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Pantheism (Pan = all, theism=God) is the view that God is all. Although some definitions describe pantheism as the view that God is the universe or God is nature, the more general definition is that these (universe, nature) are manifestations of God. See this.

In other words, pantheism defines God as the totality. All matter, energy, space and time. The universe and every other universe which may exist. All creators and all destroyers. All things, ideas, forms. Every-thing and every-nothing. In sum, He is the representation of the oneness of all.

Is this conception of God compatible with Islam? If not, why not and If yes, why yes?

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    Our discussion has raised an interesting idea. In researching Wahdat al-Wojood it seems that one of the early proponents of the concept (if not the term) was Ibn Arabi (see plato.stanford.edu/entries/ibn-arabi/#WahAlWuj) who lived, at least part of his life in Andalus (Spain). Now, Spinoza was a Jew living in Amsterdam, and as is known, most of the Jews of Amsterdam came from Spain following the Spanish Inquisition. So I wonder whether the ideas of Spinoza might have actually been influenced by Ibn Arabi. If anyone can comment on this I’d be most appreciative – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 21:47
  • May be you can rephrase your question a bit to clarify "Pantheism" in more detail according to the view of Spinoza as mentioned in the notice. Is this link ok? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinozism – Gulshan Jul 9 '12 at 5:25
  • @Gulshan Thanks for the link on Spinozism. It does contains much interesting information. I'll rephrase the question as you suggest. – Tim Colgan Jul 14 '12 at 22:49

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According to Jafari Fiqh, there are three different types of unity of existence (wahdat al‑wujud), of which two are not Islamic and are considered as apostasy, but the third of which is acceptable.

In brief, the two types that are unacceptable briefly are those which claim that God is exactly same as physical creatures of world.

The acceptable form claims that there is only one existence in world and it is God (i.e., one concept of existence). For example, one can similarly believe that the light of sun and light from a light bulb both are same concept of light; they are both the same entity, but in two distinct cases.Reference

This is a controversial debate among scholars — some do not accept any kind of it as Islamic — but most of those who reject it do not fully understand it. Those who do accept wahdat al‑wujud are called Urafa (i.e., those who practice Gnosis (Irfan)) and always claim to understand it. Intuition is needed — not everybody can understand it fully — and it can only be seen with an intuitive sense which few people have.

Imam Khomeini, the founder of Iran's Islamic Revolution, was a fan of wahdat al‑wujud and for this was critiqued by some scholars inside Iran; he has written some books about this.

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    Thanks for that most interesting article Ahmadi. I see that it is from the website: al-islam.org/al-tawhid/islamic_gnosis_wisdom/5.htm where it also says “The most important subject of this kind of controversy is that of the unity of existence (wahdat al‑wujud), which has been propounded in various forms. One is that, basically, there is nothing, has been nothing and shall be nothing but God, the Exalted. Whatever has been called other than Him, is said to be nothing more than illusions and fantasies”. This seems to be precisely the form of pantheism I was describing. – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 18:05
  • @TimColgan Although they may sound similar, they are completely different. Pantheism takes the universe as a world being lived in God, whereas Wahdat Al‑wujud says there is God and nothing else. In pantheism, God is (inside) the universe, whereas in Wahdat Al-wujud God manifests as the universe. In Wahdat Al-wujud, the universe does not exists and is created on will repeatedly and constantly by God's saying 'be'. In Pantheism, God is interacting with himself on the physical plane, whereas in Wahdat Al-Wujud it is all a dream, God's dream. The only body is God's and it is the one and the only. – user73 Jul 8 '12 at 23:09
  • Perhaps you missed the quote below: [[Baruch Spinoza later claimed that "Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived." "Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner." ... Spinoza states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken"]] This is the form of pantheism we are discussing. – Tim Colgan Jul 11 '12 at 17:22
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This view wouldn't be compatible with Islam because we believe Allah created these things, he isn't these things.

Praise be to Allah, who created (out of nothing) (Arabic: fatara) the heavens and the earth,
[Al-Fatir 35:1]

Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were joined together as one united piece, then We parted them? And We have made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe [21:30]

Based on your definition of the term, you would say god is these things, but it says in the Quran he created these things. Allah cannot be what he created. ' Also, the concept of time is diminished in the hereafter.

Yet they ask you to hasten on the Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His Promise. Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord is like a thousand years of your reckoning.

From this verse we can assume that in the terms of modern day, the time we will spend in the hereafter is very long, but we wont feel this in the hereafter since there wouldn't be a concept of time.

