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Knowing the Almighty, the unknowable (I)

How might you go about knowing Him? He is the “magic” inside the seed that becomes the oak tree; He is the Fashioner of the…

How might you go about knowing Him? He is the “magic” inside the seed that becomes the oak tree; He is the Fashioner of the querulous entity in the womb that ends in the tomb; He is the Power that produces the “word” that births the world.

But know Him the way He describes Himself- He is the Almighty- there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth.

Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills.

His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great (Quran 2: 256).

He is singular with no partner, He is Unique with no equivalent; the Absolute without an opposite. He is Alone without peers or compeer. He is the Beginning without an origin; He is the Predecessor without a successor; He is the perpetual Being without end. He is the Sustainer without a sustainer; He is the Immovable Mover of all entities in motion; He sets things in motion without a stop.

The Almighty: Yes. He is not a victim of termination or cessation; He is free of the accidents of life and the passing of interims.

Yes. He is the Almighty – the First and the Last; the Outward and the Inward; the Manifest and the Hidden. He is not a body with a form, nor is He a confined or quantifiable substance. He is the Source of all existents and to whom all existents shall return after tasting existence. He is the Creator of all existents and entities but has no resemblance to anything that He Creates. There is absolutely nothing like Him, nor is He like anything.

Yes! He is the Almighty. No measure confines Him. No space contains Him. No direction encompasses Him. Nor do the heavens surround Him. He is exalted in a degree above the heavens to the same extent that He is exalted in a degree above the depths of the earth. Notwithstanding, He is near to all existence, and He is nearer to the bondsman than his jugular vein. His nearness, however, no more resembles the nearness of bodies one to another than His essence resembles the essences of bodies. He is too sublime that space should encompass Him, as He is too hallowed that time should restrict Him.

Yes! He is the Almighty- Rather He is and has been the Creator of time and space. He is now in the present as He has always been and will always be. He is separate from His creation by His attributes. He is transcendentally holier than to be subject to change and movement. Rather He remains in His qualities of absolute majesty, not subject to abating, and His qualities of perfection with no need of an increase. He is Living, Almighty, Irresistible, and Overpowering. Deficiency does not affect Him nor does incapacity. “No slumber can seize Him nor sleep.

Or rather how far or near is the Almighty? The first question with which this essay is prefaced was asked by a young boy who had become awed by all the stories he has been told of the existence of the Almighty and His power and majesty. When that story came way, I immediately remembered the other story: the story of the desert Arab who accepted Islam.

Equally known as Bedouin Arabs, desert Arabs are by nurture, orientation and experience different from their brethren who live in the city. They are closer to nature at its rawest, brutish and highly unforgiving texture. They are, like the ordinary Fulanis, nomadic; wherever their cattle led them, they peregrinate. The ordinary bedouin living in the desert has no dwelling other than in movable tents. The tents too are usually by-products of their economic vocation- made of woven hair of sheep and goats. The hair is usually black, which absorbs the desert’s heat and keeps the inside cool. A curtain divides the inside into two- the male and female sections. The latter usually features, among others, food stores and cooking utensils. It is deemed a forbidden space to all but the bedouin himself- the rabb al-bayt (the Landlord).

It happened that one day, the companions of the Prophet came in contact with one bedouin. After having listened to the message of Islam, he decided to abandon his idolatrous ways. He decided to accept Islam. Soon, it was nighttime. The companions of the Prophet, therefore, spread out their mats in preparation for sleeping. The bedouin who had just accepted Islam was surprised. He, therefore, told them that he had one question to ask: “Does this entity who created the heavens and the earth, sleeps at night?”. The companions were surprised.

To be continued