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The following Hadith is narrated in the book of Towhid of Sahih al-Bukhari:(Page 1021, No.7437, A-Soltaniah Edition)

حدثنا عبدالعزیز ابن عبدالله: حدثنا ابراهیم بن سعد عن ابن شهاب عن عطاء بن یزید اللیئی عن ابی هریره : ان الناس قالوا : یا رسول الله هل نری ربنا یوم القیامه؟ فقال رسول الله: هل تضارون فی القمر لیله البدر؟ قالوا: لا یا رسول الله . قال: فهل تضارون فی الشمس لیس دونها سحاب؟ قالوا: لا یا رسول الله. قال: فانکم ترونه کذلک، یجمع الله الناس یوم القیامه فیقول : من کان یعبد شیئا فلیتبعه، فیتبع من کان یعبد الشمس الشمس و یتبع من کان یعبد القمر القمر و یتبع من کان یعبد الطواغیت الطواغیت و تبقی هذه الامه فیها شافعوها او منافقوها – شک ابراهیم- فیاتیهم الله فیقول : انا ربکم فیقولون : هذا مکاننا حتی یاتینا ربنا فاذا جاءنا بنا عرفناه فیاتیهم الله فی صورته التی یعرفون فیقول انا ربکم فیقولون انت ربنا فیتبعونه ....

Since my question is related to a few parts of the Hadith, I will not translate all of it:

People asked the Prophet (Pbuh): O’ the Apostle of Allah will we see our Lord in the Day of Resurrection? Then the Apostle of Allah replied: Is there any dispute among you whether a full moon is visible? They answered: No. then The Prophet (Pbuh) continued asking them: “ Is there any dispute among you whether the sun is visible in a cloudless sky? They replied in the negative. Then The Prophet stated (Pbuh): “Then you will see your Lord just like this”. Allah will get the people together in the Day of Resurrection then He says: those who were worshiping any deity shall follow it. Then the ones who were worshiping sun will follow the sun and the ones who were worshiping moon will follow the moon and those who were worshiping Rebels will follow Rebels ……… Then Allah will come to them and says: “I am your Lord”, they reply: we’ll stay here till our Lord comes to us and when he comes to us we will recognize him, then Allah will appear in such a shape that they can recognize …..

As you can see, according to this tradition, Allah has a particular shape without which the believers cannot recognize their Lord. This shape occupies a place moving from one area to another which means when it is present in the first area, it is absent in the other one at the same time.

On the other hand in the verse 11 of Surah 42 we read:

لیس کمثله شیء

Nothing is like Him

This verse clearly states that nothing is like Allah which means it is impossible to imagine any shape of any kind that is located in a particular place moving around and occupying places.

So how can one reconciles between the aforementioned Hadith and the above verse?

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'then Allah will appear in such a shape that they can recognize': does this mean 'Allah has a particular shape without which the believers cannot recognize their Lord' or 'Allah can take a shape with which believers can recognise Him?' –  MAKZ Jul 23 at 10:18
    
MAKZ@ Why the believers couldn't recognize the Lord at the first place although he had come to them? What's the meaning of coming and leaving? Aren't these verbs implying the meaning that Allah was present in a particular place and absent in another one at the same time? –  Amin Jul 23 at 15:06
    
I do not know of any instance where Allah describes His physical appearance, though he repeatedly says that there is nothing that resembles Him. To say anything about Him that we do not know for sure is obeying the order of satan [2:169]. However you might read this hadith too: sunnah.com/bukhari/97/65 –  MAKZ Jul 23 at 17:52
    
However, we should either accept the meaning implied by the verse and question the authenticity of the Hadith or find another solution for reconciling between them. –  Amin Jul 23 at 19:50

1 Answer 1

Allah doesn't have a shape but the hadith you quoted doesn't imply that either.

Note that صورة (sura) in Islamic gnostic/philosophical literature is usually translated to 'form' or 'image' not 'shape'. The word for shape is شکل or هیئة which are mainly used to denote a physical form or shape.

Also صورة when used to imply the concept of 'form' can slightly vary in its exact denotation in gnostic hadiths and philosophical literature. A form may have a shape or may not. A form may be material or only visual/imaginal like things we see in dreams which don't occupy space and are unmoving. A form may also refer to a non-material entity such as an angel.

An example of صورة used in the two latter meanings is the famous Prophetic hadith which says

الله خلق الأنسان علی صورته

Allah created man in his own form (or image)

Evidently Allah doesn't have a physical form in which to create man. Allah is not also observable by the physical eye. Hence, the hadith is interpreted as implying that man is the full manifestation of Allah's attributes and hence the only creation that can realize His full truth. So صورة here refers to the full truth of Allah which is a non-physical entity.

But as for the hadith you quoted note that it says that Allah will come or appear to them to them in His form, which means Allah shows himself in a form that they will realize Him. This must not seem strange at all as we already know that Allah also appeared to His Prophets even in different shapes as in when He appeared in the shape or form of a burning tree and a mount to Moses. Gabriel who appears to Prophets to disclose divine revelation can also be regarded as a form of Allah.

Moreover, according to the theory of Unity of Existence which is the most coherent and most compatible theory of Monotheism with the Quran, in fact all creations are Allah's forms through which He manifests Himself to us. In Quran you find ample allusions to this theory where Allah describes the creation as His آیات (ayat) which means signs. And we know that natural beings as the most apparent of His signs all have even physical forms.

But as for the Quranic verse (42:11) you quoted it has really nothing to do with the above tradition. It simply refers to Allah's uniqueness and doesn't imply anything as to the merits of the hadith in question.

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