The Imagination and Its Limits:
Within the makeup of our perceptive ability there is a specific corner capable of imagining things which are nonexistent before us, conforming to this imagined composition. However, no matter how much we might try to imagine a form, no matter what it may be, and no matter how much we swim through our imagination in the company of crazy fictitious ideas, we will never be able to do more than join parts that already exist in the cosmos to one another. Those parts are such that we had already perceived them by means of our senses, however, through the imagination, we have combined these existing parts into a different form which we have imagined to be one cohesive shape.
The most outstanding poets, the most skillful authors, the cleverest fictional storytellers are not able to imagine a thing as long as they have not perceived separate parts of it with their senses in the universe around them. We will put forth as an example of that a fictitious, make-believe form that we will try to imagine:
A sound that takes the form of a strange animal with ten wings. One wing is made of perfume, another of flavors, a third is made from the leaves of trees, a fourth from gold, and so on. It has eyes that it sees with in the middle of every wing, and every eye consists of a pool of milk, or honey, or water, and so on. Go all out in erecting this imaginary form until you think to yourself that you have exceeded all bounds of bizarreness and created something unique. Come back, we will untie for you every part of this fictional form, trace it back to its origin in the cosmos, and put it in its proper place so that we might show you that you were unable to imagine a single part, big or small, except that you had perceived it through one of your senses in something that already exists in the universe.
We may deduce from the preceding, that our imagination is utterly restricted to what our senses perceive. Therefore, no matter how much imaginative power we are given we will not be able to imagine any reality as long as we have not become aware of an example of it through our senses.
We also deduce, that it is impossible for us to imagine the reality of the Abode of the Hereafter, and whatever forms are in it, since we have not acquired anything from it by means of any of our senses. In a like manner, it is difficult for us to imagine the reality of the formation of angels, jinn, and other such creations that are beyond the scope of our senses.
And the reality of the Divine Essence is beyond that; so, how would we be able to imagine the true nature of the Essence of the Mighty Creator whose exalted Being is not reached by any of our senses?! This is why the intellectuals of old would say, “Everything that comes to your mind, Allāh is unlike that.”