witnesses to their acts much the same as He has chosen some angels to be witnesses over each and every action of the human being.
Similarly, they being the “tongue” of Allah clearly means that Allah speaks to mankind through them. They inform them of His orders and His commandments, explain His message, and protect His religion.
As for them being the outstretched “hand” of Allah in mercy, shows that the mercy of Allah reaches to His creation only through them. The hand can also refer to power. Allah shows His power through them. Certainly, Allah does not need anyone to work for Him; however, His glory is exalted to do simple jobs in person. He has created some servants and angels and has assigned them different duties, while He has full control above them. Moreover, He attributed their acts to Himself, as He has ordered them of those acts and He knows that they exactly follow His commandments.
Those who have denied the virtues of Ahlul-Bayt (AS), could not explain the above-mentioned verses of Quran any other way except that they considered Allah as having a body complete with organs such as a face, hands, eyes, sides, etc. The essence of such a god can surely be seen. They have limited Allah to their faculties, and by claiming to see the Essence of Allah through their eyes, they have fallen into a clear kind of polytheism (Shirk).
May Allah grant us knowledge and Taqwa, save us from the Fitna of Satan, the accursed. May Allah hasten the advent of our Imam (AS), and quench our thirst through his knowledge and his company.

 

 

 

Chapter On The Invalidity of the Belief to see God (Ru’yah of Allah)
H 252, Ch. 9, h 1
Muhammad ibn abu ‘Abdallah has narrated from Ali ibn abu al-Qasim from Ya’qub ibn Ishaq
who wrote to Imam abu Muhammad al-‘Askari and asked.
“How can a worshipper worship his Lord, Whom he does not see?”
The Imam wrote in reply, “O abu Yusuf, my Lord, my Master, and my Benefactor and the
Benefactor of my ancestors, is far exalted and is above being seen.”
I (Ya’qub ibn Ishaq) asked him, “Had the Messenger of Allah (s.a.) seen his Lord?”
The Imam replied in writing and signed, “Allah, the Most Holy, the Most High, showed His
Prophet, in his heart, the light of His Greatness as much as He liked.”
H 253, Ch. 9, h 2
Ahmad ibn Idris has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Abdal Jabbar from Safwan ibn Yahya
who has said that abu Qurrah (Musa ibn Tariq al-Yamani al-Zabudi, d. 203/818), a narrator of
Hadith, asked me to take him to abul Hassan al-Rida (a.s.). I sought permission from the
Imam (a.s.) and an audience was granted. He asked the Imam about what is lawful and
unlawful and the rules in Islamic laws. His questions came to Oneness of Allah (God).
Abu Qurrah said, “We (the narrators of Hadith) narrate that Allah, the Almighty has divided
His being seen al-Ru’yah and His al-kalam, speech between the two prophets. He gave Musa
(Moses) the opportunity to hear His speech, and Muhammad (s.a.) the opportunity to see
Him.”
Imam abu al-Hassan (a.s.) said, “Who conveyed the message from Allah to the two heavy
communities; mankind and the Jinn that says: ‘The eyes can not comprehend Him.’ (6:103)
“They can not limit Him through their knowledge.” (20:110) ‘There is nothing similar to
Him.’ (42:11) “Was it not Muhammad (s.a.)?’” Asked the Imam (a.s.).
Abu Qurrah then replied, “Yes, He was Prophet Muhammad (s.a.). “
The Imam said, “How can a person who brought such messages to all creatures and told them that he has brought such messages from Allah and called them to Allah by His commands and
said, “The eyes can not comprehend Him.” (6:103) “They can not limit Him through their
knowledge.” (20:110) “There is nothing similar to Him.” (42:11),
then he would say, “I saw Him with my own eyes? I did limit Him in my knowledge and that
He is similar to a man? Should you not be ashamed of yourselves? Even the atheist have not
said that the Prophet first brought one thing from Allah and then announced from Him other
things contrary to the first.”
Abu Qurrah then said, “Does Allah Himself not say, ‘And indeed he (the Prophet) saw him in
another descent.?” (53: 13) Imam abu al-Hassan (a.s.) said, “The other verses point out what
the Prophet actually saw. Allah has said, “His heart did not lie about what he saw” (53: 11) It
means that the heart of Muhammad did not belie what his eyes saw. Therefore, Allah in the
subsequent verse has said, “Indeed he saw of the greatest signs of his Lord.” (53:18) The
signs of Allah are different from Allah Himself. Allah has also said, “They can not limit Him
in their knowledge.” (20:110) If the eyes could see Him, then people might limit Him in their
knowledge and He could be fully defined.” Abu Qurrah asked, “Do you disregard Hadith?”
Imam abu al-Hassan (a.s.) replied, “If Ahadith are contrary to Quran, I disregard them.
Besides, all Muslims believe that Allah cannot be limited by knowledge, that eyes can not see
Him and that nothing is similar to Him.”
H 254, Ch. 9, h 3
Ahmad ibn Idris has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from Ali ibn Sayf from
Muhammad ibn ‘Ubayd who has said the following.
“I wrote to abu al-Hassan al-Rida (a.s.) and asked him about the belief in eye-witnessing
