al-Qadeem, al-Baqi and types of Existence

Discussion in 'Islamic Theology and Ideology' started by Expergefactionist, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. Expergefactionist

    Expergefactionist hmmm... Staff Member

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2006
  2. Intoodeep

    Intoodeep Banned

    So are we then to disagree with the first line of this poems use of the terms Al Qadeem and Al baqi? and go instead with the legislated terms Al-Awwal and Al-Aakhir? if so, why are we studying this poem if it is in error from the start.

    Also the term Al-Aakhir means the last - so does that mean one day All will disappear, including Heaven and hell - if not then how is it Al-Aakhir?
  3. ibn 'abd al-jabbaar

    ibn 'abd al-jabbaar Well-Known Member

    as-salaamu 'alaikum,

    was this the technique used by the rationalists in order to prove the existence of allah? in that they argued that the determinant comes from a contingent existence... therefore there can be no infinite regress of events in the past (else the impossibility of the existence of creation) and thus a necessary (independant) existence must have provided the primary determinant. did this lead them to deny infinite regress of events in the past with regards to existence altogether or just contingent existence?

    is the argument of the determinant arising from contingent existence correct to use? or is it more proper to say that the determinant for each and every contingient existence comes directly from the necessary existence as it is allah Who constantly Sustains the creation?

    linking in with brother/sister Intodeep's question... ahl as-sunnah accepts infinite regress of the future as we see for example that the muttaqeen will be in jannah for eternity and the kuffaar in Hellfire for eternity (<i>feeha khaalidoon</i>) ... what is the correct understanding of this in relation to aayat like "everything will perish save the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honour" or the attribute of al-aakhir?
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2006
  4. Expergefactionist

    Expergefactionist hmmm... Staff Member

    We are not disagreeing with the usage of the terms al-Qadeem and al-Baqi to refer to Allah. As we said, if one describes Allah as al-Qadeem and al-Baqi, then InshaaAllah there is no harm. What we object to is naming Allah as al-Qadeem and al-Baqi. That is to say: al-Qadeem and al-Baqi are both from His Names.

    It is not clear from the poem itself, whether al-Saffarini mentions al-Qadeem and al-Baqi, thereby naming Allah with these terms, or merely describing Allah with them.

    Al-Saffarini does, however, in his Sharh state that al-Qadeem is from the Names of Allah. Yet, in this very chapter he contradicts himself by quoting Ibn al-Qayyim that Allah’s Names are strictly tawqifiyya, i.e. only determined by Allah in His Books, or the Prophet in the Sunnah.

    Does al-Saffarini have errors in his poem? He certainly does, which he often refutes himself in his own Sharh. However, such errors are relatively very few, minor, and mostly in semantics.

    It is also important to bear in mind Ibn Badran al-Dimashqi al-Hanbali’s criticism of al-Saffarini’s poem and his Sharh, that his approach was somewhere between scholastic and traditionalist.

    Why do we still insist on studying this work in particular? For various reasons, from them:

    i) The work covers most of the aspects of theology, whereas other Hanbali works are often restricted to only certain topics such as Allah’s Names and Attributes.

    ii) The author’s unique approach gives us the chance to familiarise ourselves with Kalam and anti-Kalam arguments. This is important if we were to truly understand the philosophy and thinking of those who oppose us.

    Al-Aakhir does not mean that one day all will disappear. Al-Aakhir is to be understood how the Prophet explained, and that is:

    و أنت الآخر و ليس بعدك شيء
    “You are the Last, and there is nothing after you”

    Meaning: There is no end to Allah’s existence that it may be followed something else.

    Not quite. Ash’arite theology finally rested on simply one rational argument to prove God’s existence, and that is what they refer to as: dalil huduth al-a’raadh; the proof of contingency of accidents.

    We will in the future look at this proof in more detail, and also how it affected their outlook on Allah’s Attributes, InshaaAllah.

    When the Ash’arites denied infinite regress of evens in the past, they did that with respect to all events, and events by their nature are contingent, i.e. they only occur after being non-existent. Hence, the denial of infinite regress of events could only be in relation to contingent existence.

