THE VISION OF ALLAH THE EXALTED IN THE WORLD AND THE HEREAFTER by GF Haddad

THE VISION OF ALLAH THE EXALTED IN THE WORLD AND THE HEREAFTER by GF Haddad

THE VISION OF ALLAH THE EXALTED IN THE WORLD AND THE HEREAFTER by GF Haddad

            Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Intiqa’ and others relate that Imam Malik adduced as proof of the believers’ vision of Allah Almighty in the hereafter the verses: {That day will faces be resplendent, Looking toward their Lord} (75:22-23) and {Nay! Verily, from their Lord, that day, shall they [the transgressors] be veiled} (83:15).1

            Imam Ibn Khafif stated in his al-`Aqida al-Sahiha:

30. The believers shall see Allah on the Day of Resurrection just as they see the full moon on the nights when it rises. They will not be unfairly deprived of seeing Him.

31. They will see Him without encompassment (ihata) nor delimitation (tahdid) within any given limit (hadd), whether from the front, the back, above, below, right, or left. …

97. Sight in the world is impossible.

The Mu`tazila and some other groups held that Allah Almighty could not be seen at all, even on the Day of Resurrection. They rejected the sound hadiths to the contrary, claiming that such vision necessitated corporeality and direction, which were precluded for Him. Ahl al-Sunna adduced the verse {That day will faces be resplendent, Looking toward their Lord} (75:22-23) and the mass-narrated hadiths to the effect that such vision will be real. In contrast to the Mu`tazila, the totality of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna both excluded modalities of encompassment, delimitation, direction, and other corporeal qualities and, at the same time, held that Allah will be seen by the believers in the Hereafter without specifying how. However, they differed whether such unqualified sight was possible in the world as well.

Al-Qari and al-Haytami reported that the agreement of Ahl al-Sunna is that sight of Allah Almighty in the world is possible but that it does not take place (except for the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him –), while two contrary opinions on the topic are narrated from al-Ash`ari in al-Qushayri’s Risala.2 The proof that His sight is possible in the world was adduced from Musa’s — upon him peace — request to Allah: {My Lord! Show me Your Self, that I may gaze upon You} (7:143) as Prophets do not ask for the impossible.3 Imam al-Qushayri stated in the Risala that sight of Allah in the world does not take place for anyone except the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — while al-Dhahabi, conceding that sight of Allah in the world is possible, held that it does not take place even for the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him –.4 The best statement on the issue is that of Shaykh Muhyi al-Din ibn `Arabi: “He can be seen with the hearts and the eyes, if He so wills.”5 Most or all of these views are based on the Prophet’s — Allah bless and greet him — hadith: “Verily, you shall not see Allah until you die.”6 Ibn Hajar adduced the hadith: “Worship Allah as if you see Him” as further proof that there is no sight of Allah with the eyes of the head in this world but added: “The Prophet’s — Allah bless and greet him — sight of Allah is supported by other evidence.”7 The Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — saw Allah Almighty before death as is the doctrine of the majority of Ahl al-Sunna thus related from al-Nawawi by al-Qari.8 The evidence for this is the hadith of Ibn `Abbas whereby the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — said: “I saw my Lord” (ra’aytu rabbi).9 Ibn Kathir cited it in his commentary on Sura al-Najm and declared its chain sound, but considered it part of the hadith of the dream cited below. Ibn al-Qayyim [see excerpt below] relates that Imam Ahmad considered such sight to be in the Prophet’s sleep — Allah bless and greet him — but remains a true sight – as the dreams of Prophets are true – and that some of the Imam’s companions mistakenly attributed to him the position that the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him — saw his Lord “with the eyes of his head.”10

Al-Bayhaqi also narrated the hadith “I saw my Lord” in al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat with a sound chain but with the addition: “in the form of a curly-haired, beardless young man wearing a green robe,” a condemned, disauthenticated addition and concatenation with another hadith that refers to Gibril — upon him peace –.11 Hence al-Suyuti interpreted it either as a dream or, quoting his shaykh Ibn al-Humam, as “the veil of form” (hijab al-sura).12

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