We know that Allah cannot perish or expire, but time will be diminished, so Allah cannot be all since Allah cannot perish like nature, time, earth and the universe.

Although Allah is not all but he can control and create all.

Verily when He intends a thing His (only) Command is "Be": and it is! [36:82]

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    "Although we belive he can controll all, we do not belive he is all." If he is not all, then what is he not? Is part of the totality God and part not God? Is so, how can he be all powerful? – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 17:26
  • We dont belive he is all as in he isnt the universe as you gave an example or time i never said anything about God being partly somthing else – NesreenA Jul 2 '12 at 22:59
  • @TimColgan whatever God you believe in I ask the the same question that you asked - how can HE be all powerful? – Ashu Jul 10 '12 at 20:12
  • How can he be all powerful? - By being all! – Tim Colgan Jul 11 '12 at 17:19
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    you dont have tro be all to be all powerfull you just have to be able to control all – NesreenA Jul 11 '12 at 17:47
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NO, not at all. Quran clearly says:

لَّا تُدْرِكُهُ الْأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الْأَبْصَارَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ 60:103

Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted.

We can vision the nature, we can meature the energy and time, so they are not God or piece of God according to Quran's clear definition.

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No, Pantheism is in no way compatible with Islam. The belief that God is every single thing, is illogical, as well as it is not compatible with the Quran and Sunnah. If God is everything, then He is also weakness and can take on the weaknesses of everything, and this is illogical because God is all powerful and weak in no way like His creation. Furthermore if God was everything, then He would also be of the lowest of things, and God is not low, He is the Most High far above everything. It would also mean that God would have a beginning and an end, but God has no beginning nor end.

We do not believe that God is part of His creation, We believe He is not affected by space or time. Allah Says:

ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنُ عَلَى ٱلۡعَرۡشِ ٱسۡتَوَىٰ

The Most merciful upon the Throne Established

Suart Taha Ayah 5

Meaning that He (Allah/God) is above and beyond/Outside of His creation and hence not part of it. But we believe His attributes work inside of His creation. He is not affected by place/Space. Furthermore, there is no verse in the Quran nor is there any authentic Hadith that indicate He is everything or that He in essence is everywhere. So that conception of God is in no way compatible with Islam.

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First of all, any idea to be compatible with Islam, it has to conform all the principles and points mentioned about that idea in Islam. Then the idea may be expanded without making any collision with those basic points. Only then the idea can be considered compatible with Islam. But still none can claim that this IS the idea/definition of Islam, it is just compatible. And the same principle will apply to this question- whether "Pantheism", which is a theory about the nature of God, is compatible with Islam or not.

So let's start with the idea/definition of God in Islam. You have already asked a question in this site regarding this- Who is God? Do all Muslims agree on one definition?. And there are some very good, well organized discussion about this matter. To summarize, there are many verses of Quran and Ahadith that mention the attributes of Allah- the most important being Surat Al-'Ikhlas http://quran.com/112 (you can check different translations here). Another important source is the 99 names of Allah- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Names_of_God, where each one is describing an attribute of Allah. All these indicates that Allah is a supreme being with His own personality and consciousness. So, to be compatible with Islam, any idea about God or Allah has to conform all these points.

Now come to "Pantheism". We see several definition of pantheism. The most common and simple one is-

"Everything is God".

Here "everything" is normally interpreted as "the nature" or "the universe" which we are within and experiencing. That means the nature or universe is identical to God. This is almost same as the other statement-

"The universe or nature is a manifestation of God".

Note I omitted your plural words here. Another definition which expands the first one (and the one you emphasized here) is-

"Everything that exists- this nature or universe including all matter, energy, space and time or any other existence(if there are any) of other universes or forms or ideas beyond our experience and knowledge, combined in totality- is God".

Now, for the sake of answering, let me mention some other idea similar to pantheism-

Monism: "Everything is one."
Panentheism: "Everything is IN God."(Not to confuse with pantheism, spelling is similar)

Now let's examine whether these are compatible with Islam or not. In my understanding, pantheism is the same idea as monism. Pantheism merely mentions the word "God" and that's all. They do not mention any personality or consciousness of God or "The Unity". And sometimes this attributes is clearly denied. And even if we account the other descriptions where the denial is not clear, people of this doctrine also held these ideas (i.e. pantheism or monism) sufficient to describe God. So these can be viewed as indirect denial and thus Monism/Pantheism are clearly not compatible with the view of Islam as I have already mentioned.

