Revisiting The Issue of the Uncreated Quran Pt. 1

In this post I am going to again highlight the traditional Sunni belief that the Quran is uncreated, having eternally existed with/in Allah, in order to draw out its implications on both the Islamic doctrine of monotheism known as Tauhid, and the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The following renowned scholar of Islam sums up the Muslim view of the uncreatedness of the Quran, and some of the controversies that arose as a result of this position:

The Quran believed to be eternal.

Though it is the belief of the Sonnites or orthodox that the Quran is uncreated and eternal, subsisting in the very essence of GOD, and Muhammad himself is said to have pronounced him an infidel who asserted the contrary,2 yet several have been of a different opinion; particularly the sect of the Mutazalites,1 and the followers of Isa Ibn Subaih Abu Musa, surnamed al Muzdar, who stuck not to accuse those who held the Quran to be uncreated of infidelity, as asserters of two eternal beings.2

This point was controverted with so much heat that it occasioned many calamities under some of the Khalifahs of the family of Abbas, al Mamun3 making a public edict declaring the Quran to be created, which was confirmed by his successors al Mutasim4 and al Wathik,5 who whipped, imprisoned, and put to death those of the contrary opinion. But at length al Mutawakkir,6 who succeeded al Wathik, put an end to these persecutions by revoking the former edicts, releasing those that were imprisoned on that account, and leaving every man at liberty as to his belief in this point.7

Al Ghazalis opinion as to the Quran.

Al Ghazali seems to have tolerably reconciled both opinions, saying that the Quran is read and pronounced with the tongue, written in books, and kept in memory; and is yet eternal, subsisting in GOD’S essence, and not possible to be separated thence by any transmission into men’s memories or the leaves of books;8 by which he seems to mean no more than that the original idea of the Quran only is really in GOD, and consequently co-essential and co-eternal with him, but that the copies are created and the work of man.

Opinion of al Jahidh.

The opinion of al Jahidh, chief of a sect bearing his name, touching the Quran, is too remarkable to be omitted: he used to say it was a body, which might sometimes be turned into a man,1 and sometimes into a beast;2 which seems to agree with the notion of those who assert the Quran to have two faces, one of a man, the other of a beast;3 thereby, as I conceive, intimating the double interpretation it will admit of, according to the letter or the spirit.

Heretical opinions.

As some have held the Quran to be created, so there have not been wanting those who have asserted that there is nothing miraculous in that book in respect to style or composition, excepting only the prophetical relations of things past, and predictions of things to come; and that had GOD left men to their natural liberty, and not restrained them in that particular, the Arabians could have composed something not only equal but superior to the Quran in eloquence, method, and purity of language. This was another opinion of the Mutazilites, and in particular of al Muzdar, above mentioned, and al Nudham.4 (Rev. E. M. Wherry, A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran, III. Of the Quran itself, the Peculiarities of that Book; the Manner of its being Written and Published, and the General Design of it, pp. 111-113 https://answeringislam.net/Books/Wherry/Commentary1/sect3.htm; bold emphasis mine)

2 Apud Poc. Spec., p.220. (Ibid., p. 111)

1 See post, Sect. VIII.

2 Vide Poc. Spec, p.219, &c.

3 Anno Hij., 218. Abulfarag, p.245, v. etiam Elmacin. in Vita al Mamun.

4 In the time of al Mutasim, a doctor named Abu Harun Ibn al Baqa found out a distinction to screen himself, by affirming that the Quran was ordained, because it is said in that book, “And I have ordained thee the Quran.” He went still further to allow that what was ordained was created, and yet he denied it thence followed that the Quran was created Abulfarag, p. 253.

5 Ibid., p.257.

6 Anno Hij., p.242.

7 Abulfarag, p.262.

8 Al Ghazali, in prof. fid. (Ibid., p. 112)

1 The Khalifah al Walid Ibn Yazid, who was the eleventh of the race of Ommeya, and is looked on by the Muhammadans as a reprobate and one of no religion, seems to have treated this book as a rational creature; for, dipping into it one day, the first words he met with were these : “Every rebellious perverse person shall not prosper.” Whereupon he stuck it on a lance, and shot it to pieces with arrows, repeating these verses: “Dost thou rebuke every rebellious, perverse person? Behold, I am that rebellious, perverse person. When thou on appearest before thy LORD on the day of resurrection, say, O LORD, al Walid has torn me thus.” Ibn Shohnah. v. Poc. Spec., p.223.

2 Poc. Spec., p. 222.

3 Herbelot, p. 87.

4 Abulfeda, Shahristani, &c., apud Poc. Spec., p.222, et Marracc., De Our., p. 44. (Ibid., p. 113; bold emphasis mine)

It is ironic that Muslims had their own Arians, meaning those that were like the fourth-century heretic Arius who proclaimed that Jesus was a creature of God while believing that Christ was/is God’s Word. These particular Muslims not only believed that about the Quran, but the two factious Islamic groups even went as far as to attack and/or even kill one another over this issue of whether the Muslim revelation was created or eternal.

Now lest Muslims object and claim that Alfred Guillaume was making things up or misrepresenting the Islamic position, I am going to cite from Muslim sources to show that what he has stated in regards to the nature of the Quran in traditional Islamic beliefs is absolutely correct.

42 Model Behavior of the Prophet (Kit Al-Sunnah)

(1698) Chapter: The Qur’an, The Word Of Allah

Ibn ‘abbas said:

The Prophet used to seek refuge in Allah for al-Hasan and al-Husain, saying; I seek refuge for both of you in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous thing and from the evil eye which influences. He would then say; your father sought refuge in Allah by them for Ismail and Ishaq.

Abu Dawud said; this is a proof of the fact that the Quran IS NOT CREATED.

Grade: SAHIH (Al-Albani)

Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 4737

In-book reference: Book 42, Hadith 142

English translation: Book 41, Hadith 4719 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/abudawud/42/142; capital and underline emphasis mine)

The translator says in a note that:

4127. The Prophet called the Qur’an the perfect words of Allah. A perfect word cannot be a created thing. (Sunan Abu Dawud, English translation with explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984], XXXV. Kitab al-Sunnah [Book of Model Behaviour (of the Prophet)], Chapter 1698: The Qur’an, The Word of Allah, pp. 1325-26; bold emphasis mine)

And:

6. The sixth proof 

It was narrated that Khawlah bint Hakeem said: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “Whoever stops at a place and says: I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from the evil of that which He has created, nothing will harm him until he moves on from that place.”. Narrated by Muslim (2708). 

If His words were created, then seeking refuge in them would be shirk, because that would be seeking refuge in something that is created. It is well-known that seeking refuge in anything other than Allah, may He be exalted, and His names and attributes is shirk, so how could the Prophet have taught his ummah something that is obviously shirk, when he is the one who came to teach them pure Tawheed? 

This indicates that the words of Allah, may He be exalted, are not created

Na‘eem ibn Hammaad said: Refuge is not to be sought in anything that is created, or in the words of people, jinn, humans or angels. 

Al-Bukhaari said, after quoting that: This indicates that the words of Allah are not created, and that everything other than Him is created. 

See: Khalq Af‘aal al-‘Ibaad (p. 143)

7. The seventh proof 

The hadith of Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet who said:

“The superiority of the words of Allah over all other words is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation.” 

A hasan hadith, narrated by ‘Uthmaan ad-Daarimi in ar-Radd ‘ala al-Jahamiyyah (no. 287, 340); al-Laalkaa’i (no. 557) 

This hadith confirms the belief of the salaf, that the Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not created…

10. The tenth proof

Words of the leading scholars of the early generations affirming this belief:

‘Amr ibn Dinaar – one of the best of the Taabi‘i imams – said:

I have been meeting the companions of the Prophet and others who are next in status to them for seventy years, and they say: Allah is the Creator, and everything other than Him is created. The Qur’an is the word of Allah; it came from Him and will return to Him.

‘Abdullah ibn Naafi‘ said: Maalik used to say:

The Qur’an is the word of Allah. And he used to regard as abhorrent the view of those who said that the Qur’an was created.

Narrated by Saalih ibn Ahmad in al-Mihnah (p. 66) with a saheeh isnaad from him.

Ar-Rabee‘ ibn Sulaymaan, the companion and student of ash-Shaafa‘i, said, narrating a debate that took place between him and Hafs al-Fard concerning the Qur’an:

He (Hafs) started the debate with Ash-Shaafa‘i, and ash-Shaafa‘i presented his argument with proof, and there was a lengthy debate in which ash-Shaafa‘i established proof that the Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not created, and he regarded Hafs al-Fard as a disbeliever. Ar-Rabee‘ said: I met Hafs al-Fard in the gathering later on and he said: ash-Shafaa‘i wanted to kill me.

Narrated by ‘Abd ar-Rahmaan ibn Abi Haatim in Adaab ash-Shaafa‘i (p. 194-195). Its isnaad is saheeh.

Ibn Abi Haatim said:

I asked my father and Abu Zar‘ah about the views of Ahl as-Sunnah concerning the fundamentals of religion and what they learned from the scholars in all regions, and what they believed concerning that.

They said:

We met the scholars from all regions, the Hijaz, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and their view was that faith is both words and deeds, and it may increase or decrease; the Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not created in any way.

Narrated by Ibn at-Tabari in as-Sunnah (1/176) with a saheeh isnaad.

Imam Abu’l-Qaasim Hibatullah ibn al-Hasan at-Tabari al-Laalkaa’i quoted, in his great book Sharh Usool I‘tiqaad Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah: This is the view of five hundred and fifty individuals among the scholars and early generations of this ummah, all of whom say: The Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not created; whoever says that it is created is a disbeliever.

He said:

These people number five hundred and fifty or more, from among the Taabi‘een and their followers and leading scholars, other than the righteous Sahaabah, despite the differences in their locations and the passage of many years. Among them are approximately one hundred imams from whom the people learned their beliefs and followed them in their views. If I wanted to write down the views of the hadith scholars (concerning this issue), their names would be many thousands.

End quote from as-Sunnah (493)

Summarised from the book al-‘Aqeedah as-Salafiyyah fi Kalaam Rabb al-Bariyyah wa Kashf Abaateel al-Mubtadi‘ah ar-Radiyyah (p. 121-147) (Islam Question & Answer, “Ten textual and rational proofs that the Qur’an is the word of Allah and is not created” https://islamqa.info/en/answers/219613/ten-textual-and-rational-proofs-that-the-quran-is-the-word-of-allah-and-is-not-created; bold emphasis mine)

Keep in mind the argument that the words of Allah are not created, since I will return to this point later on.

There’s more:

Adh-Dhahabee brings with a good (jayyid) chain of narration, as occurs in Mukhtasar al-Uluww (p. 155) from Alee bin al-Hasan al-Kuraa’ee who said: Abu Yusuf said:

“I debated Abu Hanifah for six months, and then our view became united that the one who said the Qur’an is created is a kaafir.”

And al-Bayhaqi also relates this in al-Asmaa was-Sifaat, narrating from Abdullaah bin Ahmad bin Abdur-Rahmaan bin Abdullaah ad-Dushtaki who said: “I heard Abu Yusuf saying..”, then he mentioned it, and then he (al-Bayhaqi) said: “Abu Abdullaah (meaning al-Haakim) said, ‘All of its narrators are thiqaat’.” (Maturidis.com, http://www.maturidis.com/maturidi/articles/fnegp-imaam-abu-hanifah-d-150h-and-the-splitting-and-deviation-of-the-hanafis-after-him-into-diverse-factions.cfm; bold emphasis mine)

[Point 15 of 170]

15: Concerning The Speech of Allaah And Questioning the Attributes

No one says about the attributes of the Lord, the Most High, ‘Why?’ except one who doubts about Allaah, the Blessed and Most High. The Qur’aan is the Speech of Allaah, His Revelation and Light. It is not created, since the Qur’aan is from Allaah and that which is from Allaah is not created. This was what Maalik ibn Anas, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the Scholars before and after them said and debating about it is disbelief.[1]

______________________________

NOTES

1. The Qur’aan is the Speech of Allaah, hence it is an attribute of Allaah.

All of Allaah’s attributes have been with Him eternally. Imaam Maalik said, “The Qur’aan is the speech of Allaah. It is not created.” Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee in Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah (no.414).

Imaam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was asked about the one who says that the Qur’aan was created, so he said, “(He is) a disbeliever.” Reported by al-Laalikaa’ee in Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahl is-Sunnah (no.449). (Kitaab Sharh us-Sunnah [Explanation of Creed],
by Imaam al-Barbahaaree, Translated by Abu Talhah Dawud Burbank https://qawaariyyah.wordpress.com/tag/abu-talhah/; bold emphasis mine)

Not only is the Quran uncreated, it actually consists of two natures or aspects, one of which is created!

46-) Is the Quran makhluq (something created)?

a. It is necessary to view the Quran in two ways.The material and created aspect of the Quran, which is the paper, ink, cover, voice, articulation point and the case of the Quran that are seen by the eye, heard by the ear and touched by the hand.

b. The spiritual and kalam, which is a divine attribute, aspect of the Quran. From this point of view, the Quran is not created. Since Allah is not created and He is pre-eternal, His attributes are not created, either. One of His attributes is the attribute of kalam (speech). We call the Quran “kalamullah” (speech or word of Allah). Kalamullah is a divine attribute; in this aspect, it is not created. It is a divine attribute and modesty that has become manifest so that we will understand what Allah wants from us. (Questions on Islam, “Most Read in the Category of The Quran” https://questionsonislam.com/tum-kategori/62; bold emphasis mine)

Question

I know that the Qur’an is one of the attributes of Allah, like His Eye, His Hand and so on, and that it is the word of Allah in a real sense, that was sent down to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) through Jibreel, and that the Qur’an is not created. But what is meant by that? Does that mean that the words of Allah are not created, even when we read them, although we are created by Allah and everything we say or do is part of the creation of Allah? Is thinking in this way regarded as a kind of overstepping the mark? I do not want to do that, all I want is to ensure that my belief is sound.

Answer

Praise be to Allah.

The Qur’an is the word of Allah, may He be exalted, and is not created.

What is meant by that is that Allah, may He be exalted, spoke the words of the Qur’an, which Jibreel heard from Him, and brought down to the Prophet, and conveyed it to him. 

All of the attributes of Allah, may He be exalted, are uncreated; they are eternal, with no beginning. The words of Allah are among these attributes, and that includes the Qur’an. Therefore the scholars said that the Qur’an is not created, because it is the words of Allah, and that is one of His attributes. 

With regard to people’s actions, they are created. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“While Allah has created you and what you do [or make]”

[as-Saaffaat 37:96]. 

There are two issues that we must distinguish between: 

The first is the words of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, that He spoke initially, and Jibreel heard them from Him, and the Prophet conveyed them to us. This is an attribute of Allah that is not created in its letters and words; the same applies to His voice with which Allah spoke initially, and Jibreel heard it from Him. 

All of this comes under the heading of the words of Allah, nothing of which is created, no matter how it is written, recited or heard. 

The second is the actions of the person, who is the vessel which carries the words of Allah, so he writes them in a book, reads them and hears them. All that comes from a person and that he does is created

So the hand of the person is created, the ink with which he writes is created, the paper on which he writes is created, the person’s tongue is created, his voice that belongs to him is created. All of these are vessels in which people carry the word of Allah and transmit it and convey it. 

More than one of the leading scholars have explained this issue and differentiated between these two matters. Foremost among them is the leader of hadith scholars, Imam Muhammad ibn Ismaa‘eel al-Bukhaari. He wrote a book on this specific topic entitled Khalq Af‘aal al-‘Ibaad. Among other things he said in it (2/70): 

Abu ‘Abdullah ibn Ismaa‘eel said: I heard ‘Ubaydullah ibn Sa‘eed say: I heard Yahya ibn Sa‘eed say: I always heard our companions say that people’s deeds are created. 

Abu ‘Abdullah said: Their movements, voices, actions and writing are created. As for the Qur’an that is recited, recorded in the Mus-haf, written, and memorised in people’s hearts, it is the word of Allah and is not created. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Nay, but they, the clear Ayat (i.e the description and the qualities of Prophet Muhammad written like verses in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) are preserved in the breasts of those who have been given knowledge (from the people of the Scriptures)

But it is clear revelations in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge”

[al-‘Ankaboot 29:49]. 

Ishaaq ibn Ibraaheem said: As for the vessels, who would doubt that they are created?

End quote. 

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:  

When we recite the Qur’an, we recite it with our voices that are created, that cannot resemble the voice of the Lord. The Qur’an that we recite is the word of Allah, conveyed from Him and not heard directly from Him. Rather we recite it with our voices. The words are the words of the Creator, but the voice is the sound of the reciter, as is indicated by the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as common sense. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And if anyone of the Mushrikoon (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Qur’an), and then escort him to where he can be secure”

[at-Tawbah 9:6].

And the Prophet said: “Make the Qur’an beautiful with your voices.” 

End quote from Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (12/98). See also: Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (12/53) 

The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas said: 

What we are required to believe concerning the Qur’an, which is the view of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa‘ah, as indicated by the Qur’an and Sunnah, is that the Qur’an is the word of Allah in a true sense. Its letters and meanings were sent down, not created. It came from Him and will return to Him. It is the word of Allah, may He be exalted, when it is recited and when it is written. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):

“(It is) in Records held (greatly) in honour (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz).

Exalted (in dignity), purified,”

[‘Abasa 80:13, 14]

“A Messenger (Muhammad) from Allah, reciting (the Quran) purified pages (purified from Al-Batil (falsehood, etc.))

Containing correct and straight laws from Allah”

[al-Bayyinah 98:2-3]. 

The Qur’an that we read is the word of Allah, may He be exalted, but we recite it with our voices. So the words are the words of the Creator and the voice is the voice of the reciter. 

End quote from Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa’imah (3/21) 

For more details on this issue, please see Mukhtasar as-Sawaa‘iq al-Mursalah by Ibn al-Qayyim (503-510) (Islam Question & Answer, “The Qur’an is the word of Allah, may He be exalted, and is not created” https://islamqa.info/en/answers/227441/the-quran-is-the-word-of-allah-may-he-be-exalted-and-is-not-created; bold emphasis mine) 

Hence, the Quran is both uncreated and created, eternal and temporal at the same time, in that its physical component, namely the mushaf or book that contains it, and which is an essential part of its makeup, happens to be created.

That the Quran also appears in human form and as beasts are confirmed in the following reports:

Abu Umama said he heard Allah’s Messenger say: Recite the Qur’an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite It. Recite the two bright ones, al-Baqara and Surah Al ‘Imran, for on the Day of Resurrection they will come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks, pleading for those who recite them. Recite Surah al-Baqara, for to take recourse to it is a blessing and to give it up is a cause of grief, and the magicians cannot confront it. (Mu’awiya said: It has been conveyed to me that here Batala means magicians.) (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1757: http://searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=004&translator=2&start=0&number=1645)

The Quran will appear in the form of a pale white man:

It was narrated that Buraydah said: I heard the Prophet say: “The Qur’an will meet its companion on the Day of Resurrection when his grave is opened for him, IN THE FORM OF A PALE MAN. IT WILL SAY TO HIM, ‘Do you recognize me?’ He will say: ‘I do not recognize you.’ IT WILL SAY: ‘I am your companion the Qur’an, who kept you thirsty on hot days and kept you awake at night. Every merchant benefits from his business and today you will benefit from your good deeds.’ He will be given dominion in his right hand and eternity in his left, and there will be placed on his head a crown of dignity, and his parents will be clothed with priceless garments the like of which have never been seen in this world. They will say: ‘Why have we been clothed with this?’ It will be said: ‘Because your son used to recite Qur’an.’ Then it will be said to him: ‘Recite and ascend in the degrees of Paradise,’ and he will continue to ascend so long as he recites, either at a fast pace or a slow pace.”

Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad (394) and Ibn Maajah in al-Sunan (3781); classed as hasan by al-Busayri in al-Zawaa’id and by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2829).

Here is the English translation of Ibn Majah’s version of this report:

3781. It was narrated from Ibn Buraidah that his father told that the Messenger of Allah said: “The Qur’an will come on the Day of Resurrection, LIKE A PALE MAN, AND WILL SAY: ‘I am the one that kept you awake at night and made you thirsty during the day.’” (Hasan) (English Translation of Sunan Ibn Majah – Compiled by Imam Muhammad Bin Yazeed Ibn Majah Al-Qazwini, From Hadith No. 3657 to 4341, Ahadith edited and referenced by Hafiz Abu Tahir Zubair ‘Ali Za’i, translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Canada), final review by Abu Khalil (USA), [Darussalam Publications and Distributors, First Edition: June 2007], Volume 5, Chapters on Etiquette, Chapter 52. The Rewards Associated With Qur’an, pp. 68-69 https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:3781; capital emphasis mine)

To top it off, the Quran and its individual surahs actually pray to and worship Allah as their very Lord!

Khalid b. Ma‘dan said: RECITE THE RESCUER, which is A.L.M. The sending down,3 for I have heard that a man who had committed many sins used to recite it and nothing else. It spread its wings over him AND SAID, ‘MY LORD, forgive him, for he often used to RECITE ME;’ so the Lord Most High MADE IT AN INTERCESSOR for him and said, ‘Record for him a good deed and raise him a degree in place of every sin.’ Khalid said: IT WILL DISPUTE on behalf of the one who RECITES IT when he is in the grave SAYING, ‘O God, if I am a part of Thy Book, make me AN INTERCESSOR for him; but if I am not a part of Thy Book, blot me out of it.’ It will be like a bird putting its wing on him, IT WILL INTERCEDE for him and will protect him from the punishment in the grave. He said the same about ‘Blessed is He.’4 Khalid did not go to sleep at night till he had recited them. Ta’us said they were given sixty virtues more than any other sura in the Qur’an. Darimi transmitted.”

3. Qur’an, xxxii.

4. Qur’an, lxvii. (Mishkat Al-Masabih, English Translation With Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], Volume II, Book VIII. The Excellent Qualities of the Qur’an, Chapter I, p. 459; bold and capital emphasis mine)

With the foregoing in view, we are ready to proceed to the next segment of my discussion (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/22/the-quran-confirms-the-prehuman-existence-and-incarnation-of-christ-pt-2/).

5 thoughts on “Revisiting The Issue of the Uncreated Quran Pt. 1

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