In the name of Allāh, The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful
All praise is for Allāh and may Peace and Salutations descend upon the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ.
Know that the rational judgement (ḥukm aqlī) is divided into three types:
- Necessary (wujūb). It is that whose non-existence cannot be conceived by the mind.
- Impossible (istihālah). It isthat whose existence cannot be conceived by the mind.
- Possible (jawāz). It is that whose existence and non-existence is equally viable in the mind.
It is necessary upon every legally responsible person (mukallaf) – by way of the Sacred Law – to know what is necessary with respect to our Lord, what is impossible upon him and what is possible for Him.
Similarly, it is necessary upon every legally responsible person to know the same with respect to the Prophets (peace and salutations be upon them all).
The Attributes of Allāh
Amongst the attributes that are necessary for our Lord, they are the following twenty attributes:
- Existence (wujūd)
- Pre-eternality (qidam)
- Eternal Everlastingness (baqā’)
- Dissimilarity to all contingent things (mukhālafatuhu lil ḥawādith)
- Self-subsisting (qiyām bin-nafs) – meaning that He is not in need of a locus or determiner
- Absolute Singularity (waḥdāniyyah) – meaning that there is no other complementary existence neither in His Entity, His Attributes nor in His Actions.
These are the first six attributes. The first of which is Self-Signifying (nafsīyyah) whilst the other five are negative (salbīyyah).
The next seven attributes which are necessary for Allāh are called the qualitative attributes (ṣifāt al-ma’ānī), and they are:
- Divine Omnipotence (qudrah)
- Divine Will (irādah)
Both these attributes are linked with all possible things (mumkināt).
- Divine Omniscience (‘ilm)
This attribute is linked with all necessary, possible and impossible things.
- Divine Life (ḥayāt) – which is not linked with anything.
- Divine Hearing (sam’).
- Divine Sight (Baṣar).
Both these attributes are linked with all existent things (mawjūdāt).
- Divine Speech (kalām) – which does not occur by the means of letters nor sound, is linked to that which Divine Knowledge is linked with.
Then, there are seven attributes which are called predicative attributes (ṣifāt al-ma’nawiyyah), and they are intrinsically necessitated by the aforementioned seven. They are:
- Allāh being Omnipotent (qādir)
- Allāh being Willing (murid)
- Allāh being Omniscient (ālim)
- Allāh being Living (ḥayy)
- Allāh being All-Hearing (samī)
- Allāh being All-Seeing (baṣir)
- Allāh being The Divine Speaker (mutakallim)
Amongst those things which are impossible for Allāh are the twenty attributes, and they are the opposites of the aforementioned twenty.
- Non-existence (‘adm)
- Contingency (ḥudūth)
- Coming to an end (ṭuru’ al-‘adm)
- Having a similarity to contingent beings (mumāthalah al-ḥawādith) – such that He is a substance (jirm), signifying that His Entity occupies space; or that He is an accident (‘arḍ) that subsists with a substance; or being in a direction relative to a substance, or the substance having a direction relative to Him; or that He is bound by time or space; or the attribution of contingencies to His Entity; or that He is described as being small or large; or that His Actions or Rulings are described as having motives.
- Not being self-subsisting – that is, He cannot be an attribute that subsists within a locus (maḥal) nor can He be dependent upon a determiner (mukhaṣṣiṣ);
- To not be One – meaning that there be any element of a compound in His Entity or that there be a similarity to His Entity or attributes, or that there be something other than Him that has independent causation in actions.
- To be powerless/incapable (‘ajz) in having an effect on a possible existence;
- To materialise a particular thing within the universe that He dislikes and does not want to exist – meaning, the absence of His Will; or to bring something into existence by way of puzzlement, forgetfulness, intermediary causation or nature.
- Ignorance (jahl) or anything that has a such a meaning.
- Death (mawt)
- Deafness (ṣamam)
- Blindness (‘amā)
- Dumbness (bakm)
The opposites of the predicative attributes are clear from this.
As for what is possible with regards to Him, then it is every action which is possible for Him to do or leave it.
The proof of His Existence is the contingency of the Universe. This is because if the world did not have an originator, and it brought itself into existence, then this would necessitate that one of two matters, which are equal in terms of possibility, is preponderant over the other without an effective cause, and this is impossible.
The proof of the Universe’s contingency is its innate attachment to nascent accidents such as movement (ḥarakah) or stillness (sukūn) and other things similar to this, and that which is intrinsically attached to contingencies is contingent itself.
The proof of the contingency of accidents is in witnessing their transition, either from non-existence to existence or from existence to non-existence.
As for the proof of the necessity of Pre-eternality for Him, it is that: if He were not Pre-eternal, He would be contingent, in need of an originator; and this would entail a circularity in reasoning or infinite regress.
As for the proof for the necessity of Eternal Everlastingness for Him, it is that: if it were possible for non-existence to overcome Him, then pre-eternality too would be negated for Him due to His existence being possible – not necessary – and a possible existence cannot be anything but contingent. How could this be the case when the Pre-eternality and Eternal Everlastingness were just affirmed previously?
As for the proof for the necessity of Him being dissimilar to all contingent things, it is that: had He been similar to any contingent thing, He too would be contingent just like it, and this is impossible as you have already learnt that Pre-eternality and Eternal Everlastingness are both necessary for Him.
As for the proof of the necessity of Self-Subsistence for Allāh, then it is that: if He were to be dependent on a locus, He would have been an attribute, and an attribute cannot be attributed with qualitative attributes nor by predicative attributes. And it is necessary for Allāh to be attributed with these two and therefore He cannot be an attribute. If he were to be dependent on a determiner, then He would be contingent and how can this be the case. when the proofs for the necessity of His pre-eternality and eternal everlastingness were just established?
As for the proof for the necessity of Absolute Oneness for Him, then it is that: if He were not One, it would necessitate that nothing from the Universe would have existed due to it implying that He is incapable.
As for the proof for the necessity of Him being attributed with Divine Power, Will, Knowledge and Life then it is that if any of these were to be negated then it would entail nothing from the contingent beings would exist.
As for the proof for the necessity of Divine Hearing, Sight and Speech for Him, then it is the Book, the Sunnah and the Consensus themselves; furthermore, had He not been attributed with them then it would necessitate the attribution of their opposites to Him, and they are imperfections, and imperfections for Allāh are impossible.
As for the proof that doing or leaving every possible action is possible for Him, then it is that: if any of them were rationally necessary for Him, or rationally impossible for Him then the rational possibilities would be turned into rational necessities or impossibilities – such an outcome cannot be conceived.
As for the Messengers (peace and salutations be upon them) then from that which is [rationally] necessary upon them:
- Truthfulness (al-ṣidq)
- Honesty (amānah)
- The conveyance of that which they have been ordered to convey to mankind.
It is impossible upon them (peace and salutations be upon them) the opposites of these attributes. They are:
- Falsehood (kadhib)
- Treachery (khiyanah), in that they cannot do something that they forbade, whether it was a complete negation (taḥrīm) or dislike (karāhah)
- The concealment of a thing which they were commanded to convey to creation.
It is possible for them (peace and salutations be upon them) to have normal human qualities that do not lead to a flaw in their exalted ranks, like illness and other such things.
As for the proof for the necessity of truthfulness for them (peace and salutations be upon them) then it is that had they not been truthful then it would necessitate Allāh telling a lie; for Allāh is the one who affirmed their veracity by way of miracles (mu’jizah)that essentially serve as a substitute for Him saying: ‘My Servant has spoken the truth in everything he conveys from me.’
As for the proof of the necessity of faithfulness for them (peace and salutations be upon them) then it is that: had they behaved treacherously by doing a forbidden or disliked act, then the forbidden or unlawful act would have become a form of obedience for them. This is because Allāh has commanded us to emulate them in their speech and actions and Allāh does not command forbidden or disliked actions; this in itself constitutes as the proof for the necessity of the third attribute.
As for the proof for the possibility of human qualities for them then it is that these things have been repeatedly observed from them; whether it was for the magnification of their rewards, legislation, to provide solace from the temporary world, to garner attention to the insignificance of the temporary world in the Court of Allāh or His displeasure with it as an abode of recompense for His Prophets and His Saints via the expression of their states (peace and salutations be upon them all).
And the meanings of all these beliefs in their entirety are collected in the statement: There is no God but Allāh, and Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh.
This is because the meaning of divinity is God being independent from anything other than Him, and everything else, apart from Him, needing Him. Therefore the meaning of ‘There is no God but Allāh’ is that: there is nothing that is not in need of anything, other than Him, whilst everything other than Him, is in need of Him.
As for Him being independent of everything but Himself, this necessitates: Existence; Pre-eternality; Eternal Everlastingness; dissimilarity from contingent beings; Self-subsistence and transcendence from all imperfections.
