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Topic of Seeing Almighty God in the Hereafter
Definitive and Similar Quranic Verses in a Practical Study:

Definitive and Similar Quranic Verses in a Practical Study: The Topic of Seeing Almighty God in the Hereafter

 

Published in August 10, 2008

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Firstly: on the scientific methodology adopted to understand the Quran:

  We have mentioned before that researching the Quranic text includes the following two elements:

1- researchers must not begin researching by certain prejudices or earlier formed views that they want to prove, and 

2- researchers must adhere to the terminology and concepts adopted in the Quran, as in any other books one is researching, as this is the only way to fully and truly understand the facts of the book under study.

  Of course, these are the principles of the scientific methodology of any research of any books authored by human beings; we apply it regarding the Quran, God's Word, as He commands us in the Quran to deeply reflect, ponder, and contemplate upon the Quranic verses: "Will they not ponder the Quran? Or are there locks upon their hearts?" (47:24); "Do they not ponder the Quran? Had it been from any other than God, they would have found in it much discrepancy." (4:82); "Have they not pondered the Word? Or has there come to them what came not to their forefathers of ancient times?" (23:68). Of course, the scientific methodology of pondering on any Quranic verse is to make it one's imam or guide, and one is to seek to follow it; i.e., one is to reflect deeply on its words, while focusing on its local context (i.e., within the verses before and after it in the same Quranic chapter) and its larger context (i.e., all Quranic verses containing the same term and/or topic). It is of vital importance to begin such researching within the Quranic verses without prior views, whims, biases, or earlier personal concepts or notions that one desires to prove by manipulating and twisting meanings of Quranic verses (or phrases inside them). Hence, true seekers of the Quranic meanings must be objective and neutral as much as they can to get to know the Quranic stance, view, or meaning as it is. Following this way, one will discern and realize the difference between the definitive Quranic verses (i.e., the ones that briefly and concisely shows a Quranic fact, truth, stance, or view) and the similar Quranic verses (i.e., the ones asserting and repeating the definitive ones and providing more details). Whatever is the topic that one is researching in the Quranic text, one is to get to know the unique Quranic terminology from the Quran itself; this will show to us how that the definitive verses and the similar ones reveal the same meaning, concisely and then in detail, respectively, because our Lord God, glorified be His Name, has made the Quran that way to enable us to understand it: "We have given them a Scripture, which We detailed with knowledge - guidance and mercy for people who believe." (7:52); "... A Scripture whose Verses were made concise, and then elaborated, from One who is Wise and Informed." (11:1). Hence, this Quranic methodology entails the use of fair and objective scientific methodology to understand its verses. Thus, if any researchers would not understand or discern the above facts, they would not adopt any objective methodology and will fall prey to the dominant traditional methodology and notions used by the ancient ones (and imitated until now) to understand and interpret the Quran; namely, the researchers in that case would select and choose only the verses whose apparent literal meanings would agree with the prior notion or idea they seek to prove at any cost, while overlooking the other verses that contradict this personal view or prior idea. Researchers who are subjective may disregard the scientific research methodology by intentionally distorting meanings of the Quranic verses to prove their points, thus committing the crime of showing the Quran as if it were containing contradictions. Sadly, most people, past and present,              have committed such a grave error by accusing the Quran of being open to various contradictory interpretations, a pretext authored and used by ancient interpreters and writers to pass off their falsehoods, fabrications, and lies that they have ascribed to God. if such subjective researchers were fair enough, they should have accused themselves of manipulating and misusing Quranic verses to their advantage and to serve evil purposes. Following the scientific research methodology entails everyone to understand the Quran using its Quranic methodology; namely, understanding the Quranic terminology from within the Quran itself, not as per meanings of words and their roots in dictionaries and lexicons of the Arabic tongue. Objective researchers, we repeat, must seek guidance from the Quranic text itself without prior bias or ideas to prove, while insisting with all their might to seek the Quranic Truth even if it contradicts what is commonly thought and known by people. hence, this will enable researchers to easily know the Quranic view or stance regarding any issue or topic. Based on our experience, we assert here that objective researchers will be surprised to find that Quranic terminology and concepts differ a lot from, and often contradict, the concepts and terms of traditions inherited from ancient books and tomes authored by Middle-Ages scholars. It is violating the principles of scientific research methodology and it is also unfair to attempt to understand the Quran using concepts and terms of traditions that in fact contradict Quranic terminology. In the rest of this article, we will apply the theory explained above in a practical example, concerning the specific topic: seeing Almighty God in the Hereafter. In other words, the questions are as follows: will people on the Last Day and in Paradise see God? What is the Quranic view of that topic? How can the opinion of the Quran be reached by researchers?                 

