Attributes of Divine Activity

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Attributes of Divine Activity
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The attributes of God can be divided thus: (a) attributes of the Essence (sifat al-dhAt), and (b) attributes of Activity (Sifat al-Fi'l) 

Attributes of the Essence

The attributes of the Essence are those which describe God in a manner that adequately enables us to form some kind of conception of His essential nature. These attributes are, so to speak, derived from the station of the Essence; attributes such as Knowledge, Power and Life.

Attributes of Activity

As for the attributes of Activity, these pertain to the various kinds of action that emanate from God, actions by which He becomes described, such as creating, sustaining, forgiving, and the like. In other words, it is only in the measure that God actually creates and sustains that He can be called Creator and Sustainer, however much His Essence may contain principally the power to create, sustain, forgive, and so on. To conclude this discussion, let us recall that all the active attributes of God spring from His Essence, and, in particular, from the perfections of His Essence.
Here we shall consider the following three attributes of divine activity: speech (takallum), veracity ($idq) and wisdom (Hikma).

As for the attributes of Activity, these pertain to the various kinds of action that emanate from God, actions by which He becomes described, such as creating, sustaining, forgiving, and the like. In other words, it is only in the measure that God actually creates and sustains that He can be called Creator and Sustainer, however much His Essence may contain principally the power to create, sustain, forgive, and so on.

Speech

The Qur'an has described God as one who 'speaks':

And God spoke directly with Moses. (Sura al-Nisa', 4: 164)

And again:

And it is not for any human being that Allah should speak to him except by revelation or from behind a partition or that He sends a messenger to reveal, by His permission, what He wills. Indeed, He is Most High and Wise.(Sura al-Shura,42:51)

There is thus no doubt that speech is one of the attributes of God. There is, however, debate over the question of the ultimate nature of this attribute: is it an attribute of the Essence of God or of His Activity? It is clear, to begin with, that speech in the form in which it appears in man, cannot conceivably apply to God. Since the attribute of speech is given in the Qur'an, we ought to refer to the Scripture itself in order to understand the reality of this attribute.
As we have seen in the verse cited above, the Qur'an establishes the fact that God speaks to His slaves according to three modes of self-disclosure. It is impossible for the speech of God to  reach man except by the following three  modes: (a) 'unless [it be] by revelation'-in other words, by divine inspiration; (b)'or from behind a veil'-in other words, that man can hear God's speech, but cannot see Him (Cod's speech to Moses took this form); (c) 'or [that] He sendeth a Messenger'-in other words, an angel is sent by God to man to convey the inspiration.

The Qur'an establishes the fact that God speaks to His slaves according to three modes of self-disclosure. It is impossible for the speech of God to reach man except by the following three modes: (a) 'unless [it be] by revelation'-in other words, by divine inspiration; (b) 'or from behind a veil'-in other words, that man can hear God's speech, but cannot see Him (Cod's speech to Moses took this form); (c) 'or [that] He sendeth a Messenger'-in other words, an angel is sent by God to man to convey the inspiration.

In this verse, the speech of God has been explained as having been brought into being by God, either directly without intermediary, or indirectly through the intermediary of an angel. According to the first mode-divine Inspiration-God sometimes casts His words directly into the heart of the Prophet, and sometimes He causes His words to enter the heart after having first been heard by the ear. In all three modes of speech, however, the words of God are brought into being. The speech of God is therefore to be considered as one of the attributes of Divine Activity.
This is one explanation of the speech of God, derived from the guidance given by the Qur'an. Another explanation is as follows:
God has called all existent entities of the universe His 'words'. As the Qur'an says:

Say: Were the sea to be ink for the words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We were to bring the like thereof to help. (Sura al-Kahf, 18.109)

In this verse, what is meant by 'words' is all of the creatures of God, which none but He can count. In the following verse, we find evidence of this [assimilation of all creatures as 'words' of God]. Jesus is explicitly referred to as the 'Word of God' (kalimat¬Allah):

The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His Word which He cast unto Mary. ( Sura al-Nisa', 4: 171)

Imam 'Ali, in one of his discourses, interprets the speech of God in terms of His creative activity:

'When God wishes to bring something into being, He says unto it "Be!", and it is; but [He does so] not with a voice that is sounded, nor with a call that can be heard. For the speech of God is one of his actions whereby a thing is endowed with existence.'1

Veracity

One of the attributes of Divine Activity is veracity (sidq) that is to say, whatever He says is true; the blemish of falsehood does not tarnish His speech. The reason for this is clear: lying is the way of the ignorant, those in need, the afflicted and the frightened and God is utterly beyond all such conditions. In other words, lying is an abomination and God cannot be tainted by any evil.

Wisdom

Another of the divine attributes of perfection is wisdom ( hikma)' 'The Wise' (al-hakim) being one of His names. The meaning of Cod being wise is, first, that His actions are brought to ultimate fruition in a perfect, complete and definitive consummation. Secondly, God is utterly beyond performing any actions  that are deficient or vain.
Evidence of the first fact is furnished by the marvellouus order of the world of creation and by the beautiful way in which the awesome edifice of creation is raised up. As the Qur'an says: ·

[It is] the work of Allah, who perfected all things. (Sura al-Naml, 27:88)

Evidence of the second fact is provided by the following verse:

And We did not create the heaven and the earth and that between them aimlessly. That is the assumption of those who disbelieve, so woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire.(Sura Sad, 38:27)

God is absolute perfection; therefore, His actions must also partake of perfection and be devoid of all defect and futility.

1. Nahj al-balagha, Sermon no. 184;

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