Some have argued that the essence of Allah’s ﷻ Speech is identical to that of His Will. Such that His commanding a thing, is His willing for its occurrence. Imam Fakhr Al-Deen Al-Razi demonstrates why this is not the case. The Imam writes:
|There is no dispute that Allah ﷻ has commanded belief [in Islam] from those who He knows will never believe. And it would be incorrect to say: “Allah willed faith from this person”, because Allah knew that this person will never believe. After all, it is impossible for what Allah knows will occur, to not occur. And that which will not occur, is necessarily not willed by Him.
So since it is established that Allah commands that which He does not will to occur, we come to know: the essence of the command is distinct from the essence of the will. And this is a strong argument for proving this distinction.
4 thoughts on “Al-Razi: Distinguishing Speech from Will”
this argument is jadali, based on a naqli premise i.e., that God the exalted commands things from people which He knows they’d never do. is there an argument for this premise independent of the nusus?
Wa ‘Alaykum Al-Salam,
The above is directed at Muslim opponents who believe in what Imam Al-Razi is addressing. As for the non-Muslim, then the authority of the texts needs to be proven to him first for the above argument to hold.
If the Muslim opponent does not think it is possible in the first place, then, when confronted with the text, he have to do ta’wil of it (just as he does ta’wil of the verses which speak of God sitting on a throne and the like). so the question is: is there an argument, from your school, for its possibility independent of the nusus?
Ta’wil is only possible if the Arabic of the passage in question affords a multiplicity of interpretations. So if one of those interpretations is a rational impossibility, then this interpretation must be rejected, and an alternative must be preferred instead of it. However, if the Arabic of a passage is so explicit, that the Arabic language does not allow for another interpretation, then resorting to metaphorical interpretation would be nothing more than a perversion of the text.
And our position is that the Quran unequivocally commands every Mukalaf to accept Islam. This is also the position of the Mu’tazila, who have historically been our main opponents on this issue. In light of this, and given the fact that there actually are Mukalafun who do not accept Islam, we say: either Allah ﷻ willed some Mukalafun to reject Islam, or He did not. The first is our belief, the second is the Mu’tazila’s. And in either case there is a distinction between Allah ﷻ’s command, and Allah ﷻ’s will, so the argument holds.
In addition to the above, we also claim that the default is interpreting the texts literally. And that metaphorical interpretation is only resorted to if the literal interpretation is problematic (i.e. it conflicts with rational necessity, or it conflicts with more explicit texts…etc.). So as far as we are concerned, the burden of proof would be upon the one who believes that the literal meaning is impossible, to prove that it is so.