Wahabi Contention: We say to the Ash’aris that you rejected infinite regress in the past and as a result, claimed that eternally Allah wasn’t able to create (mumtani’), but then it became ‘possible’ (mumkin) for Him to create, without any apparent cause (Tarjih bila murajjih).
Sunni Response: The Asharis, i.e. the Sunnis, do reject the idea that there could be infinitely many events preceding the present moment, but they do not say that eternally He was not able to create. They say it is kufr to say that. They say that the eternal existence of Allah is not in time, and that He does not change. His attributes are eternal and do not change. Before creation there was no time, because there was no change. Before the world existed there was no before or after. The Prophet said:
اللهم أنت الْأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ
“O Allah, You are the First, so there is nothing before You, and You are the Last so there is nothing after You. You are Al-Ţħaahir so there is nothing above You. And You are Al-Baaţin, so there is nothing below you.” (Muslim)
Note that Allah said:
قُلْ لِمَنْ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ قُلْ لِلَّهِ
Meaning: “Say,’to whom belongs all that is in the skies and the Earth?‘ Say ‘to Allah!” I.e. Everything in place belongs to Allah. (Al-An`aam, 12)
Then in the following Aayah, Allah said:
وَلَهُ مَا سَكَنَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ
Meaning: “Allah is the absolute owner of all that is in the night and day.” I.e. everything that exists in time belongs to Allah. (Al-Anˆaam, 12)
The Sunnis say that when the world came into existence Allah did not change. Rather, He is eternally attributed with complete perfection, including Power, Knowledge and Will.
What you are saying is that if Allah is not creating, then He does not have Power. This means you are saying that to be perfect, Allah needs to create. This is kufr. Allah said in the Qur’an:
“يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ”,
Meaning: “O People, you are the desolate in absolute need of Allah, and Allah is the One that does not need anything or anyone, and He is the One that deserves all praise.” (Faatir ,15)
You are also saying that Allah has no choice but to create, because having power, according to you, necessitates creating continuously. This is another kufr, because Allah said:
“إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِمَا يُرِيدُ”,
Meaning: “Verily Your Lord does whatever He wills.” (Huud, 107)
So if He wills for nothing to be then nothing will be, and that would not mean He has no Power. Allah said in the Qur’an:
“إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ”,
Meaning: “Verily Allah has power to create anything.” (Al-Baqarah, 20)
You are also saying that creation as a whole has no beginning, because you claim there have always been created things coming into existence without a beginning. This is no different from what the philosophers said. In fact you are saying that Allah created each individual creation, but not all of them as a group, because what does not have a beginning is not created. This is not only irrational, but also kufr, because Allah said:
“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ”
Meaning: “Allah created everything.” (Al-‘An`aam, 101)
The Wahabi who wrote about contingents without a first is here: http://forums.islamicawakening.com/showthread.php?t=14556 It seems obvious that his admirers have no idea what this issue is all about. Were it not that this issue is so obscure to most Wahabis and that most of them havent even heard of it before, it would be worth while to translate the essay of al-Ikhmimi refuting Ibn Taymiya who propagated this.
That being said, how in the world can they believe in the generic eternality of the universe [ qidam al-alam al-naw’i] and deny the eternality of a particular thing of the universe [qidam al-ahad]? This is surely a binding implication upon them, for how can the world be generically eternal without there being at least one thing [that makes up that whole] that is eternal.
Yes, and this is probably what Ibn Taymiyyah believed, except that he did not dare to say it explicitly. The fact of the matter is that he took his so-called reasoning from Ibn Rushd. What is truly remarkable and new is that he and his followers think that there cannot be a first creation, but must always have been a creation, because otherwise, according to them, Aļļaah would not have Power. In other words, they are saying that Aļļaah could not have chosen not to create anything. This means they believe Aļļaah is compelled to create, which is kufr. It also means that they believe Aļļaah achieves perfection by creating, which is another kufr.
It seems that one of the main reasons Ibn Taymiya defended this view was to strengthen his argument that Allah is physically above the creation. The Sunni scholars stated that this implies that Allah underwent change and took a direction after not having a direction–after all, direction only makes sense as relation between two or more things. To avoid this, it seems that Ibn Taymiya defended the belief in contingents without a first. So, if there was always something of creation around, then Allah was eternally in the direction of above.
The whole thing is absurd. Wahabis love to talk about what agrees with the fitra, as if the fitra is a proof in Aqida (which was Ibn Taymiya’s view). Let us ask any common Muslim among the laity: “Do you believe that Allah was, and there was nothing besides Him, along with Him, or other than Him, and THEN He created?” Every sane Muslim would answer yes.
Yes, Ibn Taymiyyah’s overriding goal was to defend anthropomorphism as a school of thought using both pure reasoning and scriptures, but mixed with lies and incongruence. He was extremely verbose, so I suppose that is a reason why it wasn’t so obvious to some of those who suffered with his books. He hid his blasphemies in a haystack of words, and always repeated the words “al-Kitaab wa-s-Sunnah”. A demagogue in a class of his own. At the end of the day the result was even more heresy than the traditional anthropomorphim of previous deviant Ĥanbaliyys, and the Karraamiyyah. The traditional anthropomorphism of deviant Hanbaliyys was combined with the belief that the creation has a beginning, and that to deny that it has a beginning is kufr. The belief that there is no first creation was restricted to atheists and aristotleans before that. I think Ibn Taymiyyah was the first to say that both the Creator and the created have events in them, and that both have no beginning.