The Imām, peace be on him, disproved all kinds of likes and images from Allah, the Most High, and that was through a talk took place between him and al-Fath b. Yazid al-Jurjāni on his way to Khurasān. The Imām, peace be on him, said to him:
“O Fath, he who pleases the Creator pays no attention to the creature; and he who displeases the Creator, surely He empowers the displeasure of the creatures over him; and the Creator is not described except by that with which He has described Himself; and how should one describe that Creator whom senses cannot perceive, imaginations cannot attain, thoughts (khatarāt) cannot delimit and sight cannot encompass? Greater is He than what the depicters describe! He is distant in His nearness and near in His distance. He fashions (kayyafa) ‘howness’ (kayfiyyah), so it is not said of Him, ‘How?’ (kayf); He determines (ayyana)the ‘where?’ (ayn). He sunders ‘howness’ (kayfūfiyyah) and whereness (aynūniyyah).
“O Fath, every body is fed with a food except the Creator, the Provider (Allah), for He embodies bodies. He is without body and form. He can neither be analyzed nor limited. He grows not, nor decays. He is far above the parts of things. He is the Subtle, All-aware, All-hearing, All-seeing, the One, the Unique, the Un-needing. He begets not, nor is He begotten and there is none equal to Him. He is the Originator of all things. He embodies all bodies and forms all forms. If He was such as those who admit similitude (al-mushabbihah), then the Creator cannot be distinguished from the created, nor the Provider from the provided, nor the Originator from the originated. However, He is the Originator and there must be a distinction between Him and the things to which He gave body and shape and which He originated, since nothing resembles Him nor does He resemble anything."
“Allah is One and man is one. Do they not; therefore, resemble each other?” asked al-Fath.
The Imām disproved this vague error, saying: “Impossible! May Allah keep you steadfast; the resemblance is in the meanings. As for the names, every object is one, and the names signify the objects that (severally) bear those names. Likewise, when we call man one, we are predicating that man is one body, not two. Man, in himself, is not one, since he is composed of different limbs and colors. And what is composed of different colors (components) can never be regarded as one. He consists of separate parts, that are diverse and divisible. His blood is different from his flesh and his flesh is different from his blood. His nerves are different from his veins and his hair is different from his skin. His black is different from his white. And the same is the case with all other creatures. Thus, man is one in name, not in essence.
“Allah, Exalted be His Majesty, is One. There is none other than Him; nor is there any incongruity and diversity in Him; nor is there any excess and deficiency. However, man is a creation made and composed of different parts, diverse essences, and primary elements; in this state of composition he is regarded as one.”
Surely, calling Allah, the Exalted, One is different from calling man one, for man is composed of different organs such as the heart, the lungs, the eyes, the kidneys, the cells, and others; and by the virtue of their gathering he is called one. As for the Almighty Creator, He is called One not because of the composition of numerous limbs and organs.
“Explain to me (the meaning of ) the Subtle, for I know that His Subtlety is different from that of other than Him, for there is a difference (between the Creator and creation,” demanded al-Fath.
The Imām, peace be on him, answered: “O Fath, our statement that Allah is Subtle means that He has created subtle things and has full awareness of subtle things. May Allah give you wisdom and keep you steadfast. Do you not see the signs of His creation in the grass, which is subtle (green and soft) and not subtle (dry and rough), and also in the most subtle (delicate and tender) creation and in the tiny birds, insects, and misquotes and in the tiny flies, and also the things still tinier to the extent that you cannot distinguish the male from the female and the young from the old. We see the infinite smallness of these in their subtlety, and how they are guided in coming near to the female of the species and escaping from what is deadly, and in the gathering of what is suited to their survival. We see (creatures) dwelling in the depth of the seas, under the bark of the trees, and in the valleys and the barren deserts. We see them communicating messages to one another and with their offspring, and also their bringing food for them. We also see their matching of colors, the red with the yellow and the white with the red. Further, we see, that on account of their smallness they are not visible to the eye. Our eyes do not see them; our hands do not touch them. Having seen all this, we have come to know that the Creator of such subtle creatures, must have used a very subtle art in the creation of what we have mentioned. Moreover, we have also come to know that all those who make things, do so out of other things. However, it is Allah the Creator, the Subtle, the Great Who created and made things out of nothing.”
