(Updated) Takwiin, effective pertainment and AI-‘Iijiyy on Allaah not being in time

July 23, 2010

By actions the Asħˆariyys mean the created things themselves that exist by the influence of Aļļaah’s attribute of power, or what they call effective pertainment. Effective pertainment is the pertaining of Aļļaah’s power to what exists of created things, as opposed to valid pertainment, which is the pertaining Aļļaah’s power to everything possible. The Maaturiidiyys say that the attribute of power is Aļļaah’s power to bring into existence, while the bringing into existence is another attribute called takwiin. So what Asħˆariyys explain as (1) "effective pertainment" and (2) "valid pertainment" is explained as two attributes, respectively: (1) "takwiin" or "creating" and (2) "power to create" according to Maaturiidiyys.

Aļļaah’s providing, giving, bringing into existence, etc. is called effective pertainment in the Asħˆariyy school, while in the Maaturiidiyy school these are different names for takwiin according to what the attribute of takwiin pertains to.

When we remember that Aļļaah is not in time according to all, then it becomes easy to understand that this is mainly a semantical difference; using different words to explain the same thing. Although the Asħˆariyys say that the effective pertainment has a beginning, this is with respect to us, because we are in time. So we say that Jill was created yesterday, but the time element of yesterday is a created attribute of Jill, where as the attribute of Aļļaah is creating Jill with the "yesterday" as one of her attributes, the meanings associated with her being, sort of like color. In other words, Aļļaah does not pass through a state of time called before creating Jill and after creating Jill, because He is not in time.

This means that Aļļaah Himself did not change during those six days in which He created the Heavens and the Earth. What changed is creation; those six days are for creation. Accordingly, the Imam of Guidance, Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy says: “A fundamental belief principle is that whenever Aļļaah is ascribed an attribute, then this attribute is eternal (i.e. without a beginning or end). One says that He is attributed with knowledge, power and providing eternally without a beginning and without an end. If He is mentioned with regard to His management of creation and orders to it, then time is stated, but this time is for creation, not for Him. For example, it is said, "Aļļaah knows eternally that you are sitting here," or "(sitting here) at this time." I.e. Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or an end that the person is sitting now…. This is all to prevent people from thinking "How were the created things in eternity?”[1]

An-Nasafiyy, the second most important scholar in the Maaturiidiyy school after Al-Maaturiidiyy himself, said: "His eternal attribute of creating does not lead to saying that the world is eternal, because the possible in existence cannot be eternal, and because creating is not for the immediate existence of the created, but for the time of its existence."[2] He also said: "The Karraamiyyah all claimed that Aļļaah’s creating (takwiin) is an event in Aļļaah with a beginning, and that events occur in Aļļaah. Aļļaah is greatly above what the unjust ascribe to Him."[3]

It must be understood that Aļļaah’s creating is not a sequential action, it is an action without a how. It has no beginning or end. If it was sequential, one previously non-existent action coming into existence after another, then each action would itself need to be brought into existence. This is because it did not exist previously. Then if that action of bringing the action into existence also had a beginning, we would need a bringing into existence of that one also, etc. to infinity, which would mean that one single act of creating would need an infinite amount of bringings into existence prior to it. This means that the act of creating can’t ever exist, because the prerequisite infinite amount of bringings into existence cannot ever be concluded. The solution to this is to say that Aļļaah’s act of bringing into existence does not have a beginning, and therefore does not need to be brought into existence.

In other words, Aļļaah created the world in six days, without His act of creating it having a beginning or an end, because Aļļaah is not in time; His attributes do not change and do not renew.

Further to this concept, here is what the two famous asħˆariyys, ˆAđududDiin Al-‘Iijiyy, and Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy have to say about Aļļaah not being in time. Al-‘Iijiyy’s words are bolded in brackets, while the rest is Al-Jurjaaniyy’s explanation[4]:

الشرح (المقصد الرابع إنه تعالى ليس في زمان) أي ليس وجوده وجودا زمانيا ومعنى كون الوجود زمانيا أنه لا يمكن حصوله إلا في زمان كما أن معنى كونه مكانيا أنه لا يمكن حصوله إلا في مكان

(The fourth topic: on Aļļaah not being in time.) That is, His existence is not in time. The meaning of existence in time is that it cannot be except in time, just as the meaning of existence in a location is that it cannot be except in a location.

(هذا مما اتفق عليه أرباب الملل ولا نعرف فيه للعقلاء خلافا) وإن كان مذهب المجسمة يجر إليه كما يجر إلى الجهة والمكان

(This is one of the things that the people of all sects and religions agreed upon, and we do not know of any disagreement upon this between rational beings.) This is so, even if the anthropomorphists imply that, just as they imply direction and location.

(أما عند الحكماء فلأن الزمان) عندهم (مقدار حركة المحدد) للجهات (فلا يتصور فيما لا تعلق له بالحركة والجهة)

(As for according to the philosophers, this is because time) according to them (is the amount of limited movement) in any direction (so being in time cannot be true of what does not have to do with movement or direction.)

