It was said:
The Originator (Al-Bari’)
“The Originator of the Universe is Allah, the Unique, the Eternal, the Alive the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Hearing, the Seeing, the One Who does whatever He Wills. Allah is not a bodily characteristic (`arad), nor a ‘body’ (jism), nor an elementary particle (jawhar). Allah is not a thing formed, circumscribed, enumerated, divisible, composed, or limited. Allah is not attributed with quiddity (‘whatness’), nor by modality (kayfiyyah—‘howness’). Allah is not situated in any location, and time does not lapse upon Allah. Allah does not resemble anything.”
—Imam Najmud-Deen An-Nasafiyy
The author, Najmud-Deen An-Nasafiyy (d. 537 A.H./c. 1142 CE) was a famous Hanafi scholar, and a follower of the Maaturidiyy school of `Aqidah (Doctrine). Ahlus-Sunnahwal-Jama`ah (The Orthodox Sunni Majority) follows the methodology of Abu Mansur Al-Maaturidiyy or Abul-Hasan Al-Ash`ariyy in the matters of explaining the details of the Muslim creed and theology. These two schools are, in essence, the same: they teach that there is One, Perfect, Eternal Creator, Who is the Creator of everything, and that the Creator absolutely does not need or resemble anything. Whoever believes otherwise is not from Ahlus-Sunnah but also is not a Muslim, for the bear minimum of Islam is to believe properly in Allah and in the Prophets.
The reason for the two schools is due largely to their geographical origins. Although Al-Maaturidiyy and Al-Ash`ariyy were contemporaries, they were from two different regions of the Muslim world. The latter taught in Baghdad, and the former was from Central Asia. The differences in the two schools are on minor points and also in the terms of expressions employed, but again, the fundamentals of the belief in Allah are the same, for truth is one, and falsehood is multitudinous.
These two scholars and their schools stood up to clarify and defend the Creed of the Sunnis by systematizing the proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as, the irrefutable rational proofs. The latter are particularly indispensable for the Muslims in the West today. This is said because many of the people we encounter here are not Muslims, and to demonstrate to them the veracity of the Muslim creed, it is important to demonstrate that the Islamic belief in God is rationally consistent, and not racked by contradictions and absurdities, as is the case with other religions and atheism.
As for the passage mentioned above, it is taken from the famous treatise written by the author called, “Al-`Aqidah An-Nasafiyyah” (The Doctrine of An-Nasafiyy). Many scholars have written commentaries on this text. Perhaps the most famous of the commentaries, is the one written by At-Taftazaniyy.
Allah is Al-Baari’, the Originator of the Universe, that is, all that exists (other than Allah), whether it be what we can perceive or what we cannot perceive, such as, the realm of the Angels and jinn has been originated by Allah. Allah brought this creation into existence ex nihilo, that is, from nothing. Allah needed nothing to originate this universe from. This is contrary to the claims of the classical Greek philosophers and what is ascribed to the Ancient Egyptians. Both claimed that there was a co-eternal substance with God from which God created the universe. Muslims understand that Allah alone is the Creator. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) informed us in a Hadith about the start of creation. He said: “Allah was [before the origination of any creation] and there was nothing other than Allah.” Allah was before light and darkness, distance and direction, time and place. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) then informed us in this Hadith that Allah created the Primordial Water and from that substance (which is certainly created) Allah created everything else.
Allah is Al-Wahid. This means that Allah is One without an associate or partner. No one or thing deserves to be worshiped except Allah. No one can create anything except Allah, that is, we cannot produce something from nothingness. Also, Allah is One in the sense that Allah is Unique, that is, Allah has no similar in His1 Reality, Attributes, or Actions. Allah is the One and Only Creator, and no one or thing is similar to Allah.
Allah is attributed with Life, and the Life of Allah is without a material or ethereal body. Allah is not a physical or spiritual being. The soul (ruh) is a spiritual body that exists within our physical bodies. The soul is not Allah, nor is the soul a part of Allah. The living creatures have souls, but Allah is not a creature and does not have a soul. Allah has power over all the creations. Nothing is independent of Allah’s control. Also, Allah knows everything—with no exception. Allah knows what was, what is, and what shall be. Allah knows what won’t be—but if it were to be how it would be! Allah is attributed with Hearing and Sight, but the Hearing and Sight of Allah is not related to organs or instruments. Allah sees and hears everything that is possibly audible and possibly visible. Allah’s Hearing and Sight are Perfect, as are, all the Attributes of Allah.
Allah is attributed with Will. The Will of Allah is an Eternal Attribute by which Allah specifies things to be the way they are. The creations have the properties that they have because Allah specified them with those properties as opposed to other properties (or non-existence). Allah is the not only the Originator of the creation, but each moment is itself created by Allah. No thing can exist independent of the creating of Allah. Everything is dependent upon the Creator and the Creator is not dependent upon anything.
