Chapter On The Invalidity of the Belief to see God (Ru'yah of Allah)

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 6

A 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 al- Satr. 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 9

Muhammad 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 al- Hakam 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."