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Last Updated: 2011/12/19
Summary of question
What difference do God's knowledge, power, justice and life make with the same attributes in human beings?
What difference do God's knowledge, power, justice and life make with the same attributes in human beings?
Concise answer

God, the Exalted, is characteristic of such attributes (e.g. knowledge, power and life etc.) which indicate the perfection of His essence.

Man also possesses these characteristics and is qualified by them. He is powerful, knowledgeable and alive but with God's permission. The qualities with which God is described and qualified are different from those of human qualities in two ways:

1. These attributes (knowledge, power and life) are various concepts but ontologically they are one and the same when ascribed to God. That is to say, they are over and above to God's essence. The ontological status of God's knowledge is not different from His power and these two attributes are not different from the attribute of life. God, the Sublime, is absolute knowledge, power and life whereas man is not as such. Man's knowledge and power are different from his being alive.

2. In the same way that the actuality of God's attributes does not make difference, God's attributes and His essence are not separated from each other. God's attributes are the same as His essence; they are not something additional to His essence. On the contrary, man's qualities are additional to his essence because he had been a human being but had not been knowledgeable and powerful. He lacked and power and knowledge. In fact, he acquired knowledge and power. In addition, man is a possible being and a possible being is limited in terms of existence. Man's attributes are limited in the same way as his essence. Unlike man, God is a pure and infinite existent, so are His attributes.

For example, God's power and will are infinite and at the same time He is not subjugated by the same system which He Himself created, there is both wisdom (hikmah) as well as expediency (maslaha) in His creation. The meaning of wisdom with respect to God is this that He creates things existentially perfect and with whatever attributes that are required for its perfection whereas wisdom with respect to man's action means that he does an action so that he himself may reach his purpose and gain perfection. That is because the existence of the caused and its relation with the cause are not but one thing; they are not two things so that it could be assumed that they can be separated from each other. Therefore, when God, the Almighty, wills to create him, He wills the particular causes which are equal to willing its relation with its particular causes until it reaches a cause which is connected with the ultimate Truth and the will of the ultimate truth is equal to willing all things, all relationships and all systems.

The attribute of wisdom (hikmah) when ascribed to God and to human beings, shall give two different meanings. Man's being wise means that he has a purpose behind every task and he chooses the best goals and he adopts the best way and the best means to reach those goals. But God is absolutely Needless; He does not search for something nor does He need to attain anything because no perfection is assumed of which He might devoid. His being Wise means that He does not create things absurdly and anything that He creates, He creates it in the most perfect way as far as possible. Thus, He creates things in such a fashion that they receive as much goodness and perfection as possible. To make a long story short, the divine wisdom is to be fundamentally associated with the aspect of goodness and perfection of a thing. He guides them towards secondary perfections which are another type of enabling things to attain their perfection.

In this regard, you can refer to theological and philosophical resources such as:

1. Islamic Beliefs by Ja'far Subhani;

2. Theological Instructions by Muhammad Taqi Misbbah Yazdi.

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