The necessity of Divine Hearing, Sight and Speech are also included within this; for if these attributes were not necessary for Him then it would result in His dependency on an originator or a locus or one who would take away imperfections from Him.
It can also be understood that Allāh is transcendent from personal motives in His Actions and His Rulings, for otherwise, it would necessitate that He needs that which will fulfil his purpose, and how can this be the case, when Allāh is absolutely free of needing anything other than Him.
It can also be understood that it is not rationally necessary for Allah to do or leave any possible action, for if anything like that was rationally necessary for Him, such as [granting] reward then He would have been in need of that thing to fulfil His motive; therefore, nothing is necessary for Him except that perfection for Him. But how can this be the case when everything is in need of him?
As for everything else being in need of Him, it necessitates: Life, general Omnipotence, Divine Will, and Omniscience. For if anything from these things were negated for Him, then nothing contingent could have existed, since nothing would be in need of Him. But how can this be when everything else is actually in need of Him?
And Absolute Oneness is also necessary for Him. For if there were to be another Divine being along with Him, then nothing would be in need of Him due to it implying that both are incapable. But how can this be the case, when it is necessary that everything else is in need of Him.
It can also be understood from the phrase that the entire Universe is contingent, for if anything from it had been Pre-eternal then that thing would not be in need of Him. But how can that be, when it is necessary that everything else be in need of Him.
It can also be understood that there is no independent causation for anything created in terms of the effect it possesses, for otherwise, it would necessitate that this effect is free from needing our Lord, and how can this be the case when every single thing, besides Himself, is in need of Him?
In any case, this is if you assume that anything created can cause anything by its intrinsic nature; whereas, if you were to assume that it has efficacy through a power that Allāh has placed within it, just as many ignorant folk believe, then this is also impossible because it would imply that Allāh is in need of this intermediary for some actions. And this is impossible, as you will know, due to the necessity of Him being independent of anything other than Him.
It has now become clear to you how the phrase ‘There is no God but Allāh’ contains within it three different categories which are all necessary upon the legally responsible person to know with respect to our Lord. They are: what is necessary for Him, what is impossible for Him and what is possible for Him.
On the Prophets
As for our saying, ‘Muḥammad ﷺ is the Messenger of Allāh,’ then this includes belief in all of the other Prophets, Angels, Books and belief in the Last Day, because he ﷺ came affirming all of these things.
The necessity for truthfulness for the Messengers (peace and salutations be upon them) can also be understood from this, as well as the impossibility of falsehood for them – for if the case were to be anything other than this then they would not have been Messengers and envoys that were entrusted by our Lord, the Knower of all hidden affairs.
The impossibility of them committing any forbidden acts can also be deduced from it for the reason that they were sent was so that the people could learn via their speech, actions and tacit approval, which necessitates that none of them ever contravened the command of our Lord who chose them over all creation and entrusted them with the secrets of His Revelation.
It can also be deduced from the phrase that all humanistic tendencies are possible for them [which do not indicate sin] for they do not detract from their prophethood; nor does it detract from the lofty ranks they have in the Court of Allāh but rather actually increases it.
The Testimony of Faith
Therefore, it will have become clear to you how the two phrases of the shahādah, despite the limited amount of letters it has, comprise the entirety of that which is necessary for the legally responsible person to recognise and know with regards to true creed, with respect to Allāh, and with respect to His Messengers (peace and salutations be upon them).
And perhaps it is because of its brevity, coupled with its conciseness in including all of that we have mentioned above that the Sacred Law has made an expression for the Islām that is contained within the heart, and He has not accepted faith from anyone except by its utterance.
And so, it is necessary for the intelligent person to frequently recite it, whilst keeping in his mind the creedal points that are included therein, until its meanings mix with his flesh and blood. For he will then see the mysteries and marvels, in shā Allāh, which cannot be enumerated.
And enablement is only with Allāh. There is no God but Him, nor anything worthy of worship besides Him.
We beseech Allāh to make us and our loved ones amongst those who utter the words of the shahādah, with true cognisance, at the time of death.
May the Salutations of Allāh be upon our Leader, Muḥammad upon every single utterance of mention of those who remember him, and each time he is not remembered by those who are heedless.
May Allāh be pleased with the Companions of the Messenger of Allāh in their entirety, and those who succeeded them in excellence to the Day of Recompense,
Peace be upon the Messengers, and all Praise is for Allāḥ, Lord of the Universes.
Al-Sanūsī, Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf; Umm al-Baraḥin