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In the Name of God بسم الله

Does G-d Have Free Will?

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I realize this thread is way into some pretty forbidden territory, but this is an honest question I have and a recent discussion once again raised this question in my mind. I'd like some forbearance in working through the implications of what I'm writing.

Before anyone says that we cannot discuss G-d's attributes (see Imam Ali here). For the sake of this discussion (and having the mods approve this thread), I agree with Imam Ali through the first five paragraphs, and especially with this paragraph --

Thus whoever attaches attributes to
Allah
recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.

However, G-d clearly has some attributes, and they are described in various texts, including this same sermon --

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His
Oneness
, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute.

In this instance, declaring the G-d is One, something that both Jews and Muslims do as part of our respective creeds -- "I bear witness that there is no G-d but G-d" and "Hear O Israel: The L-RD is G-d, the L-RD is One" -- is clearly not declaring that G-d is other than One. Thus, G-d's "Oneness", or more properly, G-d's "Uniqueness", is an attribute (or am I mistaken?), and in both faiths we declare it to be the truth.

In this thread there was one of the usual sophist arguments regarding G-d being able to make a rock so big that even G-d couldn't lift it. Several times in the past, whenever I've rebutted that argument, I've been left with a nagging feeling. Does the fact that G-d is "The Most Merciful / Forgiving / Just / Knowing", and all the other attributes on which Muslims and Jews agree, limit G-d's behavior? For example, the very first ayat in the Qur'an --

ÈöÓúãö Çááøóåö ÇáÑøóÍúãóäö ÇáÑøóÍöíãö

Clearly, to me, this is not forbidden since "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" has no "likeness". It's not just average "gracious" and "merciful", like anyone else might be "gracious" and "merciful", it's superlative "Gracious" and "Merciful".

Both the Qur'an and Torah state that G-d forgives those who earnestly repent, and both texts state that G-d does not break promises -- from memory, the Qur'an states "Allah does not break a promise, unless it is with something better." So it would seem to me that in both faiths, G-d is limited by the very structure of the faith itself. If one earnestly repents, we have a promise that G-d will forgive (provided, presumably, that we did not sin knowing that if we sinned, we'd be able to repent and be forgiven -- not sure how Islam deals with that), thus G-d has no choice in the matter.

Thoughts? Anyone else seeing what I'm seeing? Is it incorrect to state that this isn't a lack of "free will"?

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Well, according to the Theology followed by the Shia school of Islam, as a consequence of the belief of Absolute Oneness, the attributes of God are seen as One with the Essence of God. In this light, I supopse that it would be argued that it is impossible for God to not manifest these attributes, since it would be impossible for Him to be what He is not.

It's difficult, these sorts of questions; you get to places where language breaks.

There was sort of a similar discussion a few months back about whether God could possibly do evil. At one point it came to a question of what you mean by possible. It was unanimously agreed that it was impossible in the sense that it would never happen that God would ever in reality do evil. However there was some discussion as to whether it was theoretically possible, for God to do evil since there was noone but Himself to force Him to do good. But given the belief in attributes being one with essence, it would seem to be impossible even in theory, a metaphysical impossibility.

The only cannot with God is that God cannot not be Himself.

Say that ten times fast!

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I realize this thread is way into some pretty forbidden territory, but this is an honest question I have and a recent discussion once again raised this question in my mind. I'd like some forbearance in working through the implications of what I'm writing.

Before anyone says that we cannot discuss G-d's attributes (see Imam Ali here). For the sake of this discussion (and having the mods approve this thread), I agree with Imam Ali through the first five paragraphs, and especially with this paragraph --

Thus whoever attaches attributes to
Allah
recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.

However, G-d clearly has some attributes, and they are described in various texts, including this same sermon --

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His
Oneness
, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute.

In this instance, declaring the G-d is One, something that both Jews and Muslims do as part of our respective creeds -- "I bear witness that there is no G-d but G-d" and "Hear O Israel: The L-RD is G-d, the L-RD is One" -- is clearly not declaring that G-d is other than One. Thus, G-d's "Oneness", or more properly, G-d's "Uniqueness", is an attribute (or am I mistaken?), and in both faiths we declare it to be the truth.