وتوضيحه أن التغير التدريجي زماني بمعنى أنه يتقدر بالزمان وينطبق عليه ولا يتصور وجوده إلا فيه والتغير الدفعي متعلق بالآن الذي هو طرف الزمان فما لا تغير فيه أصلا لا تعلق له بالزمان قطعا نعم وجوده تعالى مقارن للزمان وحاصل مع حصوله وأما أنه زماني أو آني أي واقع في أحدهما فكلا

That is, gradual change is in time, in the sense that it is measured in time, and coincides with time, and its existence cannot be other than in time, and a momentary change defines the “now” which is a the last point in time [i.e. so far]. Accordingly, what does not change at all, is not related to time at all. Yes, Aļļaah’s existence is affirmed as true and real no matter what time one is in, but it is not in time, or momentary. That is, it is not occurring in a time or a moment.

(وأما عندنا فلأنه) أي الزمان (متجدد يقدر به متجدد فلا يتصور في القديم فأي تفسير فسر) الزمان (به امتنع ثبوته لله تعالى)

(As for according to us, this is because it) i.e. time (is something renewing by which something else renewing is measured, so it cannot be true of the beginninglessly eternal. Accordingly, no matter how we define it,) i.e. time (it cannot be affirmed as being true of Aļļaah.)

(تنبيه) على ما يتضمنه هذا الأصل الذي مهدناه آنفا (يعلم مما ذكرنا أنا سواء قلنا العالم حادث بالحدوث الزماني) كما هو رأينا (أو الذاتي) كما هو رأي الحكيم (فتقدم الباري سبحانه عليه) لكونه موجدا إياه (ليس تقدما زمانيا) وإلا لزم كونه تعالى واقعا في الزمان بل هو تقدم ذاتي عندهم وقسم سادس عندنا كتقدم بعض أجزاء الزمان على بعضها

(Important note) regarding this principle that we have just explained: (It is known from what we mentioned previously that regardless of whether we say that the world has a beginning that is in time) as is our view, (or that it is in being) as is the view of the philosopher (it is still true that the precedence of Aļļaah over creation) by His being its Creator (is not a precedence of time.) Otherwise He would be in time. Rather, it is a precedence of being, according to the philosophers, and a sixth meaning [of precedence] in our view [that is not in time], like the precedence of moments of time over other moments of time [The sixth meaning of precedence is that of Creator over created, not in time, and this is beyond what our minds can grasp, because the reality of Aļļaah’s existence cannot be grasped. The precedence of moments of time over other moments is mentioned to show that precedence in existence is not necessarily in time].

(و) يعلم أيضا (أن بقاءه ليس عبارة عن وجوده في زمانين) وإلا كان تعالى زمانيا بل هو عبارة امتناع عدمه ومقارنته مع الأزمنة (ولا القدم عبارة عن أن يكون قبل كل زمان زمان) وإلا لم يتصف به الباري تعالى

(Moreover,) it is also known (that His everlastingness is not an expression meant to indicate His existence in two consecutive times,) otherwise He would be in time. Rather, it is an expression meaning that it is impossible for His to cease to exist, or accompany time [i.e. to be thought of as passing through time]. (Furthermore, His beginningless existence is not meant to express that there is a time before all times,) otherwise it would not be ascribed to Him.

(وأنه) أي ما ذكرناه من أنه تعالى ليس زمانيا (يبسط العذر في ورود ما ورد من الكلام الأزلي بصيغة الماضي ولو في الأمور المستقبلة) الواقعة فيما لا يزال كقوله تعالى إنا أرسلنا نوحا وذلك لأنه إذا لم يكن زمانيا لا بحسب ذاته ولا بحسب صفاته كان نسبة كلامه الأزلي إلى جميع الأزمنة على السوية إلا أن حكمته تعالى اقتضت التعبير عن بعض الأمور بصيغة الماضي وعن بعضها بصيغة المستقبل فسقط ما تمسك به المعتزلة في حدوث القرآن من أنه لو كان قديما لزم الكذب في أمثال ما ذكر فإن الإرسال لم يكن واقعا قبل الأزل

(In addition it) [i.e. the fact we have mentioned regarding Him (تعالى) not being in time] (justifies what has been revealed of Aļļaah’s speech expressed in the past tense, even for what pertains to the future) and happens with a beginning, such as His saying (تعالى):

إنا أرسلنا نوحا

Meaning: Verily we have sent Nuuĥ.

This is because if He is not in time, neither in His Self, nor His attributes, then His beginningless and endless Speech has the same relation to all times. It is just that His wisdom dictates revealing expressions regarding some issues in past tense, and some in future tense. Accordingly, the claim of the Muˆtazilites regarding the Qur’aan [i.e. the attribute of speech that the expressions in the revealed book refer to] having a beginning is invalid. [They claimed invalidly that it must have a beginning, and cannot be an eternal attribute, saying:] because otherwise the expressions like the one mentioned would be untrue, since the sending [of Nuuĥ in this case] did not happen before beginningless eternity.

(وههنا أسرار أخر لا أبوح بها ثقة بفطنتك) منها إذا قلنا كان الله موجودا في الأزل وسيكون موجودا في الأبد وهو موجود الآن لم نرد به أن وجوده واقع في تلك الأزمنة بل أردنا أنه مقارن معها من غير أن يتعلق بها كتعلق الزمانيات

(There are other hidden realities known through this that I will not mention explicitly, based on trust in your intelligence.) Among these is the fact that if we say “Aļļaah existed before creation, and shall exist forever, and He exists now,” then we do not mean by this that His existence falls in these times. Rather, we mean that His existence is true at all times, without Him being in them the way things in time are.

