Does Allah Most High Have Eyes through Which He Sees? Does Allah Need Eyes to See?

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


I read on a Salafi website that Allah sees with His eyes. I’ve heard scholars say that Allah doesn’t need eyes to see. While I understand that Allah’s attribute is eyes, is it correct to say Allah sees with His eyes?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

Whenever discussing the attributes of Allah Most High, we must filter any conclusions through the Quranic verses that are definitive in expressing the absolute transcendence of Allah from His creation.

Affirming Allah’s transcendence (i.e., dissimilarity) is known as Tanzih.

Verses of Tanzih

Allah Most High categorically negates any likeness or similarity in the following verses:

Allah Most High says:

“(He is) the Originator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you spouses from among yourselves, and (made) mates for cattle (as well)—multiplying you (both). There is nothing like Him, for He (alone) is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” [Quran, 42:11]

“And there is none comparable to Him.” [Quran, 112:4]

“(He is the) Lord of the heavens, and the earth, and everything in between. So worship Him (alone), and be steadfast in His worship. Do you know of anyone equal to Him (in His attributes)?” [Quran, 19:65]

Elusive Verses (Mutashabihat)

Since the Quran is Allah’s message to creation, He speaks to them in a language they can understand. However, just like in any language, words and statements can be literal or metaphorical and can be clear in their meaning or elusive, requiring deep reflection to understand the intent of the speaker.

Allah Most High says, “He is the One Who has revealed to you (O Prophet) the Book, of which some verses are definitive—they are the foundation of the Book—while others are elusive. Those with deviant hearts follow the elusive verses seeking (to spread) doubt through their (false) interpretations—but none grasps their (full) meaning except Allah. As for those well-grounded in knowledge, they say, ‘We believe in this (Quran)—it is all from our Lord.’ But none will be mindful (of this) except people of reason.” [Quran, 3:7]

From this verse, we see that some verses in the Quran have elusive meanings, the exact meaning of which is only with Allah Most High.

It is important to remember that everything the Muslim is required to believe or know is of the definitive verses.

Verses Seemingly Implying Likeness Between Allah and Creation

Amongst the elusive verses of the Quran are those that seem to imply a similarity between Allah and His creation. The verse implying that Allah Most High has eyes is of this type of verses. [Laqqani, Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Allah Most High says, “So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our (watchful) Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.” [Quran, 52:48]

Allah Most High says, also, “‘Put him into a chest, then put it into the river. The river will wash it ashore, and he will be taken by (Pharaoh,) an enemy of Mine and his.’ And I blessed you with lovability from Me (O Moses) so that you would be brought up under My (watchful) Eye.” [Quran, 20:39]

Regarding this verse and other elusive verses like it, the scholars took two main approaches:

  1. Those who interpreted the verses according to three strict criteria;
  2. Those who suspended judgment of interpretation and consigned true knowledge of its meaning to Allah Most High. [Laqqani, Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Both groups are unanimous that these verses do not, in any way, imply an actual similarity between Allah and His creation. [Ibid.]

Let’s look at each approach individually.

The First Approach: Those Who Interpreted (Ta’wil)

Due to the spread of Islam to lands where many religions and sects collectively called home, as well as the newfound presence of books of greek philosophy being translated into languages understood by the Muslims – the scholars deemed it necessary to give a tangible interpretation to the elusive verses.

The intention behind this decision was to suffice the doubts and misconceptions that began to creep into the Muslim psyche.

However, these scholars did not take this lightly. They codified a systematic approach to consistently interpreting these verses in a manner that is congruent to establish tenets of Islamic belief and theology.

Conditions of Interpretation

The scholars laid down three conditions for interpreting these elusive verses –  any interpretation must:

  1. be a valid meaning in the Arabic language;
  2. be in sync with the context of the verse;
  3. not go against any established beliefs in Islam. [Laqqani, Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Applying These Conditions

Allah Most High says, “So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our (watchful) Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.” [Quran, 52:48]

In the above verse the words “Our Eyes”, seems to imply that Allah Most High has eyes which lead one to think of a likeness to the human eyes.

Using the above conditions, the scholars have come up with the following interpretation.

Condition One:

The word ’Ayn or eye (used in the plural form in the above verse) has many meanings in Classical Arabic.

  • The organ through which one sees.
  • The faculty of sight.
  • Care and concern.
  • Etc. [Laqqani, Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Each of these usages have textual proofs for their meanings in Classical (jahilliya) poetry which is the source for the preserved language of Classical Arabic.

For instance, the Arabs would say:

عَلَى عَيْني قصدْتُ زَيْدًا
Upon my ’Ayn, I sought out Zayd
(Literally translated)

The word ’Ayn here is meant to mean “out of concern, I sought out Zayd.”

Condition Two:

The meaning chosen must match the context of the verse. Using the same example we see that the meaning of ’Ayn (lit. eye), care and concern, matches the context of all the verses it comes in.

For example:

Allah Most High says, “So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our (watchful) Eyes. And glorify the praises of your Lord when you rise.” [Quran, 52:48]

Allah Most High says, also “‘Put him into a chest, then put it into the river. The river will wash it ashore, and he will be taken by (Pharaoh,) an enemy of Mine and his.’ And I blessed you with lovability from Me1 (O Moses) so that you would be brought up under My (watchful) Eye.” [Quran, 20:39]

In both of these very different stories, we see the word ’Ayn or its plural ’Ayun fits, if interpreted as care and concern.

“So be patient with your Lord’s decree, for you are truly under Our care.” [Quran, 52:48]

“(O Moses) so that you would be brought up under My care.” [Quran, 20:39] [Ibid.]

Condition Three:

The interpretation with is chosen meaning from the various valid meanings carried in the Classical Arabic must not go against any established belief in the Sacred Theology of Islam.

Allah Most High having care and concern for His prophets, and particularly the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and Moses (Upon him be peace) is a meaning that is congruent to the belief of Islam: Allah Most High wants what’s best for us and has commanded us to what is in our best interest. [Ibid.]

One More Example

Another famous example that has been a source of misunderstanding for some Muslims are the verses that speak of the hand (yad) of Allah.

The word in Arabic for “hand” is yad (pl. Aydi). Looking at this word through the lens of the above conditions we find the following:

  • “Yad” has up to 70 meanings. Among them is (a) the limb that has fingers – this is its literal meaning, (b) power, (c) generosity, (d) control, (these three are of its many metaphorical meanings), etc. [Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-Arab]
  • The context allows for the metaphorical meanings.
    Allah Most High says, “(Some among) the Jews said, ‘Allah’s hand is tied up.’ May their hands be tied and they be condemned for what they said. Rather, He is open-handed, giving freely as He pleases (…).” [Quran, 5:64]
    The context of this verse is the Jews accusation that Allah Most High is miserly and stingy. Miserliness is often referred to by the metaphor of a closed hand (e.g. tied up). The word yad (lit. hand) has generosity as one of its valid usages. And generosity matches the context where Allah is refuting the Jews’ accusation that He is miserly.
  • Allah Most High being generous is part and parcel of our obligatory belief about Allah Most High. The name of Allah al-Karim (the generous) supports this clearly.

The Second Approach (Tafwidh)

This approach was the approach of many of the early scholars. This was most common prior to the spread of Islam to lands where people exposed to western philosophy and other sects. Due to this context, there was less need to interpret.

This approach is essentially affirming that Allah Most High is absolutely dissimilar to His creation, and as for the elusive verses that seem to imply a similarity the scholarly position is to suspend judgment and consign the true meaning to Allah Most High alone. A scholar of this approach will say, “Allah knows best” and leave it there. [Laqqani, Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Both Approaches are Valid

Imam al-Laqqani (Allah have mercy on him), the great scholar of Islamic theology writes about this issue, in his famous poem on Islamic theology:

“وَكُلُّ نَصٍّ أَوْهَمَ التَّشْبِيْهَ  – أَوِّلْهُ أَوْ فَوِّضْ وَرُمْ تَنْزِيْهًا”

Every text that implies similarity – Interpret it, or consign it (to Allah), and (in either case) affirm (Divine) dissimilarity. [Ibid.]

Invalid Approaches (Tashbih wa Tajsim)

To affirm the literal meanings of these elusive verses and words, in such a way that one is affirming, intentionally or unintentionally, a similarity between Allah Most High and creation – is heresy and potentially disbelief.

For someone to say that Allah has a hand (yad) like our hands or an eye (’ayn) like our eyes – is tantamount to disbelief. Likewise for one to affirm that Allah Most High has a body, actual physical body parts, a physical location, etc. is tantamount to disbelief.

The scholars were very adamant against such positions. Such beliefs are outside the Sunni mainstream (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’a). [Ibid.]


In summary, Allah Most High does not have organs (like eyes and hands), senses, descriptors like size, weight, distance, place, shape, etc. Allah Most High is absolutely dissimilar to creation.

As for the meaning of these verses and these words (’ayn; lit. eye; yad; lit. hand), either we say it means care and concern or generosity, etc., or we say, “Allah knows best” with firm conviction that there is no similarity between Allah Most High and creation.

The definitive verses of the Quran make clear that Allah Most High is absolutely different than created beings. The scholars mentioned, “Everything that comes to thought, Allah is different than that.”

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.