Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Allah's Imperfection and Mutability"


By

Bassam Zawadi

 

Sam Shamoun's article could be located here.

 

Sam Shamoun said:

Perfection is a necessary attribute of God since it directly ties in with God being a self-sufficient entity. Perfection in reference to Deity refers to being complete in and of itself, lacking nothing and needing no one:

"And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may beperfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:4

When the above text speaks about believers being perfect it refers to God granting them everything necessary to attain moral perfection and incorruptibility.

For God to be imperfect means that he is not complete and therefore lacks specific attributes or characteristics that are necessary for him to be self-sufficient.

My Response:

Agreed.

Sam Shamoun said:

The god of Islam is a deity who is not perfect and is not immutable but changing. For instance, according to the Quran and the so-called authentic traditions Allah lacked an attribute which he then had to create and inscribe for himself:

Say: To whom belongs what is in the heavens and the earth? Say: To Allah; He has ordained mercy on Himself; most certainly He will gather you on the resurrection day -- there is no doubt about it. (As for) those who have lost their souls, they will not believe. S. 6:12 Shakir

And when those who believe in Our communications come to you, say: Peace be on you, your Lord has ordained mercy on Himself, (so) that if any one of you does evil in ignorance, then turns after that and acts aright, then He is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 6:54 Shakir

Allah inscribing or ordaining mercy on or for himself implies that this is what he chose to become, and wasn't something he already was or always has been. This is precisely how the narrations attributed to Muhammad explain it:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, Verily Allah CREATED Mercy. The day He created it, He made it into one hundred parts. He withheld with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent its one part to all His creatures. Had the non-believer known of all the Mercy which is in the Hands of Allah, he would not lose hope of entering Paradise, and had the believer known of all the punishment which is present with Allah, he would not consider himself safe from the Hell-Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, 
Number 476)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When Allah created the creation, He ordained for Himself and this document is with Him: Verily, My mercy predominates My wrath. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6628)

Abu Huraira reported: I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah CREATED mercy in one hundred parts and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and He has sent down upon the earth one part, and it is because of this one part that there is mutual love among the creation so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its younc, one, fearing that it might harm it. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6629)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah CREATED one hundred (parts of mercy) and He distributed one amongst His creation and kept this one hundred excepting one with Himself (for the Day of Resurrection). (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6630)

Salman reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Verily, Allah CREATED, on the same very day when He created the heavens and the earth, one hundred parts of mercy. Every part of mercy is coextensive with the space between the heavens. and the earth and He out of this mercy endowed one part to the earth and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child and even the beasts and birds show kindness to one another and when there would be the Day of Resurrection, Allah would make full (use of Mercy). (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,Number 6634)

What the foregoing shows is that Allah is imperfect since he lacked an essential characteristic which he had to later create for himself. It further shows that he is mutable since he had to create mercy in order for him to have it as a quality, showing that he changed from not having mercy to later having it.

This implies that Allah is unknowable and a being who is purely volitional (purely will). He doesn't have an immutable nature whereby a believer can know for sure that Allah will act a certain way, as opposed to merely choosing to act in a specific manner or to do certain things. Yet there is nothing to prevent such a being from deciding to act in a contrary way, i.e. he can just as easily lie and cheat as he can speak the truth and deal justly. 

My Response:

Sam seems to have a misunderstanding. Sam thinks that when Allah created Mercy that means that Allah was not merciful before that. That is not what it means. The hadith did not say that Allah became merciful at a certain point in time. Mercy is an attribute of God. However, what the Hadith were emphasizing is the act of mercy that God will implement on His creation. (Fathul Bari, Source) Let me try to clarify this up a bit.

One of the attributes of Allah is that He is 'Al Khaliq', meaning 'the Creator'. Now before Allah created the pen (the first thing Allah created) Allah did not create anything, as there was nothing in existence. So does that mean that Allah was not The Creator because he did not create anything? No, of course not.

Another attribute of Allah is that he is 'Al Mussawir', meaning 'the Fashioner'. Now if there was no creation for Allah to fashion does that mean that He was not The Fashioner? No, of course not.

Similarly just because there was no creation for Allah to bestow His mercy upon that does not mean that Allah was not the All Merciful. How could Allah have created mercy if He wasn't the source of mercy in the first place?

Let's try to understand the Quranic verses and hadith a bit better.

419. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "When Allah created the creatures, He wrote in the Book, which is with Him over His Throne: `Verily, My Mercy prevailed over My Wrath"
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "(Allah wrote) `My Mercy dominated My Wrath".

Still another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "(Allah wrote) `My Mercy surpasses My Wrath".

Commentary:  Imam Al-Khattabi states that here the word "Kitab''(translated here as `Book') means the decision of Almighty Allah which He has already made, an instance of which is the following Verse of the Noble Qur'an:

"Allah has decreed: `Verily, it is I and My Messengers who shall be the victorious". (58:21).

In this Ayah the Arabic word "Kataba'' is used in the sense of  "Qada' (decided);'' or the word "Kataba'' signifies "Lauh Mahfooz'' on which He has recorded everything. Almighty Allah is on the 'Arsh' (the Throne of Allah) and this Book is with Him. (Fath Al-Bari, Kitab At-Tauhid, Bab: Wa kana Arshuhu `alal-Ma'.)

420. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts; and He retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent down to earth one part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has one hundred mercies, out of which He has sent down only one for jinn, mankind, animals and insects, through which they love one another and have compassion for one another; and through it, wild animals care for their young. Allah has retained ninety-nine mercies to deal kindly with His slaves on the Day of Resurrection.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

 Another narration in Muslim is reported: by Salman Al-Farisi: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah has hundred mercies, out of which one mercy is used by his creation for mutual love and affection. Ninety-nine mercies are kept for the Day of Resurrection.''

 Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Allah created one hundred units of mercy on the Day He created the heavens and the earth. Each one of them can contain all that is between the heaven and the earth. Of them, he put one on earth, through which a mother has compassion for her children and animals and birds have compassion for one another. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect and complete His Mercy". (That is He will use all the hundred units of mercy for his slaves on that Day).

Commentary:


1. We learn from this Hadith that kind and compassionate treatment is liked by Allah and is in fact His Blessing and Benevolence. This is the reason He has given a part of it to His creatures, and a person who is so hard-hearted, that he is not even aware of it has a defect, which is extremely displeasing to Allah. Moreover, it is a sign that such a person is deprived of Divine blessing and mercy.

2. On the Day of Resurrection, Almighty Allah will bestow upon the believers hundred mercies. This news has great hopes and joy for His slaves.

 (Riyad Us Saliheen, Chapter 51: Hope In Allah's Mercy, Source)

 

They made a mistake in the end. God will bestow the other ninety nine mercies on the Day of Judgment.

As for God ordaining mercy on Himself:

                                                                         { كَتَبَ رَبّكُمْ عَلَى نَفْسه الرَّحْمَة } يَقُول : قَضَى رَبّكُمْ الرَّحْمَة بِخَلْقِهِ                                                                                              

 "God ordained on Himself mercy", means that God ordained that He will bestow mercy on his creation. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:54, Source)

 

 

كَتَبَ عَلَى نَفْسه الرَّحْمَة " أَيْ وَعَدَ بِهَا فَضْلًا مِنْهُ وَكَرَمًا فَلِذَلِكَ أُمْهِلَ وَذِكْر النَّفْس هُنَا عِبَارَة عَنْ وُجُوده وَتَأْكِيد وَعْده                                                              

'And he ordained mercy on himself" means that God promised it as a generous offering from Himself and for that he reminded mankind that it (His mercy) exists and ensure them of this promise. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:12, Source)


As for God's mercy overcoming His wrath:

قالوا : والمراد بالسبق والغلبة هنا كثرة الرحمة.                             

