Aļļaah does not change

October 22, 2008
“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ”

Meaning: “Absolutely nothing resembles Him.” (Al-Sħuuraa, 11)

Wahabi said: We know from the Sunnah that Allah will become so angry on the Day of Judgement, in a way He has never been this angry before, nor will have ever become this angry later? What is it all if not ‘change’?

Comment: Aļļaah does not change. To understand scriptures in your way is to say that Aļļaah is influenced by creation, and that creation causes events of anger, etc. in Him. Aļļaah is not affected by what we do, or anything else in the creation. This is true, because He does not need creation in any way, shape or form. Aļļaah was perfect before the world existed and did not benefit from its existence more perfection, or lose any perfection because of it. Aļļaah said:

فَإِنَّ ٱلله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ
Meaning: Verily Aļļaah has absolutely no need for the worlds. (Aal Imraan, 97)

In this regard, it was narrated by Al-Haitħamiyy in Majmaˆ Az-Zawaa’id, in a narration he declared acceptable, that a bedouin said in his duˆaa, among other things:

‏”ولا تغيره الحوادث”
“(O the One that) is not changed by events.”
After finishing, the Prophet called the Bedouin and gave him some gold, and asked Him, “Do you know why I gave the gold to you?” He answered, “because of family ties between us O Messenger of Aļļaah?” The Prophet said: “Family ties have rights attached to them, yes, but I gave you the gold for the beauty of your praise of Aļļaah.”

The meaning of “anger” or “wrath” when referring to Aļļaah

In the dictionary Mufradaat Al-Qur’aan Ar-Raagħib Al-‘Aşfahaaniyy said about għađab (wrath/anger): “the excitement of the hearts blood for wanting revenge,” Then he said, “If ascribed to Aļļaah, then it means revenge, without other meanings. (P. 361)1

In the dictionary Lisaanu-l-ˆArab Ibn Manţħuur narrated from the linguist Ibn ˆArafah: “għađab (wrath) in creation is something that enters their hearts, some of it good some of it bad. The bad kind is without a right, and the good kind is for religious purpose and with a right. As for Aļļaah’s għađab, this is His disapproval of those who disobey Him so that He punishes them.2

Explaining Ţaa Haa, 81, where it is stated “għađabii”, which’s literal meaning is “my wrath”, Ibn Al-Jawziyy says it means: “My punishment.3

Even in English the word wrath does not necessarily mean a change in the one ascribed with anger. In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, one definition of wrath is: “retributory punishment for an offense or a crime : divine chastisement.4

As for the ĥadiitħ:

“إِنَّ رَبِّي قَدْ غَضِبَ الْيَوْم غَضَبًا لَمْ يَغْضَب قَبْله مِثْله وَلَنْ يَغْضَب بَعْده مِثْله”

{If someone translated it literally he would say: “Verily My Lord is wrathful today like never before, and He will not be wrathful like that again.”}

An-Nawawiyy said in his explanation of Saĥiiĥ Muslim: What is meant by Aļļaah’s wrath is what appears of his punishment of those who disobeyed him, and what they (people on the Day of Judgment) see of His painful torture (assigned to sinners), and what the people at the gathering (on that day) witness of horrors that have never been before and never will be again. There is no doubt that this will never have happened before that day, and will never and its like will never reoccur. This is the meaning of “Aļļaah’s wrath,” just like His riđaa (literal translation: “being pleased”) is the appearance of His mercy and gentle treatment of those He has willed good and dignity for. This is because it is impossible that Aļļaah should change in being wrathful or being pleased. And Aļļaah knows best. (3/685)

Imam Abu Ĥaniifah said in Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar: “…change and alteration occur only in created beings.”

Why does Abu Ĥaniifah say that change and alteration only occur in created things? Because a change is the coming into existence of something new, and all such things need a creator, because it did not previously exist. Since Aļļaah is not created, He does not change. In addition, Aļļaah is attributed with complete perfection, which means that saying that He is changing implies that He is getting more perfect, and was not perfect before, or getting less perfect. This is not the belief of a Muslim. Imam Aĥmad ibn Ĥanbal said:

والله تعالى لم يلحقه تغير ولا تبدل ولا يلحقه الحدود قبل خلق العرش ولا بعد خلق العرش
“Aļļaah taˆaalaa did not change or experience any substitution (in His attributes), and has not been attributed with any limits before creating the ˆArsħ and not after creating it (Iˆtiqaad Al-Imaam Al-Mubajjal Ibn Ĥanbal, P. 297).” In other words, Aļļaah is not in a place above the ˆArsħ.

