The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam

The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam

By Imam Mohamed Baianonie

Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas.

Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas.

What is the position of the human mind in relation to Islam? Does Islam ask the human mind to accept everything without any thinking? Does Islam allow the human mind to think as it wishes without any restraint?

To answer these questions we say that Islam allowed, and in fact, asked the human beings to use their minds in thinking about all things in this life, with some limitations. The human being is a created being and he cannot know everything.

The human beings’ mind cannot reach information about the unseen world, like the attributes of Allah, angels, and the events of the Day of Judgment without a revelation. Therefore, the mind is not supposed to think about it, unless it’s told about them.

The human beings’ mind cannot know the wisdom behind a lot of Islamic worship activities and Islamic fiqh rules (Islamic jurisprudence.)

Therefore what are the fields that Islam asked the human mind to think about. There are many of them. Some of which are:

1. To think about two great facts:

A. The existence and unity of Allah.

B. The verification of revelation, prophethood and the message of Allah.

As for the first fact in which Islam asked the human mind to think about the existence and unity of Allah. Here are some proofs from Qur’an.

Allah Almighty says what may mean,

“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of Night and Day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.” (Aal `Imran 3:190)

Allah asked and He knows the answer as in,

“Or were they created out of naught? Or are they the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they are sure of nothing!” (At-Tur ….. :35-36)

Allah Almighty also said,

“If there were in the heavens and the earth other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both but glory to God, the Lord of Throne, above what they attribute to Him) to (or have they taken for worship other Gods besides Him? Say, ‘Bring your convincing proof.’” (Al-Anbiya’ …:22-24)

In another place, Allah says,

“No son did Allah beget, Nor is there any god along with him, if there were many gods, behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have Lorded it over others.” (Al-Mu’minun …:91)

Let’s now look at the second great fact that Islam asked the human mind to think about and that is the verification of the revelation, prophethood, and the messages from Allah. In this case the judge is the human mind. There is no ground here to get proofs from Qur’an and Sunnah. Because if the human mind thinks and accepts the 1st fact, that is, the existence and unity of Allah, then that same human mind should know that Allah will never leave His servants in darkness and ignorance without some type of revelation through some type of messengers.

2. In addition to the previous two facts, Islam encouraged the human mind to think about laws of Islam and try to deduce laws for things that has no clear evidence of course taking into account the Islamic legislative basics like bringing benefits, eliminating bad doings and narrowness and confinement as well as considering necessities and rating the circumstances of place and time. That is why we see all of these scholars dedicating and concluding laws that will fit our world of today, making use of the great flexibility of Islam.

3. Also notice that there is a continuous confusion between many matters of ethics and fiqh. Imam Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The permissible things are clear and the forbidden things are clear and between the two, there are things that cause confusion that not too many people know and whoever avoids those doubtful things will purify and clarify his religion and his honor and dignity.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Also the Prophet, peace be upon him, said in another hadith reported by Imam Ahmed and Addarami “Just ask your heart about it.’ Virtue is a thing which satisfies yourself and eases the heart; and sin is a thing which disturbs the self and worries the heart; although some persons may declare it lawful and may solicit your opinion on such matters.

Therefore, it is really your mind, which has to clear the confusion between all these matters.

4. Islam has never asked you to stop thinking, but asked you to use your mind in looking at this universe.

Allah says,

“Say: Behold all that is in the havens and on the earth.” (Yunus …:101)

“On the earth are signs for those of assured faith, as also in your own selves: will you not then see.” (Adh-Dhariyat …:21)

5. Islam has asked you to discover the secrets of this universe and make use of them for our benefits.

“And he has subjected to you, as from him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect.” (Al-Jathiyah …:13)

6. And when Allah talked in the Qur’an about other nations whom He destroyed as a result of their unbelief; He asks us to make use of their experience so that we will not be destroyed as they were destroyed for example, He said: what can be translated as,

“Take warning, then, you with eyes.” (Al-Hashr …:2)

And,

“Do not they travel through the land so that their hearts (and minds) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind but their hearts which are in their breasts.” (Al-Hajj …:46)

The Conclusion is that Islam does not prevent the human mind to think, but instead Islam gives our mind guidance and assistance in some areas. On the other hand, Islam gives and encourages our minds to think in some other areas that were mentioned before.

