Allah Cannot Be Imagined

Only Allaah knows the Haqiyqah (Reality)” of His Self and Attributes. Our Knowledge of Him is knowing about what is necessary to attribute to Him, like Knowledge and Power; what is impossible, like partner; and what is valid, like His creating something or not.[1] Ar-Rifaaˆiyy said:

غاية المعرفة بالله الإيقان بوجوده تعالى بلا كيف ولا مكان

“The ultimate understanding about Allaah (that the slave can achieve) is the (intellectual) certainty in His (the Exalted) Existence without a how and without a place.”

This is the extent and limit that the human can reach in knowing about Allaah. The great scholar, Ibraahiym Ibn Tawbah, also known as Thu-n-Nuwn Al-Misriyy said:

مهما تصورت ببالك فالله بخلاف ذلك

“Whatever you imagine in your mind, Allaah is different from that.[2]

Only a body with certain limits, volume and color can be imagined, because the imagination is based on what one can or has encountered. One only imagines what is familiar. Thus, Allaah is different from whatever one imagines, whether length, width, depth, color or shape. The illusion or imagination is a direct result of the senses. Know that everything you saw was either a body or the attribute of a body that cannot exist by itself. Allaah has the Power to create the likes of that body or trait. We are instead encouraged to ponder on the creation. This will help us to increase our glorification of the Creator. At-Tahaawiyy also said:

لا تبلغه الأوهام ولا تدركه الأفهام ولا يشبه الأنام

“No delusions realize Him, no comprehension encompasses Him, and He does not resemble the creations.”

Delusions only reach that which has the attributes of what comes into existence. Whoever seeks to imagine the reality of Allaah commits blasphemy[3], is far from holding pure Tawhiyd, and is far from having pure knowledge about Allaah. He sought to realize something that he cannot. One must accept that there is some knowledge that he cannot acheive, as said by At-Tahaawiyy, who also said:

ولا نخوضُ في الله

“We do not delve into (thinking about the self of) Allaah”.

This means that we do not speak about the reality of Self of Allaah, and we do not think about the Self of Allaah, because that leads to confusion, misguidance, and likening Allaah to His creations. This is because when one transfers his mind from one thing to the next, until reaching something that he thinks Allaah to be similar, he stops at that thing and likens Allaah to the creation. For this reason we are prevented from thinking about the Self of Allaah.

However, not included in “thinking about Self of Allaah” is clearing Him from resembling the creations by saying, “He exists eternally and everlastingly; He existed before time and place; He is not ascribed with any descriptions of humans; He sees without a pupil and hears without an ear or an ear canal; He speaks without letters and sounds, etc. Rather, this is explanation and application of the saying of Allaah:

{(لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ)}
<Nothing whatsoever resembles Him>.

[1] As-Siraat Al-Mustaqiym, 11th edition (2002), pg. 31.

[2] This is narrated by Al-Khatiyb Al-Baghdaadiyy in Taarikh Baghdaad. ‘Imaam ‘Ahmad Ibn Hambal said the same statement, as narrated by ‘Abuw Fadl ˆAbdu-l-Waahid Ibn ˆAbdi-l-Ghaniyy At-Tamiymiyy.

[3] The scholars of the four schools have documented the impossibility of imagining Allaah. Among them is Abuw Saˆiyd Al-Mutawalliy, one of the mujtahids within the Shaafiˆiyy school. An-Nawawiyy and Ibn Hajar Al-Haytamiyy are also upon that. Among the Maalikiyyah is ‘Abuw ˆAbdi-llaah Muhammad Ibn Jalaal and Muhammad Ibn ‘Ahmad Al-Mayyaarah, and others. Among the Hanafiyyah is ‘Abu-l-Muˆiyn An-Nasafiyy and Mahmuwd Ibn Muhammad Al-Qawnawiyy, who explained At-Tahaawiyyah. Among the Hanaabilah is ‘Abu-l-Faraj ˆAbdu-r-Rahmaan Ibnu-l-Jawziyy.

Related Articles

Back to top button