 

Secondly: ancient scholars differ in their views regarding this topic:

1- Abou Al-Hassan Al-Ashaary (died in 330 A.H.) writes within the lines of his seminal book titled "Discourses of Muslim Thinkers and Differences of Performers of Prayers" some of the different views of imams and scholars regarding the topic of seeing God in the Hereafter. We quote him here: (... the Murjites (i.e., literally, those who postpone) in their school of thought are divided in their views regarding seeing God in the Hereafter; some tend to adopt the view of Al-Mu'tazala group of thinkers that the Creator is never seen with human eyes at all, on the Last Day and even in Paradise. Yet some other Murjites insist that all people will see God on the Day of Resurrection and our minds cannot imagine how that would occur. Al-Khawarij and Zaidiyya groups insist that no one can see God in this world or the next one, and saying otherwise for them is heretic views. Those who adopted the view that God will be seen differed in describing how this would happen: with the naked eye or within one's heart in an unimaginable manner, or maybe both. Some others insisted that God is seen by the believers in Paradise, and never be disbelievers in Hell, while others insisted that as per their quoted Quranic verses, God is not seen at all, whereas others quoted other verses to prove that God is seen only by Paradise dwellers  ... followers of Dirar Ibn Omar think that God will miraculously make hearts and eyes of people on the Last Day be able to see God ...). within another passage, Abou Al-Hassan Al-Ashaary talks about the opinions within the Sunnite religion: (... As for followers of Sunna and narrators of hadiths, they declared their adherence to the Quran regarding the belief in God, and His angels, and His scriptures, and His messengers, and in narratives and hadiths told by trusted narrators about Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be upon him, as his sayings and deeds, while not adding or contemplating anything outside both spheres of the Quran and the Sunna and never to reject anything in both spheres ... Yet, they asserted and maintained that God is seen, only by believers and never by disbelievers, on the Last Day in the manner one sees a full-moon in the clear sky ... Disbelievers and sinners who will be punished in Hell will not see God as per this verse: "Not at all. On that Day, they will be veiled from their Lord." (83:15), and God is never to be seen in this life as per this verse about Moses who asked to see God: "And when Moses came to Our appointment, and his Lord spoke to him, he said, "My Lord, allow me to look and see You." He said, "You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it stays in its place, you will see Me." But when his Lord manifested Himself to the mountain, He turned it into dust, and Moses fell down unconscious. Then, when he recovered, he said, "Glory be to you, I repent to you, and I am the first of the believers."" (7:143) ...).  

2- imams and scholars of the Sunnite religion have overlooked and discarded the only true methodology to reflect upon the Quranic verses in how to understand the definitive verses and the similar verses; indeed, they have tackled and 'interpreted' the Quranic verses as per their whims and prior cherished opinions and views they wanted to propagate, and this led them to select certain verses (and decontextualized parts of verses) that they have assumed to assert their own views, supported further by fabricating hadiths that contain tedious and endless details that are in fact useless. We will not tackle here refuting their false hadiths/narratives about 'seeing' God in the Hereafter; instead, we will summarize below how they dealt in an unfair manner with the Quran in their attempts to prove their own views. The Sunnites think that the verses 75:22-23 support their views that believers see God on the Last Day, whereas God is not to be seen during one's lifetime because of the story of Moses in 7:143. Yet, they wrongly assume that Moses knew that God can be see, or else, he would not have requested to see him! they overlook the fact that Moses in 7:143 repented from this sinful request and that God said to Moses that he will not see Him. another Quranic fact that the ancient Sunnites overlooked is God's view on the subject: no one can see God as per the following verse: "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision..." (6:103). Hence, those Middle-Ages Sunnite writers and interpreters dealt with the Quran slightingly and disparagingly, belittling it to glorify and sanctify their narratives, hadiths, and views to make them replace the Quranic verses. Among such methods of theirs is to overlook many verses and to use decontextualized phrases from other verses and quoting them even if they are not related to the topic in question. Such intentional misuse and manipulation of God's Quranic verses by disbelievers who abandoned the Quran is the corrupt methodology predicted by God in the following verse: "It is He who revealed to you the Book. Some of its verses are definitive; they are the foundation of the Book, and others are similar. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the similar part, seeking dissent, and seeking to derive a corrupt interpretation..." (3:7). Let us tackle below how a Quranist applies the Quranic methodology explained at the beginning of this article to research the Quranic text in relation to the topic of 'seeing' God.                       

