Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
Are you and I part of Allah's actions?
Are Allah's actions "created events in time and space"
Is the only real existence Allah's and everything else is just wahm?
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Allah's Act is his Creation
An action is the something that is "done", something that "happens". By definition, something that "happens" comes into existence after nonexistence. If you're reading carefully, you'll realize that this is exactly what we mean by the word "creation": "creation" refers to bringing something into existence from nonexistence. In other words, an "action" is ultimately something that has been created.
Allah Most High is uncreated and did not begin to exist. Everything besides Him--the world and all it contains--is created and began to exist after having not existed. This is why scholars of Islamic Belief (`aqida) say that the world and all it contains is Allah's action. The Qur'an expresses the same thought in the verse, "Allah is the creator of everything." (39:62)
The World Really Exists
The belief that Allah Most High created the world implies that the world actually exists; if the world didn't exist, saying that He created it would be meaningless. The Qur'an speaks of the sun and the moon, of animals and plants, of clouds and wind. It tells us about angels, jinn, Hell, and Paradise. None of this would make sense unless these things actually existed. Denying our own existence, the existence of things that we see around us, and the existence of the next world is a serious violation of our belief, and almost every comprehensive manual of Sunni belief warns against it. The renowned "Nasafi Creed" (al-`aqida al-nasafiyya)--a famous primer on theology studied by Sunni Muslims all over the world--affirms in its very first line that the things we see around us actually exist.
The Oneness of Being
The words of Sufi masters who speak of "the oneness of being" (wahdat al-wujud) sometimes seem to imply that everything besides Allah Most High is imagination. But this is not what they are really saying.
Such masters (may Allah be pleased with them all) are speaking of a heightened state of faith (iman) that makes them truly realize the awesome implication of the fact that everything besides Allah Most High is created: namely, that your existence, my existence, and the existence of everything else is completely dependent on Allah Most High's creating it and bringing it into existence. Had Allah not created us, we would not exist. Had He not kept us in existence after creating us, we would all cease to exist.
The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) also spoke of this spiritual experience when he said, "Know that if everyone were to gather to benefit you with something, they would only benefit you with something that Allah had already written for you, and that if they were to gather to harm you with something, they would only harm you with something that Allah had already written against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried." (Tirmidhi)
The Sufis explain that the world dwindles in significance in the eyes of people who truly realize these prophetic words. As their faith in Allah and His Power increases, their belief in the utter dependence of everything on Allah also increases until it is as if the world does not exist. This is not a denial of the actual existence of the world; it is merely an affirmation of the world's utter dependence on Allah Most High.
The Qur'an uses similar imagery. It describes the world, for example, as "a delusional enjoyment." (3:185) This is not a denial of the fact that that there are matters in the world that bring us pleasure; rather, it is an affirmation of the fact that in comparison to the eternal pleasures of the next life, the enjoyments of this world are so inconsequential that it is as if they don't even exist.
For further information on this topic, a good article to read is Abd al-Ghani al-Nablusi, by a contempory female scholar, Ustadha Besa Krasniqi (also known as "Umm Sahl").
May Allah Most High lead us along the path of His obedience and realize us in the high spiritual states that the Sufis speak of.
And Allah Most High knows best.
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