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The Divine Omniscience and the Figurative Style within the Quranic Description of the Dominant Lord God's Qualities and Deeds

The Divine Omniscience and the Figurative Style within the Quranic Description of the Dominant Lord God's Qualities and Deeds

 

Published in April 24, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Introduction:

1- Some people are very bold, in the negative sense, within their pondering the Quran within their faulty, illogical thinking and their ignorance; their ponderings and conclusions contradict the Quran and are very insulting to the Dominant Lord God. Some of these ignoramuses wrongly assume that God does not know the future and that His Omniscience is lacking, and this insult/blasphemy is based on their misunderstanding and misinterpretation of these verses and other verses like them: "If a wound afflicts you, a similar wound has afflicted the others. Such days We alternate between the people, that God may know those who believe, and take witnesses from among you. God does not love the unjust ones. So that God may test those who believe, and eliminate the disbelievers. Or do you expect to enter Paradise, before God has distinguished those among you who strive, and before He has distinguished those who adhere to patience?" (3:140-142). 

2- Those ignoramuses forget about the figurative style in the Quranic text (see our YouTube show titled "Quranic moments", episodes from 255 to 264). We have written a lot about the Quranist methodology of how to understand the Quran in the only right way inferred from the Quran itself, as its verses explain one another, and how its verses contain direct, literal style and the figurative, metaphoric style (see our book in English: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/arabic/book_main.php?main_id=121); (see, for instance, our article in English: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=16993). We further write on this topic within the article that you are reading now for more explanation. May God come to the aid of all of us.

 

Firstly: about the Lord God's Omniscience:

1- God knows all details about everything: "..Surely He comprehends everything." (41:54).

2- This Divine Omniscience is directly linked to His Dominance over the universe as He is its Creator: "God is He Who created seven heavens, and their like of earth. The command descends through them, so that you may know that God is Capable of everything, and that God Encompasses everything in knowledge." (65:12); "To God belongs what is in the heavens and what is on earth, and God encompasses everything." (4:126).

3- God encompasses all knowledge about disbelievers in all eras and locations: "In fact, those who disbelieve are in denial. And God encloses them from beyond." (85:19-20); "...But God surrounds the disbelievers." (2:19); Shuaib the prophet said the following to the disbelievers among his people: "...My Lord comprehends everything you do." (11:92). The same applies to the Qorayish disbelievers and the hypocrites: "And do not be like those who left their homes boastfully, showing off before the people, and barring others from the Path of God. God comprehends what they do." (8:47); "If something good happens to you, it upsets them; but if something bad befalls you, they rejoice at it. But if you persevere and maintain righteousness, their schemes will not harm you at all. God comprehends what they do." (3:120). Some of the companions/contemporaries of Muhammad committed sins in private as they feared and hid from people, while they never feared their Omniscient Lord God: "They hide from the people, but they cannot hide from God. He is with them, as they plot by night with words He does not approve. God comprehends what they do." (4:108).   

4- The Lord God's Omniscience encompasses everything in the universe and within the lives of human beings.

4/1: God knows thoughts and notions inside our hearts/minds; everything in the universe is written and recorded in a Clear Book: "And your Lord knows what their hearts conceal, and what they reveal. And your Lord knows what their hearts conceal, and what they reveal. There is no mystery in the heaven and the earth, but it is in a Clear Book." (27:74-75).

4/2: God is the Omnipresent Witness of everything in the universe, even within things like an atom or less than an atom: "...Not even the weight of an atom, on earth or in the sky, escapes your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or larger, but is in a Clear Book." (10:61); "...He is the Knower of the unseen." Not an atom's weight in the heavens and the earth, or anything smaller or larger, escapes His knowledge. All are in a Clear Book." (34:3).

5- God's Omniscience is linked to His Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Dominance over His Kingdom or the universe of both the metaphysical and the physical realms; God is with every one of us wherever we may be: "It is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then settled over the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes out of it, and what descends from the sky, and what ascends to it. And He is with you wherever you may be. God is Seeing of everything you do." (57:4).

6- Human beings cannot know about the metaphysical realm with their senses or within first-hand experience; we only know about what we can see and perceive; it is repeated in the Quran that the Omniscient Lord God is the Only One Who knows everything about both the metaphysical and the physical realms.

6/1: Within the context of His Holy Names, God says the following in the Quran: "He is God. There is no God but He, the Knower of secrets and declarations. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful." (59:22); "The Knower of the Unseen and the Seen, the Almighty, the Wise." (64:18); "The Knower of the hidden and the manifest..." (23:92).

6/2: Within more details about the Divine Omniscience, God says the following in the Quran: "God knows what every female bears, and every increase and decrease of the wombs. With Him, everything is by measure. The Knower of the Invisible and the Visible; the Grand, the Supreme. It is the same; whether one of you conceals his speech, or declares it; whether he goes into hiding by night, or goes out by day." (13:8-10).