 

Thirdly: definitive and similar Quranic verses deny the myth that human beings will see God in this world or the next:

1- The definitive verse here regarding this topic is as follows: "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision..." (6:103). This means that no people can see God during their lifetimes and even in the Hereafter, whereas God, as the Creator, has this unique trait confined to Him alone: He grasps over all vision of His creatures. This verse shows the clear barrier between God and His creatures. Human beings have, and will never have, visions that will grasp God. This miraculous verse compellingly reminding one of the aspects of speed of light and time; the speed of light is 300 thousand km/s, and this means that any being moving in more speeds can never be seen by the human eyes, and this applies to angels, devils, and Jinn, for instance, as these beings cannot be seen by humans at all. Hence, the humankind cannot see God, the Creator, at all in this world and in the next one in the Hereafter.     

2- God grasps all visions of all His human and non-human creatures and He is the Omniscient one Who knows what is inside our hearts and minds. The human eye, with its limited field of vision, can see certain things on certain levels and cannot see certain things on other certain levels. There are even some eyes of insects and animals that are better than the human eyes in vision, as some animals can see in the dark, for instance. Of course, no one can see Jinn, devils, and angels, though they are with us on earth but within other levels that cannot be reached by human beings, and they in their turn cannot see God, but God can see them all whatever their speeds are.  

3- The definitive verse 6:103 is ascertained in 7:143 when God said to Moses that he will not see Him. this declarative sentence goes on until now and in the future and applies to all humanity, in this world and in the next. Moses was not in the best state/level of faith when he dared to ask to see God; this is why he repented. Of course, most of the Sunnites overlooked 7:143 altogether or used only part of it to manipulate the Quran to their advantage to support their fabrications.   

4- Within the similar verses related to that topic, Sunnites insist that  75:22-23 support their erroneous view that believing people will see God on the Last Day, and they quoted these two verses out of their local context (i.e., verses after and before them) to serve their whims and purposes, thinking that 75:23 means that good souls see God on the Last Day. They should have applied the methodology of following the definitive verses and the similar ones within the same topic or term in question, bearing in mind the local context of each verse of course, while making the definitive verses the ruling guides for researchers to understand the similar verses. This method must applied by those who want to know the Quranic Truth as per the only right way, indicated by God in the verse 3:7. Let us examine this practical example within pondering on the following verses: "Faces on that Day will be radiant.  Looking towards their Lord." (75:22-23). In order to perceive the real meaning of ''looking toward'' in 75:23, let us examine all definitive and similar verses that contain the word ''look'' and all its derivations. Those pious Quran-believing researchers will decide which verses are the definitive verses and use them to understand the similar verses. The word ''look'' both in the Arabic tongue and in the Quranic tongue has two sematic levels: (to see) and (to wait). The context of the word, in the Quran or in other texts, decides clearly and precisely which of them is the intended meaning. For instance, let us examine the word ''look'' only in the Quranic Chapter Two; we see that the contexts of ''look'' to mean (to see) are found in the verses 2:50, 2:55, 2:69, 2:104, and 2:259. "...We drowned the people of Pharaoh as you looked on." (2:50); "...Thereupon the thunderbolt struck you, as you looked on." (2:55); "...a yellow heifer, bright in color, pleasing to the onlookers." (2:69); "O you who believe! Do not say 'care for us' but say 'look upon us', and listen..." (2:104); "...Now look at your food and your drink - it has not spoiled..." (2:259). Likewise, we see that the contexts of ''look'' to mean (to wait) are found in the verses 2:162, 2:210, and 2:280. "They will remain under it forever, and the torment will not be lightened for them, and they will not be waited to be forgiven." (2:162); " Are they waiting for God Himself to come to them in the shadows of the clouds, together with the angels..." (2:210); "But if he is in hardship, then wait until a time of ease..." (2:280). According to the above, we understand now that ''look toward" in 75:22-23 certainly means NOT to look at God, but rather to wait, on the Day of Resurrection, for His command to allow them to enter into Paradise after the Judgment is over. This meaning is ascertained by the local context in the Quranic Chapter 75, in the contrast for the sinful ones condemned to Hell waiting for their inevitable fate in extreme fright and worry: "And faces on that Day will be gloomy. Realizing that a back-breaker has befallen them." (75:24-25). Besides, it is not just the context of 75:22-23 that make us believe that ''look toward" means to wait; the definitive verse 6:103 supports this meaning as it indicates that no one will ever see God, and 7:143 within the Quranic story of Moses makes us know that for sure.                

