How can we explain the verses which ascribe bodily attributes to God?

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How can we explain the verses which ascribe bodily attributes to God?
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There is a group of attributes mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith that cannot be understood any other way than by means of traditional, transmitted knowledge ( naql). [1] For example:
1. The Hand of God:

Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad] - they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. (Sura al-Fath, 48:10)

2. The Face of God:

And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (Sura al-Baqara,2:115)

3. The Eye of God:

Build the ship under Our Eyes and by Our inspiration. (Sura Hud, 11:37)

4. God being 'established' (istiwa') on the Throne:

The Beneficent One, Who is established on the Throne. (Sura TaHa, 20.5)

The reason for calling these attributes khabari (pertaining to information) is that it is only traditional, transmitted knowledge that can provide us with information regarding these attributes. It is important to remind ourselves that the intellect, or human wisdom, cannot interpret these attributes according to their conventional meanings, for this would lead to conceiving of God as 'embodied' ( tajszm), and therefore as similar to us (tashbih); intellectual and transmitted knowledge alike warn us against these misconceptions. Thus, we must keep firmly in mind all of the Qur'anic verses on this subject if we are to obtain a true explanation of these attributes. We must also remember that the Arabic language, like many others, is rich in metaphors and symbolic allusions, and the Holy Qur'an, which employs the language of the Arabs, makes ample use of this mode of discourse. This having been understood, we can proceed with an explanation of these attributes.

It is important to remind ourselves that the intellect, or human wisdom, cannot interpret these attributes according to their conventional meanings, for this would lead to conceiving of God as 'embodied' ( tajszm), and therefore as similar to us (tashbih); intellectual and transmitted knowledge alike warn us against these misconceptions. Thus, we must keep firmly in mind all of the Qur'anic verses on this subject if we are to obtain a true explanation of these attributes.

in the first verse quoted above, it is said that those who pledge allegiance to the Prophet -by taking his hand into theirs-are in fact making their pledge to God, since allegiance given to the one sent is ipso facto allegiance to the One who sent him. So it is said that the Hand of God is above their hands: this means that the power of God is greater than their power-not that he possesses a bodily 'Hand' and that His 'Hands' are literally above their 'hands'. In support of this interpretation we might adduce the remainder of the verse:

So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself. And he who fulfills that which he has promised Allah - He will give him a great reward. (Sura al-Fath, 48: 10)

The content of this discourse-threatening those who break their promise and giving glad tidings to those who keep their promise-clearly reveals that the meaning of the 'Hand' of God is His power and authority. Also, the word 'hand' appears in many dictionaries as a metaphor for power, as it is said in Persian: 'There are many whose "hands" are higher than yours' [meaning: there are many who are more powerful than you.]

We must also remember that the Arabic language, like many others, is rich in metaphors and symbolic allusions, and the Holy Qur'an, which employs the language of the Arabs, makes ample use of this mode of discourse. This having been understood, we can proceed with an explanation of these attributes.

[In the second verse quoted above], the meaning of the 'Face' of God is His Essence; it is not to be compared with the human face or any other creature's face. When the Qur'an speaks of the annihilation (fana') and non-existence of human beings, it says, 'Everyone that is thereon will perish,' following this with an affirmation of the subsistence (baqa) and permanence of the Being of God, there being no possibility of annihilation in regard to Him:

Everyone that is thereon will perish; and there subsists the Face of thy Lord, Possessor of Might and Glory. (Sura al-Rahman, 55:26-27)

The meaning of the 'Face' of God being everywhere is clarified by these verses. God is not to be located at a particular point; rather, His Being encompasses all things, such that wherever we look, we are facing Him. Further affirmation of this interpretation is given by reflecting upon the following two attributes [mentioned at the end of the verse partially cited above, al-Baqara, :115]: the All-encompassing ( al-Wasi'), the Being of God is infinite; and the Knowing ( al 'Alim), He knows all things.

In the third of the verses quoted above, the Prophet Noah is commanded to construct the ark. The building of such a vessel, far from the sea, led to Noah being mocked by his ignorant folk. In such circumstances, it is as if God said to him: 'Build the ark, you are under Our supervision; We have inspired you to do this.' The meaning here is that Noah was acting under divine guidance, hence he would be protected by God, and would not be disturbed by the mockery to which he was being subjected.

[In the fourth verse], the word "arsh. in Arabic means 'throne'; and istiwa', when used in conjunction with 'ala, means 'being established' and 'having ascendancy over'. Those in power normally dispose of the affairs of state when they are firmly established in the seat of state authority; hence, we can interpret this verse as a metaphor for the divine authority, which holds sway over the disposition of all things. Apart from the evidence given by the intellect and traditionally received sources, which alike affirm that God is not spatially restricted, one can uphold the validity of our metaphorical interpretation of God 'being established on the Throne' by considering the following two points: (a) in many verses preceding this one there are descriptions of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and how God raised up the edifice of the universe without recourse to visible pillars; (b) in many verses following this one, mention is made of the governance of the affairs of the world.
The significance of the phrase 'established on the Throne' becomes clearer when we see that this verse comes between the theme of creation, on the one hand, and that of governance, on the other. The Qur'an wishes to remind us that the creation of the universe, despite its awesome dimensions, does not require us to exclude God from being in absolute control of its affairs. On the contrary, in addition to being responsible for the initial act of creation, God has a firm grip on the reins of supreme power over all the affairs of the universe. Suffice to cite the following as one of the many verses demonstrating this point:

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne, arranging the matter [of His creation]. There is no intercessor except after His permission. (Sura Yunus, 10:3)[2]

1. Translator's note: In Islamic religious sciences, naqli knowledge, that is, knowledge transmitted by tradition, is contrasted with' aqli knowledge, that knowledge to which the intellect has direct access.
2. See in this regard also Sora al-Ra'd, 2; al-Sajda,, 4; al¬A'raf, 54.

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Do not let your brother be stronger than you are in your amity for him.