The Attributes of Allah
[As-Sifât adh-Dhâtiyya are the Attributes that belong to Allahu ta’âlâ exclusively. No creature has any of these six attributes, nor any relation with them.]
1. Al-Wujûd: Allahu ta’âlâ exists. His existence is eternal in the past. He is Wâjib al-wujûd; that is, His existence is necessary.
2. Al-Qidam: Allahu ta’âlâ’ existence is without beginning.
3. Al-Baqâ’: Allahu ta’âlâ’s existence is without end. He never ceases to exist. As the existence of a partner is impossible, so the nonexistence for His Dhât [Person, Essence] and Attributes is impossible.
4. Al-Wahdâniyya: Allahu ta’âlâ has no partner or match in His Dhât, Attributes, and Deeds.
5. Al-Mukhâlafat-un lil-hawâdith: His Dhât and Attributes does not resemble the dhât and attributes of any of His creatures.
6. Al-Qiyâm bi-nafsihî: Allahu ta’âlâ exists with His Dhât. He does not need a place. When there was not material or place, He was existent, because He is free from any need. He will always be the same in the everlasting future as He had been before bringing this universe into existence out of nonexistence.
As-Sifât ath-Thubûtiyya of Allahu ta’âlâ are eight:
[As-Sifât ath-Thbûtiyya are the Attributes, an example of each of which Allahu ta’âlâ has endowed upon human beings in limited amounts.]
1. Hayât: Allahu ta’âlâ is alive. His life is dissimilar to the lives of creatures. His life, which is worthy of and peculiar to His Dhât, is eternal in the past and in the future.
2. ‘Ilm: Allahu ta’âlâ knows everything. His knowledge is not similar to the knowledge of His creation. If an ant walks on a black stone in the dark of the night, He sees and knows it. He knows thoughts and intentions people harbor in their hearts. No change occurs in His knowledge. It is eternal in the past and in the future.
3. Sam’: Allahu ta’âlâ hears. He hears without any means or direction. His hearing is not like creatures’ hearing. This Attribute of His, like His other Attributes, is eternal in the past and in the future, too.
4. Basar: Allahu ta’âlâ sees. He sees without tools and conditions. His seeing is not through eyes.
5. Irâda: Allahu ta’âlâ has Will. He creates what He wills. Everything comes into existence by His Will. There is not any power that can prevent His Will.
6. Qudrah: Allahu ta’âlâ is omnipotent. Nothing is difficult for Him.
7. Kalâm: Allahu ta’âlâ has the Attribute of Speech. His Speech is not through tools, letters, sounds, or a tongue.
8. Takwîn: Allahu ta’âlâ is the Creator. There is not a creator besides Allah. Everything is created by Him. You must not call anyone other than Allah a creator.
The Sifât ath-Thubûtiyya of Allahu ta’âlâ are eternal like His Sifât adh-Dhâtiyya. These Attributes of His do not part from His Dhât, either. That is, His Attributes are neither the same as nor other than His Dhât [Person, Essence].
It is impossible to understand the true nature of His Attributes. No one and nothing can be a partner or a match in His Attributes.
Question: What is the difference between the Sifât adh-Dhâtiyya and the Sifât ath-Thubûtiyya of Allah?
His Sifât adh-Zâtiyya belong to Allah exclusively. No creature has any of them, nor any relation with them.
As for His Sifât ath-Thubûtiyya, they are the Attributes that have connections with His creatures. He has endowed upon His slaves these Attributes of His, except the Attribute of Takwîn, in limited amounts. No change occurs in any of them. They, also, are qadîm—that is, eternal in the past—like His Sifât adh-Dhâtiyya. But as creatures were created later, their relations with creatures are of recent occurrence, that is, not eternal. His life, His knowing, His hearing, His seeing, His being omnipotent, His willing, and His speech are by no means like creatures’ having them. It is impossible to comprehend the exact nature of His Dhât and Attributes.