    The determinant for a contingent could be Allah Himself, as well as another contingent which Allah has made a cause and a determinant for another contingent to exist. Both are possible. Hence, the difference between Allah Creating Adam with His own Two Hands, and Creating the Jinns along with the rest of the sons of Adam through other means.

    Ahl al-Sunnah, the Ash’arites and most of the Mu’tazilites affirm infinite regress of events in the future and therefore believe in the eternity of Paradise, as opposed to Jahm b. Safwan.

    Allah’s statement: ‘Everything shall perish, save the Face of your Lord’ refers to two things:

    i) Allah has a Face, and
    ii) The mention of Allah’s Face implies His entire existence and whatever He wills that should survive.

    Allah being Al-Aakhir is irrelevant to this verse, for after everything perishes, the creation will be brought back to life and ressurected.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2006
  5. ibn 'abd al-jabbaar

    ibn 'abd al-jabbaar Well-Known Member

    as-salaamu 'alaikum

    jazaakallahu khair for this explanation

    with regards to contingent existence, is it a mistake to regard creation as the only form of contingent existence? in the sense that things which are uncreated may also be contingent such as for example the qur'aan which is His Speech, and similarly His Actions of doing what He Wills and when He Wills.

    thus is it correct to say that the sifaat and dhaat of allah are wajib al-wujud whereas the execution of whatever allah Wills when He Wills (i.e. allah Speaking) are mumkin al-wujud?
  6. Expergefactionist

    Expergefactionist hmmm... Staff Member

    Exactly. Not everything that is contingent - i.e. has a begining in time - is necessarily created. This is the mistake all philosophers and mutakallimun fell into. That is they made contingent synonymous to creation.

    Allah's act of creating the universe happened at certain point in time. Before that He hadn't created us.

    Allah spoke to Musa directly. Before that, He hadn't spoken to Him. This, Allah's Speech was contingent for it was preceded by non-existence, yet uncreated because it was Allah's Speech.

    In concept, yes, Allah's actions are only come into existence when He Wills them to come into existence, and hence, they are Mumkin al-Wujud, and the determinant to bring them into existence is Allah.

    However, it is always better to adhere to the Shara'i terms. So instead of saying: Allah's actions are contingent, we say as Imam Ahmad said: Allah Speaks, when He Wills and how He Wills.

  7. asharee_salafi

    asharee_salafi New Member

    Assalaamulekum bro, There is a lot to read here,

    May I pls ask you to shoot off some quick answers, when we say that we shouldn't use these terms such as space and time etc. You quoted once on your forum about Qurtubi showing dispraise for discussing these things of time. Can you pls say it again.

    In the multiverse, each creation or universe has its own separate time and space. Therefore one can say that ' There was a time when Allah did such and such' as time has always depended upon Allah, but Allah has always been creating with time. Am I right?

    Hope you get what I mean.

    Also bro, you never showed on your previous thread how I can show , via the Qu'ran that space and time is created, you pasted loads of proof of God arguments, but it didn't answer the point.

  8. Expergefactionist

    Expergefactionist hmmm... Staff Member

    Sorry, I can't remember exactly which quote you are referring to. Try search the forum.

    If I get what you mean, then InshaaAllah, you are right :)

    I don't think I ever claimed that time and space are created. My only point was that these are simply concepts that do not have any real existence beyond our mind.

  9. asharee_salafi

    asharee_salafi New Member

    Assalaamulekum wr wb,

    Thanks so much brother, in response to your last question, I have had a brainstorm! To say that these terms exist or are in our mind is actually a precise statement that some scientists are saying. Some are saying that time doesn't even exist, we just use it to distinguish between events.

    For instamce, it is said that time is composed of something, its only after its composition it can be regarded as time, for instance, water is made of many hyrdogen particles coming togther, but the quality of wetness is not just retained in one hrdrogen particle is it? check the link pls

    Although ins aying they they exist only in our mind, wouldn't it be problematical, as Allah himself, talked of time? Was ALLAH talking about an actual creation or just our perception ?



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