Does Seeing Allah Imply that He Has a Body, Form, or Limitations?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I heard a shaykh mention that everybody will see Allah. Does this mean that everyone will see the true form of Allah. How can it be possible for us to see Allah, even in jannah, if we are limited and Allah is unlimited?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, with blessings and peace on the Messenger of Allah

Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

It is a point of belief in Islam that believers will behold Allah Most High in the Next Life, with a beholding that is unlike the beholding of created things and free of directionality or encompassing the Beheld.

Beholding Allah is something rationally possible that has been decisively and undeniably established by the primary texts of the Qur’an and Prophetic Sunna, and accepted by scholarly consensus (ijma`). Thus, it is obligatory to believe.

[Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid `ala Jawharat al-Tawhid; Maydani, Sharh al-Tahawiyya; Ramadan Effendi/Taftazani, Hashiyat Sharh al-`Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya]

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,

“Upon that day faces shall be radiant, gazing upon their Lord.” [Surat al-Qiyama, 75.22-23]

And there are many hadiths of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) that affirm this beholding of Allah, too. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You shall behold your Lord as you behold this moon….” [Bukhari and Muslim; Kattani says that this is a mass-transmitted (mutawatir) hadith, related through more than 20 Prophetic Companions; and this was also affirmed by Ibn Abi Sharif in his commentary on Ibn al-Humam’s al-Musayara]

There is scholarly consensus regarding this matter, as affirmed in the major works that transmit scholarly consensus, such as Ibn al-Qattan al-Fasi’s al-Iqna` fi Masa’il al-Ijma`.

How can it be possible to behold Allah if He is exalted beyond form?

Allah Most High is the necessary existent, and necessarily distinct from created things. He tells us in the Qur’an, ” Like Him there is naught; He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing.” [Surat al-Shura, 11] This entails that Allah is exalted beyond the limitations of time and space, for He is the Creator of time and space and all that is in them. He is not a body or form.

Then how can we see Allah? Wouldn’t it entail affirming a direction, body, and form for Allah?

No, it doesn’t–because the beholding of Allah Most High is “without resemblance [to the beholding of created things] and without encompassing,” as Imam Ibrahim Laqani mentions in his primer on Islamic beliefs, Jawharat al-Tawhid.

It is completely possible for Allah to create beholding in His servants, without there being physical directionality between them and Him.

This beholding is one of the greatest of spiritual favors. May Allah make us of those who are granted ultimate felicity, through true following of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani