In a previous article, it was shown that the potential relations (Ta’aluqat Suluhia) of Allah ﷻ’s Power generically pertain to all possible essences. 

So if it is asked: “does Allah ﷻ’s Power also relate to things whose existence is necessary or impossible?” 

We respond: No. Power only pertains to possibilities. This is because an essence whose existence is not merely possible, either: 

    • Necessarily exists
    • Necessarily does not exist (i.e. is an impossibility)

If the first, then this essence exists by virtue of what it is. Thus, it is uncreated. Whereas when we say “Allah ﷻ’s Power potentially relates to an essence” we mean Allah ﷻ is able to create this essence. Therefore, to say that Allah ﷻ’s Power potentially relates to a necessary essence, is tantamount to claiming that Allah is able to create an uncreated being. This is a clear contradiction.

As for impossibilities, if Power related to them, then this would mean that those impossibilities can be brought into existence. Entailing that those impossibilities be not impossible, and that is also contradictory.

Thus, Power does not relate to rational necessities or rational impossibilities.

A Useful Analogy

The above is sometimes difficult to digest for lay people, who see Power’s pertaining to only possibilities as a deficiency on the part of Allah ﷻ. Shaykh Usama Nimr ‘Abd Al-Qadir of the Aslein forums has a useful analogy to quell this uneasiness. I will translate a portion of his post bellow.

The answer to this question is difficult for some lay people to understand, and this is only because of their being untrained in the rational sciences. To help them we can offer analogies.

We tell the questioner: know that one is not deficient in ability, unless his ability did not pertain to that which is rationally possible. As for the ability that neither pertains to rational necessities nor impossibilities, then this is not called a deficiency.

Consider the following example:

How many arrangements are possible for the numbers 1, 2, and 3?

The answer is: there are six different arrangements. They are:

    • 1, 2, 3
    • 1, 3, 2
    • 2, 1, 3
    • 2, 3, 1
    • 3, 1, 2
    • 3, 2, 1

So if we asked someone: list for us the possible arrangements for the numbers 1, 2, and 3. And then this person was only able to give us four arrangements, to the exclusion of two. Can we then say that this person’s ability to answer the question is deficient? The answer is: yes. After all, this person missed the two possible arrangements that he was unaware of.

What if we asked the same thing from Einstein, and he responded by listing all six possible arrangements. Then we told him: we will not believe that you are able to answer this question, until you provide a seventh arrangement for those three numbers. How do you think Einstein would react? He would simply say: “What is this stupidity?” or in anger: “O ignorant one, a seventh arrangement is a rational impossibility, for there are only six possibilities.”

Given the above, would it be correct to say that Einstein’s ability to answer the question is deficient? Or that his knowledge of mathematics is deficient because he was unable to offer a seventh arrangement? The answer is: no.

From there we proceed by defining deficiency in ability.

We ask the lay person: what does it mean for one to have a deficient ability?

If he does not know the answer, we proceed by saying: a deficient ability, is one that does not pertain to a rational possibility. As for an ability that neither pertains to rational impossibilities nor necessities, then we do not call this a deficiency. And we offer to the lay person the previous analogy and others like it to make the answer clearer.

 

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