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Tafsir at-Tabari
  Tafsir of Surah An`aam (6) Verse 102
Author: Ibn Jarir at-Tabari
Source: Tafsir at-Tabari
Article ID : TFS030003  [21850]  
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The most important argument by which they, so they say, know about the correctness of this assertion of theirs is the following: They find that their vision can see only something that is removed from them spatially and not something that has direct contact with it, for the vision cannot see anything that has direct contact with it. Thus, so they say, whatever is removed spatially from one's vision belongs to the category of things that can be seen with one's own eyes, since empty spaces and a gap lie between the object and the eyes. Now, so they continue, if the vision should see their Lord on the day of resurrection in the same manner as it sees shapes today, then the Creator would have to be (spatially) limited (mahdud). But, so they say, whoever ascribes this characteristic to (Allaah), (thereby) ascribes to him the characteristic of corporeality, which also includes increase and decrease (which is absurd).They say that the ability to 'reach' (adraka) colours is given to the vision just as (the ability to reach) tones is given to hearing and (the ability to reach) smells is given to the respiratory organ.

Then they continue that in the same manner as it is invalid for the hearing to give an opinion without reaching the tones and for the respiratory organ (to give an opinion) without reaching smells, so also is it invalid for the vision to give an opinion without reaching colours. They maintain that in the same way as it is impossible to characterize Allaah as possessing colour, it is (also) correct to say that it is impossible to characterize him as something visible.(Still) other exegetes maintain that the verse under discussion has the meaning: The vision of (Allaah's) creatures cannot reach him in this world but can in the hereafter. The proponents of this view say that the (word) 'reaching' (idrak) in this place means 'seeing' (ru'ya).

As a basis for their view they cite the following: Although the (word) 'reaching' has in some contexts another meaning than the (word) 'seeing', 'to see' is still one of its meanings. Thus it is impossible for the vision of men to see and contact something without this (object) being reached when it is observed and viewed, even when it is not apprehended as something seen in all its parts. Therefore, so they continue, if someone sees something he has looked at, then this means that he has reached it, that is, except for what he did not see. They say that Allaah has proclaimed that on the day of resurrection there will be faces which will look upon him.

Now according to their view, it is absurd (to conclude) that the faces should look upon him without reaching him as something that is visible. They say that because of this and because it is impossible that one could find any contradiction or disagreement in what Allaah proclaims, then it is necessary and correct that Allaah's words 'the vision (of men) reaches Him not' be interpreted in a special and not general sense, and mean: The vision (of men) does not reach him in this world, but he reaches the vision (of men) in this world and in the hereafter. That is, with his words: 'Upon that day there will be radiant faces, gazing upon their Lord' (Sura 75 :22),

Allaah has made an exception, so that (seeing Allaah in this world) is excluded.Other proponents of this point of view maintain that the verse under discussion is meant in a special sense, but that it may be possible that it has the following meaning: The vision of the evildoer does not reach him in this world or in the hereafter, while the vision of the believers and those who trust in Allaah does reach him. They say (further) that the verse may possibly have the meaning: The vision does not reach him until the end and until (there is complete) comprehension (ihata), and indeed until (there is actual) vision. (Further) according to their view, the verse could mean that the vision (of men) does not reach him in this world, but indeed in the hereafter. (Also) the verse could have the meaning: The vision of the one who sees him does not reach him in the (same) way that the Eternal one reaches the vision of his creatures. The one (i.e., Allaah) who has excluded (the possibility) that the vision of his creatures may reach him is the one who has acknowledged this himself, since their vision is weak and can penetrate only that to which their Allaah has given the power. On the other hand, they stand there completely open before his vision, and to his vision nothing of them remains hidden.

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