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Ibn Taymiyyah on the Creation of the Heavens and Earth, Matter, Space and Time: Part 1
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Philosophers
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said (Majmu' al-Fatawa 18/235 onwards):
And there is nothing at all in their evidences (those of the Philosophers) which indicates the eternity of the celestial bodies, and nor the eternity of anything of their motions, and nor the eternity of time (zaman) which is the measurement of the motion of the celestial body. And the Messengers informed of the creation of the celestial bodies, and the creation of time (zaman) which is the measurement of their motion (the celestial bodies), alongside their informing that they were created from pre-existing matter, and in a time (existing) prior to this time. For He, the Sublime, informed that He created the heavens and the earth in six days, and regardless of whether it is said that those days are of the measure of these days which are determined by the rising and setting of the sun, or it is said that they are greater than that, as some of them have said, that each day is of the measure of a thousand (lunar) years (with us). There is not doubt that those days in which the heavens and the earth were created are other than these days (of ours), and (in a measurement of time) other than the time which is a measurement of the motion of these celestial bodies. And those days (of the creation of the heavens and the earth) are determined by the motion of bodies present before the creation of the heavens and the earth.
And He, the Sublime, has informed that He, "...ascended over the heaven whilst it was smoke, and said to it and the earth, 'Come both of you willingly or unwillingly' and they said, 'We come willingly'" (41:11) so they were created from smoke (dukhaan), and there are narrations from the Salaf that they (heavens and earth) were created from nebulized mist (vapourized particles), and this is the water which the Throne was over, and which is mentioned in His saying, "And He is the one who created the heavens and earth in six days whilst His Throne was above the water" (11:7).
So He has informed that He created the heavens and earth within a duration (of time) and from matter, and He did not make mention in the Qur'an of the creation of something from nothing. Rather, he simply mentioned that He created the created thing after it was nothing (لم يكن شيئا), just as He said, "And We created you aforetime, whilst you were nothing" (19:9) alongside His informing that He created him from a nutfah (drop of semen). As for His saying, "Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators? (52:35), then the majority hold that the intent here is "Were they created without a creator, by pure nothingness?" just as He, the Exalted, said, "And He subjected to you what is in the heavens and what is in the earth, all of it (subjected) by Him (for you)..." (45:13) and just as He, the Exalted, said, "And His word which He conveyed to Maryam and a Spirit from Him..." (4:171), and He, the Exalted, said, "And whatever favour you enjoy, it is from Allaah" (16:53). And it is said (that it means), "Were they created without matter?" and this is a weak (saying) due to His saying straight after, "Or are they themselves the creators?" and this indicates that the division is "Were they created without a creator?" or "Were they the creators (themselves)?" And if the intent had been "without matter", He would have said, "Were they created from nothing, or from a despised fluid?" This indicates that the intent is to make reference to their creator, not to the matter (they were created from).
And further, that they should be created without matter does not comprise the negation of the existence of the creator (as per the rhetorical question in the verse), and if they had thought that, it would not have harmed their belief in the Creator, but would merely be an indication of their ignorance. And they never thought that and Satan never whispered to Aadam with that (suggestion), rather all of them know that they were created from their fathers and mothers, and their acknowledgement of this (fact) does not necessitate their having faith, and nor does it prevent their disbelief. And the rhetorical question (in the verse) is one of showing rejection, the intent of which is to make them affirm that they were not created by nothing, so when they affirm that a Creator created them, it would be of benefit to them. But as for when they merely affirm that they were created from matter (as opposed to "from nothing"), that would not avail them anything against Allaah.
The following points are taken from the above:
Refutation of the Philosophers who claim that the celestial bodies and the measurement of time associated with them are eternal, since all celestial bodies and the measurement of time associated with them are created, coming into existence after non-existence. And they have absolutely no proof for their claim. And as for the atheist Philosophers of today then likewise they have no proof for their claim of an eternal universe, rather all they have is conjecture and fancy. And when it was established through their sciences in the 20th century that the heavens and earth definitely had a beginning they embarked - (after previously believing that matter was eternal) - upon adventures of conjecture, fancy, and make-believe in order to escape from this fact (learn more about that in this article), and today this is the foundation, intent and motive behind their studies of astronomy, space, time and matter.
Time is relative and there are many different measurements of time, since time (zaman) is based upon the measurement of motion of celestial bodies. And Ahl al-Sunnah believe Allaah is the creator of all times (azminah), since all celestial bodies and entities besides Allaah came into existence after non-existence, and all notions and measurements of time associated with them are therefore created. Ahl al-Sunnah also believe that Allaah is one who speaks and acts as and when He wills and has choice, this being from his utmost perfection, and this indicated by many texts of the Qur'an. Accordingly, it is possible for Allaah to make mention of his actions in relation to the measurement of time with His creation, even though he is the creator of that time and not encompassed by it, since Allaah being one who acts and speaks according to will and power is a separate issue to the existence of time (which is measurement of motion of celestial bodies), and the former does not require the latter. The relativity of time is established by the fact that the six days of the creation of heavens and earth are other than the six days of this earth, and Allaah has made mention of his act of creating the heavens and earth with reference to an already existing time-frame, and the Salaf explained (on the basis of the Qur'an) that each of the six days of creation are a thousand years of our reckoning (12,000 lunar months). And likewise there is "time" in the Hereafter, since in Paradise there will be "morning and evening" (19:62), and the day of Friday in Paradise is the day of increase and extra blessings and favours, indicating days in Paradise. And the Qur'an (and the Sunnah) are full of Allaah's speech and action being mentioned in relation to our time frame (and that does not mean Allaah is encapsulated by this time, zaman, which He created), since there is no conflict between Allaah being one who has a will and choice and who speaks and acts as and when He wills and Allaah not being limited or encapsulated by any of the measurements of time (azminah) which He created, since Allaah speaking and acting as He wills is independent of the azminah (times), even if His speech and action can be related to our measurement of time [Allaah speaking to Moses for example, or speaking with the angels who take turns in ascent and descent at Fajr and Asr to report about the servants, even though Allaah knows full well about them and all similar revealed texts which mention the likes of this]. Upon this, the misguidance of the Ahl al-Kalaam is made apparent who claim that Allaah having speech and action tied to will and power (and whose mention can be made with respect to the time frame of this earth, or a time frame prior to the creation of the heavens and earth [such as the writing of the decrees]) necessitates hawaadith (events, occurrences) which - according to them - would render him like all created bodies who are encapsulated by "space" and "time" and "never devoid of hawaadith" [they treat Allah's wilful choice in speech and action to be synonymous with events taking place in bodies (indicating gross tasbheeh in the theoretical foundations of their creed)], then all of this is a baseless saying that is rejected and refuted by the Qur'an abundantly, and the Salaf never knew any of this and it came from the conceptual tools and baggage of the Hellenized Jews, Christians and Sabeans (see proof here) and is the very "kalaam" condemned by the Salaf and it is the kalaam of all the factions and offshoots of the Jahmiyyah from whom are the Ash'aris and Maturidis.
