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Last Updated: 2012/04/17
Summary of question
Is ‘Apprehension’ a quality that can be attributed to God?
question
Salam Alaykum. Is ‘Apprehension’ a quality that can be attributed to God?
Concise answer

Taking into consideration the verse “لا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصارُ وَ هُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصارَ وَ هُوَ اللَّطيفُ الْخَبيرُ[1], Mudrik (being apprehensive) is one of God’s names.[2] In the Quran and traditions, this attribute (Mudrik)[3] has been mentioned explicitly, thus making Him ‘one who apprehends’, as the verse also asserted.

Regarding the meaning of ‘apprehension’, there is a difference of opinion among Islamic theologians as to whether this quality is one other than Allah’s knowledge to general and specific matters, or if it is equivalent to God’s knowledge, or if it is a particular knowledge that Allah possesses of things in a specific and actual manner; in other words, according to this interpretation, God’s apprehension will mean a perception of external things and total encompassment of them.[4]

It is noteworthy that there is a consensus that it is permissible to attribute those qualities which Islam has sanctioned to Allah, and impermissible to attribute those that have been prohibited. The only matter there is a difference on are attributes that have neither been sanctioned explicitly, nor prohibited explicitly.

Some have said in this regard, that the attributes of God aren't ‘on instruction’ (tawqifi), meaning that we don’t necessarily need the attribute to have been mentioned in a Quranic verse or hadith, rather, all that is required is for the name or quality not to be imaginary or entail something impossible for His essence. Others on the other hand, believe that only those qualities or attributes that the infallibles have used for Him can be ascribed to Him. A third group distinguishes between names and qualities, seeing the former as being ‘on instruction’ (relying on it being used in a verse or hadith) and the latter as not being so.[5]

 


[1] An’am:103 “The sights do not apprehend Him, yet He apprehends the sights, and He is the All-attentive, the All-aware”.

[2] Sobhani, Jafar, Al-Ilahiyyat ala Huda al-Kitab wa al-Sunnat wa al-Aql, vol. 1, p. 163, Al-Markaz al-Aalami li al-Dirasaat al-Islamiyyah, Qum, 1412 AH.

[3]  Such as: “وَ اللَّهِ‏ الَّذِي لا إِلهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ... الْمُدْرِكُ‏ الَّذِي يَعْلَمُ السِّرَّ وَ الْعَلَانِيَةَ”; Tusi, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, Tahdhib al-Ahkam, researched and corrected by: Musavi Kharsan, Hasan, vol. 6, p. 319, Daar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, Tehran, fourth edition, 1407 AH.

[4] Al-Ilahiyyat ala Huda al-Kitab wa al-Sunnat wa al-Aql, vol. 1, p. 163.

[5] Islamic Research Center, Farhange Shia, p. 321, Zamzam Hedayat, Qum, second edition, 1386 (solar); Tabatabai, Sayyid Muhammad Husayn, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol. 8, pp. 358-359, Islamic Publications Office, Qum, fifth edition, 1374 (solar).

 

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