Why did the scholars meticulously avoid the belief that Allah changes?

The answer is that change is in reality a beginning, and anything with a beginning needs to be brought into existence. Having been brought into existence is to have been created, so everything with a beginning is created. In other words, all change is created. To say that Aļļaah changes then, is to say that He has created attributes, and that He is part created. This is like the christians who say that Aļļaah has a son, i.e. that He is part creator and part creation. For this reason, no scripture must be understood to mean that Aļļaah changes, and any scripture that seems on the surface to imply this must not be understood to imply this.

As always, any meanings ascribed to the Creator in the scriptures must be understood in light of Aļļaah’s non-resemblance to His creation. At the most basic level, this means that Aļļaah does not have a beginning, and that His attributes do not have a beginning. The reason is that anything with a beginning is a creation, because it must have been brought into existence. So the one that is saying that Aļļaah changes is not only saying that Aļļaah resembles His creation, but that He is in fact part created. This is a plain and inescapable denial of the aayah:

“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ”
Meaning: “Absolutely nothing resembles Him.” (Al-Sħuuraa, 11) It may be said based on this, that if Aļļaah does not resemble anything, i.e. His creation, then He is definitely not partially created! For more on this aayah see also this article.Not only that, but to say that Aļļaah is attributed with beginnings is to ruin the proof of Aļļaah’s existence. The reason is that Aļļaah is not something we know exists based on observation. Rather, we know He exists because of the existence of things that have a beginning, namely the world around us. We know that Aļļaah exists, because anything with a beginning needs a creator; it needs to be brought into existence. If someone says that Aļļaah is attributed with beginnings, then he is either saying that something can come into existence without a creator, or that Aļļaah is not the Creator, or that Aļļaah partially created Himself. In the first two cases, the proof is clearly ruined. In the last case it is also ruined, because if something can be part creator and part creation, then how would one remove doubts about the world not creating itself? For this reason you find the Wahabi’s always afraid of the proofs of Aļļaah’s existence, because these proofs also prove them wrong. These proofs all revolve around the fact that one cannot have change or beginnings without a Creator.

Abu Adam

 


 

  1. لمفردات في غريب القرآن ، اسم المؤلف:  أبو القاسم الحسين بن محمد  الوفاة: 502هـ ، دار النشر : دار المعرفة – لبنان ، تحقيق : محمد سيد كيلاني . قال المؤلف: وإذا وصف الله تعالى به فالمراد به الانتقام دون غيره المفردات في غريب القرآن  ج 1   ص 361- back
  2. لسان العرب – (ج 1 / ص 648): قال ابن عرفة الغَضَبُ من المخلوقين شيءٌ يُداخِل قُلُوبَهم ومنه محمود ومذموم فالمذموم ما كان في غير الحق والمحمود ما كان في جانب الدين والحق وأَما غَضَبُ اللّه فهو إِنكاره على من عصاه فيعاقبه
  3. زاد المسير – (361): قوله تعالى : { فيحلَّ عليكم غضبي } أي : فتجب لكم عقوبتي
  4. Merriam-Webster Online. 22 August 2008,<http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wrath&gt;
  5. شرح النووي على مسلم – (ج 3 / ص 68) : الْمُرَاد بِغَضَبِ اللَّه تَعَالَى مَا يَظْهَر مِنْ اِنْتِقَامه مِمَّنْ عَصَاهُ وَمَا يَرَوْنَهُ مِنْ أَلِيم عَذَابه ، وَمَا يُشَاهِدهُ أَهْل الْمَجْمَع مِنْ الْأَهْوَال الَّتِي لَمْ تَكُنْ وَلَا يَكُون مِثْلهَا ، وَلَا شَكّ فِي أَنَّ هَذَا كُلّه لَمْ يَتَقَدَّم قَبْل ذَلِكَ الْيَوْم مِثْله وَلَا يَكُون بَعْده مِثْله ، فَهَذَا مَعْنَى غَضَب اللَّه تَعَالَى كَمَا أَنَّ رِضَاهُ ظُهُور رَحْمَته وَلُطْفه بِمَنْ أَرَادَ بِهِ الْخَيْر وَالْكَرَامَة ؛ لِأَنَّ اللَّه تَعَالَى يَسْتَحِيل فِي حَقّه التَّغَيُّر فِي الْغَضَب وَالرِّضَاء . وَاَللَّه أَعْلَم .

Q&A: medicine and cause/ reg. if someone calls Allah “cause.”

