Our Daily Bread: What Does God Look Like?

If there’s one verse from the Qur’án that I consider enlightened, it’s this:

Whichever way ye turn, there is the face of God. (2:109/115)

What an inclusive, compassionate sentiment!

I’m not certain that the author intended it to be translated as above (Rodwell), though this is the most literal translation as far as I know. Some translators have utilized more figurative meanings of the word wajh (face), such as “purpose”. Even then I would consider the verse enlightened. It comes out to something similar, but I like “face” better. It’s more intimate.

Bahá’ís might recognize this verse from the Book of Certitude and Questions and Answers, wherein the verse is associated with issues regarding the direction of the Qiblih. That involves a rather geographic interpretation that distracts from the metaphysical. If Bahá’u’lláh is aware of a possible unitarian interpretation, he isn’t letting us know about it. Here’s what he says about the intent of this verse in the Íqán:

In the eyes of God, the ideal King, all the places of the earth are one and the same, excepting that place which, in the days of His Manifestations, He doth appoint for a particular purpose.

From this, it is not at all evident that Bahá’u’lláh recognizes the verse as a profound statement about the divine nature of all things. At least, though, he does appear to recognize the literal interpretation of the word wajh in Questions and Answers, or does he? Is it possible that he simply interprets the verse to be saying “all places are the same”?

saheefah.org offers an interesting argument in favor of the literal interpretation of wajh.

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