Ahmadiyya Priangan Timur


Monday, 16 February 2015

Knowledge of God

A subtle question rises here: what is the nature of the knowledge of Almighty God through the perfection of which He is aware of the overt and the covert of every particle? It is true that reason cannot comprehend the true condition of that knowledge, yet it is entirely true to say that of all types of knowledge that can be conceived of that knowledge is more powerful and stronger and fuller and more complete. When we observe our own ways of acquiring knowledge and consider its diverse types, we find that the greatest and most certain and most absolute of all the types of knowledge is the knowledge that we possess concerning our own existence.

No man can in any condition forget his own existence or entertain any doubt concerning it. So far as our reason extends, we find this type of knowledge more powerful and stronger and fuller and more complete. We find it inconsistent with the perfection of God Almighty that His knowledge with regard to His creatures should in any way be less perfect than this, inasmuch as it would amount to a deficiency on the part of God Almighty, that He should not possess the highest kind of knowledge once could conceive of and it could be objected why  God's knowledge fell short of the highest kind; was it by His own design or by some compulsion? It could not be by His own design for no one deliberately permits a deficiency with regard to himself. Then how should God Almighty, Who loves perfection, permit such a deficiency concerning Himself? If it is said that it is by some compulsion, then it would follow that the compeller would be supreme over God Almighty in his powers and his strength, so that on account of that excess of strength he should be able to restrain God in His designs. But that is impossible in itself because nobody is supreme over God Almighty through whose obstruction He could be confronted with some compulsion. It is established, therefore, that God's knowledge is perfect.

We have already established that of all types of knowledge the most perfect is that which a person has with regard to his own existence. We have therefore to acknowledge that God's knowledge concerning His creation is like that knowledge though we cannot comprehend its true nature. Our reason tells us that the most certain and absolute knowledge is that which should exclude any distance or barrier between the knower and that which is to be known. That knowledge is of this type. As a man is not dependent upon other sources of knowledge in order to be aware of his own existence, to be animate and to consider oneself as an animate are so close to each other as to be identical. Such should be the knowledge of God Almighty concerning the whole universe. Here also there should be no difference and distance between the Knower and that which is to be known. This high quality of knowledge which God needs for the establishment of His Godhead can be predicated of Him, when it is accepted concerning Him that there is so much closeness and such relationship between Him and the subject of His knowledge, greater than which it is not possible to imagine.
This perfect relationship with the subjects of His knowledge can exist only when all of them should have proceeded from Him and should be His creation. Their being must be dependent upon His Being. In other words, when the situation should be such that the true existence should be only His and all others should have proceeded from Him and should subsist with His support. Even after their creation, they should not be independent of Him, nor be separate from Him, but in truth after the creation of all things, He alone should be truly alive and all other life should have proceeded from Him and should exist only with His support. He alone should be subject to no limitation and everything else, souls as well as bodies, should be confined within the limits set by Him. He should comprehend everything; everything should be comprehended in His Rububiyyat. There should be nothing which should not have proceeded from His hand and should not be included within His Rububiyyat, nor should it exist without His support. It is only in such a situation that God Almighty would have a perfect relationship  with the subjects of His knowledge. This relationship is referred in the Holy Qur’an as:

We are closer to him than his jugular vein.
Qaf, 50:17

Similarly at another place it is said:

That is to say: He alone sustains true life and everything else has proceeded from Him and has a life because of Him;

In truth He is the Life of all lives and is the Power of all powers....

there would be no reason to assume that someone who bears the fictitious title of Permeshwar would have any knowledge concerning the reality of the soul, whose knowledge would extend to the ultimate limits of the soul. A person who has full knowledge concerning a thing has the power to make it also, and if he has not the power then his knowledge must be defective in some respect. In the absence of full knowledge, it would be difficult to distinguish between similar things, let alone to have the power of making them. If God Almighty is not the Creator of things then He not only suffers from the deficiency that His knowledge is incomplete, but it also follows that He would be subject to confusion in distinguishing between millions of souls and might often mistake the soul of X as the soul of Y. Partial knowledge often leads to such confusion. And if you assert that it does not, then produce some argument in your favour.

[Surmah Chashm Arya, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 221-226 footnote]

It might be asked that if full comprehension of a thing implies the power to create it then, as God's knowledge of His Own Being is perfect, is He the Creator of His Own Being or has He power to create the like of Himself? The answer to the first part is that were God Almighty the Creator of His Own Being, it would involve His being in existence before His coming into existence and this is an impossibility. God Almighty possessing complete knowledge of His Own Being means that, in this instance, the Knower and His knowledge and that which is known are all the same and cannot be separated. There is here nothing which should be regarded as having been created. God's knowledge of His Own Being cannot be compared to anything else. In this instance, the Knower is not something apart from that which is known so that one may be designated as the Creator and the other as creation. The proper way to put it is that His Being is uncreated and is eternally and everlastingly Self-Existing and that is the meaning of God.

The second part of the objection is that God's complete knowledge of Himself means that He has the power to create His Own like. The answer to this is that God's power directs itself towards matters which are not inconsistent with His eternal attributes. It is true that God, if He so desires, can create that of which He has perfect knowledge, but it certainly does not follow that whatever He has the power to do He should proceed to do without regard to His perfect attributes. In the exercise of all His powers, He has regard to His perfect attributes and He has it in mind whether that which He wills is not contradictory of His perfect attributes. For instance, He has the power to burn a pious and righteous person in the fire of Hell, but His mercy and justice and attribute of reward would stand in the way, and, therefore, He never does it. In the same way His power is never inclined to destroy Himself for this would be contrary to His eternal life. He does not create His Own like because His attributes of Unity and Peerlessness, which are eternal, prevent Him from thinking in that way. It should be understood that to be unable to do something is one thing, but despite the power to do a thing, not to address Himself to something contradictory of His attributes, is quite another.

[Surmah Chashm Arya Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 2, pp. 230-233 footnote]

It is characteristic of God Almighty alone to know the hidden by virtue of His personal power and His personal condition. From ancient times, those who based themselves upon truth have believed that it is proper for God Almighty that He should know the hidden. This is a personal speciality of His. He has no associate in this attribute as He has no associate in His other attributes. It is, therefore, impossible for anyone to have personal knowledge of the hidden whether he is a Prophet or Muhaddath or Wali. It is true, however, that favourites and chosen ones are given knowledge of hidden mysteries through revelation. This has been so since ancient times and continues today, but such experience is now confined to the followers of the Holy Prophet alone. [peace and blessings of Allah be on him].

[Tasdiq-un-Nabi, pp. 26-27 or Maktubat-e-Ahmadiyya, Vol. 3, p.57]

Our Ever-Living and All-Sustaining God talks to me like one person talks to another. I ask Him something and supplicate Him and He answers in words full of power. If this should happen a thousand times, He does not fail to answer. In His words He discloses wonderful hidden matters and displays scenes of extraordinary powers till He makes it clear that He alone is the One who should be called God. He accepts prayers and intimates their acceptance. He resolves great difficulties and through repeated supplications revives those who are sick and very nearly dead. He discloses all these designs of His in advance through His words which relate to future events. He proves that He is the God of heaven and earth. He addressed me and told me that He would safeguard me against death by plague and all those who dwell in my house in piety and righteousness. Who else is there in this age except myself who has published such a revelation and disclosed God's promise concerning the members of his family and other pious people who dwell within his house?

[Nasim-e-Da‘wat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 19, pp. 448-449]

In addition to all other normal conditions of man, ingrained in his nature, is the quest for a Transcendental Being for Whom there is a longing in his heart of hearts. The effect of this quest begins to be felt as soon as a child is born. As soon as it is born, it exhibits a spiritual characteristic which is that it leans towards its mother and entertains a natural affection for her. As its senses develop and the flower of its nature blooms, this attraction of love, which is inherent in it, begins to exhibit itself patently. It finds no comfort anywhere except in the lap of its mother. If it is separated from its mother and is put at a distance from her, its life becomes bitter, and though a heap of bounties may be placed before it, it finds its true comfort only in its mother's lap and nowhere else. Then what is this attraction that it feels towards its mother?

In truth, it is the same attraction which is vested in a child's nature for God. Every exhibition of affection by a person in fact proceeds from that very attraction, and the restlessness of a lover which a person experiences is in truth a reflection of that very love, as if he takes up diverse things and examines them in search for something that he has lost and whose name he has forgotten. A person's love of property, or children, or wife, or his soul being drawn towards the song of a sweet voiced singer, are in fact all in search of the lost Beloved. As man cannot perceive with his physical eyes the Imperceptible Being Who is latent in everyone like fire and yet is hidden from everyone, nor can he find Him through the exercise of his imperfect reason, he has been subject to many errors in his understanding of Him and through his errors he renders to others that which is His due. God Almighty has mentioned an excellent illustration in the Holy Qur’an that the world is like a great hall paved smooth with slabs of glass and a current of water flows underneath them which runs very fast. A person looking at the slabs of glass wrongly imagines them to be water also and is afraid of walking upon them as he would be afraid of walking upon water, though in reality they are only glass but very clear and transparent. Thus, these great objects in heaven like the sun and the moon etc. are transparent like glass and are worshipped by mistake. Behind them, there is a Higher Power at work which is flowing swiftly like water. It is the mistake of those who worship created things that they attribute to the glass all this activity which is being manifested by the Power behind it. This is the explanation of the verse:
‘It is a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass.’—al-Naml, 27:45

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