August 13, 2008

Question:

My first question is about “causes of normalcy”, and arose after reading this article.  When ‘ulama give fatawa about e.g. the use of ta’wiz, almost every single one of the fatawa mentions that one must not believe the words have any affect in themselves, but are empowered to do so by Allah ta’ala. Am I right in being concerned about the Muslims’ belief regarding the use of medication, since the whole issue of Allah being the original creator of shifa’ seems to be forgotten by the awam (especially among medical doctors here in the West)?

Every new event in the universe is only a possibility. That is, if A happens, then what happens next is as specified by Aļļaah only. “A” itself has no actual influence on what will happen next. So there is no cause in the sense of one event actually influencing another in the next moment of time. What we call causes are really just events that Aļļaah have willed to be correlated. Using medicine is fine, as long as one believes that the cure is actually from Aļļaah, not from the medicine. This is what is called “to act according to causes,” and it consists of looking at how things correlate in the world, and then act accordingly to achieve one’s objectives. One must believe that there is no actual power to influence in the causes, even a created one. It is in reality only correlation, because every new event is an event specified and created by Aļļaah, and Aļļaah is not influenced by anything or anyone.

Question:

Also, as far as I know, these “causes of normalcy” are called asbab in Arabic, but what is the other one called in Arabic, the one if one calls Allah it, according to hanafis one is commiting kufr?

It is kufr to call Aļļaah “cause” (in Arabic “sabab” or ” ˆillah”, ) because it is disrespectful. Aļļaah Himself is not a cause, He creates, and His act of creating results in things to come into existence and change. When someone calls Aļļaah Himself “cause” he is implying that Aļļaah has no choice but to bring things into existence. Muslims must believe that Aļļaah creates with a will. That being said, keep in mind that it is not allowed to name Aļļaah anything without His permission.


Q & A: Someone asked, “Is there a place for human accountability in Islamic beliefs?

June 12, 2008

Question: in Islamic beliefs, is there a place for human accountability? If so, what does human accountability mean or entail in light of the doctrine of predestination?

Answer: Accountability is connected to the voluntary acts that one performs every day. These acts, however, while performed by us with our bodies and minds, are predestined and created by Allah.

It must be kept in mind that Allah could have created me and you in the Hellfire to begin with, without any actions from our side. This would be mere torture, and not punishment. As a grace to us, He did not do that, but created us in this world and gave us rules to follow. He has willed for some of us to follow and some of us not, as you can observe. Those that follow are rewarded with pleasure in Paradise, while those who do not will be tortured, unless they are forgiven. Being forgiven happens only if one believed prior to death that there is only one god and that Muhammad is his Prophet and Messenger.

Torture in the next life correlating with voluntary acts of disobedience to Allah in this life is called punishment, unlike the imaginary case of someone being created in the Hellfire to begin with, which is just torture, and not punishment. There are many articles on predestination and justice that you can peruse, and I won’t repeat it all here. One article is this one.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Answers regarding the issue of predestination

June 11, 2008

A long answer to several arguments against predestination have been posted as a comment here.


Q & A: Someone asked, “Is it just for Allah to make one a Muslim and reward him and one a Hindu and punish him?”

June 2, 2008

Rashid wrote: Consider this. A person is born in a purely Islamic environment, he has been taught Islam from the very start of his life and he has been brought up in the same atmosphere. There is another person who is born in a pure Hindu/Christian environment (say in a pandit’s home), he has been taught Hinduism/Christianity from the very start of his life and he has been brought up in the same atmosphere.

Now, there are people who argue that it is in the psychology of a person that it is very difficult for him to deny and take a stand against something he has been believing from his childhood. And it is also a fact that there are greater number of born Muslims than revert Muslims similarly there are a greater number of born Hindus/Christians than converts. If this is the case, the Hindu/Christian is put into hell for eternity and Muslim into Heaven for eternity, if they die with the same faith. Is this justice with both of them? What was the fault of Hindu/Christian for not being born in an Islamic environment and what had the Muslim done for he got such a big prize!

Answer: Al-Bukhari narrated through Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “Your deeds will not put you in Paradise.” They asked: “Not even for you, O Messenger of Allah?” He answered: “No, not even for me,
except that Allah will cover me with grace and mercy.” (Şahih Al-Bukhaariy No 5349, 5/2147; `Umdat-al-Qaari 21/227)

What this means is that Allah is not obliged to do anything, and thatyour deeds do not influence Allah. Good deeds do not earn you the right to go to Paradise; it is a grace from Allah to enter. It means also that if you do not do good deeds, then this indicates that Allah has not willed good for you, and this is a sign that you are heading for loss in the Hereafter. For some people He has made it easier to do good than others. For some people he has created the ability to overcome difficult obstacles to do good, others not. Aļļaah has created some people to go to Hell, and some to go to Paradise. This is not injustice, for Allah does not have a creator or a judge that He is accountable to, and what He creates is fully His to do with as He wills. Allah said:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون
Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiya, 23).

