Deviant contention: Are you saying that Allah has an infinite number of attributes now?

This is a rhetorical question, implying that “how can you say that events in the past, before now, cannot be infinite, yet claim that Aļļaah’s attributes are infinite now?”

The answer is that infinity is not impossible in absolute terms. Actually, quite the contrary. What is impossible is to have an infinite amount of beginnings passing/ending/completing/finishing, because it is self contradictory.

Aļļaah’s existence is infinite, because it does not have a beginning or end, so there is no contradiction here. All that is being said is that His existence is infinite and that His attributes are also infinite. This is not contradictory, unlike in the case of what has a beginning, because what has beginning cannot be beginningless, and it cannot ever finish endlessness. This means that it must always be limited and cannot ever realize infinity in its existence.

One word about “now.” This word refers to a particular moment in time. It reflects the relative situation of all things in time to one another at a particular instant. Passing through time, from one “now” to another, is something that is caused by its intrinsically possible existence.

To understand this, one must realize that something existing is either intrinsically (i.e. with respect to itself alone) possible in its existence, or intrinsically necessary. There is no third judgment for what exists. The possible in existence accepts non-existence, while the necessary does not, because otherwise it would not be intrinsically necessary. Aļļaah is necessarily existent, but everything else is possible, because what is possible in existence needs something other than itself to exist. If it did not, then it would be intrinsically necessary.

Time exists because when something is only possible in existence, it is possibly non-existent after existence. This means that once it exist, it is possibly non-existent in the next instant, with or without change. If it still exists in the next instant, then it has lasted 2 moments of time and so on.

Aļļaah’s existence is not in time, however, because Aļļaah’s existence is not a possibility, but an existence that is intrinsically necessary (Waajibu-l-Wujuud). In light of this, if Aļļaah’s existence was divisible into time periods, then His necessary existence would be in a state of renewal, moment by moment, and what is renewed is not necessary in existence. Rather it is only possible in the next moment, i.e. possible after having existed. In other words, renewal of existence does not apply to what is necessary in existence, because it does not need renewal. After all, if it needed renewal, it would not be necessary in existence. Consequently, it does not have moments of existence.

Moreover, time is possible in existence, as it is parts (moments) following each other in sequence, and these parts are definitely not eternal. The whole of time then, is dependent on possible parts, which is the moments of renewal, and what depends on the possible is surely only possible in existence. This also makes it clear that Allaah cannot be something passing through moments of time.

Furthermore, if Aļļaah’s existence had been divisible into moments of time, then this would either be with Him having a beginning, which is refuted by His necessary existence, or with Him having no beginning. If his existence was divisible into moments of time, without a beginning, then this would mean that an infinite number of moments passed before the world came into existence. An infinite number of moments cannot pass, however, because infinity cannot be completed. Therefore, since an infinite amount of moments cannot pass, it must be true that Aļļaah’s existence is not divisible into moments of time, and that He does not pass through it.

In addition, we can say that Aļļaah’s existence is not something that ends up at points in time, because it is both beginningless and endless. After all, beginninglessness cannot end, and this means that Aļļaah’s endlessness cannot ever begin in any sense. This means again that it is impossible that His existence should realize an “after”, and therefore a “before” as well. Needless to say, what does not realize a before or an after, cannot be said to pass through time.

Since Aļļaah’s existence is necessary, not renewing, and without a before or after, it is not in time. It is, therefore, not problematic to say that He “exists now” without having to “reach now,” by passing though time.

Based, on this, it should be understood that even though we affirm Aļļaah’s existence now, this is a reference to His existence that is necessary and thus not in time. When someone said Aļļaah exists now e.g. 1000 years ago, he was referring to the very same existence, without change or renewal, without a before or after, and thus without having passed through time. This means that the relation of all different times, past, future or present, is one relation to Aļļaah. In other words, one time is not further from Him than another, just as one place is not further from Him than another, as He is not in place.

Furthermore, Aļļaah’s infinite attributes are not Him. They are, however, also not other than Him, as they must be necessarily true of Him, since they cannot have a beginning. Since this is true of His attributes of beginninglessness and endlessness, we know that He is already attributed with infinity. It is not problematic to say then, that His attributes are infinite. Not the least when it does not even really imply the realization of a multitude of different things to infinity, as His attributes are not other than Him, not separate realities. Rather, they are infinite meanings that are true of Aļļaah, who’s existence is infinite. This is unlike what has a beginning, because otherness is established by its prior non-existence. All events are therefore other than each other and distinct, and therefore have a real countable/numerical existence.

2 Responses to Deviant contention: Are you saying that Allah has an infinite number of attributes now?

  1. Sam K says:

    Asalamu Alaykum,

    Nice to see you still in action Sheikh. I like the above information very much. While reading the title (‘Deviant contention: Are you saying that Allah has an infinite number of attributes now?’) and then reading your answer, I realised that maybe I’m not seeing the link between the question and the answer so I have one question. Is the person asking if we believe Allah has countless attributes (e.g, Sight, Speech, Hearing, Knowledge, Will, Power and countless more attributes), or is he asking if Allah’s attributes are infinite (Without a beginning or End)?

    • The former, i.e. countless. It is a rhetorical question, implying that “how can you say that events in the past, before now, cannot be infinite, yet claim that Allaah’s attributes are infinite now?”

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