Allah’s Body

"On that day some faces will be bright. Looking at their Lord" (Qur'an 75:22-23). There is also a hadith that says we will see Allah in the hereafter as we see the full moon. (Bukhari Vol 9 - Hadith 532; Muslim Vol 1 - Hadith 349) If Allah does not have a body, how can we interpret the above verse and the hadith. Besides, how can we see bodyless Allah? Even though there is no specific hadith talking about the body of Allah, it does not mean that there is no body for Allah; there may be a body for Him or may not, which we do not know. Please explain in detail, since I believed until today that Allah has a body without any similitude of His creations.

The correct position regarding this matter is that we can neither affirm for Allah nor negate from Him that He has a body.  When discussing the names and attributes of Allah, we need to realize that we only affirm and negate what Allah has affirmed or negated from Himself. The Qur’an is filled with descriptions of Allah, whether by way of affirmation or by way of negation. So to affirm or negate anything from Allah, we need proof from the only two sources of Islam (the Qur’an and Sunnah).  So the attribute of having a body cannot be affirmed nor negated in terms of Allah, because there is no mention of it in the Qur'an or Sunnah.

Furthermore, if you feel that this attribute makes sense for Allah to have (just based on your personal gut feeling), there are others who would disagree with you. Because to say something has a body, it means that it is confined to a particular space and dimension. And we know that Allah is neither confined by space nor by dimension. He cannot be compared to anything in this created universe as we know it, because He is not part of this created universe.

This is why the scholars since the generations of the Salaf emphasized the point of sticking to the texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah with regards to the names and attributes of Allah. That which is affirmed in these two sources we affirm, that which is negated we negate, and that which has not been mentioned we neither affirm nor negate.

Finally, terms such as body and organs in relation to Allah are terms that came about much after the era of the companions. They were introduced at a time when Greek philosophy was being translated into Arabic and being introduced in the Muslim world, which had the worst possible negative affect upon the Ummah.

Based upon this, Ibn Taymiyyah, neither affirmed, nor negated that Allah has a body. Ibn Taymiyyah said in the course of this topic:

“Indeed the term jism (body), a’radh (organs), mutahayyiz (extent) are newly invented terminologies. We have mentioned many a time before that the Salaf and the Imams have not spoken about such things – neither by way of negation, nor by way of affirmation. Rather they declare those who spoke about such a matter to be innovators, and went to great lengths to censure them.” [1]

Likewise, Ibn Taymiyyah mentions the intended meaning of ascribing Allah with the term jism (body), by saying:

“Whoever alleges that the Lord is a jism – with the meaning that: he accepts division, separation and partition (for Allah) – then he is the most disbelieving of people and the most ignorant. Indeed, his statement is more evil than the one who says that Allah has a son.” [2]

You can read more about the accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held Allah to be a 'body', of composite parts having organs here [3].

And Allah knows best.

References:

[1] Minhajus-Sunnah (1/271)

[2] Sharh Hadeeth an-Nuzool

[3] http://www.islamicawakening.com/viewarticle.php?articleID=743&pageID=366&

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