EF Dawah Discussion with Josh (Jewish) | Is the Quran Being Uncreated Against Tawheed?

“Indeed, We have made it an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.” (Qur’an 43:3)

I never me this beautiful soul, Joshua but may Allah (swt) bless him and guide him! He is a very intelligent man. This makes sense. I have a feeling that he is keen on Islam, however, just as he is aware that Judaism has various debates on various issues he also is smart enough to know that the house of Islam, unfortunately is not one big happy family.

Probing positions and views before deciding to commit to something IS an intelligent thing to do!

This man, Joshua, had Ali Dawah on the ropes when they were discussing the issue of rather or not Allah (swt) rested. Because, using a consistent approach Ali Dawah began to realize he had no scope to argue with the forceful position of this young man. To Ali Dawah’s credit he didn’t force the issue.

Now to this topic: Discussion with Josh (Jewish) | Is the Quran Being Uncreated Against Tawheed?

Abbas: “I don’t think it was its attribute, we, we’ve I think we’ve answered the question many times that with the knowledge of Allah the Qur’an would have existed eternally. See. The actual physical book the mushaaf that was sent down and this is obviously an English translation but the actual Arabic text when it was written down it is something that once it gets old its even burnt or its buried or whatever. To dispose of it in a respectful way.


Abbas: Burning it is actually not disrespectful in Islam. It’s a valid way of getting rid of an old manuscript that’s damaged and can’t be read so you would have to have a new copy or whatever and the old one would be respectfully ah sort of ah you know gone away with in that way. But the knowledge of Allah, as a Jew umm I think that you would accept that whatever knowledge Allah has, for example the Torah itself. Would you say that the Torah itself is something that came into existence or did God have that in his knowledge but bring it into existence when he choose to.

Josh: So I believe that the Torah was in fact created. Only God himself is uncreated. But everything with in the so called “knowledge” of God is created at some point.

Abbas: Right so than are you saying that there was a time when God did not know of the Torah?

Joshua: No, there was not a “time” before it because God is above time. So God created time. Rather or not God created the Torah before he created time is not something I know.

Abbas: So, basically what were saying is that was there ever a moment when God did not know of the Torah.

Joshua. In a sense yes. Prior to the creation of the Torah there could be no knowledge of the Torah.

Abbas: So there was a moment when God had no knowledge of the Torah. (Now there is a moment there where the video does a flash sequence. I do not know if that means the video was edited or that is just a video effect.)

Joshua: Yes

Hamza: So you don’t believe God has all full knowledge.

Joshua, No because, because knowledge we believe is an attribute of God. God’s omniscience is an attribute of him. Therefore he created his own omniscience.

Abbas: Josh is that a mainstream Jewish belief? In terms of actual rabbinical grounding. That the Torah, at one point God did not actually know what he was going to say. What God was going to give to Moses.

Hamza (interrupts): Josh do you believe that God knows the future?

Josh: Yes, because there is no future when it comes to God. Cause for God all time, past, present and future (could make out due to Hamza speaking over).

Hamza: So than God knows what the Torah isn’t it always?

(The team got Josh to admit they had a point that there could be no ‘before’ as he (Joshua) just admitted that past/present/future….)

Imran: (The best listener out of the bunch imo) he pivots back to the original question: Your question was really an interesting one because you, you raised this as a question about Tawhid. And you said that this is uh it requires an explanation having the Qur’an as an uncreated statement that the Qur’an is uncreated and than you have Allah who is eternal does it effect Tawhid in any way. That was really underlying thing that I think you were trying to get to. So I am going to give you an analogy. Now obviously all analogies are imperfect and we can’t perfect analogies particularly when it comes to the Creator. But I am gonna try and give an analogy to drawn on and explain. So your speaking right Josh?

Josh: Yes

Imran: Can your speech exist without you? (Can you exist without speaking)

Josh: I don’t know. Can my speech. Theoretically there could be my speech without me. I suppose. I’m not sure though.

Imran: I would say that that’s clearly, that clearly the answer to that question is No. Um I don’t know how your thinking…if you did not exist could your speech exist?

Josh: Depends. If my speech has to if there’s prerequisite to the existence of my speech is the existence of myself.

Imran: Sorry, sorry to interrupt you. Your thinking. I don’t understand your thinking process. What your doing is your taking this speech and your giving it attributes. Now we agreed that speech is an attribute of the Creator. We’ve agreed this. Like just as speech manifest from you. Now the question is do the attributes exist on their own or not?

Joshua: With regards to attributes of myself or attributes of God?

Imran: So the analogy is to get you to think about the Creator. I am trying to use yourself as an example just to try and give that. So for example is: Can your speech exist without you?

