The dimensions of the knowledge of God according to Twelve- Imam shi ism

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Certainty of existence of the world and God
Consciousness and perception, which are intertwined with man’s very being, make evident by their very nature the existence of God as well as the world. For, contrary to those who express doubt about their own existence and everything else and consider the world as illusion and fantasy, we know that a human being at the moment of his coming into existence, when he is already conscious and possesses perception, discovers himself and the world. That is to say, he has no doubt that he exists and things other than he exist. As long as man is man this comprehension and knowledge exist in him and cannot be doubted, nor do they undergo any change.

The perception of this reality and existence which man affirms through his intelligence, in opposition to the view of the sophist and skeptic, is immutable and can never be proven false. That is to say, the claim of the sophist and the skeptic which negates reality can never be true, because of man’s very existence. There is within the immense world of existence a permanent and abiding reality which pervades it and which reveals itself to the intelligence.

Yet each of the phenomena of this world which possesses the reality that we discover as conscious and perceiving human being loses its reality sooner or later and becomes nonexistent. From this fact itself it is evident that the visible world and its parts are not the essence of reality (which can never be obliterated or destroyed) Rather, they rely upon a permanent Reality through which they gain reality and by mean s of which they enter into existence. As long as they are connected and attached to it they possess existence and as soon as they are cut off from it they become nonexistent. (In the Book of God reference is made to this reasoning in the verse: can there be doubt concerning Allah, the creator of the heavens and the earth? (Quran, XIV, 10)). We call this Immutable Reality, which is imperishable (that is, the Necessary Being), God.

The ways of the Quran for teaching "Theism" to all people
The path chosen in the previous section to prove the existence of God is a very simple and evident one which man treads with his God- given nature and intelligence without any complication .Yet, for the majority of people, because of their continuous preoccupation with material things and their being drowned in the pleasures of the senses, it has become every difficult to return to their God- given, simple primordial, and untainted nature. That is why Islam, which describes itself as universal, and which believes all people to be equal in religion. Has made it possible for such people to find another way to prove the existence of God. It seeks to speak to them and to make God known to them by means of the very path through which they have turned away from their simple primordial nature.

The Holy Quran instructs the multiude of men in the knowledge of God through different ways. Most of all, it draws their attention to the creation of the world and the order which reigns over it. It invites men to contemplate the “horizon” and their own souls, for man in his few days of earthly life, no matter what path he chooses or what state he loses himself in, will never step outside the world of creation and the order which reigns over it. His intelligence and power of comprehension cannot over look the marvelous scenes of heaven and earth which he observes.

The external and internal harmonization between all the parts of the creation
This vast world of existence which stretches before our eyes is, as we know, in its parts and as a whole continuously in the process of change and transformation. At each moment it manifests itself in a new and unprecedented from. It becomes actualized under the influences of laws which know no exception. from the farthest galaxiest to the smallest particles which from the parts of this world, each part of creation possesses an inward order and runs its course in a most amazing manner under laws which do not admit any exception, the world extends its domain of activity from the lowest to the most perfect state and reaches its own goal of perfection.

Above these particular order stand more universal orders and finally the total cosmic order which brings together the countless parts of the universe and relates the more particular order with each other, and which in its continuous accepts no exceptions and permits no breaches.

The order of creation is such if, foe example, it places a man upon the earth, it constitutes him in such a way that he can live in harmony with his environment, it arranges the environment in such a way that it raises him a loving nurse. The sun, the moon, the stars, water and earth, the night and the day, the seasons of the year, the clouds wind and rain, the treasures beneath the earth and on its surface, in other resources in providing well – being and peace of mind for him. Such a relation and harmony can be discovered among all phenomena and also between man and his neighbors near and far, as well as within man’s own habitat.

Such a continuity and harmony can also be observed within the internal structure of every phenomenon in the world. If creation has given man bread, it has also given him feet to seek it, hands to grasp it, a mouth to eat it, and teeth to chew it. It has related man through a series of means, which are connected with each other like the links of a chain to the final goal envisaged for this creature, which is subsistence and perfection.

Many men of science have no doubt that the countless relations among thing which they have discovered as a result of several thousand years of effort are but humble samples and a foretaste of the secrets of creation and their myriad ramifications. Each new discovery declares to man the existence of an endless number of unknown elements.

The order of the world, by an almighty and omniscient creator
Could anyone say that this vast world of existences, all of the parts of which either separately or in unity and interconnection bear witness to an infinite knowledge and power, need not have a creator and cold have come into being without reason and cause? Or could it be said of these particular and universal domains or order and equilibrium, and finally of this total cosmic order which through innumerable interrelations has made the world a single unit running its course according to laws which knows no exceptions, that all this has occurred without plan and only through accident chance? Or could anyone say that each of the phenomena and domains in the cosmos has chosen for itself coming into being? Or could anyone claim that this world, which is a single unit and which possesses complete unity, harmony and the interconnection of parts, could be the result of multiple and different commands issuing from different sources?

Obviously, an intelligent man, who relates every event and phenomenon to a cause, and who some times spends long periods in investigation and efforts to gain knowledge of a cause that is unknown to him, will never accept the possibility of a world existing without a Being as its cause. such a person, who by observing a few bricks placed upon one another in an orderly manner considers them to be efforts of an agent possessing knowledge and power and who denies the possibility of chance and accident in the putting of the bricks together and therefore concludes that a plan and purpose must have existed beforehand, will not regard the cosmic order as being the result of an accident or the play of chance.

A deeper awareness of the order reigning in the world is enough to show that the world, along with the order reigning over it, is the creation of an omnipotent creator who has brought it into being through his limitless knowledge and power and who directs it toward an end. All the partial causes which bring about individual events in the world ultimately end in Him. They are in every way under his dominance and are guided by his wisdom. Every thing exists is in need of him, while he has of nothing and does not depend on any causes or conditions.

God, the Exalted says, Lo! In the heavens and the earth are portents for believers. And in your creation and all the beasts that he scattereth in the earth, are portents for a folk whose faith is sure. And the difference of night and day the provision that Allah sendeth down from the sky and thereby quickened the earth after her death, and the ordering of the winds, are portents for a people who have sense. These are portents of Allah which we recite unto thee (Muhammad) with truth. Then in what fact, after Allah and His portents, will they believe? (Quran, XLV, 3-6).

Every reality in this world which we can possibly imagine is an Iimited reality, that is, one whose actualization depends upon certain necessary causes and conditions. If these do not exist that reality cannot exist in the world. Every reality has a boundary beyond which it cannot extend its existence. Only God is such that he has no limit or boundary, for his reality is absolute and he exists in his Infinity no matter how we try to conceive of Him. His Being does not depend upon and is in need of any causes or conditions. It is clear that in the case of something IimitIess we cannot conceive of multiplicity, for any supposedly second reality will be other than the first, as a result of which each would be Iimited and bound and would set a boundary to the reality of the other. For example, if we consider an IimitIess volume we cannot conceive another IimitIess volume alongside it and if we do suppose another, it will be the same as the first. Therefore, God is one and has no partner.

Oneness of God
We have already mentioned the Bedouin who approached Ali in the middle of the fighting during the Battle of camel and asked if he asserted that God was one, In answer Ali said, To say that God is one has four meanings. Two of those meaning are false and two correct. As for the two incorrect meanings, one is that one should say God is one’ and be thinking of number and counting. This meaning is false because that which has no second cannot enter into the category of number. Do you not see that those who said that God is the third of a trinity [i.e., the Christians] fell into infidelity? Another meaning is to say that so and is one of this people, namely a species of this genus or member of this species. This meaning is also not correct when applied to God, for it implies likening something to God and God is above all likeness.

As for the two meaning which are correct when applied to God, one is that it should be said that God is one the sense that there is no likeness unto him among things. God possesses such uniqueness. And one is to say that God is one in the sense that there is no multiplicity or division conceivable in Him, neither outwardly nor in the mind nor in the imagination. God possesses such a unity. (Bihar al- and war, VOI, II, p, 65).

Ali has also said, to know God is to know his oneness (Bihar al- and war, VOI, II, p, 186) This mean that the being of God is unlimited and infinite suffices to prove his Oneness, for to conceive a second for the Infinite is impossible. There is there fore no need of any other proofs, although there exist many others.

The Divine essence and qualities
If we analyze the nature of a human being, we see that he has an essence which is his individual humanity and also qualities through which his essence is known, such as the quality of being born in such a land, being the such a person, or being learned and capable, or tall hand some, or he possesses the contrary of these qualities some of these qualities like the first and second, can never be separated from the and other, like being learned or capable, have the possibility or separation and alternation. Yet all has different from the essence and at the same time different from each others.

This point, namely the difference between the essence and qualities and between the qualities themselves, is the best proof that an essence that has qualities, and a quality that makes known an essence, are both Iimited and finite. For if the essence was Iimitess and in finite it would encompass the qualities as well, and also the qualities would include each other, and as a result all would become one. For example, the essence of man would be the same as capability and also capability the same as know ledge, height and beauty would be the same and all of these would possess the same meaning.

From this example it is clear that the Divine Essence cannot be conceived to have qualities in the sense that human beings have quality can come about only through setting Iimits and the Divine Essence transcends all Iimitations (even theIimitation of this transcendence which in reality is a quality).


shiah- pages: 181 to 190


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