In this thread there was one of the usual sophist arguments regarding G-d being able to make a rock so big that even G-d couldn't lift it. Several times in the past, whenever I've rebutted that argument, I've been left with a nagging feeling. Does the fact that G-d is "The Most Merciful / Forgiving / Just / Knowing", and all the other attributes on which Muslims and Jews agree, limit G-d's behavior? For example, the very first ayat in the Qur'an --

ÈöÓúãö Çááøóåö ÇáÑøóÍúãóäö ÇáÑøóÍöíãö

Clearly, to me, this is not forbidden since "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" has no "likeness". It's not just average "gracious" and "merciful", like anyone else might be "gracious" and "merciful", it's superlative "Gracious" and "Merciful".

Well first of all I should state that unfortunately not everything Imam Ali was saying was compiled. Due to the politics of the time, not everything he said about a topic was recorded. For example, in some sermons where he was talking for 3 hours, you will find that in fact only 1 hour of that sermon was recorded. Or a sermon may be recorded one day, and not on another day. The problem this raises is that some of the topics that he would have expanded on or gone into more detail with are just unknown and this seems like one of them. And also there is the usual case of it being translated from arabic, and we all know how that waters down its meaning.

I don’t think the translators did a good enough job because I don’t think “attribute” is the right word to use here. Imam Ali more than anyone else would have known that Islam has 99 names for Allah swt (http://www.sufism.org/society/asma/index.html) and each of them define an attribute of him. This is where translating arabic gets tricky because the english language, as we all know is very dull, and doesn’t have words that can properly accommodate all the different arabic words. There is a difference between the attributes that Imam Ali is talking about, and the ones like the 99 names for Allah swt. From what I can tell, the context of this sermon is taking place in a time when many pagan arabs were abound, and thus would address the attributes polytheists give to their gods. For example in many polytheistic pantheons there are gods who can lie in certain mythological stories. However in Islam we know God is “Al-h Haqq” aka the all truthful, so he wouldn’t lie. This sermon may have been addressed in that sense to warn the arabs from attributing characteristics of the pagan gods onto Allah.

Both the Qur'an and Torah state that G-d forgives those who earnestly repent, and both texts state that G-d does not break promises -- from memory, the Qur'an states "Allah does not break a promise, unless it is with something better." So it would seem to me that in both faiths, G-d is limited by the very structure of the faith itself. If one earnestly repents, we have a promise that G-d will forgive (provided, presumably, that we did not sin knowing that if we sinned, we'd be able to repent and be forgiven -- not sure how Islam deals with that), thus G-d has no choice in the matter.

Thoughts? Anyone else seeing what I'm seeing? Is it incorrect to state that this isn't a lack of "free will"?

God being limited by his religion?????

This can easily be answered by the usual “can but won’t” scenario. God can do anything but there are many things he won’t do. For example as is with the attribute of Al-h Haqq, he is all truthful. That does not mean that he cannot lie; it means that he chooses to not lie. Similarly if he makes a promise in some holy book, then him keeping his promise means he chooses to do so, not because he has to but because he chooses to do so. So you see its not that he’s limited by the structure of any faith but because he chooses to abide by what he has set out in that faith

I think I should go deeper by expanding on free will as I don’t believe it is an attribute of God. Let’s look at history for our answer. We know that free will did not exist before the universe came into being, because free will itself is a creation of God. In fact free will didn’t even exist at the dawn of the universe. This is because God was still stimulating creation via expanding creation through the Big Bang, during which time he brought the earth into existence and stimulated life via evolution to create all the necessary organisms and so on to prepare the Earth for us, in fact free will didn’t come until way after when through evolution he brought forth organisms that possessed free will like humans, jinns, and the others we don’t know about. And what kind of free will do you think we have; did we have the choice to be born, did we have the choice to undergo this life as a test to be granted paradise……no we didn’t. Even our so-called free will is limited by the conditions God created. God created the environment in which the only choice we have is between good and evil; that’s all the free will we have. Under that paradigm how can one ask does God have free will, when we realize that free will itself is a construct created by God; in which the choices themselves are limited by the environment and the other rules god set up for us. Is kind of like how students don’t get to pick which questions come on their exams

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it would be impossible for Him to be what He is not.

^I think that basically sums it up.

Can God do evil? Can God not be merciful, can He not be gracious? Can God create a rock so big that He himself cannot lift it? Can God place an evil-doer in heaven and a good-doer in hell? Can God create another God? These questions THEMSELVES are flawed. They are wrong questions. For anyone to say that God cannot do such things thus He is limited, has some pretty twisted logic.

And let's not forget the concept of Adalat, Justice of God, our 2nd root of religion... because God is Just, he lacks free will? So to answer your question, no; it's not incorrect to say that this isn't a lack of free will. (does that hurt anyone else's brain :wacko: )

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(salam)

There is a wide collection of Imam Raza's debates with theologians on this subject. Imam Raza a.s was the Great Grandson of Imam Ali a.s. I would like to quote a passage from one of his debates, which, I believe, sheds light on this topic.

The debate was between Soleiman (from Khorasan) and Imam Reza a.s in the court of Al-Mamun.

Soleiman: Can you tell me, for what has the following verse of Quran been revealed ?

"We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of the Power" - Al-Quran 97:1

Imam Raza: O Soleiman. The Honorable the Exalted God will decide the destiny (of an individual) for one year including life or death, good or bad, and sustenance on the Night of Power. Whatever God destines on that night comes to be.

Soleiman: Please tell me more.

Imam Raza: Some of the affairs are up to the Honorable the Exalted God and what He wills. He can expedite what He wills and procrastinate what He wills. He can destroy what He wills. O Soleiman, knowledge is of two types: Knowledge which God taught His Angels and His Messengers - that which God has taught His angels and Messengers will be done, and that which is hidden near Him and He has informed none of His creatures of it. It is by this knowledge which He expedites what He wills to expedite, procrastinates what He wills to procrastinates, destroys what He wills to destroy, and He stabilizes what He wills to stabilize.

In the rest of the debate, they debated whether God's "will" is a creation or not and it's comparison with other attributes of God....and so forth.

Fi-Amanillah

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(bismillah)

(salam)

1) Regarding the issue of attributes, in my limited understanding, what is meant is that God in Himself is One and Unique, but once He creates and manifests this Oneness into outward multiplicity, the created things have different natures and hence are described with different attributes. According to how they manifest Him, they are given attributes. For example, a fruit manifests Him as beauty, but also as a sustainer, a nourisher, a designer, etc. So by saying "In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful," what is implied is "In the Name of God, whose manifestation of Himself in creation can be described as, amongst other things, Beneficence and Mercy." Please note, lest audhu'billah these comments are taken in the wrong way, that I am not using "manifestation" in the sense that Christians or Hindus do-ie, "Jesus is God in the flesh" etc. It is a manifestation in the sense that it is a reflection of Him. Imam Ali (as) says in Sermon 107 of Nahjul Balagha:

Praise be to Allah Who is Manifest before His creation because of themselves. Who is apparent to their hearts because of clear proof

Similarly, Allah SWT Himself says in 57:3

He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things.

One way a father of one of my friends explained it is as follows: Think about a crystal, how it is a silver-ish color, but when light hits it numerous colors emanate from it. The light is one, yet once it has the medium of the crystal, numerous colors appear. Of course, now we use the analogy to explain that Allah SWT is like the original light, which is one (for linguistic purposes, this is just an analogy, not a scientific explanation) yet manifests itself in different colors, as Allah SWT manifests Himself or gives us finite glimpses of His Independent Infinity through the numerous forms in the natural world.

Another thing Imam Ali (as) may be referring to is the fact that giving Allah SWT attributes limits Him. When I say "God is Merciful" and you say "God is Merciful" we both have certain ideas pop into our minds which are both similar and different. Attributes for God, as we know them, can only be indicators. We may have a glimpse of Mercy, but we cannot know in this life what Mercy is in its entirety, or what it is in itself beyond our subjective understanding.

2) Regarding free will, the best way I can think to explain it right now is that God acts in accordance with His "nature." For example, it is possible for me to jump out of my window right now to the concrete two floors below. Similarly, I can go banging on my neighbor's door at 3 am just for the heck of it. But, because I am a sane human being (at least I think I am :) ), I will not do these things. It seems that the same can be said of God. Sure, God is capable of sending every Prophet into the Hell-fire. But will He? No, in the same way that I won't jump out my window, although I have the potential to. If God is somehow "forced" to create, be compassionate, etc. He is no more worthy of praise than a person with a chip implanted in their brain which compels them to perform good actions. What the various proofs advocated by Ibn Sina, Mulla Sadra, etc. seek to establish, and many people feel that they do, is that God is completely limitless, independent, infinite and boundless. To not include "free" in these definitions, ie to say that God is constrained, is to contradict their very definitions.