This paragraph gives an account of the marvelous signs of Allah’s wonderful creatures, and that is in His creating the bodies of the tiny animals such as insects and misquotes, and even tinier than them, of which the male cannot be distinguished from the female. Allah has given them understanding and they are guided to come near to the female of the species to continue their offspring on earth. Likewise Allah has given them understanding in order to escape from dangers, so glory belongs to the Subtle Creator. Moreover they have attractive colors, and they live in the bark of trees and deserts, and other favors of Allah toward them. So glory belongs to the Almighty Creator. How great his favors toward all living beings!
“Is there a creator other than the Great Creator?” asked al-Fath.
The Imām, peace be on him, answered: “Surely, Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, says: Blessed is Allah the best of the creators. He told that there were creators among his creatures, of whom was ‘Īsā b. Maryam, who determined out of dust like the form of a bird with Allah’s permission, and it became bird with Allah’s permission. And al-Sāmiri created for them a calf, a mere body, which had a mooning sound.”
Al-Fath opposed the Imām, saying: “Surely, Īsā created a bird out of dust as a proof of his Prophethood, and al-Sāmiri created a calf, a mere body, to abolish the Prophethood of Mūsā, and Allah willed that to be so. Certainly, this is the wonder!”
The Imām answered him with strong argument, saying: “Verily, Allah’s intention is two-fold; His will is (also) two-fold: the intention which is irrevocable, and the intention which is only a resolution. (Sometimes) Allah forbids what He wills and (sometimes) He orders what He does not will. Do you not see that Allah forbade Ādam and his wife from eating of the tree, yet willed that they should eat of it? If He had not willed so, their will would not have prevailed over the will of Allah; He ordered Ibrāhim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismā‘il, but did not will that Ismā‘il should be slain. If He had willed so, the will of Ibrāhim would not have prevailed over the will of Allah, the Great and Almighty.”
The Imām, peace be on him, disproved al-Fath’s vague errors through dividing the will of Allah, the Exalted, into two parts as follows: the first part is the intention which is only a resolution or the legislative will, as the theologians say, or Allah’s orders and prohibitions to His servants in order to balance their behavior and put right their life in this world. The disobedience of the willed to the will is not impossible according this kind of will. In other words the servant may obey and may disobey.
And the second part is the intention which is irrevocable or genetic will as the theologians say. It is impossible for the willed to disobey this kind of will, for Allah, according to this will, says to a thing: “Be,” and the thing is. As for the stories of Ādam and Ibrāhim, they belong to the first part of will.
Al-Fath was amazed at the Imām’s statement and said: “You have comforted me; may Allah comfort you! However, you have said: ‘The All-hearing, the All-seeing: Does He hear with the ear and see with the eye?”
The Imām answered him: “He (Allah) hears through what He sees and sees through what He hears. He sees but not through an eye like the eye of the creatures; and He hears but not through an ear like the ear of the creatures, but for not hidden from Him is the trace of a black speck on a dark night on a black stone under the soil and the seas; we say that He sees not through the like of the eye of the creatures; we say that He hears not through the like of the hearing of the hearers, for the various kinds of words are not confused by Him and no hearing diverts Him from hearing.”
The Imām, peace be on him, removed the vague errors from al-Fath and explained to him that the seeing and hearing of Allah, the Most High, were not like those of man.
“Yet, I have another question,” declared al-Fath.
“Give it to me,” demanded the Imām.
“You said that the Eternal (Allah) known the things before He had created them.”
The Imām, peace be on him, said: “Do you not hear that Allah says: If there had been in them (the heavens and the earth) any gods except Allah, they would both have certainly been in a state of disorder, that He says: And some of them would certainly have overpowered others, that He says, relating the statement of the inhabitants of the Fire: O our Lord, take us out, we will do good deeds other than those which we used to do, and that He says: And if they were sent back, they would certainly go back to that from which they were forbidden?”
Al-Fath admired the knowledge of the Imām, peace be on him, and his understanding difficult, theological matters. He tried to kiss the Imām’s hand and foot, but the Imām did not allow him to do that. So he kissed the Imām’s holy head and went out with happiness, for the Imām removed all doubts and imaginations which sounded in his mind.
During his debate with al-Fath, the Imām, peace be on him, discussed and explained many ambiguous matters on the Unity of Allah. ( Al-Tawhid, pp. 60-65. )