God’s kalām cannot be created (lā yumkinu an yakūna makhlūqan), for everything which God has created has been created through his kalām.
© Joseph Cumming, 2004
The Gospel text which we are considering in this book begins with the words, “In the beginning (i.e. fī al-azal) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It was in the beginning (fī al-azal) with God. All things came into being through it, and apart from it nothing came into being which came into being. In it was life, and that life was the light of human beings.” (John 1:1-4)
The Gospel was revealed (unzila) in the ancient Greek language, and the Greek term “Ò λόγος” (ho logos), which is often translated into Arabic as “al-kalima,” can equally well be translated “al-kalām.” From John 1:1-4 we understand that God’s kalām is not something which God has created or originated (khalaqahū aw adathahū) in time, but rather God’s kalām is an eternal quality subsisting in God (Ñifa azaliyya qā’ima biAllāh). Indeed, God’s kalām cannot be created (lā yumkinu an yakūna makhlūqan), for everything which God has created has been created through his kalām. God says to a thing “Be!” and it is (yaqūlu Allāh li-shay’ “Kun!” fa-yakūnu).
This is precisely what Islamic doctrine also teaches about God’s kalām. In the second century A.H., and for some centuries after that, the Muâtazilites denied (nafaw) this. They claimed (za'amū) that al-Qur’ān al-Karīm was created. And they denied (nafaw) that God’s kalām was a reality eternally subsistent in God’s essence (qā’im azaliyyan bi-dhāt Allāh), just as they denied the rest of the pre-existent eternal Ñifāt which subsist in God (kamā nafaw sā’ir al-sifāt al-qadīma al-azaliyya allatī taqūmu bi-Allāh), such as his life and his power (mithla ayātihī wa-qudratihī). Some claimed that God’s kalām was created, while others claimed that God’s kalām has no meaning and no reality (zaâamū anna kalām Allāh lā maânā la-hū wa-lā aqīqa), but that God is a Speaker by virtue of his essence, not by virtue of a kalām subsisting in him (bal anna Allāh mutakallim bi-dhātihī, lā bi-kalām qā’im bihī).
However, this doctrine of the Mu'tazilites is in contradiction with the Qur’ān, as well as with many hadīths. For this reason Amad ibn panbal (d. 241 A.H. / 855 A.D.) and the majority of Muslims rejected this Muâtazilite doctrine. Ibn panbal affirmed (athbata) the uncreatedness of God’s kalām and the reality (haqīqa) of the sifāt, even when doing so entailed going to prison under the Caliphs al-Ma’mūn and al-Mu'tasim. The Caliph al-Mutawakkil reversed the policies of al-Ma’mūn and al-Mu'tasim, and rejected the Mu'tazilite doctrine, considering it to be bid'a.