The Vision of God

The Qur’an says: Visions do not comprehend Him yet He comprehends all visions (6:103). However, there are other verses which affirm the vision of God such as: Some faces will be fresh on that day, looking toward their Lord (75:22-23).

At the same time, the Qur’an teaches us that there is no like or similar to Almighty God in any aspect. According to the Qur’anic principles, God is neither physical nor has physical properties. He is not encompassed by time and space. Clearly, such a being cannot be an object of physical vision in the way we see other things.

So what is intended by verses which affirm the vision of God? Some scholars say that this vision means to have decisive knowledge. This is true but not every certain or sure piece of information is considered decisive knowledge. It is only that type of decisive knowledge where the knower observes the very external reality of the known. This includes one’s knowledge about oneself, his inner faculties, his personal traits and his psychological condition. The realization of this kind of knowledge does not depend on physical conditions. It is this sense of observation which is meant in the Qur’anic verses which affirm divine vision.

One example is the verse, The heart did not deny what it saw (53:11). In this verse, seeing is ascribed to the heart which is the rational human soul, not the organ which is in the middle-left side of the chest.

There are two types of vision mentioned in the Qur’an: (1) Sensory vision through the physical eyes (2) An inner consciousness of oneself without the involvement of sensory or mental instruments. We humans have a certain sense of our Lord other than the acquired belief through contemplation, research and debates. Nothing can make us heedless of our Lord except for our worldly occupations and the sins we commit. The Qur’an talks about heedlessness which is defined as one mode of knowledge (divine) vanishing in the shadow of another mode of knowledge (worldly). Otherwise there is no verse in the Qur’an to hint at the complete loss of knowledge.

Now when we examine the verse 7:143, When Moses arrived at Our tryst and his Lord spoke to him, he said: “My Lord, show (Yourself) to me that I may look at you”, we can deduce that Moses’ request to see God means a special kind of decisive knowledge about the divine. We also know from the Qur’an that prior to this request, God had already bestowed upon Moses several stages of divine knowledge. So, this request was for the highest stage of decisive knowledge of God which is only possible in the hereafter as the Qur’an says: Some faces will be fresh on that day, looking toward their Lord (75:22-23). This verse proves that the place for such vision is the hereafter and not this world. What Moses requested was not “seeing” in the sense of physical sight with the eyes. A noble Prophet like Moses would be far from not knowing that such vision of God is impossible.

Reference: Al-Mizan English Volume 16, pp 73-80, first edition, Tawheed Institute Australia Ltd, 2018.


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