The Mu'tazilah & the Createdness of the Qur'an

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

According to Dr. Muhammad Kamal, the denial or the acceptance of the Divine Attributes has led to an issue in Muslim theology with regard to the nature of the Qur’an — whether it is Eternal or Created.  Sunni scholars argued that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah (s.w.t.) and Existed before its Revelation and even before the Creation of the world.  There are two arguments developed by Sunni scholars in support of this view.  First, the Eternity of the Qur’an is a logical consequence of the acceptance of the Divine Attributes as something Real and Eternal.  The Speech of Allah (s.w.t.) is an Attribute, which is Real and Eternal and Subsists in the Essence of Allah (s.w.t.) and for this reason, we need to pronounce the Co-Eternal Characteristic of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Speech.  Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.) stated, “Whatever is between the covers of the Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, and whatever we hear, read and write is the Speech of Allah.  Since the Speech of Allah is Eternal, then the Words are Uncreated and Eternal also.”

It is also reported by Imam ash-Shahrastani (r.a.) that Sunni Islam does not say that the Qur’an in this physical form as a printed book read by Muslims is Eternal and Uncreated: “We should not assert the Eternity of the letters and sounds, which subsist in our tongues.”

The second argument for the Reality and the Eternity of the Qur’an is based on the verses in the Qur’an itself:

Nay this is a Glorious Qur’an, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved! (Surah al-Buruj:21-22)

Furthermore, I Call to witness the setting of the stars ― And that is indeed a mighty adjuration if ye but knew ― That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable, in a Book Well-Guarded, (Surah al-Waqi’ah:75-78)

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Ha Mim.  By the Book that Makes things clear ― We have Made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom). (Surah az-Zukhruf:1-3)

These verses, which contain expressions such as, “in a Preserved Tablet”, “a Book Well-Guarded”, and “Book that Makes things clear”, signify that the Qur’an Existed prior to its Revelation.  There is nothing contradictory in such a view according to the Mu’tazilah, because the Qur’an Describes Itself as the Word of Allah (s.w.t.):

If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the Word of Allah; and then escort him to where he can be secure: That is because they are men without knowledge. (Surah at-Tawbah:6)

To the Mu'tazilah, this does not assert the Eternity of the Qur’an, simply because Eternity Belongs to Allah (s.w.t.) Only, and nothing else can be Eternal or Uncreated.  If we accept the eternity of anything except Allah (s.w.t.), then we approve polytheism and negate monotheism.  The Mu’tazilah do not agree with the Sunnis on the Eternity of the Word of Allah (s.w.t.), but they do not deny the Reality of the Qur’an and admit that there was a real Qur’an, which Existed before its Revelation in a Preserved Tablet.  They also insist that Allah (s.w.t.) even Created it before it was Revealed, and hence there was no room for the belief in its Eternity.  It was also inferred from the Qur’anic verse:

 Thus, do We Relate to thee some stories of what happened before ... (Surah ThaHa:99)

This is in order to prove that the Qur’an was produced after the events Mentioned in this text.


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