There is a hadith that a companion of Imam Ridha (as) asked him how it is that he (the Imam (as) ) does not sin, ie is he compelled not to sin, or does he always choose not to sin? The two went for a walk, and they passed by a butcher's shop which had rotting meat sitting outside as garbage. Imam (as) aksed his companion if he would eat such meat, and of course he replied in he negative. Imam (as) then said that for himself, the thought of sinning is about as appealing as eating that meat (if not worse).

The idea is that just as Imam (as) avoided sinning because of his nature and his understanding of sin, so also does God choose to act according His own nature.

So yes, God does have free will, and can break His promises, etc. But once His perfection is established and one is convinced of it, either through rational arguments, faith, whatever, one understands that such an action will never take place because it is contrary to God's own nature. It is impossible for God to send a prophet to Hell, but not because God somehow lacks the power or capability to do so (like the impossibility of me flying or running 200 mph). It is impossible because God is Himself Just, and Justice requires that something be given its due.

I hope this makes sense. I am just kind of throwing out thoughts here, please critique me as necessary. I will probably even realize something I have said is incorrect in the next 20 minutes :)

Wa salaam

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^I think that basically sums it up.

Can God do evil? Can God not be merciful, can He not be gracious? Can God create a rock so big that He himself cannot lift it? Can God place an evil-doer in heaven and a good-doer in hell? Can God create another God? These questions THEMSELVES are flawed. They are wrong questions. For anyone to say that God cannot do such things thus He is limited, has some pretty twisted logic.

And let's not forget the concept of Adalat, Justice of God, our 2nd root of religion... because God is Just, he lacks free will? So to answer your question, no; it's not incorrect to say that this isn't a lack of free will. (does that hurt anyone else's brain :wacko: )

I agree that some of these sorts of questions are inherently flawed. G-d is the "uncreated creator", thus G-d cannot create a partner or another god because that god would not be the "uncreated creator".

Likewise, I agree (and recently argued) that G-d cannot create a rock so big, etc. because G-d does not exist in space-time in the sense that we exist in space-time.

But does the question leave open the nature of "can not" or "will not" when it comes to punishing the righteous or rewarding the wicked? My answer, after talking with someone off-line, is that G-d's attributes of "Justice" and "Truth" are not limitations, but rather are declarations.

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God is Independent of everything.

He does what He WILLS.

Whatever He wishes to be done, is done.

He has power of all things.

He is completely free of all restrictions.

Everything He does is Good and Just, even though our tiny brains may think otherwise.

Ya Ali Madaad !!

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I realize this thread is way into some pretty forbidden territory, but this is an honest question I have and a recent discussion once again raised this question in my mind. I'd like some forbearance in working through the implications of what I'm writing.

Before anyone says that we cannot discuss G-d's attributes (see Imam Ali here). For the sake of this discussion (and having the mods approve this thread), I agree with Imam Ali through the first five paragraphs, and especially with this paragraph --

Thus whoever attaches attributes to
Allah
recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.

However, G-d clearly has some attributes, and they are described in various texts, including this same sermon --

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His
Oneness
, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute.

In this instance, declaring the G-d is One, something that both Jews and Muslims do as part of our respective creeds -- "I bear witness that there is no G-d but G-d" and "Hear O Israel: The L-RD is G-d, the L-RD is One" -- is clearly not declaring that G-d is other than One. Thus, G-d's "Oneness", or more properly, G-d's "Uniqueness", is an attribute (or am I mistaken?), and in both faiths we declare it to be the truth.

In this thread there was one of the usual sophist arguments regarding G-d being able to make a rock so big that even G-d couldn't lift it. Several times in the past, whenever I've rebutted that argument, I've been left with a nagging feeling. Does the fact that G-d is "The Most Merciful / Forgiving / Just / Knowing", and all the other attributes on which Muslims and Jews agree, limit G-d's behavior? For example, the very first ayat in the Qur'an --

ÈöÓúãö Çááøóåö ÇáÑøóÍúãóäö ÇáÑøóÍöíãö

Clearly, to me, this is not forbidden since "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" has no "likeness". It's not just average "gracious" and "merciful", like anyone else might be "gracious" and "merciful", it's superlative "Gracious" and "Merciful".

