Why is God not visible? Why does God not make an appearance before man?
The life of this world is a test for man. The Qur’an says that God created the heavens and the earth for the purpose of testing man. Hu’d 11:7 says:
وَهُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ فِي سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ وَكَانَ عَرْشُهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۗ
He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days – at that time His rule was over the waters – to test you, as to who among you is the best in deeds.
At another instance, the Qur’an tells us that the chain of life and death was also created for the purpose of this test. Al-Mulk 67: 2 says:
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
Who created death and life to test you, as to who among you is the best in deeds. And He is Mighty [in punishing those, who transgress in this test]; Forgiving [for those, who prove themselves deserving of His mercy].
During this test, man is required to recognize God, acknowledge God’s bounties and blessings upon himself by utilizing the faculties that God has bestowed upon him and to fulfill the responsibilities that these bounties and blessings entail. During this test, God has decided to keep Himself hidden from man’s eyes. In fact, a closer analysis would show that it is the fact that God remains hidden during the life of this world, which creates the potential for man to deviate from God’s paths and, thus, allows for man’s test. Just as people would, generally, not break any laws in the presence of the authorities, it was essential for making the test practically possible that God keeps Himself physically hidden from man, for the purpose of this test. Hence, on the one hand, God’s remaining hidden from man allows for man’s testing during this life, while on the other, God’s remaining ‘unseen’ makes the deeds of the pious even more commendable and deserving of the great rewards that God has promised them through His prophets and messengers. The Qur’an (Al-Mulk 67: 12) says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
Indeed those, who fear their Lord – unseen – for them is forgiveness [of their mistakes] and a huge reward.
Thus, it is because of the very nature of this test, which man is faced with, in the life of this world, that God has decided to remain unseen.
I hope this helps.
April 1, 2001