What is pre-eternity? Will you please explain the concepts of time and pre-eternity through examples?
What is pre-eternity?
What is time and pre-eternity?
The most important cause for misunderstanding the issue of qadar (destiny) is confusion about the concepts of "time" and "pre-eternity" and misinterpreting them.
People live in time and place and so they evaluate every event according to time and they make a mistake by assuming "pre-eternity" as the beginning of "time". Misunderstanding qadar is the result of this wrong comparison.
Time is an abstract concept. It starts with the creation of the universe and many events happen in it. Time is divided into three parts: Past, present and future. This division is for creatures. Namely, the concepts such as century, year, month, day, yesterday, today, tomorrow are in question for creatures.
Pre-eternity does not mean before the beginning of the time. In pre-eternity, there is no past, present and future. Pre-eternity is a station where all times are seen and known at the same moment. Now, we will try to understand Allah’s attribute of pre-eternity through some examples:
(Think of a straight line; let us call it the timeline.)
Suppose that this line is the timeline. The middle of the line is the present, that is, the time we are living in. The left point of the line is the past. At this point, the universe was created and then the first man, Adam, was created. And everything that was created from that time to the present existed between these two points which symbolize the past and the present.
The point at the right side of the line is the future. This point is the eternal life that include life in Paradise and Hell beyond the Day of Judgment. Between the present point and the future point, there are our grandchildren, their grandchildren and everything that will be created until the Day of Judgment; and even are revival after death, reckoning, the weighing of the deeds and passing the Sirat bridge.
Eternity is not the left side of the point of past in the timeline. The main cause of not being able to understand qadar is thinking that pre-eternity is at this point and placing pre-eternity in a place on the timeline. For, when we assume pre-eternity to be at this point, Allah will know tomorrow only when tomorrow comes according to this assumption. This assumption and misunderstanding the concept of pre-eternity will cause us to ask this question: “If Allah wrote that I was going to be a sinner in my qadar, what is my fault?”
When we show the concept of pre-eternity on our timeline, it will be understood how nonsensical this question is. Here is pre-eternity.
It is not the left side of the past. It is timelessness. It is a station that holds and sees the present, the past and the future at the same moment.
Therefore, Allah sees and knows today. Likewise, Allah sees tomorrow, the other day and everything until eternal life that includes Paradise and Hell along with today.
For Allah, there are no concepts such as present, past and future. These concepts are for people as they are dependent on time. Now, we will examine this issue through another example:
Suppose that this picture is our timeline. The middle is the present, that is, now; the left side is the past and the right side is the future. Now, we are holding a mirror on the time scheme. The mirror is close to the floor; so, only the present time is reflected on the mirror. The past and the future are not included. Now, we will lift the mirror a bit and in this position, the present time and a part of the past and the future are reflected on the mirror. When we lift the mirror a little more, the remaining part of the past and the future that are not seen in the previous position are also reflected on the mirror. That is, as we lift the mirror, the time period which appears on the mirror expands. Now, we will lift the mirror to the highest point.
At this point, the mirror encompasses the present, past and future as a whole. This point is called the point of pre-eternity, which sees all of the three times as a whole at the same moment. When we say, "Allah is pre-eternal", we mean that Allah sees and knows all times and places at the same moment and that He is timeless.
Now, we will see the concept of pre-eternity in another example: We assume that three vehicles set out from Erzurum toward Istanbul. The first one is in Izmit. The second one is behind the first one in Eskisehir and the third one is behind them in Ankara.
Now, when we pay attention to these three vehicles, we see these: The vehicle which is in Izmit is at the front when it is compared to other vehicles. Namely, it is in the future because it passed the roads that other ones did not reach yet.
The vehicle in Eskisehir is in the past when it is compared to the vehicle in Izmit because the vehicle in Izmit already passed Eskisehir. However, it is in the future when it is compared to the vehicle in Ankara because this vehicle did not reach the other vehicle's place yet.
The vehicle in Ankara is in the past when it is compared to the other two vehicles because these two vehicles already passed Ankara.
The words such as the past and the future are used about the vehicles, but these words that express time are not used for the sun which is on the top of them and enlightens three vehicles at the same moment. That is, we cannot say that the sun is in the past compared to this vehicle, or the sun is in the future compared to that vehicle because the sun enlightens these three vehicles and encompasses all of them with its light at the same moment. This state of the sun, that is, being independent of time, which is valid for the vehicles on the earth, and encompassing the three time periods at the same moment is an example of pre-eternity.
Likewise, we are in a point of the timeline that started with the creation of the universe. Everything that passed before us is in the past compared to the present time. The times after today and this moment and the creatures that will be created at those times are in the future compared to the present time. Now, our grandfathers became a thing of the past. However, before that, their grandfathers were also waiting for their grandchildren who would come in the future. Our grandfathers, who were in the future compared to their grandfathers' time, came to this world, lived here and became a thing of the past. Similarly, we are in the future compared to our grandfathers' time and we will also become a thing of the past. And our grandchildren, who are in the future compared to our time, will be in their present day.
As it can be seen, the concepts such as the past, the future and the present are used for us. However, there are no such concepts for Allah, who creates everything and time. Allah encompasses all these times at the same moment like the sun in the example with the light of His knowledge. Then, we cannot say, "Allah wrote it; so we are doing it" because Allah encompasses all times at the same moment with His pre-eternity; so, Allah knows all our deeds that we will do with our free will and so Allah wrote whatever we will do during our life time in our qadar book. We do not do deeds because Allah wrote them. On the contrary, Allah wrote them because Allah knows that we are going to do them.