Both the Qur'an and Torah state that G-d forgives those who earnestly repent, and both texts state that G-d does not break promises -- from memory, the Qur'an states "Allah does not break a promise, unless it is with something better." So it would seem to me that in both faiths, G-d is limited by the very structure of the faith itself. If one earnestly repents, we have a promise that G-d will forgive (provided, presumably, that we did not sin knowing that if we sinned, we'd be able to repent and be forgiven -- not sure how Islam deals with that), thus G-d has no choice in the matter.

Thoughts? Anyone else seeing what I'm seeing? Is it incorrect to state that this isn't a lack of "free will"?

Brother/Sister, I would recommend Hazrat Ali's (as) first Khutba/sermon from Nahj ul Balagha. No one else, no other book, no other article can satisfy your thirst.

Go to www.al-islam.org

Tawheed can only be explained by Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and his Ahl e Bayt (as).

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I realize this thread is way into some pretty forbidden territory, but this is an honest question I have and a recent discussion once again raised this question in my mind. I'd like some forbearance in working through the implications of what I'm writing.

Before anyone says that we cannot discuss G-d's attributes (see Imam Ali here). For the sake of this discussion (and having the mods approve this thread), I agree with Imam Ali through the first five paragraphs, and especially with this paragraph --

Thus whoever attaches attributes to
Allah
recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.

However, G-d clearly has some attributes, and they are described in various texts, including this same sermon --

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His
Oneness
, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute.

In this instance, declaring the G-d is One, something that both Jews and Muslims do as part of our respective creeds -- "I bear witness that there is no G-d but G-d" and "Hear O Israel: The L-RD is G-d, the L-RD is One" -- is clearly not declaring that G-d is other than One. Thus, G-d's "Oneness", or more properly, G-d's "Uniqueness", is an attribute (or am I mistaken?), and in both faiths we declare it to be the truth.

In this thread there was one of the usual sophist arguments regarding G-d being able to make a rock so big that even G-d couldn't lift it. Several times in the past, whenever I've rebutted that argument, I've been left with a nagging feeling. Does the fact that G-d is "The Most Merciful / Forgiving / Just / Knowing", and all the other attributes on which Muslims and Jews agree, limit G-d's behavior? For example, the very first ayat in the Qur'an --

ÈöÓúãö Çááøóåö ÇáÑøóÍúãóäö ÇáÑøóÍöíãö

Clearly, to me, this is not forbidden since "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" has no "likeness". It's not just average "gracious" and "merciful", like anyone else might be "gracious" and "merciful", it's superlative "Gracious" and "Merciful".

Both the Qur'an and Torah state that G-d forgives those who earnestly repent, and both texts state that G-d does not break promises -- from memory, the Qur'an states "Allah does not break a promise, unless it is with something better." So it would seem to me that in both faiths, G-d is limited by the very structure of the faith itself. If one earnestly repents, we have a promise that G-d will forgive (provided, presumably, that we did not sin knowing that if we sinned, we'd be able to repent and be forgiven -- not sure how Islam deals with that), thus G-d has no choice in the matter.

Thoughts? Anyone else seeing what I'm seeing? Is it incorrect to state that this isn't a lack of "free will"?

Brother, Here I am pasting the very first sentences of Nahj ul Balagha from the sermon1.

"Praise is due to Allah whose worth cannot be described by speakers, whose bounties cannot be counted by calculators and whose claim (to obedience) cannot be satisfied by those who attempt to do so, whom the height of intellectual courage cannot appreciate, and the divings of understanding cannot reach; He for whose description no limit has been laid down, no eulogy exists, no time is ordained and no duration is fixed. He brought forth creation through His Omnipotence, dispersed winds through His Compassion, and made firm the shaking earth with rocks.

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.

Whoever said in what is He, held that He is contained; and whoever said on what is He held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence."

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I find the tafsir of al-Hamd from al-Mizan very relevant to the current discussion. Here is an excerpt regarding the names/attributes of God.

"al-Ism " (= name) is the word that points to the named thing or person. It is derived from as-simah (= sign, identifying mark) or as-sumuww (= height, eminence). In any case, it is the word by which an individual thing or person is spoken of or spoken to. Naturally, it is other than, and separate from, the named thing.

