Understanding Tawhid: Proving divine simplicity means God is not limited or finite.

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Compassionate

Though mentioned previously, it is pertinent to review a number of critical points that will help elucidate further posts, particularly the understanding of God’s attributes.

Proving divine simplicity means God is not limited or finite. He is not a composite of act and potency, rather He is pure actuality, pure being. There is no perfection we can propose that God does not have. In fact, there is no perfection except that which the Quran attributes it to God essentially and exclusively to God, and only to others secondarily and with His permission. God is the reality that encompasses and comprehends all realities and all perfections. Everything other than God is encompassed, finite and limited.

This leads us to a very important point; that God is infinite and without limit means that we cannot comprehend or understand the reality and essence of God; for it is impossible for the finite to grasp the infinite, as shown in the Holy Quran:

 وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِهِۦ عِلْمًۭا 

“but they cannot comprehend Him in their knowledge.”(20:110)

As such a plethora of narrations exist warning us of the dangers and pitfalls that occur when one attempts to comprehend the reality of God. As Imam Ali says, anything one imagines Him to be, He is different to that very thought.

However, in the first sermon of Imam Ali, He says the foremost in religion is knowing God, so how do we reconcile between those seemingly contradictory statements? In reality, we can know God only by knowing his Divine names and attributes and this opens for us the door to the knowledge of God that is possible.

I will conclude with a beautiful narration reported from Imam Al Ridha (as), full of wisdom and the light of gnosis:

“He who knows Him by similitude has not understood His oneness;
And one who compares Him (to anything) has not understood the true essence,
nor has he confirmed Him if he sets any limit for Him;
And he who points towards Him with any of his senses is, in fact, aiming at something other than Him;
So, he who likens Him (to others) does not actually mean Him,
and he who considers Him a part of the whole, does not actually know Him,
and he who imagines Him is indeed deluded.
Everything, which can be encompassed by knowledge and imagination, is created,
and everything that is dependent upon others for its existence is an effect.”