He does not perish (yafna) or pass away (yabid).
لا يَفنى ولا يَبيد،
This statement reinforces the previous one, that Allāh is eternal without a beginning nor an end. The belief that Allāh is eternal sits at the heart of our understanding of Allāh as the Lord (rabb) of all.
Allāh, Exalted is He, does not perish nor pass away as He has the attribute of Perfect Life (ḥayāt) and Perfect Existence (qayyūm). The verse of Surah al-Raḥmān beautifully asserts this when Allāh says: ‘Everyone on it will pass away; but the Face of your Lord will remain; full of Majesty and Generosity.’1
The author negated these two attributes as a way of emphasising the previous point: ‘He is Ancient (qadīm) without a beginning, Everlasting without an end’. This is in line with the methodology of the Qur’ān and Sunnah, which is to affirm attributes that relate to Allāh; with affirmation being the mainstay, and negating certain attributes from Allāh, as an exception. This is because negating defective attributes from someone does not necessarily entail praise, whereas affirming praiseworthy attributes by necessity entails honouring the person. For instance to introduce a speaker to an audience by saying: ‘The following individual is not a liar, nor a ignorant one, nor is he absent-minded’, and so on, is no way to praise him; how then could one praise the Creator of all in this manner? Rather: ‘for Allāh is the highest description. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’2 This principle will be further elaborated upon later.
Allāh, Exalted is He, is the first and the last, and He will not perish or pass away. When affirmation of something praiseworthy is mentioned together with a negation of a related shortcoming, exclusivity and perfect praise is established.
Some of the heretical sects claimed that certain attributes of Allāh would one day seize to exist, or be lost with time. The author here is affirming in the absolute sense that Allāh will not perish or pass away, both in terms of His Divine Essence (dhāt) and His Names and Attributes. For Allāh, time is a mere creation, and He is not subject to its constraints. He is al-Awwal (the First) and al-Ākhir (the Last).
Sheikh Haitham al-Haddad’s explanation of al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah will soon be published as a hardback book. Islam21c have exclusive rights to share extracts from the book for its readers, and will be posting certain sections of the book on a weekly basis. The book: al-Aqeedah al-Tahawiyyah, is a short text outlining the aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah in short statements. Each extract posted is a complete explanation of any one of those statements. Edited by Asim Khan
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1 Q. Al-Rahmān, 55: 26-7.
2 Q. Al-Nahl. 16: 60.