The following is a sample of the academic exercises so much loved by the ancients:

There is a name that means "the person himself seen in the light of an attribute"; such a name is not separate from the named person; it is the person himself. The word al- Alim (= The Knower), one of the divine names, points to the Person of Allah as seen in the light of His attribute of Knowledge. At the same time, it refers to Allah Who cannot be known except by one or the other of His attributes. Let us explain this matter in another way: "Name" points to the named person; likewise the personal traits and characteristics point to the holder of those traits and characteristics - in this way, we may say that the personal traits are the "names" of the person concerned. "Name", accordingly, can be of two kinds: in words, and in substance. The direct name is of the second type, that is, the personal trait that points to its own subjects - for example, the "Knowledge" that points to Allah, the holder of the knowledge. And the word "the Knower" is in reality an indirect name - it points to the direct name, that is, the attribute of knowledge, which in its turn directly points to its holder, that is, Allah. "Knowledge" is, thus, the name of Allah, and "the Knower" is "the name of the name".

The above was the result of the academic analysis (or should we say, mental luxury!) mentioned earlier; but such things should not be imposed on language and literature. "Name", according to the "plain Arabic language", means what we have written earlier. There was a lot of controversy going on among the theologians of the early centuries of Islam: whether the name was separate from the named person or not. Such unnecessary polemics is out of place at present times; it is self- evident that "name" and "named" are two things, and not one. We should not waste time and energy in quoting the ancients' arguments and counter-arguments, and in judging who was right.

"Allah" (= the divine name) was originally al-Ilah; the "I"; in the middle was omitted because of frequent use. al-Ilah is derived from alaha ( = he worshipped) or from aliha or waliha (= he was bewildered). It is on paradigm of al-fi’al in meaning of al-maf’ul (= object-noun). For example, al-Kitab means al-Maktub (= the written); likewise al-Ilah means al-Ma’luh that is, the One who is worshipped, or the One about whom minds are bewildered.

Quite clearly, it has become the proper name of God. It was commonly used in this meaning in Arabic long before the Qur'an was revealed. The fact that even pre-Islamic Arabs used this name for God, may be inferred from the following verses:

And if you should ask them who created them, they would certainly say: "Allah" …. (43:87)

.. . . and they say: "7his for Allah " - so they assert - "and this is for our associates". (6:136).

Other divine names may be used as adjectives for this name; for example, "the Beneficent and the Merciful Allah"; also, this name is used as subject of the verbs derived from other divine names; for example, "Allah knew", "Allah had mercy", "Allah gave sustenance" etc. But the word, "Allah", is never used as adjective to any other name, nor is the verb derived from it used to describe other names. It is a clear proof that it is the proper name of God.

The divine existence, in as much as Allah is the God of everything, presupposes that He should have all the attributes of perfection; and, as a result, this name points to all perfect attributes. That is why it is said that the name, "Allah", means "the Person Who is the Essential Being, and Who encompasses all the attributes of perfection". But the fact is that it is the proper name of God and no other meaning (except that related to worship or bewilderment) has been taken into consideration here.

"ar-Rahman ar-Rahim (= The Beneficent, the Merciful) are two adjectives derived from ar-rahmah (= mercy).

When you see someone suffering from a deficiency which he cannot remove. by himself, the reaction which you experience and which tells you to provide him with what he needs in order to make up his deficiency, is called mercy. Ultimately, mercy means giving and bestowing to fulfill other's need. It is this latter meaning in which this attribute is used for Allah.

"ar-Rahman" is on a paradigm which is used for magnification and exaggeration. "ar-Rahim" paradigm of as-Sifatu ‘l-mushabbah (= perpetual adjective, inseparable attribute). Therefore "ar-Rahman" (translated here as "the Beneficent") relates to that all-encompassing mercy that is bestowed upon the believers and the unbelievers alike. It is used in the Qur'an, mostly in this meaning. Allah says: The Beneficent (God) is firm in power (20:5); Say: 'As for him who remains in error, the Beneficent (God) will surely prolong his length of days . . . (19:75). "ar-Rahim" (translated here as "the Merciful"), on the other hand, is more appropriate for that mercy which shall remain for ever, the perpetual inexhaustible mercy that shall be bestowed on the believers in the life hereafter. Allah says: . . . and He is Merciful to the believers (33:43); surely to them (i.e., the believers) He is Compassionate, Merciful (9:117). That is why it is said that the mercy of "ar-Rahman " is common for the believers and the unbelievers, and that of "ar-Rahim" is reserved for the believers.

