Omnipotence and the so called unliftable stone

March 22, 2009

Someone said: I came across this post for some reason, and decided to answer this “unliftable stone” question from logical (not religious) point of view.

In the question, we have imaginary omnipotent entity referred to as “god”, which does not have to be actual muslim God. We might call it “Bob”, if you want; what matters for the question is that our imaginary Bob is omnipotent. Then we ask, can Bob create a stone that he will not be able to lift? As long as Bob is omnipotent, he obviously can create it. As soon as he does, however, he loses his omnipotence. There is no logical problem with the question this way.

We can, however extend this question, by asking Bob to create such a stone AND remain omnipotent. In the language of logic, this is asking for A and B to be true at the same time, while we know that A makes B necessary false. This is clearly not possible, as far as logic is concerned.

Comment: There is no separation of logic and religion in this question or any other in Islam.

When you say that Bob was omnipotent and then became not omnipotent, then you are saying that his omnipotence is a possible attribute, not a necessary attribute, as it accepts non-existence. This means that Bob’s claimed omnipotence would have a beginning, because the possible in existence needs a cause to become existent, which means that it would need to be given to him by something else.

This something else would have to be omnipotent without a beginning, or we would end up with another Bob in need of a cause (i.e. someone else to give him the omnipotence), and going down that path we would end up claiming an infinite past series of Bobs, which is impossible, because infinity cannot pass. Since this omnipotent being is necessarily omnipotent, as it is eternal and therefore not in need of preponderance to exist, it cannot end, because whatever ends is only intrinsically possible in existence (one moment it’s here, the next it’s not; so, it is not necessarily existing). This means again that Bob cannot become omnipotent, as you cannot have two omnipotent beings at the same time. After all, that would mean that they would have to agree to bring something into existence, as they are both of equal power, and this is a restricted power, not an absolute power, and would have meant that the necessary omnipotence prior to Bob’s, became restricted and would therefore be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

Omnipotence cannot be a created attribute, because if we assumed that it had a beginning, then the one that gave it must have been either omnipotent before it, or not. If the one that supposedly gave it was omnipotent, then we have already shown that this means that it must be eternal and necessary in existence, and cannot be given away.

On the other hand, if the one claimed to have given omnipotence was proposed to have power restricted to creating omnipotence, then this is refuted, because if it could create omnipotence, then anything less than that would definitely fall within its power. If not, then this would require someone to specify the restricted power of the proposed creator of omnipotence, which would mean he is not the true creator of omnipotence, and this way we are either ending up saying there is an infinite series of specified creators, or end up at a creator that is omnipotent, thus not in need of specification, and since his power would be necessary, he could not lose this power later, or part of it, or it would have to be intrinsically possible, and not necessary in existence.

If someone argued, on the other hand, that omnipotence was restricted by a hindrance or prerequisite before Bob, then this contradicts the concept of omnipotence. Moreover, this proposed restriction to create anything but omnipotence would either be eternal or having a beginning.

A) If it was proposed eternal, then it would be universal, because it would not be specified, which would make it impossible for anyone to create anything but omnipotence, which is absurd, because omnipotence is not omnipotence if nothing other than omnipotence can be created, such as entities. After all, omnipotence is about creating other than omnipotence. Thus the proposed restriction cannot be eternal.

B) If it was proposed not eternal, then it would need a creator to specify it. This creator would either be proposed omnipotent or not. If he was omnipotent, then we have shown that this omnipotence cannot be given away to Bob. If he was not, then we are dealing with someone with created power, which needs a creator, and he would be either omnipotent or not.  This brings us into the problem of needing an infinite past series of specified creators, and this idea is rejected, because one cannot conclude an infinite series of past creating, or claiming there is a creator who’s necessary omnipotence ceased, which we have shown to be impossible.


More Wahabi nonsense about Aļļaah’s attributes being emergent

December 19, 2008

Wahabi said: “If one were to call the arabic language created as it is the action and implementation of the ilm of Allah, Read the rest of this entry »


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 .

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.


Wahabies say that Aļļaah’s speech is created, but do not know it.

August 16, 2008

Wahabi said: As for your question regarding the speech of Allah being composed of letters and words, one after the other, how can it be then eternal; if you understand our argument about infinite regress of events in the past, you will understand how Allah’s words are eternal. In fact, to claim otherwise as the Mu’tazilas do is clear cut Kufr. The Quran that we have is the uncreated speech of Allah, which is composed of Suras, verses, words and letters. This has been the creed of Imam Ahmad, and the rest of Ahl al-Sunnah, and this is one of the strongest proof for the Sunni doctrine in support of infinite regress of events in past and future.

