Every once in a while, by His will, Allah gives us a glimpse behind “The veil”. This “veil” is really just the product of our complete inability to comprehend Allah as He is. Sometimes it seems these come as a result of fasting and endless prayer, dhikr, etc. Other times it seems they just come, but in any case all success is from Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala.
I had one of these moments earlier, on my way home from Amscot. Pondering over the fact that the bank had to hold my money until tomorrow morning and I can’t afford to do laundry today I found myself correcting my poor attitude. The thing is, I told myself, this life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it..it’s all perception. At least I have money in the bank, and was able to take out enough to pay the rent, and at least I have clothes to wash. At this point my attitude improved immediately. I know, you might be thinking,”This is it? This is his epiphany?” No..but this is the thought process that lead to the epiphany.
Pondering on the power of perception I realized that that’s all there is, perception and Allah. We don’t live in this world as it is. The world is separate from our perception of it, yet all we know is our perception so as far as practicality is concerned the world “as is” for all intensive purposes does not actually exist. We change everything in this world with our perception, and so 10 people could look at the same object or situation and come away with 10 different understandings and experiences. Reality is subjective. Think back to Aristotle’s Theory of Forms, or the Buddha’s statement that the world is as we think it to be.
As for Allah Al Azim, He is completely above and outside of our perception. He is independent of it. This is why He is Al Haqq, The Reality. In fact, He is the ONLY Reality. He is unchanged, He is Himself regardless of how we perceive Him, or whether we even perceive Him in the first place.
Even we ourselves change according to our perception, so how can we be any more real than our thoughts and emotions and mental constructs? Allah SWT exists outside of concepts and constructs, we could never explain Him in such a way as to fit our mind because our mind is subjective and relative, and Allah SWT is completely unlike anything.
Allah is the one thing we cannot affect or change with our perception, whatsoever. If anyone thinks they have an understanding of the Almighty other than what He is in the way He has revealed Himself, indeed they would be lost. He is only one as He is, our mind does not change Him. And yet, that being said, if Allah sees to it to change us we are altogether powerless to resist Him. If we are in ignorance and Allah wills it that we should come to know Him, it is so and no one or nothing can change or stop it. Similarly, if He wills us to be astray we have no hope but Him to save us from our ignorance.
This is what brings me to a deeper understanding of Tawhid, the Oneness and Unity of Allah Al Zawajal. It could almost be said that with all of our changing attitudes, emotions and concepts, times the billions of people in the world today, there are just as many universes as perceptions, if we indeed see each perception as a different world. However, regardless of how many perceptions and dimensions our mind leads us into, Allah SWT is One. He does not change or divide for the sake of our perception. His vastness is such that He is beyond all of our states of being and understanding.
Even with this note, no one will read this and come away with the same understanding. Even the same person could read this and each time probably come away with something new, depending on their perception at that time. Allah is One, Allah is the Real, either we understand it or we don’t. Our perception will not change that, and that’s why when one develops a relationship with Allah it could never be put into words. Words, concepts and images reduce the true nature of a thing. Perception takes something out of its nature and brings it into a world of form and duality, and therefore it is a knowledge of the heart (qalb), not of the mind.
This is why Islam rejects images and idols, because a concept or image of God is not The Reality, The Reality transcends all of these.
72:2 “It shows the way to Enlightenment, so we have come to believe in it. And we shall never again ascribe a partner unto our Lord.”
May this note benefit you, inshallah. May we all gain knowledge and hidayah, and may our striving and the Rahmah of Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala join us among the righteous and admit us to Paradise. Ameen.