Allah’s self. Is it is possible to see Allah’s self with one’s own eyes as is traditionally narrated
in the affirmative by the Sunni Muslims (al-‘ammah) and the Shi‘ah Muslims (al-khassah)
who are contrary. I requested him to explain the matter. The Imam answered in his own
handwriting. “All agree and there is no dissension among the people that eye-witnessed
knowledge of things is certainly knowledge without doubt. It is the form of knowledge that
does not require logical proofs. If it is true that seeing Allah’s self with the eyes is possible
then it becomes a necessity to acknowledge that Allah becomes entirely known and defined
through eye-witnessed process. Now, can eye-witnessed knowledge of Allah’s self be
considered faith or not? If the knowledge of Him as such, i.e. eye-witnessed knowledge
(which according to Sunni Muslims will happen on the Day of resurrection) be considered
faith, then faith in Allah in this world, which comes through non-eye-witnessed knowledge is
not faith. It is contrary to eye-witnessed knowledge and faith (contrary things do not exist at
the same time). Thus, there would be no one who would have faith in Allah in this world
because no one has seen Him, Majestic is Whose name. If the eye-witnessed knowledge and understanding would not be considered faith then the noneye-witnessed faith and knowledge formed and acquired must go away in the next life, but, in
fact, it will not go away on the Day of resurrection.
This is proof that Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious, can not be seen because it will lead to (the
kind of confusion) what we just mentioned.”
H 255, Ch. 9, h 4
It is narrated from the same narrator (Ahmad ibn Idris) from Ahmad ibn Ishaq who has said
the following.
“I wrote to Imam abul Hassan the 3rd and asked him about eye-witnessing Allah’s self and the
differences among people about this issue. The Imam (a.s.) answered in writing.” “Eyewitnessing Allah’s self is not possible until there is air (light-carrier medium) that would let
the light reach the eye. If air is remove from (space between) the viewer and the object, no
eye-witnessing will take place. In this is ground for similarity. When the viewer and the
object in view would have the same medium that make eye-witnessing possible a similarity
must exist therein. (When applying this to the case of Allah) it is an analogy and similarity.
The means must have a connection with the source.”
H 256, Ch. 9, h 5
Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Ali ibn Ma‘bad from ‘Abdallah ibn Sinan
from his father who has said the following.
“I met Imam abu Ja‘far (a.s.) and at that time a man from the Khariji group came to see the
Imam (a.s.) and asked, ‘O abu Ja‘far, who do you worship?’” The Imam replied, “I worship
Allah, the Most High.” He then asked, “Have you seen Him?” The Imam then said, “Eyes can
not see Him in an eye-witnessing process but the hearts can see Him through the reality of
faith. Allah can not be known by analogy or physical senses and He is not similar to people.
He is mentioned in the verses of revelation. He is known from the signs. He does not do
injustice in His judgments. Thus, is Allah besides Him there is no Allah.” The narrator has
said, “The man then left the Imam (a.s.) saying, “Allah knows best to who should He entrust
His message to mankind.”
H 257, Ch. 9, h 6A group of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Khalid from Ahmad ibn
Muhammad ibn abu Nasr from abu al-Hassan al-Muwsali from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has
said, “Once a rabbi (hibr) came to Imam Ali (a.s.) and asked, ‘O Amir al-mu’minin, have you
seen your Lord when worshipping Him?’”
Imam Ali (a.s.) replied, “This is not a proper question. I would not have worshipped a Lord
whom I could not see.”
He then asked, “How did you see Him?”
Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “This is not a proper statement. Eyes can not see Him in eye-witnessing
process but hearts see Him in the realities of faith.”
H 258, Ch. 9, h 7
Ahmad ibn Idris has narrated from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar from Safwan ibn Yahya
from ‘Asim ibn Hamiyd who has said the following.
“I discussed with Imam abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) about what he says to eye-witnessing Allah’s
self.
The Imam said, “The light of the sun has a ratio equal to one seventieth of the light of the
Kursi (the throne). The same is the ratio of the light of Kursi to al-‘Arsh, the light of which is
of the same ration to that of al-Hijab the light of which is of the same ration to the light of alSatr. If they tell the truth let them fill their eyes with the light of the sun without a curtain in
between.”
H 259, Ch. 9, h 8
Muhammad ibn Yahya and others have narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from
ibn abu Nasr from abu al-Hassan al-Rida (a.s.) who has said that the holy Prophet (s.a.) said,
“When Jibril took me for a visit to the heavens we reached a place where he had never sat
food there before. Then it was unveiled to him and Allah showed him of the light of His
greatness that which he loved.”
On the words of Allah
” No mortal eyes can see Him, but He can see all eyes. He is All-kind and All-aware. (6:103)