Comment:

Infinite past events is impossible

This is contrary to your claim, because saying that past events are infinite is to say that the events prior to this moment in time have not finished. This is self-contradictory.

Words and letters is the kind of speech that creatures have

Speech consisting of words and letters is the speech of creation. For this reason one cannot say that Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of Speech is letters and sounds, because Aļļaah said:

“لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ”

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


Words and letters must be creations

Why? Because words and letters have a beginning. So in “bismillaah”, for example “i” comes after “b”, so when you say bismillaah, the sound “i” only becomes existent after “b” ‘s non-existence. This means “i” has become existent after non existence, which means that it needs a creator to exist. Nothing can come into existence without a creator, all Muslims must believe that.

In other words, speech that consists of words and letters is created, and since you say that Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of Speech is words and letters, then you are saying that it is created, even if you say it is “uncreated.” In other words, you made takfiir for yourself when you said: “Allah’s words are eternal. In fact, to claim otherwise, as the Mu’tazilas do, is clear cut Kufr.”

The Muˆtazilah said, like you, that Aļļaah’s speech is letters and sounds. They said it is created because it is letters and sounds, and letters and sounds have a beginning, so they must be created. You take this one step further in deviation by denying the obvious, which is that anything with a beginning, such as letters, is a creation. It is a creation because it came into existence, which means it was brought into existence. To be brought into existence is the very definition of being created.

Besides, do you not know that the Arabic language was created by Aļļaah? So if Arabic is a creation, how can Arabic speech be anything but a creation?

The meaning of the phrase “Qu’aan is not created”
When Ahlu-s-Sunnah, the AsħˆAriyys and the Ĥanafiyys, say that the “Qu’aan is not created” they are referring to Aļļaah’s eternal attribute of speech that is not sound or letters. In other words, the Speech that the book of the Qur’aan refers to.

The saying of Ahlu-s-Sunnah is that the words and letters in the printed copies of the Qu’raan refer to Aļļaah’s eternal kalaam, and tell us in Arabic what He said eternally without letters, sounds or words. It is therefore correct to say that “the Qur’aan is not created,” because the word “qur’aan” actually refers to what Aļļaah tells us, and His speech is not created. It is not correct, however, to say that the words, letters, and sounds associated with the book are not created, because words and letters need a creator, and because the Arabic language, the language of the book, is a creation.

An example to clarify is that the word “Aļļaah” refers to Aļļaah. I do not worship these letters, or the sounds of uttering this word. Rather, I worship the one they refer to. In the same sense, the words, letters and Arabic in the book are not themselves Aļļaah’s attribute of Speech, but refer to that attribute. They tell us what Aļļaah said.

Even in our daily lives, we speak of speech in this way. So for example, if I have a transcript in Arabic of something the U.N. Secretary General said, I will refer to it as “the U.N. Secretary General‘s speech”, although his actual, real speech is something in the president Himself, meanings inside of him that he wanted to express (like when you say, “I have something to say in mind) – his internal speech. Alternatively, his real speech is his speech of letters and sounds, that he expressed in another language at a particular point in time, the speech that was originally just meanings that he had in mind. The paper with the transcript, however, just tells me what he said. So if I handed the Arabic transcript to someone saying, “This is the U.N. Secretary General‘s speech,” no one would understand from this that his real speech was in Arabic. No one would tell me, “liar, it was not in Arabic.” No one would tell me, “Liar, the speech of the president occurred days ago from his mouth. It was sounds, not written words.”

The reason is that such transcripts and other forms of narration, that refer to the speaker’s real speech are customarily called “so and so’s speech.” This is why the letter’s and sounds we find in the books of the Qur’aan are called Aļļaah’s Kalaam/Speech, even though His eternal speech is not created, and therefore not words, letters or sounds.

From this we know that the word “Qur’aan” has two meanings. The first is the book, the organized and sequential Arabic words and letters of the muşĥaf. The second it the eternal Speech of Aļļaah that the words and letters of the muşĥaf refer to, and that is not itself words, letters, language or sequence.

Lately some of the wahabis think themselves clever and ask: “Who said alif laam miim?” Let me respond to that with a question: “Who created the Arabic language which alif and laam and miim are part of?”


Wahhabi Contention: On the Infinite Regress and the Qudra of Allah

July 29, 2008

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)


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