5- Let us also refute the Middle-Ages Sunnites quoting the Quranic verse 83:15 to support their erroneous view that God will be seen by believers (who will be Paradise dwellers) but not by the disbelievers (who will be Hell dwellers) on the Last Day. God says in the Quran: "Not at all. On that Day, they will be veiled from their Lord." (83:15). We assert the following points. 

* The Quranic idea of being veiled, covered, or screened is not necessarily linked to (lack of) vision; for instance, a screen/veil might be accompanied by lack of vision in the following verses: "...And when you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a screen..." (33:53); " It is not for any human that God should speak to him, except by inspiration, or from behind a veil..." (42:51).

* Yet, a screen/veil is linked to vision or the ability to see in other verses, such as the following: "When you read the Quran, We place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter an invisible barrier." (17:45). This verse indicates the fact that the polytheists and disbelievers could still see Muhammad and he could see them but they could not harm him. another figurative meaning is found in the following verse that has words of polytheists and disbelievers  addressed to Muhammad: "And they say, "Our hearts are screened from what you call us to, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a barrier..." (41:5). This means that they and Muhammad could see one another but there were figurative barriers between him and them because they did not believe in the message of God conveyed by Muhammad.    

* As for this verse "Not at all. On that Day, they will be veiled from their Lord." (83:15), its local context has nothing to do with 'seeing' God; rather, it is linked to the Last Day, as God tells us about torment of Hell-dwellers and the bliss of Paradise dwellers see 83:15-36. This reminds us that God's mercy on the Last Day is nearer to the good people: "...God's mercy is close to the doers of good." (7:56), and this mercy is derived from the Light of God, as they will enter into two levels Paradise of the two groups as per their faith and deeds (see the Quranic Chapter 56), and first by God's mercy and grace of course, whereas the bad people who will be veiled from their Lord in 83:15 will have no mercy at all and God's light for them will turn into eternal fire in Hell. There will be a barrier separating Hell-dwellers from Paradise-dwellers, indicating that they will see one another but the evil ones will be prevented from God's Light (i.e., His mercy and pardon). More details will be mentioned in a separate article about torment in Hell and bliss in Paradise.     

   Henceforth, the local context of 83:15 is linked to the comparison between Hell-dwellers who will have no mercy and Paradise-dwellers who have the mercy of God bestowed on them; see 83:15-21. Other verses, namely 56:7-11, tell us how people are divided into three groups on the Last Day, two groups of Paradise dwellers (i.e., the frontrunners and those on the right) and one group of Hell-dwellers (i.e., those on the left). Dialogues will occur between Paradise-dwellers and Hell-dwellers despite the barrier/screen between them as they will see one another; see 74:39-47 and 7:44-46. Such a barrier is described further in 57:12-13. Hence, we conclude that 83:15 has nothing to do with the wrong notion of 'seeing' God in the Hereafter. "No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. He is the Subtle, the Expert." (6:103).    


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Comments ( 1 )
Comment By   Darya K     - 2017-03-30
Thank you
Thank you very much for translating this page. It was a really good article that cleared up a lot of confusions I had. Jazakallah khair