ABAD originally means time in an absolute sense and is synonymous with dahr [q.v.; see also
Zaman]. When under the influence of Greek philosophy the problem of the eternity of the
world (see qidam) was discussed in Islam, abad (or abadiyya) became a technical term
corresponding to the Greek term éfyartÚw, incorruptible, eternal a parte post, in opposition to
azal (or azaliyya) corresponding to the Greek term égenhtÚw, ungenerated, eternal a parte ante.
(Ibn Rushd--cf. ed. Bouyges, index--uses azaliyya for 'incorruptible']. [For azal see qidam.] As
to the problem concerned, viz. if the world is incorruptible, the philosophers of Islam subscribed
to the Aristotelian maxim that azal and abad imply each other, that what has a beginning must
have an end and what has no beginning cannot have an end. According to this theory time,
movement and the world in general are eternal in both senses. Among the theologians who all
believe in the temporal creation of the world, only Abu 'l-Hudhayl, one of the earlier
admitted the Aristotelian maxim mentioned. (He applied the theory 'that what has a first term
must have a last one' even to God's knowledge and power, saying that God having arrived at
the final term of His power, would not be able any more to create even an atom, to move a leaf or to resuscitate a dead mosquito. See al-khayyat, al-Intisar, ed. Nyberg, 8 ff.; Ibn Hazm, iv, 19t-3). The theologians opposed the Aristotelian dictum by the argument that if the world were without a beginning, at the present moment an infinite past would have been traversed, which is impossible [cf. qidam]; in the future, however, there is no such impossibility, since in the future no infinite will ever be traversed. Besides, the series of integers needs a first term but no final one, and a man may have eternal remorse, although his remorse must have a beginning (al-Maqdisi, al-Bad' wa-l-Ta'rikh, ed. Huart, i, 1t5, cf. ii, 133). They concluded therefore that there is no rational proof either for the incorruptibility of the world or its opposite. According to the qur'an, xxxix, 67, on the Day of Judgment 'the whole earth shall be His handful and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand'. It became the orthodox view that the annihilation of the whole world (including the destruction of heaven and hell, which, however, will not
happen, as is known by revelation) is possible, dha'iz, considered as something in God's power (al-Baghdadi, Farq, 319). This world (dunya) will be destroyed, but not heaven and hell.
(S. van den Bergh)
The problem is treated in extenso by al-óhazzali in ch. ii of his Tahafut al-Falasifa, ed.Bouyges, 80 ff.
cf. Ibn Rushd, Ta-qhafut al-Tahafut, ed. Bouyges, 118 ff., tr. by S. van den Bergh, 69 ff. (with notes)
cf. also S. Pines, Beitraege zur islamischen Atomenlehre, 15, note 1.
Philosophy Home - Encyclopedia Home
Source: from the Encyclopedia of Islam --© 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands