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Can we see Allah?

In Shi'a Islam, the idea of seeing Allah (swt) is impossible. This view is supported by the Noble Qur’an and logic.

The Noble Qur’an says clearly, “No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision.” Furthermore, there are multiple examples of people asking to see Allah and the response of Allah, the Exalted was:

And remember when you said, ‘O people of Musa, We shall never believe in you until we see Allah plainly.’ But you were seized with a thunderbolt while you were looking. Then We raised you up after death so that you might be grateful.

In other verses, Allah (swt) says:

"The People of the Scripture ask you (O Muhammad) to cause a book to descend upon them from Heaven. Indeed, they asked Musa for even greater than that when they said, ‘Show us Allah in public,’ but they were struck with thunder and lightening for their wickedness."

"And those who expect not a meeting with Us say, ‘Why are not the angels sent down to us?’ or ‘Why do we not see our Lord?’ Indeed, they think too highly of themselves and are scornful with great pride."

"When Musa came to the place appointed by Us, and his Lord addressed him, he said, ‘O Lord! Show Yourself to me so that I may look upon You.’ Allah said, ‘By no means can you see Me, but look at the mountain—if it abides in its place then you shall see Me.’ When his Lord manifested His glory to the mountain, He made it like dust, and Musa fell in a swoon. When he recovered his senses, he said, ‘Glory be to You. To You do I turn in repentance and I am the first to believe.’"

Seeing with the heart

If seeing Allah was impossible for the prophets and the messengers of Allah then it is clearly impossible for all other people as well; whether during this life or in the Hereafter.

Logically speaking, in order to see an object, the object must have several qualities. First, it must have a specific direction, such as in front of or to the left or right of the observer. Second, a distance must exist between the one seeing and the thing being seen. Seeing would be impossible if the distance became longer or shorter. Allah the Almighty is not a physical object that we can pin-point and ultimately see, nor does He occupy space.

Although the Noble Qur’an says, “He is the Supreme, watching over His worshippers,”9 and “They revere their Lord high above them”—“above them”—refers to the Almighty being above His servants in His might, power, and loftiness - not in place, space, area, elevation, or physical location. Such qualities do not apply to Him.

During his ascension to Heaven, the Prophet called upon his Lord by the words, “You are as You have praised Your Own Self.” While Prophet Yunus called upon his Lord from the bottom of the sea saying, “There is no God but You! Glory be to You!”

Regarding Prophet Yunus, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Do not exalt me over him in nearness to Allah just because I reached the high throne, whereas he was in the bottom of the sea, because the adored One is above being confined to a space or direction.”

Imam ‘Ali was asked by one of his companions, Tha΄lab al-Yamani whether he had seen his Lord. Imam ‘Ali replied, “How can I worship something that I do not see?” When asked how he saw Him, Imam ‘Ali replied, “Eyes do not reach Him with physical sight, but the hearts reach Him with the realities of belief.”12 There are many things which people cannot reach and have no physical access to but which people still believe in. Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq, the sixth Imam, was once asked, “will Allah be seen on the Day of Resurrection?” His answer was, “May He be exalted and glorified from that! The eyes can only reach an object which has colour and shape, but Allah, the Exalted, is the Creator of colours and shapes.”

Similar aspects of Allah, such as His “hand” or His “face” are referred to as allegorically. The “Hand of Allah” refers to His power and might, and “His Face” refers to different things. The first step in the Oneness and Monotheism of Allah is the understanding that Allah is not a body and will never be seen and that He is unique, as the Noble Qur’an states, “There is nothing like Him.”