Rafed English


Adapted from: "Three Topics in Theological Philosophy" by: "Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi"

Knowledge, like power, is another attribute of Divine Essence. On the basis of the proofs forwarded for demonstrating the existence of God, it can be said that God is omniscient. Moreover, it was stated in the discourse on power that it is deduced from the proof of order that God, who confers order and regularity on a system, must, of necessity, be aware of the characteristics of its components, their number, composition, and their connection with the system's purpose.

Creation of an orderly system of phenomena without knowledge of the compo­nents of which it consists is something irrational, which the Holy Quran rejects by this interrogative negation:

    أَلا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ

Shall He not know, Who created, and He is All‑subtle, All‑aware? (67:14)

The proof of the Necessary Being demonstrates that God is the First Cause of all creation, and in the discussion of the proof of contin­gent and necessary it was stated that an effect depends on and arises from a cause, or, in other words, the effect is present for the cause. Accordingly, it is impossible that the cause should be unaware of its effect, which itself depends on the cause.

Of course, God's knowledge is "knowledge by presence" (`ilm huduri) not acquired knowledge (‘ilm husulli), since in the discussion on the difference between these two kinds of knowledge it was stated that the former kind is directly present for the knower without the need for any intermediary, whilst the latter kind is gained by means of the sense organs.

From an epistemological viewpoint, in `knowledge by presence' (‘ilm huduri) the known object is itself, in its entirety, present in the mind of the knower, not just the idea of its form. However, in acquired knowledge (‘ilm husuli) only the form of the known thing is present in the mind of the knower, not its complete essence‑like our knowledge of sensible objects in the external world acquired by means of the sense organs.

With this brief explanation, we come to know that knowledge possessed by God cannot be the acquired type of knowledge, but is `knowledge by presence'; since the existence of every object and all effects caused by the First Cause depends on Him and is `present' for Him, and this is the same as what we call `knowledge by presence'.

Besides, acquired knowledge comes through sense organs, and since God is free of any kind of organs whatsoever, the idea of acquired knowledge is inapplicable to Him. Therefore, we may conclude on the basis of what has been said that God's knowledge is `knowledge by presence', not acquired knowledge.

Some other attributes such as hearing and vision are also related to the attributes of knowledge. When we say that God hears and sees, what is meant is that God is knowledgeable about things that can be heard and seen. He knows the attributes and qualities, perceived by creatures by means of hearing and seeing, by means of His `knowledge by presence'.

However, the knowledge of God encompasses all things‑‑those which can be seen and heard, and all other things as well. The greater emphasis laid on the attributes of vision and hearing of God is apparent­ly due to the fact that these two faculties are more manifest and perfect in creatures endowed with the power of perception; in addition, their relationship with the body and bodily members, like the other faculties, is not as evident and conspicuous.

On the other hand, faculties such as taste and touch and their relationship with the body is very intense and their imperfection is more conspicuous. Perhaps it is due to this that in theological parlance, from among the faculties pertaining to the senses, these two faculties of hearing and seeing‑ disregarding the fact of their being senses‑are attributed to God, although God has absolute and unlimited knowledge by presence not only of the visible and the audible but also of taste, touch and all other characteristics posses­sed by things.

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