Interpretation of as-Samad
From: Usul al-Kafi
228 Imam Muhammad at-Taqi (p) was asked the meaning of the word Samad (Self-dependent). (Q, 112:2)
The Imam (p): Samad means the Lord to whom one turns for every need, big or small.
229 Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p) was requested to say something about the Oneness of God.
The Imam (p): Verily God whose names are blessed and who is exalted in the transcendence of His Essence, is the One (the only One). He is unique in Oneness, and He attributed Oneness to Himself when He was alone (nothing is one and unique in the sense in which God is one and unique.) Then He made His unity manifestly known to His creatures. Thus God is One, Unique, Self-dependent (as-Samad) and All-Holy. Everything worships Him and turns to Him for its needs and He encompasses all things in His perfect knowledge…
Movement and mobility
230 It was mentioned before Imam Musa al-Kazim (p) that some people thought God the Hallowed, the High, descends down to the lowest firmament.
The Imam (p): Verily God does not descend down and has no need to do so. Distance and proximity are the same to Him. Neither does anything that is near become distant to Him, nor does anything distant become near to Him. He does not need anything but all things need Him and He is the Bountiful. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All-Wise…
231 A companion asked Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Do you say that God is hidden and unseen?
The Imam (p): Woe be unto you. How strange! How can He who is a witness to His creatures, who is nearer to them than the jugular vein, who hears their conversation, sees them all and knows their secrets, be hidden and unseen?
The companion: Is God at every place? When He is in the heavens how can He be on the earth and when He is on the earth how can He be in the heavens?
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): You have in your perspective the attributes of the created beings. They occupy the space to which they are transferred vacating the one they were transferred from without knowing what happened to the former place. There is no space (within or without the universe) which is not under the absolute domain of God, owner of Higher Eminence and the Monarch to be obeyed. No space can confine Him and who in relation to one place is not nearer than another.
232 Explaining the verse: “…There is not a secret consultation among three but He makes a fourth among them, nor among five but He makes the sixth…”(Q, 58:7), Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) said: He is One in His Entirety and Totality and is entirely different from His created beings and in this manner only, has He described Himself.
“…Verily He encompasses all things with His supervision, encirclement and power” (Q, 41:54). “…Not the smallest particle in the heavens or on the earth, or anything smaller than that or greater” (Q, 34:3). He encompasses all things encircling them with His knowledge.
At this juncture the Imam (p) clarified a most important point on the subject of the Oneness of God: He does not encompass them with His Supreme Self but with His knowledge and control, because all objects are surrounded by four boundaries, and if we suppose that He encompasses them with His Supreme Self (then) so will His Supreme Self (also supposed to) be limited.
233 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was requested to explain the meaning of the verse: “The Most Gracious One firmly established on the Throne” (Q, 20:5)
The Imam (p): God dominates all things and permeates all things equally. (He is Omniscient and Omnipresent.)
234 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): Anyone who has the conception that God is ‘from something’ or He is in ‘any thing’ or He is ‘on anything’ is an infidel.
When the Imam (p) was requested to explain further he (p) said: I mean the person who thinks that God is encompassed by something, or is seized by something, or is from something which existed before Him is an infidel.
The divine Throne and the Chair
235 … A Christian asked Imam Ali (p) various questions about God. To one of his questions Imam Ali said, “ God the most High created the Throne (Al-Arsh) from four divine lights (Noors). These were the Red for the redness; Green for greenness and from Yellow Nur was yellowness. White was the result of the white Nur and it is the knowledge which God has made the carriers to carry and that is the Nur of His Greatness. . . .
The Christian further enquired about the Unity and Entity of God and asked Imam Ali (p): Tell me where exactly is God, the Mighty, the Majestic?
Imam Ali (p): He (God) is here, He is there, above, beneath and also around us and (He is also) with us. And this is what He himself says: “…Nowhere is there a secret council among three persons but he is the fourth of them, nor five men, but He is the sixth of them, neither fewer than more, but He is with them wherever they may be…” (Q, 58:7). Thus the Throne (Kursi), the comprehensive seat of His Authority and knowledge, ‘To Him belongs what is in the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them and whatever is beneath the soil and if you speak loudly, He knows the secret and whatever is hidden (Q, 20:6-7). This is what the words of God, the Sublime, mean. And he says: …His Throne (Kursi) extends over the heavens and the earth and the preservation of them both tires Him not. He is All-High and All-Glorious (Q, 2:255).
And the bearers of His Throne (Kursi) are the learned scholars upon whom God has bestowed His knowledge.
Everything that is created in the heavens and in the earth is out of these four, which he has shown to His chosen ones. He showed them to His friend Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (p) saying, “And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure”. (Q, 6:75) . . .
236 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was requested to explain the meaning of verse: “…His Chair comprises the heavens and the earth…” (Q, 2:255).
The Imam (p) replied: All things, the heavens and the earth, are within the Chair.
Translator’s note: Certain terms and expressions relating to Divine Unity occurring in the Noble Quran are very difficult to understand. Even the highly educated intellectuals have failed to grasp their exact connotation. The expression ‘Chair’ is one of them. The best that can be concluded from the above traditions and some other sayings of the Divine Imam’s (p) on this subject is that the ‘Chair’ signifies the Omnipresence of God.
237 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was asked: Do the heavens and the earth include the Chair or does the Chair include the heaven and the earth?
This question had reference to verse: “His Chair comprises the heavens and the earth” (Q, 2:255).
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): It is the Chair that comprises the heavens, the earth and the Throne. The Chair also includes every other thing.
238 A believer requested Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) to explain the following words of God, the Almighty, the Majestic: “…And his Throne was upon the water…” (Q, 11:7).
Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p): What do the people say about it?
The believer: They say that the Throne was on the water and God was on the Throne. The Imam (p): They are liars. Anyone who thinks so implies that God is supported by the Throne, which means that God needed some kind of support and was not absolutely independent. His Chair extends over the heaven and the earth.
239 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was asked about the nature of the spirit of Prophet Adam (p) with reference to verse: “When I had fashioned him (Adam) and breathed into him of My Spirit” (Q, 15:29).
The Imam (p): This spirit is a creation of God and the spirit breathed into Prophet Esa (p) (Jesus Christ) was also a creation of God.
240 Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (p) was requested to explain the meaning of the expression ‘the spirit’ (which is included in the verse: “…Esa (Jesus Christ) (p), the son of Mary, was an Apostle of God and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding for Him…” ) (Q, 4:171).
The Imam (p): The spirit referred to is the Spirit created by God in Prophet Adam (p) and Prophet Esa (p) (Jesus Christ).
241 A person asked Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p): People say that God created Prophet Adam (p) in His Own Image. What does it mean?
The Imam (p): It was the image invented and created and God had picked, chosen and adopted it out of various images and associated it with Himself in the same way as He had associated Kaba and the Spirit with Himself. He said: “My house” (Q, 22:26) and “And breathed My Spirit in him” (Q, 15:29).