6/3: This Divine Omniscience is directly linked to the creation of the universe; i.e., the heavens and the earth: "It is He who created the heavens and the earth in Truth. On the Day when He says: "Be," it will be. His saying is the Truth, and His is the sovereignty on the Day when the trumpet is blown. The Knower of secrets and declarations. He is the Wise, the Expert." (6:73); "God is He who created the heavens and the earth and everything between them in six days, and then established Himself on the Throne. Apart from Him, you have no master and no intercessor. Will you not reflect? He regulates all affairs, from the heavens, to the earth. Then it ascends to Him on a Day the length of which is a thousand years by your count. That is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Powerful, the Merciful." (32:4-6).

6/4: On the Last Day, the Omniscient Lord God will tell everyone of us about our deeds: "Say, "The death from which you flee will catch up with you; then you will be returned to the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will inform you of what you used to do."" (62:8); this is about the hypocrites during Muhammad's lifetime and in all eras later on, of course: "Say, "Work. God will see your work, and so will His Messenger, and the believers. Then you will be returned to the Knower of secrets and declarations, and He will inform you of what you used to do."" (9:105); "...And God will watch your actions, and so will the Messenger; then you will be returned to the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will inform you of what you used to do." (9:94).

6/5: This is also directly linked to God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and the Only Judge on the Last Day Who will settle the religious disputes of people: "Say, "Our God, Initiator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of all secrets and declarations. You will judge between your servants regarding what they had differed about."" (39:46).

7- The Lord God's Omniscience is manifested many times within the Quran:

7/1: God predicts that those who are adamantly adhering to disbelief will never believe; it is no use to urge them to listen to the Quranic Truth because they are figuratively deaf and dumb: "The worst of animals to God are the deaf and dumb - those who do not understand. Had God recognized any good in them, He would have made them hear; and had He made them hear, they would have turned away defiantly." (8:22-23).

7/2: On seeing Hell on the Day of Resurrection, and directly before being forced to enter it, they will wish in vain (after it is too late for them) to return to their former life on earth to believe; yet, God asserts within His Omniscience that they will never believe even if they returned to earth: "If only you could see, when they are made to stand before the Fire; they will say, "If only we could be sent back, and not reject the revelations of our Lord, and be among the believers." What they used to conceal before will become clear to them. And even if they were sent back, they would revert to what they were forbidden. They are liars." (6:27-28).

7/3: Within this Divine Omniscience, God has told Saleh the prophet that his people/tribe of Thamood will not believe in the miracle of the she-camel created out of rock; indeed, they slaughtered it later on within disdain and insult to God because of their disbelief: "We are sending the she-camel as a test for them; so watch them and be patient. And inform them that the water is to be shared between them; each share of drink made available." (54:27-28).

7/4: God's Omniscience is manifested in predicting the reaction and stance of hypocrites during the battle of the confederates when Yathreb was sieged by the Meccan troops of aggressors: "Had it been invaded from its sides, and they were asked to dissent, they would have done so with little hesitation. Although they had made a pledged to God, in the past, that they will not turn their backs and flee. A pledge to God is a responsibility." (33:14-15); "They assumed that the confederates had not withdrawn. But were the confederates to advance, they would wish they were in the desert with the Bedouins, inquiring about your news. And if they were among you, they would have done little fighting." (33:20). 

7/5: This Omniscience of our Lord God is linked about talking about future events and the invisible aspects in many Quranic verses; see, for instance, 6:65, 6:67, 6:148, 30:2, 30:5, 2:142, 17:51, 10:31, 23:85-89, 46:11, 48:11, and 48:15.

 

Secondly: the figurative style of using human-related words to indicate qualities/deeds of God:

1- God's Omniscience does NOT contradict this verse: "...that God may know who fears Him at heart..." (5:94). Tests and ordeals of people will not make God aware of what He does not know, because God knows everything; the figurative style in 5:94 is using human-related words to indicate qualities/deeds of God to make human beings – with their limited mind and imagination – grasp and understand the Quranic contexts related to deeds and qualities of the Lord God by using the same word twice (or more) to refer to different levels of meaning within the same topic or context. The tests make winners/losers know their real nature and their waited fate because of their chosen stances, beliefs, notions, and behaviors.  

2- This figurative style comes within contexts of how God deals with human beings while addressing them in ways that make them understand by using the same word twice with different meanings in relation to God and in relation to human beings; e.g., this is about disbelievers: "They plot and scheme. But I and scheme." (86:15-16). Of course, our limited human minds can never fully grasp God's deeds and qualities; the Quranic text tackles them within metaphors so that people may understand. 

3- This figurative style is typically exemplified within the term (scheming) when mentioned regarding God and regarding human beings to describe the evil schemers and how they are punished by the Lord God: "They schemed, and God schemed; but God is the Best of schemers." (3:54); "When the disbelievers plotted against you, to imprison you, or kill you, or expel you. They schemed, and God schemed; but God is the Best of schemers." (8:30); "They planned a scheme, and We planned a scheme, but they did not notice. So note the outcome of their scheming; We destroyed them and their people, altogether." (27:50-51).

