Fiqh al-Akbar Commentary (al-Maghnisawi)

5. Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar_The Attributes of Creating, Knowledge and Predestination

The Attributes of Creating, Knowledge, Predestination

and His Ordination in the Lawh_Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar – pp.105-113

Section: Fiqh al-Akbar: “khalaqa Allahu ta`ala… al-makhluqin.”

Notes:

  • Allah created the Universe ex-nihilo, i.e. from no substance/matter (‘creation from something’ = ex aliquo).[1]
  • Allah knows the being of all things from limitless pre-eternity (azal al-azal) before they are created.
  • Allah apportioned all things and ordained, determined and defined them.[2]
  • The term al-qadar can mean ‘to write’ (qaddarna = katabna) as well as ‘to devise’ (qaddarna = dabbarna).[3]
  • The term al-qada’ (‘decree’ or ‘ordainment’) can mean ‘completion’ (itmam) by word[4] or completion by action.[5]
  • Essences of things (haqa’iq al-ashya’) are real.
  • The external world beyond the mind is real and not imaginary.
  • Pantheism (al-wujudiyyah) is false.[6]
  • Incarnation (al-hululiyyah) is false.[7]
  • All good and evil is from Allah and denial of it will lead one to disbelief undermining the doctrine of tawhid.[8]
  • Nothing exists now or will exist except that it is through Allah’s Will, Knowledge, Qada’ and Qadar.
  • Nothing exists now or will exist except that it is in accordance with the Lawh al-Mahfuz.[9]
  • The writing in the Lawh al-Mahfuz in not in the imperative form (i.e. a command)[10] but are statements of detailed descriptions, characteristics and conditions.[11]
  • Thus, the Lawh contains descriptions of people’s actions that were freely chosen but not that Allah ordered that event to take place.
  • The attributes of doing Qada’ and Qadar as well as the attribute of willing are all from pre-eternity without description or their modality known.
  • The entire scope of Allah’s ordainments and decrees are not fathomable to human beings as they reflect the acts of an Omnipotent and Omniscient Being.
  • Their true realities are established from the Qur’an, Sunnah and consensus of the ummah (ijma`) but their discussions are left (or ‘consigned’) to Allah’s knowledge alone as they are considered to be from the Mutashabihat (ambiguous statements/descriptions).
  • Allah’s will (iradah) is eternal and not created.

Point: The Mu`tazilah argue the following:[12]

Premise 1: Anything from the decree of Allah must be taken with satisfaction.
Premise 2: Unbelief is from the decree of Allah,
Conclusion 1 Therefore, unbelief must be taken with satisfaction
Premise 3. But satisfaction with unbelief is also unbelief.
Conclusion 2 Therefore, unbelief is not from the decree of Allah.
Conclusion 3 Therefore, not all things are from the decree of Allah.
Premise 4: But C2 and C3 would undermine Divine Omnipotence and Omniscience because something will take place outside Allah’s power to know it before hand as well as His power to decree and determine it.
  • Unbelief is not from the decree (qada’) of Allah but the ‘decreed’ (maqdi = passive). > It is necessary to have satisfaction with the decree of Allah but not necessarily with the decreed. > Unbelief is something generally attributable to Allah in how any other thing is but it is the servant who acquires (= kasb) the real trait and characteristic of unbelief on his/her own accord and choice.

 **

  • It is impossible for the intellect to fully understand the realities of al-qada’, al-qadar and al-mashi’ah. It is a matter of belief and trust in what the Scripture has revealed about them without delving into it.
  • Our knowledge on these matters is extremely limited.[13]
  • Often submission to Allah and utter trust is required and this is a test and trial from Allah.[14]
  • A lot of matter we will just never know or comprehend.
  • Deep discussions are not relevant for the understanding and belief in the article of qada’ and qadar.
  • Many early figures warned against delving into it.[15]

Point: The Mu`tazilah charge the Ash`aris/Maturidis with the following argument:

Premise 1. If unbelief and disobedience are evil and abominable, then Allah has the power to will and create it.
Premise 2. Unbelief and disobedience are evil and abominable.
Conclusion Therefore, Allah has the power to will and create what is evil and abominable.
Premise 3. But Allah cannot will and create what is evil and abominable as that itself would be evil and abominable.
Conclusion 2. Therefore, Allah is evil and abominable.
Conclusion 3. But C2 is false.
  • The response is that: individuals acquire evil and abominable characteristics through their acts and not by Allah directly willing it or creating it.[16]

 **

  • Good is attributable to Allah and He is responsible for its bestowal as a favour.
  • Allah does things for the best.
  • ‘Evil’ has underlying wisdom and hence is counted as being of Allah’s favours.
  • Allah does not do evil.
  • Pure evil cannot be attributed to Him.
  • Something may be evil to one person but not to another (= relative, partial or subjective evil).
  • Evil can be counted from amongst the generality of His creation as in Q. 13:16; 4:78; 113:2 and 72:10.
  • Everything Allah does is good and He is the standard of goodness.[17]

 **

  • Allah is All-Powerful.[18]
  • Allah can do anything.
  • ‘Anything’ has a specification. It does not include the impossible or the nonsensical.
  • This is not weakness on Allah’s part.[19]

 **

  • Allah knows non-existents in their state of non-existence.
  • He knows when he create some thing and brings it into being at the moment of doing it.
  • Allah knows someone who does something in time through different successive moments or temporal durations without any change or alteration in His knowledge.[20]

 


[1] Refer to appendix on ‘ex-nihilo’.

[2] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, pp.105-106. cf. Fiqh al-Akbar I, art. 1 & 3 and Kitab al-Wasiyyah, art.6 as cited by Wensinck in The Muslim Creed, pp.190 and 210-217.

[3] It is also defined as: qada’ = a non-detailed general command and qadar = a defined and detailed command. See Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.133.

[4] As in Q. 17:23 (…your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him…).

[5] As in Q. 4:12 (…then He ordained them to be seven heavens…). See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.106 and Cf. al-Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil, 1:

[6] See al-Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid, p.33; al-Sawi, Kitab Sharh `ala Jawharat al-Tawhid, p.146 and al-Ghawji, Ta`liq al-Muyassar, p.132.

[7] See al-Ghawji, Ta`liq al-Muyassar, p.132.

[8] See Kitab al-Wasiyyah, art. as cited in Wensinck’s The Muslim Creed,

[9] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.107. cf. Q. 54:52-53.

[10] Because whatever Allah commands, necessarily comes about and none is able to rescind (mu`aqqib) his command.

[11] Cf. the hadith in Tirmidhi, Sunan, no. 2081.

[12] Terms: decree = qada’; satisfaction = rida’ and unbelief = kufr. Satisfaction with the unbelief of another is not necessarily unbelief according to the strongest Hanafi opinion so long as one is not pleased and satisfied with disbelief itself. It may be, for example, that someone is pleased with the disbelief of another so that Allah takes away true iman and punishes the person for the continual wrongdoing and injustice. This is based on Q. 10:88. Cf. `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.134.

[13] See Q. 17:85 and 3:34.

[14] See `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.135-136.

[15] See `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.136.

[16] `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.136.

[17] `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, pp.141-142.

[18] See the Appendix ‘Allah’s Power’.

[19] See `Ali al-Qari, Sharh Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar, p.143.

[20] See al-Maghnisawi, Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.113.

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