H 260, Ch. 9, h 9Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from ibn abu
Najran from ‘Abdallah ibn Sinan from Imam abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following
about the words of Allah.
“No mortal eyes can see Him, but He can see all eyes. He is All-kind and All-aware.” (6:103)
It means within what is called al-Wahm which in terms of the degrees of knowledge is less
than fifty percent. Consider the words of Allah in: “Clear proofs have certainly come to you
from your Lord.. . .” (6:104) It does not mean eye-witnessed knowledge. Also consider,
“Whosoever sees clearly, it is to his own gain.” (ibid) does not mean seeing with the eyes and
in “Whosoever is blind, it is to his own loss’ (ibid ). Blindness does not mean deprivation of
eye-sight. It means within the range of Wahm (mentioned above). As is commonly said, so
and so is very keen-sighted in matters of poetry, and so and so is very keen-sighted in religion
and jurisprudence. So and so has a keen eye for money, and so and so an eye for clothes.
Allah is far great and above being eye-witnessed by people.”
H 261, Ch. 9, h 10
Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from Abu Hashim al-Ja‘fari
who has said the following.
“I asked Imam abul Hassan al-Rida (a.s.), about Allah if He can be described (defined in
words). The Imam (a.s.) said, “Have you not read the Quran?” I replied, “Yes, I do read the
Quran.” He then said, “Have you not read the words of Allah, the Most High, “No mortal eyes
can see Him, but He can see all eyes. He is All-kind and All-aware.” (6:103)
I replied, “Yes, I have read them.” The Imam (a.s.) said, “Do they know the meaning of the
eyes?” I replied, “Yes, they do.” The Imam (a.s.) said, “What is it?” I replied, ” It means
seeing with the eyes.” Then the Imam said, the Awham (mentioned above) of the heart is far
greater comprehensive in knowledge than eye-witnessing. It is not able to comprehend Him
but He comprehends all things.”
H 262, Ch. 9, h 11
Muhammad ibn abu ‘Abdallah has narrated from the person whose name he mentioned from
Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from Dawud ibn al-Qasim abu Hashim al-Ja‘fari who has said the
following.
“I mentioned the words of Allah , ‘No mortal eyes can see Him, but He can see all eyes. He is
All-kind and All-aware.’ (6:103) to Imam abu Ja’far (a.s.). He said, “O abu Hashim, Awham(mentioned above) of hearts are keener and sharper than the perceptions of the eyes. Through
the Awham of the heart you can perceive countries like Sind, Hind (India) and other cities
which you have never seen with your eyes. How can your eyes see Him when the Awham of
your heart cannot perceive Him?”
H 263, Ch. 9, h 12
Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from some of his people from Hisham ibn alHakam who has said the following.
“Things can be perceived by two means:
(1) By the senses and (2) by the heart, intellect. Perceptions of the senses are of three kinds:
(1) Perception in the form of penetration, (2) Perception in the form of touching, and (3)
Perception without penetration or touch. Perception by means of sounds, smells and tastes are
formed through penetration. Perception through touching comes from the knowledge of
shapes, such as rectangular or triangular etc., and also softness, hardness, heat and cold.
Perception without touch or penetration is that of sight which is capable of perceiving things
without touching or penetration, directly or indirectly. Perception through sight needs a path
and medium. Its path is air and its medium is the light. If the path is continuous between the
viewer and the object and the medium then seeing takes place such as colors and persons. If
light falls on something without a path, it will return reflecting what is behind (the observed),
like an observer looking into a mirror. Light does not penetrate into the mirror, because it
finds no path. So it returns reflecting what lies behind the observed. It is similar to looking
into the clear water returns light that reflects what is at the rear. This happens because there is
no path for the penetration of light.
Intellect dominates the air. It perceives all that is in the air and forms his Wahm (intuitive
form of perception). If the heart will not find any thing in the air it comes back and reflects
what is in the air. A person of reason should not force his heart against what is not in the air
of the issue of the Oneness of Allah, the Majestic, the Glorious, otherwise, it will form his
Wahm of what is there in the air as mentioned about the eye-witnessing. Allah, the Most High
is far and above similarities with the creatures.”

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4 thoughts on “Can we see God?

  1. Narrated Abu Huraira: The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” He replied, “Do you have any doubt in seeing the full moon on a clear (not cloudy) night?” They replied, “No, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “Do you have any doubt in seeing the sun when there are no clouds?” They replied in the negative. He said, “You will see Allah (your Lord) in the same way…[Sahih Bukharee 9/532].

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