 

Thirdly: using the figurative style of using human-related words to indicate qualities/deeds of God within the topic of God's Omniscience:

1- This is within the context of God's Omniscience regarding tests/ordeals; all human beings are tested during their lifetimes: "...We burden you with adversity and prosperity - a test. And to Us you will be returned." (21:35); "...And We made some of you tempters for one another-will you be patient? Your Lord is always Observing." (25:20).

2- Some human beings pass the test within success, and some others fail miserably; God addresses human beings in the Quran in ways that allow them to understand and to grasp; He tells them that tests will decide the winners and losers and He knows them; the intended meaning is that the human beings will know who will be among the winners and who will be among the losers; this figurative style is very effective within Quranic warning and preaching addressed to people.

3- The topic of test/ordeals comes explicitly within several Quranic contexts.

3/1: Faith/belief is not a mere motto/slogan or a raised banner; such overt and ostentatious behavior, stances, and talking about faith are typical of hypocrites who trade with religion to gain transient possessions of this world; soon enough, they lose within the test of ordeals, and they realize this because they know their souls very well. The Omniscient Lord God knows all about them as well: "Among the people is he who says, "We have believed in God." Yet when he is harmed on God's account, he equates the people's persecution with God's retribution. And if help comes from your Lord, he says, "We were actually with you." Is not God aware of what is inside the hearts of the people? God certainly knows those who believe, and He certainly knows the hypocrites." (29:10-11); "We have tested those before them. God will surely know the truthful, and He will surely know the liars." (29:3).

3/2: Within the test of (dis)obeying the Quranic sharia legislations, God prohibits hunting of animals during pilgrimage in Mecca; many gazelles would walk there as a test and pious, God-fearing pilgrims cannot chase and hunt them, because God sees them while they cannot see Him: "O you who believe! God will test you with something of the game your hands and spears obtain, that God may know who fears Him at heart. Whoever commits aggression after that will have a painful torment." (5:94).

4- The test of ordeals is mentioned in the Quran concerning the command imposing self-defense fighting: "...Had God willed, He could have defeated them Himself, but He thus tests some of you by means of others. As for those who are killed in the way of God, He will not let their deeds go to waste." (47:4).

5- The test of ordeals is implicitly mentioned in the Quranic text within the topic of self-defense fighting:

5/1: God has sent messengers with the Book so that people apply justice and sent iron whose weapons will punish those who never take heed of the Scripture and never uphold justice; people must fight only in case of self-defense to restore peace and justices and NEVER in cases of supporting injustice and unjust ones; God is the Omniscient Lord Who knows who fights for justice and who does so to support injustice: "We sent Our messengers with the clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that humanity may uphold justice. And We sent down iron, in which is violent force, and benefits for humanity. That God may know who supports Him and His messengers invisibly. God is Strong and Powerful." (57:25).

5/2: The early believers of Yathreb were tested by the ordeal of their being defeated in the battle of Uhud: "God has fulfilled His promise to you, and you defeated them by His leave; until when you faltered, and disputed the command, and disobeyed after He had shown you what you like. Some of you want this world, and some of you want the next. Then He turned you away from them, to test you; but He pardoned you. God is Gracious towards the believers." (3:152); God is the Omniscient Lord who knows those among the companions/contemporaries of Muhammad who seek this transient world and those who seek the Hereafter; He has directly addressed them here about this test: "If a wound afflicts you, a similar wound has afflicted the others. Such days We alternate between the people, that God may know those who believe, and take witnesses from among you. God does not love the unjust ones. So that God may test those who believe, and eliminate the disbelievers." (3:140-141). Hence, God has warned and preached by making them face themselves; He knows their hearts and He knows about those who deserve Paradise and those damned hypocrites: "Or do you expect to enter Paradise, before God has distinguished those among you who strive, and before He has distinguished those who adhere to patience?" (3:142); "What befell you on the day the two armies clashed was with God's permission; that He may know the believers. And that He may know the hypocrites. And it was said to them, "Come, fight in the cause of God, or contribute." They said, "If we knew how to fight, we would have followed you." On that day they were closer to disbelief than they were to belief. They say with their mouths what is not in their hearts; but God knows what they hide." (3:166-167).

6- We read this about the test of changing the Qibla (i.e., direction of prayers): "...We only established the direction of prayer, which you once followed, that We may distinguish those who follow the Messenger from those who turn on their heels..." (2:143).

7- We read this about the test of the people of Sheba: "Satan was correct in his assessment of them. They followed him, except for a group of believers. And he had no authority over them; except that We willed to distinguish him who believes in the Hereafter, from him who is doubtful about it. Your Lord is Guardian over all things." (34:20-21).

8- We read this about the test within the story of the people of the cave: "Then We awakened them to know which of the two groups could better calculate the length of their stay." (18:12).

 

Lastly:

 This expression comes in the Quran directly linked to God's Omniscience: "The Knower of the Invisible; He does not disclose His Invisible to anyone. Except to a Messenger of His choosing. He then dispatches guards before him and behind him. That He may know that they have conveyed the messages of their Lord. He encompasses what they have, and has tallied everything by number." (72:26-28). As always, God says nothing but the Absolute Truth.


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