Refutation of those who claim that "space" and "time" were created with this creation and upon that basis argue with the atheists and Philosophers of today using arguments that are founded upon the usool (foundations) of the Jahmiyyah, and this includes discussions of notions of "infinity" and what is similar to that, these are simply revivals of the greatest foundation of the Jahmiyyah which is the claim of "the impossibility of an endless chain of events in the past". This is embodied in the use of the flawed and corrupt "kalam cosmological argument" which unfortunately many individuals are using against atheists today. And some extremely shrewd atheists have shown (on the basis of this proof) the obligation to also accept the impossibility of an endless chain of events in the future as well - and this is what al-Jahm bin Safwaan was upon, for he was simply being consistent in the application of the proof (unlike the contradictory Ash'aris and Maturidis who took up this proof from the Jahmiyyah and Mu'tazilah), and he, al-Jahm, claimed Paradise and Hellfire will perish, due to the impossibility of an endless chain of events in the future. So the intent here is that those from the Muslims and those claiming ascription to the Sunnah who argue with the likes of this argument whose underlying assumptions enter into some of their speech, they are upon jahl (ignorance) and lack of understanding (fahm) of what the Salaf were upon, and what the Shariah texts necessitate, and they are simply keeping those doors open by which the atheists can enter and cause more confusion and doubt and attack the creed of the Muslims by monopolizing on this flawed and corrupt proof. And thus we warn the Muslims against the likes of these people, be assured, no matter how much they ascribe to the Sunnah (or to Salafiyyah), they are Ahl al-Kalaam and not people of the Sunnah, and these people are found on the tube, on forums, blogs and websites and many a naive Muslim is lapping it all up.
Space, matter and time (zaman, motion of celestial bodies) all existed before the creation of this creation (without them being eternal), as is clearly evidenced in the texts of the Book and the Sunnah. For Allah wrote the determination (decrees) of this creation 50,000 years before its actual creation, indicating a measurement of time prior to this creation and likewise the six days of creation (of the heavens and earth) are days other than the days of this earth. Muslim brings the hadeeth of Abd Allaah bin Amr in his Sahih, that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,"Allaah wrote the decrees of the creation 50,000 years before He created the creation, and His Throne was over the water." This proves the presence of three things, a measurement of time prior to this creation, the Throne and the water and from other ahaadeeth, we learn of the creation of the pen (al-qalam) and the preserved tablet (al-lawh al-mahfudh). As such the claim of "space" and "time" being created with this creation is an incorrect, futile saying. There are statements from the Salaf that the heavens and earth were made from already existing nebula (mist, smoke, vapourized particles) which itself came from already existing water (which ultimately was created by Allaah). However, many Muslims are accepting the notion that "space", "matter" and "time" were created with the "Big Bang", and upon this incorporating the usool of the Jahmiyyah (of impossibility of the notion of infinity, meaning an endless chain of events) as part of an argument to establish that the universe had a beginning, and therefore a cause. And many shrewd atheists have seen the flaws in this, just as the Mutafalsifah saw the flaws in the proof of huduth al-ajsaam (kalam cosmological argument) over a thousand years ago, and we are simply seeing a repetition of that today. Strange it is that a people ascribing to the Sunnah are poisoned with the usool of the Jahmiyyah and are involved in polemical discourses which constitute a replay more or less of the arguments between the Ahl al-Kalaam and the Mutafalsifah. As for Ahl al-Sunnah, they believe, as al-Tahawi said, (كما كان بصفاته أزليا كذلك لا يزال عليها أبديا), "Just as He was eternal (without beginning) with His attributes, likewise He will remain with them eternally (without end)", and when the affair is like that, and alongside that Allaah is one who is eternally (فعال لما يريد) "the doer of whatever He wills", then Ahl al-Sunnah affirm the permissibility of an endless chain of events in the past, each and every single one of which was preceded by non-existence and which are brought about through Allaah's will and power (hence, nothing besides Allaah is eternal) and this follows on from the belief that Allaah has eternally been one who speaks and acts as and when He wills, this being from His utmost perfection, and when that is the case, and endless chain of events in the past is permissible (as opposed to impossible and obligatory) without that necessitating the eternity of anything besides Allaah. This contradicts the foundation of the Jahmiyyah (and their offshoots) which states an endless chain of events in the past is impossible which became the foundation of the proof of huduth al-ajsaam for all of the Ahl al-Kalaam. And it also contradicts and invalidates the belief (of the Philosophers) that any entity besides Allaah has been eternally with Him, without beginning and without non-existence.
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