God’s Concomitance with the Temporal World in the Islamic Tradition

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD in philosophy of physics, Baqir al-Olum University, Qom, Iran.

2 Associate professor, Department of Social Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.


It is a complicated theological issue to provide an account of God’s relationship with the temporal world. The issue was addressed in the hadiths from the Shiite Imams as well. The hadiths fall into various prima facie conflicting categories. Since it is crucial to consider revelatory sources on the matter, we should not exclude any of these hadiths; rather, we need to reconcile them based on the extant evidence. In the first instance, some hadiths apparently reject God’s compresence with the temporal world, but upon closer reflection, it turns out that non-temporality of God does not rule out His concomitance with temporal entities. Instead, it amounts to rejection of His influence from, or being otherwise limited by, the passage of time. Such construal might be compatible with two interpretations: first, God is always concomitant with present or current events of temporal entities, and second, all entities are present to God from pre-eternity to post-eternity, and His concomitance is not confined to the present temporal entities. The first implies that the world was created on a gradual basis, and the second entails its instantaneous creation. In the final analysis, these views can be reconciled: all creatures were instantaneously created in a world other than the temporal world, but then they gradually unfolded in the temporal world.