Imam An-Nasafiyy mentions that Allah is not an `arad. An `arad is a bodily property. The `arad does not have an existence independent of a body. Some examples of the `aradswould include, motion/stillness, mass, size, shape, color, taste, etc. Allah is clear of all such characteristics. As for the jism it is the composite entity (something composed of particles), and the jawhar is the indivisible particle. If we consider any object we are familiar with, it is conceivable that that object can be divided, and that subdivision can be further divided, and so on. However, common sense tells us that a finite body could not be made of infinite parts (for this would lead to the absurdity that a pencil would be composed of as many particles as Mount Everest); hence, the given body must be composed of “elementary particles” that no longer accept further division. Allah is not an elementary particle, and Allah is not a thing composed of elementary particles. Allah is not a body, object, or spatial entity, and Allah is not attributed with the properties of bodies, objects, or spatial entities.
An-Nasafiyy goes on to talk more about Tanzeeh of Allah (that is, the Muslim belief that God is Glorious Great from being dependent upon any of the creations or resembling any of the creations). He mentions some of what Abu Ja`far At-Tahawiyy said in his famous treatise on the Sunni Creed two centuries earlier:
It is the belief of the Muslims that Allah is not attributed with quiddity—that is, “whatness.” One cannot ask “what is God”—for there is no “what” to compare God to. God is God, and God is not something else—nor is there something else similar to God. Likewise, one cannot ask “how” is God, for “howness” (modality) is inapplicable to Allah. One should be warned about a ruse used by the quasi-Salafis (Wahhabis). The quasi-Salafis ascribe to Allah various temporal and corporeal attributes, and then claim that, for instance, they don’t know “how” Allah’s (alleged) real-actual face, eyes, fingers, shinbone, or feet are. First it must be said that Allah has no “how” to ask about. “How” does not apply to Allah, just as age, color, texture and other created attributes do not apply to Allah.
Furthermore, words have meanings. One cannot ascribe “real-actual” body parts to the Creator and then say that those “real-actual” body parts are not “real-actual” body parts. Either a person believes that Allah has “real-actual” organs and limbs, which is object worship and kufr (disbelief), or the person does not believe Allah is composed of “real-actual” body parts, and if that is the case, then he (or she) shouldn’t use English expressions that could lead one to think inappropriate things about their Lord. Regarding the Wahhabis (so-called Salafis), the fact that they think Allah casts a shadow and moves about in the nighttime exposes that they are guilty of object worship.
An-Nasafiyy goes on to mention one of the essentials of the Islamic Creed: that is, Allah exists without being in a location. He says of Allah: “La yatamakkanu fee makaan,” which means, Allah is not positioned or situated in a place. This matter is especially important for one to understand nowadays, for there are many people who are confused about this fundamental aspect of Islam. Before there was place, there was a Creator. After Allah originated the creations (which includes place) Allah did not transform and materialize in a place. Likewise, Allah exists without being in a direction. Direction, after all, is the comparison of the location of one object to the location of another object. Allah is not an object, and since Allah is not an object, then Allah is not in a direction or a place.
An-Nasafiyy goes on to say that time does not lapse upon Allah. As space is related to the objects, time is related to the occurrences. The occurrence is something that wasn’t and then was brought into being. The occurrence has a before (before it existed), a duration, and a termination—its existence is inextricably related to change. This is why Imam Al-Junayd Al-Baghdadiyy said: “Change is the greatest indication of being a creation.” Allah does not have an origin. Allah was before the occurrences; Allah’s Existence does not have a duration and does not have a termination. Allah is Perfect and not subject to transformation. Allah does not change; hence, age and time are inapplicable to Allah. Allah is not a temporal entity.
And in conclusion, Imam An-Nasafiyy says that Allah has no similarity to the creations. This is in keeping with the glorious Verse of the Qur’an: Laysa kamithlihi shay’, which means: “There is absolutely nothing like Allah whatsoever.” The Creator is absolutely different from the creations. The Creator exists without time, place, distance, or direction. The Creator is unimaginable, as Abu Bakr Siddeeq said: “Knowing you are incapable of imagining Allah, is knowledge in itself. Attempting to imagine Allah is disbelief and paganism.” That is so, because all that one can imagine is related to created phenomena, and to think that Allah is somehow or somewhat similar to any created being is to violate Allah’s Oneness and Perfection. And to commit such a violation would cause a person to fall into shirk (the worship of other than Allah), and such shirk is certainly blasphemy.
May Allah guide us and protect us in our Deen and enable us to spread the genuine Creed of the Muslims. Praise and thanks to Allah, and Allah knows best!
2For more explanation on this statement, please see: http://truecreed.org/?p=428