Recently, an issue was raised about the issue of al-Ru’yah, the belief that the believers shall see their Lord in the Hereafter. It was mentioned that one of the Followers (Tābi`īn) rejected al-Ru’yah. What follows is a brief clarification of this issue.
As I want to keep this discussion brief, I will not mention the verses or the many authentic hadīths reported in the Sahīh and elsewhere which support this belief. However, I would like to share some quotes from al-Hāfiz ibn Hajar’s Fath al-Bārī as an introduction concerning this matter.
Al-Hāfiz states in al-Fath (8/773):
`Iyād states, “The Vision (Ru’yah) of Allāh, Glorified and Exalted is He, is rationally plausible (jā’izah `aqlan) and the famous authentic reports have established that the Believers will be granted it in the Hereafter.”
Elsewhere, he states (8/384):
The prophetic reports establishing al-Ru’yah for the Believers in the Hereafter and that they shall be honored with in Paradise are of the level of tawātur. There is nothing impossible in that, therefore, it is obligatory to believe in it, and with Allāh is the success.
And he states (13/530):
Al-Dāraqutnī has compiled the routes of the hadīths concerning the Ru’yahof Allāh, the Most High, in the Hereafter and they were more than twenty. Ibn al-Qayyim compiled them in Hādī al-Arwāh and they reached thirty, and most of them were good (jiyād). Al-Dāraqutnī relates from Yahyā b. Ma`īn that he said, “I have with me seventeen hadīths concerning al-Ru’yah that are authentic (sihāh).”
In Siyar A`lām al-Nubalā’, al-Dhahabī also states:
As for seeing Allāh with the naked eye (`ayānan), it is a certain matter the texts concerning which are mutawātir. Al-Dāraqutnī, al-Bayhaqī, and others have gathered the hadīths concerning it.
And he also states (10/455):
Ahmad b. Hanbal said: a man from the People of Hadīth (Ashāb al-Hadīth) informed me that Yahyā b. Sālih said, “If only Ashāb al-Hadīth would abandon ten hadīths” referring to these one concerning al-Ru’yah. Ahmad commented, “It is as if he is inclined to the view of Jahm.”
I (al-Dhahabī) say: the Mu`tazilah say, “If only the traditionists (muhaddithīn) would give up one thousand hadīths, the Names, al-Ru’yah, and the Descent (al-Nuzūl), they would be in the right.”
The Qadarīyyah say, “If only they would give up seventy hadīths affirming predestination (al-Qadar).”
The Rāfidah say, “If only the majority would abandon a thousand of the hadīths, they claim to be authentic, they would be in the right.”
And many of the followers of opinion reject hadīths taken by the Hāfiz, the Muftī, the Mujtahid Abū Hurayrah directly from the mouth of Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and they claim that he was not a jurist (faqīh), and yet they bring us hadīths which are worthless (sāqitah) or for which no chain of narration (isnād) is known to begin with, relying on them as proof.
We say: all of them have an appointed standing before Allāh, the Most High.
O Glorified is Allāh (Yā Subhānallāh)! The hadīths concerning seeing Allāh in the Hereafter are mutawātirah and the Qur’ān confirms them, so what has become of fairness (insāf)?
Having seen the statements of some of the great Huffāz concerning this matter, this brings us to the words of a great Imām who has rebutted the arguments of those who reject al-Ru’yah. In the process, he has provided a sufficient response to the stray narration that is used as a justification for this view, may Allāh reward him greatly on behalf of Islām and the Muslims.
Imām `Uthmān b. Sa`īd al-Dārimī states in al-Radd `Alā al-Jahmīyyah:
Some say, we do not accept these narrations (concerning Allāh being seen on the Day of Judgment) nor do we admit them as proofs.
I say: Of course not. Nor do you accept the Book of Allāh. If you do not accept them, then is it (because) you doubt that they are related from the Salaf and conclusively documented having been passed down by the great nobles and jurists in each generation?
They say, “Yes.”
We say: it is sufficient for us that you acknowledge that they are a proof for us against you because of our claim that they are famous reports circulated amongst the scholars and jurists. Therefore, produce the likes of it from them as a proof for this claim of yours which is belied by the reports, all of them! However, you are unable to produce any report or narration, while you know, if Allāh wills, that the Sunnahs, rulings, and verdicts of Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and of His Companions are not established except by these narrations (Āthār) and chains of narration (Asānīd) in all their diversity. They (the hadīths) are the means to that and the path which the Muslims follow. They are their reference point in their religion after the Book of Allāh, Mighty and Majestic. They draw knowledge from them, they pass judgment by them, they maintain uprightness through them, they rely on them, and they adorn themselves with them. Each of them leaves them as an inheritance to his successor. The witness amongst them conveys it to the absent. They accept them as proof and they seek reward in conveying them to those who have not heard them. They call them Sunan, Āthār, understanding (Fiqh), and knowledge. They travel to the eastern and western ends of the Earth seeking them. It is by them that they know what Allāh has deemed lawful (Halāl) and what He has deemed unlawful (Harām). It is with them that they distinguish the truth from the falsehood and the Sunnahs from the innovations. They use them as evidence for explanation (Tafsīr) of the Qur’ān, its meanings, and its ordinances, and through them they know the misguidance of those who stray from Guidance.