ومنها أنه لو ثبت وجود مجردات عقلية لم تكن أيضا زمانية

Another [fact known from this] is that if it was established that there are beings with a beginning that are not in place, then they would not be in time. [This is true according to the philosophers’ definition of time, because it is dependent on space. In Sunni terminology, however, it is not acceptable to say that such beings would not be in time. This is because such beings would pass through renewed existence, as they are not necessary in existence, and can change in knowledge or will, or other attributes.]

ومنها أنه إذا لم يكن زمانيا لم يكن بالقياس إليه ماض وحال ومستقبل فلا يلزم من علمه بالتغيرات تغير في علمه إنما يلزم ذلك إذا دخل فيه الزمان

[Yet] another [fact known from this] is that if He is not in time, then the measures of time in terms of past, present and future would not hold true of Him. Accordingly, it is not necessitated from His knowledge of changing things that His knowledge should change. It would only be necessary if He was in time [and He is not.]

[1] Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy (333 AH), Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah, 9/473.

[2] Abu-l-Muˆiin An-Nasafiyy, Maymuun ibn Muĥammad (508 AH/ 1115 AD), Tabşiratu-l-Adillah, 1:1/99.

[3] Ibid., 1:1/401.

[4] Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy (740-816 AH/ 1340-1413 AD) and ˆAđudu-d-Diin Al-‘Iijiyy (756 AH/ 1355 AD), Sħarĥu-l-Mawaaqif, 3/41.


Bilbliography

Abu-l-Muˆiin An-Nasafiyy, Maymuun ibn Muĥammad (508 AH/ 1115 AD). Tabşiratu-l-Adillah. Edited by Dr. Huuseyin Atay. Vol. 1. 2 vols. Turkey: Ri’aasat al-Shu’uun al-Diiniiyyah lil-Jumhuuriyyah al-Turkiyyah, 1993.

Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy (333 AH). Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-ilmiyah, 1426.

Asħ-Sħariif Al-Jurjaaniyy (740-816 AH/ 1340-1413 AD), and ˆAđudu-d-Diin Al-‘Iijiyy (756 AH/ 1355 AD). Sħarĥu-l-Mawaaqif. 3 vols. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Jiil – Shaamilah, 1997.



Aļļaah is not in Time, let alone time itself.

September 16, 2009

A few weeks ago I was debating a derailed Arab who was heavily influenced by various western philosophies. It was a bit like taming a wild horse. I first wanted him to understand that the world is not eternal, using the argument in Foundations of the Religion. I remained with him, as he was a friend of a friend, and after about 2 hours of dealing with his escape artistry he finally conceded, and said, “OK, I was only pretending to disagree, now what?”

I said, “Well, we know that the world has a beginning, and that it is not preceded by changes. We also know that since it could not have created itself, as it has a beginning. Clearly then, it must have been brought into existence by other than itself, and this other cannot be something that changes. We also know that this other has unlimited power, as testified to by the existence of the world after non-existence. Moreover, this other must have a will, because the world has a specification, and came into existence with a certain specification. In addition, we know that this other must have knowledge, because will without knowledge is impossible. Finally, this other must be attributed with beginningless and changeless life, not like the life of bodies, as anything with power, will, and knowledge cannot be said to be lifeless or dead.”

He said, “OK, and what else?” I said, “we know that Aļļaah is not in time and not in place, because things in time and place change and need a Creator.” Then he said something that made me almost fall out of my chair, “but Aļļaah said He is time. It is narrated by Al-Bukħaariyy that Aļļaah said, ‘I am the Dahr,’ ‘I am time,’ This is not correct what you are saying!”

I tried to explain to him that no scholar I know in history, deviant or otherwise, has understood the ĥadiitħ in this way, but it seemed to have little effect. Even when I told him that time is change, so how can you claim that Aļļaah is change? This is the result of efforts to remove rational thought from religious beliefs…. He told me that since he was a child he was taught to just accept the religion, and never to think about proofs or deeper meanings.

Today he is an agnostic, even if he does not say it plainly, as so many, many people in Muslim countries. Even those odd few that attend prayer in the masjid. They think that there are no certain proofs for religious beliefs. And the campaign against rational thought in religion, i.e. against the science of kalaam goes with full intensity from the “correction movements.”

Wa laa quwwata illaa billaaah.

After this odd incident, I did not think much of it again, until I received the following

Question:

Could you please explain, what the holy Prophet (ˆalayhissalaam) meant by the following ĥadiitħs:

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 200: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, "Allah said, "The offspring of Adam abuse the Dahr (Time), and I am the Dahr; in My Hands are the night and the day." ! http://www.usc.edu/d…tml#008.073.200
Book 027, Number 5585: Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: None of you should abuse Time for it is Allah Who is the Time, and none of you should call ‘Inab (grape) as al-karm, for karm is a Muslim person. http://www.usc.edu/d…t.html#027.5584
Book 56, Number 56.1.3: Maalik related to me from Abu’z-Zinad from al-Araj from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,"Let none of you complain about time, for Allah is time.’http://www.usc.edu/d…html#056.56.1.3[1]

Answer:

As a first note, the expression, “abuse” should be “blame,” not abuse.