Let’s use our minds and think deeply in the areas the Qur’an encourages us to do so. Furthermore, let’s stop thinking about the areas that the mind cannot reach like unseen worlds, worship acts, and divine rules. The source of all of these is the revelation from Allah.

—————

Adapted from a Friday Speech by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, N. C., on April 2, 1987. The Sermon is titled: The Position and Role of the Mind in Islam.

 

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Steps Towards Inner Peace

Steps Towards Inner Peace

By Salman al-`Awdah

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

Steps Towards Inner Peace

Inner peace is the source of all peace.

When a person is at harmony with himself, he is able to live in harmony with others.

God says:

“When you enter houses, greet yourselves with peace.” (Al-Nur 24: 61)

Believers recite the following words in all of their prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious servants.” In the Qur’an, we encounter the word “self” being used in the context a group of people.

Indeed, it is from the depths of the self that peace radiates forth. Inner peace requires that a person’s relationship with himself is clear, and that his goals and objectives are understood and at harmony with his inner being.

Indeed, after knowledge of the Lord, the most important thing for a person to have knowledge of is knowledge of his self and how to perfect it and purify it. He needs to be sensitive to his own gifts and talents, aware of his weaknesses and strengths. Would he describe himself as patient or hasty, forthright or timid, tenacious or easily bored?

A person needs to know the truth about himself so he can go make good progress in a direction where he can best capitalize on his strengths and potential. This does not mean that a person must explore the nature of his existence and of the human soul. Such knowledge is outside of our grasp except for what is revealed to us in the sacred texts. (Al-Isra’ 17: 85)

At the same time, it is quite possible for a person to become acquainted with the dimensions of his personality, his talents, and his true nature. He can then use this knowledge to help him toward what is good and to safeguard him from misfortune.

Inner Peace and Human Nature

Islamic Law takes a person’s nature into account and often legislates in accordance with it without blame or reproach. This applies even to the Prophets and Messengers when they acted according to their instincts and their natures, for they were human beings, no more and no less. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

We are more deserving of doubt than Abraham was when he said: {‘My Lord, show me how you resurrect the dead. And (Allah) said ‘Do you not believe?’ And he said: ‘Yes, but it is just to make my heart content.’} And may Allah have mercy on Lot, for he had betaken himself to a powerful support. Had I languished in prison as long as Joseph had, I would have complied with their demands.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had sought after knowledge and desired to be acquainted with the true nature of things. This was just to satisfy his natural, human curiosity. When Prophet Muhammad said: “I would have complied with their demands” he was alluding to our natural, human love of liberty and freedom and our loathing of being confined and having our potentials held back, especially for a long period of time.

Moses (peace be upon him) knew himself well, and he was frank about his feelings, speaking about them unequivocally and without shame. He spoke about his natural fears when he said:

“And I had fled from you when I was afraid of you.” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26: 21) And,

“Our Lord! Truly, we fear that he will fall upon us or transgress against us.” (Ta-Ha 20: 45)

When a person knows himself in this way and accepts himself, it keeps him to what is within his natural capacity and his abilities and defines for him his goals so he can go forward with a clear vision. Our submission should be to our principles and values in our heart, the values by which we relate to our Lord, and according to which we should speak and act.

These true and established values should be the basis of our conduct. Otherwise, by always seeking to please this person or avoid that person’s displeasure, our lives become nothing more than perpetual pretentiousness and flattery, in surrender to those around us so that we lose our individuality and our independence. One aspect of inner peace is for our inner selves to be in harmony with our outward conduct. What we profess should be reflected in what we do. (Al-Saff 61: 3)

This requires us to be upright and correct in our approach. Prophet Muhammad defined what it means to be upright on the occasion when Sufyan ibn `Abdullah al-Thaqafi asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Islam what will suffice me so I will not have to ask anyone else about it.” The Prophet replied: Say: ‘I believe in Islam.’ Then be upright.” (Muslim)

Our worship should be in harmony with the way we treat others.

Our worship should give direction to our affairs and make us uphold justice and honor the rights that other people have. We should not lead a double life, one persona for the mosque and an utterly different one for the outside world. Many failures take place and reversals take place because of the abysmal state of those who live lives of outward piety accompanied by inward wretchedness. We really need to strengthen and deepen our faith, so that it can be a pillar to support us through all of life’s trials and tribulations.

