Home / Beliefs / Is it possible for humankind to know Allah (awj)? If yes, to what degree and what is the value of such knowledge?

Is it possible for humankind to know Allah (awj)? If yes, to what degree and what is the value of such knowledge?

The human being can attain knowledge of Allah (awj) through various ways. This knowledge can come about through the medium of the intellect or of the heart. At times he-as in the case of the sage and the philosopher-reasons and understands through conceptual knowledge and with recourse to sense perception and the intellect, whilst at other times he-as in the case of the gnostic-through immediate intuition, gazes at the Beloved, witnessing Him directly.

Knowledge of Allah (awj) is analogous to knowledge of a fire. An individual at times realizes the existence of a fire by witnessing its smoke from afar. At other times, he might realize its existence by seeing the fire itself. Yet at other times, he might comprehend and feel the fire as if a part of his body is burned by it.

The human being can attain knowledge of Allah (awj) through various ways. This knowledge can come about through the medium of the intellect or of the heart. At times he-as in the case of the sage and the philosopher-reasons and understands through conceptual knowledge and with recourse to sense perception and the intellect, whilst at other times he-as in the case of the gnostic-through immediate intuition, gazes at the Beloved, witnessing Him directly.

In any case, in both ways-i.e. conceptual knowledge and immediate knowledge-sometimes the path, the traveller, and the goal are one and the same, as when one concludes the existence of Allah (awj) by reflecting on Divine signs and the existing order pervading them. In other instances, only the traveller and the path might be identical, as when one comprehends Allah (awj) through understanding his own soul. The path and the goal can also be the same, as where one comprehends Allah (awj) by contemplating on the Divine Names and Attributes.

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Of these types, the case where the path and the goal are identical, where one spiritually experiences what he has conceptually realized is of great value, for the goal is to see and to taste.

In the Qur’anic verses and the corpus of narrations these three ways have been articulated. It has especially been emphasized that nothing is more evident than Divine existence and manifestation and hence He must be reached through Himself. He is the Light, the apprehension of which is needless of anything else. If we are deprived of seeing Him, it is because of the veil of our negligence that covers our conceptual and immediate knowledge – we lack awareness of our knowledge.

In order to attain this complex knowledge (‘ilm-e murakkab [i.e. awareness of knowledge]) we must remove the veils of darkness and of light from our souls. It is for this reason that it has been said that knowing Allah (awj) is innate and inherent to the human being, and as such, the arguments provided in proving the existence of Allah (awj) and the knowledge of Him serve only as reminders, not proofs. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the core of Divine Essence and Attributes are neither comprehensible to the philosopher nor to the gnostic. However, other aspects of the Divine are accessible to both the intellect of the philosopher and the spiritual experience of the gnostic.

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