Does Allah act without purpose?


assalam `alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Ramadan Mubarak Shaykh Gibril,

I hope this blessed month which is about to end went well for you and your relatives.

I have some questions regarding an issue on which Ash`aris notoriously differed with Mu`tazilites, the issue of whether Allah acts for a purpose or not, as I am not sure how to understand it.

I’ve read some Ash’ari laymen claiming on a forum that this article of creed conflicts with the belief that Allah created the world for the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam. Is this understanding correct, or did they misunderstand what the Ash`aris mean by it? How should it be understood?

Also, I’ve read that the Maturidis have a different position than the Ash`aris on this issue. Is this difference of opinion genuine or only verbal? And what is the difference between the Maturidi opinion and the Mu`tazili one, as there should be a difference of opinion since Ash`aris respect the first and disavow the second ?

jazaka Allahu khayran


wa `alaykum salam,

Everything Allah Most High does is for a wisdom and He does nothing in vain or without purpose:

أَفَحَسِبۡتُمۡ أَنَّمَا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُمۡ عَبَثً۬ا وَأَنَّكُمۡ إِلَيۡنَا لَا تُرۡجَعُونَ

{Deemed ye then that We had created you for naught?} Surat al-Mu’minun 23:115

ٱلَّذِينَ يَذۡكُرُونَ ٱللَّهَ قِيَـٰمً۬ا وَقُعُودً۬ا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمۡ وَيَتَفَڪَّرُونَ فِى خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقۡتَ هَـٰذَا بَـٰطِلاً۬ سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ

{Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! Thou createdst not this in vain} Surat aal- `Imran 3:191

The Mu`tazilis made up the doctrine of husn and qubh, excellence and reprehensibility, and they claimed that Allah is governed by the first and obligated to do only what is good. Ash`aris rightly responded that Allah Most High is never obligated or bound by anything, including a reason or cause in the sense of creatures. {Allah does whatever He wants} (2:253, 22:14), {Allah does whatever He wishes} (3:40, 22:18),and all that He does is good. But it is incorrect to infer from that, that Ash`aris say Allah acts without purpose.

As for the fact that Allah created the world for the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, it is proved by the verse

وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ ٱلۡجِنَّ وَٱلۡإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُونِ

{I did not create jinn and humankind except for them to worship Me} Surat adh-Dhariyat 51:56, and Allah Most High gave the Prophet (upon him blessings and peace) the title `Abd Allah (72:19, 17:1), so he is the worshipper of Allah par excellence. Hence, it is as if Allah Most High is saying: “I did not create creation except to create Muhammad because he is My perfect worshipper.”

As Ahmad b. Taymiyya said in his Majmu` al-Fatawa (11:95-97):

<<Since the best of the righteous of the children of Adam is Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace), creating him was a desirable end of deep-seated, purposeful wisdom, more than for anyone else, and hence the completion of creation and the fulfillment of perfection was attained with Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace)…  Since Man is the seal and last of all creation and its microcosm, and since the Best of Men is thus the Best of all creation absolutely, then Muhammad (upon him blessings and peace), being the Pupil of the Eye, the Axis of the Mill, and the Distributor to the Collective, is, as it were, the Ultimate Purpose from among all the purposes of creation. Thus it cannot be denied that “Due to him all of this was created,” or that “Were it not for him, all this would not have been created.”>>

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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