We are faced with problems and disappointments at home, at work, and within ourselves, and our faith in God must be strong if we are to endure them and prevail. This faith must be accompanied by genuine devotion that emanates from deep within the heart before manifesting itself in our outward worship. Inner peace requires our wants and aspirations to be in keeping with our abilities and with what is possible for us. Prophet Muhammad said:

O you who believe! Assume the works that you are capable of carrying out, for indeed Allah does not become disinterested until you do, and indeed the most beloved of works to Allah are those that are most constant, no matter how small they might be.” (Al Bukhari)

This applies to everything. In the pursuit of material gain, a person can destroy himself with avarice. Inner peace in what we call towards. No one of us can expect the whole world to respond positively to what he advocates, nor is it right that it should. This did not even happen for God’s Messengers. Whatever one of us works for, there is always someone else working to the contrary and who may obliterate our achievements. Inner peace requires being at peace with our own unique dispositions.

A person cannot compel himself to assume what is alien to his nature or at conflict with it. He must be in harmony with himself. We can see how Prophet Muhammad, when he was served a spiny-tailed lizard to eat, refrained from partaking in it. Khalid ibn al-Walid noticed this and asked if eating the meat of the spiny-tailed lizard was unlawful. The Prophet replied: “No. It is just that it is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself disinclined to it.” He did not eat it, simply because it did not agree with his disposition. It was not a question of whether or not its flesh was permitted by Islamic Law.

The same can be said for the companions; each of them had his or her own unique disposition. Abu Bakr was different than Umar. The question of how to deal with the prisoners of war at Badr is a clear case in point each one of them offered an opinion that concurred with his own personality and outlook, as long as the matter was open to more than one point of view. Abu Bakr was a man of gentleness and forbearance, and Prophet Muhammad acknowledged this about him. Umar was forceful and strict, and likewise, Prophet Muhammad took this into consideration. We must recognize our unique personalities and come to terms with them. We cannot force ourselves into a pretence of denying our individual qualities and temperaments. Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz had said: “The most pleasurable of things is a personal predilection that is in accordance with Islamic teachings.”

Inner Peace and Resignation

We must be at peace with what God decrees for us, though we should seek by way of God’s decree to avoid the harm of God’s decree. It is as Umar had said when he avoided entering a plague-stricken region: “We flee from Allah’s decree towards Allah’s decree.”

A believer is resigned to God’s decree and accepts it fully, so much so that he does not want to hasten what has been delayed nor defer what has been hastened on. The terminally ill, those homely of appearance, the feeble-minded, the bachelors and spinsters, the orphans, and all those who suffer from misfortunes – such people have a pressing need to come to make peace with what God has decreed for them, and then go forward with their lives, taking recourse to all practical means at their disposal while resigning themselves to that which is beyond their power.

Being fair and just is also an important factor in attaining inner peace. This requires us to do away with selfishness, vain desires, and avarice. `Ammar, the illustrious companion, used to say:

“There are three things that if someone possesses them all he will have comprehended faith: applying justice to yourself, greeting the world with peace, and spending in charity under straitened circumstances.” (Al Bukhari)

When some of us disagree with one another, why do we not try to put ourselves in the other’s place and try to see things from their point of view, and accept that for them at least what they accept for themselves? I am almost certain that there is no one on Earth who is truly fair with himself except the extremely few whom God graces with that ability. The Prophet said: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eye but fails to see the crud in his own.

Inner Peace of Mind

Inner peace also requires that we reconcile our minds to the knowledge of the unseen that the Messengers have brought us. That knowledge never contradicts with accurate scientific knowledge or with sound reason. We accept this knowledge of the unseen without allowing ourselves to succumb to the mindset of mythology that readily concedes every tale that is told without any discretion or discernment.

Matters of the unseen are matters that are beyond the powers of the human mind to ascertain, while fables and myths are beneath the level of the human mind. We must employ reason and eschewing blind acceptance. Indeed, the mind is for discernment; it is not a mere repository for information.