Therefore, anyone who turns away from them is only turning away from the footsteps (Āthār) of the Salaf and their guidance and only desires to oppose them, to take his religion as his lusts, and to interpret Allāh’s Book with his opinion in opposition to what Allāh meant by it.
Therefore, if you are from the believers and upon the way of their forebears, then seek knowledge in their Āthār and seek guidance in their path. Be content with these Āthār as a reference point (Imām) as the people were content with it as a reference point (Imām) for themselves, for by my life, you are not more knowledgeable of Allāh’s Book than them nor are you even like them. Furthermore, it is not possible to follow their example except by following these Āthār as you see. Thus, whoever does not accept them desires to follow other than the path of the Believers. And Allāh, the Most High says:
“… and (whoever) follows other than the Path of the Believers, We shall set him in the direction he has taken, and We shall burn him in the Hellfire, and what an evil destination.” [Al-Nisā’:115]
Some of them have said, “No, we base our view on the rational (ma`qūl).”
We say: it is here that you have strayed from the right path and fallen into misguidance from which you have no escape, for reason (ma`qūl) is not a monolithic entity with uniformly defined limits for all people such that it would be sufficient. If such were the case, it would be a relief for the people and we would also base our view upon it and go no further. In that case, Allāh would not have said:
“Each sect rejoices in what it has.” [Al-Mu’minūn:53]
Thus, we find that according to each group, the “rational” (ma`qūl) is that which they are upon while that which opposes them they regard to be “irrational” (majhūl). Consequently, O assembly of Jahmīs, we find your factions to be in dispute as to what is “rational”. Each faction amongst you claims that reason is with it and that is calling to it, while that which opposes it is irrational. Thus, having seen that “reason” is disputed amongst us and you and all the People of Desires, we have not been able to find a precise definition for it in all things. Consequently, we hold that the most guided way is to refer all manners of reasoning to the order of Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and to that which was considered rational by his Companions and was well-known amongst them, because it was in their midst that the revelation would descend. Hence, they are more knowledgeable of its meanings than you or us. Furthermore, they were in agreement about the fundamentals of the religion (Usūl al-Dīn). They did not divide into factions concerning them, innovations did not appear amongst them nor desires which lead one astray from the path.
Hence, in our view, the rational is that which corresponds with their guidance and the irrational is that which opposed them. Furthermore, there is no way to know their guidance and their way except by these Āthār, and you have detached yourself from them and claim to select only some of them, so how can you be guided.
Some of them have used as evidence the statement of Mujāhid:
“Faces on that day shall be bright, looking (nādhirah) at their Lord” [Al-Qiyāmah:22-23]
He said, “They await the reward of their Lord.”
We say: yes, they await the reward of their Lord, and there is no reward greater than looking at His Face, Most Blessed and High is He.
If you insist on remaining attached to this hadīth of Mujāhid and to rely on it to the exclusion of all other narrations (Āthār), then this is a sign of your straying (shudhūdh) from the truth and your following falsehood, for if this claim of yours were established from Mujāhid in the manner that you understand it, it would be a rejected opinion because of these authentic narrations concerning it from Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), His Companions, and the assembly (Jamā`ah) of the Followers (Tābi`īn). Have you not claimed that you do not accept these narrations (Āthār) nor rely on them as proof. Therefore, how can you use the narration from Mujāhid as proof when you find a way to hang on to it due to your falsehood without clarification. What is more, you abandon the narrations (Āthār) from Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), his Companions, and the Followers when they contradict your view (madhhab). However, if you acknowledge the acceptance of the narration of Mujāhid, then you have passed judgment on yourself that you must accept the narrations (Āthār) from Allāh’s Messenger, his Companions, and the Followers after them, because you did not hear this from Mujāhid. Rather, you narrate it from him a chain of narration (isnād), while you narrate chains (asānīd) similar to it or better than it from the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم), the Companions, and the Followers which contradict it in your view. Therefore, how could you impose on yourselves to follow the unclear (mushtabih) narration of Mujāhid alone, while you left the authentic (sahīh), explicit (mansūs) narrations from Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم), His Companions, and the peers of Mujāhid from the Followers, except due to doubt and deviation (shudhūdh) from the truth.
Indeed, the one who desires deviation (shudhūdh) from the truth follows the strange (shādh) opinions of the scholars and hangs on to their slips. However, the one who seeks the truth for himself follows the well known (mashhūr) opinions of their assembly (jamā`ah) and he follows their understanding. So, these are two signs as to whether a man is a follower or an innovator.