They said that this is emphasizing the abundance of the mercy. (Imam Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim, Commentary on Hadith no. 4939, Source)

So basically all the Quranic verses and hadith show that Allah is emphasizing His promise to His creation that He would bestow His mercy upon them (with conditions of course, for Islam does not teach universalism) and is also emphasizing how much mercy He has.

Sam Shamoun said:

In fact, the Quran even labels Allah as the best deceiver and schemer of them all:

And they (the disbelievers) schemed, and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of schemers. S. 3:54 Pickthall

And when those who misbelieve were crafty with thee to detain thee a prisoner, or kill thee, or drive thee forth; they were crafty, but God was crafty too, for God is best of crafty ones! S. 8:30 Palmer


Such a deity is not worthy of being called god or of being worshiped.

My Response:

http://www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/rebuttal_to_sam_shamoun_22.htm and http://www.load-islam.com/artical_det.php?artical_id=725§ion=memberbase&subsec
tion=myarticle

Sam Shamoun said:

There is a Being who can be trusted and who does act consistently, Yahweh Elohim. The Holy Bible teaches that Yahweh is perfect and therefore lacks nothing and needs no one:

"The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He." Deuteronomy 32:4

"Hear, O My people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you; I am God, your God. I do not reprove you for your sacrifices, And your burnt offerings are continually before Me. I shall take no young bull out of your house Nor male goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains. Shall I eat the flesh of bulls Or drink the blood of male goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High; Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." Psalm 50:7-15

"As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 18:30

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

"nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;" Acts 17:25


God's true Word further states that Yahweh is immutable:

"I say, 'O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days, Your years are throughout all generations. Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.'" Psalm 102:24-27

"For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." Malachi 3:6

"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us." Hebrews 6:17-18

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." James 1:17


Moreover, the Holy Scriptures teach that Yahweh is eternal:

"Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God." Psalm 90:2

"Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting." Psalm 93:2



Since Yahweh is perfect, immutable and eternal this means that all his characteristics are immutable and eternal as well:

"Remember, O LORD, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old." Psalm 25:6

"But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children," Psalm 103:17


Hence, this Deity is the only One worthy of being called God and of being worshiped by all creation! Yahweh alone can be completely and fully trusted since he always acts consistently with his immutable and perfect nature:

"Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it." Psalm 37:5

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

"Thus says the LORD, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.'" Jeremiah 17:5-8


My Response:

Well Allah is perfect as well no matter what you try to do:

Surah 61:8

They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths but Allah will perfect His light, though the unbelievers may be averse.

He has control of all things:

Surah 3:165

What! when a misfortune befell you, and you had certainly afflicted (the unbelievers) with twice as much, you began to say: Whence is this? Say: It is from yourselves; surely Allah has power over all things.

Allah is also unchangeable in His promises and purpose:

Surah 6:34

Rejected were the apostles before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of God. Already hast thou received some account of those apostles.

Surah 10:64

For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of God. This is indeed the supreme felicity. 

It states in Tafsir Al-Jalalayn:

messengers indeed have been denied before you - herein is a consolation for the Prophet (s) - yet they endured patiently the denial and the persecution until Our victorious help came to them, through the destruction of their peoples, so be patient until the victorious help comes to you through the destruction of your people.There is none to alter the words of God, His promises, and there has already come to you tidings of the messengers, [tidings] through which your heart can be at peace. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Commentary on Surah 6:34, Source)

Shamoun has done nothing to show how Allah is imperfect. All he has done is show us verses and hadith about the perfection of Allah's mercy

 

Appendix

Shamoun has come up with a response over here.

Shamoun said:

Allah created his attribute of mercy and divided it into one hundred parts.

This is the problem that Shamoun has. He fails to distinguish between mercy, which is created and the source for that created mercywhich is the eternal attribute of Mercy for Allah.