The ˆArabs were in the habit of blaming the passage of night and day for the bad things that happened to them, so they would say, the disasters of time have hit me. In reality, however, everything that happens is by the will and creation of Aļļaah. Accordingly, the one who blames time for what happens to him, it is as if he blames its creator. Aļļaah said about the Arab idolaters:

“وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ وَمَا لَهُمْ بِذَلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ [الجاثية : 24]”

Meaning: “They said: ‘This is only our worldly life, we die and we live, and nothing destroys us other than time,‘ and they have no certain knowledge of this, they are only thinking that this is so.”[2] (Al-Jaatħiyah, 24) . (Tafsiiru-n-Nasafiyy, 4/198).

The Prophet (ˆalayhissalaam) therefore forbade them from this practice, and said that what you claim is time, is not time at all. It is the Creator that has willed and created whatever happens to you.

This essence of this problem is that people do not know Aļļaah, because they have not learned. Consequently, whenever they are told something like this, they have no firm principles to understand that it is not literally meant, so they can avoid falling in kufr before asking scholar what the real meaning is. Now bring a literal translation, and you have brought it out of the context of the Arabic language as well, which leaves little or no room for a sound figurative understanding. A true recipe for disaster.

References:

Madaariku-t-Tanziil wa Ĥaqaa’iqu-t-Ta’wiil. Al-Nasafiy, Abuu Barakaat. Ed. Maĥmuud Muĥammad Asħ-Sħaˆˆaar. Beirut, Lebanon: Daar An-Nafaa’is, 2005.


[1]صحيح البخاري – حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ بُكَيْرٍ حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ عَنْ يُونُسَ عَنْ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ قَالَ قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَسُبُّ بَنُو آدَمَ الدَّهْرَ وَأَنَا الدَّهْرُ بِيَدِي اللَّيْلُ وَالنَّهَارُ . صحيح مسلم – و حَدَّثَنِي زُهَيْرُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ حَدَّثَنَا جَرِيرٌ عَنْ هِشَامٍ عَنْ ابْنِ سِيرِينَ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَا تَسُبُّوا الدَّهْرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الدَّهْرُ. موطأ مالك – أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَا يَقُلْ أَحَدُكُمْ يَا خَيْبَةَ الدَّهْرِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الدَّهْرُ

[2]قال المؤلف في تفسير النسفى :{ وَقَالُوا مَا هِىَ } [الجاثية : 24] أي ما الحياة لأنهم وعدوا حياة ثانية { إِلا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا } [المؤمنون : 37] التي نحن فيها { نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا } [المؤمنون : 37] نموت نحن ونحيا ببقاء أولادنا ، أو يموت بعض ويحيا بعض ، أو نكون مواتاً نطفاً في الأصلاب ونحيا بعد ذلك ، أو يصيبنا الأمران الموت والحياة يريدون الحياة في الدنيا والموت بعدها وليس وراء ذلك حياة. وقيل : هذا كلام من يقول بالتناسخ أي يموت الرجل ثم تجعل روحه في موات فيحيا به { وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَآ إِلا الدَّهْرُ } [الجاثية : 24] كانوا يزعمون أن مرور الأيام والليالي هو المؤثر في هلاك الأنفس وينكرون ملك الموت وقبضه الأرواح بإذن الله ، وكانوا يضيفون كل حادثة تحدث إلى الدهر والزمان ، وترى أشعارهم ناطقة بشكوى الزمان ومنه قوله عليه السلام : " لا تسبوا الدهر فإن الله هو الدهر " أي فإن الله هو الآتي بالحوادث لا الدهر { وَمَا لَهُم بِذَالِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِنْ هُمْ إِلا يَظُنُّونَ } [الجاثية : 24] وما يقولون ذلك من علم ويقين ولكن من ظن وتخمين. (4 / 198).


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

July 15, 2009

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.


Allaah is not in time

May 23, 2009

Wahabi argues: If tensed facts exist, then it necessarily follows that truth or falsehood is changing over time. For example, the tensed statement “It is now 1:27 pm” is only true at 1:27 pm and false at all other times. So if Allah knows this tensed fact, His knowledge must be changing constantly as He knows when certain statements become true and false. However, if Allah is absolutely changeless, that would mean that Allah cannot know tensed facts, hence compromising His attribute of omniscience.

Comment: This pseudo-argument that this wahabi enemy of himself, and of Aļļaah, feels so happy about, originates from likening the Creator to the created. Again and again they come back to their basic belief in the Creator, which is that He is something limited to a place (i.e. a body) with changes in it over time. They thought they could know the reality of Aļļaah’s knowledge by imagination and drawing inferences from their own existence. That is why, for example, they believe that His Will is a series of different wills over time, just like ours. Now even the belief in His perfect Knowledge is subject to their blasphemous attacks. They argue as above, because they cannot imagine perfect knowledge not in time, and think that reality is limited to what they can imagine. It is because they base their arguments upon imagination that they make so many mistakes.

