Ibn Taymiyyah on Creation ex Materia
by Taqi Al-Din Ahmad ibn Abd al-Halim al-Harrani
This book is the second in an envisioned series of translations from In Taymiyyah's theological works that cover a wide range of topics from the evidences of God's perfection to the signs of Prophethood, and from the meaning of God's creative agency to the compatibility of divine predestination with human moral agency. The series aims to provide readers from the English-speaking world access to In Taymiyyah's articulations of these important matters of the Faith in an effort to demonstrate the superior rationality embodied in Islamic Faith over the conflicting claims of rationality offered by other religions, philosophies and theological positions.
Such an English series is much needed nowadays, especially in response to current challenges posed by growing trends of atheism. In Taymiyyah's exceptional insight and distinguished explanations of Quranic arguments have helped many Muslims remain intellectually satisfied in the face of doubts and challenges presented by competing world views.
In Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyyah, In Taymiyyah provides a rational argument against the philosophical position that creation ex materia is necessarily a rearrangement of already existing matter. In his other work Kitab al-Nubuwwat, he promotes a more scriptural definition of creation ex materia that involves the origination of substances in place of other substances. The concept is very similar to ex nihilo creation but with the subtle difference that the substantial origination must be accompanied by the annihilation of a prior material that carries the potential for that origination. This intuitive conception implies that the creations come into actual existence out of prior material conditions that cease to exist entirely, allowing In Taymiyyah to successfully argue for the eternal Originator using direct empirical observations of animals and trees without any need to commit to the further assertion that this world was originated ex nihilo in the unobservable past.
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