Joshua: So if we (God forbid) leave God out of this picture for this particular analogy. Um otherwise it’s going to get far too complicated. Then for sure, than you would be right that my speech could not exist without me.

Imran: So now I’m going to say now let’s talk about the Creator. Now I’m going to say the attributes of the Creator can’t exist without the Creator.

Joshua: Yes that’s true.

Imran: Yup so now we don’t have a conflation between were not comparing two different things. The Qur’an is the speech of Allah. It’s an attribute you understand? So now the question comes. When were talking about (holds up the Qur’an) the text do we/are we referring to that attribute or not? So there’s two things and now we have to differentiate this. The attribute we’ve agreed is eternal. Why? Because the Creator is eternal the attribute is eternal. Therefore the Qur’an is uncreated and eternal. So now that’s a dealt with thing. This is a (holding up the Qur’an) a creation, like somebody has put these pages together, written the pages and the ink down. This (holding up the Qur’an) is not that, attribute.

Joshua: I understand the difference between the written Qur’an and the spoken Qur’an that (unintelligible as Imran talked over him.

Imran: So that means coming to the concept of Tawhid it doesn’t impact that at all. Another example would be: Creation. One of the attributes of God is that he is the Creator. Now, (we agree with this yeah?)

Joshua: Yes

Imran: So the creative command, is not separate from the creator in any sense, right?

Joshua: I would disagree with that because prior to because prior to having created anything how can God be considered to be a Creator? In order to be a Creator you need to have a creation.

Imran: So o.k that’s interesting so I think that you sorry Hamza you wanna…

Hamza: You don’t need to create to have the attribute of a Creator you just need to create to demonstrate the attribute.

Joshua: But that depends on how we understand what the attribute is. Um so, let me just think about how to explain

Hamza: (getting visibly impatient) Oh o.k before Allah, before God created the universe you believe God created the universe?

Joshua: Yes.

Hamza: Did he have the attribute of Creator?

Joshua: Before he created anything he did not….

Hamza: Did he have the attribute of Creator?

Joshua: No

Hamza: (Surprised) No!? How did he create than?

Imran: O.K. Let’s change the word for a moment Josh. Let’s make the word ability.

Joshua: Ability? o.k. Did God have the ability to create? Yes.

Imran: O.K so that’s the attribute.

Hamza: That’s the attribute.

Joshua: Oh that’s what you mean when you say attributes.

Hamza: The Creation is the manifestation of the attribute. Evidence of the attribute if you like.

Joshua: It’s the manifestation of ‘Ah’ (light bulb moment).

Comments:

Over all that was a very good exchange. In reality the question Joshua poses is two-fold in nature.

  1. Is the Qur’an created or eternal?
  2. If it is created or eternal does this pose a problem for the doctrine of Tawhid?

The first argument brought by Abbas is not a good argument.

The eternity of knowledge does not imply the eternity of the known, otherwise, all things that have come into being would be eternal! Imagine saying because Allah (swt) has eternal knowledge about Christ Jesus, that Christ Jesus would be eternal! Christians would just love that!

Imran seemed the more learned of the three, at least in terms of Sunni theology. He got straight to the point. However, Imran did a very clever cart before the horse when he asked:

Can your speech exist without you? Actually we could ask: (Can you exist without speaking)

The answer to that is yes, You can exist without speaking.

We affirm the attribute of “speech” for Allah (swt) as Imam Diya al-Din ‘Abd al-Aziza Thamini (raheemullah), says in his Mu’alim:

“Know that speech is sometimes referred to Allah in the meaning of negating dumbness of Him, and it then to be understood as an essential attribute in the way of such attributes. And sometimes it is referred to Him in the sense of its being one of His actions, and it is then to be understood as such. So the meaning of His being Speaking, according to the first interpretation, is that He is not dumb; and according to the second that He is a Creator of Speech.” Source: (Ma’alim al-din (Oman: Wizarat al-Turath al-Qawmi wa l-Thaqafah, 1st edition 2:9.)

Now this is where it gets a bit tricky for Sunni theology.

Imran: So the creative command, is not separate from the creator in any sense, right?

Response: What do you actually mean by the creator and his attributes? Because the Sunni theological position is that the attributes of Allah (swt) are not equal to Allah (swt) nor other than his essence!

This is a very, very BIG problem for Sunni theology.

Ibadi Muslims believe that the attributes of Allah =to the essence:

Questions for the Athari/Salafi school.

So if the attributes are not identical to the essence nor other than the essence what are they?

Can you prove your claims that the attributes are not identical to the essence using kitab wa sunnah? Using the Qur’an and the Sunnah? Will you need to rely upon kalam?