Not being able to imagine something does not mean it cannot be true

It is not enough to say, “I can’t imagine it, so it cannot be true,” or even “I can’t understand it, so it can’t be true.” Even in sciences studying creation, especially physics, the facts and concepts they speak of are so counter intuitive and unfamiliar to our minds and knowledge that they cannot be imagined. That is why they rely on complex mathematics to express their theories instead. So if concepts in physics cannot be conceptualized in the mind, what would be the case for the Creator and His attributes?

For example, they say that if lightning hit the back of a moving train and at the same time its front, then to an outsider they happen simultaneously, but to someone inside the front is hit before the back, because he is moving towards the event. Accordingly, there could be points in time that are separate according to one frame of reference and simultaneous to another. None of these frames are special, and it is as equally true to say that it occurred simultaneously as it is to say that one occurred first.

The belief that Aļļaah does not resemble His creation and how it is applied here for average Muslims

Every aspect of a created thing or being has a beginning, since no aspect of it is eternal. Likewise, everything that has a beginning must be a creation, as it must have been brought into existence. This means that Aļļaah is not something you can imagine, not Him and not His attributes, because your imagination is based on what you are familiar with, namely things that have a beginning, things that last moments of time despite their possible non-existence.

Based on this, the scholars taught people the rule that “whatever you can imagine in your mind, Aļļaah does not resemble it.” Similarly, the cousin of the Prophet Muĥammad, and famous companion, Ibn ˆAbbaas said, “Ponder about everything, but do not ponder about the Self of Aļļaah.” (Fatĥu-l-Baariy 13/383 ) He said this because such dwelling leads one to draw analogies between the Creator and the created, which is blasphemy. It contradicts the belief in Aļļaah’s Oneness, as it involves the heretical belief that Aļļaah has an equal in some aspect. It also contradicts the Quranic “Absolutely nothing resembles Him.”

Accordingly, Aţ-Ţaĥaawiyy stated in his creed: “Whoever attributed to Aļļaah an attribute that has a meaning among the meanings that apply to humans has committed blasphemy.” Note the categorical sense of “a meaning,” which tells us that this is true for any meaning that applies to humans, not just some. For example, having a direction, a body, changing or the like. Note also that he states “meaning”, and not “word,” because the important thing is the meaning of the word, not the word itself. Consequently, if someone said “Aļļaah is not a body,” yet believed that Aļļaah is something in a place, then he is not a Muslim. This is because he believes Aļļaah to be attributed with the bodily meaning of occupying place.

Had the Wahhabis held onto this advice from the scholars, they would have rejected the argument they presented above at face value, and remained firmly within the fold of Islam. This is what average Muslims have done, because they know that they cannot imagine Aļļaah or His attributes. There would be no need for complex answers. Instead, the Wahhabis, out of their inclination towards deviance and hatred for the People of the Truth, the Sunnis, they decided to present an argument based on the idea that “what is true of creation must be true of the Creator.”

As for us, the People of the Truth, the Sunnis, we do not liken Aļļaah to His creation, and we do not draw analogies between the Creator and His creation. We firmly believe that Aļļaah is not in the frameworks of time and place, unlike Wahhabis. Consequently, Aļļaah’s Knowledge is not our kind of knowledge, created knowledge, so it is not restricted by time. No creation can fully know the reality of Aļļaah, or His attributes. It is One Knowledge by which He knows everything, unlike our knowledge. As for time, it is something we are stuck passing through, a function of our reality of being under constant change and renewal relative to all other things in space. Aļļaah is neither in a state of change nor renewal, nor is He in a place, so it is nonsensical to draw analogies between ourselves or our knowledge and Aļļaah and His Knowledge.

A look at “Tensed Facts”

What confused the wahabi is that at 1:27 pm he is in one situation of time and place, and at 1:28 pm at another, as estimated by the position of the Sun with respect to the Earth, as is the custom of humans (see footnote[1].) He thought that since he is changing situations with respect to the rest of creation, that Aļļaah also was in a situation at 1:27 pm and then another at 1:28 pm. This is not the case, because Aļļaah is not in a “situation,” as He is not in a place, and is not in time, so the question, “when was He?” does not apply to Him. Missing this point, he thought that knowledge of “tensed facts” has to be in time. This cannot be true, because it is impossible that Aļļaah should be in time, as we shall prove below under the next heading.

The past tense, for example, is an expression referring to the relative situation of created things to each other. So when someone says “12:00 noon already passed,” he means that he already passed through that state relative to space and the change and renewal of other creations. Aļļaah, on the other hand, does not pass through relative situations, since He is not in a place and does not change and does not renew.

As for the present tense, it is true for me, at 1:27, that it is 1:27, but this is only a name for my relative position to other things that change with me at different places. Aļļaah is not in a place and does not change, or renew, so His knowledge is not relative to time. Aļļaah knows everything about all times, without Himself being in time. His knowledge of time is without a beginning, end, change or renewal.

Aļļaah knows all these relations, because He created them. He knows them with one indivisible knowledge, that is neither a whole nor a part, because it is not composed lest it need a composer, and that is beginningless and without end, because it is not brought into existence, lest it need a creator.

