Ibn Taymiyyah on the Creation of the Heavens and Earth, Matter, Space and Time: Part 2
Posted by Abu.Iyaad on Sunday, September, 18 2011 and filed under Philosophers

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said in Dar al-Ta'aarud (8/286 onwards):

And there is nothing in their saying (that of the Philosophers) which necessitates the eternity of anything from the universe, hence their saying of its eternity is futile (baatil), and for this reason this saying has not been preserved from the most prominent of the [ancient] Philosophers. Rather, the first one from whom this has been preserved is Aristotle and his followers. As for the ancient, most high-ranking of them, that which is quoted from them is the origination of the celestial bodies, for they speak with the orgination of the form of the universe, and as for matter, they have speech which is contradictory. But the firmly established citation from their leading figureheads is of the origination of the universe, in agreement with what the Messengers informed of (salawaat Allaah alayhim).

And the compilers of the statements [of various factions] quoted from more than one of their leading [philosophers] the statement of affirmation of the attributes for Allaah, and affirmation of matters that pertain to His choice, established with His essence. This is the saying of the one who is close to sound reason and authentic revelation, from the earlier ones and the later ones (amongst them) such as Abu al-Barakaat. And they did not agree with Aristotle and his followers and nor Ibn Sina and his followers, that the Lord has an abstract existence, with no attribute and no action. On the contrary, they affirmed attributes established with His essence, and that He acts with wishes (iraadaat) that are established with His Self, wish after wish.

But those (the Philosophers denying this) are far removed from being able to establish evidence for the eternity of anything from the universe. For an agent who acts through wishes (iraadaat) that are established with His essence, with succession, then they have established no evidence that any particular actions (maf'oolaat) of His have never ceased to exist in conjunction with Him, since it is possible that He performed an act after another and that He created this universe from other matter which existed (being created) previously, as the Messengers have informed (in this regard). So Allaah, the Exalted, informed in the Qur'an that He created the heavens and earth and whatever is between them in six days, then He ascended over the Throne. And he (also) 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.' Then He completed and finished from their creation (as) seven heavens in two Days and He made in each heaven its affair. And We adorned the nearest (lowest) heaven with lamps (stars) to be an adornment as well as to guard (from the devils by using them as missiles against the devils). Such is the Decree of Him the All-Mighty, the All-Knower." (41:11-12)

And He said in another verse, "Then He rose over (istawaa) towards the heaven and made them seven heavens and He is the All-Knower of everything" (2:29). Hence, He informed that He made them into seven heavens in two days and that the heavens were dukhaan (matter particles), which is nebulized vapour as its explanation has come in a number of aathaar (reports), that He created the heaven from bukhaar, and bukhaar is water vapour, just as the dukhaan (matter particles) of the earth is also (referred to as) dukhaan. And whether, by the word dukhaan, the matter particles of dust only are intended, or both those of dust and water, then in all of that Allaah informing that He created the seven heavens from other matter, just as He informed that he created man from a certain matter, and that He created the Jinn from another matter. And it is established in the Sahih (compilation) of Muslim from Aa'ishah (radiallaahu anhaa) from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "The Angels were created from light (nur) and the Jinn from smokeless fire, annd He created Aadam from what has been described to you (dust of the earth)."

And it is established in Sahih Muslim from Abd Allaah bin Amr from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "Allaah determined the decrees of the creation 50,000 years before He created the heavens and earth, and His Throne was over the water." And in Sahih al-Bukhari, from Imraan bin Husayn, from the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that he said, "There was Allaah and there was nothing before Him and His Throne was above the water, and He wrote everything in al-Dhikr (the record) and He created the heavens and earth." And in an authentic narration (in al-Bukhari), there occurs (ثم خلق السماوات والأرض), "... then He created the heavens and earth." So He informed that between His determination (taqdeer) and between His creation (khalq) of the heavens and earth there was 50,000 years. And these durations of time are determined through motions present before the presence of the celestial orbits and the sun and the moon. And He informed that at that point His Throne was over the water...

... and those bodies were created by Allaah from other bodies, for the Throne itself is also created as the texts have informed regarding that (hence, requiring matter for its creation), and all the Muslims are united upon that. So the high-ranking, earlier Philosophers - in what is cited from them by the reporters - their saying used to be in agreement with this, they did not used to speak of the eternity of the universe, for this saying does not have any evidence at all, fundamentally, and it is the most extreme of corruption. And its reality is that the Maker did not make anything, and that the hawaadith (events which take place) take place without one who brings them about (muhdith). Rather, the reality of their saying is that this universe has an obligatory existence and that it does not have an originator.


The following notes can be made:

The Theology of Aristotle. The ancient and earliest of the Greek Philosophers affirmed the orgination of the universe and they also affirmed attributes for His essence and also actions arising out of wish, choice - in agreement with what is in the revealed Books. It was Aristotle and his followers (and later Ibn Sina and his followers) who opposed all of this, and began to speak of the eternity of matter and of the celestial bodies and of the "first cause", or the "perfect cause" or the "unmoved mover" who brings about motion whilst being completely static, immutable, unchangeable, being immaterial, outside of space and time, dispossessed of will, choice, or action, and who brings about motion (in the universe) just like the one loved passionately stirs and moves the one who loves passionately (without any will or action on behalf of the one loved).

The Sabeans and the Kalam Cosmological Argument (Huduth al-Ajsaam). As has been indicated by Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (see here) and others, there were from the Sabean Philosophers who remained upon the belief of the origination of the universe, and they argued for the existence of an originator based upon the kalam cosmological argument which itself was based loosely upon foundations outlined by Aristotle in his Metaphysics (pertaining to matter, motion, bodies, accidents), and in its crude form [found with the Sabeans] it states, "The world has a cause who has never ceased to be, who is one, not manifold, who cannot be described by means of attributes which apply to the things caused." This was brought into the Ummah by al-Ja'd bin Dirham, al-Jahm bin Safwan (on account of which they denied Allaah is above His Throne, that He speaks, that He will be seen in the Hereafter and that He has attributes and actions) and was taken from them and refined by the Mu'tazilah and then it was found in all the Ash'arite books thereafter, being the foundation upon which they built their theology - after they had made refinements, modifications and improvements to it. And all of this was the ilm al-kalaam condemned by the Salaf.

The Philosophers, Ahl al-Kalaam and Allaah's Will. The Philosophers (Mutafalsifah) are united with the Ahl al-Kalaam (Mutakallimun) that Allaah does not have actions tied to His will and power, which are performed as and when He wills and that his actions are other than each other, in other words that they are successive. But this is what is manifest in the revealed texts with respect to Allaahs wish (iraadah), speech (kalaam) and action (fi'l). So the Philosophers claimed that Allaah is permanently "acting" and what they meant here is that "acting, doing" is synonymous with His essence (while He does not have any choice, will), and thus He is permanently acting, and action is a permanent state devoid of any will or choice. This conflicts with the position of Ahl al-Sunnah that "Allaah is the doer of whatever He wills" and thus if He wills He creates, if He wills He provides, if He wills He speaks, if He wills He forgives and so on. However, when the Ahl al-Kalaam agreed with the Philosophers in their denial that Allaah has speech and action tied to will and power which are successive and claimed that His will (iraadah) is eternal and static [which necessitated upon them that the saying that the universe is eternal] they had to find a means to escape from this necessity and here they began to define an innovated, uknown definition of will (iraadah) not known to the Arabs or the speakers of any language in fact, so they said, "Allaah willed, but the execution of His will was delayed, and not executed (straight away), despite the presence of complete power (qudrah taammah) over the thing being willed" and so here they opposed the saying of Allah, "Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, "Be!" and it is!" (36:82), so He mentioned iraadah, then His speech ("kun") and then the thing occurs immediately after ("fayakoon"). And they also opposed aql (reason) since they claimed that in the presence of complete power and definite will an action does not occurr. And then the polemics go further than this because they tried to make other escape clauses and getaway routes from the sticky mess they got themselves into but that can be looked at in other articles in more detail inshaa'Allaah.

Matter, Space and Time. Refutation of the claim that space, matter and time were created and came to be after the creation of the heavens and earth. This is a futile saying clashing with the revealed texts. Please refer to Part 1 for further comments on this particular issue. However, it is the foundation of the theology of the Ahl al-Kalaam, so when they are in dispute with the revealed Books and the sent Messengers on this foundational issue, then it goes without saying that in their theology they will also be in dispute with the revealed Books and the sent Messengers.

The Claim of the Eternity of Anything Besides Allaah. Strong emphasis on the extreme corruption of the saying of the Philosophers who claim that the universe is eternal. They have absolutely no proof in this regard, and their saying amounts to the claim that the universe's existence is obligatory, meaning that it simply just has to be there and that it was brought about without any agent, and this is the most corrupt of sayings and clashes with the innate disposition of all of mankind.