To be able to understand this issue better, we will give a final example because understanding pre-eternity is a key to understanding the issue of qadar. The first cause of misunderstanding the issue of qadar is being unable to understand Allah's attribute of pre-eternity of and supposing that Allah is dependent on time.
If you know a poem as a whole, the relation of your knowledge to all lines of the poem is same. That is, as we have mentioned before, the sun encompasses the three vehicles at the same moment. Likewise, your knowledge about the poem encompasses all lines at the same moment. However, sequence is important for the lines of the poem. For example, the sixth line is after the fourth line and before the tenth line. When you finish writing the fifth line and start to write the sixth line, the fifth line becomes a thing of the past. The sixth line is at the present time. The tenth line is in the future. Namely, it has not come into being yet and it has not been written yet. However, this tenth line, which has not come to being yet, is available in your knowledge. Then, sequence is not in question for your knowledge.
Likewise, the nineteenth century and the people living in this century are in the future compared to the eighteenth century and the people living in this century and they are in the past compared to the twentieth century. However, for the pre-eternal knowledge of Allah, who is independent of time, all these centuries, the past, the present, the future are within the scope of His observation at the same moment.
That is, qadar, which we name as "pre-eternal knowledge of Allah", is not a plan made in the past; it is a time out of plan. It is knowledge encompassing all past and future times at the same moment.
Then, saying, "Allah wrote my qadar; I cannot change it by any means" is an extremely wrong statementbecause Allah did not write in the book of qadar without knowing what we were going to do; and He did not force us to act according to this writing. On the contrary, Allah knows with His pre-eternal knowledge what we will choose with our partial free will and what deed we will do; so, Allah wrote them in the book of qadar.
The saying, "Allah wrote my qadar; I cannot change it by any means", which is uttered as an excuse is basically wrong because the book of qadar is a manifestation of the knowledge of Allah. His knowledge is not an attribute of forcing. The writing is only a declaration. For example, if I write a sentence like this, "You are going to turn off your television in fifteen minutes." And if you turn off your television in fifteen minutes, can you say, "If there had not been that sentence, I would have not turned off my television"? You definitely cannot say that because it is only a sentence. It is a message. It is not enforcement.
Likewise, "Allah wrote my qadar; I cannot change it by any means " is extremely wrong. Our acts are not created by the knowledge of Allah; so, we cannot blame the book of qadar, which is the title of the knowledge of Allah.
Our acts are created by the power of Allah. The knowledge has no effect on this creation. Then, how can we hold the book of qadar, which has no effect on the creation of our acts, responsible? The person who asks such a wrong question only cheats himself.
For, if you say to this person, "Why are you going to school? You cannot change your qadar. If being a doctor is in your qadar, you will be a doctor in any case. You cannot prevent it. Even if you do not study, you will be a doctor. If it is not in your qadar, you can never be a doctor even if you study." Or, if you say, "Why are you opening your shop? If earning much money today is in your destiny, you will earn in any case so there is no a necessity to open the shop. Earning much money today is not in your destiny; you will not earn even if you open your shop. You can never change your destiny." If we say these sayings, if we say that he can never change his destiny so there is no a necessity for him to go to school, to open his shop, this person defends himself and says: "You will work so that Allah will give you something." However, when the issue becomes related to doing religious duties and avoiding sins, this person uses destiny as an excuse, becomes submissive and blames qadar. This is nothing but cheating oneself.
However, as we have covered in the pre-eternity issue, Allah does not force us to commit any sin. Allah knows what we are going to do with His knowledge that encompasses all times and places and Allah wrote them in the book of qadar. Is the reason why we blame qadar due to our sins and the reason why we say, "Allah wrote my qadar; I cannot change it by any means" the pre-eternal knowledge of Allah what we are going to do?
That is, if Allah had not known what we were going to do, we would have become responsible. Then, will we not become responsible because of He knows them? The person who blames qadar due to his or her sins must check what he wants and he or she must feel ashamed.
With the examples given above, we tried to understand the pre-eternity of Allah. However, it must not be forgotten that all these examples are only small binoculars to zoom in on the fact that minds are too weak to understand. The minds are too weak to understand the greatness of the power and the majesty of Allah fully. Likewise, the minds cannot fully understand the pre-eternity of Allah and the knowledge of Allah, which encompasses all times and places at the same time. However, even these weak binoculars declare that the statement "Allah wrote my qadar; I cannot change it by any means" is an extremely wrong saying and they clarify the issue is completely.
Along with the pre-eternity of Allah, when the rule, "knowledge is dependent on the known" is understood, you will see that all questions about qadar that are assumed to be unanswered will be answered suddenly.
- What is time and pre-eternity?
- The Fourth: Knowledge and the thing known; the definition of pre-eternity.
- Belief in Qadar (destiny) – Introduction
- Knowledge is dependent on the known- Is Man a Prisoner of Qadar (Destiny)?
- What does "Knowledge is dependent on the known" mean? Will you please explain it through examples?
- What does Allah's being free and away from time and space mean? Will you explain it through examples?
- What does Allahs being munazzah (freed) from time mean?
- What is belief in Qada and Qadar?
- What is belief in Qada and Qadar (destiny)?
- Fourth Flash: The comprehensiveness of the subjects that the Qur'an deals with.