In fact, Aļļaah created our knowledge and perception of “tensed facts,” so He knows the “now is 1:27”, for a created being which is a matter of time, space and relative change or renewal for that being. He knows it without His knowledge having a future, past or present, because He created it. He knows it perfectly, because He created every aspect of it, unlike the creations that exist in the uncountable when situations/times that each and every creation pass through during the time they last. In fact, created beings only have the knowledge of the “now” they are in according to the limited perceptions He created in them.

We believe then, that Aļļaah knows “tensed facts” without needing to be in the creation of time. We believe His knowledge is eternal and some information created, just as we believe that Aļļaah’s action of creating is eternal while the created has a beginning.

It is impossible that Aļļaah should be in time

The arguer thinks Aļļaah’s knowledge is something that can be divided over moments of time, so that the concepts of past, present and future applies to it. That cannot be true, however, because Aļļaah’s existence is not a possibility, but an existence that is intrinsically necessary (Waajibu-l-Wujuud). To clarify: something that exists 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. 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.

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.

Another way to say this is that if Aļļaah’s existence had been divisible into moments of time, then this would either be with Him having a beginning, which none of us believe, or with Him having no beginning. However, 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. Accordingly, His knowledge is not either, because it is an eternal, necessary, and thus non-renewing, attribute of Aļļaah. We know He has this attribute, because He specified and brought everything into existence, and since He specified it, He must definitely know it also.

Our knowledge, on the other hand, is a knowledge that is renewed over time, so our knowledge existing at 1:27 differs from our knowledge at 1:28. This is because it is changing, and because it is not necessary in existence, and is therefore divisible into moments of existence.

Beginningless Eternity is not a time

One important point needs to be stressed: Beginningless Eternity is not a past time. Rather, it is an expression by which we mean the existence of Aļļaah with the non-existence of time, place and all creation. The mind wants to know what this precedence of the Creator with respect to His creation is. It is not in time, however, because 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, and what depends on the possible is surely only possible in existence. Accordingly, the precedence of its Creator cannot be in time, not the least because that would make Him both in time and not in time, which is self-contradictory.

The reality of this, however, is not something the mind can grasp, because anything that enters the mind is in a situation of time. That is why Aļļaah being precedent is known by us in general, but not in detail or comprehensively.

For example, Aļļaah’s precedence of beginninglessness indicates a distinction between His beginninglessness and His endlessness. Beginningless eternity, however, is not something other than Aļļaah (but not Him Himself either.) Moreover, distinction between the two meanings would require a beginning for endlessness, but this is impossible, because any hypothesized beginning would have endlessness before it, as there is no beginning before that. That is, distinction between beginninglessness and endlessness would require the completion of beginninglessness, and that is impossible, because what does not begin cannot finish. This means that our minds are incapable of distinguishing between the concepts of beginninglessness, endlessness and eternity. The reason is that the mind only knows what the mind encompasses. So what is apparent is that Aļļaah is first in that everything that has a beginning depends on Him for their existence. If one tries to understand the reality of that firstness, however, one is completely unable, because the mind cannot encompass what has no limit.

Now we are back to the point that the reality of Aļļaah’s existence is not comprehensible to humans, but at an even deeper level than previously. A further indication of this fact, is that a human being does not conceptualize something except if he perceives in his mind inner feelings, such as pain and pleasure, or input from his senses, such as light, color, shape, sound, voice, taste, smell, temperature and softness. Anything beyond that is difficult for a human to conceptualize. Since Aļļaah’s reality is not like what we perceive through our senses, we are not able to conceptualize Him.

Yet another indication of this incomprehensibility, is that what we know about Him, is either in the sense of negation, like in the sense that He is neither a body, nor a particle, or in terms of meanings that pertain to Him, such as, “He is the one that has all rights to judge.” In fact the most apparent fact we know about Him is: “He is the Creator of the world,” and that therefore He precedes it. Yet we cannot know the reality of this precedence, because it is not one of time.

We are compelled, nevertheless, to speak about this meaning in a figurative way, because language has been established to speak about things that are in time and place, and we do not have special vocabulary to express exactly what we want to say. For this reason, the feeble minded will think that we are saying something other than what we intend, such as when we say “before Aļļaah created the worlds.” We not mean by this to say that Aļļaah was in time.

In this regard, the Imam of Guidance, Abuu Manşuur Al-Maaturiidiyy says: “A fundamental belief principle is that whenever Aļļaah is ascribed an attribute, then this attribute is eternal. One says that He is attributed with knowledge, power and providing eternally without a beginning and without an end. If He is mentioned with regard to His management of creation and orders to it, then time is stated, but this time is for creation, not for Him. For example, it is said, “Aļļaah knows eternally that you are sitting here,” or “(sitting here) at this time.” I.e. Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or an end that the person is sitting now…. This is all to prevent people from thinking “How were the created things in eternity? (Ta’wiilaat Ahlu-s-Sunnah 9/473)”

Having said that, what the arguer is describing, is a change of information over time for something in time. Time is something relative to one’s frame of reference, as one relates to all other things in space. Even in modern, generally accepted physics, they teach that the order of things is a matter of one’s reference point in space, and now the trend is that the phenomena of time is related to mass. Strange, but since Aļļaah is not in a place, unlike what Wahhabis believe, this helps us to accept also that time is not something He passes through as He does not have a reference point in space nor does He have mass, because He is not a body. Rather, all places at all times pertain to Him with no difference between them, because He is not in a place and does not change. It is what His Power to create pertains to that is in time and place with respect to each other, not that He Himself is in time.

