The Concept of Theophany
in Accordance with the Alawite Nusayris Creed
By Dr. Ahmed Adeeb Ahmed
Our right Alawite Nusayris creed has been fought for centuries because it has been forefront for confronting the peoples of incarnation and irreligion (i.e. those who negate the existence of God). Thus, we are determined to clarify the stances of our creed regarding these two matters. As such, they accused us of saying “Theophany means the existence of God in bodies”. However, this is impossible.
Sunnis and Shiites were confused because their superficial interpretation for religious issues prevented them from understanding the meaning of theophany.
The theophany in our Alawite Nusayris creed, is to prove the existence of God through rational and visual evidences. Thus, we believe those latter are adequate tools to prove his existence; He -who manifests himself for both the angels and humans.
God Almighty, when he wanted to break the new first thing, he said “let be”! Then the beings were created. Then, he revealed His Glory to the angels knowing that God in fact, does not fall under the mind or sense. Therefore, we say that “God manifests (by himself) not by something else”, so that the reader does not think that we believe in the Incarnation.
The theophany, does not mean the entry of God in the human body, nor the Incarnation of him (Al-Hulul), but it is the evidence for his existence.
We acknowledge the existence of God Almighty, and pray to him, knowing that He is greater than our words. As Imam Ali Zine El Abidine (AC) says: “My God, if it had not been necessary to accept your command, I would not have mentioned your name on my tongue, but I mention you, as far as I can, not as much as you deserve. Who am I to deserve sanctifying you! And one of the greatest blessings for us is to mention your name in our tongues”.
We affirm God’s existence. We magnify his essence, because He is far above any recognizable attribute and any specific direction. We consider him to be above and beyond the two limits, the analogy with his creatures and the negation of his existence. Glorified be the Lord! Whoever does not make God above these limits is restricting him and likening him to his creation.
Is it conceivable that if God granted us the grace of knowledge of his existence, we would make him of the same type as his creation, or like his creation or limit him in human bodies? God forbids!!
We -Alawites Nusayris- believe and affirm that God does not incarnate or enter in a human body in our debates with those who believe in incarnation. As affirmed by Philosopher ibn Shuba Al-Harani, “Whoever believes that God enters the human body, is like a worshiper of idols”.
At the time when people who believe in the Incarnation claim that “God has mother, father and children” we deny this claim and believe that God is very far above that, as he did himself saying: “Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him” (112:1-4).
They claim, “God has a wife”!! We deny this claim because he said in the Holy Quran: “And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son” (72:3).
They claim, “God has a partner”!! We deny this claim because he said in the Holy Quran: “No partner has He, and this I have been commanded and I am the first of the Muslims” (6:163).
We believe and affirm that God does not incarnate, because he was, when there was no place yet, no aeon or time, no stillness, no motion, no essence, no shape, no sense nor type, but He is “the creator of time and place and motion and stillness” as said Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him).
We also believe and affirm that God cannot be restricted, i.e., cannot be contained in a place or time, cannot be conceived by delusions and еру mind cannot surround him. Imam al-Sadiq (AS) was asked: “Is it permissible to say that God, is in a place?
He replied: “Glorified be our Lord! He is far above that! If he had been in a place, he could have been created, and whoever is in a place will need the place, because the need is a property of creatures not the God”.
We believe and affirm that God is unimaginable and does not fall under the name of anything, and he has no analogue, no peer and no equivalent. Where the Messenger of Allah (All Prayers and Blessings of God be upon him) was asked: “What is the highest level of knowledge, O Messenger of Allah?”.
He said: “it is the true knowledge of God”.
They asked: and what is the true knowledge of God?
He said: “it is knowing him without analogue or peer or example, and knowing that He is the One, the First, the Last, the Visible, the Invisible and there is none like or equivalent unto Him”.
Explanation of terms used:
- Creed: a system of religious belief; a faith.
- Incarnation: A person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit, or abstract quality.
- Denial: The action of declaring something to be untrue.
- Negation: The contradiction or denial of something.
- Gainsay: Deny or contradict (a fact or statement).
- Analogy: A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
- Rational: Based on or in accordance with reason or logic.
- Visual: Of or relating to seeing or sight.
- Essence: The intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.
- Likening: Point out the resemblance of someone or something to.
- Theophany: A visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god.
- Manifestation: An event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory or an abstract idea. the action or fact of showing something.
The Alawite religious scholar Dr. Ahmed Adeeb Ahmed
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