In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent and Merciful.
There are different opinions as to how the Prophet of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw the vision of Allah.
The majority of the scholars of Ahl-e-Sunnah regard the vision of Allah by the Prophet as factual and true. The Hadith is narrated by Ibn Abbas and authenticated by Imam Nawawi and Mulla Ali Qari. The Hadith states that the Prophet said “I saw my Lord” (Mirqat 5:308)
However, there is dispute amongst the scholars of what he saw and how he saw the vision. Whether the Prophet saw Allah in his dream or with eyes of his heart or he saw light. Shaykh Alawi Maliki (May Allah shower Mercy upon him) writes the following:
“Many sound reports show that the companions differed sharply as to whether the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw Allah or not. Ibn Abbas related that he did, while ibn Masud, Aisha, Abu Hurayra and Abu Dharr related reports contrary to this stating the verses of Surah Najm and other Suras referred to Gibrail (Alaihis Salaam) and the Prophet said that he saw light”. (Al Isra Wal Miraj p 145)
To summarise Imam Al Qari writes the following in the chapter of the Prophet`s turban in his book `Jam`al Wasail fi Sharh al Sham`il, a commentary on Al Tirmidhi`s Shamail or `Characteristics of the Prophet”:
“Whether the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw his Lord in his sleep or whether Allah the Glorious and Exalted manifested Himself to him with a form, this type of manifestation is known among the masters of spiritual states and stations, and it consists in being reminded of His disposition and reflecting upon His vision, which is the outcome of the perfection of one`s self detachment and self adornment. And Allah knows best about the states of His Prophets and Intimate Friends, whom He raised with His most excellent upbringing, and the mirrors of whose hearts He has polished with His most excellent polish, until they witnessed the station of Divine Presence and Abiding, and they rid themselves of the rust of screens and extinction. May Allah bestow on us their yearnings, may He make us taste their states and manners, and may He make us die in the condition of loving them and raise us in their group”. (Al Qari, Al Asrar al Marfu`a)
Of course Allah knows best
[Answer provided by: Muhammad Salim Ghisa]