No creature can understand or fully comprehend its Creator. Our Master the Prophet (‘alaihis-salâm) declared, “Meditate over the creatures of Allahu ta’âlâ. Do not ponder over His Person. For you could not appreciate His Greatness or comprehend Him.” In another hadîth-i sharîf, our Prophet declared, “Allahu ta’âlâ is far from everything that will come to mind.” [The book could not answer]
The Attributes of Allah
Question: What is meant by “His Attributes are neither the same as nor other than Allah”?
The Attributes of Allah are eternal and everlasting like Himself; that is, they are not disparate from Him. If it is said that the Attributes are other than Allahu ta’âlâ, that is, disparate from Himself, then it comes to mean that they are of recent occurrence. So the fact that they are eternal would be denied. If it is said that the Attributes are the same as Allahu ta’âlâ, that is, they are Allahu ta’âlâ Himself, then it comes to mean the rejection of the existence of the Attributes.
Enumerating the Attributes
Question: Is one who does not know to enumerate the Attributes of Allah called a kâfir?
If one cannot enumerate them but knows their meanings, one is not a kâfir. For example, one who knows that Allahu ta’âlâ is the Creator of everything, that He knows everything, that He hears everything, that He sees everything, etc. is counted as knowing Allah’s Attributes.
The Creator is Allahu ta’âlâ
Question: It is of course permissible to use such Attributes as Basar, Sam’ and so on, which exist in people in limited levels, for people. Nobody can say, “It is not permissible to say ‘People can see’, because their seeing is not infinite unlike Allah’s seeing.” Takwîn, also, is one of such Attributes. It means “Creating.” As we can use the Attribute of “Seeing” for people, so is it permissible for us to use the word “creating” for people in the senses of “forming a new thing, a new idea; discovering; producing something”?
It is not permissible. Your likening is wrong. Allahu ta’âlâ is alive. He knows, hears, sees, wills, and speaks. People have a share from these Attributes, though it is limited. That is, human beings have lives and power, know, hear, see, will, and speak in limited levels. However, there is not a share for people from the Attribute of “Creativeness.” Allah creates everything, but humans cannot create an ant, even a cell. Creating means bringing something into existence out of nothing. It is to bring matter and elements into existence when they are nonexistent.
The Creator is Allahu ta’âlâ alone. It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(Creating belongs to Allah alone.) [Sûrat-ul-A’râf, 54]
(Allah alone is the Creator of all things.) [Sûrat-ul-Ra’d, 16]
The Attribute of Baqâ’
Question: It has been declared in the Qur’ân that there will be resurrection after death, that we will go to Paradise if we have îmân, and that we will live there endlessly. In this case, will we not possess Allah’s Attribute of Baqâ’?
The one who is eternal and everlasting is only Allahu ta’âlâ. All other things are transitory, that is, mortal and perishable. Can a mortal being be compared with Allah, who is without beginning and without end? How can humans possess that Attribute? The Hereafter is the place of endlessness, but it will go on existing with Allah’s power; we will not attain Allah’s Attribute. Our being in existence will not be of ourselves. The One who will keep us in existence is Allah. Who will make us live endlessly is Allahu ta’âlâ.
He is beyond compare
Question: Can the Creator be compared with His creation? For example, can it be said, “Allah is more powerful than humans”?
The Sifât adh-Dhâtiyya of Allahu ta’âlâ are six, and mukhâlafat-un lil-hawâdith is one of them. It means that Allah is dissimilar to every creature in everything and in every respect. It is not an inconvenience to state that Allah is more merciful and more powerful than humans. It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(Allah’s Hand is above their hands.) [Sûrat-ul-Fath, 10]
That is, it means that Allahu ta’âlâ is mightier and more powerful than you all. But of what could be the value of the power of all people compared with the power of Janâb-i Haqq? Allahu ta’âlâ has infinite power which cannot be compared with any of the creatures.
Such âyats are many. A hadîth narrated by Hadrat ‘Umar is as follows:
When a woman who was looking for her child among captives found her child, she cradled the child to her bosom and began suckling it. Upon this, our master the Prophet said to us:
“Does she ever throw her child into fire?”
When the Ashâb-i Kirâm said that she never threw it, our master the Prophet declared:
“Allahu ta’âlâ, too, is of course more clement and more merciful to His slaves than this woman is to her child.” [Bukhârî]