The position of Sunni Theology is in many ways similar to Athanasian Trinitarian definitions of God being complex, a unity of attributes.

Actually a VERY GOOD QUESTION FOR ANY SUNNI MUSLIM IS: ‘What do you mean when you say God is one?’

This may come as a surprise to the readers. They may say the being is one but can they really since they also have these attributes that have a quasi/pseudo being status, in that they are not equal to the being nor other than it?

The second point that that Imran brought.

Imran: So the creative command, is not separate from the creator in any sense, right?

“And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah gives you glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who comes) to confirm A WORD (bikalimatin)  from Allah lordly, chaste, a prophet of the righteous. (Qur’an 3:39)

Are we sure that we want to say that Jesus (A WORD) from Allah is not separate from the Creator?

On what consistent basis is Jesus Allah’s word and his spirit and yet be created when the  Qur’an is Allah’s word and is eternal and uncreated?  On what consistent basis is the claim made?

I’m quite certain that Christians are going to be asking themselves why should I leave Christianity which holds (even in the lesser Arian Christology) that Christ Jesus is a word emanating from the divine nature but sharing the divine nature only to embrace a faith that tells me that Christ Jesus is a word emanating from the divine being but not separate from the divine being?

“His are the creation and the command.” (Qur’an 7:54)


This is answered by the context itself:

Indeed, your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established Himself above the Throne. He covers the night with the day, [another night] chasing it rapidly; and [He created] the sun, the moon, and the stars, subjected by His command. Unquestionably, His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds. (Qur’an 7:54)

The most that this verse tells us is that, just as Allah (swt) is alone in bringing the universe out of non-being (into being), in the same way, He is alone in the management of it. He has no partner in its creation and in its management. None other than Him has anything of the creation and management. Rather, to HIM alone belong the creation and the command. The meaning here, clearly, is management. And there is nothing in that which even remotely points either to the eternity of the Qur’an or to its contingency.

Examples:

“Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient.” (Qur’an 2:238)

The middle prayer is not (separated) out of the genus of the prayers, the guarding of which has been commanded.

“Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and His messengers and Gabriel and Michael – then indeed, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers. (Qur’an 2:98)


No one says that Gabriel and Michael are (separated) out of the genus of angels.
The difference between them is but relative.

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (Qur’an 16:90)

No intelligent person will argue about justice being the doing of good, and the doing of good being justice.

The command (amr) of Allah (swt) has been mentioned jointly with what denotes its creation in many places.

“And [remember, O Muhammad], when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, “Keep your wife and fear Allah,” while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished.” (Qur’an 33:37)

“[Remember] when you were on the near side of the valley, and they were on the farther side, and the caravan was lower [in position] than you. If you had made an appointment [to meet], you would have missed the appointment. But [it was] so that Allah might accomplish a matter already destined – that those who perished [through disbelief] would perish upon evidence and those who lived [in faith] would live upon evidence; and indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Qur’an 8:42)

“There is not to be upon the Prophet any discomfort concerning that which Allah has imposed upon him. [This is] the established way of Allah with those [prophets] who have passed on before. And ever is the command of Allah a destiny decreed.” (Qur’an 33:38)

“He arranges [each] matter from the heaven to the earth; then it will ascend to Him in a Day, the extent of which is a thousand years of those which you count.” (Qur’an 32:5)

“Indeed, all things We created with predestination And Our command is but one, like a glance of the eye.” (Qur’an 54:49-50)

“Do the disbelievers await [anything] except that the angels should come to them or there comes the command of your Lord? Thus did those do before them. And Allah wronged them not, but they had been wronging themselves.” (Qur’an 16:33)

All of those examples should be more than sufficient to show our response! 

May Allah (swt) open the eyes of the Muslim ummah. May Allah (swt) open the heart of Joshua and bring him to the right way.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “EF Dawah Discussion with Josh (Jewish) | Is the Quran Being Uncreated Against Tawheed?

  1. Toby

    In a recent discussion with a Salafi my interlocutor proclaimed that I was a ‘mysterian’, or rather a person who relegated any question of the Holy Trinity to Mystery. This struck me as odd given that, if I am not incorrect, a central tenet of the Athari-Salafi creed is the notion that God possesses hands, shins, eyes and feet in a manner that is true, yet that is beyond the human mind to comprehend. Rather, as I understand it, the pious are to believe and not ‘ask how’. Are these doctrines indeed truly what the Salafis hold to ? If so, are they not also ‘mysterians’ ?

    • Yes indeed they are mysterians. Not only this but you can press them on their belief of why they believe in the non committal position of why the attributes of Allah (swt) are not equal to the essence or nor other than it!

      For me the Athanasian or Sabellian Trinity are more cogent than that claim!

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