Allah’s Knowledge VS the creation’s knowledge (Part 1)

Allah’s Name العليم   implies the attribute of العلم   (Knowledge). Allah is attributed with having knowledge, and the creation also has knowledge. How can we single Allah out with this attribute?

Affirmation: 

  • We affirm perfect and comprehensive knowledge to Allah 
  • We affirm deficient knowledge to the creation

Negation: 

  • We negate any deficiency in the knowledge of Allah (ignorance, forgetfulness, etc.)

Allah affirmed perfect comprehensive knowledge to Himself in many verses in the Qur’an, for example:

Surat Ta-Ha [20:98]:

“Your Ilah (God) is only Allah, the One (La ilaha illa Huwa) (none has the right to be worshipped but He). He has full knowledge of all things.”

Allah deserves to be worshipped because His knowledge is perfect.

Surat al-An’am [6:59]:

“And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.”

“لا يعلمها إلا هو”

To believe that no one knows the keys of the unseen except Allah – this is Tawheed.

The keys of the Unseen includes:

“يعلم ما في البر و البحر” – And He knows whatever there is in the earth and in the sea  

“و ما تسقط من ورقة إلا يعلمها” – Not a leaf falls, but He knows it

“و لا حبة في ظلمات الأرض و لا رطب و لا يابس إلا في كتاب ميين” – There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but it is written in a clear record.

Shaikh As-Sa’di رحمه الله said in his explanation of the above verse:

هذه الآية العظيمة من أعظم الآيات تفصيلا لعلمه المحيط، و أنه شامل للغيوب كلها، التي يطلع منها ما شاء من خلقه، و كثير منها طوى علمه من الملائكة المقربين و الأنباء المرسلين فضلا من غيرهم من العالمين و أنه يعلم ما في البراري و القفار من الحيوانات و الأشجار و الرمال و الحصى و التراب و ما في البحار من حيواناتها و معادنها و صيدها و غير ذالك مما تحتويه أرجاؤها و يشتمل عليه مأوها

{و ما تسقط من ورقة} من أشجار البر و البحر و البلدان و القفر و الدنيا و الأخرة إلا يعلمها {و لا حبة في ظلمات الأرض} من حبوب الثمار و الزروع و حبوب البذور التي يبذرها الخلق و بذور النوابت البرية التي ينشئ منها أصناف النبتات

{و لا رطب و لا يابس} هاذا عموم بعد خصوص {إلا في كتاب مبين} و هو اللوح المحفوظ قد حواها و اشتمل عليها، و بعض هذا المذكور يبهر عقول العقلاء و يذهل أفئدة النبلاء فذل هذا على عظمة الرب العظيم وسعته في أوصاف كلها.

و أن الخلق – من أولهم إلى آخرهم – لو اجتمعوا على أن يحيطوا ببعض صفاته لم لكن لهم قدرة و لا وسع في ذالك، فتبارك الرب العظيم الواسع العليم الحميد المجيد الشهيد المحيط.

و جل من إله لا يحصي أحد ثناء عليه، بل هو كما أثناء على نفسه و فوق مايثني عليه عباده، فهذه الآية دلت على علمه المحيط بجميع الأشياء و كتابه المحيط بجميع الحواديث

This verse is counted among the most revered verses of the Noble Qur’an, describing in detail Allah’s in depth and unlimited knowledge of all the unseen. Allah grants to whomever He wills a part of this knowledge which He has kept secret from His creation, even from His Sacred Angels and His Prophets and Messengers. Whatever lies in the deserts and the wilderness, such as animals, trees, sand particles, pebbles, and dust, is all within the sphere of Allah’s unfathomed knowledge. Allah has complete knowledge of the creatures inhabiting the sea, its minerals, and everything else it contains, and He knows all that lies on and off the shore.

Not a leaf falls, but He knows it. Even if a leaf falls from a tree anywhere in the wilderness or in the habitats, in this world or the heavens, Allah has full knowledge of it.

There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, referring to the fruits and the seeds that people sow in the land, and the seeds of the wild species that give birth to different herbs and plants, or anything fresh or dry, which is a general description after a specific one, but is written in a Clear Record. It is written in the Prescribed Tablet (Lawh Al-Mahfuz) which contains a record of all decrees. Some of these decrees amaze and astonish even the most intelligent ones, and that is an indication of Allah’s Greatness and the vastness of His Attributes.

If all creation, from inception to conclusion, attempt to fully comprehend even a single attribute of Allah, they can neither do so nor do they have the strength to do so. Allah is indeed the Greatest of all, the All-Encompassing, the All-Knowing, the Most Praiseworthy, and the Most Revered. He is the Ever-Witnessing and all things are within the sphere of His unlimited knowledge.

Allah is the Exalted, and none can fully praise Him as much as He narrated His own praise. Whatever praise people offer to Allah, He is High and above that praise. This noble verse is a proof that Allah encompasses all things with His knowledge, and all events are written in His Clear Record.

The knowledge of all creation in comparison to Allah’s Knowledge is as what Khidr said to Musa, who were the most knowledgeable people of their time, when a bird dipped its beak once or twice into the sea, “My knowledge and your knowledge, in comparison to Allah’s knowledge, is like what this bird has taken out of the sea.”

Some of the philosophers and their followers, like Ibn Sina for example, denied that Allah had knowledge about the details or particulars of matters. They claimed that He knows things entirely in their general form, but not absolutely.