Then come to "Panentheism". While quite similar to pantheism regarding the totality saying "everything is in God", it tends to accept the "personality or consciousness" of God (If not, it is also incompatible with Islam). But if it accepts all Islamic attributes of God, then will it become compatible with Islam? Here we need some further discussion about philosophical classification of existence- Physical and Mental. The physical existence is that of the matter and energy. In contrary, mental existence is existence of thoughts or information. And any of these two kind of existence can dissolve into another. For example, our brains or the memory or processors of computers are physical matters but they contain thoughts or information. On the other hand, think of a computer game. It has it's own materials, energy and physical rules, which may or may not resemble our own physical world. But all these things are nothing but data or information within the computer. Those material/energy/physics are "virtual" to us. There are even two topics in philosophy regrading this-

Now, let's go back to Panentheism which states- "Everything is in God". If this existence of everything is to be taken physically, that we, along with our physical universe or nature, is in God or part of God. Then it can be said- God or some part of Him is confined within the space, time and laws of our universe. But this is incompatible with the views of Islam. According to agreed upon view of Islam, Allah is not confined within our space, time and laws. Rather He is the creator of all these. And again, if it is said that, we and our universe is physically part of God, then it would mean that He did not actually created us from nothing. It would seem everything is a kind of transformation of parts of Himself. But Allah has stated that- He has created everything just by His will. Even He has created the events we perform or experience. So, materialistic Panentheism go with Islam.

And if we go the other way- the everything of this universe or reality is actually thought/information or will, and that is in God or mind/knowledge/will(or may be something beyond our knowledge/imagination) of God, then it becomes somewhat compatible with views of Islam. And in my understanding, this is the idea of "Wahdat al-Wojood" mentioned by different mystic people within Islam. I used "somewhat" because this idea is very difficult to grasp and express. Perhaps, my wording are not accurate and someone may go wrong way from silly confusions. Again, as I have mentioned, this is merely compatible with the Islamic view of God, not the Islamic view itself. So, someone can have a different view still compatible with Islam. And someone can even just skip all these idea and maintain the basic Islamic beliefs. And to get closer with the definition of Pantheism you mentioned, we may say, this universe/nature and everything within it manifest different attributes of God.

Hope we have had enough discussion regarding the topic. If anyone find any inconsistency in this answer, please mention it in comment.

  • First Gulshan, you misquoted me. I don’t appreciate your putting in quotation marks something I did not say as if I said it. Second, I tried to phrase my question in such a way that people would be aware that there are simplistic interpretations of Pantheism which equate God to the universe. However the broader interpretation which I wish to address “is that these (universe, nature) are manifestations of God” [note use of quotes to enclose an exact statement]. To me this seems to be very similar to the concept of "Wahdat al-Wojood". Where do you see a difference? – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 16:29
  • @TimColgan Sorry if it seems misquoting you. What you are talking about is probably Panentheism(see <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/panentheism> ) which is quite similar to the idea of "Wahdat al-Wojood" but different from "pantheism". Am I right? – Gulshan Jul 2 '12 at 19:31
  • Sorry if I got too worked up about the quote. The distinction between pantheism and panentheism is somewhat contrived. Even in the wikipedia link you indicated states the following: – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 21:33
  • [[Baruch Spinoza later claimed that "Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived." "Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner." Though Spinoza has been called the "prophet" and "prince" of pantheism, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken"]] – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 21:33
  • It is this (Spinoza’s) view of pantheism which seems most definitive. – Tim Colgan Jul 2 '12 at 21:34
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@Ahmadi's answer was good enough, only let stress again that the only phrase that volunteers a partly yes answer to your question is the term "manifestation", this whole world is only one manifestation of Allah (according to a Hadeeth by Imam Sadiq peace be upon him that you can find it in the book "مغز متفکر شیعه", sorry found only its [Persian version](http://farsbooks.blogfa.com/post/9)), but Allah is anyway beyond His manifestations, we are like imaginary images of Allah (the only real Existence) in the mirror of creation and no creation is that perfect to completely describe Allah. The mirror thing however, is merely an example. According to a Hadeeth by Imam Ridha (Reza) peace be upon him (while he was in debate with عمران صائبی, the Hadeeth is so long you can find it in many Shia book including Bihar Al-Anwar, عیون اخبار الرضا, maybe others would be able to direct you to a link for the books in English, seemingly it has not been yet translated into English) better examples are beyond the reach and understanding of common people.

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(My personal view on the issue.)

Allah (the exalted) described himself as Most High and Above All in many place in Qur'an.

Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. (Ayat Al-Kursi)

This ayah is one of the most memorized ayah in Qur'an and given much importance in Islam. (You can open seperate question about Ayat al-Kursi). In this ayah it is mentioned that Allah (the exalted) is the sustainer of all existence and the owner of it. So this would suggest that Allah (the exalted) is above the universe, and not the universe itself.

A revelation from He who created the earth and highest heavens, The Most Merciful [who is] above the Throne established. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is on the earth and what is between them and what is under the soil. (Surat Ţāhā 4-6)

Surat taha starts by mentioning that Qur'an is a revelation from Allah (the exalted) who created the universe, and mentions that he is the owner of everything.

There are much more ayah in Qur'an mentioning that Allah (the exalted) created the universe, he is sustaining it, and he is the owner of it. I would conclude that Islam isn't compatible with pantheism.

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I think there is some truth to this concept, and so it is from Islam. Among the textual evidences are the hadith where the Prophet said (I am paraphrasing from memory) "The truest words ever spoken by a poet are the words of Libid who said 'All beside Allah is illusion'" and the verse in Surah Rahman which says all will be destroyed except the Essence of God. But at the same I think we should also have some intellectual humility and realize that the limited human mind cannot fully comprehend God. So I do not believe that He is a form sitting on a throne bound by space and time. I do believe that He is beyond form, beyond conceptualization, but how exactly this is so, what exactly He is, this is a realm my mind cannot enter even though it believes in Him with the utmost certainty.

  • This answer is not proper due to lack of suitable references from Quran and hadith. – Mohammad Hossein Apr 10 '14 at 16:48
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The Legacy of Islamic thought in Maimonides lives through Spinoza , while Spinoza created a novel, secular, & geometrically organized system, many of the individual elements, as well as the over sense of coherency, come from Maimonides

  • if you add your references, it would be good – nim Sep 18 '16 at 3:29
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  1. There is no evidence of Pantheism in Quran and if anyone tries any theological contortionism to demonstrate it have failed during the last 10 centuries
  2. But one must differentiate between Islamic Doctrine and Islamic Philosophy, as far as my studies go ideas of Neo-Platonists like Saccas, Plotinus and Porphyry entered Islamic philosophy during 10th and 11th centuries through the philosophical works of Abu Nasr al-Farabi (known as the second Plato) in Baghdad and Shahab al-Din Yahya ibn Habash Suhrawardi in Aleppo during the islamic golden age. Both scholars were well versed in middle and neo-platonic tradition and show knowledge of early gnosticism (since most of the books were taken from byzantium and taken to aleppo in fear of destruction by christians in centuries prior) and they created a whole Pantheist school of thought by looking at Islamic theology through the lens of Middle and Neo-platonic ideas in case of Suhrawardi with a flavour of Zoroastrian mysticism (school of Illumination: Ishraq). The concept of Emanation also entered islamic thought through these very same scholars, فيض which is literal translation of the word "emanation" and other ideas like epistrophe, oneness, were widespread among islamic philosophers.
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Sufi scholars have a similar concept known as Wahdat al-Wojood (the oneness of being). Roughly it is the concept that Allah and the universe are one, or (probably more accurately) that the universe is a manifestation of Allah.

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    I'm not sure this extends across the spectrum of Sufi scholars, or even that a significant number of them assert this. It would help if you can provide a reference and clarification. – Ansari Jun 30 '12 at 2:18
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    I did. The link goes to the wikipedia article on Sufism, which also has an Arabic counterpart. – System Down Jun 30 '12 at 5:43
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    Needs sources/citations. – ashes999 Jun 30 '12 at 9:20
  • @SystemDown Yes, this concept of Wahdat al-Wojood is very intriguing. Do you know of any good descriptions? – Tim Colgan Jul 11 '12 at 17:29
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    This is the start of a good answer; it should be expanded to cover the remainder of OP's question, being "if yes, why yes?" References from authoritative sources would be invaluable. – goldPseudo Jul 11 '12 at 19:03
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To believe in pantheism, one must accept that God occupies space and is bound by time. Since God is the creator of time and space and is not bound by it, such a relevance is void. God is beyond space and time and does not occupy space. Humans however are space bound creatures and ARE INCAPABLE to comprehend a spaceless concept or what it means to be beyond space. As a test, close your eyes and try to imagine the absence of space (Not vacuum or empty space, rather the absence of space itself). You see.... it’s impossible. At most we can imagine a perfect vacuum but we can't even imagine the absence of space. So a question as where is God is a wrong question, since God is not mater to occupy space. Have a look at this youtube video just for a simpleeeeee example to understand the issue better:

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