“Nothing”

The conventional use of nothing implies a “lack of existence”, however, I wish to challenge the conventional use by giving the actual understanding of the term as it should be perceived. Nothing should be distinguished between the true meaning of something and everything. Both the latter words convey the meaning of “that which is” either in a limited sense or to imply “all that is”, however both terms are confined to our conception of “what is”. We cannot adequately convey the totality of reality with the word of “thing”. Even in attempting to imply all of existence we are actually forming an incoherent concept based on our limited perception. To say “thing”, even in the most general sense, is to suggest that there is some conformity between the objects we understand to full degree and the Absolute Reality. While there is some connection, to imply that “thing” can be applied to Allah is blasphemy at its finest, for the Absolute is not a “thing” in any sense of the term.

Given this, we must understand “nothing” as No-Thing, as the Absolute which is beyond what we think of when we say “thing”. We must understand Allah as Nothing: the very transcendence beyond our perception. We must understand that to imply there is such a thing as a “total lack of existence” is incoherent and nonsensical because there is only existence. When we understand something as lacking some manifestation what we really should mean to say is that it has a lower form of existence or that the essential character of the object in our minds has merely changed identity. This does not argue that somehow everything has always existed. By far this is not the case as there is a creation, but that creation once “existed” within the Knowledge of Allah, which is unified with Him. It was not as it was now. It was merely not and then became.

All that is, was once Nothing. From Allah we came…and to Him shall we return.

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9 thoughts on ““Nothing”

  1. Salaam Alaykum.

    Ali, I think I know what you mean. After understanding the meaning of Surah Iklaas, I came to understand that God exists outside of the universe. However, that led me to think “If ‘something’ is a thing inside of the universe and ‘everything’ is the universe, then what does that make God?” You put my thoughts into words.

    Allahu ‘Alam.

  2. ….mean to say is that it has a lower form of existence or that the essential character of the object in our minds has merely changed identity. This does not argue that somehow everything has always existed.”

    what are the criteria to define something as a lower or higher form of existence?

    when you deny the existence of the absence of everything, then there has always been something. Therefore i could argue that everything exists and that this existence is changing all the time. And we can observe both, existence, and the change of it. So how do you come to the conclusion that just because the universe we observe has not been at some point, it had to be created?

  3. Hax,

    The “not been at some point” is essentially the fact it was created. Other qualities like its everchanging-ness and contingeny are important factors.

    The Abslolute cannot be based on anything or change. It is what it is. It IS Being. By mere negation we know that the universe we live in is not the absolute and thus a lower form.

    Further, no you cannot claim that everything has always existed (as it is now). Are you claiming that if all trees were somehow wiped off the face of the earth that your memory of trees would serve as evidence that they still exist?

  4. Because we define what the Universe is, and that at some point it was not what the definition tells us, does not mean that it has not existed. I claim that there has always been existence and this existence is changing all the time. At some point the existence (or a part of it) became what we call the universe by definition, at some point it was (or a part of it) a singularity and so on. At some point the existence, or the being has changed so that life could exist.

    Even if all trees would be wiped off the face of earth, I can still say that everything has always existed, it just changed its shape. And only because we gave something a certain definition, “sun” “tree” etc., and “sun” “tree” is not there anymore, does not mean that the existence is now lower/less or lost a part.
    We could also make the analogy of a dying star in the Universe. Just because the star is not anymore, we still the universe exists and it has not become a lower or higher form, it just changed. The same with the hole existence, just because the Universe as we define it was not there at some point, does not mean that the level of existence was lower/higher.

    “By mere negation we know that the universe we live in is not the absolute and thus a lower form.”
    explain that to me please.

  5. I am not arguing the actuality of the universe on mere definition alone. I am stating that “Being” cannot be anything else other than what it is. Something must be foundational to all the change we see that does not change itself.

    Further, the point of my “memory of trees” analogy was to show that the concept in your mind does not necessitate actual existence of the thing itself. This was to show that there is a “lower form” of existence in your mind that is not a tree in and of itself.

    Negation meaning we understand the limitations of the universe we live in and thus by negating these limitations we realize the absolute.

  6. Hello,
    about your argument what “thing” does mean ali, you state that if we use the word “thing” we consider something we understand (even to a full degree), but i whould say thats wrong. We adress unknown phenomens as “something weird”, A Fact, matter, anyTHING understood gets a special name/description, while thing is reserved to non-common phenomena, not well or at all understood.
    Also, we should remember that language is manmade, always changing and very very imperfect. It was made to communicate, about basic needs and for social organisation. Using it for philosophic or scientific purposes requires the extension, new words must be generated to describe new things.

    So nothing might be refered to as “A known/describable (thing, fact, phenomena)” or as the total -nihil-.
    We might discuss what nihil is.. as far as i know about science, quantum fluctuation denies to talk of -nihil-, energy in any form is always present, changing form.
    As a lot of manifestations of energy are beyound our perception and even that of our measuring devices… (we cant see xrays, our detectors can barly see neutrinos cause they just dont interact with our “world” in 99.999999999% of the cases.)
    But talking of a plan, unknown laws nature might follow, how comes it you label these plan allah, cause a plan that bold and complicated noone ever realized or even understood shouldnt be described with primitive human languages according to your logic. Adressing a non-thing with a thing like words should be blasphemy…

    Greets Pedro

  7. Its like you read my mind! You appear to understand a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e book in it or something. I believe that you just could do with a few % to force the message house a little bit, however instead of that, that is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back.

  8. As-Salaamu Alaykum, Ali.

    In “Introduction to Metaphysics”, Heidegger asks the question “Why are there beings at all instead of nothing?”. In one part of the book, he says that the “instead of nothing” part is important, but I did not fully understand why. Also, when he says that the existence of beings is only possible, does he mean the same thing as what Shaykh Abdalqadir as-Sufi says in “The Way of Muhammad” about our existence only being possible?

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