How should we understand Allah Almighty’s being munazzah (free and away) from space?

Details of the Question

- Does Allah Almighty have volume, mass, form or shape?
- Is Allah Almighty free from space/place? Does He not have a place?
- He does not have a place but it is said that He will be seen by the people of Paradise. How can something that is free from space/place be seen?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Allah Almighty is free and away from all of the created beings.  He is free and away from whatever being thought about Him.  For, the human mind cannot comprehend Him.

The human mind does not even have the strength to comprehend the nature of the spirit in human body.  It is not possible for man, who cannot comprehend a creature of God, to comprehend his Creator.

First of all, it should be clearly understood that to know the existence of a being is one thing and to know its nature is something different.  There are many things in the universe whose existence the mind definitely knows but whose nature it cannot comprehend.

For instance, while man knows gravity, which is a law of physics, and even he is subject to it, he does not have any idea about its nature.  Again, no one has an idea about the feeling of compassion, whose existence we understand when a mother hugs her child.  The existence of beings like spirit, electricity, imagination is clearly true; similarly, it is also true that we cannot know their nature.

It is demagogy and ignorance to try to force oneself to understand and explain the issues that cannot be understood through the mind. By doing so, man deviates from the road of thinking correctly and undertakes a burden that will cause him to be destroyed in the end.

A piece of work cannot comprehend its master; similarly, the mind is incapable of understanding the nature of its creator.  For, the mind is something created, a work of art and it is limited.  Hearing, vision, in short, sensory organs have a limited perception area; similarly, the mind has a limited capacity of understanding.  To understand and perceive Allah Almighty’s holy nature is out of the mind’s capacity to perceive and comprehend.

It is certain that man cannot even comprehend his own spirit, imagination and nature, let alone the essence of Allah.  Since the attributes we have mentioned are not corporeal, the mind cannot give a body to them.  For instance, as length and magnitude are out of question for imagination, the mind cannot give a shape to them and draw a limit for them.  However, no one can deny this feeling, whose real nature is unknown.

To force man, who is too weak to know his own nature, to understand the holy nature of Allah, who is the creator of all minds, imaginations, senses, spirits, conscience, memories and angels, is utmost ignorance and demagogy.

All attributes of Allah are infinite and limitless, pre-eternal and everlasting.  As for the mind, it is limited and was created afterwards.  It is certain that something that is limited cannot comprehend the limitless one; anyone who has a beginning and an end cannot comprehend the One who is Pre-eternal and Everlasting.  Therefore, perception in its real sense for man is to perceive that he is too weak to understand the nature of Allah.

Human mind is apt to go from known to unknown, from tangible to intangible, from easy to hard and from particular to general. Allah does not have a match and partner; thus, human mind cannot understand His Holy Truth by analogy and figuration, by experiment and skill.

It is must be logically paradoxical to perceive the real nature of Allah.  For, in that case, the limitless one should comprise the infinite one; a being created afterwards should comprise the pre-eternal one; and that is impossible.  The mind is responsible for knowing Allah as the necessary existent one (wajib al-wujud), as the one with limitless might and infinite will, and as the one whose knowledge encompasses everything. After all, that is the purpose of its creation. So, the holy nature of Allah could be sensed by neither will nor imagination.  Anything understood by the mind and perceived by senses is a creature (something created afterwards).  The existence of Allah can only be known by the light of reason and intellect and by the intuition of the heart.

Yes, the duty of the mind is to observe the glory and nobility of Allah on the universe, His power and sovereignty, and the infinite aesthetic designs He shows on His creatures, and the grace and help He grants to His servants and to contemplate deeply. (1)

Allah Almighty is free and away from place.  An example for this is the sun; it is present on every shiny thing by its light, heat and seven colors; it is apparent and exists in every place by its light, heat and seven colors that stand for its attributes; however, the sun does not exist on shiny things by its mass and self.  In other words, the sun is present in every shiny thing by its light; however, it is out of everything by its mass and self. The attributes of Allah, who gives the sun this characteristic, and His nature are splendid in a way that our mind cannot understand.  Allah encompasses every place by His attributes such as power, knowledge, and will.  However, by His essence, He is in nothing.  So, His existence in everything is in terms of His attributes, and being out of everything is in terms of His essence.  For, He is the One who has created space; so, He does not need it.

As Allah is closer to us than our carotid arteries, how should we understand approaching Him?

The answer: The expressions ‘’closer’’ and ‘’approaching’’ in the question above do not have a relation with distance and place.  Allah’s being close to His slave means meeting all kinds of his needs, doing all kinds of actions on his all cells by His might and knowledge and being merciful to him more than the slave himself.  As to the ‘’slave’s approaching Allah’’, it is about his steps he takes on the way to attain His consent.  Development in his belief, advancement in his knowledge and sincerity in his deeds are means that draw him closer to Allah.

The expressions such as far, close, past, future are related with time and space.  Beings that are material and occupy a place can be far or close to each other.  Allah, who is free and away from matter and space, is close to His creatures more than their souls. Allah, who is free and away from time, is closer to every being than his own soul.

Allah’s being close to His creatures, and His creatures’ being far away from Him cannot be explained by time and space criteria.

An example: You are closer to a book when you read it than itself; it does not know what is written in it, but you do...  And that book is far away from you, that is, away from understanding, recognizing and watching you.

A word on the first page of a book is closer to one on the second page and farther than one on the tenth page.  However, the author who has written them and knows them is close to each of them to the same degree. They exist together in his knowledge.

A sacred hadith that teaches us another aspect of being close and far is as follows:

‘’My slave approaches me by nafilahs.’’Bukhari, Riqaq 38)

This hadith teaches us that approaching is spiritual and mental.  Nafilahs are worshipping contemplation, begging and praising after the performance of fards and wajibs by the slave with the intention of getting closer to his Lord, opening his heart more to lofty abundance and spending his life more efficiently on the way of His consent.

Such a slave covers more distance every day on the way of approaching his Lord. Both the distance he covers and his approaching Allah are spiritual.

Think of a great scholar.  Suppose that all his students are in the same place and take lessons from him.  When a student who has just started to learn from him takes his lesson by sitting in his presence, there is a distance between them in that closeness.  For, that young man is far away from understanding that great imam, that genius scholar.  As his knowledge increases, he will get closer to his teacher; and his respect, appreciation and admiration will increase in the course of time.

In all the stages of his education, his teacher is close to that student; he educates and improves his student.  Here, being far is not in question for the teacher but for the student.  The same thing is true for a deficient man who has become a disciple of a wali (saint). As he develops spiritually, he will benefit from his teacher's spirit and heart more. That great saint follows him in every step of his spiritual development and is close to him. Being far is not in question for the teacher but for the student.

Let us move on from examples to the truth:  Allah is close to His slave more than him by constantly educating his material and spiritual world.  As for the slave, who has deficient attributes that can operate only within limits, he is far from understanding Allah, all of whose attributes are infinite, properly. (2)

Footnotes:

(1) Mehmet KIRKINCI.
(2) Prof. Dr. Alaâddin BAŞAR.

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