Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Allah is Without Beginning or End


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على نبيه الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

With respect to theology, or beliefs concerning Allâh, I strongly endorse the Aqîdah al-Tahâwîyyah of the Imâm, Abû Ja’far al-Tahâwî al-Hanafî. He was upon the madhhab of the Ahnâf in jurisprudence, but in creed he was neither an Asharî or Mâturîdî. I also generally adhere to the Hanafî madhhab, but like Imâm al-Tahâwî, I am not an Asharî or Mâturîdî. In fact, I repudiate the serious theological errors of those two medieval schools of theology which are regrettably promoted by a large fraction of the contemporary Sunnî Ulamâ. The simple and straightforward creed set out in the Aqîdah al-Tahâwîyyah affirms the divine attributes of Allâh while negating any resemblance between Him and His creation. I can confidentaly say that this text is the best and most agreed upon exposition of Islamic theology in the world of orthodox, Sunni Islam. Some naïve people may question the necessity of such a text while we have in our possession the Qurân and the Hadîth. The fact of the matter is that there are numerous heretical sects within the Ummah, holding all sorts of heterodox doctrines contrary to the orthodox, Sunni creed, which claim they have extrapolated their heresies from the Qurân and Sunnah. Consider, for example, the orthodox Sunni belief that Allâh is eternal, without any beginning or end. In fact, this belief is accepted by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, including those belonging to various non-Sunni sects. Now neither the Qurân nor any authentic Hadîth explicitly states that Allâh is without beginning or end. True, the Qurân says:

هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ

He is the First and the Last

Sûrah 57:3

In explanation of this Ayah, the Prophet sall Allâhu alayhi wasallam stated:

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَىْءٌ وَأَنْتَ الآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَىْءٌ

’’Allâhumma, You are the First, there is nothing before You, and You are the Last, there is nothing after You’’

Sahih Muslim

كَانَ اللَّهُ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ شَىْءٌ قَبْلَهُ

’’Allah was, and there was nothing before Him’’

Sahih al-Bukhari

However, these statements from the Qurân and Hadîth affirming that Allâh is the First and that nothing preceded Him, do not explicitly state that Allâh did not have a beginning. It is, however, explicitly stated in the Aqîdah al-Tahâwîyyah:

قَدِيمٌ بِلَا ابْتِدَاءٍ دَائمٌ بِلَا انْتِهَاءٍ

Ancient without beginning, lasting without end


The fact of the matter is that our most basic theology and beliefs regarding Allâh, the imparted knowledge of Tawhîd and Îmân, precede and are independent of the Qurân and Sunnah. In other words, a Muslim is first taught Tawhîd and Îmân before he is acquainted with either the Qurân or Hadîth, and among those matters from this orally transmitted theology, passed down from generation to generation, is the belief that Allâh is eternal without beginning, and everlasting without end. We understand the statements in the Qurân and Hadîth about Allâh being the First and Last without anything preceding Him to include the meaning that He is without beginning or end. Though this may not be stated explicitly in the Qurân or Hadîth, our approach to these two divinely authorized revelations and sources for our creed must be in accordance with our preconceived Tawhîd and Îmân that we have acquired from the teachings of the Apostles and  Prophets of Allâh passed down to us from generation to generation. Thus it is possible for some misguided Muslims who are strictly ’’textualist’’ and discount any preconceived idea of Tawhîd or Îmân apart from what is explicitly stated in the Qurân and Hadîth to believe that Allâh may have had a beginning, especially if they go by a literal reading of the Qurân without any preconceived theology or ideas. Historically, this may have even been the case. In some of the books of heresiography, it is mentioned that the pretender Mukhtâr al-Thaqafî and some of his followers from among the so-called Kaysânîyyah, believed in the doctrine of al-Badâ. In her English translation of al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, entitled Moslem Schisms and Sects, Kate Chambers Seeyle, Ph.D., renders a passage on pages 57 and 58 regarding Mukhtâr: ’’As to the reason for his words claiming that Allah may have had a beginning...And this is how the Kaisânîyah came to believe that Allah may have had a beginning.’’ Now the context of that passage may also simply be referring to the well known Shi’ite doctrine of Badâ, meaning that Allâh may alter some of His decisions since the future is undetermined and Allâh has not written any set course for human history. Of course this belief too is a heresy, as it necessarily negates the omniscience and foreknowledge of Allâh. It is somewhat understandable why the schismatic Shi’ites and other heretical sects have adapted this and other doctrines, because they do not hold to the preconceived, orthodox Tawhîd and Îmân that I am speaking of, and are therefore able to manipulate the text of the Qurân freely. The statement of creed in the Aqîdah al-Tahâwîyyah that Allâh is ’’ancient without beginning, lasting without end’’ is in fact derived from the orthodox, preconceived idea of Tawhîd and Îmân that is pre-Quranic. The purpose of the Qurân is not that Believers should begin with a clean slate concerning theology, but in fact to reaffirm the theology that has been passed down to us from the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets and the pre-Quranic Scriptures revealed to them.

2 comments:

  1. The Ayah لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ "He neither begets nor is born" simply means that Allah has no parentage and was not birthed. It is not necessary an explicit proof that He has no beginning. If Lam Yuwlad is interpreted to mean that He did not come into existence, then how will Lam Yalid be interpreted? Allah created and caused everything to come into existence, but that does not mean He birthed the creation.

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  2. Jundub b. Abd Allah (radi Allahu anh) said:
    كُنَّا مَعَ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَنَحْنُ فِتْيَانٌ حَزَاوِرَةٌ فَتَعَلَّمْنَا الإِيمَانَ قَبْلَ أَنْ نَتَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ ثُمَّ تَعَلَّمْنَا الْقُرْآنَ فَازْدَدْنَا بِهِ إِيمَانًا
    “We were with the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and we were strong youths, so we learned Faith before we learned the Quran, then we learned the Quran and our Faith increased thereby.” (Sunan Ibn Maja #61)

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