The Refutation of Those Who Differ
The Refutation of Those Who Differ
The commentator of at-Tahhaawiyyah explained the different misguided opinions on this matter: "Those who differed with regard to the believers seeing Allah (swt) on the Day of Resurrection are the Jahmiyyah and al-Mu'tazilah, and those who followed them of the Khawaarij and Imaamiyyah. Their false opinion is refuted by the Qur'an and Sunnah. The fact that the believers will see Allah (swt) is confirmed by the words of the Sahaabah, Taabi'een, well known scholars of Islaam, Ahl al-Hadith and by all the groups of philosophers (Ahl al-Kalaam) who belong to Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jama'ah."
"This issue is one of the most important matters of Usool ad-Deen [the fundamentals of religion] for it is the ultimate goal for which people are striving and competing, and it will be denied to those who are "veiled from seeing their Rabb" and who will be turned away from His Mercy."
He then explained the dangers of misinterpretation:
"This is what corrupted both the world and religion. This is what the Jews and Christians did to the texts of the Tawraat and Injeel, and Allah (swt) warned us against doing likewise, but the confused people insisted on following their path. How much harm has been caused to the religion and its followers by wrong interpretations! Was 'Uthmaan killed except as a result of misinterpretation? Would the Battle of Siffeen, the Battle of the Camel, the killing of Husayn and the Battle of al-Harrah have happened without there being misinterpretation? Would the Khawaarij, Mu'tazilah and Rawaafid have emerged, and would the ummah have split into seventy-three sects, if there had been no misinterpretation?"
He explained that there were two reasons that the aayah should be taken to mean the believers will see Allah
(1) the Understanding of the Text itself
"an-Nadhar (looking) is connected by Idaafah (genitive grammatical possessive structure) to al-Wajh (face) which is the location of looking (because the face is the site of the eyes). The use of the word "ilaa" (here translated as "at") clearly means that they will be looking and seeing with their eyes; the wording has no indication that it could mean anything other than that. It is crystal clear that what Allah meant is that they will see their Rabb, subhaanahu, with their own eyes, which are located in the face.
"The Arabic word Nadhar is used in a number of ways and may mean different things, depending on the context:
"If it stands alone with nothing following it, it means "stopping" and "waiting" - "...Wait for us! (undhuroonaa) Let us get something from your light!.." [57:13]
"If it is followed by "fi" (lit. "in") it means "thinking" or "pondering": "Have they not considered (yandhuru fi) the dominion of the heavens and the earth?" [7:185]
"If it is followed by ilaa (at) it refers to looking or seeing with the eyes: "Look at (undhuru ilaa) their fruits when they begin to bear" [6:99]
So how can it be interpreted otherwise when it refers to the face, which is the site of the eyes?"
(2) the way in which the Salaf understood the text.
He quotes a number of reports to illustrate this:
al-Hasan said, "[Their faces] will look at their Rabb and will become radiant with His light."
Abu Saalih reported from Ibn 'Abbaas (ra) that "Looking at their Rabb" [75:23] meant, "They will be looking at the face of Allah, azza wa jall."
'Ikrimah said that "Some faces will be Nadhirah" indicated "because of joy, and looking at their Rabb" meant "truly looking at their Rabb" and he reported a similar opinion from Ibn 'Abbaas. This is the opinion of the Mufassireen of Ahlus-Sunnah.
Concerning the aayah, "There they will have all that they desire - and We shall have more [for them]" at-Tabari reported that 'Ali ibn Abi Taalib (ra) and Anas ibn Maalik said, "This means that they will see Allah, azza wa jall."
He explains the meaning of "even more" [az-Ziyaadah] as looking at the face of Allah, as the report narrated by Muslim in his saheeh from Suhayb "..then the veil will be lifted and they will see Him, and they will never be given anything more precious to them than seeing Allah (swt). This is az-Ziyaadah [the "even more" referred to in the aayah]". The same hadith was narrate with a number of isnaads and slightly different wording from others, and this is how it was interpreted by the Sahaabah as Ibn Jareer reported from Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, Hudhayfah, Abu Musa al-Ash'ari and Ibn 'Abbaas (ra).
at-Tabari and others quoted from ash-Shaafi'ee via al-Mazani, and al-Haakim said, "al-Asaam told us that ar-Rabee' ibn Sulayma said, "I was with Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafi'ee when a letter reached him from Upper Egypt in which he was asked his opinion about the aayah [83:15], and he said, "As those [evildoers] will be veiled from Seeing Allah because of His wrath towards them indicates that these people (the believers) will see Him because He will be pleased with them."""