Accordingly, Aļļaah knows eternally without a beginning or end, or change or renewal, the fact that “the time is 1:28 when the time is 1:28” and He knows the relation of that particular time to all other times. For example, He knows the time at which this time is present in itself, and when it is passed, and when it is future, just as He knows that time’s relation to the beginning of time, and so on. In other words, He knows everything that has to do with that time, both what we know, and what we do not know. So if that time comes, in relation to us, as we pass through time, and He is not, then Aļļaah did not increase His knowledge, because He knows eternally everything that has to do with it.

Further explanation

The ambiguity of what the wahabi said is made clearer if we hypothesized that a prophet asked his Lord, “what time is it now?” and Aļļaah revealed to him that the time is so and so. Is this revelation that was revealed to Him something that happened to Aļļaah’s knowledge, or something that He knows without beginning or end? The answer is without doubt that it is something that Aļļaah knows eternally, because the word “now” is a word of relativity (relative to what passes through time) that Aļļaah (who is not in time) knows by His beginningless and endless knowledge. In other words, it is true that the time, at that particular point in time, is called “now” relative to things that are renewed or that change (i.e. things that could intrinsically, with respect to themselves, in the mind’s eye, be non-existent after existence.) So it is true that it is “now” with respect to that prophet when he asks. Based on this we can rephrase the hypothesized request as follows: “What is the time now, relative to myself?” or, “What is the time now, relative to what passes through time?”

As for the Eternal, the relation of all different places is one to Him, in the sense that no place is closer or further from Him than another, because He is not in place, neither in one place, nor in all places. Likewise, all different times have one relation to Him, in the sense that one time is not nearer to Him than another. This is indicated in the aayah:

هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ [الحديد : 3]

Literally translated: “He is the First and the Last.” Since Aļļaah does not have a beginning, it is true, based on the aayah, that He is First and Last without a beginning, i.e. without a past time, i.e. without being last after having been first. So the meaning of being last is not after being first and being first is not before being last. We consequently know that He is not bound by time, and that all different times have one relation to Him, because created things (i.e. what passes through time) cannot be last unless they have a past time. There is no question, however, that comprehending this is utterly beyond the capability of our minds.

The origin of this doubt-spreading point brought forward by the wahabi is his thinking that Aļļaah passes through time, just as creation does. So he thought that the relation of “now” to Aļļaah is the same as the relation of “now” to us, His creation. This thinking stems from his failure to define time properly, and failure to differentiate between the Creator and the created. If he was really trying to get to the truth, he would have solved this problem by defining time properly. Alternatively, he could have believed Aļļaah’s saying about Himself:

وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ [الأنعام : 101]

Meaning: “He created everything, and He knows everything.” After all, time is definitely other than Aļļaah, so He is its Creator, and He is not passing through it.


[1]This is because measuring 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 whether they will exist in the next moment or not. They are therefore in a continuous state of renewal of 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 therefore impossible that He should cease to exist. 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. He is, after all, the Creator of time, because time is other than Aļļaah, and He said in His Book that He created everything.


Wahabi says: it is absurd to say that you can’t prove there is a beginning to the world if one says Allah can perform new acts.

May 10, 2009

Comment: "New acts" are in your view events that happen in Aļļaah Himself, and since they have a beginning they need to be brought into existence according to a specification, which means they need another act to exist, and if that act has a beginning, then that one also needs another act and so on, in an infinite past loop, which cannot be completed, so the "new act" can never exist. Since you have implied that there can be an infinite number of events in the past, and thereby rejected its obvious impossibility, you have no way to prove logically that the world has a beginning. This is because you have stubbornly or ignorantly rejected the impossibility of the completion of infinite past events, so there is no logical way to prove why the world cannot have infinite past evens, i.e. no beginning. The reason for this is that you rejected the impossibility of infinite past events, which is the main premise for the proof for why the world (defined as everything other than Aļļaah) must have a beginning.

Wahabi says: This statement is out of date because today we can prove the beginning of the universe by appealing to the best scientific evidence (e.g. big bang cosmology and the second law of thermodynamics?)

Comment: These are scientific theories only, and theories can be proven wrong. Moreover, they do not prove, as scientists see it, that this world is brought into existence by other than it, nor do they by themselves prove unequivocally that there were no events prior to the proposed Big Bang. To prove that, you must accept that completing an infinity of past events is impossible, as it clearly is. This again means that you must reject the idea that Aļļaah’s Will or Creating happens with a beginning.


Wahabi claims that there are infinitely many creations in the past (infinite regress)

September 23, 2008

The Wahabi author said: The Ash’aris believe that before God created the creation it was impossible for any event to occur, since they consider infinite regress in the past an impossibility.

Comment: By creation we mean something brought into existence. Events are anything that did not exist and then became existent. All events need to be created otherwise they will remain non-existent. Accordingly, before Aļļaah created creation, there was no creation, so there were no events. If you say there were events before creation, then you are saying there were creations before creation, and that is a contradiction.