The eminent jurist and legal theorist `Izz al-Din ibn `Abd al-Salam pointed out that questions pertaining to welfare and harm are discernible by reason even before the revelation of the Law. I would like to add that these matters are still discernible to reason even after the Law has been revealed. This is how we understand the Qur’an and Sunnah and how we weigh various legal rulings against one another. We take matters of welfare and harm into due consideration, neither deriding the true worth of our minds nor exaggerating our estimation of their powers and burdening them with matters that are beyond their scope.

There are limits beyond which our minds must not transgress. We must also bring under control the misgivings that our human minds can fall victim to and that can spoil our lives by troubling us in both our worship and our worldly affairs. Most of these things that disquiet us so much are psychological in nature. The best and most effective treatment for such misgivings is to force ourselves to ignore them, to simply refuse to give them the time of day. We must beseech God to help us in this effort and seek refuge with Him in the manner shown to us by Prophet Muhammad by reciting Surah al-Ikhlas.

We must each muster our inner strength and resolve not to heed the demands of our misgivings, especially regarding doubts about our purification. We should even consider the affliction of being beset by misgivings to be an exceptional situation that allows us license to overlook things until God reveals for us a way out of our difficulties. God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

————

This article is taken with slight editorial modifications from the author’s website, Islam Today – http://en.islamtoday.net.

Shaykh Salman was born in the village of Al-Basr near the city of Buraida in 1375 A.H. / 1955 A.C to a rich family which was known for its nobility and good name. The Shaykh became known for his intelligence at an early age. After completing his secondary studies, Shaykh Salman enrolled in the Arabic language faculty at the university of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud in Riyadh. He studied there for two years before transferring to the Shari’ah Faculty where he obtained his degree. On receiving his degree, Shaykh Salman returned to al-Qaseem where he studied at the Academic Institute at Buraida. He then transferred to the Shari’ah and Usul ad-Deen Faculty at the Imam Bin Saud Islamic University – Qaseem Campus, where he worked as a lecturer and continued his university studies. He received his Masters degree with a thesis on “The Estrangeness of Islam”.

 

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Why Cannot We See Allah?

By Spahic Omer

Why Cannot We See Allah?Why Cannot We See Allah?

One may ask why we cannot see Allah, although we can communicate with Him so closely.

In a nutshell, we cannot see Allah because, first, there is nothing like Him (Al-Shura, 42:11). Our eyes and other senses and faculties are relative things and thus, can only see other relative things belonging to the corresponding existential realms. They cannot see, hear or recognize beyond the orb of our everyday existential things and objects.

Second, nobody says that humans will not see Allah. Both the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah are explicit that believers will see Him in Paradise (jannah). The vision will be as clear and certain as seeing “the moon on the night when it is full” and “the sun on a cloudless day” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

What is more, seeing Allah will be the best reward in Paradise; whereas not seeing Him will be the worst and most painful chastisement for the inhabitants of Hell. Seeing Allah is the greatest blessing and joy, so it is withheld for the place of ultimate blessing and joy, namely Paradise, and it is reserved exclusively for believers. This, in addition, serves to believers as a strong motive to continue doing good in this world and never get bored or give up.

It goes without saying that not seeing Allah is only a temporary decree for Allah’s true servants, who are closest to Him in this world. Seeing Allah in Paradise could also imply the pinnacle, or culmination, of their incessant drawing closer to Him.

Third, we cannot see Allah now and here because we are trapped in time and space, while He is beyond them. Time and space are Allah’s creation. He is not fettered by them; we are. Consequently, man cannot think except along the lines of time, space and matter.

Once the hindrances posed by the time and space factors of this world are eliminated in the Hereafter — or modulated, together with man himself and his various faculties, so as to make them suitable and fitting for the conditions of the Hereafter – seeing Allah will appear utterly viable and sensible, especially for those who will be Paradise-bound.

Even in this world, man can see instantly and directly very little and very few things. Man is myopic or short-sighted, so to speak. He cannot see more because of a myriad of time and space components and influences standing between him and things, incapacitating him from seeing more. To see more, man must overcome, or eliminate, those components and influences. The problem, therefore, is not with things and objects, but with man and his limited abilities.

For example, a person sitting in a windowless room can only see the room’s interior. To see outside, he must leave the room; that is to say, he must overcome the room as a hindrance to seeing outside.

Moreover, to see a friend in a nearby town, 50 km away, a person must travel that much; that is, he must overcome the hindrance of the necessary distance and time that separate him from seeing the friend. The same principle applies to seeing everything else that lies outside the perimeters of the windowless room.

Similarly, for a person to see his friend who passed away two years ago, he will have to travel back in time two years or more; that is, he will have to deal with the insurmountable time hurdle or barrier, in order to see his friend. Also, for a person to see his future grandchildren, he will have to travel into the future as much as necessary; which means, he will again have to contend with the unassailable time difficulty.

At any rate, to see and experience things, man must free himself from the physical milieus and situations wherein he, as substantially a physical being himself, is confined or imprisoned.

The whole issue is about man and his weaknesses, exacerbated by the spatial and temporal parameters and constraints within which he operates. Yet, there are many other things right inside man, or everywhere around him, which man cannot see, but which undeniably exist. Some of those things are radio waves as a type of electronic wave used to transmit data for satellites, computer networks and radio, atoms as the smallest building blocks of matter, air or oxygen, ultraviolet light, gravity, the mind, the soul, emotions, quantum particles, the actual size of the universe, etc.

Anyway, it makes sense to wish, yet ask, to see existing things and objects. But a code of ethics, as well as a dose of pragmatism and common sense, are needed. Man must realize that, just like in everything else, there are certain physical, rational, ethical, and spiritual rules, regulations and procedures that preside over the prospect of seeing things.

For man — insignificant, weak, and vulnerable as he is — to insist on seeing Almighty Allah, Who is the only truly Transcendent Being, the Exalted, Sublime, Ever-Living and Self-Sustaining, while he is imprisoned and stuck in the yokes of matter, is at once an ignorant, arrogant, and preposterous pretense.

When Allah spoke to Prophet Musa (Moses) on Mount Sinai, Musa at one point said: “O my Lord! Show (Yourself) to me that I may look upon You” (Al-A`raf, 7:143).

Musa asked to see Allah because, as a prophet, he knew that seeing Allah is not impossible, nor that wishing, or even humbly asking, to see Him in extraordinary situations such as the one in which Musa had found himself, is blasphemous.

When Allah replied that Musa neither will nor could, see Him, He meant that in the context of this world only – as is the view of all mainstream exegetes (mufassir).

And when Allah said to Musa after that: “Behold this mountain: if it remains firm in its place, then — only then — will you see Me”, Allah wanted to bring home to Musa his existing human weaknesses, as well as the impediments and hurdles of time and space, which will need to be overcome, or liquidated, if he was to see Almighty Allah. Allah wanted to communicate to Musa that he was not ready to see Him, nor had the time come for such an event to take place.

At last: “When his Lord manifested His glory on the mount, He made it as dust and Musa fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses, he said: ‘Glory be to You! To You, I turn in repentance and I am the first to believe’” (Al-A`raf, 7:143).

When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked if he had seen Allah on the night of Mi’raj (ascension into heaven), he replied: “(He is veiled by) Light, how could I see Him?” (Sahih Muslim).

Finally, Allah declares: “No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension yet is acquainted with all things” (Al-An`am, 6:103).

——-

Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org

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No Vision Can Grasp Him: Allah

No Vision Can Grasp Him: Allah

By Spahic Omer

AllahOne may ask why we cannot see Allah, although we can communicate with Him so closely.

In a nutshell, we cannot see Allah because, first, there is nothing like Him (Al-Shura, 42:11). Our eyes and other senses and faculties are relative things and thus, can only see other relative things belonging to the corresponding existential realms. They cannot see, hear or recognize beyond the orb of our everyday existential things and objects.

Second, nobody says that humans will not see Allah. Both the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah are explicit that believers will see Him in Paradise (jannah). The vision will be as clear and certain as seeing “the moon on the night when it is full” and “the sun on a cloudless day” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

What is more, seeing Allah will be the best reward in Paradise; whereas not seeing Him will be the worst and most painful chastisement for the inhabitants of Hell. Seeing Allah is the greatest blessing and joy, so it is withheld for the place of ultimate blessing and joy, namely Paradise, and it is reserved exclusively for believers. This, in addition, serves to believers as a strong motive to continue doing good in this world and never get bored or give up.

It goes without saying that not seeing Allah is only a temporary decree for Allah’s true servants, who are closest to Him in this world. Seeing Allah in Paradise could also imply the pinnacle, or culmination, of their incessant drawing closer to Him.

