How can we explain the concepts of existence and non-existence? Can they be described?

Details of the Question

I'd like to consult you about something that confuses my mind and even gives me a headache. The question is this: Is it possible to explain the concepts of existence and non-existence? Example:  We say “Allah exists” but what is that “exists” in here? In summary, can the concepts of" existence" and "non-existence" be described?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We use the concepts of existence and non-existence relatively.

When we use the concept “exists” in relation to any object, it is a categorical quality of time and space for that object. We call it existence.

When we use the concept “exists” independent of objects, we reach the concept "existence". This refers to the absolute and essential meaning of the whole existence.

However, this absoluteness consists of a fullness within our mental boundaries.

On the other hand, when the concept existence is used in relation to an object, non-existence means that the object is not in a certain category of state in time and space.

Therefore, non-existence also has a hidden existence in it because if there was absence in absolute sense, we would not be able to use the concept non-existence.

Thinking about the concept of non-existence independent of objects means thinking about the concept of existence at the same time as it is a subject to think about.

So “existence” is absolute; existence and non-existence are relative. It can briefly be expressed as follows: existence exists since non-existence does not exist.

We call this equality of non-existence and existence, which concerns our world, possible existence.

We call the existence of absolute non-existence "mumtaniul-wujud", that is, impossible. The existence of Allah Almighty is “wajibul-wujud”, that is, the necessary existence in case of His being known in terms of the existence of His creations. For, it is imperative that there is an external existence that prefers the existence of the beings whose non-existence and existence are equal.

Everything is made by Allah Almighty; the source of His own existence is Himself. For this reason, the expression "wajibul-wujud" is used compared to the beings He creates.

Regardless of being compared to beings, the state of Almighty Bari (the Maker of Order) peculiar to His own essence is peculiar to His own knowledge. The term “huwa” expresses the knowing of this unknownness.

"Huwa" refers to the special existence based on divine essence, whether creatures exist or not. A being that exists with its own essence is a state that we accept to exist but whose real nature we can never know.

In short, when we say ‘Allah exists’ acting upon the creatures, we express "wajibul-wujud", that is, His compulsory existence. We call the existence of the divine being "huwa", independent of the creatures.

As a matter of fact, "Sura of Ikhlas" expresses this state perfectly:

“Say, "He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge., He neither begets nor is born, In spite of all these creations, nothing has been lost from his existence, nor has his existence been increased by anything else. Nothing you can think of will be equal to him.”

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