Someone said: “you said that Allah does not change, but before the universe He was not creating anything and then He created the water, the `arsh, etc. So He changed from status of “no-creation” to creation (from inactivity to activity) even if He was always Al-Khaliq”
I said : “Only the makhluqat change.”
But I don’t know how to answer when he said: “So He changed from status of “no-creation” to creation (from inactivity to activity)”
Barakallahu fikum, I need a explanation.
Answer: The answer is that Allah’s actions are not something that have a beginning or an end. Allah’s actions are not like our actions. His actions are not sequential or bounded by time. That is why it is stated in Al-`aqidah Al-Murshidah, which is the `aqiidah that the famous hadith scholar Ibn `Asaakir used to teach in Jerusalem: it is not asked “where is He?”, or “when was He?”
An-Nasafi said: “He is not established in a place, and is not measured in time.” This is because time is estimating renewal or change by renewal or change in something else. For example, days are measured in terms of changes in the sun or moon’s positions. If a sunrise is followed by a sunset, we say that a day has passed, and if this happens seven times, then we say that a week has passed and so on. Elements and bodies are in a constant state of renewal, because their existence in every new moment is only a possibility; you do not know with absolute certainty that they will exist in the next moment or not. They are therefore in a continuous state of renewal of their own existence. That is why the concept of time always applies to them; they cannot break free of it. They are in a state of continuous state of existence after existence instead of non-existence, as long as they exist. This is what it means to pass through time. This is not so with Aļļaah, because Aļļaah’s existence is a must, and it is impossible that He should cease to exist, as shown by proofs elsewhere. In other words, His existence is not in time, because His existence is not in a state of renewal. It is also clear then that He is not measurable in terms of time, because time is a measure of relative change or renewal between two things, and Aļļaah is not attributed with change or renewal.
In another article “Foundations of the Religion”I have stated regarding this topic: “Note that the actions of Allah Himself are not describable, as they are actions not bounded by time. They are actions without a how (bilaa kayf). Our lack of understanding this is not a problem for the argument presented, because we have already shown, and we can definitively understand, that no action of Allah has a beginning. Then we stop there, and do not delve on it, or say “how?” There are things in creation that are beyond our grasp, such as the behavior of the Quarks, so what about the Creator, who does not resemble anything?
An example of something beyond our grasp, is what the following aayah tells us:
“وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ“
Meaning: “Allah created darkness and light” (Al-An`aam, 1)
Yet the scholars mention other things as the first creation of Allah, such as water. Definitely water, or any other physical thing, without darkness or light is beyond our understanding, even beyond our imagination, but that does not make it untrue, as verified in this aayah and the fact that they are events that thus need a Creator, as was established earlier.”
Another way of saying all this is that when the world came into existence Aļļaah did not change, and that His bringing of it into existence does not have a how, as is the case for all His attributes. As you can see, your answer was the right one.
If one observes a pancake maker change his state from “not making pancakes” to that of “making pancakes” then he must have moved from point A in time to point B in time. It is patently absurd to think that at point A in time he was both “not making pancakes” and “making pancakes.” How can one be in two mutually contradictory states at the same point in time? Consequently, if someone said that Aļļaah changes, or that his actions are sequential, and the scholars of Ahlussunnah all agreed that Allah is not in time.
Moreover, if someone said that Allah’s actions have a beginning, then he is saying that they did not exist and then came into existence. This means that the would need a creator, and if the action of creating has a beginning, then that action would also need a creator, and this would lead to saying that the act of creating anything in this world would be preceded by an infinite amount of acts of creating, and this is impossible. The only solution is to say that Allah’s act of creating does not have a beginning.
Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam