It has been narrated by Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Khurasani, a servant of Imam Reza (PBUH), that one of the atheists entered into the presence of the Imam when there were some people with him. He asked the Imam (PBUH), “Tell me how God is, and where He is”.

The Imam (PBUH) answered, “Woe on to you! Surely what you think is wrong. He has created the “place”; He existed when there was no “place”, and He created the “how”. He existed when there was no “how”. So He cannot be known through qualities of “how” or “where”; He cannot be perceived by any of our senses, nor can He be compared to anything”.

The atheist said, “So if He cannot be perceived by any of the senses, He does not exist at all”.

Imam Reza (PBUH) said, “Woe on to you! When your senses fail to perceive Him, you deny His Lordship? But when our senses fail to perceive Him, we know for certain that He is our Lord, and that He is something different from other things.

The man said, “What proof is there for Him?”

The Imam (PBUH) replied, “When I contemplate about my body and see that it is impossible for me to increase or decrease its breadth and height, or to keep unpleasant things away from it, or draw benefits to it, then I realize that this structure has a builder, and I acknowledge His existence. Also, when I see the rotation of the celestial sphere by His Power, the production of the clouds, the movements of the winds, the procession of the sun, the moon and the stars, and other amazing and profound signs, I realize that all these have a determiner and a creator”.

The man asked, “Then how come eyes cannot see Him?”

Imam Reza (PBUH) replied, “So that there is a difference between Him and His creatures- who are perceived by the vision of the eyes. Moreover, He is exalted above that to be perceived by the sight, encompassed by imagination, or delineated by the power of reasoning”.

The man said, “So define His limits for me”.

The Imam (PBUH) answered, “He has no limits”.

The man asked, “Why?”

Imam Reza (PBUH) replied, “Because every limited thing is restricted to its limit. If limitation is possible, then extension is also possible; and if extension is possible, then constriction is also possible. But He is unlimited; He cannot be extended, nor can He be constrained; He cannot be divided, nor can He be perceived by the imagination.”

The man said, “You say that He is Subtle (elegant and precise), All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Wise. Can He be the All-Hearing without ears, the All-Seeing without eyes, the subtle without working with hands and the All-Wise without workmanship?”

Imam Reza (PBUH) replied, “A person is known as subtle among us created beings based on skill in workmanship. Have you not seen the man who undertakes a task and is subtle in his handling of it, so that it is said, ‘How subtle is so and so!”

Then how should it not be said of the Majestic Creator that He is Subtle, when He creates a subtle and majestic Creation, places the souls in the living creatures, creates every kind different in form from its own kind where none resembles any of the other and each possesses in the composition of its form a subtlety from the Subtle and All-Aware Creator? Then we look upon the trees and their bearing of delicate things, whether edible or not, and we say that ‘Surely our Creator is Subtle’, (but) not like the subtlety of His creatures in their workmanship”.

“And we say that He is All-Hearing, since not hidden from Him are the sounds of His creatures between the heaven and the earth, from a mote to what is larger than that, both in the land and at sea. And He does not get confused by their words. This is why we say that He is All-Hearing, but not through ears”.

 “We say that He is All-Seeing, but not through eyes, for He sees the trace of a black ant on a black stone on a dark night; He sees the tracks of an ant in a pitch-black night; He sees what is harmful for it and what is beneficial to it, and the result of its cohabitation, and its offspring and its descendents. This is how we say He is All-Seeing, but not similar to the sight of His creatures”.

The narrator says that the atheist man did not give up this discussion until he became a Muslim. 

(The above is a selection taken from “Tawhid” (Divine Unity), by Shaikh al-Saduq)

The Roshd Website congratulates all Muslims, especially you dear friend, upon 11th of Dhi al-Qa’dah, the birthday anniversary of the container of Divine knowledge and preacher of Divine unity, Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Reza (PBUH).