Difference between Allaah's Essential Attributes and His Active Attributes
Fatwa No: 282931

  • Fatwa Date:10-4-2015 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 21, 1436
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Question

Assalam alikum!! My question is If Allah's all attribute is eternal...then what about rain...because Allah is the one who give rain but this all is going to end before the day of judgement..then how can all Allah's attribute can be eternal?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

There is no doubt that all the Attributes of Allaah The Exalted are absolutely perfect and eternal. They are inseparable from Him, existing without any prior nonexistence, because deficiency in His Attributes is inconceivable. At-Tahaawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

His Attributes are eternal, existing before His creation. The existence of His creations did not add anything to His Attributes that was not there before them. As He is eternal in His Attributes (without beginning), so is He eternal with them (without end).” [Al-‘Aqeedah At-Tahaawiyyah]

These Attributes can be classified into two categories: the Essential Attributes (Sifaat Ath-Thaat) and the Active Attributes (Sifaat Al-Fi‘l). Ibn Abi Al-‘Izz  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote in his explanation of Al-‘Aqeedah At-Tahaawiyyah: “This means that Allaah The Exalted is eternally qualified with attributes of perfection, the Essential Attributes and the Active Attributes. It is impermissible to believe that Allaah acquired an attribute after He did not have it, because His attributes are attributes of perfection. Hence their absence is imperfection. It is inconceivable that He was first imperfect and then He became perfect.

Some of the Active Attributes are subordinate to His Will, meaning that they occur whenever Allaah wills that they occur, such as creating, giving life, bringing death and speech. Among them is what the questioner mentioned about causing the rain to fall. The fact that these Attributes occur at times and do not occur at other times does not mean that Allaah is not always qualified by them. This is because one who has power to do a certain act is qualified as having the power to do it even when he is not doing it. Ibn Abi Al-‘Izz  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him explained this saying:

This is because its occurrence in this regard is not impossible, and it is not said about it that it occurred after not having existed. One does not say of a person who speaks today and who was also speaking yesterday: He has now begun to to speak. If he did not speak because of an imperfection of speech, such as infancy or muteness and then he spoke, then it is said: He has now begun to speak. The one who is silent not due to any deficiency in speech is still called a speaker because he has the power to speak; that is, he may speak if and when he wishes. When he actually speaks, he is called a speaker-in-action. Similarly, a person who knows how to write, when he is writing he is a writer-in-action, but that does not mean that he no longer knows how to write when he is not actually writing.

This means that when Allaah created, He was qualified as The Creator because He was in the act of creating, and when He was not creating, He was still qualified as The Creator because He has the power to create. The same is true about the attribute of causing rain to fall; Allaah has the eternal attribute of having the power to cause the rain to fall when it is raining or when it is not because He has the eternal power to cause rain to fall whenever He wills. Hence, there is no contradiction here and this does not indicate that the attribute of providing rain is negated in any sense.

Allaah Knows best.

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