Question: Basing their reasoning on the phrase ahsan-ul-khâliqîn, which appears in the Qur’ân al-karîm, some people use the words creating or creator for people. Is it appropriate to use them as such?
What is the meaning of ahsan-ul-khâliqîn, which appears in the Qur’ân al-karîm? If you consult a dictionary, it will define it as “the Best of creators,” which may lead to the wrong assumption that there are many creators. The translations of the Qur’ân on the market are not much different from this. Therefore, one cannot learn Islam from dictionaries or from translations of the Qur’ân. One must refer to authentic tafsîrs and religious books that deal with belief and practice.
It is written in Birgivî Vasiyyetnâmesi, “If one says that food comes from Allahu ta’âlâ but humans’ actions are necessary, too, one becomes a disbeliever.” Hadrat Ismâ‘îl Haqqi of Bursa writes in his book Hujjat-ul-bâligha, “In reality, Khâliq [Creator] is Allahu ta’âlâ alone. It is ilhad to call a person creator.” (Ilhad means abandoning one’s religious faith.)
Allahu ta’âlâ does not have a partner in anything He does. He, alone, is the Creator of every creature. To create is to make existent from nothing. To create also means to make a substance or an element existent, and after making it exist, to change it to some other being. For example, the âyât (Qur’anic verses) stating that He created humans from sperm and genies from fire informs us that this is so. (Sûrat-ur-Rahman:15; Sûrat-ul-Mu’minûn:12-14)
The word Khâliq has a couple of meanings. Al-Khâliq, one of the 99 Beautiful Names of Allah, means “the One who creates from nothing.” It also means “the One who gives shape.” In this respect, the word creator cannot be applied to humans. It is written in Shaikhzâda’s annotation to Tafsîr-i Baydâwî:
Ahsan-ul-khâliqîn means the Best of those who decree [who depict, who give shape, who put in order, who design] because the real, primary meaning of khalq is to create, to build, to make existent from nothing. The word khâliq in this verse has been used in the meaning of “the one who decrees.” As the word khalq cannot be thought of anyone else other than Allahu ta’âlâ in the sense of creating, it cannot be said “Allah is the Best of them [creators].” (vol. 4, 68)
If the phrase Khâliq-un-khâliqîn (Khâliq of the khâliqs) is used in the sense of “the Giver of shape to the givers of shape,” it is again not appropriate because the Names of Allah are tawqîfî. That is, they are dependent upon Islam’s prescription; people are not allowed to fabricate names. The words creator or creative cannot be applied to people, for there is no creator besides Allah.
It is on no account permissible to say about a person, “He created. He is creative.” It causes disbelief to call anybody besides Allah the creator, no matter for what purpose. The Creator is only Allahu ta’âlâ. The Qur’ân al-karîm purports:
(It is He who created the heavens and the earth from nothing. He created all things.) [Sûrat-ul-An‘âm, 101]
(Have they found partners who create as Allah does, so that both creations seem alike to them? It is Allah who creates everything.) [Sûrat-ur-Ra’d, 16]
(Do they not consider that Allah, who created the heavens and the earth, is Able to create their like as well?) [Sûrat-ul-Isrâ’, 99]
(Allah, your Rabb, is the Creator of all things. There is no ilâh besides Him. How are you deceived and turned aside?) [Sûrat-ul-Mu’min, 62]
(ilâh: god, deity)
While Allahu ta’âlâ declares that the only Creator is He, that there is no creator other than He, and that He has no partner, how can one say that there are many creators?