Q.l: Please explain the above tradition. What do those who believe in unity of existence (Wahdatul Wujud) say and how to contradict them?
A: The object of this question is a sentence from the tradition of Amirul Momineen 's (a.s.) mentioned in Usu/ Kafi. It explains that the Almighty Allah is free from all physical qualities. The complete tradition is as follows:
Amirul Momineen (a.s.) was asked, "How did you recognize your Lord?"
"Through that with which He has introduced His self."
"How has He introduced Himself?" asked the inquirer.
Imam (a.s.) replied: "He is not alike any form and neither is he perceived by the senses. Nor can He be compared to anything. In spite of being far, He is near and despite being near, He is far. He is above everything and nothing is above Him. He is ahead of everything and nothing is ahead of Him. He is inside the things through His power, but He is not like something, which is inside something. He is outside the things but He is not like something, which comes out of something. Purified is one Who is such and other than Him is not like this and He is the beginning of everything." 1
'He is inside the things' means that nothing and no part of a thing is empty of Him in the sense of His control over them· and His knowledge and His grace on them. '
But He is not like something, which is inside something' means that His being in them is not like entering of something or someone into a place, for example sitting on a throne, nor it is like the entrance of warmth or heat in water, because each of these is among the qualities of a body.
'He is outside the things ' means that He is beyond being near or close to anything. He is beyond anything that can be imagined and His attributes are dissimilar to all qualities of anything or anyone.
'He is not like something, which comes out of something', means that his being out is not the getting out of anything from anything; either from the viewpoint of being distant in space, area or environment. Thus divine existence and lordship over everything and tenseness of His nearness and the overwhelmingness of His coverage has no example. So also no there is no example of His separation from things.
Although to make it understandable instance can be given of the spirit and the rational soul of man. It is agreed that spirit is not a part of the body, but the body is under the control, and coverage of the soul which does not inhabit any particular part of the body. Thus it is both in the body as well as out of it. At the same time, it’s being in and out is not like the entrance and exit of a thing as mentioned earlier.
Also the soul is nearer to the body from the viewpoint of control and coverage. So also 1t is away from the body from the angle of actual existence in a place. It is independent and clear of physical ailments.
It would be clear that the nearness and remoteness of the Almighty Allah concerning the entire universe is above the nearness and remoteness of the soul from the body as mentioned.
Since man is unable to perceive the nearness and remoteness of the soul from the body it is all the more impossible for him to understand the form of nearness and remoteness of God from anything.
"(So glorified be Allah) Whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of understanding cannot reach...” 2
As for the question of the unity of existence, those who believe in it are of various sorts. Some say that there is only a Single Existence and that all other numerous existences are mere manifestation and illuminations of Him. They give the example of the sea and its waves. However this is illogical in the view of intelligent people. How can a sensible person believe that all these existences, having have their own specialties are all only imaginations and that they are no more than a single existence?
The example of the sea and its waves etc. are blatantly against the dictum of: "He is not like anything and He is above all that they attribute to Him." Moreover such belief leads to going out of the pale of faith. That is why Agha Sayyid Mohsin Hakim (t.s.), one of the Maraja Taqlid (a religious authority), writes in the commentary on Urwathul Wuthqa, regarding the believers in oneness of existence (Wahdatul Wujud)3:
"Since religion wants us to have a good opinion about everyone who is a Muslim, we are also required to have a good opinion of their words and deeds. Therefore we may say that the aim of those who believe in oneness of existence (Wahdatul Wujud) is not what their words apparently show, which results in corruption including denial of the laws of Shariat although their real intention is correct. Otherwise the apparent words are
against Shariat as mentioned earlier that:
سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ
"Glory be to your Lord, the Lord of Honor, above what they describe.” (As-Saffat,37: 180)
وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ
"And they do not assign to Allah the attributes due to Him ...'' 4(Al Anam 6:91)
Sayyid Abdul Husayn Dastghaib Shirazi