Shaykh Abdul 'Azeez bin Abdullah Al-Raajhi in his commentary on Saheeh Bukhari states:

أن الله تعالى متصف بالرحمة، كما يليق بجلاله وعظمته كسائر صفاته لا تكيف، فرحمة الله صفة من صفاته. وهي غير الرحمة المخلوقة، فإن الرحمة رحمتان:

 1
رحمة هي
 صفة من صفات الله قائمة بذاته تليق بجلاله وعظمته.

 2 
رحمة مخلوقة
 كما سيأتي في الحديث أن صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: إن الله تعالى قال، عن الجنة: "أنت رحمتي "فهذه رحمة مخلوقة، وكما في الحديث الآخر" إن لله تعالى مائة رحمة، أنزل إلى الأرض رحمة واحدة فبها يتراحم الخلق، حتى إن الدابة لترفع حافرها، عن ولدها خشية أن تصيبه "وهذه الرحمة المخلوقة هي أثر من آثار رحمة الله عز وجل التي هي صفة من صفاته.


Allah has been ascribed with mercy, which suits His Majesty and Greatness just as the rest of His attributes, without delving into its modality. The Mercy of Allah is an attribute from amongst His attributes and this is different from the created mercy, for mercy is of two types:

1)      That Mercy being an attribute from amongst the attributes of Allah, which subsists in His Essence suiting His Majesty and Greatness.

2)     Created mercy as will be shown in the hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah said regarding paradise "You are My mercy". For this is a created mercy. It has come in another hadith "Allah has one hundred mercies. He has sent down upon the earth one mercy, and it is because of this one that there is mutual love among the creation so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its young one fearing that it might harm it." This mercy is also created. It is an effect and manifestation of the Mercy of Allah All Mighty, which is an attribute from amongst His attributes. (Source)

 

One may also refer to Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah's Badaa`i ul-Fawaa'id, Volume 2, pages 408-409 where he also points out that Allah referred to rain as His mercy in Surah 7:57 with this being another example of created mercy. He also cited Surah 11:9 to point out another example of created mercy. Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah in his Al-Aqeedah Al-Waasitiyyah also makes the distinction between created mercy and Allah's uncreated attribute of Mercy. He refers to Surah 7:156 and the authentic narration, which teaches us to utter "I seek refuge in your Mercy" (برحمتك أستغيث) during our supplications as examples where Allah's uncreated attribute of Mercy is being alluded to.

Shamoun also said:

They speak explicitly of the creation of his attribute of mercy

Explicitly?! That's the problem with Shamoun. He loves to make assertions without proving them. Where do the narrations say that Allah created His attribute of Mercy? No where! Allah has created many "mercies" such as rain, paradise, etc. The hadith is speaking about a specific kind of mercy. It is a mercy that was divided into hundred parts with one causing creation to be merciful to one another, while the other 99 will be reserved until the Day of Judgment for Allah to bestow unto His creation. This doesn't mean that this mercy is the only mercy ever created, since the Qur'an refers to rain as being Allah's mercy and the hadith cites Allah as referring to paradise as His mercy. Nor is the narration making a general statement about the origin of mercy. The original Arabic text states إن لله تعالى مائة رحمة, which literally translates into "Allah has one hundred mercies". There is no reason to read that as some kind of explanation of the origin of mercy, nor as the only mercies which Allah has.

Shamoun said:

Zawadi next quotes a verse, specifically Q. 61:8 which says that Allah will perfect his light, to prove that Allah is perfect! The irony of this is that if Allah has to perfect his light then this actually proves that he is not perfect, or at least, that he was not perfect before he perfected his light, one of the very points raised in our article!

Shamoun needs to stop uttering garbage and start understanding verses. The Qur'anic verse is talking about how Allah won't let the disbelievers succeed in putting an end to the spread of Islam, but that He will make Muhammad (peace be upon him) succeed and spread the religion of truth. This doesn't call Allah's perfection into question anymore than Shamoun would say that his false god was imperfect before ensuring the spread of Christianity. 

Shamoun states:

Zawadi cites Q. 6:34 and 10:64 to prove that Allah is unchangeable in his purposes and promises.

I have addressed this issue already over here.

 

 

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