I have mentioned it elsewhere, but it is useful to recount the debate between Al-Qadi `Abdul Jabbaar of the Mu`tazilite sect, and the great Imam of the Sunnis of the time, Abu Ishaq Al-Isfaraayini . When the two met, `AbdulJabbaar said, “Exalted is Allah, who transcends the obscene.” (While this is a sound expression, what he meant to say was that Allah does not create evil. This is blasphemous, because Muslims must believe that Allah is the only creator, as it is stated in the Quran that He created everything, and that no one wills anything except by His Will.)

Imam Al- Isfaraayini (418 AH) realized what he had implied and responded, “Exalted is Allah, who nothing happens in His dominion but by His Will.” The Mu`tazilite then made another attempt and said, “Does our Lord like to be disobeyed?” Al-Isfaraayini quickly replied, “Could He be disobeyed against His Will?” Upon that `Abdul Jabbaar tried again to defeat his adversary and said, “If God denied me guidance, then ruled that I be destroyed for it, has He treated me fairly?” Al-Isfaraayini calmly answered, “If He denied you something that was yours, then He would have been unfair, but if it was not rightfully yours, then Allah does with His creation what He wills.” `Abdul Jabbaar fell silent, and could not argue further. After all, Allah is the true owner of all creation. (V.4/ P. 261-262. Tabaqaat-al-Shafi`iyyat-al-Kubra).

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Q & A: Someone asked “How do random things relate to the existence of God?”

May 29, 2008

An agnostic asked: Some would maintain that if the universe is mostly random, having pointless moons and planes floating about, how would this randomness fit in with the concept of God who does everything for a reason?

Answer: The problem with this whole issue is that if someone asks “why did God do that?” then he is asking a question that implies a need. For, example, if I ask you, “Why did you do that?” Then your answer will always be in terms of getting some benefit or avoiding some harm. Since the Creator does not have needs, this question is irrelevant with respect to Him. That is why the Quran teaches us not to ask this question:

لا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُون

Meaning: “He is not asked about what He does to creation, but the creation is asked.” (Al-Anbiya’, 23).

Allah does, however, instruct us of our own decreed purpose:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

Meaning: “Allah did not create humans or jinn except to worship Him.”

This does not mean that He gets benefit from our worship, as also instructed in the Quran:

فَإِنَّ ٱلله غَنِيٌّ عَنِ ٱلْعَٰلَمِينَ

Meaning: Verily Allah has absolutely no need for the worlds. (Aal `Imraan, 97)

The agnostic said: I?f the Quantum physics shows us that things happen against our intuition, then how can any proof of God based upon our intuition be correct?

Answer: Intuition is not a source of certain knowledge according to Sunni Muslims, so we do not use such “proofs.” This is because it cannot be verified objectively. Rather, the sources of knowledge are our senses, true information, and the mind. The scriptures are the sources of religious knowledge, as they are perceived by the senses, judged as true by the mind, and understood by the mind.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji


Agnostic Contentions: Randomness and Infinity

May 27, 2008

An agnostic said: How do you see the randomness in Quantum Physics then, why does a atom decaying for no reason not equate to the universe being random as well?

Answer: The randomness spoken of in Quantum Physics does not contravene the fact that there is order, such as animals, plants, and the solar system, and developments over time. It also does not contravene the fact that the so called physical laws, even if they are incomplete, give the world around us a high degree of predictability. Events that happen for no apparent “reason,” could be because we do not know them. Even if we assumed they did not, however, this is not problematic in the Islamic Creed, as I will show you shortly.

In any case, let it be clear from the outset that the issue of cause is a metaphysical question, more than a physical question, because the assertion of cause is based on observed correlation, not that the cause itself can be observed. In short, if there is correlation, and there is an explanation for it, then it is called “cause.” So for example, if one finds that objects attract each other always, then one says that if a glass falls from the table, it is “caused” by gravity. Gravity itself, however, has no verifiable existence in itself, it is assumed to be there, because that bloody glass always falls when it is moved off the edge of the table. This is just an example, I am not saying that scientists all believe that gravity always holds true.

