How does Allah hear?

The Details of the Question

- Does our Lord hear through sounds? Or should we believe that our Lord does not hear through sounds since sound is a means of hearing just as light is a means of seeing (and our Lord hears without a medium, without a tool and without a direction)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our Lord’s seeing is not through any particular means or device. He sees light but He does not see through light. He hears voices but He does not hear through voices because He does not need light and sound in his seeing and hearing. Allah is free from all material things. However, we cannot guess how Allah sees or hears.

The following statement of Badiuzzaman Said Nursi related to the mystery of Divine oneness sheds light on the issue:

“The relationship between man’s spirit and his body is such that it causes all his members and parts to assist one another. That is, man’s spirit is a commanding law from among the laws pertaining to creation –the manifestation of Divine will– which has been clothed in external existence, and is a subtle dominical faculty. Thus, in administering the parts of the body, and hearing their immaterial voices, and seeing their needs, they do not form obstacles to one another, nor do they confuse the spirit. Near and far are the same in relation to the spirit. They do not veil one another. If the spirit wishes, it can bring the majority to the assistance of one. If it wishes, it can know, perceive, and administer through each part of the body. Even, if it acquires great luminosity, it may see and hear through all the parts.

In the same way, And Allah’s is highest similitude,1 since the spirit, a commanding law of Almighty Allah, displays this ability in the body and members of man, who is the microcosm, surely, the boundless acts, the innumerable voices, the endless supplications, the uncountable matters in the universe, which is the macrocosm, will present no difficulty to the all-embracing will and absolute power of the Necessarily Existent One. They will not form obstacles to one another. They will not occupy that All-Glorious Creator, nor confuse Him. He sees them all simultaneously, and hears all the voices simultaneously. Close and distant are the same for Him. If He wishes, He sends all to the assistance of one. He can see everything and hear their voices through everything. He knows everything through everything, and so on..." (see Sözler, pp. 687- 688).

When the Prophet (pbuh) wanted people to straighten the rows when they were getting ready to pray, he said,

“Make your rows straight; I definitely see you behind me.” It is certain based on this sound hadith. [see Bukhari, Adhan, 71-72; Muslim, Salah, 125(434); Nasai, Imamah, 27]

According to the majority of Ahl as-Sunnah scholars, the Prophet (pbuh) does not need a separate material eye in order to see his back or the visible objects to be in front of his eye. As a grace of Allah, he could see behind him with his spiritual eye of heart or with his normal eyes. (see Ibn Hajar, the commentary of Bukhari’s hadith in question; Suyuti, ibid; Sindi, ibid)

It is clear that Allah does not need tools such as light and sound for anyone who thinks that the Prophet (pbuh) can see in a way that is other than normal seeing.

To sum up, the verse “there is nothing whatever like unto Him (Allah)” above forbids us from any imagination that will lead us to a simile about Allah.

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