Archive for the ‘Al-Ghazali’ Category

Allah’s Names, but not his nature can be known

August 24, 2009

Since there is no likeness of him, He or ‘His nature’ is not known by other than Him. So Al-Junayd …was right when he remarked: ‘Only God knows God’…One says, ‘I know God’ and one says, ‘I do not know God’. If you were to show a piece of intelligible writing to a reasonable person and say to him: “do you know its writer?” and he said “no,” he would be speaking truly. But if he said “yes: its writer is a man living and powerful, hearing and seeing, sound of hand and knowledgeable in the practice of writing, and if I know all this from the [the sample] how can I not know him? he too would be speaking truly. Yet the saying of the one who said “I do not know him” is more correct and true, for in reality he has not known him. Rather he only knows that intelligible writing requires a living writer, knowing, powerful, hearing, and seeing; yet he does not know the writer himself. Similarly, every creature knows only that this ordered and precisely disposed world requires an arranging, living, knowing and powerful maker.

Al-Ghazali, The 99 Beautiful Names of God, in Colin Chapman, Cross and Crescent, IVP, 1995, p.108

God’s names but not his nature can be known. But if his names are not founded upon his nature, can knowing his names really be knowledge?