On the other hand, if the pattern of something is totally unpredictable, then people start saying it is “random.” This is what is meant when they say that the quark’s pattern (the element spoken of in Quantum Physics, which is supposedly the subpart of the electron, which is a subpart of the atom) is random. They mean that it’s pattern has no physical explanation; that there is no observed event or condition that somehow makes the quark’s pattern predictable.

Maybe physics, with its tools and methodologies, can prove the non-existence of cause, maybe it cannot, it is not important. The reason is that it can be proved not to exist by proving the existence of a creator, by whom nothing happens except by His Will. This proof is based merely on the existence of events, which is anything that has a beginning. It does not matter if they have apparent order or not, or whether they are contingent or not. I will get back to that when I address your next question.

An agnostic said: My point being that if the universe had no beginning, what purpose then for a creator? Since in an infinite model the universe sustains itself.

Answer: The universe absolutely must have a beginning, so this is not an issue. I will show you why:

Premise a – We exist here today.

Premise b – Before we existed there were a series of events, one after another, leading up to our existence today. (The passing of such a series of events is what we call time, and measure in minutes, days, weeks and years.)

If one accepts premise a, then one must also accept that the series of events in premise b must have a beginning. This must be, because if someone claims that an infinite succession of events had to be concluded before his existence, then he is saying that that infinite succession of events came to an end, which is a contradiction in terms. It is like if someone said “this car will only get to its destination after its wheels have spun infinitely many times,” and then claimed that the car arrived at its destination. It is clear, however, that the car could never have gotten to its destination if an infinite number of spins was the condition for its arrival.

Those who claim that the world has no beginning are in fact saying that it is a prerequisite for tomorrow to arrive that an infinite number of events first take place. This is impossible, because infinity cannot end. Clearly then, the number of events that precedes our existence must have a limit.

In addition, since it is necessarily true that this series of events has a beginning, then it must also be that before this beginning there were no series of events (defined as anything with a beginning). If someone claimed otherwise, then they would end up with the same contradiction (saying that infinity came to an end). Accordingly, the claim that the world was created by random events is irrational.

Rather, there must be a Creator that gave the series of events existence – since it was nonexistent before it began. Moreover, since it is impossible for there to be any events before the existence of this series, then it must also be that the Creator is not attributed with events, i.e. with any attribute or action that has a beginning. This again means that the Creator does not resemble His creation, since all created attributes must have a beginning. Actually, having a beginning and being a creation is the same thing. This is because to create is to bring into existence, and everything with a beginning must have been brought into existence.

We know from the above, by mathematical precision and logical necessity, that the Creator exists and does not resemble His creation. From the fact that the world has a beginning, we have proven that it must have a creator. The name of this creator is Allah in Arabic. If someone asks, “Who created Allah?” we say Allah does not have a creator, and does not need one as He has no beginning. If someone then asks, “how can you accept that Allah has no beginning, while you do not accept that the world has no beginning?” The answer is that we have shown that the world has a beginning based on the fact that it changes (changes are events). We do not believe, however, that Allah changes. Rather, we believe He is One, and doesn’t change and has no beginning.

From all this we can also safely conclude that Allah has a will to specify events, and unlimited power to create them. We can also conclude that He must have knowledge, because specification without knowledge is impossible. It is now easy to see also, that no event can take place without Him willing it. This again means that there is no such thing as real cause, in the sense of one event truly influencing or shaping a subsequent event. There is only correlation, because if an event happens, it’s form can only be completely subjugated to Allah’s Will and Power. All of this is according to the teachings of Islam, as is shown by the following statements in the Quran:

“هُوَ الأَوَّلُ”

“He is Al-Awwal.” (Al-Hadiid, 03).”

If translated literally, it would be “He is the First,” i.e. He existed before everything else, and He was not preceded by non-existence or the existence of something else. It is a beginning-less and necessary existence, and is not affected by anything, since it is not preceded by anything.

“إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ”,

Meaning: “Verily Allah is able to create anything.” (Al-Baqarah, 20)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ”

Meaning: “Allah created everything, and He knows everything.” (Al-‘Anˆaam, 101)

“وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ فَقَدَّرَهُ تَقْدِيرًا”

Meaning: “And He created everything and predestined it.” (Al-Furqaan, 2)

Based on the above, we can say that if the pattern of quarks truly have no observable correlating event that makes it predictable, and is thus labeled “random,” it is either because Allah has not willed for it to have a correlating event, or because He has not willed for it to be discovered.

Authored by Shaykh Abu Adam al Naruiji