لَيْسَ مُنْذُ خَلَقَ الخَلْقَ اسْتَفَادَ اسْمَ الخَالِقِ، وَلا بـِإِحْدَاثِهِ البَرِيَّةَ اسْتَفَادَ اسْمَ البارِي
It is not the case that He acquired the name Creator (al-Khāliq) only after He created, or the name Originator (Al-Bari) only after He originated (something).
The author is emphasizing the fact that Allāh did not benefit from the creation, He did not become a Creator because of them, nor did He acquire or gain the name al-Khāliq (the Creator) after He created. Rather Allāh, Exalted is He, has, is, and always will be al-Khāliq (the Creator); and He has been and will continue to create as He pleases.
Sound reasoning dictates that activity is essential to life, as opposed to lifelessness which is a state of inertia; and so Allāh, the One who has eternal life, continues to do as He wills from eternity to an eternity. This is how Allāh described Himself when He said: ‘He is the Lord of Throne of Glory, the Doer of whatever He wills’ and these verses indicate that Allāh is firstly doing as He wills and pleases, and secondly, that He has always done so. Since this is an aspect of His perfection and majesty, it cannot be that He acquired it after He did not have it.
The author then said:
He was qualified with Lordship (rubūbiyyah) even when there was nothing to lord over. And He was the Creator even when there was nothing created.
لَهُ مَعْنى الرُّبوبـِيَّةِ وَلا مَرْبوبٌ، وَمَعْنى الخَالِقِيَّةِ وَلا مَخْلوقٌ،
The author is essentially stating the same theological point as before, however he made a distinction between lordship and creation.
We believe that Allāh has always been the Lord, even if He had not brought anything into existence; just as He was al-Khāliq (the Creator) even if He had not created anything. The alternative would be to claim that only after things came into existence did He become and earn the title of al-Rabb (the Lord), and qualified Himself for Lordship. What is sound is to affirm what the author stated: ‘He was qualified with Lordship even when there was nothing to lord over’.
One of Allāh’s fundamental qualities of Lordship is His ability to create. The attribute of creating falls under the general meaning of Lordship. Thus Allāh has the general qualities of Lordship for all time, eternally in the past and eternally in the future. Lordship also means to nourish, cherish, provide, and guard His creation after bringing them into existence. All praise is due to the Lord of the Worlds.
The author then said:
وَكَمَا أَنَّهُ مُحْيِـي المَوْتَى بَعْدَما أَحْيَاهُمْ، اسْتَحَقَّ هَذا الاسْمَ قَبْلَ إِحْيائِهِمْ، كَذلِكَ اسْتَحَقَّ اسْمَ الخَالِقِ قَبْلَ إِنْشَائِهِمْ،
In the same way that He is the “Reviver of life to the Dead”, after He has given them life a first time, He deserves this name before bringing them to life; so, too, He deserves the name Creator before He actually created them.
The author is essentially stating the same theological points as before.
Allāh, Exalted is He, is al-Muḥyī: the Reviver of life to the dead, even before death came to any of His creatures and before He brought any of them back to life. Similarly, Allāh has the name al-Khāliq (the Creator) even if He had not created any creature.
So Allāh is qualified with all His Names, irrespective of when He creates, and independently of His Creation as a whole. He who is the Creator deserves to be called Creator even before creation exists just as He who is the Reviver of the dead deserves to be called that even before the creation is brought back to life.
That is because: ‘Allāh is over all things competent’, and the creation does not increase Allāh in His Majesty, Perfection, or Lordship in the least.
Point of Benefit
Regarding the ḥadīth of ‘Imrān b. Ḥusayn: The people of Yemen came and asked the Prophet: “We have come to you to learn the faith. We wish to ask you about this matter (i.e. creation). The Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said, in one narration: “(In the beginning) there was only Allāh and there was nothing along with Him.” And another narration states: “There was nothing other than Allāh”, He then said: “His Throne was on water and He recorded everything in Al-Dhikr and [then] He created the heavens and the earth.” [Bukhāri].
This Ḥadīth might be misunderstood to mean that since there was nothing with Allāh, Exalted is He, Allāh existed at one point in time in which He was not creating; after which Allāh started to create and then become a Creator. However it should be noted that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) completed his statement by saying that: ‘His Throne (‘Arsh) was above water’. The Throne of Allah (‘Arsh) has been proven to exist before the creation of the heavens and the earth, and so in his statement: ‘There was nothing before Allāh/along with Allāh/other than Allāh’ the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) as specifically referring to the creation of the heavens and the earth and not creation in general. The people who came to ask him were new to Islam, and did not know about other creation such as the Throne, the Angels, and so on, and so they were only asking him regarding the creation which they knew of (i.e. which they could see).
The Ḥadīth does not prove that nothing whatsoever existed or had previously existed along with Allāh and then Allāh began to create and hence cannot be used as a justification for what some theologians say.
Alhamdulilaah, it seems here that Dr Haitham affirms at-tassalsul al-makhlukaat.
In my humble view, this concept is not only far more logically coherent than Creatio ex-Nihilo, but is also more in harmony with both the revelatory texts and sound reasoning; and Allaah knows best.