 Ibn Al-Qayyim رحمه الله said in Madaarij As-Salikeen:

“الحمد لله” (All praise is due to Allah) includes the refutation of the claim of those who say that Allah Knows about things generally and not in detail. The word الحمد لله indicates Allah’s complete praise, for how can the One Who deserves all praise not know anything of the world and its details, or the number of stars and planets, or who obeys Him and who does not? It is impossible to give our Ilah and Lord such a defective description, because the One worshipped should know the state of His worshippers!

“الرحمن الرحيم”

It is impossible to be merciful with whom He does not know.

“مالك يوم الدين”

This is the affirmation of full sovereignty and kingship to Allah. How does a King not know about His wards or the state of His Kingdom? 

He is the One Who will recompense the people on the Day of Judgment. How can He judge among His creation while He does not have knowledge?

To deny Allah’s Knowledge about the details of His creation is void and contradicts all what is mentioned above. How can the knowledge of Allah, Who created everything, not comprehend everything? In Surat al-Mulk [67:14], Allah says:

“Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves) All-Aware (of everything).”

The Knowledge of the Creation

a) The creation can never encompass Allah’s Knowledge.

In Ayat al-Kursi [2:255]:

“Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber, nor sleep overtake Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His Permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never encompass anything of His Knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.”

“و لا يحيطون بشيء من علمه إلا بما شاء”

We cannot even encompass “بشيء من علمه”

This part of the verse has two meanings:

i) The creation does not know about Allah’s Names, Attributes, and Actions except what He wills to teach them.

ii) They cannot encompass anything of Allah’s Knowledge of what is in the Heavens and Earth except what He wills to teach them. 

We only know what Allah taught us, nothing more than that.

  • In Surah Ta-Ha [20:110]:


“He (Allah) knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them (in the Hereafter), and they will never compass anything of His Knowledge.”

We do not know what is going to happen in the world, nor do we know what is going to happen to us in the Hereafter. The creation can never encompass Allah’s Knowledge. His Knowledge is so vast.

b) The creation does not know anything except what Allah teaches them

All religious knowledge, worldly knowledge, decreed knowledge is attributed to Allah. He is العليم, and He teaches His Angels, Prophets and the Creation.

  • In Surat al-Baqarah [2:31]:


“And He taught Adam all the names (of everything) , then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of these if you are truthful.”

The Angels then said as mentioned in Verse 32:


“They (angels) said: “Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.”

  • And in Surat al-Baqarah [2:282]:

 

“O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him (the debtor) who incurs the liability dictate, and he must fear Allah, his Lord, and diminish not anything of what he owes. But if the debtor is of poor understanding, or weak, or is unable himself to dictate, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her. And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence). You should not become weary to write it (your contract), whether it be small or big, for its fixed term, that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves, save when it is a present trade which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, then there is no sin on you if you do not write it down. But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract. Let neither scribe nor witness suffer any harm, but if you do (such harm), it would be wickedness in you. So be afraid of Allah; and Allah teaches you. And Allah is the All-Knower of each and everything.”

“وتقوا الله و يعلمكم الله”

Some Scholars said that if you have Taqwa of Allah, Allah will teach you. The more you show Taqwa of Allah, the more Allah will teach you.

  • In Surat an-Nisa’ [4:113]:


“Had not the Grace of Allah and His Mercy been upon you (O Muhammad), a party of them would certainly have made a decision to mislead you, but (in fact) they mislead none except their own selves, and no harm can they do to you in the least. Allah has sent down to you the Book (The Quran), and Al-Hikmah (Islamic laws, knowledge of legal and illegal things i.e. the Prophet’s Sunnah – legal ways), and taught you that which you knew not. And Ever Great is the Grace of Allah unto you (O Muhammad).”

“و علم ما لم تكن تعلم”

Allah addresses the Prophet ﷺ that Allah taught Him that which He did not know. The Prophet ﷺ was illiterate and Allah taught Him, and no one else.

  • In Surat Yusuf [12:101]:


“My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; The (only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian, etc.) in this world and in the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim (the one submitting to Your Will), and join me with the righteous.”

Yusuf عليه السلام said: 

“و علمتني من تأويل الأحاديث”

  • In Surat Yusuf [12:37]:


“He said: “No food will come to you (in wakefulness or in dream) as your provision, but I will inform (in wakefulness) its interpretation before it (the food) comes. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Verily, I have abandoned the religion of a people that believe not in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter (i.e. the Kan’aniun of Egypt who were polytheists and used to worship sun and other false deities).”

When the two companions asked Yusuf عليه السلام  to interpret their dreams, he said: “ذالكما مما علمني ربي”

I.e. What I interpret of dreams is what Allah taught me. 

So, in order to affirm Tawheed Al-Asmaa wa Sifat to Allah, we have to:

  1. Affirm perfect knowledge to Allah
  2. Affirm deficient knowledge to ourselves
  3. Admit that our knowledge is nothing in comparison to Allah
  4. Admit that Allah is the One who taught us, the Angels, the creation, etc.
  • In Surat ar-Rahman [55: 1-2]:

The Most Beneficent (Allah)!”


“Has taught (you mankind) the Quran (by His Mercy).”

  • In Surat al-Alaq [96:4-7]:


“Who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)].”


“Has taught man that which he knew not.”


“Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.).”


“Because he considers himself self-sufficient.”

Allah is the One Who taught us everything we know, but man continues to show arrogance.

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About Enlightenment into Islam Center

The Enlightenment into Islam Center is a community of sisters who aim to please Allah by seeking knowledge and calling the people (Muslims as well as non-Muslims) to Tawheed and obedience to Allah by spreading the true knowledge of Islam based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

Posted on April 9, 2017, in Acquiring Knowledge, Tawheed and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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