The Face of Allah

“And to Allah belongs the east (the place of birth and origin) and the west (setting – disappearance – death). So, wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah (you are face to face with the manifestation of Allah’s Names). Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”[1]

Notice the verse doesn’t say “faces.” It says, “The Face of Allah is everywhere”. Clearly, this word isn’t used for the purpose of defining an individual.  We’ve already established the fact that what you perceive as separate individual beings is due to the inadequacy of your sight.

If with an elevated consciousness you remove this inadequacy you will develop ‘insight’ with which you can see that there is no multiplicity in creation. What eyes perceive as many, ‘insight’ perceives as one - the face of Allah. 

The meanings denoted by all of the names are not separate meanings, they are all one. A single meaning is being referenced via many seemingly different names!

Since all of these names belong to the ONE, there is only ONE meaning in ONE existence. Different meanings need different names. So, whichever meaning you take essentially you are dealing with the same singular existence, the single source! Hence the concept of multiplicity and unity adjoin here, and one becomes many.

That is, it is the names that bring about multiplicity. Since there is only one meaning, but because that one meaning is expressed in many different ways it seems as if there are many meanings, it is a relative concept. It is relatively many but principally one. This one meaning pertains to the single Spirit, as there is only one spirit!

This single spirit expresses its meanings, qualities and attributes in many different ways leading to the perception of multiplicity. In essence there is only one existence but it is observed in many different ways!

Let us give an example. Let’s say there is a man called Ahmed. Ahmed has many attributes; he is generous, he is courageous, he is humble… All of these qualities pertain to the same Ahmed. These attributes or ‘meanings’ of Ahmed do not bring about different Ahmeds. They are merely different aspects of the same person.

If we see him run and hide when faced with a difficulty, we call him a ‘coward’. Hence the names and attributes are generated by his actions. Ahmed’s actions are interpreted as meanings and those meanings are given a name.  

If you remove the names, existence will be seen as singular and the unity of existence may be observed! On the other hand, if in reference to actions different names are given, it will seem as if there are many meanings and many names!

Names are dependent on actions! If there are no actions, the meaning of a name won’t exist.

Another way of looking at this is, Allah’s names have come about after the manifestation of existence.

Before existence came about at the level of acts, there were no domain of names and hence no meanings.

In Sufism they say “meanings were intrinsic” to express this truth… It was embedded, within the essence of the One, unexpressed. How can we know this? Based on observable actions… If there is no activity, there is no meaning. Meanings come about later…

Hence there is only one face, if you can observe the realm of acts with insight you will only see one face. One existence!

The oneness observed with insight and the multiplicity observed at the level of acts should be observed holistically and at the same degree. If one overweighs the other, you will fall into a state of denial.

Denying the many is denying the One. Denying unity is denying the One. 

In any case, whether you accept the many and deny the One, or you accept oneness and deny multiplicity, eventually you’ll be denying the One.

Existence is wholly and utterly His Existence!

[1] Quran 2:115

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