الحَمدُ للهِ القَـدِيـمِ البَـاقِـي *** مُــقَـدِّرِ الآجَالِ والأَرزَاقِ حَـيٌّ عَلِيـمٌ قَـادِرٌ مَوجُودُ *** قَـامَت بِهِ الأَشيَـاءُ والوُجُودُ Praise be to Allah, the Eternal, and ever lasting The one to predetermine lifespan and provision He is living, all-knowing, all-able and existent By Him exist all things and existence The author begins by praising Allah the Most High. We have already discussed in sufficient detail, the syntax ‘al-Hamdulillah’ in our Lesson on Islamic Ethics. The Eternal (al-Qadim) and ever lasting (al-Baqi) The author describes Allah using two words: al-Qadim and al-Baqi. Al-Qadeem comes from the word qidam which refers to eternity without a beginning, where as al-Baqi comes from the word baqa’ which refers to eternity without an end. Therefore, Allah is al-Qadeem and al-Baqi, in the sense that he has no beginning, nor end. This is also confirmed in the Hadeeth of the Prophet – SallAllahu ‘alaihi wa-sallam – that ‘He is the First (al-Awwal) nothing preceding Him, and the Last (al-Aakhir), nothing after Him’. Although, it is correct in meaning to describe Allah as ‘the Eternal’ with respect to past and future, He is not to be named al-Qadeem. This is because the Names of Allah are considered tawqifiyya, i.e. they are only determined by Allah Himself in the Qur’an and secondarily in the Sunna by the Prophet. The Mu’tazilaon the other hand argued that if it is rationally possible for an attribute to be suitable for Allah, there is no harm in applying a name reflecting that attribute to Allah, even if it has not been determined in the revelation. The Ash’arite Mutakallimun claimed to take a moderate approach and argued that if a legal text infers an attribute or an action of Allah, then according to the rules of the language, it should be permissible to deduce a name for Allah, even though it has no explicit mention in the legal texts. Hence, the Mu’tazilites and the Ash’arites, both agreed that al-Qadeem, ‘the Eternal’ is a name of Allah. However, both of the sects erred in their approach; the Mu’tazila for giving names to Allah purely on a rational basis; and the Ash’arites for attributing names to Allah merely based on certain Divine Attributes and Actions mentioned in the legal texts. Legal texts refer to Allah as the one who plots and mocks. The Ash’arite approach would necessitate that Allah be named the Plotter and the Mocker. Such names cannot be attributed to Allah, since they are derogatory, whereas Allah’s Names are lofty and sublime. Moreover, Allah never referred to Himself by such names, and hence, the approach of the early Muslims (the Salaf) was to name Him how He has named Himself. Therefore, even though it might be correct to describe Allah as al-Qadeem and al-Baqi, it is not correct to name Him as such. Rather, we name Him how He named Himself when He said: He is the First (al-Awwal) and the Last (al-Aakhir). Thus Allah is better named al-Awwal instead of al-Qadeem, and al-Aakhir instead of al-Baqi. The author then points to Allah’s Attribute of predestination, life, knowledge and ability, all of which we will cover in detail in the future, InshaaAllah. The Existent ‘He is living, all-knowing, all-able and existent’, says the author. Existence is a philosophical and a theological term. The term in Arabic is referred to as wujud. Both, the philosophers and the Mutakallimun usually categorise wujud into two categories: i) wajib al-wujud, and ii) mumkin al-wujud Wajib al-Wujud (necessary existence) This is the existence which must always exist by itself, independent of any other existence. This type of existence must continuously exist without being preceded, or followed by non-existence. Hence, another term for wajib al-wujud is qadeem, the Eternal without any beginning or end. This type of wujud is only used to describe Allah’s existence, since Allah has eternally existed and will continue to exist; Allah’s existence is completely independent of all other existence; every other existence only comes into being by Allah’s permission. Hence, the philosophers and Mutakallimun often refer to Allah as wajib al-wujud. Mumkin al-Wujud (contingent existence) This is the type of existence which is contingent, and therefore, it is possible for it to exist, as it is equally possible for it not to exist. This existence is therefore, dependant upon another existence, for it cannot bring itself about. It must be brought about by another existence. Hence, the entire creation, due to its contingent nature, is described as mumkin al-wujud, meaning: a possible existence. Mumkin al-Wujud, since it is possible for it exist as it is equally possible for it not to exist, there must be an external factor that either tips it into existence or non-existence. This external factor is usually referred to as the murajjih, the ‘determinant’. Therefore, there must be a determinant to make the possible happen. In other words, the possible cannot happen, except due to a determinant (murajjih) making it happen. In light of this, the creation in its entirety is mumkin al-wujud, for it is possible for it to exist and not exist. To tip it into existence there must be a murajjih, a determinant. This determinant must be another existence, whether a necessary or a contingent existence. Now, this determinant, if it is a necessary existence (wajib al-wujud), then that does not at all seem problematic; for it is as simple as God directly creating the creation. However, if this determinant is contingent itself (i.e. mumkin al-wujub), then it must also require a determinant; and if that determinant is also contingent, then that would require another determinant, and so on ad infinitum. However, such is rationally absurd, for if the infinite regress of cause-and-effect were to continue, nothing would come into existence. An example of that would be, if a solider wants to fire a gun, but cannot do so until he asks his superior, who in turn would ask his superior, and so on ad infinitum, the soldier will never be able to fire his gun. Similarly, if the existence of this creation depends on a contingent existence, which also depends on another contingent existence, and so on ad infinitum, the world would never have come into existence. The fact that the world exists, proves that this cause-and-effect continuation must end with an existence which is not contingent, but rather a necessary existence, or wajib al-wujud, or God. Referring to mumkin al-wujub, the author says: ‘By Him exist all things and existence’; meaning, all that exists in the world or Allah’s creation, only exists because of, and therefore dependant upon wajib al-wujud, Allah. This in essence is mumkin al-wujud, or the contingent existence which does not independently exist, rather it depends upon another existence. The author also specifically makes mention of an existence apart from Allah’s existence, describing it as contingent. This is to refute those of the philosophical Sufis and pantheists who believe that there is only one existence, a doctrine commonly known as wahdat al-wujud. This doctrine is based on a completely different concept of tawheed. Tawheed for us is to single out Allah as the Lord and Deity, which is to say: There is no lord, or god except Allah. Tawheed for the philosophical Sufis is to affirm the unity of existence, and that is to say: There is no existence except Allah. Hence, for them anyone who affirms an existence besides Allah is a pagan who affirms a partner unto Allah. This is the belief of many famous and controversial Sufi figures such as al-Hallaj who was crucified for proclaiming ‘I am God’; Ibn Faridh and the famous Ibn ‘Arabi. Al-Saffarini says of this doctrine: ‘No doubt this doctrine smacks of Zandaqa (vile heresy). For it is known by sane ration and authentic legal texts that the innovative Creator is not the creation, or even a part of it, or from its attributes, may He be exalted and sanctified from what they say!’ Many scholars from Ahl al-Sunnah and the Ash’arites have written extensively in censure of Ibn ‘Arabi and his belief in wahdat al-wujud.