The link for the whole chapter is: http://almizan.org/Tafseer/fateha1.asp

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Of course, the official Shia credo on this matter is "neither compulsion nor delegation, but somewhere in between." Only, different Shia philosophers, theologians and mystics place the in-between quite differently. I am of the view that most recent and contemporary Shia thinkers have gone too far toward delegation, though I'm sure they'd consider me as having erred toward compulsion." So far, that's about human free will. What about Allah? I'd say the same applies.

If I can explain my view in reference to the Western tradition, I see these matters much as Spinoza did. Compulsion is unavoidable. It simply isn't cogent to deny it. There is free will, though - once one understands the meaning of free will in a more reasonable manner. Namely, there's a difference between internal compulsion and external compulsion. Internal compulsion is an entity's own nature compelling it to act a certain way. External compulsion is one entity compelling another entity to act a certain way. Pure internal complusion in the absence of external compulsion is free will.

In the words of Shoppenhaur (sp?) - as fondly quoted by Einstein - while one can choose, one cannot choose to choose. The idea of "choosing to choose" in a vacuum without context is what gets us in trouble. The Ashariya, to preserve the notion of Allah's Freedom, basically denied us our own. Yet the Mutazila, in positing human free will, basically denied Allah's Unity of Action. Unfortunately, too many Shias have fallen into the trap this false dichotomy lays, and usually in times recent have erred on the Mutazilite side.

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In the name of G-d,

First thing first, brother naver say that a religious question is forbidden. Why? simple, questions arrise from doubt which is a manifestation of internal reasoning and understanding. Imam Ali ask his generals to question his command in te light of religion. Read Letter to Malik Ashtar. If you do not question and seek that answer, then you will not satisfy your doubt. Therefore that doubt will always be with you. You can shut it off and forced it out by your will, but then you will have a blind belief, which personally I rather have 100 doubts about G-d and not have a blind belief. In my thoughts I question every thing and every one, even the prophet SAWW and Imam Ali AS or Imam Hussein AS. But remember that questioning things does not give you answers. Those who seek answers find them, and ask G-d to give you answers. Since G-d helps those who help themselves. So do not fear and remember that exess in anything is bad. I have found my middle ground and you have to find your own.

Now the question. When I read the same passage I had the same thought in my head. Then I remembered a section of a lecture by Abdolkarim Bazargan. As I undertand that not all of the G-d's atrributes are in the same group. I give you an example, One of G-d's names is Jabbar, a good manner dictionnary will translate it as "The Compeller", but Compeller is translated to "One who compels or constrains" (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Compeller). In simpler english G-d is what we call a Tyrant. Do not missunderstand me. The original meaning of the word Tyrant which comes from the latin word "Tyrannus" is, 'An absolute ruler who governs without restrictions' (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/tyrant). And we can all accept this translation is the nature of G-d's rule. Jabbar is not mere attribute of G-d but is the very essence of G-d's rule. It is not there to be chosen as good or bad. It is what it is, not good or bad or neutral for if it is neutral it implies that there is good or bad in such groups of attributes. I give a example from evolution. Assuming natural selection is correct, then calling it evil would be false. Since we call it evil because we see it through our eyes and call it evil relative to us. But even the modern evolutionist agree that natural selection is neigher good or evil or neutral. G-d's absolute rule is G-d's very essence. So when you say in the first surah, "I thank the G-d of the worlds" You have to understand what the essence of G-d's rule.

So let's start from the beginning,

The formost In religion is the acknoledgement of him, the perfection of acknowledging him is to testify him.

This sentence is very essential because it shows the two modes that Imam Ali AS is talking. The phrase formost tells that acknowleging god is not the perfection of religion (unlike perfection of acknowledment and testification in second sentence and every sentence after that). So first thing to do in Islam is to acknowledge there is a G-d (whatever it is I do not know now but I will find out as time goes on). This is lowest step and the most important step since it is the first step. Without this there will be no journey.

But perfection is something very high. It is combination of heart which represents desire, brain which represents reasoning and understanding, and body which represents action. When these three are completely united in testifying G-d, that is when the perfection of acknowledging G-d is reached.

Well I have to Log out Now But I log back in tomorrow to give you rest of your anwer. Contemplate on what I wrote. I am sorry it is comfusing writing thought down like essay is not as easy as it seams specially given the complexity of your question. It took me a while to understand it myself.

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