Third, we cannot see Allah now and here because we are trapped in time and space, while He is beyond them. Time and space are Allah’s creation. He is not fettered by them; we are. Consequently, man cannot think except along the lines of time, space and matter.

Once the hindrances posed by the time and space factors of this world are eliminated in the Hereafter — or modulated, together with man himself and his various faculties, so as to make them suitable and fitting for the conditions of the Hereafter – seeing Allah will appear utterly viable and sensible, especially for those who will be Paradise-bound.

Even in this world, man can see instantly and directly very little and very few things. Man is myopic or short-sighted, so to speak. He cannot see more because of a myriad of time and space components and influences standing between him and things, incapacitating him from seeing more. To see more, man must overcome, or eliminate, those components and influences. The problem, therefore, is not with things and objects, but with man and his limited abilities.

For example, a person sitting in a windowless room can only see the room’s interior. To see outside, he must leave the room; that is to say, he must overcome the room as a hindrance to seeing outside.

Moreover, to see a friend in a nearby town, 50 km away, a person must travel that much; that is, he must overcome the hindrance of the necessary distance and time that separate him from seeing the friend. The same principle applies to seeing everything else that lies outside the perimeters of the windowless room.

Similarly, for a person to see his friend who passed away two years ago, he will have to travel back in time two years or more; that is, he will have to deal with the insurmountable time hurdle or barrier, in order to see his friend. Also, for a person to see his future grandchildren, he will have to travel into the future as much as necessary; which means, he will again have to contend with the unassailable time difficulty.

At any rate, to see and experience things, man must free himself from the physical milieus and situations wherein he, as substantially a physical being himself, is confined or imprisoned.

The whole issue is about man and his weaknesses, exacerbated by the spatial and temporal parameters and constraints within which he operates. Yet, there are many other things right inside man, or everywhere around him, which man cannot see, but which undeniably exist. Some of those things are radio waves as a type of electronic wave used to transmit data for satellites, computer networks and radio, atoms as the smallest building blocks of matter, air or oxygen, ultraviolet light, gravity, the mind, the soul, emotions, quantum particles, the actual size of the universe, etc.

Anyway, it makes sense to wish, yet ask, to see existing things and objects. But a code of ethics, as well as a dose of pragmatism and common sense, are needed. Man must realize that, just like in everything else, there are certain physical, rational, ethical, and spiritual rules, regulations and procedures that preside over the prospect of seeing things.

For man — insignificant, weak, and vulnerable as he is — to insist on seeing Almighty Allah, Who is the only truly Transcendent Being, the Exalted, Sublime, Ever-Living and Self-Sustaining, while he is imprisoned and stuck in the yokes of matter, is at once an ignorant, arrogant, and preposterous pretense.

When Allah spoke to Prophet Musa (Moses) on Mount Sinai, Musa at one point said: “O my Lord! Show (Yourself) to me that I may look upon You” (Al-A`raf, 7:143).

Musa asked to see Allah because, as a prophet, he knew that seeing Allah is not impossible, nor that wishing, or even humbly asking, to see Him in extraordinary situations such as the one in which Musa had found himself, is blasphemous.

When Allah replied that Musa neither will nor could, see Him, He meant that in the context of this world only – as is the view of all mainstream exegetes (mufassir).

And when Allah said to Musa after that: “Behold this mountain: if it remains firm in its place, then — only then — will you see Me”, Allah wanted to bring home to Musa his existing human weaknesses, as well as the impediments and hurdles of time and space, which will need to be overcome, or liquidated, if he was to see Almighty Allah. Allah wanted to communicate to Musa that he was not ready to see Him, nor had the time come for such an event to take place.

At last: “When his Lord manifested His glory on the mount, He made it as dust and Musa fell down in a swoon. When he recovered his senses, he said: ‘Glory be to You! To You, I turn in repentance and I am the first to believe’” (Al-A`raf, 7:143).

When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked if he had seen Allah on the night of Mi’raj (ascension into heaven), he replied: “(He is veiled by) Light, how could I see Him?” (Sahih Muslim).

Finally, Allah declares: “No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is above all comprehension yet is acquainted with all things” (Al-An`am, 6:103).

——-

Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org

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