The Wahabi author said: This means that God was not doing absolutely anything before He created the world. Not only that, but also it was impossible for God to do anything before the creation of the world, because for anything to occur then was itself impossible.

The statement “This means that God was not doing absolutely anything before He created the world.” is based on your own premise that Aļļaah exists in time and that His act of creating is itself an event, none of which Sunnis claim. You are also implying that Aļļaah must create to avoid imperfection, since you say that if He did not create He would be “doing absolutely nothing.” This statement of yours shows that you believe Aļļaah needs to create in order to to avoid “doing absolutely nothing.” As you said, “Strange how a believer can argue that God was absolutely actionless, ‘out of work’ or ‘jobless’ prior to the creation of the world, when Allah says He is fa”alun lima yurid.” This means, according to you, and based on your premise that Aļļaah’s actions are existing events, that Aļļaah is compelled to create, and has no choice but to create, otherwise He would be imperfect. The idea of Aļļaah being compelled to create is a belief you share with the Greek Philosophers. You taking the aayah:
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ فَعَّالٌ لِمَا يُرِيدُ
meaning: “Verily Your Lord does whatever He wills (Huud, 107),” as proof that Aļļaah must create to avoid being what you call “joblessness” makes me question your sanity. “Does whatever He wills” means what it says, it doesn’t mean “must do what He does.”

Your statement also means that there is no first creation. In other words, you are saying that creation is eternal without a beginning. This is blasphemy according to all Sunni scholars, and is the belief of the Greek Philosophers, adopted later by Ibn Taymiyyah, in order to defend his idea that Aļļaah is something physical with events (something non existent becoming existent) occurring in it, just like creation. Ibn Ĥajar Al-ˆAsqalaaniyy said: “Qaađiy ˆIiaađ and others narrated that there is scholarly ijmaaˆ consensus on the takfiir of the person that says the world (ˆaalam, i.e. anything other than Aļļaah) is eternal.”
قد حكى عياض وغيره الإجماع على تكفير من يقول بقدم العالم

The statement “Not only that, but also it was impossible for God to do anything before the creation of the world, because for anything to occur then was itself impossible,” is a trick to change the topic at hand. We are not talking about whether there could have been a single world before this one or even a trillion worlds, or more. What we are talking about is whether they could have been infinitely many. The answer to that is no, because infinity by definition cannot be completed. If you say there were infinitely many worlds before this one, then you are saying that the creation of infinitely many worlds was completed before this world, and that contradicts the meaning of infinity, which is that it cannot be completed.

Not only that, but to say that Aļļaah is the creator of everything, and then say that there is no first creation, is contradictory, because what does not have a first, does not have a beginning, and what does not have a beginning does not have a creator. Or to phrase it differently, if you say that there are infinitely many creations in the past, then all creation as a whole does not have a beginning, and what does not have a beginning does not have a creator. You cannot logically claim that something that does not have a beginning is created, because being created means having a beginning.

To claim that creation as a whole is created then, you must say that it has a beginning, and that there is a creation that is first.

So we are not talking about ability, but about logical contradictions.

Put it this way, if someone asks, “was it possible for Aļļaah to create a world to exist before this one?” then the answer is yes, and you can ask this question again and again and the answer is always the same. Why? Because we are talking about a limited number, one being added at the time of each question. What you cannot do is complete asking this question infinitely many times in order to claim that the possibility of one more world means that infinitely many more are possible. You can never finish asking this question infinitely many times, and that is why infinitely many worlds completed in the past is impossible. That is why the Wahabi claim that “if you believe that Allah was able to create before our creation, you have already believed in the possibility of infinite regress in the past,” is completely false. Put it in yet another way: one could not finish asking this question infinitely many times before the creation of this world.


Wahabi claims: Allaah needs to create to be perfect

September 21, 2008

Wahabi says: If you believe that infinite regress in the past is impossible, then this dictates that Allah was completely actionless doing absolutely nothing, and in fact, not able to do anything prior to the creation of the world.

Comment: The statement “this dictates that Allah was completely actionless” is based on your own premise that Aļļaah exists in time and that His act of creating is itself an event, none of which Sunnis claim. You are also implying that Aļļaah must create to avoid imperfection.

Your claim “and in fact, not able to do anything” does not make sense even according to your own premise, which is the belief that Aļļaah’s actions are like ours, i.e. with a beginning and end. For example, I may want to do something tomorrow, in which case I will do nothing right now, but that does not mean I do not have the ability now. I have the ability, but I choose to do nothing. In any case, you are again saying that Aļļaah must create to have power.

According to your claims, you are saying that Aļļaah could not have chosen to not create anything, because that would make him something you call “actionless” and even powerless. In other words, He has no choice but to create in your view. In fact, you are saying that Aļļaah is imperfect if He does not create. This is a plain denial of the Aayah:

“يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَنْتُمُ الْفُقَرَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ”,
Meaning: “O People, you are the desolate in absolute need of Aļļaah, and Aļļaah is the One that does not need anything or anyone, and He is the One that deserves all praise.” (Faaţir ,15)

How is having no choice compatible with godhood according to you people? Come back to Islam and believe that Aļļaah has no need to create.