The Mu'tazilah however concluded from the aayaat "You cannot see Me..." [7:143] and "No vision can grasp Him.." [6:103] that therefore no one would see Allah, but these can in fact be used as proof against their position, for the first aayah proves that the believers will see Allah for a number of reasons:
(i) Nobody could think that Musaa (as), the Messenger of Allah and the most knowledgeable about Allah at that time, the one who spoke with Allah, would ask to see Allah [as is stated in the earlier part of this aayah] if it were improper to do so.
(ii) Allah did not rebuke Musaa for this request although when Nuh asked Allah to save his son, He rebuked him for doing so [see 11:46]
(iii) Allah said, "..You cannot see Me..", but He did not say, "I can never be seen" or "It is not possible to see Me" or "I am invisible". There is a difference. This indicates that Allah could be seen but that Musaa did not have the strength to see him in this life because human beings in this world are too weak to be able to endure seeing Allah.
(iv) The ideas mentioned in (iii) can be explained by referring to the next part of the aayah
"...but look upon the mountain. If it stands still in its place then you shall see Me." [7:143]
Allah showed Musaa that despite its strength and solid nature, a mountain in this world could not withstand exposure to the sight of Allah, so how could a human being who was created weak, endure it?
(v) Allah could have made the mountain stable, which is possible, but he had placed a condition for seeing Him. If the mountain stood form when he appeared to it, then Musa would be able to see Him
(vi) Allah said,
"..When his Rabb appeared to the mountain, He made it collapse to dust.." [7:143].
If it is possible for Him to reveal Himself to a mountain, which is an inanimate object how could it be impossible for Him to reveal Himself to His Messengers and those whom He loves (awliyaa) in the abode of honour which is Paradise?
(vii) Allah spoke to Musa and if a person is permitted to speak and converse with no mediator, then it is more befitting for him to be able to see the One to whom he speaks. No one could deny that people may see Allah unless they also deny that Allah may speak to them and those who denied that Allah could be seen did in fact also deny that Allah could speak to his slaves. Their claim that "Lan" (never) implies absolute and eternal negation can be answered by the fact that the people will see Allah in the Hereafter and such a negation will not necessarily be carried over into the Hereafter, especially as in this case a condition was attached. There are other similar instances in the Qur'an - "But they will never long for it.." [2:95] although elsewhere He says, "And they will cry, O Maalik! Let your Rabb make an end of us." He will say, "Verily you shall abide forever" [43:77]. If "lan" meant absolute and eternal negation (i.e. that such and such a thing would never happen), it would not be possible to impose conditions, but Allah (swt) says, "Therefore I will not leave this land until my father permits me.." [12:80] which proves that "lan" does not imply absolute negation.
The evidence that people may see Allah is presented in the most eloquent fashion, and in the context of praise, and it is well-known that praise is something positive; a thing that does not exist cannot be praised. When Allah (swt) praises by negation it implies something positive; a thing that does not exist cannot be praised. When Allah (swt) praises by negation it implies something positive, like when He is praised by saying that He neither slumbers nor sleeps, which implies that He is the Eternal One; or by saying that He never dies, which implies that He is the eternally living; or by saying that He never feels tired or exhausted, which implies He is the All-Powerful; or by saying that He never forgets or lacks awareness, which implies that He is All-Knowing. So there is no praise in negation unless it implies something positive. The One Who is Perfect cannot share in the quality that is denied. The meaning is that Allah (swt) may be seen but He cannot be seen in His entirety. The aayah "No vision can grasp Him" indicates that He is Almighty and because of His greatness he cannot be fully comprehend, for idraak [comprehension] is something that surpasses seeing, as Allah (swt) says,
"And when the two hosts saw each other the companions of Musa said, "We are sure to be overtaken." [26:61]
Musaa did not deny that they saw them but he denied that they would overwhelm them because seeing [ru'yah] and overwhelming or surrounding [idraak] could take place independently of one another. Allah may be seen [ru'yah] but He may never be fully comprehended just as He may be known, but never completely. This is how the Sahaabah and Imaam understood this aayah, as their opinions are recorded in its tafseer. Even the Sun, which is a mere created entity, cannot be fully comprehended by the one who sees it.
The hadith narrated by the Prophet (saw) and his companions concerning the believers seeing Allah has also reached the level of tawaatur and were recorded by the compilers of the six books, for example, the hadith of Abu Hurayrah, "Some people asked, "O Messenger of Allah, will we see our Rabb on the Day of Resurrection?" The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Do you doubt that the moon is seen when it is full?" They said, "No, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "Do you doubt that the sun is seen when there are no clouds to hide it?" They said, "No." He said, then you will see Him just as clearly." [narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim, who narrated a similar hadith from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri, and narrated by Jareer ibn 'Abdullaah al-Bajlee narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim; Abu Musa narrated in al-Bukhaari, Sharh at-Tahhawwiyah, p.204-210]
Compiled from various sources.
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