2.The Attribute of Eternity and Infinity

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2-The Attribute of Eternity and Infinity:
 
 
These are two of the Attributes mentioned in the Holy Quran, in the Saying of the Most High, {He is the First (nothing is before Him)and the Last (nothing is after Him)}[Al-Hadid 57: 3]
 
     Allah (Glorious & Exalted) preceded in His Existence everything that exists other than Him. He (Noble & Sublime) is the Everlasting; He remains after every creature that is transient goes away. He (Glorious & Exalted) is the First Who is not preceded in Existence by anything, and He is the One Whose Being and Stature is exalted above all else. He is not in need of anything. He is the Self-Sufficient, Who is not dependent on anything.
 
     Since Allah (Glorious & Exalted) is Eternal, He must necessarily be Self-Sufficient, Independent of anything else.
 
     He (Glorious & Exalted) is described by perpetuity and permanence. He (Noble & Sublime) is the Everlasting, Who remains after His creation has ceased to exist. This is indicated in the meaning of the Saying of Allah Most High, {Whatsoever is on it (the earth)will perish. * And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honor will abide forever.}[Al-Rahman 55:26-27]
 
     Here the question presents itself:
 
     How do we combine and reconcile the description of Allah (Mighty & Majestic) as the Last, the Remaining, Whom nothing comes after, and the eternity the created will spend in Paradise? The Most High has said the following about the people of Paradise, its blessings, and the permanence of its pleasures and entertainments:
 
 
 
{Allah will say, "This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise).}
 
[Al-Ma'idah 5: 119]
 
 
 
Allah (Mighty & Majestic) also said the following in His Perfect Book about the people of the Hellfire, their torment, and their evil destiny:
 
 
 
{"…and whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, then verily, for him is the Fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever."}
 
[Al-Jinn 72: 23]
 
 
 
There is also the exegesis of Allah's Saying, {And the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Honor will abide forever}[Al-Rahman 55: 27] and the hadith related by Muslim, that the Prophet (pbuh) used to say in his prayers, "And You are the Last; there is nothing after You."
 
     The answer is: though it may seem contradictory on the surface that the people of Paradise and the Hellfire will remain there for all eternity and that Allah Alone (Mighty & Majestic) is Eternal, and that He is the Last, and there is nothing after Him, this contradiction vanishes when we learn that there is an essential difference between the Eternity of Divine Being and Attributes and the forever of beings created by Allah (Mighty & Majestic), such as Paradise, the Hellfire and everything in them.
 
     Paradise, for example, will remain forever by the Eternal Permanence of Allah (Mighty & Majestic) and because of it. The blessings that are renewed in it are dependent for their existence on the Will of Allah (Noble & Sublime).
 
     Allah's Being and Attributes, on the other hand, will remain forever by His Own Eternal Life.
 
     How great is the difference between the Eternal Life of Allah (Glorious & Exalted) and that which remains through His maintenance.
 
     Paradise is created, since Allah (Mighty & Majestic) brought it into being, and it exists subject to His Command; it is a captive to His Will and Wisdom.
 
     Thus, the existence of Paradise and its inhabitants for time without end is merely by the preservation of Allah (Noble & Sublime) and His Will, for existence and eternity are not characteristics of that which is created, nor are they part of its essence; rather, the nature of all created things is impermanence.
 
     Eternal life is neither from the essence nor nature of created things; in fact, only through continual extension from Allah Almighty and His constant maintenance is it not discontinued.[1]      
 
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[1]Allah's Most Beautiful Names Confirmed In Quran and Sunnah (Asmaa' Allah al-Husnaa al-Thabitah fil-Kitaab wal-Sunnah), by Mahmoud Abdul-Raaziq al-Ridwaani

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